Task Force Longrifles’ very own GI Jane

Story and photos by Sgt. Alexa E. Becerra, 2/138th Public Affairs 

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Sgt. Stephanie Murley, supply sergeant for 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, stands in front of her office door at Camp Atterbury, Ind., Sept. 16, 2012. Murley prepared for her third deployment overseas as Task Force Longrifles prepared to deploy to the Horn of Africa. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind.  – What images come to mind when you think of a combat veteran of two different wars? Perhaps a tall, muscular GI Joe, with a high and tight? Or do you conjure up a picture of a young Soldier at the airport, tears falling softly down his cheek as he is hugging his wife for the first time in a year, after a long combat tour?

It’s probably unlikely that the image of a young, 5-foot, 7-inch tall woman, with bright-blue smiling eyes popped into your mind.

Unless, of course, you know Sgt. Stephanie L. Murley.

Murley is a supply sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Battery 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery. She is also about to become a veteran for the third time. At 24-years-old, she has completed one tour in Iraq, one in Afghanistan and now is preparing for her third deployment — this time to the Horn of Africa.

In Iraq,  she worked as a supply clerk for B Battery, 2/138th. Even though it was her first deployment, she wasn’t scared.

“I started out working nights when I was in Iraq, then I shifted to days. I picked up a lot of supplies, dropped off reports and assisted in inventories,” said Murley.

“Life was pretty routine there, you had to find entertainment in the small things that most of us overlook,” she said.  “I remember the first time it rained, we had no idea what was going on. All the females got up and went outside and got very excited.”

In Afghanistan with Agribusiness Development Team 1, her job changed a bit. She dealt with weapons, ammunition, and a bit of supply.

“If a weapon went down, I’d fill out the paperwork to take it to the armor and get it fixed. I also assisted in sensitive item inventories and ordering supplies for the Security Forces,” said Murley.

Afghanistan was a bit different experience when it came to feeling safe though.

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Sgt. Stephanie Murley poses for the camera in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2010 while serving on her second tour of duty overseas. She serves as a supply sergeant for Task Force Longrifles who are scheduled to deploy to the Horn of Africa in October. (Courtesy photo)

“Unlike Iraq, in Afghanistan we would get mortared almost every night,” said Murley, as she dropped her face and looked to the ground. “There were a few nights that I would pray to God and say, ‘please let me wake up in the morning.’”

Murley joined the Kentucky National Guard in 2006, at the age of 17. She joined because her grandfather, an Army veteran himself whom she greatly admired, had been in the military. His nobility and humility as a former Army man inspired her.

“It’s empowering to know I can do anything these guys can do,” she said.

Murley is not your typical one weekend a month and two-week summer training National Guardsmen, or woman if you will. She wears the uniform year-round. When she is not at her unit, she works full-time as a supply technician for the Kentucky Guard’s Central Issue Facility in Frankfort, Ky.

Along with being a Soldier and a technician for the Kentucky Guard, she is also the wife of Sgt. David Murley who is with Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery and is scheduled to deploy overseas in January. They got married in May of 2011, shortly after their return from Afghanistan.

“I’m going to miss my husband a lot,” said Murley, who stopped smiling. “This will be the longest we’ve been apart since we started dating.”

But Murley remains positive about this upcoming deployment, although she says she doesn’t know what to expect, because it will be very different than her tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The job is stressful, don’t get me wrong. But the sense of accomplishment when it’s all said and done makes all the sacrifices worth it.” said Murley, that smile appearing once more. “I’m honored to be a female veteran.”

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