BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Spc. Symone Sherrill, an engineer for the 150th Engineer Company, attached to the 133rd Engineer Battalion, says she counts her blessings before the start of each work day as she conducts deconstruction and construction projects at Bagram Airfield.

The 22-year-old specialist serves as part of the 82nd Sustainment Brigade-U.S. Central Command Materiel Recovery Element said being thankful for the things she has helps keep her motivated while assisting heavy equipment operators working projects to build earth-filled barriers or deconstructing structures.

“Working these projects gives you a sense of importance and I know that without us, these projects would take much longer,” said Sherrill. “Engineers are on top of it every day, making sure we’re on schedule and the quicker we work, the better we’re prepared to close or transfer bases to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

“It’s a mission that’s bigger than ourselves, because while we’re protecting our own country, we’re also helping others to eventually take over security for their country,” she added. “It makes us see how really blessed we are to live in America with all the freedoms we have. It gives you a sense of pride which you may have already had, but it’s amplified here because you can see that our responsibilities are extremely important, leaving things better than when we got here.”

When she’s not assisting with engineer projects, Sherrill spends her downtime working out at the gym, running, watching movies or contacting her Family to stay resilient during the deployment.

“It’s important for me to stay in touch with my mom and sister back home,” said Sherrill, who has spent two years in the New Jersey Army National Guard. “While I’m deployed, I’m also concentrating on saving money so that I can get a new car and eventually I’d like to save enough to put a down payment on a house.”

Sherrill’s future goals include finishing a successful military career and volunteering to coach cheer leading at her former high school.

Sherrill said she knows how important it is for engineers to continue their efforts of base closures and transfers but said there’s an equally important materiel reduction piece to the CMRE mission.

“It’s great to know we can recycle or put useful building supplies or equipment from our projects back into the military system,” said Sherrill. “Getting bases ready for closure or transfer is an extremely important effort, but it’s also important for us to save money by reusing perfectly good equipment that can be given back to the force.”

Sherrill and her fellow 150th Engineer Company Soldiers, who have been in theater about four months, will complete their mission sometime in 2014.