ECU development officer called to serve
ECU development officer and reservist called to serve
By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services
U.S. Navy veteran and reservist Pat Frede is taking the skills she’s learned as a fundraiser for East Carolina University’s College of Allied Health Sciences to the horn of Africa.
Frede has been called to active duty for the second time in three years, this time as part of the Maritime Civil Affairs reserve unit for the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. She left ECU in December for training before deployment, where she will lead several five-person teams with a mix of skills: health care, construction, communications and boat coxswain.
The unit will establish and enhance relations between military forces, governmental and non-governmental organizations and civilians. Frede’s group will advise and assist local populations with their needs, which could range from establishing community watch programs to teaching villagers about protection of natural resources.
“It’s not doing things for them, but teaching them to do for themselves,” Frede said.
She will be in an area that is a major shipping route for commerce on the east coast of Africa, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. In January, Navy Seals rescued an American aid worker who had been held by Somali pirates for months in the area. The U.S. Africa Command works to ensure the security of Americans and American interests from threats that might emanate from the continent, including terrorist groups such as al-Qaida.
Packed in Frede’s sea bag will be the ECU Skully Flag, the same flag she took to Afghanistan in 2009-2010 where she served in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
There, as part of her mission, Frede was embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps Female Engagement Teams who worked to develop relationships of trust and mutual respect with Afghan women, who generally aren’t allowed to have contact with men outside their families. She also taught a course on the teams’ relevance in counterinsurgency and stability operations.
Building trust and respect parallels her work at ECU, and she will carry it with her across the Atlantic again. “Each one has honestly taught me how to do the other better,” Frede said.
“We (in the Navy) have a saying, ‘honor, courage, commitment.’ In fundraising, you tell the truth and you do what the donor says. You are building trust that will be beneficial to the individual and organization,” she said.
The work that Frede did in Helmand province with the female engagement teams resulted in a presidential unit citation. “I had never worked with people so closely of another culture,” she said. “I will be doing more of that (in Africa).”
During her deployment, Frede plans to post regularly to a Facebook site: Skully ThePirate. It’s active but nothing is posted yet and she welcomes friends once it’s up and running. “I took him (the flag) last time just to take a piece of home and he really enjoyed it, especially meeting Gen. McChrystal, whose wife is our alumna,” said Frede, speaking of Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.
This is only Frede’s fourth deployment in her almost 20-year Navy career which includes 15 years in the reserves. It is unusual to be called so soon after the last deployment, but it all depends on what expertise, occupational specialties and operational units are needed at the time, Frede said. “Once you go, you’re desirable because you have the experience,” she said. “It’s a resource for the military. It takes less time to get up to speed.”
Frede said she’s lucky she has a supportive husband, Pete, who is retired from the Navy. She also is grateful to ECU, the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation and the College of Allied Health Sciences for their support while she is away. Volunteers from the Foundation’s board of directors and ECU University Advancement members Tricia Reidinger and Candace Darden will help organize and partner on allied health sciences’ planned annual fundraising campaign and other projects.
ECU’s efforts haven’t gone unrecognized. In 2010, ECU and North-Carolina-based Food Lion were among 15 employers nationwide to receive the Department of Defense’s Freedom Award – the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers for their support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.