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FORT LEE, Va. -- Name: Pfc. Brenna Palomo 

Unit: 111th Quartermaster Company, 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Trans. Brigade (Expeditionary)

MOS: 92M, mortuary affairs specialist

Age: 20

Time in service: 16 months

Marital status: married (and expecting her first child)

Hometown: Northfield, New Hampshire

Describe yourself: “I’m an outgoing, friendly person. I love to smile all the time. Even when something is wrong, I’m always smiling, trying to cheer people up.”

Personality weakness: “One of my flaws is I’m so outgoing, I tend to shove the bad things aside. I know, however, they will sometimes catch up with me and stress me out.”

Pastimes: “I have two dogs at home, and they are so full of energy that most of my time is focused on them. They both need a lot of attention.”

Worst fear: “I can’t work as hard as I used to because I’m expecting. One of my biggest fears is I’ll try to get back into the swing of things and it won’t be as easy for me. I’m a really hard worker, and I hate not working hard every day.”

One person you admire: “My mom. She’s always pushed me. She wasn’t exactly in favor of me leaving home right away (to join the Army); she just didn’t want me hurt or anything. When I told her I wanted to join the military, she was a little upset at first but she backed me. She’s always been there for me.”

One life-changing event: “It would probably be my brother joining the military. He never seemed like the person to do it. That was always my dream. When I learned he did it and was doing well at it, I realized it was my turn. I started to feel the weight of my ambitions, and it made me nervous. Later, I began to feel it could be a positive experience because it made him a better person. That made it the right time to go and speak to a recruiter.”

A celebrity or historical figure you would like to meet: “Probably George Washington. I would love to hear what his thoughts were when he helped to found this country.”

Your ideal life: “Working really hard, having a 9-5 and being able to come home and relax with my family.”

If you could do anything anywhere right now, what and where would that be? “I would go apple-picking back home.”

Something about you no one knows: “I actually get really nervous when I first start talking to people. I love talking to people, but I get really nervous about what I’m going to say. I’m always shy, so I try to force myself into being an extrovert.”

Talk about your upbringing: “My family and I are really close. My parents were older when they had me. They were helpful and wise because they had all kinds of worldly experience. The town itself – New Hampshire is closed off from the rest of the world – and the people there are older and conservative. At my job, the women there would say things like, ‘You’re just a women,’ and ‘You’re supposed to stay at home.’ One woman said I belonged in the kitchen. I looked at her and was like, ‘You’re wrong, and I’m going to prove you’re wrong.’”

How you formed such non-traditional thoughts in a conservative town: “My dad was born and raised in New Hampshire, but my mom was from down South. She grew up everywhere down there – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Texas. When I was growing up, she always told me ‘You can do anything you want to.’ She filled my head with all these bright ideas. Eventually, I said, ‘Mom, you’re right. I can do anything.’”

You expectations upon joining the Army: “My brother was stationed at Fort Benning (Ga.) for four years. He always complained about how rugged it was and how he always was on these missions going to mountains and deserts. When I joined, I was expecting more of the adventure my brother experienced. When I read about my MOS, I thought we we’re going to be doing things like going outside the wire and picking up remains. That seemed so interesting and fun to me. I was expecting more of an adventure, but that hasn’t materialized yet.”

What you like about your MOS: “The people. When I selected this MOS, I was kind of expecting it to be morbid, but the people I’ve met here have been so welcoming and friendly. It’s not what I expected at all.”

What it means to wear the uniform: “When I was in basic (combat training) and the first time we saluted the flag, I literally almost teared up. It was so moving to me. This has been a dream my entire life. To actually be here and wear this uniform every day, I get to look down and know I’m one with everybody around me. It means so much to know that. People on the outside might not understand just how blessed we are to be a part of this.”

What you believe in: “My family. I believe no matter where I go or what happens, I will always have not just my family, but the 111th family.”

Best thing about the Army: “The people – they’re going to do whatever they have to do for each other.”

Worst thing about the Army: “The standstill (a.k.a. hurry up and wait) when you are not doing your job or anticipating deployment.”

Where you see yourself in five years: “I hope to drop a flight packet so I can become a helicopter pilot.”