Name:  Marina Elizabeth Libro
Branch of Service:  Army Reserve
Years Served:  22
QL+ Challenge: Recumbent Bike Lift Assistance, VCU.  QL+ students from Virginia Commonwealth University are challenged to design a system to lift her recumbent bike from the ground to her vehicle.
What was your job in the military?  Master Sergeant

Marina joined the Army in Boston, graduating Basic Training in February 1991 at top of her class.  After attending Advanced Individual Training for MOS 88K10, "Watercraft Operator" at Fort Eustis, Virginia (FEVA), she was assigned to USARSO’s 1097th Transportation Company, Fort Davis, Panama.  When 1097th became a Multi-Composite Unit, she became one of the first Soldiers to license on every class vessel in the unit.  She deployed in support of Exercise Fuertes Camino and conducted missions in support of Special Forces and Rangers at the Jungle Operations Training Battalion.  As S2/3 NCO to HHC, 7th Transportation Group, FEVA, she deployed to Haiti in support of Operation Uphold Democracy as Operations Sergeant, in charge of tracking and coordinating movements of over 30 Army vessels, 30 Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships, and 7 humanitarian vessels.  She conducted status briefings to General Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney on repatriation of over 3700 Haitian refugees in Port au Prince. 
25_DMOR.jpg 133.85 KB

Upon Marina’s return from Haiti, she was assigned to 329th Transportation Company.  Completing Active Duty in April 1995, she joined US Army Reserve’s 680th Transportation Company, Fort Story, VA as a LARC (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo) Crew Chief.  She made multiple deployments to Panama for Annual Training, where she supported Special Operations conducting Jungle Operations.  Dual assigned in 680th Trans Co and as Senior Instructor / Writer for 88K Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) to 7th Battalion, 80th Regiment, 4th Brigade, 80th Division (IT), FEVA.  She licensed on Small (65’) Tugboat, while developing MOS 88K certification training.  In 1999, she established liaison between Total Army School System (TASS) Battalion, Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM), and Army Transportation School for 88K training and re-wrote 88K Reserve Program of Instruction (POI) to mirror Active Component training.

In Oct 1999 Marina was recognized as first National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA) US Army Reserve Instructor of the Year.  In 2000, she achieved CASCOM accreditation for 88K Program of Instruction, and the 88K10 - 88K40 models were selected by CASCOM for nationwide implementation. 

Mobilized to Active Duty in 2004, Marina served as Senior Instructor / Writer at US Army Transportation School, conducting training for Active and Reserve Component Soldiers. 

After her promotion in 2006 to Master Sergeant / E8, she was selected as Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) and Senior Instructor / Writer of the Maritime Training Department.  During her tenure as MTD NCOIC, she managed all Initial Entry, NCOES and Functional courses for 88K and 88L vessels.   She also served as Subject Matter Expert for Reserve 88K10 Distance Learning Course, reconfigured Warrior Week Situational Training Exercises (STX).  Marina developed the Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) and Traffic Control Point (TCP), STX for Initial Entry Training “Warrior Week”.
HeloRescueOpsHelmDutyE6.jpg 88.31 KB

During demobilization in October 2008, Marina was placed into Wounded Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) at Fort Eustis.  While recovering from her illnesses and injuries, she maintained her job site with the Maritime Training Department, where she assisted with Instructor evaluations and instructing 88K 10-40 classes. In 2010 she became the Office of the Chief, Reserve Affairs enlisted liaison between the Transportation School, USAR, and CASCOM on all matters watercraft. 
After her 2011 retirement from the Army, Marina continued volunteer work with Soldiers and Veterans, implementing Project Hero at McGuire Veteran’s Administration, a rehabilitation program using adaptive bicycles to increase fitness, self-esteem, and camaraderie. She is a recipient of the Army Transportation Corps Regimental Association Ancient Order of St Christopher.  The Honorable Order of Saint Christopher recognizes those individuals who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character; displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence; and served the Transportation Corps with selflessness. Marina is also a Distinguished Member of the Regiment.   

