Sgt. Zachary Flaxbeard is a chemical operations specialist with a decontamination unit based at . Right now he is serving at Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar.
When Flaxbeard first joined the National Guard, it was to take advantage of the college tuition assistance program. After serving more than five years and being deployed to Afghanistan as a heavy weapons gunner, his focus shifted.
"I really gathered an understanding of what it means to serve a cause much larger than myself,” he said. “I have come to love giving back to and supporting our nation, its interests, and the people."
Above and beyond
Flaxbeard, the son of Tom Flaxbeard, of Overland, and Venessa Arseneau, , was recently named Soldier of the Quarter for the 175th Military Police Battalion.
"I also love inspiring soldiers to maximize their own potential, challenge themselves to do the best they can and to positively influence others outside of the command,” he said.
In order to qualify for the achievement, a soldier has to excel in a number of areas, including physical fitness, marksmanship, knowledge of the Army, and leadership skills. There is also a grueling interview before a peer review board.
Flaxbeard is one of about 250 Missouri Guardsmen who were deployed to Qatar in September for a yearlong base security mission, according to a Missouri National Guard statement.
Far from home
Qatar is attached to eastern Saudi Arabia and sits across the Persian Gulf from Iran. According to the statement, the base serves as a central staging area for U.S. Troops in the region.
Flaxbeard has been working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia College and said he eventually would like to attain a master's degree in counseling.