KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Inspiration and motivation can come from anywhere and motivate anyone to do something great.
For Sgt. Sharmella Andrews, that inspiration comes from her strong belief in Family, her faith, and her patriotism for service in the U.S. Army.
Andrews is the logistics and supply noncommissioned officer in charge of Detachment 33, 335th Signal Command, Theater Provisional, currently serving at Regional Command (South), Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Sgt. Sharmella Andrews, the logistics and supply noncommissioned officer in charge of Detachment 33, 335th Signal Command, Theater Provisional, of East Point, Ga., receives recognition for her hard work in bringing the “Tunnel to Towers” foundation to the boardwalk at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2013. Tunnel to Towers is a non-profit organization that raises funds to build smart homes for firefighters and disabled members of the armed forces. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Clay Beyersdorfer)
The combination of the motivated her over the last couple of months to organize a large-scale event at KAF in remembrance of the victims and their Families of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. “Tunnel to Towers,” a foundation that benefits the Families of policemen, firefighters and armed forces who have been seriously injured or sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, organizes five kilometer runs/walks around the U.S., held the first Tunnel to Towers run at KAF on Sept. 14, thanks to the efforts and determination from Andrews.
“When I first got here a couple months ago, I wanted to organize a run, but I wanted it to be meaningful and benefit somebody,” Andrews said. “I did some research, found this foundation and was so moved. I knew right then I had found the one.”
Andrews, a Rowlett, Texas, native has been working since early June to coordinate and bring Tunnel to Towers to KAF.
The Tunnel to Towers foundation was established after the events of 9/11 and the story of Stephen Siller, a firefighter who had just gotten off the night shift in Brooklyn the morning of the attacks. Siller heard over his scanner when the first plane hit the Twin Towers, and immediately rushed back to the station for his gear to go out and help those in need.
Before making it to the site of the attacks, Siller was blocked by traffic on the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Siller jumped out of his truck with 60 pounds of gear and ran through the tunnel to meet up with his company who provided support at the Twin Towers.
Siller lost his life that day working to save the lives of so many others, and after reading about his story, Andrews became so moved that she “was willing to do anything it took to help out the cause,” she said.
Before she was able to bring the Tunnels to Towers foundation to KAF, she faced adversity, but never quit on herself or the cause.
“I had a lot of people tell me this would never happen and that I should give up,” she said. “That just made me work 10 times harder.”
Major Adam L. Anderson, the projects and retrograde operations officer in charge for the 335th Signal Command, talked about how Andrews overcame adversity and the amount of work she has put in over the last couple of months.
“She got a lot of things thrown at her during this whole process, had a lot of people tell her it wasn't going to happen, but she took that and used it to motivate herself,” Anderson said. “We've offered to help her as much as we can, and I am so very proud of her for overcoming all the obstacles it took to get to this point. Look at where this is all at now.”
Andrews credits her father, a Vietnam veteran who passed away four years ago, as a major source of inspiration, especially when she decided to join the Army at the age of 38.
“He already knew what I was going to say when I called him; he had heard the news,” Andrews said. “He was always supportive of me and I was glad that he was able to see me graduate basic and advanced individual training before he passed on.”
Within the last year, Andrews volunteered for this deployment and had to work with a completely new group of people.
Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Koc, the communications integrator officer in charge for RC(S) and RC(W), spoke of Andrews' patriotism and selfless service to the Army.
“She is one of the most motivated NCOs I have ever seen,” Koc said. “For her to come over, completely learn a new skill set, and do the job of a senior NCO... is just amazing to me. She is definitely a hard-charger.”
Andrews has passed that motivation and passion to work hard on to her two sons.
Her oldest son is a Army ROTC cadet at Prairie A&M University in Prairie View, Texas, and has dreams of attending dental school.
“They both are very motivated boys and I am so proud of them,” Andrews said.
After the last runner crossed the finish line Saturday, it was hard for Andrews not to get emotional.
“It's been such a busy couple of months, and after everything I've gone through to get to this point, I can't describe the feeling I have knowing what I've accomplished,” Andrews said.
Andrews' strength and dedication are a mirror image of her belief in faith, family, and service.
By U.S. Army Cpl. Clay Beyersdorfer
Provided through DVIDS
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