14th Quartermaster Detachment: Citizen soldiers ready to pull together
They should be at home, in school or working. They should be with their spouses, their parents and their children.
They should be worrying about mortgages, grades, careers.
They should be doing a lot of things.
But duty calls.
So for the next 18 months, maybe more, they'll be in a war a world away from the places and people they love.
They'll be toiling in, presumably, the desert, where there are enemies who have no qualms about shooting them dead.
This is duty they took upon themselves, the men and women of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, based in Hempfield Township.
This is their job, their obligation, which they plan to fulfill to the best of their ability.
Their mission there, wherever that place turns out to be, will be to purify water.
Water for cooking. Water for showers. Water for drinking.
Water is life in the desert, where thirsty soldiers can drink two gallons a day.
Roughly 48 of these citizen-soldiers, half of them plucked from other Reserve units in the state and elsewhere, leave Thanksgiving weekend.
Meanwhile, the unit went home Wednesday to spend some precious last days with family and friends.
They'll come back Tuesday to make final preparations for their tour.
They'll be soldiers then, their civilian lives indefinitely on hold.
But for the rest of this week and into next, they'll return to being all the things they were before they were called up.
And they are many things.
They are husbands.
Sgt. Kyser Siscoe hadn't planned to marry his girlfriend until after his tour of duty was over.
But one day a few months ago, she put him in a car and took off, only then telling him she was taking him to court for a civil ceremony.
"That's cool," he told her.
They've been together six months now.
They are mothers.
Sgt. Lia Cimini has four children, ages 4, 5, 16 and 19. The oldest two are trying to be helpful in her absence, seeing to household chores and such.
Her 5-year-old, though, doesn't want her to leave and can't understand why she has to be gone so long.
She tries to explain that it's her job, that the Army needs her.
"But you'll be back?" he always asks.
"But I'll be back," she always reassures him.
She's from Williamsport, Lycoming County; her mother, the former Theresa Prioletto, used to live in Greensburg.
That Cimini is here now, she takes as a sign.
They are daughters.
Spc. Michelle Satterfield's mother is worried sick about her. Ditto for her brother.
He's an Army Ranger, overseas somewhere. Where exactly is a secret.
"It's really hard on my mom," she said.
Satterfield always thought about military service, especially because her father and grandfather both served.
They are tradesmen.
Spc. Eric Young is a roofer and works for his father's business in Point Marion, Fayette County, Young's Roofing.
In the meantime, he'd been taking classes at West Virginia Career Institute, working toward an associate's degree in computer technology. He had one last semester to go before he was called up.
So that's on hold. So is his family life, which includes his wife, Rebecka, and daughters, Courtney and Kaitlyn.
They are proud.
Spc. Allan Mosher graduated from an upstate New York high school. It's small. About 90 were in his graduating class.
His classmates told him he'd never amount to anything.
Determined to show them otherwise, he enlisted in the regular Army. That was late in 1999.
A few months later, he came home, no longer Allan, but U.S. Army Pvt. Allan Mosher.
Upon returning home, he poked his head into a few stores, wearing his dress uniform.
People were impressed.
"I was glad I was able to prove people wrong."
They are religious.
Spc. Scott White is the youth and children's pastor at Faith Wesleyan Church in Williamsport. He ministers to 100 children.
In the last sermon he gave before he left, he talked about the importance of family and friendship, about how people are not meant to be alone.
It was the most emotional sermon he ever gave. It left the congregation misty-eyed.
After the service was over, he was hugged more than he's ever been in all his time there.
They are destined.
Nowadays, it's tough to get into the Army, something Pvt. Daniel Horning learned the first couple of times he tried to enlist. It wouldn't have him.
Later, after he moved to Indiana, Pa., to be with his girlfriend, a chance meeting opened the door.
One day while shooting hoops, a man approached him. He thought it was a security guard coming to kick him off the court. Turns out it was a recruiter wanting to know if he knew of anyone interested in the military.
Horning was, and has been since he was a teenager.
He enlisted, and one week after completing basic training, he learned he'd been activated, something he figured would happen.
"I just wasn't expecting it so quick."
They are young.
Spc. Jaimi Young is 20, and she laments the fact that she will spend her 21st birthday overseas, where in Muslim countries soldiers aren't allowed alcohol.
But it's OK, she says. Parties can wait. She's going to do something for her country first.
They are looking for something better.
Pfc. Joseph Kostelac is from Nanty Glo, in Cambria County.
He couldn't find work; there isn't much of it there.
"Just tree farms and pizza shops," he said.
He's hoping his military service will lead to something when he returns.
And he's anxious to get over there.
"I want to see what I got myself into."
They are looking to the day when they come home.
And when that happens, Spc. George Hartzell Jr. plans to take one long vacation. Someplace nice. Someplace peaceful.
Someplace where there's no sand, he said.