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"I had heard so many horror stories about people being drummed out of the military for such a stupid infraction as loving someone of the same sex, but it was not a problem." (Audio interview, 49:59)

   Andrew James Chier
Image of Andrew James Chier
Andrew Chief, New Orleans, LA, just after Hurrican Katrina [9/2005]
War: Afghan War, 2001-; Iraq War, 2003-2011
Branch: Air Force; Air Force
Unit: 451st Logistics Readiness Squadron; 273rd Engineering Installation Squadron, Texas Air National Guard; Air Force Reserve
Service Location: Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan; also: Beaumont, Texas; Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; Fort Gordon, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Balad, Iraq
Rank: Technical Sergeant
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Technical Sergeant Andrew James Chier signed up for the Texas Air National Guard in 2000, eventually switching to the Air Force Reserve. His unit was activated for service in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and he later deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. In his interview, he discusses his experiences as a gay Airman serving overseas both before and after the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," and the support he received from his unit--and his partner--during a bout of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (9 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (84 min.)
»Photo Album  (13 photos)
»Email from Dave F. to A.J. Chier, r.e. "Follow up questions" [8/5/2013]
[PDF: 0 MB / 2 p.]
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (9 items)
Decision to enlist; signing up with his best friend at the time. (355:31) Activated in September 2005 to go to New Orleans; duties during Katrina; surreal experiences there. (04:47) Deploying to Iraq in 2007; stationed at Balad Air Base; living conditions; mortars and mortar alerts. (04:51)
Driving wreckers and 18-wheeler trucks; driving outside the base; weathering rocket attacks. (02:34) Doing volunteer work at the main trauma hospital; difficulty in coping with seeing so many casualties. (03:05) Working closely with team but not developing close friendships; keeping in touch with his partner; keeping his private life very private. (04:01)
Coming back to the States; contracting Guillain-Barre Syndrome; completely paralyzed for four or five months; hospitalization; partner spent time in hospital with him (03:09) Deployment to Afghanistan; duties as an aerial porter. (03:10) Living conditions in Afghanistan; stationed in Kandahar; life as a gay soldier post-Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; connecting with a gay subculture while in Afghanistan. (06:15)

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  October 26, 2011
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