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A 'most impressive' soldier

Kibler finds her perfect niche while writing for the Army

Lindsey Kibler served at JBLM for seven years. Photo credit: Randy Montoya

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Wanting to do something she felt was significant, Lindsey Kibler joined the Army.

Wanting to do something she was good at, she wrote for public affairs offices for the Army for nearly nine years.

She told the Army story. And she told it well.  

Kibler was named the Army's Paul D. Savanuck Military Print Journalist of the Year for 2011. In 2013, the Business Insider named her one of the 14 most impressive women in the Army.

It was her desire to write stories about soldiers, stories about the day-to-day assignments, that earned her recognition and a sense of accomplishment.

"Since you're telling stories, you get to meet people, and there are so many amazing people in the Army," Kibler said in a recent phone interview. "They're amazing at their jobs. And there's just the little things that they do."

Kibler remembers writing about a commander at Fort Benning who had an autistic daughter and how he dealt with that challenge.

"I miss telling stories about really awesome people who do selfless things," she said.

Her favorite story is about a 20-year-old private, James Burnett, Jr. Once, during an assignment in Kandahar with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Kibler rode with Burnett for eight hours in a Stryker while waiting for his company to return from a patrol to Do'ab Village.

As they waited, Burnett talked about his life, about his family, and about the woman he was going to marry when he returned home to Kansas.

Several days later, Burnett was killed when his vehicle ran over an IED.

Kibler wrote an emotional first-person story for the Army about her reflections on a friend killed in action.

"His goofy demeanor reminded me of my little brother," Kibler wrote. "He was just a baby in my eyes."

Burnett's death taught her a valuable lesson.

"He was just a great kid," she wrote. "He taught me to appreciate everything you have and to be the best that you can. In a moment, it could be gone."

Burnett's mom found Kibler on Facebook and thanked her for her story.    

"She wrote me a little note and what (the story) meant to her," Kibler said. "That's exactly why I wrote it."

While in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012, Kibler wrote 11 stories and filed more than 300 photos of combat operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan while with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.

She was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for seven years and earned her BA at Saint Martin's University.

Now, Kibler, who got out of the Army in February 2015, is a public information coordinator with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the town she grew up in.

With her new job, she's writing. But she admits it doesn't have the same "wow factor" it had while writing for the Army.   

"It's not the Army," Kibler said, chuckling at her comment. "I never thought I'd say that. I never thought I'd say I miss it, but I really do."

To get the fulfillment she got from being in the Army, Kibler now volunteers with community projects like hospice.

"I have noticed since I've been out, that I've been missing things," Kibler said. "That service feeling. I don't feel I have that. Unless I volunteer with hospice. At least then I can feel like I'm contributing something."

Last February, during her final days in the Army, Kibler took a number of placement tests with the Army Career Assistance Program (ACAP). One of the projects the program required was submitting a resumé to a business.

"I said, ‘okay, I'll do this,'" Kibler said.

That's how she got her job with Sandia National Laboratories: One resumé equaled one job.

"I even had a typo in my resumé," she said with a chuckle. "I noticed that afterward. But they actually offered me a job. People told me I was insanely lucky. I do consider myself lucky."

One week after leaving the Army, Kibler was at her new job, writing releases.

But then she had to take some time off for surgery on her back due to repercussions from a near-death injury she suffered in the Army while stationed in Afghanistan in the Kandahar Province. An enemy's 82-mm rocket, launched by a bazooka a half-mile away, exploded about 12 feet from her.

She suffered a concussion and injured her back. Despite the injury, Kibler, who was awarded a Purple Heart for that experience, considers herself lucky. Someone she had been talking to called her back to give her a business card. She turned around and walked back to get the business card. She still has it.

"I would have been right on the ground when the bomb landed," Kibler said.

It was four years ago that she was nearly killed. On Oct. 24, she celebrated her "alive day."

"I didn't tell my mom about it forever," Kibler said. "I didn't want her to freak out."

That was one story she didn't want to share, at least not with her mother.

At age 20, when Kibler enlisted into the Army, following the steps of her dad, she knew she wanted to go into writing.  

"I wanted to do something that was going to be easy for me," Kibler said. "Something that I'd like doing, and that I knew how to do already."

It was a perfect fit.

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