LTC Erin Frazier, U.S. Army

 
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I became a Soldier by happenstance. I stayed a Soldier because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

I happened to be born in a Navy town, the granddaughter of a Naval Officer. I grew up in a military town, Norfolk, VA, to a firefighter dad and the hardest working mom on the planet. My grandfather had served in the Navy, even graduating from the Naval Academy he unfortunately passed when I was a baby so there was no longer a direct link in our family to the military. I was exposed to the military as a member of the community but never had a direct correlation as most Soldiers have with the service.

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Throughout 18 years of service as an Army Logistician, I have been assigned all over the world. I started my career as a Second Lieutenant in Hanau, Germany as an Ordnance Officer. I truly believe to this day that taking that assignment overseas with the incredible leaders I was exposed to so early in my career set the foundation for the success I have had and continue to strive for. The qualities that I learned from my family and community coupled with my initial Army leadership solidified my happenstance in the Army to a commitment even I couldn’t have imagined. 

Like most professions, I have had my ups and downs, thankfully the highs have significantly outweighed the lows. The highest highs are tied to a few separate assignments filled with some pretty cool jobs in between. As a Company Commander in Fort Bliss, TX, I was the only female commander in the battalion for the majority of my time in command. Additionally, I was a young Captain with not even a year time in grade when I took the guide on. Regardless of my experience level, I always aimed to be value added to my organization and as the only Maintenance Company there was a lot of value to add. Being the only female commander in the battalion I felt a distinct responsibility to be more physically fit, more prepared for meetings/training/events, and more emotionally sound to set the example for the female Soldiers both inside my company and across the command.From that assignment I went on to a one year deployment to Iraq where we spent time training and advising an Iraqi Transportation Battalion.

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At 35 years old, with my fair share of bumps and bruises, I made my way to Fort Benning, GA to accomplish one of, if not my proudest accomplishment to date. With all of the encouragement of friends, mentors, and family I fought my way through three weeks of jump school to earn my Parachutist Badge. The feeling you get walking out of an aircraft is indescribable, it truly is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and continue to do. I am in awe of all Paratroopers and I am so grateful to be amongst them. 

The risk of attending Airborne School as an older Soldier came with the awesome reward of being assigned to the Special Operations community. Working in support of the bravest, strongest, toughest, and most professional members of our Armed Services who truly serve at the tip of the spear has been incredible. The opportunity to deploy for my fourth time with both our US Special Forces and a host of Coalition partners is something I would do all over again. While the work was tough, the days were long, and the responsibility great I grew so much as a leader and a logistician.

From here my husband and I head to Fort Stewart, GA for the amazing opportunity to be a Battalion Command team. We look forward to the inevitable challenges ahead and for this awesome happenstance Army experience to continue for as long as they’ll have us. 

My father’s service as a professional firefighter and my mother’s commitment to our education community, ingrained in my siblings and I a sense of taking care of your neighbor and looking out for others. I grew up with two older sisters and one younger brother and we are all very close in age, five years from oldest to youngest. When graduation from high school approached for each of us, our parents allowed us to decide what our future would hold. All of us chose a college education but as you can imagine being the third to graduate in three years’ time there wasn’t much funding left for higher education.

Which leads me to my second happenstance of Army service. I happened to be assigned to the Army ROTC floor in my freshman dorm at Radford University having no affiliation with the organization and not having registered for any of their classes. As an impressionable young person, I was convinced by my hall mates to sign up for Army ROTC and I was further influenced by my father to apply for a full ride scholarship in my freshman year. Due to an active high school career of sports, academics, and other extracurricular activities I was selected for a scholarship and my Army story began.

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The team I was on consisted of four female officers and there wasn’t one instance where we were disrespected or discredited because we were women by the Iraqi Soldiers. We treated them with respect and professionalism and that was reciprocated to us. My next favorite and I believe influential assignment was as Cadre at the Old Dominion University Army ROTC department. This was my last job as a Captain and finally my chance to mentor and motivate future Army officers, both male and female. This assignment will always hold a special place in my life because it was then that I met my husband Bruce. 

Sandwiched between two assignments to Fort Bragg, NC and following my first deployment to Afghanistan, Bruce and I ventured our way to Australia for a two-year posting. The minute we got notified to PCS to Australia, no one believed it was a real thing, not even us. But with less than a year of marriage, Bruce and I packed up our belongings and our dog and made our way to the Southern Hemisphere. The two years that we lived in Australia were absolutely amazing for us professionally and personally. The people of Australia are some of the most compassionate and incredible people we have known. But just when you start to get comfortable in your career, the Army does what it does best and throws you a curve ball. For me, that meant Airborne School. 

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