By Sgt. 1st Class Joy Dulen
U.S. Army Human Resources Public Affairs
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey led the first 2016 meeting of the Senior Enlisted Council recently at the U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with the focus set on managing the enlisted force and maximizing talent.
Because HRC’s mission is to optimize total force personnel readiness, Dailey said it was the perfect setting for the topic at hand.
“This time, we talked about our personnel and how we’re going to rearrange the talent management and leader development of our senior noncommissioned officers,” he said.
A new direction
Dailey changed what was once known as the Board of Directors under former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler to the SEC shortly after taking over as the 15th Sgt. Maj. of the Army in January 2015. The council of senior sergeants major from throughout the Army meets monthly via video teleconference and in person quarterly to discuss issues that affect the welfare of Soldiers.
Topics may range from military pay and compensation recommendations to uniform changes. However, Dailey said the time has come to concentrate on Soldiers after more than a decade at war.
“The Chief of Staff of the Army has tasked me with taking a look at how we manage our enlisted force, how we maximize the talents and capabilities of our Soldiers, and really answer some of the questions that we’ve asked for a long time,” Dailey said.
Topics discussed during SECs can affect the force in as little as a month or result in ongoing talks into the future. Dailey said it depends on the issue.
“We get recommendations, and some of those start with one individual Soldier,” he said.
He gave the example of a recent change in Army policy on the authorized wear of black socks with the Army physical fitness uniform. A Soldier stood up in a town hall meeting and asked why black socks weren’t allowed. Less than 30 days later, the policy was changed.
“We took that to the Senior Enlisted Council, had a unanimous vote that it was in keeping with the finest traditions of Army service, went to the Chief of Staff of the Army and we quickly made a decision,” Dailey said.
Some issues are much more complex. When you’re discussing working through the intricacies of military compensation and reform, it could take several months to affect the force, he said.
“The perfect example is the Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report that has just been launched,” Dailey said. “We worked on that for two years in the Senior Enlisted Council … and some of these things take a lot of work because we have to call in the professionals, like those people who work here at the Human Resources Command, to be able to inform us and do the analysis.”
Dailey reiterated the SEC’s biggest concern is Soldiers’ welfare. They don’t want to make decisions that could have a negative impact over the long term, he said.
“This is the Army, it’s a big organization and it’s hard to turn back,” he said. “Simple things like black socks — not a huge effect on Soldiers. But the Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report, that has a huge effect on the total population of NCOs, not just now, but into the foreseeable future.”
Dailey said the SEC will continue to meet with a fresh new focus on Soldiers and the Chief of Staff of the Army’s No. 1 priority — readiness.
“We’re an organization made up of people, and we’re the largest people organization in America,” he said. “Human Resources Command is one of those critical nodes that we have to invest in for the future and make sure we get it right because they’re here to take care of our people. And our job as an Army is to always get better.”
Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock, who was killed earlier this month in Afghanistan, was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class, acting Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy announced Wednesday.
The 30-year-old Special Forces engineer sergeant was from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was a member of the Washington National Guard. He is survived by his wife, Alexandra, and their 3-month-old son, Declan.
In his statement, Murphy said that he had met with Alexandra and Declan McClintock. He said he “let them both know that their Army family will always be there for them — and that Declan would know that his Daddy is one of our Nation’s heroes.”
McClintock was killed by small-arms fire Jan. 5 in the Marjah district of Helmand province, according to the Department of Defense. Two other American troops and four Afghan soldiers were injured during the hours-long battle between coalition and Taliban forces.
Alexandra McClintock told the Army Times that her husband’s teammates told her that he abandoned his cover to find a landing zone so a helicopter could land and evacuate a wounded teammate.
“He ran out without even thinking about himself,” she told the newspaper. “When he got to really do his job and do the job he loved, he came home a happy man.”
McClintock and his fellow Green Berets, from 1st Battalion’s A Company, deployed to Afghanistan in July, according to information from the Washington Army National Guard.
McClintock joined the Army in 2006. After completing his training, McClintock was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, deploying to Iraq in 2007. He was chosen for selection in the U.S. Army Special Forces School in May 2009, according to information from the Guard.
