By Army Spc. Heidi Schuler
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — The sun is setting over the horizon here as Army Sgt. Cassandra Peel practices one of her final kicks of the day. Precision. Power. Passion. These words come to mind as she delivers one swift kick after another. It is evident that this woman is in her element.
Peel, an avionics mechanic with Bravo Company, 640th Aviation Support Battalion, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, is a self-proclaimed “Army brat,” born at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Parented by two retired service members, Peel and her four siblings grew up intimately familiar with the Army lifestyle. After first grade her family relocated to Kaiserslautern, Germany, where Peel spent the majority of her childhood.
Today, Peel is well-traveled and proficient in German. But she has another skill set that may come as a revelation even to those who know her fairly well: a 2nd degree black belt in taekwondo.
Peel, who is now an assistant instructor at a taekwondo academy in Arcata, California, was first drawn to the sport six years ago during her freshman year in college at Kansas State University. She attended her first sessions at a nearby taekwondo academy in Hays.
“It was the community [that drew me in],” Peel said. “The people are like family.”
During Peel’s training, she learned self-improvement, courtesy, integrity and perseverance. With her military upbringing and background in taekwondo, it seemed only natural for her to join the Kansas Army National Guard in 2011.
“I had always dreamed about joining the military,” Peel said, stating that her parents’ success had steered her in that direction.
Army Sgt. Brittany Bergman, a fellow mechanic in Bravo Company, has known Peel since they both graduated from Army basic training in 2012.
“She sets a standard that females can strive to meet,” Bergman said, describing Peel’s character as sincere, determined and strong.
Peel emphasized the usefulness of self-defense classes for increasing one’s confidence and personal safety as a “hard target.”
“Stand up for yourself,” Peel said. “A lot of people are too passive. Be assertive and be vocal.”
Following her deployment, Peel plans to test for her 3rd degree black belt. After the necessary “time in grade” she will be prepared to rank up, proving once more that she is an unparalleled, well-rounded individual.
“My philosophy on life is to enjoy the present and focus on making yourself and those around you happy, and life will work itself out,” she said.