By Example: ‘Make sure they excel’

By JONATHAN (JAY) KOESTER
NCO Journal

Sgt. 1st Class Ezra Glover joined the Army at age 17 after growing up in Honolulu. He has served for more than 15 years and is currently the motor sergeant for a support element of the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Riley, Kan. Glover has deployed to Iraq three times and has earned the Parachutist, Air Assault and Combat Action Badges.

Why did you join the Army?
I joined the Army because I was curious. I didn’t plan on staying in the Army; I thought I would do it for three years, then go to college. Fifteen years later, I’m still in the Army. I love the Army. I love the institution, the way things fall into place, the discipline, the pride, the work. I strive for excellence and take advantage of every opportunity in the Army, whether it’s school, training, etc. You can’t get that anywhere.

Sgt. 1st Class Ezra Glover (front left) in formation during an event at Fort Riley, Kan. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Ezra Glover)
Sgt. 1st Class Ezra Glover (front left) in formation during an event at Fort Riley, Kan. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Ezra Glover)

I’ve been in 15 years and I’m going to stay as long as I can. I love it. I try to tell the Soldiers that. I don’t try to pressure them to be in the Army; I just try to explain, this is what the Army is. Where can you get this outside?

What role have NCOs played in your professional development?
NCOs played an important role. The way I am now is because of the leadership I had in the past: strict but fair; always lead from the front; always do the right thing. I try to instill that in the Soldiers: Even when no one is around, always be doing what you’re supposed to be doing. I had excellent leaders and NCOs throughout my past.

What makes a good NCO?
A good NCO is someone who provides purpose, direction, motivation. You need to ensure you know what your Soldiers are doing and that they’re doing the right thing.

How do you set the example for your Soldiers?
I set the example by enforcing the standards, making sure that I’m in the right uniform and I’m within the standards, and enforcing that with all my Soldiers by making on-the-spot corrections. I always support my Soldiers to go to school. I try to make sure they excel and better themselves.

What changes would you like to see Armywide?
Right now we’re doing the drawdown; I’d like to see the Army recruit at a higher standard. It’s starting to get better. We can make corrections, but it’s good to do some weeding out in the beginning.

How do you see NCOs rising to the challenge in your organization?
We’ve had some hurry-up promotions. I think now we need to start putting more emphasis on the NCO Development Program to make the NCO better. There are a lot of young NCOs out there who got promoted during the wars. Now we need to focus on NCO and Soldier DPs and showing them the standard.

How does your current job impact the Army?
We keep the Army moving. Everything from power generation to water, fuel, trucks, vehicles. I think it’s an important part of the Army. If we’re not there, nobody is moving.

What is good leadership?
Good leadership is not passing by the problem. Make sure you correct that problem when it happens. Leading from the front, ensuring that you’re tactically and technically proficient. Be a good communicator.

Toolkit: Involuntary separations

By JENNIFER MATTSON
NCO Journal

As the Army draws down its force, approximately 20,000 NCOs will be subject to involuntary separation or discontinuation of service through fiscal year 2017.

AR 635-200, Active Duty Enlisted Administrative Separations, gives the Army the authority to initiate the involuntary separation of Soldiers as a result of reductions in force, strength limitations or budgetary constraints. In 2010, when the Army started to look at how to use that authority, the Army G-1 instituted the Qualitative Service Program and Qualitative Management Program.

A Soldier from the 4th Sustainment Brigade salutes the American flag during a ceremony March 27, 2010, at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Erick  Ritterby)
A Soldier from the 4th Sustainment Brigade salutes the American flag during a ceremony March 27, 2010, at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Erick
Ritterby)

The Qualitative Service Program applies to NCOs — from staff sergeants to sergeants major — in military occupational specialties that have been identified as being overstrength by the Army G-1 and ranks NCOs according to their potential. The Qualitative Management Program looks at NCOs across the Army and ranks them according to the Soldier’s potential or capability to meet the Army’s needs. All NCOs who are sergeants first class and above with 19 years of service are subject to the QMP.

NCOs who involuntarily separate under QMP will not be able to receive temporary early retirement or be allowed to return to active duty without a waiver. Also, they must leave no later than the first day of the seventh month following the board’s decision.

Gerald Purcell, the Army G-1’s personnel policy integrator, said the program will follow a board schedule in which staff sergeants are considered for QSP during the annual sergeant first class promotion board, sergeants first class are considered during the master sergeant board, master sergeants during the sergeant major training and selection board, and sergeants major during the nominative command sergeant major/command selection list promotion board.