He was assigned to 1st Special Forces Group, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, in November 2010. He deployed to Afghanistan from August 2012 to May 2013. McClintock left active-duty in December 2014 and was assigned to 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, which is part of the Washington Guard.
His wife told the Army Times that McClintock had begun the process to return to active duty.
“Staff Sergeant McClintock was one of the best of the best,” Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, commander of the Washington Guard, said in a statement shortly after McClintock’s death. “He was a Green Beret who sacrificed time away from his loved ones to train for and carry out these dangerous missions. This is a tough loss for our organization.”
From beginning to end, the inaugural U.S. Army Alaska NCO SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention) Summit on Jan. 11 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, was unfiltered, honest and provided a harsh look at sexual misconduct in the military.
The summit offered a forum for noncommissioned officers in a variety of leadership positions to discuss victim services, address offender accountability and share best practices in combating sexual harassment and sexual assault.
“It is my hope that these NCOs are really inspired to change the culture,” USARAK Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Gardner said. “I hope our NCOs will be able to affect our lower enlisted Soldiers and be the sounding board and advocate they need.”
Sexual assault response coordinators, victim advocates and unit leaders from throughout USARAK joined guest speakers for presentations and open mic sessions. The open mic sessions focused on raising awareness and understanding victim support services, the investigative and legal process, a survivor’s perspective, prevention and ways NCOs can play a role in effecting change.
“We have so many Soldiers who want to do the right thing, but they don’t know what right looks like,” said Sgt. Maj. Stephen Bowens, Department of the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention sergeant major. “I’m hoping our NCOs walk away from this today more educated and more empowered to hold people accountable no matter what their rank is.”
Among the guest speakers at the summit was Monique Ferrell, Director of the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Office. She, too, emphasized the need for a change in culture to eliminate sex crimes in the military.
“How can we consider ourselves the greatest fighting force on Earth when there are incidents of sexual offenses going on in our ranks?” she asked. “We must view sexual predators and perpetrators as insider threats that bring great damage to the Army team. They destroy our professional image and take away the trust of American families who send us their sons, daughters and loved ones.”
The SHARP director said new Soldiers come into the Army with varied sets of values, including a sometimes skewed view of what is considered acceptable social behavior. Longtime troops have past practices of “hazing, horseplay and locker-room antics” that disregard human dignity and proper conduct, she noted. She said in both of these situations, leader intervention is vital.
“That is why we rely on you as NCOs to know what right looks like and set the example,” Ferrell told the crowd.
Ferrell also spoke briefly about the Not in My Squad initiative promoted by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey. It’s all about taking responsibility in one’s “realm of authority,” she said. It pushes the prevention of sexual harassment and assault down to the junior levels, where even lower-enlisted personnel can feel empowered to correct the behavior of those around them.
“Some may think that this is just another slogan, and that’s a perception we’re working to change,” Ferrell said. “Not in My Squad is a call to action, and it’s working. Awareness and bystander intervention is spreading, and we hope it will even transition to the civilian personnel who will also stand up and say ‘not on my team’ and ‘not in my office.’ It all goes back to the total cultural change needed to fix this problem.”
A new exhibit at the Noncommissioned Officer Heritage and Education Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, remembers the military service of Sgt. Richard Rogers, who fought in World War II.
“Throughout our tour, we highlight individual NCOs because it personalizes it for you,” said Sgt. 1st Class Skeet Styer, NCO in charge at the center. “It gives you a better feel for what it was like for NCOs throughout different periods of history.”
Rogers’ daughter, Lorraine Fidonik of Addison, Illinois, donated her father’s medals and other artifacts, and provided all the information she could about his service.
On display are Rogers’ medals – including a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with V device, a Purple Heart and four campaign stars – all engraved with his name on the back, photographs of him during his service, his burial flag, and the rifle cartridges from his 21-gun salute. The exhibit even includes his high school diploma and photographs from his childhood – one of him as a baby with a head full of curls, and another of him as a toddler, playing with his dog in the yard in front of his house.
