Reservist Pat Frede returns to ECU
The purple and gold revelry of an East Carolina University homecoming came sprinkled with red, white and blue for Pat Frede, who returned this fall from a fourth deployment with the U.S. Navy.
Frede, major gifts officer for the College of Allied Health Sciences, hosted a homecoming and donor appreciation event at ECU on Nov. 8, her first week back from nine months in Africa with the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion. “I’m excited to get back and hit the ground running,” she said.
It was Frede’s second deployment in three years. She was in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.
From Tanzania to Kenya, Frede’s unit worked to establish and enhance relations between military forces, governmental and non-governmental organizations and civilians. The group advised and assisted local populations with their needs, ranging from establishing community watch programs to teaching villagers about protection of natural resources.
The area is a major shipping route for commerce on the east coast of Africa, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. 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.
Frede supplied mobile groups that took first aid, IVs, bandages and other medical and triage items to remote villages. “We teach them how to be first responders,” Frede said.
Getting the necessary items was easier than getting them to the right locations because supply lines are poor in the country.
“Anything they needed, we tried to figure out a way to do it, and figure out how to get it to them,” Frede said. “The real challenge was logistics in Africa.”
One of the most rewarding experiences was working with Friends of Africa volunteers in Djibouti, where she mentored the organization’s leaders and interfaced with the U.S. Embassy. Volunteers helped bathe and feed children and perform minor repairs at a local orphanage, and tutored local law enforcement with their English skills.
Frede also was involved with a respite program for homeless children. “There is a harsh street life,” Frede said. “The kids were learning to sew and weave, which helps them gain a valuable skill.”
Frede was called to serve based on the skills she uses daily at ECU, she said. “In civil affairs, we’re building relationships of trust, just like we do at ECU.”
Frede also took a companion from her 2009 deployment, an ECU Skully flag, which flew over Africa on an HC-130P Combat King airdrop mission by the U.S. Air Force 81st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron.
While Frede missed several things that she often takes for granted, like pizza, Cheez-Its or a bubble bath, she said she learns something from each deployment.
“It taught me more than anything about friends and family,” to whom she is most grateful, Frede said.
She returned to the United States on Sept. 13. The transition from active duty to reserves took several weeks and involved extensive screening in two locations. As a reservist, Frede now has a new job: senior enlisted leader of a reserve unit under Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.