Category Archives: NCOs In Action

Pacific region NCOs sweep Army Athlete, Coach of Year awards


By TIM HIPPS
Installation Management Command

Three NCOs from the Pacific region swept the 2012 Army Male and Female Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year awards.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Dochwat of Fort Shafter, Hawaii, recently named the 2013 Army Male Athlete of the Year, hits one of his 10 home runs in the 2012 Armed Forces Softball Championships at the Cannoneer Complex on Fort Sill, Okla., in September 2012.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Dochwat of Fort Shafter, Hawaii, recently named the 2013 Army Male Athlete of the Year, hits one of his 10 home runs in the 2012 Armed Forces Softball Championships at the Cannoneer Complex on Fort Sill, Okla., in September 2012.

All-Army softball players Sgt. Michael Dochwat Jr. of Fort Shafter, Hawaii, and Sgt. Ashley Walker of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, were selected as the athletes. All-Army men’s volleyball coach Sgt. Angel Rivera of U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea, was named the coach of the year. They were selected by a panel at U.S. Army Installation Management Command headquarters on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

As a team captain, Dochwat, 38, helped the All-Army men’s softball team snap All-Air Force’s four-year stranglehold on the U.S. Armed Forces Championship trophy by winning the annual tournament at Fort Sill, Okla. He batted .719 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI in eight games and was named to the All-Tournament Team and All-Armed Forces squad that competed in the Amateur Softball Association’s National Championship Tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Dochwat helped an American Legion/Easton squad win the United States Specialty Sports Association’s Military Worlds varsity A division in Panama City Beach, Fla., where he was an all-tournament selection. He also led an Armed Forces team to a runner-up finish in the Hawaii State Softball Championships C division. And he traveled to South Korea to help an American Legion international squad finish second in the Pacific Wide Open Softball Tournament.

Sgt. Ashley Walker of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the 2012 Army Female Athlete of the Year, did not miss a beat in moving from first base to the hot corner at third base while co-captaining the All-Army women to the 2012 Armed Forces Championship at Fort Sill, Okla., in September 2012.
Sgt. Ashley Walker of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the 2012 Army Female Athlete of the Year, did not miss a beat in moving from first base to the hot corner at third base while co-captaining the All-Army women to the 2012 Armed Forces Championship at Fort Sill, Okla., in September 2012.

As if he wasn’t busy enough playing softball, Dochwat also managed the Halawa Park Little League baseball team and served as hitting instructor for the girls’ fast-pitch softball team at Campbell High School that finished runner-up in the Hawaii State High School Championships.

Despite being surrounded by more experienced players, Walker, 23, served as a team captain and led the All-Army women’s softball team to the Armed Forces Championship with an 8-1 record. On the diamond, she moved from first base to third base and continued to exhibit flawless defense. At the plate, she batted .565 en route to being unanimously selected to the All-Tournament Team and the All-Armed Forces Team that finished second at the ASA National Championships in Oklahoma City. At nationals, Walker batted .455 and was third on the team in RBI.

Shortly before reporting to All-Army Softball Camp, Walker lost her husband, Sgt. Brian Walker, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Both Walkers were military police in the same unit. Ashley stayed with her softball team at Fort Sill, Okla., while members of the Walkers’ unit placed a brick in Brian’s honor at the Military Police Memorial Grove at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

“I just needed to play All-Army Softball for my husband,” Walker said of her biggest fan. “And we won the gold medal.”

Sgt. Angel Rivera of U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea, is the 2012 Army Coach of the Year.
Sgt. Angel Rivera of U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea, is the 2012 Army Coach of the Year.

Rivera led the All-Army men’s volleyball team to back-to-back Armed Forces Championships with a 12-0 record during the 2011 and 2012 tournaments. Four of his players were named to the All-Tournament Team.

As the U.S. Armed Forces head coach, Rivera took six All-Army players to the 2012 Counseil International du Sport Militaire Volleyball Championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He also coached the U.S. military men’s team at CISM’s 2011 Military World Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rivera, 29, is a community-service stalwart at Yongsan, where he gets American Soldiers, KATUSA Soldiers, young athletes and Korean locals to come together for several clean-up and social events throughout the year.

USASOC Soldier earns Soldier’s Medal for saving a life


By ANDREW TATE,
U.S. Army Special Operations Command

A Soldier with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command was awarded the Soldier’s Medal on Feb. 13 for saving the life of a civilian in Spring Lake, N.C., by pulling her from the inside of her vehicle after she’d been in an accident that left her unconscious.

Staff Sgt. Tyrone A. Mitchell of the 8th Military Information Support Battalion received the Soldier’s Medal during a ceremony at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, N.C.. Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, the commander of USASOC, presented the award.

Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland (left), the commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, presents Staff Sgt. Tyrone A. Mitchell of the 8th Military Information Support Battalion with the Soldier's Medal during a ceremony at Fort Bragg on Feb. 13, 2013. (Photo by Sgt. Gregory Boster)
Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland (left), the commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, presents Staff Sgt. Tyrone A. Mitchell of the 8th Military Information Support Battalion with the Soldier’s Medal during a ceremony at Fort Bragg on Feb. 13, 2013. (Photo by Sgt. Gregory Boster)

Mitchell earned the medal for his actions May 20, 2012, when, while heading to the store in Spring Lake, N.C., he saw an overturned vehicle on the side of the road. He pulled off the road and went to assess the situation. He noticed that the driver of the car was unconscious and that there was a haze in the car.

Not knowing if the smoke was from a fire or just the remnants of debris from the airbag being deployed, he told a passerby to phone in for help and rushed to the car. With no regard for his own life, he broke the rear glass of the car and climbed in and pulled the driver out to safety. By the time he got her out, emergency personal arrived. The driver survived the accident. During the rescue, Mitchell received several lacerations and abrasions.

Mitchell was humbled by the award and said what he did was what anybody would have done in the same situation.

“I don’t think you really think about it that much when you see a situation and you know that someone else needs help,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t think about it; I just reacted.

“At the end of the day, any service member, if they were in the same situation, would’ve done the exact same thing,” he added. “You feel as if you’re a public servant; you serve the people of the United States. If you see someone in trouble, either in uniform or out of uniform, you feel that you have to try to do something to help them or keep them out of harm’s way.”

Cleveland gave praise to Mitchell’s actions and said that his heroic deed embodies what the Army is all about.

“You may be called upon to do actions that may be seen by others as brave, as heroic,” he said. “It is part of the organization that we joined. It is a part of the ethos of the community that we are part of.”

Mitchell’s supervisor, Capt. Nicholas Ennis, said that what he did was second nature to Mitchell.

“He just shrugged his shoulders and did what he had to do,” Ennis said.

“That speaks volumes to his character and his humility,”Ennis said. “He is everything that’s right with the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, everything that is right with the Army. He is everything that’s right as being a human being. He is one of the most phenomenal NCOs I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

The Soldier’s Medal was introduced in 1926. The medal is awarded to any person of the armed forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. It is the highest honor a Soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-combat situation.

California Guardsman claims top honors at Small Arms Championship


By MICHAEL MOLINARO
U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit

A California National Guardsman needed an extra suitcase to haul away the hardware he collected at this year’s U.S. Army Small Arms Championship held in early February at Fort Benning, Ga.

Sgt. 1st Class Geoffrey Applegate won the overall individual championship, ending the reign of the competition’s four-time defending champion and putting an exclamation point on an outstanding two-week run at the All-Army competition.

Sgt. 1st Class Geoffrey Applegate (center) of the California National Guard took home the top prize at the 2013 U.S. Army Small Arms Championship after winning the overall individual championship. He is presented a Secretary of the Army M-1 Garand Trophy Rifle by Lt. Col. Don King (left), commander of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, and Col. Michael W. Rauhut, commander of the 197th Infantry Brigade.
Sgt. 1st Class Geoffrey Applegate (center) of the California National Guard took home the top prize at the 2013 U.S. Army Small Arms Championship after winning the overall individual championship. He is presented a Secretary of the Army M-1 Garand Trophy Rifle by Lt. Col. Don King (left), commander of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, and Col. Michael W. Rauhut, commander of the 197th Infantry Brigade. (Photo by Michael Molinaro)

“I am still a bit overwhelmed,” said Applegate, an infantryman with the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “I love this competition. I have a competitive spirit, it’s what I love to do and to win here at the All-Army is awesome.”

A railroad conductor/engineer who lives in Weed, Calif., Applegate competed for the third time at the All-Army. He improved on his 17th-place finish in 2012 to get his name engraved on the champion’s trophy. In addition to Applegate’s overall championship, he and members of Team California claimed the overall team championship. He also earned the coveted Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge, the open-class title and was the combined arms match individual winner.

Among the items he was awarded for his strong showing was a Secretary of the Army M-1 Garand Trophy Rifle.

Army Reservists Sgt. 1st Class John Buol and Master Sgt. Russell Moore took second and third place, respectively. Moore came into the match as the reigning four-time champion. He won the overall pistol individual championship.

“It doesn’t matter how many times I come here I always learn a lot,” Applegate said. “When you get to train and shoot against Soldiers like (Master) Sgt. Moore, whose name is on those trophies since he was a staff sergeant and is an amazing shot, you are going to learn something.”

Soldiers compete in the excellence-in competition rifle match Feb. 1, 2013, one of four rifle matches during the U.S. Army Small Arms Championships at Fort Benning, Ga.
Soldiers compete in the excellence-in competition rifle match Feb. 1, 2013, one of four rifle matches during the U.S. Army Small Arms Championships at Fort Benning, Ga.

Spc. Nicholas Girardin of the Maine National Guard, won the novice-class overall individual championship. More than half of the field competed in the novice class of shooters. The competition was originally structured to give novice shooters the chance to gain invaluable marksmanship training in an effort to enhance the coverall combat readiness of the Army.

