United States Army veteran Christine Townsend served in one of the more unique military roles – Squad Leader for a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare (NBC) team.
“I was 18 years old and didn’t know what I was going to do with my life,” Townsend said. “I was very much into STEM, and an Army recruiter told me about that job. Looking back, it was the best decision I ever made, to join the military after high school.”
Serving in that role from 1996-2002, Townsend said her team would support tanker battalions and infantry companies by laying down covers of smoke in areas with little camouflage, so they could position themselves strategically. On the home front, her role included being prepared to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear attack.
The Pennsylvania native spent two years in South Korea, before seeing out her career at Fort Riley in Kansas.
“Not many people in this world get to visit the DMZ (demilitarized zone),” Townsend said of some of her unique experiences. “When you serve in Korea, you have to go there to see the reality of the situation you are in. There was even a meeting room where we were able to cross into North Korea.”
Even more unique is that Townsend was inducted into the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, comprised of the top two percent of the noncommissioned officers in the U.S. Army.
“You have to prove yourself to even be nominated,” said Townsend, whose grandfather jumped into D-Day at Normandy as part of the 82nd Airborne Division. “I was inducted in 2001 when I was at Fort Riley. It was definitely one of my career highlights.”
When it comes to lessons learned while in the military, Townsend said the leadership skills she obtained have helped her immensely in life, from family to her career.
“I have been with Shell for 21 years,” Townsend said. “I started at the very bottom of the company and worked my way up to a middle management position. It’s not easy to do, and I’ve spent most of my time building my career.”
Townsend said family is also an important part of her life. Her husband, Brian, is a 23-year U.S. Army veteran, and they have two children – daughter Kennedy (12) and son Riley (nine).
“We do a lot of this military recognition with my husband because he is a retired combat veteran,” Townsend, who now calls Kingwood home, said proudly. “Our kids our very used to going to events for their dad, but not necessarily for mom. So, it’s going to be a really cool opportunity for them to see this.”
Amongst all the fun, Townsend also noted how critical it is to raise awareness of veterans who protected our country that are dealing with PTSD and other traumas incurred during combat.
“I have dealt with it personally, as well as my husband, who has been in combat situations,” Townsend said. “It’s about having a little bit more patience with people, not knowing what their experiences are. It’s important to me that people don’t judge a book by its cover. Why can’t we all live in peace and harmony together and get along?”
Overall, Townsend said she is simply looking forward to taking in a match at Shell Energy Stadium with her family by her side.
“The stadium is very lively, and it’s more of an intimate type of setting and very family oriented,” said Townsend, who moved to Houston 13 years ago. “I love soccer fans because they love it so much and are so passionate about the sport. I love to watch fans react, especially when someone scores a goal because that is the pinnacle moment.”
The Houston Dynamo are proud to honor U.S. Army veteran Christine Townsend as the Hero of the Match during Wednesday’s matchup versus Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Shell Energy Stadium.