MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
"We must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government, so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future," said the commander in chief, President Barack H. Obama, in a speech delivered from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Dec. 1, 2009, outlaying American interests in the war in Afghanistan.
While millions of Americans sat at home watching the president’s historic speech on television, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Queen had his boots on Afghan soil.
Queen was awarded a bronze star March 30, in recognition for his meritorious service while deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Queen, a patrol sergeant with Cherry Point’s provost marshal’s office, served as the convoy commander for a recruiting assistance team and a special advisor to the Afghan National Army Recruiting Command from June 29, 2009, to Jan. 5, 2010.
"Working diligently with the Afghan National Army Recruiting Command to increase the readiness of the Afghan National Army through tireless and sometimes unseen recruiting efforts, Staff Sgt. Queen approached every mission with ferocious tenacity," reads the citation for Queen’s bronze star.
Obama has set the beginning of the end of U.S. military action in Afghanistan as July 2011, and Marines have swarmed the region in an attempt to accomplish broad and diverse goals by that date. A large part of the mission is to recruit and train Afghanistan’s army so that it may take the reigns of its own security sooner, rather than later.
"This award is not a result of my efforts alone," Queen said. "It came from the work of every branch of the military, all of the coalition forces, and the Afghans."
The footprints from Queen’s boots no longer exist in Afghanistan, but perhaps the ANA can reap the rewards from the seeds sewn by his efforts.
"We’re happy to have him back at Cherry Point," said Capt. Mark E. Bailey, the provost marshal. "We are awfully proud of him and all the hard work he put in over there."