This article originally featured in the July 2022 issue.
Sarina Kissell didn’t just follow her brothers into the military at age 19; she made history. It was 2016 and the Army had opened combat arms to females. She became one of the first 13Fs, or Forward Observers, which is an artillery position in which she’s attached to the infantry and calls for artillery fire as needed. She also communicates with the aircraft and can fire naval guns.
On top of all of that, Sarina was the first female 13F Paratrooper in Army history. She would jump out of perfectly good airplanes, and even earned her German Jump Wings when she jumped with the Germans. The impact Sarina made as a woman in the military was significant, and she’s aware of it.
“It meant that no single person is made for a job because of your sex,” Sarina said. “If you set your mind to it, anything is possible.”
Sarina deployed to Afghanistan in 2019 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom but recently medically retired due to an accident she was involved in. Still, she enjoyed the life lessons the Army taught her, especially from her time in Afghanistan.
“Going everyday with someone actively trying to kill you, it opens your eyes to the real world when you come back and you appreciate the things in life,” she said.
Finding Time For Her Diesel
Her schedule makes you wonder how Sarina finds the time to put into personal hobbies. Previous to her time in the Army, Sarina worked as an EMT and currently is in college to receive her Bachelor's of Science in Health Science. She plans to attend medical school to become a pediatrician and will graduate from phlebotomy school in June. Oh, she’s also pregnant with a baby boy due in October. No big deal.
Despite all of this, Sarina finds time to work on her 2007 F250, a passion she’s had since she was young. Growing up around brothers, cousins, uncles and her grandpas, many of whom were mechanics, she learned a lot about trucks and how to work on them. She loved the different sound a diesel creates when compared to a gasser, and even better, she loves the smell.
While on deployment in 2019, Sarina decided to put together a build of her own. She found the Ford and said it was “the definition of a rust box.”
“The truck had been sitting for two years after the guy I bought it from ran it through the mud without washing it,” Sarina continued, “so you can imagine the damage that was done on the paint and body. With the help of my dad and my brother we completely flipped the truck to look like it does now.”
After cleaning it up, she went to work on the upgrades and modifications.
“My thought was I wanted to be different,” Sarina said. “I didn’t want to have the same matte black or white-colored truck as others. I wanted something that would stand out. So I did. I made the changes so mine was different from other people. You don’t see any vehicle the same color as mine often or at all.”
The color is Manic Blue, though it often gets mistaken as purple and sparks a blue versus purple debate at shows. The truck also has a 6-inch lift with 37-inch Nitto Ridge Grappler tires and XD Grenade series rims. Sarina named her diesel [Clyde] because she uses it to tow her 2017 AR210 boat named [Bonnie]. Together, they are [Bonnie] and [Clyde].
“I have a lot of summer memories with my truck and taking friends to the lake and out on my boat,” she explained. “Without my truck there wouldn’t be a boat and a fun-filled day every weekend.”
In the future Sarina wants a lift from Any Level Lift and new front and rear bumpers to make it look meaner and taller than it does now. She has no plans to sell or get rid of [Clyde] and looks forward to towing her son around in it and even getting him a build of his own one day.
“This build has a lot of sentimental value because my dad and my brother helped rebuild it,” Sarina said. “They are my rocks and my entire world–they are my best friends.”
Sarina sees the good and bad as a female in the diesel industry. Whether at the lake, around town or at shows, she’ll often receive the “daddy’s money” comments, which she describes as “quite funny.” In reality, it’s all her own hard work, and that hard work often pays off when kids ask for photos when she’s at shows with Diesel Hotties. People like that it’s an older-body build, and her truck is even used as a heater during colder shows. That’s a sure way to be a popular build at a cold show.
Any Level Lift