“[The QSP] capitalizes on our existing centralized selection board process to assess Soldiers who are being considered for involuntary separation based on their potential for future contributions to the Army — just like a promotion board does,” Purcell said. “This process targets skills that are excess requirements. Soldiers holding MOSs that are balanced or short are not going to be subject to this program.”

NCOs will be notified before the board convenes that they are being considered for QSP. Once the board convenes, an official notification will be made to the Soldier’s first general officer, then to the battalion commander.

“All of these Soldiers are fully qualified Soldiers who we would otherwise desire to keep,” Purcell said. “However, as we shape the force to meet changing requirements, we recognize that many fantastic Soldiers will be identified for denial of continued service. We also recognize that we must do this as we shape the force in an effort to ensure we retain those NCOs who have the greatest potential for future contributions, retaining the highest levels of readiness and capability in an all-volunteer Army.”

An NCO may appeal the board’s decision, but only if he or she believes that his or her record contained material errors. An NCO who wishes to stay in the Army may also seek reclassification to a shortage MOS to fit the Army’s needs. However, the NCO must have a course date that begins within the six months following the notification of separation under QSP.

“Making yourself more useful to the Army is always a good thing,” Purcell said.

NCOs separated under QSP may apply for early retirement if they have at least 15 years of active federal service at the date of separation. However, these Soldiers can no longer transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their dependents. If in the future, the Army needs the skills separated Soldiers have, they will be able to return to active duty. Soldiers will also have a minimum of 12 months from the board’s decision to transition to civilian life. They must serve at least 90 days, by law, before they separate. In addition, the board’s decision isn’t made public.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to recognize that they are quality people,” Purcell said. “We really want to take care of them as they leave. We want to maximize their ability to take advantage of the transition assistance programs we have.” ♦

 

Board processes for separation

Involuntary, early separations are based on NCOs’ current performance and their potential for future contributions to the Army. The policies are outlined in AR 635-200, Active Duty Enlisted Administrative Separations.

  • QMP: Qualitative management program — Focuses on senior NCOs (E-7 to E-9) who may be denied for continued service because of performance, conduct or potential for advancement that does not meet Army standards.
  • QSP: Overstrength Qualitative Service Program — Looks at E-6 to E-9 NCOs for denial of continued service in select military occupational specialities where the 12-month operating strength projections exceed 100 percent. If otherwise qualified, NCOs may voluntarily reclassify into a shortage MOS.
  • QSP: Promotion stagnation Qualitative Service Program — Board will consider E-6 to E-9 NCOs for discontinuation of service in select MOSs or skill levels where promotion stagnation is evident.

 

Criteria considered

Boards that decide whether a Soldier should be involuntarily separated use the same criteria that a promotion board looks at. The board develops an Order of Merit List and focuses on those at the bottom of the list to make a determination. Some items considered are:

  • Personnel qualification record: The board reviews the NCO’s personnel qualification record to determine range of assignments, military and civilian education, and additional training.
  • Official photograph is used to judge a Soldier’s appearance and to note awards, medals and badges.
  • Moral and ethical conduct: The board considers whether a Soldier’s conduct is incompatible or inconsistent with the Army’s values or the values of the NCO Corps.
  • Efficiency and performance: The board looks at whether the NCO is unable to perform NCO duties in his or her current grade or if there has been a decline noted in the NCO’s NCO Evaluation Report, including failing NCO Education System courses, disciplinary problems or bars to re-enlistment.
  • Physical standards: The board considers whether the NCO is able to maintain physical standards or comply with the Army body composition program.
  • Official Military Personnel File: The board reviews the performance portion (P-fiche) of the Soldier’s OMPF.

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.

The Army’s legal eagles

Paralegal NCOs help train judge advocates and work to keep Soldiers out of trouble

By MICHAEL L. LEWIS
NCO Journal

Every Soldier has heard the pontifications of the “barracks lawyers.” Despite their inexhaustible stores of anecdotes concerning what seems to be every article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, their advice is rarely if ever correct, and their “knowledge” of military law is anything but competent.

