Ohio Army National Guard, Afghanistan, Puerto Rico
SSG Michelle Metzger is a full-time Ohio Army National Guard recruiter, currently assigned to the Grove City recruiting office.
Michelle was born at Wood County hospital in 1991, joining parents Robin and Michael and older sister Crista, then living in the rural community of Weston. She was a student-athlete at McComb high school where she played varsity basketball and softball all four years while maintaining a 3.8 GPA. She also participated in student government serving on the student council and also as the Spanish Club president. She credits much her work ethic used in school, sports and life to having grown up on a farm.
After graduation in 2009 Michelle enrolled at BGSU intending to become a journalist. It was tough going as she had to work to pay for tuition and her living expenses. Michelle recalls, “Since my early teen years I had always wanted to be part of something bigger than myself.” With that driving her and the desire to complete college, Michelle joined the Ohio Army National Guard in 2010, both to serve and to benefit from the GI bill.
Because there were long waiting lists for slots to open on training for many jobs in the Guard, Michelle chose 88Mike, Motor Transport Operator, as she could leave immediately for training. In January of 2011 she arrived at Fort Jackson, South Carolina where she was assigned to a coed basic training squad.
“I had an amazing time. Yes, it was stressful, but I credit my experiences growing up that prepared me to handle it well. Even though I was one of the youngest recruits, I guess the other trainees thought I was mature, as they often sought me out for advice, even called me “mom”!”
Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri was home for her AIT training, where she learned to drive 5-ton, M915 tractor units and the Army’s wrecker/recovery trucks. Michelle had no problems earning respect from male soldiers. “I was confident, didn’t have to prove myself.”
Returning to Ohio, Michelle became a member of the 1483rd Transportation Company of the Ohio Army National Guard, based in Walbridge. Michelle returned to BGSU now pursuing a Criminal Justice degree. She also was accepted into the ROTC program at the university. This required her to transfer to the 1487thTransportation Company, located in Piqua. This was her life for the next 2 ½ years. In 2012 the 1487th was ordered to deploy to Afghanistan. Michelle wanted to go so she took a leave of absence from ROTC, arriving with her unit in Kandahar in January of 2013.
Michelle was assigned to be the driver of a MRAP gun truck, part of a four-member crew tasked to protect convoys. There were missions everyday of various distances, as convoys provided troop transportation and re-supply missions throughout the region. There was always an underlying tension due to the enemy constantly burying mines in the roads and using IED’s to attack the convoys.
“You become very close to each other while serving together as truck team. I felt good being treated as an equal, that I was trusted.”
Michelle stayed in Kandahar for six months before being “loaned’ to support the Australian troops at their Tarin Kowt base, located in southern Afghanistan.
“I really enjoyed my three months there, learning about their customs and cultures. And they also had fresh fruit and vegetables flown in every week!”
“I also learned that all is not equal in the world and to appreciate all that I have, after watching children, living in a “third world” country, not even having simple things, such as shoes.”
(The 1487th completed its nine-month deployment in October of 2013 and returned to Ohio.)
Back in the civilian world, Michelle once again changed her focus for her future, enrolling at Owens Community College where she would complete their Certified Dental Assistant program. For the next 3 plus years she worked as a full-time dental technician for a dentist office in Weston. (Michelle returned to BGSU during this time successfully completing the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in health science in 2017.)
Hurricane Maria would hit Puerto Rico in October of 2017, causing massive destruction across the island. Michelle volunteered to deploy for a humanitarian mission with the Guard. Now an E-5 with the 1483rd, she was assigned to be a squad leader over 25 other soldiers also deployed. For 29 days the soldiers providing relief would dispense water, food, clothing and equipment to the over 400,000 storm-stricken Puerto Rican people.
Michelle made a commitment after this deployment to go full-time serving in the Ohio Army National Guard. She moved to Columbus where her first assignment was to recruit officer candidates to attend college ROTC programs. Michelle was selected to attend the Advanced Leadership Course at Ft. Lee, Virginia. She distinguished herself during the five-week course and was chosen to be the Distinguished Honor Graduate. She was also promoted to Staff Sergeant.
In August of 2018 SSG Metzger was transferred to Alpha Company, with the Recruitment/Retention Command. Her current three-year assignment is being the face of the Ohio Guard serving as a recruiter in the Grove City office.
“I love talking to the “kids”, many lacking even the basic necessities in life, and offering them an opportunity to change their lives. I try very hard to make a good first impression at the schools, colleges and to those that walk into my office.”
Aside from her work with the Guard, Michelle is enjoying life! She remains very close to her parents and her sisters Crista and Nicole.
“I am engaged to be married to a fellow guardsman, Nikko, whom I originally met during the deployment to Puerto Rico. The more I watched him work and got to know him, I was impressed that he was self-driven, having serious goals in life, that he wanted to accomplish. That, and he WAS handsome!!!!
Michelle works out at the gym regularly to stay in shape, loves to kayak with Nikko down rivers and visits family often.