“I learned so much in these two weeks and had a lot of fun,” said Girardin , a computer detection systems repairman with the 152nd Maintenance Company286th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. “I loved the combined arms match since we never get to do that sort of thing. I met a lot of people who gave me advice. My marksmanship got a lot better in just these two weeks.”

The matches at the championship were designed to raise the shooting proficiency of Soldiers and units across the Army by teaching advanced combat marksmanship techniques using issue rifles and pistols. Soldiers shot in several pistol, rifle matches and a combined arms match to test their capabilities against their peers. Weather played into the event as Soldiers dealt with cold mornings, unseasonably warm days and one day when Mother Nature tested everyone’s mettle with a torrential rain storm.

“It rains in wars, so it just made things realistic,” Applegate said. “There’s no better training aid for shooting than All-Army. You get the best shooters, a whole range of shooters, and you can pull from so many. It’s a friendly competition but it’s serious business when we get on the line.”

Individual Awards:

  • Overall champion: Sgt. 1st Class Geoffrey Applegate
  • Rifle Champion: Sgt. Evan Messer
  • Pistol Champion: Master Sgt. Russell Moore
  • Combined Arms Champion: Sgt. 1st Class Geoffrey Applegate
  • High Drill Sergeant: Sgt. 1st Class Nuel Allee
  • High Active duty (E1-E4): Spc. John Rummage
  • High Reservist (E1-E4): Spc. Sean McDaniel
  • High Guardsman (E1-E4): Spc. Nicholas Girardin
  • Col. Ralph Puckett Trophy: Sgt. Chauncey Reed
  • Pistol EIC: Staff Sgt. Eric Lawrence
  • Rifle EIC: Staff Sgt. Kyle Bartman

Team Awards:

  • Overall Champions: Team California
  • Rifle Champions: Maine National Guard
  • Pistol Champions: Maine National Guard
  • Combined Arms Champions: Team California

President awards Medal of Honor to hero of COP Keating


By C. TODD LOPEZ
Army News Service

President Barack Obama placed the Medal of Honor around the neck of former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha during a ceremony Feb. 11 in the East Room of the White House.

Romesha is the fourth living service member to receive the medal for service in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. The former Soldier earned the Medal of Honor for actions Oct. 3, 2009, at Combat Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province, Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha during a ceremony at the White House on Feb. 11, 2013. Romesha received the honor for his courageous actions during a day-long firefight at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, in October 2009. (Photo by Leroy Council)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha during a ceremony at the White House on Feb. 11, 2013. Romesha received the honor for his courageous actions during a day-long firefight at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, in October 2009. (Photo by Leroy Council)

On that morning, COP Keating, manned by only 53 Soldiers and situated at the bottom of a steep valley, came under attack by as many as 300 Taliban fighters.

During the fight, the perimeter of COP Keating was breached by the enemy. Romesha, who was injured in the battle, led the fight to protect the bodies of fallen Soldiers, provide cover to those Soldiers seeking medical assistance, and reclaim the American outpost that would later be deemed “tactically indefensible.”

“Throughout history, the question has often been asked, why? Why do those in uniform take such extraordinary risks? And what compels them to such courage?” Obama said. “You ask Clint and any of these Soldiers who are here today, and they’ll tell you. Yes, they fight for their country, and they fight for our freedom. Yes, they fight to come home to their families. But most of all, they fight for each other, to keep each other safe and to have each other’s backs.”

The White House ceremony was attended by several hundred people, including lawmakers, defense leaders, Romesha’s family, and team members from Romesha’s own B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Also present were Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III.

The president said that upon learning he would receive the Medal of Honor, Romesha displayed the brand of humbleness typical of many Soldiers.

“When I called Clint to tell him that he would receive this medal, he said he was honored, but he also said, ‘It wasn’t just me out there, it was a team effort,'” Obama said. “And so today, we also honor this American team, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Included among those who died in the fighting that day in Afghanistan were Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos, Sgt. Christopher Griffin, Sgt. Joshua Hardt, Sgt. Joshua Kirk, Spc. Stephan Mace, Staff Sgt. Vernon Martin, Sgt. Michael Scusa, and Pfc. Kevin Thomson.

“Each of these patriots gave their lives looking out for each other,” Obama said. “In a battle that raged all day, that brand of selflessness was displayed again and again and again, Soldiers exposing themselves to enemy fire to pull a comrade to safety, tending to each other’s wounds, [and] performing ‘buddy transfusions,’ giving each other their own blood.”

The president said on that day, it wasn’t just Romesha who earned recognition for his actions, it was dozens of Soldiers. From that battle, Soldiers earned nine Silver Stars, 18 Bronze Stars, 37 Army Commendation Medals and 27 Purple Hearts, the president said.

“These men were outnumbered, outgunned and almost overrun,” Obama said. “Looking back, one of them said, ‘I’m surprised any of us made it out.’ But they are here today. And I would ask these Soldiers, this band of brothers, to stand and accept the gratitude of our entire nation.

“God bless you, Clint Romesha, and all of your team,” the president said. “God bless all who serve. And God bless the United States of America.”

The president then asked that the Medal of Honor Citation be read, and following that, he placed the medal around Romesha’s neck.