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Orion graduate finds life and love in the army



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Melissa Valken (click for larger version)
July 18, 2012 - Melissa Valken wasn't planning on going into the army after graduating high school in 2004, she just fell into it.

While studying health fitness in preventative and rehabilitative at Central University she decided to join the ROTC (Reserved Officer's Training Course). After getting her BA in science from Central she commissioned as an army officer in Aug. 2008.

"I just thought it would something interesting to do," Valken said. "So, I decided to sign up."

In Oct. 2008 she left for active duty, where she attended the basic officer leader course at Fort Benning, Georgia. In January of 2009 she attended the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In May of 2009 she returned to Fort Benning Georgia where she completed airborne school and then moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina where she was assigned to Alpha Battery, 3rd Battalion, 27 Field Artillery Regiment.

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It was also at Fort Bragg where she met her future husband Chris Salicrup.

"All the lieutenants hung out in groups together so we just hung out more often together since we were the only two single ones, which developed into a relationship," she said. "We deployed not long after that."

Valken deployed with A/3-27 FAR to Afghanistan twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The first time she deployed as a platoon leader in 2010 and the second as a liaison officer in 2011. While on her second deployment, she received a care package from Chris, who asked her to open it over Skype.

"It was three weeks before I had the time to open it in front of him," she said. "So when I opened it there was all this stuff on top and when I got to the bottom I saw this jewelry box. I was like 'Jewelry, really? Zales? You can't afford to give me anything I can lose."

When she opened the box and saw the ring on the inside Chris got down on his knee on Skype and popped the question.

"I was sitting in a room and you're surrounded by everybody else who also on computers, and phones and talking. I just kind of froze like what do I do now?" Valken said. "It was definitely a memorable experience. I can't believe he was brave enough to send this in the mail."

The two have a December wedding planned.

"Christmas is the only time all military people get off and everyone we want to stand up is in the military," she said. "Trying to get all of our friends from different stations at one location at the same time is going to be hard regardless."

"In August she will be moving to Fort Huachuca, Arizona where she will attend the Military Intelligence Captains Career Course, meanwhile her husband will be five hours away stationed in Texas.

"It will be a little tricky," she said. "But five hours isn't too bad."

Whether or not she will make the military her career, Valken doesn't know at this point.

"I guess will see how military intelligence goes, and who knows what I'll do after that."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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