Sporting his new staff sergeant rank, Mitchel Jensen (center) of St. Joseph, is joined by Staff Sgt. Bradley Wolf (left) of Barnard, and Sgt. 1st Class James Graham (right) of Skidmore. Graham pinned on Jensen's new rank while at Fort Hood, Texas before deploying to Kuwait for a year-long mission with the 935th Aviation Support Battalion. (Submitted photo)
By Jennifer Archdekin
FORT HOOD, Texas - As Missouri Guardsman Mitchel Jensen, of St. Joseph, was preparing to leave for Kuwait, a special parting gift came for him just in the nick of time. Jensen was promoted to staff sergeant by a fellow Guardsmen and childhood friend.
Jensen, who serves with Company C, 35th Infantry Division in St. Joseph was picked up by the 935th Aviation Support Battalion based in Springfield to serve on a year-long mission in Kuwait as the senior joint network node operator. He said farewell to Family and friends on June 6 in Springfield at the unit's departure ceremony.
Now in his final phase of pre-mobilization training at Fort Hood and set to leave the country very soon, Jensen received word his promotion orders had come through.
Sgt. 1st Class James Graham, readiness noncommissioned officer for Company C, happened to be at Fort Hood with the rest of the 35th Infantry Division for their three-week annual training when Jensen's promotion orders were finalized.
"We were excited to see that come down and be approved," said Graham. "We were able to reach him since we were in the same area and he asked me to pin on his new rank. He has really earned this promotion."
Before joining the National Guard, Graham and Jensen were buddies and served together early on in their careers with the 1-129th Field Artillery. Their paths crossed again serving alongside each other now with the 35th ID.
"I've been able to see him grow up and progress in the field artillery, and now in the 35th," said Graham. "It's bittersweet to be able to promote him. I'm happy to be able to pin on the new rank, but sad to see him leave. That's how it is though -- everybody has to answer the call."
Jensen will serve overseas contingency operations in southwest Asia until spring of 2013.
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