With a thunderous crack, a bright neon-green softball goes sailing through the air over the flight line at Hood Army Airfield on Aug. 17.
Spc. Karah VanMetre, of Cleveland, a petroleum supply specialist assigned to Echo Company, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, was showing the rest of the battalion her batting prowess during a ceremony that recognized her for being selected to try out for the All Army women’s softball team.
For VanMetre, a distinctive path has led her to this rare opportunity.
“I’ve been playing since I was in the sixth grade (and) I’ve always loved it. I played all the sports, but I was always best at softball,” said VanMetre.
VanMetre said she had great success early on, making the varsity team throughout her high school career and becoming the first student from her school to get a college scholarship for softball.
However, things took a turn for the worse when she was injured towards the end of her high school career.
What was supposed to be a minor injury was misdiagnosed and turned out to be much more serious than the initial diagnosis had revealed. VanMetre said it took a couple of years and a total of three surgeries for her to fully recover.
After she recovered from her final surgery, VanMetre decided to join the Army, never expecting to play softball at the level she had in the past ever again.
It was during her recent deployment to Afghanistan that this changed.
While deployed, VanMetre worked side-by-side fueling aircraft with Sgt. Clifford Harris Jr., of Odessa, an ammunition specialist for Echo Company.
Harris said he learned of her past exploits playing softball after spending long days working together on a forward and arming refueling point in eastern Afghanistan.
“When she told me how much she used to play and how much she used to enjoy it, well I just thought she might have a chance, so I suggested she submit a packet for the All Army team,” Harris said. “She is a bright, ambitious soldier; a hard worker, quick learner and a team player. She’s also a fierce athlete ... it’s no surprise to me that she was selected.”
While it may not be a surprise to Harris that VanMetre was selected, for others the shock still lingers.
“It’s so exciting,” VanMetre said. “I can’t believe I actually made it this far to get picked.”
Regardless of the shock, VanMetre will leave in the next few days to go to Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., for the team’s tryout camp.
Judging by the outpouring of support and well wishes at the ceremony in her honor, it seems all of the battalion’s thoughts will go with her as well.