“I realized the most important and satisfying time in his life were the years he spent in the Army, and he was very proud of his achievements,” Fidonik said. “I felt that would all be lost if somehow his story wasn’t shared and his medals just gathered dust in my attic. I wanted to send them someplace where someone would care about them. I’m so pleased with what they have done with the exhibit. Hopefully it will help teach others a little bit about what it was like back then.”
Rogers’ early life
Rogers was born April 16, 1917, in Montgomery City, Missouri. He grew up on his parents’ farm, planting, cultivating and harvesting grain crops alongside his father. He graduated from high school in 1936 before enlisting in the Army 1939 as a rifleman with the 6th Infantry Regiment at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.
The next year, when the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment was born, Rogers was assigned to train new Soldiers who had just finished basic training.
“Rogers probably became an NCO so quickly and was given that position because of his experience and education. Very few were able to finish high school in those days. During the Great Depression, school was just not a priority.” said Leigh Smith Jr., curator of the center. “He was also a little older than the 17- or 18-year-old kids coming in. So the younger Soldiers who were drafted, those guys looked up to NCOs like Sgt. Rogers because they had that experience and maturity. His reading and writing skills helped him when developing the unit’s standard operating procedures. … A higher education level had a huge impact on Soldiers’ careers back then as well.”
Memories of the war
Rogers went on to fight with A Company, 1st Battalion, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Division in the invasion of North Africa in 1942, the invasion of Sicily in 1943, the invasion and breakout from Normandy in 1944, and the Battle of the Bulge that same year. He was wounded and hospitalized at least three times during his service.
Like many veterans, Rogers didn’t want to dwell on difficult and painful memories after he came back from the war. But an incredible history can be gleaned from historical documents and the few stories he shared with his daughter.
“He never really spoke of his service,” Fidonik said. “Only in later years, after my mother had died, did he occasionally mention a few things. I asked him to tell me the stories of his medals so they would not be lost, and he said he had never told anyone, not even my mother.”
One time, Fidonik said, her father recalled making his way back to friendly lines alone. There was no place to take cover when morning came, so he slit the belly of a dead cow, swollen and stinking from decomposition, and crawled inside to wait for nightfall before continuing his journey.
When Rogers shared his memories of the breakout from Normandy at St. Lo, the battle in which he earned the Silver Star, he recalled being in a field where “not much was going on.” He made a trade with a Soldier next to him for the watch he was wearing. Just as Rogers took the watch – which is included in the exhibit – the Soldier was shot. He told Fidonik that as the battle began, everyone around him was falling.
“He finally picked up a bazooka and fired until he ran out of ammo,” Fidonik said. “By now he was ‘angry!’ When he saw a tank, he said he ‘ran after it, climbed on top, opened it and dropped in a grenade.’”
The next thing Rogers remembered was waking up in a hospital in England. Fidonik’s mother told her that her father later left the hospital with a 105-degree fever and returned to his unit to fight in the Battle of the Bulge.
“He said he was never so cold in his life as he was there,” Fidonik said.
Fidonik remembers another time, when her father mentioned Mark Bando’s book Breakout at Normandy – the 2nd Armored Division in the Land of the Dead. The book describes Rogers’ platoon leading an assault on SS- Sturmbannführer Christian Tychsen, a notable Panzer Division officer whose rank was the equivalent of a U.S. colonel.
According to the book, Rogers’ platoon ambushed Tychsen’s vehicle, which then careened off the elevated road into a ditch. Tychsen was hit, and the driver was most likely killed in the crash.
Rogers showed his daughter the cover of the book, which features a photograph of Tychsen. He pointed to Tychsen’s photo and told Fidonik he was the one who had killed him.
Rogers finished World War II in Germany on the Elbe River, and was one of the two A Company Soldiers remaining of the unit’s original 150 men.
“He told me that his platoon took a hill, and after the fight only his lieutenant and he were left,” Fidonik said. “They started back down, but night overtook them and they looked for a ‘safe’ place to spend the night. Seeing an old barn, they entered and found it filled with dead German soldiers – ‘stacked like cordwood.’ He and his lieutenant climbed on top of the pile, burrowed down into the middle and spent the night.”