How were you injured?  This is a tough one because it really wasn’t one clearly definable moment.  It was much like my careers meshing together over the years and culminating into … my life.  I had a mix of Active Duty and Reserve that would intermingle thru out my 22 years of service and in between and before and after it all I had over 20 years of law enforcement with much of it on the water as well.  And, I racked up some pretty good injuries along the way on both sides of the house:  military and civilian.  Both lines of work were very similar in duty and scope, just one was playing Offense and one was playing Defense, but you got hurt playing both.  And, like any team player, you never wanted to say when you got hurt if you could help or hide it…and I managed to hide a lot for quite a bit to “stay in the game” stay on orders and stay deployed.  That was until 2010 when I had my final injury.  Coupled with previous injuries and illnesses the Army decided I was no longer fit for duty and transferred me to the Warrior Transition Unit.

The list was long: TBI, PTSD, broken bones and torn tendons, headaches, seizures, vision and hearing loss, even a mystery virus that was attacking the lining of my heart and lungs.  After spending almost two years recovering from various surgeries and trying to solve the mystery virus, Uncle Sam gave me a full disability retirement and so did the Virginia State Marine Police.  While they had been very patient waiting for me to finish seven years of  active duty, they did want a fully functioning body, not the broken one the Army was returning to them.

After all of this, what was the most significant hurdle you overcame?  The biggest hurdle is one I am still working on overcoming: Asking for help and accepting that I am not the same…

What do you do for fun?  Any hobbies?  Cycling is my go-to hobby not just for fun but for LIFE and SANITY!  But, I have also in the last couple of years taken up fly-fishing.  My DAV has Project Healing Waters come in and we build fly rods and tie flies…it is not always as relaxing and calming as it is meant to be when we have to tie those real small flies but I do like the challenge of it-even if I make frequent contributions to the swear jar!  My wife and I also paint custom corn hole boards for friends.  She can draw pretty much anything she looks at and then I love to paint the designs.  We also do as much traveling as we can get away with.

What motivates you?  What I find motivating is the opportunity to give back. I just started volunteering with Cycling Without Age thru my local bike club.  We use a special trishaw to take Senior Citizens from local Nursing Homes out for bike rides.  It has an electric assist motor so it is something I can do even on my not so great days. Also, curiosity and adventure motivates me.

How will the device the students are building improve your quality of life?  It will save a lot of wear and tear on this ole beat up body!  I have a lot of titanium in my back and neck and I have had several  tendon surgeries on my hands so lifting my recumbent up into my truck and securing it at least 4 times every time I go for a ride is starting to get to me. It will also be great to be able to go right from a ride and leave the bike in my truck knowing it will be secured and safe without having to make the extra trip home to drop it off first or worry about it being left out in foul weather.

What has it been like so far, working with QL+ students and participating in the program?  Invigorating! Joyful! Motivating! And sparking my curiosity and sense of adventure.  I have also found some pleasant surprises. For instance: The Bike Lift Team advisors’ names are Jessika and Thea. Those are the names of my niece and her daughter and on the Bike Security Team one team
71087303_2524155584274230_379214353464819712_o.jpg 187.46 KB
member is from my hometown of Gloucester, MA!

Any words of wisdom to our QL+ students?  One of my favorite quotes comes from Jackie Robinson:  “A life is not important except on the impact it has on other lives.”  So to the students I say, "Be curious. Never give up. Don’t assume a negative--prove it. Outside the box is often better than inside the box.  Don’t settle--keep searching 'til you find the right team.  ALWAYS own your actions/words.  Believe in yourself.  Improvise. Adapt. Overcome!

If you were writing a book about yourself, what would be the title?  Don’t Die in Doubt!

The goal of our Challenger Salute is to honor the service and sacrifice our veterans and first responders have made for our country.  We are very grateful that our Challengers have agreed to participate in our program.  Their participation is helping us “build” better students.  They are providing our students with real-world experience and arming them with the tools they need to succeed once they graduate.