Military News

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Face of Defense: Ballroom Dancing Enhances Soldier’s Free Time During Deployment

By Army Sgt. Ian Kummer DoD News, Defense Media Activity

January 19, 2016 — After the day’s tasks are done, just about any conversation with Army Spc. Megan O’Malley will lead to one topic: her love for ballroom dancing.

O’Malley is a automated logistics specialist deployed here with the Washington Army National Guard’s Echo Company, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade. A military compound marked by faded wood and damp concrete jutting from the mud of the winter desert, Camp Buehring is not the first place that comes to mind when the word “ballroom” is mentioned. But according to O’Malley, all one really needs to ballroom dance is an empty motor pool bay and a nice shirt.

She said she grew up on a farm in Port Angeles, Washington, where she and her older brother were first introduced to dancing by their mother, who used to be a professional dance roller-skater.

“We started dancing as a family and branched out with our own interests as individuals,” O’Malley said.

Shortly after turning 16, O’Malley said she found a new enthusiasm for dance when she saw the 1998 film “Dance with Me.” She said she fell in love with ballroom dancing.

“As a teenager, I had two passions: dancing and horses,” O’Malley said. “In my twenties, every weekend I would drive two hours to meet up with friends and ride all day, then shower and change to go dancing.”

In Tough Times

In January 2012, O’Malley said she faced the darkest period of her life, losing her job and home in the same month. That May, O’Malley enlisted in the Washington National Guard and started basic training on her 30th birthday.

“My ex told me I wouldn’t even make it through boot camp. Yet, there I was,” she said.

After completing her training, O’Malley started drilling at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. She said she had no problem fitting in with her fellow soldiers and becoming a valuable team member.

“She really enjoys helping people,” said Army Pfc. Logan Easton, a generator mechanic in the company. “She acts like a [noncommissioned officer].”

Since her deployment began last October, O’Malley said she has turned to dancing more frequently after duty hours. With the support of her company leaders and the local morale, welfare and readiness center, she’s started a dancing class for other soldiers. She said she looks forward to growing both as a soldier and as a dancer during her unit’s tour in Kuwait.

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