By Oregon Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Patrick Caldwell
116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team
BAKER CITY, Ore., May 4, 2015 – Oregon Army National Guard Pfc. Chelsea Fudge is a busy young woman. The 19-year-old full-time student at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon, also works four part-time jobs.
And Fudge -- who is working toward a degree in music education -- also volunteers her voice to various celebrations and events across the region and stages her own small concerts.
“I’ve been singing for big events since I was 13,” she said.
One of her part-time jobs is serving as a member of the Oregon Army National Guard’s Foxtrot Company, 145th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team.
Guard Service Helps With Academic Goals
Once a month, Fudge follows Interstate 84 south as it slices through a remote section of Oregon to attend drill in Baker City. She said her interest in the guard is helping her to achieve her academic goals.
Her enlistment bonus and the GI Bill kicker program have helped her solve some of the common financial challenges many college students face, she explained. And her experience in the Baker City Army National Guard unit has proven to be beneficial, she added.
“It has opened a lot of doors for me. It has been an amazing journey,” she said.
Fudge said she enjoys operating one of the heavy expanded mobility tactical trucks that her unit uses to keep the tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles of the 116th’s 3rd Battalion on the road.
“I really like it,” she said. “I have made so many connections with people. And I’m getting a lot of life experience. And a paycheck doesn’t hurt.”
Still, she said, her guard time isn’t all about the money.
Opportunity to Take Responsibility
“It is a self-sacrifice, and it has been an eye-opener,” she said. “This gave me the opportunity to take responsibility for my job.”
In August, Fudge and her guard unit will journey to the Mohave Desert to conduct training exercises at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. The rotation already is shaping up to be the ultimate peacetime test for the Baker City guard unit, and Fudge said she is eager to go.
“I’m looking forward to it, because it will be another experience,” she said. “It will open up a lot of my learning processes.”
Army Lt. Col. Brian Dean, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, said Fudge epitomizes the kind of soldier his unit seeks out and mentors, calling her “a remarkable young woman.”
“She is focused, dedicated and embodies both the Army values and those of ‘Eastern Oregon’s Own,’” he said. “We are all proud of her.”
Dean added that soldiers like Fudge indicate his unit has a bright future. “We are looking forward to seeing and helping her as she grows,” he said. “She is a magnificent role model and exemplifies what makes eastern Oregonians successful locally, nationally and globally.”
The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team consists of Army National Guard combat units from Idaho, Montana and eastern Oregon.