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NEWS | March 5, 2013

'That's the spirit': The story of an Army transportation veteran

By Sgt. Edwin J. Rodriguez 7th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

"I want Soldiers in the Transportation Corps to advance themselves. I want them to not limit themselves and push their careers beyond mine," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Karen Perez, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 53rd Movement Control Battalion, 7th Sustainment Brigade.

Throughout her 27-year career, Perez has been an inspiration for Soldiers serving beside her, earning their respect due to her positive nature. She is known as a caring, selfless leader who wants to help and who easily gives of herself to others.

"I love helping people, and being there even just for advice, work-related or personal," she said.

Perez currently serves in the 53rd MCB's plans section, where she is the subject matter expert of logistics. She oversees coordination of everything from troop movements overseas or on redeployments, to the movement of equipment within the brigade.

She had served 15 years as an enlisted Soldier when she decided to become a warrant officer. After graduating from the mobility warrant officer basic and advanced courses, she became the course's first female instructor.

Her duties as a warrant officer extended overseas as well. Perez has deployed three times since becoming a mobility warrant officer in 2002.

"When I was stationed at Fort Bragg, I deployed with the 330th Transportation Battalion to Iraq in 2004 for a year," she recalled. "I returned and had only four months at home before I went right back to Afghanistan for another year from March 2006 to March 2007."

Back in the Hampton Roads area, of which Perez is a native, she was able to put her experiences together and prepare future Army mobility warrant officers.

When the school moved from Fort Eustis to Fort Lee, Va., Perez remained at Eustis and took a position in the 53rd MCB. In January 2011, she deployed again to Iraq, this time serving as an integral part of the movement operations mission during the end of Operation New Dawn.

"There are a lot of moving pieces with forward operating bases closing and Soldiers and civilians moving in and out. During that time it was hectic and dangerous too. We needed to be flexible and ever-ready to adjust to the situation," Perez explained. "We were in charge of the [movement control teams] in the country that were required to move troops and civilians in and out of Iraq. My main focus was deployment and redeployment of troops and the main roads to get everyone and our equipment home."

Now about to leave the battalion, Perez hinted that she may one day return, only without the Army Combat Uniform. She said she wants to eventually retire in her hometown of Hampton, and could end up working for the unit again in some capacity.

"I have been in a MCB before, so I was prepared and easy to transition. You have to love it to keep doing it for 27 years," she said. "I am still focused and engaged in the fight so I am still positive, but it is time to move on. I might be back in some way with the Transportation Corps."

Her parting advice for fellow Soldiers evoked the steadfastness and passion she exhibited throughout her long, illustrious career.

"You should always be loyal in whatever your job is," she said. "Stay truthful to yourself and in your job. The truth will set you free!"