Life after the fight
After the war, Rogers and his wife, who was working in naval intelligence when they met, lived in Chicago. Until his retirement, he worked as a lithographer in a print shop that published the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogue. Fidonik was born in 1948, and her sister, Deborah, was born seven years later.
Though Rogers never mentioned his years in the war when the girls were growing up, Fidonik remembers her dad lying across her mother’s lap while she opened a drain at the bottom of a long, wide scar on his back, and tracking a piece of shrapnel that would “travel” in his arm.
Toward the end of his life, Rogers spent a lot of his time with other veterans at his American Legion post. He was able to open up more than ever before when surrounded by others with similar experiences, and eventually spoke to Fidonik about his memories.
Holding onto history
“We want others to see what noncommissioned officers have done through the ages,” Smith said. “We are trying to show the younger generation of Soldiers coming through today what their great-grandparents, grandparents, parents have done before them. The history needs to be continued.
“All of the Soldiers who come through here, eventually they will be noncommissioned officers. This is their museum. Retirees who come through want to see how we are remembering their service. People who served in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield. People who served in World War II, Korea. We want to help remember those folks, because they helped shape the Army today.”
Styer said young Soldiers and NCOs are often shocked to discover that Soldiers in Rogers’ day didn’t get to come home unless they were wounded, and often, not even then. Rogers was deployed for 33 months.
“The only time they got pulled off the line was when they were wounded,” Styer said. “Then they spent some time in the hospital and went through rest and recuperation – R&R. When these guys realize, ‘Wow, my grandfather didn’t get to come back until after the war,’ they realize they have it pretty good.”
It is the personal stories, like Rogers’, that hit closest to home, Smith said. Each one brings history to life and helps new Soldiers relate to the Soldiers of the past.
“We are losing these World War II veterans at a staggering rate,” Smith said. “Every day, 1,500 are passing away. And we are losing those stories. I think what is important for the younger generation to understand is that the history books are filled with the basic knowledge. We know what happened at Pearl Harbor. We know what happened at Normandy. But we don’t know about the individual stories. Every single Soldier who served and fought has a different story, because they saw it through their eyes. It’s our responsibility to keep their stories alive.”
President Barack Obama works on the State of the Union address Jan. 11 in the Oval Office with Director of Speechwriting Cody Keenan and Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, in the Oval Office Jan. 11, 2016. (Photo courtesy of White House)
NCO Journal report
When President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address at 9 Eastern tonight, the parents of slain U.S. Army Special Forces 1st Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna Jr. will be in the House chamber to hear it.
Carol and Peter McKenna will be guests of U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-Rhode Island. Their son was killed Aug. 7 in Afghanistan during a gun battle that followed a suicide bombing, the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal reported. He was credited with saving lives while defending the base, the newspaper reported.
“We are honored to be attending the State of the Union … as Congressman Cicilline’s guests,” the McKennas, who live in Bristol, Rhode Island, said in a news release from Cicilline’s office. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
First Sgt. McKenna was killed during an attack by the Taliban on Camp Integrity, a NATO facility in Kabul.
The Green Beret first joined the military one month after graduating Mount Hope High School in Bristol in 1998. Over 17 years of active service, he completed five tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq and was decorated with numerous awards, including the Bronze Star with V device and the Meritorious Service Medal. McKenna graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in strategic studies from Norwich University in 2015. He was planning to pursue a master’s degree once his deployment ended in October.
One month before his death, 1st Sgt. McKenna returned home to the East Bay, where he was recognized during the Bristol Fourth of July Parade. In the release, Cicilline, who attended the parade and thanked McKenna for his service, said, “Andrew McKenna was a true hero who embodied the very best of Rhode Island values. His patriotism, loyalty, and sense of shared purpose were reflections of his strong character and the values he learned growing up in Bristol. I am deeply honored that his parents, Carol and Peter, will join me [at] the State of the Union.”
Members of Congress receive one ticket for a guest to attend the State of the Union. U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, donated his ticket so both of 1st Sgt. McKenna’s parents could attend.
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