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926th Preventive Medicine prepares for deployment

Jan 15, 2010

By Kristin Molinaro, the Bayonet

FORT BENNING, Ga. - The size of the 926th Preventive Medicine Detachment stands in stark contrast to the magnitude of its mission.

The 11-member unit provides sanitary inspections, epidemiological support, industrial hygiene and air, water and soil sampling for units downrange spread across large battle spaces. The unit returned from a yearlong deployment to Iraq in October 2008 and, in February, will be heading back.

"We are small but mighty," said 1SG Jennifer Bohanon.

The unit headed out for Humvee rollover training Tuesday to prepare for the upcoming mission. After an overview of exiting an upside-down vehicle, the Soldiers went into the simulation trainer and experienced several rollover scenarios. Though many in the unit already bear combat patches from tours served downrange, for a few like 1LT Amanda Gonzalez, this deployment will be their first.

Gonzalez, the detachment's executive officer and Fort Benning's only entomologist, said she hopes to build upon the accomplishments of the unit's previous rotation.

In a new twist to its mission, the unit will be involved in several base camp closures as the drawdown in Iraq continues.

"We will be ensuring the soil, air and water in these areas is left in the same condition or better," said MAJ Sidney Cobb, detachment commander.

The unit will hold a deployment farewell ceremony at the Sightseeing Road Chapel at 10 a.m. Feb. 5.

What's an entomologist?

"Bug people" and "nerds" are just a few names that come to mind when 1LT Amanda Gonzalez imagines what others may think of her job.

Gonzalez is Fort Benning's only entomologist, a scientist who studies insects. Entomologists work in areas such as beekeeping, insect diseases and pest control among others.

Though Gonzalez said she knew she wanted to be an entomologist from the time she was 6, it was an experience as a preteen that allowed her to put her knowledge to use.

"I was bitten by a spider when I was 12 and had to go to the emergency room," she said. "I woke up that morning and my hip was bleeding from a bug bite and there was a squished spider in my bed. I picked it up and showed it to my dad and told him it was a brown recluse. That experience made me the 'brown recluse identifier' for my neighborhood. People would bring me spiders and ask what kind they were."

Today, Gonzalez shares her knowledge of insects with Martin Army Community Hospital's Preventive Medicine office.

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