2018 Marine of the Year Winner

 Sgt. Brooke Sharp

Marine Sgt. Brooke Sharp, a 21-year-old Marine and New Jersey native, deployed with Task Force Southwest, a roughly 300 Marine unit, to one of the most violent provinces in Afghanistan: Helmand Valley.

Her communications job helping to keep the Corps’ networks up and running pushed her to the outer rim of the U.S. security bubble in the region. And her efforts to build command and control outposts that could push data, live video feeds and seamless communications to help track and strike Taliban militants was essential to the success of her unit’s mission to support the Afghan army’s fight.

“We were tracking enemy movement,” she said. “Being able to get the guns off in time to strike a target was important.”

The command and control nodes Sharp helped establish and maintain were also used to help evacuate wounded Afghan troops off the battlefield, which was a major morale booster for Afghan forces.

“Knowing they have an escape if they were going to get hurt is the biggest thing to keep them on the front line,” Sharp said.

Sharp was a vital member of Task Force Southwest. Pushing way beyond her job field, she helped rebuild U.S. outposts that expanded the security bubble around Lashkar Gah and accomplished much of this without ever having gone through predeployment training exercises.

Sharp replaced another sergeant with Task Force Southwest and was not notified she was deploying until the end of March 2017 — Task Force Southwest was wheels up to conduct two weeks of training in Kuwait around April 12, 2017, and touched down in Afghanistan later in April.

“I’ve been looking for that deployment my whole Marine Corps career, so I jumped on it.”

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