AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Only the fifth female sentinel to ever serve at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetary–badge number 688, is from right here in Amarillo.
Sgt. 1st Class Chelsea Porterfield is a hero by any measure. She has an impressive military career earning a bronze star, two meritorious service medals, four Army commendations medals, and many other awards in her nearly two decades in the Army. But her mom says her success did not happen overnight. Porterfield worked hard to earn her success, setting small goals and reaching them along the way.
Her first goal at basic training, where her mom says she was not even able to do a push-up, was an odd one–it was to make the drill sergeants laugh.
“You make them laugh you know what they make you do, right? Push. So by the end of all this, she maxed out on the men’s scale. In two minutes, I think it was 79 push-ups in two minutes” according to her mom, Diane Porter, “She says, well, you know, you got to work at it.”
She kept working at it, deploying overseas several times, then becoming a drill sergeant, later providing protection for the Army’s top generals and serving as a squad leader for a USNATO police squad in Afghanistan. She served in the Army Police and taught others as an instructor for the Military Police.
Porterfield ended her military career keeping watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetary.
Porterfield is the first female Sergeant of the Guard for the Tomb of the Unknown, and only the fifth female sentinel.
For all her success Porterfield is vocal about how PTSD and postpartum depression led her to try and take her own life.
“I never dreamed that I would have a child that would have that kind of problem. Because she’s so strong. But everyone makes that mistake.” Porter said, “But she broke and it was a combination of PTSD and postpartum depression and just the stress because she gives everything to her job. She gives everything to her unit and everything to those boys that she’s in charge of. And she broke. But she was strong enough to get help by herself. She went and asked for help. And that’s, that’s what it is about, her goal is to help any other soldier.”
The veteran suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255 and a link can be found here.
Watch Porterfield’s final changing of the guard ceremony:
Video courtesy of Dianne Porter.