June 19, 2018 —
Military service is a tradition in her family, so it was no surprise when Ohio Army National Guard Spc. Cheyanna Porter enlisted in the spring of 2015 and completed basic training during the summer between her junior and senior year of high school.
Porter, assigned to the Ohio National Guard's 838th Military Police Company, located in Youngstown, Ohio, followed in the footsteps of her brother, who is also a member of the Ohio National Guard, and her cousins who serve in the Navy and Air Force.
While college tuition benefits influenced Porter's decision to enlist, it was the dream of travel and the ability to serve stateside and in her community as a Citizen-Soldier that drove her to join the National Guard. Now, three years into her first enlistment, the dream of travel has come true as she and about 50 of her fellow unit members are spending two weeks at Serbia's South Base and Borovac Training Area to take part in Exercise Platinum Wolf 2018.
"I've never left the country before," Porter said. "I was excited to travel, especially with the Army."
Having built a close network of friends from within her unit, Porter was excited to take her first-ever trip overseas with her teammates.
"I think it's a great experience to travel with the people I train with," she said.
The Serbian-led, two-week multinational peacekeeping exercise, being conducted June 11-22, brings more than 500 soldiers from 10 nations together to enhance military cooperation and interoperability.
Not knowing fully what to expect after arriving in Serbia late at night on June 10, Porter found herself in a tent with about 50 other women from around the world, including Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.
"The language barrier has been a bit of a challenge," Porter said. "My bunk is right next to the Bulgarian women and they have been teaching me a few Bulgarian phrases here and there. It's been really neat to meet people from different cultures. I'm really enjoying it so far."
As for the exercise, Porter says it is going well overall and they're learning new techniques from different countries.
Throughout the exercise, the Soldiers have participated in a variety of training scenarios such as mounted and dismounted patrol; cordon and search; Military Operations in Urban Terrain, or MOUT; non-lethal weapons and riot control.
While Porter highlighted the MOUT training as her favorite portion of the training at the end of the first week of training, she said has enjoyed it all.
"It's awesome that we get to share our experiences and knowledge with each other," she said.
Porter is a full-time nursing student at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, and will resume her education when classes start again this fall. In the meantime, she said she's enjoying her first overseas experience as an Ohio National Guard Soldier, and is excited for future deployment opportunities.