AL ASAD, Iraq -- Since the days of cowboys and Indians, cattle herding and gun fighting, one of the most respected and sought after creatures of the land was the wild mustang because of its speed, intelligence and capability to adapt to its environment.
Still holding true to its form, the 'mustangs' of the military are held in the same regard as the mustangs of the West, and for Cpl. Laura B. Ramsey, the time for her transition from enlisted to officer has come.
Upon becoming an officer, she will have met her goal by pinning on the gold insignia of second lieutenant, completing her transformation from enlisted to officer, thus dubbing her a 'mustang.'
Ramsey, a legal services specialist with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, was accepted into the Naval Academy Preparatory School and plans on following in her father's and stepfather's footsteps by becoming a commissioned officer in the U.S. military.
"My dad was a Navy intelligence officer and my stepfather was enlisted in the Army when he was accepted into (the U.S. Military Academy)," said Ramsey. "He then went on to serve three tours in Vietnam with a special forces unit."
Growing up with parents in the military can sometimes be hard, and for the Newport News, Va., native, it left a bad feeling with her about the military.
"I disiked the military," said Ramsey. "I would have never considered it. I was the wild child in my family and I never really had any direction."
When Ramsey's mother suggested the military to her, she shrugged it off and agreed to meet a recruiter.
"When (the recruiter) walked in wearing his dress blues I thought wow," said Ramsey. "This guy was the model Marine. He had a full chest of service ribbons, squared head, cleft chin, tall, rugged and handsome."
After listening to the recruiter talk for several hours about the Corps, Ramsey still wasn't sold on it until the recruiter told her that he didn't think she was right for his Corps. This was when she knew that she had to enlist.
"I took that as a challenge," said Ramsey with a serious look. "I have never let anyone tell me that I can't do something."
After finishing boot camp and military occupational specialty school, Ramsey was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., where she began pushing to deploy to Iraq.
"I volunteered right when I got to Miramar," Ramsey boasted. "After two years of nagging to my superiors about being deployed, I am finally here."
Before coming to Iraq, Ramsey spent her time taking college classes and working on her application for NAPS. Once she submitted it and left for Iraq, all she could do was wait.
"Being in Iraq is great! I get to experience a different part of the world," said the blonde-haired warrior. "I also had the opportunity to go with the Civil Affairs Group and meet some children from the local community."
Keeping focused on her mission while deployed was Ramsey's main goal, but with constant reminders she still waited for a response on her application.
"One day my major asked me, 'What does it mean to you to be a mustang and why do you want to become an officer?'" Ramsey said. "After I thought about it, I knew that I wanted to be the person setting up the plan that the troops use."
"Cpl. Ramsey has proven to be very competent and diligent," said Capt. Joshua S. Kirk, staff judge advocate, MWHS-3. "I think she has all the tools necessary to succeed at NAPS. As long as she stays focused on her mission - the sky is the limit in terms of her potential."
"I am very nervous. I have been out of school for two years and I think it is going to be hard to get back into it," she said. "That is why I wanted to go to prep school so that I can be ready for the academy."
According to Ramsey, having the support of family, friends and co-workers since she joined the Corps has been a very big help in fulfilling her dreams.
"Ramsey has an infectious personality that always brings a smile to those around her," said Sgt. Paul M. Swingle, aircraft maintenance administration specialist, 3rd MAW. "She has matured mentally and is ready to lead."