In Uniform: Sr. Chief Petty Officer Kimberly Petry Knaus, Spec. Gordon Alanko

May 29, 2007 11:00 pm
Kimberly Knaus ().
Kimberly Knaus ().

Senior Chief Petty Officer Kimberly Petry Knaus is retiring from the U.S. Navy after a career of 25 years and eight months.

She will be returning home to Baker City in June to spend time with her family.

Knaus is a native of Baker City. She graduated from Baker High School in June 1981 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 11, 1981. On Nov. 2, 1981, she attended basic training at Recruit Training Command, Orlando, Fla., and graduated Feb. 2, 1982.

She was first assigned to the USS Jason (AR-8) homeported at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She reported as a deck seaman, but immediately began striving to become a personnelman. While serving onboard she completed a deployment to the Western Pacific and advanced to petty officer second class.

In January 1985, PN2 Petry Knaus transferred to Personnel Support Activity Detachment, Bangor, Wash. While there she served as the educational services supervisor. During this tour PN2 Petry married Kevin Knaus, who was also on active duty in the Navy serving at Bangor. After a successful tour at Bangor, in January 1989 she was assigned to the USS McKee (AS-41) homeported at San Diego.

In November 1989, Knaus transferred to Personnel Support Activity Detachment, Naval Station San Diego. During her tour she gave birth to her first child, Karissa Lynn, in April 1990, and was advanced to the rank of petty officer first class.

In August of 1990, Knaus transferred to USS Cape Cod (AD-43). While onboard she deployed to Operation Desert Storm in December 1990 and Operation Fiery Vigil in the Philippine Islands. Departing the USS Cape Cod in March 1992, she reported to Personnel Support Activity Detachment, NAS North Island, Calif. During this tour she welcomed the arrival of her second child, Kasey Lee, in August 1993.

After this tour, in September 1995, Knaus again moved to Hawaii and was stationed at Patrol Squadron Special Projects Unit Two (VPU-2) Barbers Point, serving as the personnel office leading petty officer. While serving at VPU-2, she earned her enlisted aviation warfare specialist designation and was selected for advancement to the rank of chief petty officer. On Sept. 16, 1998, her father, Durward H. Petry, came to Hawaii to pin on PNC (AW) Knaus' anchors.

In October 1998, she transferred to United States Commander in Chief, Pacific. While there, Knaus served as the non-commissioned officer in charge of personnel actions for all services and the Navy Command career counselor.

In October 2000, she terminated shore duty to accept orders as the personnel leading chief petty officer for pre-commissioning unit Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) at Newport News, Va. While onboard, Knaus was responsible for training, staffing and accepting the newest Nimitz Class aircraft carrier to the fleet. Knaus also earned her enlisted surface warfare specialist designation and was advanced to senior chief petty officer.

She reported to her current assignment, as officer in charge, Personnel Support Activity Detachment Denver in April 2004 and will be officially retired on June 30.

Knaus's decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards) and various service and campaign ribbons.

Knaus's two children, Karissa, 17, and Kasey, 13, said they will miss the adventure of moving every three to four years and meeting new people.

Spec. Gordon Alanko of Baker City is deployed with his unit, Alpha Company/321st Engineer Battalion out of Boise, to Camp Ramadi, Iraq.

He is the son of Randy and Janet Alanko of Baker City.

The 321st Engineer Battalion is deployed to Camp Ramadi under the 411th Engineer Brigade of New Windsor, N.Y., operating out of LSA Anaconda, Balad, Iraq. The battalion's main focus is keeping the routes safer for Coalition Forces by finding/discouraging IED and other explosive devices.

Alpha Company was on a routine mission, clearing a route, escorting a supply convoy to a series of isolated observation posts (OP) in an agricultural area northeast of Ramadi. Having reached the first OP, Alpha Company pulled security as the trucks entered the compound to re-supply the troops.

While some of the soldiers took smoke breaks, Alanko, a gunner, kept watch over his fields of fire for any hostile threat. Within 10 minutes, mortar rounds began exploding in the distance. The soldiers of Alpha Company jumped at the sounds, but were relaxed as they did not appear to be the intended targets.

Intended or not, the targets turned out to be a school and surrounding housing. Soon adults appeared, approaching the company, carrying children. As four children and three adults were loaded up for evacuation, the radio call went out for Spec. Christopher Yaw, a nursing student in the states, who was Alanko's driver on this mission.

Yaw and Spec. Jesse Kelsch, a combat medic, rode with the wounded to keep them stable on the way to an aid station. Yaw says it was frustrating — due to the language barrier, much of the care was guesswork based on his assumptions. Alanko, with heightened alert, manned his .50 Cal as the team made its way with no further incident.

There were deaths that night, but all of the wounded transported by Alpha Company survived. And since, on a route that once netted IED finds on nearly every trip, none have been found. The area around the OP, where the locals shunned the Americans, and streets were deserted, are now a bustle with activity, and children asking for candy and "futbols."

Alanko and his fellow team members of Alpha Company know that there is still much work to be done, but feel good about the difference they have made in their area of operations, and look forward to handing off a better Iraq to their replacements later this year.

Homeschooled, Alanko has completed 2 years toward a degree in engineering from Northwest Nazarene University. When not deployed, he works for a computer/printer service and support company and is a freelance writer.