An officer from Warwick is part of war's end-game

Lt. Tara Pipia is part of the mission to close military bases

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  • Front row of troops, far left, Lt. Tara M. Pipia takes place in a patch ceremony, held when the company has been in country for 30 days. The Soldiers in the Company receive the patch of the Battalion they fall under and wear it proudly on their right sleeve directly under the US Flag. In this case, the 1569th Transportation Company falls under the 548th Sustainment Combat Sustainment Support Battalion out of Fort Drum.

  • Lt. Tara M. Pipia, third from left, was the top female finisher in the Memorial Day Half-Marathon.

By Roger Gavan

— This past March, the New York State National Guard 1569 transportation unit and the 369 Special Troops Battalion boarded an airplane headed to Fort Hood, Texas, for special training until the end of April to become “boots on the ground” in Camp Marmal, a multi-national base in northern Afghanistan.

Among those troops was 1st Lt. Tara M. Pipia, daughter of Ronald and Nora Pipia of Warwick.

Her job is with a unit that conducts Convoy Escort Team missions outside of Camp Marmal throughout northern Afghanistan in order to support the International Security Assistance Force mission of base closings in Regional Command North.

‘The flat lands of Warwick’
When asked what she missed most about being away from home, Pipia gave first place to the freedom of the outdoors.

“You don’t realize how free you are at home to take days off or use time after work to do what you love, and for me that is spending time outdoors,” she said. “I have a new-found appreciation of our area, the flatlands of Warwick and Florida, the rolling hills and the mountains of the Hudson Valley. I miss my running and seeing land for miles and miles, and the beautiful skyline. I miss riding my bike, climbing the hills near West Point and reaching a point where I can see the beauty of our area from a higher elevation. I miss family and friends, and knowing that within an hour or less I can be near them, laughing, joking, or just talking about the day.”

Downtime in camp
But there is also time for recreation in Camp Marmal.

Pipia reported that in their off time many of the soldiers run, go to the gym, or go to the USO where there are televisions, video games, ping pong tables, pool tables and movie rooms.

“There really is entertainment and fun if you seek it out,” she said. “And there are always competitive events such as dodge ball, dominoes, basketball, 5K and 10K races along with full marathons.”

Considering her athletic background, it’s no surprise that shortly after arriving in Afghanistan, Pipia won 1st place overall female in the Memorial Day Half Marathon.

A hug, a dog, a house with a large yard

On a final note she responded to a question about her future plans when her nine-month tour of duty is over.

“I plan to hug my family first, adopt a dog next, then go for a long run with said dog and return right back to my family for some good food and then probably back out again for a bike ride.”

Pipia also plans on returning to school and purchasing a house as she says, “with a yard large enough for my dog and a garage spacious enough to store the sneakers and bicycles that will be taking me around all the Hudson Valley flatlands and hills I miss so much.”

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