July 27, 2003, 15:37 EST

Virginia Army National Guardsman makes good use of his time while deployed

Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba-- As a member of the Joint Task Force, Specialist Donald Evans of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment supports detention operations for unlawful combatants who have been apprehended during the on going global war on terrorism. With this responsibility, Spc. Evans has also strived to take care of matters normally done while back in Virginia. He has proposed marriage, earned the Expert Infantryman Badge and has developed a plan to earn a degree through the Virginia Military Institute.

“These are the types of things that you ordinarily wouldn't get to do ... especially in the infantry," explained Evans. "You feel like you're doing something for your county when you deploy. You also get to meet a lot of different people and learn a lot of different things,” said Spc. Evans who is a civil engineering major at VMI. He has also spent his summers working construction and on occasion he has worked as a chef in his hometown of Skaneateles, New York.

He has spent most of this summer at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The experience has also allowed Spc. Evans to focus on developing his plans for living his life. He proposed marriage to his girlfriend, developed a strategy to complete college and is pursuing a career as a Federal Bureau of Investigation’s agent. He is planning on gaining law enforcement experience by working for the sheriff's department after he graduates college and he joined the National Guard to help make that dream a reality.

“I joined the Guard to try to pay for as much of the college expenses as I can," said Spc. Evans. "I have a lot of siblings and many of them had a difficult time getting through college because it's so expensive”, he said.But his professional goals aren't limited to the civilian sector; he's got his eyes set on making himself a more equipped soldier and maybe even a commissioned officer.

"In five years I will have graduated from college, so I'll have the opportunity to get a commission, but I haven't really decided if I want a commission yet. I do want to graduate both airborne and air assault schools by then. Either way, I'm going to continue on and probably put in 20 years (of service)," he said. His more immediate goals include getting promoted to E-5 while deployed here and maintaining a very happy relationship with his now fiancée – and his plan for success? “I set out everyday to do the best I can,” he said.

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