Youth and Education news
Volume 1, November 2011
Single mother of
four, grandmother, and company commander in Afghanistan Read the entire article: http://dailynightly.msnbc.msn.com
Condensed by Native Village
Capt. Matilda Howe is an impressive mix
of raw energy and uncanny focus. And she needs to be: she’s
the company commander in charge of a combat
aviation brigade in Afghanistan's Logar province.
Whether it’s helicopter fuel, gunships, missiles,
drinking water, or vegetables, Mattie stays one step ahead of her base’s needs.
who must keep up with her call her "the Energizer Bunny."
The soldiers under her care are grateful.
But "Mattie," as she likes to
be called, has a softer side, too. In her Echo Co.
headquarters she anxiously awaits the next mail call and the
arrival of the latest crazy nail polish from the States. She
also calls her 79 soldiers "her children.
Mattie knows something
about mothering. She had 4 kids when she joined the Army
24 on a bet that she couldn’t handle the military
and her large family. Not only did Mattie thrive in the Army, she also adopted a fifth child.
Today, at 36, she’s a grandmother.
"I could never have made it without my
mother," Mattie says with tears in her eyes. Her mother
Gardner, a 50-something cancer survivor living in Colorado
Springs. Doris has watched over all the kids –
her grandkids – during Mattie’s five overseas
Despite the distances and long stretches of
time away from home, Mattie tries to be a mother to
her own. She’s addicted to Skype and tries to call home for
one or two hours a night. She likes to "hang out"
with her family, who gather in their living room to chat, via cyberspace.
Mattie sends video clips made from her Flip
camera about her life in Afghanistan and her mission there.
Mattie draws strength from her
family and their deep roots. She's a full blooded Navajo,
the first in her family to leave the Navajo reservation, the first to complete high school
and the first to get a college degree.
Mattie also gets strength
from her tribe. Before she left for Afghanistan, her grandfather performed a
special prayer dance which often brings her peace.
"In my culture, family is the
foundation of life," she says. Sticking together as one
gives Capt. Howe time and space to focus on her
demanding job in a war zone. Mattie realizes how dangerous
her job is -- her unit has lost five pilots since
"I learned that the hard way when I boasted I’d beat her in
a 100-yard dash, back on base," Williams said. "She not only smoked me but left me
writhing in pain with a pulled hamstring.
Mattie says she’s just an ordinary Native
American who loves her country and wants to give back. She
she’s a tough as nails "lifer" who’s in it for the full 20
years, the first female commander in her brigade. Mattie
even dreams of becoming a general some day.
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