Face of Defense: Guard Soldier’s Experiences Put Her Ahead of Civilian Peers

Sgt. Mikki Fritz joined the Idaho Army National Guard because she wanted to jump-start her medical career. Though she decided not to pursue a civilian medical career, she’s found experiences that she feels have placed her ahead of her peers.

“I feel ahead of my peers who aren’t in the military sometimes with all the difference experiences I’ve had,” she said.

Her military experience has also taken her to places the past four years that most of her friends won’t ever visit. She participated in exercises Angkor Sentinel 2015 in Cambodia as well as Saber Guardian 2016 in Romania and is currently participating in Hanuman Guardian 2018 at the Royal Thai Army’s Cavalry Center in Thailand.

“None of my friends can say they have flown over Romania in a [UH-60] Black Hawk [helicopter],” she said.

Best of Two Worlds

Fritz joined the Idaho Army National Guard when she was 17 and has spent the past five years as a combat medic.

During high school at Meridian Medical Arts Charter High School she earned her emergency medical technician certification and wanted to become a flight medic. She joined the Idaho Army National Guard because she thought it would help prepare her to do so while she also went to college. In college she decided she didn’t want to have a civilian medical career but has no regrets about being a combat medic.

“I like doing both and having two different worlds of experience in my military and civilian careers,” Fritz said.

She graduated college from the University of Idaho with a geography degree because she likes being outdoors. She currently works as a soil lab technician in Boise, where she tests soil for engineer projects; a job she likes because it keeps her outdoors.

Around the World

While in Thailand, Fritz is attached to the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team’s Company C, 2nd Battalion. Throughout the exercise she is spending time in the field with the Idaho Army National Guard’s only infantry company.

Because she’s attached to the state’s medical detachment, Hanuman Guardian 2018 is the first time Fritz has been assigned to a line unit to perform combat medic tasks.

“It’s been really great to work with a line unit,” she said.

She can add Thailand to the list of countries she’s flown over in a Black Hawk helicopter and on a recent overnight mission she ate every bug a vendor was selling near the training site just to try something new.

Cambodia was Fritz’s first trip abroad. She’s now used to seeing different cultures and has come to know what to expect when she travels.

“I love international missions,” she said. “They really help me grow and I get to travel. I like to learn how other people live.”

She’s also made friends in each country she’s visited and uses Facebook to stay in touch with them.

Hanuman Guardian 2018

Fritz is one of more than 150 U.S. Army and Army National Guard soldiers participating in the Hanuman Guardian 2018 exercise alongside 350 Thai soldiers at the Royal Thai Army’s Cavalry Center in Thailand’s Saraburi province.

The 11-day training event began Aug. 20, and is a bilateral army-to-army exercise that strengthens capability and builds interoperability between U.S. and Thai forces. Soldiers from both countries completed a battalion staff exercise, conducted infantry operations, and improved their skills in counter-improvised explosive device operations, battlefield medical treatment and aviation capabilities.

“I get experiences in the military that none of my friends get to have,” Fritz said.