Army a place to learn, grow for Murrill

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Staff Sgt. Sharla Murrill poses next to a helicopter in Sarajevo, Bosnia at the Bosnian Army training facility. Murrill was in Bosnia during her deployment as a member of the Army National Guard.


By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sharla Murrill joined the U.S. Army because she wanted more education and a chance to learn new things.

Sixteen years later, she’s still in the Army and she’s still learning.

Now 34-year-old Sgt. First Class Murrill was just a graduate from Perquimans County High School. She’d playing basketball and was in the band.

Then, she ran across an Army recruiter at College of The Albemarle.

“He explained the educational benefits and I became interested,” Murrill said.

So she and a friend, Joy Jones, signed up under the buddy system.

Murrill’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) classification is that of a human resources specialist.

Sounds safe enough right? She pushes paper in an office, right?

Any thoughts like that were swept away after her first combat tour in Iraq in 2002-2003. She also did tours in 2005-2006 and in 2010-11.

“Pretty much anywhere (in Iraq) was a hostile environment,” she said. “I think it was worse in 2002-2003. Every night there were mortar rounds coming in, and then there were the IEDs. You got used to sleeping in the back of vehicles. There was no location that was really safe.”

She was assigned to the Third Aviation Brigade, and even though her job title called for clerical work, she still used her rifle.

“We’d be assigned duty pulling guard shifts like anybody else. We’d still man the grounds.”

When she went to Iraq in 2010-11, it was with the 105th Military Police detachment. Their job was to take care of prisoners, so Murrill had to learn a new job skill.

She did 10 full years in the regular Army and six so far in the National Guard.

“The cool thing about the guard is you can still pick up active duty tours.”

She enjoyed her tour assigned with NATO in Bosnia. In fact she’s waiting for orders to go back.

“It’s a great experience. You’re working with people from 36 other counties for the same goal.”

Her advice to any young person thinking about the military is to be prepared to be away from your family.

“The family thing is the hardest. If anything should happen, you’re not there. You have to adjust,” said Murrill, daughter of Rev. Harold and Vera Murrill.

“When I went in when I was 18, I was afraid, but I made it. And I can thank a lot of great leaders who stood beside me.”

“It’s a very big sacrifice, but it’s worth it. Just be prepared.”

“I don’t regret any of it. I was able to learn a lot in the Army. They will prepare you to do anything you want to do. You get to travel. You get to embrace other cultures and learn about other cultures. It’s a chance to extend your knowledge and you learn things you never knew before if you have an open mind.”