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Would you like fries with that? Soldier reenlists in front of overseas McDonald’s

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Atchley, with the 413th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, affirms her reenlistment oath, led by Col. Christian Pajak, 413th CSSB commander, Feb. 26, 2021, in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Atchley chose to reenlist in front of a McDonald's because she makes a point of eating at one in every country she visits, the Army said.

JUAN CARLOS IZQUIERDO/U.S. ARMY

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 1, 2021

An Army staff sergeant in Kuwait last week reenlisted against the backdrop of two widely recognized American symbols: the stars and stripes and the golden arches.

Online Army photos show Staff Sgt. Nichole Atchley raising her right hand Friday in front of a McDonald’s near a theme park in the capital of the Persian Gulf kingdom. Two other soldiers held a U.S. flag nearby.

Service members have reenlisted in various unique places over the years, such as in front of a booming Howitzer on an austere base in Afghanistan, with a controlled detonation blast going off behind them in Kandahar, in the backs of military helicopters, aboard historic ships or inside military museums. One Navy recruiter reenlisted in front of St. Louis’s Gateway Arch last Tuesday.

But Atchley chose to do so in front of McDonald’s arches because she makes a point of eating at one of the fast food joint’s locations in every country she visits, the Army said in a photo caption. It did not say how many she’s visited.

McDonald’s and its franchisees operate over 38,500 restaurants in nearly 120 countries, the Chicago-based corporation said in its 2019 annual report to investors. Forbes listed it as one of the top 10 most valuable brands in 2020, but it’s not among the chains the Pentagon typically hosts on military bases overseas — rival Burger King is.

Col. Christian Pajak, commander of the 413th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion swore Atchley in at a seaside ceremony near the McDonald’s on a promontory jutting into the Persian Gulf, in the shadow of the Kuwait Towers.

Atchley, who first enlisted on Oct. 1, 2002, is deployed to Kuwait as a petroleum section leader with the 308th Quartermaster Company Petroleum Forward Detachment 2, part of the 413th CSSB, the photo captions say. She plans to become an Army career counselor after the deployment.

While ceremonies like hers provide a chance for service members to show a bit of personality when re-upping, some reenlistments in recent years have drawn criticism for what some viewed as irreverence.

Just weeks before Atchley’s ceremony, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, Calif., shared photos online of Staff Sgt. James Taylor enlisting into the Space Force alongside an inflatable alien “mascot” dubbed Buddy.

garland.chad@stripes.com
Twitter: @chadgarland

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Atchley, with the 413th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, affirms her reenlistment oath, led by U.S. Army Col. Christian Pajak, 413th CSSB commander, Feb. 26, 2021, in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Atchley first enlisted in the Army Oct. 1, 2002, and has been a drill sergeant, become instructor certified, and has completed level four combatives.
JUAN CARLOS IZQUIERDO/U.S. ARMY