On the other hand, there is a corps of NCOs whose knowledge of the legal intricacies of the Army is above reproach. True legal professionals, Judge Advocate General’s Corps paralegals assist the Army’s attorneys, or judge advocates, in everything but what barracks lawyers do most: giving legal advice. Nonetheless, they are indispensable members of the Army’s law firm, which is like none other, said Brig. Gen. Flora D. Darpino, the commandant of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

During a recess, Staff Sgt. Karla Campbell-Starling, the court reporter at the U.S. Army Trial Judiciary’s Fourth Judicial Circuit courtroom at Fort Bliss, Texas, discusses the intricacies of her job with Sgt. Whitney “Whit” Farrow, a paralegal who will begin his court reporting training this spring. (Photo by Michael L. Lewis)
During a recess, Staff Sgt. Karla Campbell-Starling, the court reporter at the U.S. Army Trial Judiciary’s Fourth Judicial Circuit courtroom at Fort Bliss, Texas, discusses the intricacies of her job with Sgt. Whitney “Whit” Farrow, a paralegal who will begin his court reporting training this spring. (Photo by Michael L. Lewis)

“The teamwork that you have between a lawyer and a paralegal in the military is very, very different than in the civilian sector,” she said. “In the civilian sector, you would typically have the senior lawyer in a law firm, and then you’d have associates who basically churn away at stuff that the partner then signs. Our ‘law firm’ doesn’t really have that model. Our lawyers provide the legal advice, and the folks who do the background and who prepare those legal documents and all the things that an associate in a law firm would do is what our NCOs assist our younger paralegals in learning how to do. While [enlisted paralegals] don’t practice law, they are in the practice of law with us.”

The Army’s judge advocates are taught the military justice system at TJAGLCS after graduating law school and being admitted to a state’s bar. Though well-versed in legal matters, they are usually not familiar with military customs and courtesies that Soldiers have come to know instinctively. That’s where paralegals’ subject-matter expertise comes in, said Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Lister, the command sergeant major of TJAGLCS and the commandant of the school’s NCO academy.

“Judge advocates provide legal advice to our commanders, and to give their legal advice credibility with their commanders, they have to have Soldier skills,” he said. “They’re the legal professionals. We’re the bridge between the two professions they’re expected to serve — the profession of arms and the legal profession.”

NCOs are well-suited to fill the newly minted officers’ knowledge gap, said Command Sgt. Maj. Troy Tyler, the JAG Corps’ regimental sergeant major.

“Paralegal NCOs provide a source of information that the judge advocates don’t have,” he said. “It adds to the attorney’s ability to operate more effectively because you have somebody who has gone through what the client has gone through. … So you have to coach, mentor and train that officer; teach them about the Army; help them with the military side of practicing law; open their eyes to what some of their clients have gone through; teach them about some of the issues you’ve dealt with. I think it comes together as a really good team, because you have some very smart attorneys and some very smart paralegals who are also very good Soldiers.”

Senior Leader Course students at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Va., confer during a lesson in October. (Photo by Michael L. Lewis)
Senior Leader Course students at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Va., confer during a lesson in October. (Photo by Michael L. Lewis)

The arrangement frees judge advocates to be the lawyers they’ve trained for years to do, Lister said.

“If it doesn’t require a law degree, paralegals are supposed to do it so that the judge advocates can focus on the practice of law,” he said. “Practicing law is hard; it requires deep thought. So paralegals become a force multiplier so [judge advocates] can spend the time, invest the time in those thoughts because we’ve removed everything else.”

But what paralegals are prohibited from doing is giving legal advice, Tyler said.

“That’s the only thing that separates us from the judge advocates,” he said. “The judge advocates have been to law school, have passed the bar and are authorized to give that advice. But they are also held accountable for the advice they give. [Paralegals] can tell folks all day long what’s in the regulation, what the right and left limits are. But if someone asks whether he or she should court-martial somebody or if they are authorized to conduct a search somewhere, that’s when we have to get the attorneys involved.”

That limitation can often cause friction with those seeking the NCOs’ counsel, said attendees of the TJAGLCS’s command paralegal course in October, which trains the seniormost legal NCOs in divisions and above.

“As paralegals, we don’t give advice. But we share what we know in the regulations,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark Cook, the command paralegal for the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo. “We get the bad rap for telling somebody the regulation says you can’t do that. But we’re just telling what’s there.”

“A lot of times they don’t want to hear the right thing,” said Master Sgt. Stephen Pickerin, the command paralegal of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y. “But, we’re only there to help them out; we’re going to give them the right answer. If they go to those barracks lawyers, most of the time they’re wrong. If they come to us, they’re going to know we’re giving them the right answer. They may not like the answer, but we’re going to give it to them.”

Because of their own legal training, paralegals are among the most-learned NCOs in the force, Tyler said.

Sgt. 1st Class Buford Willie (right), the pay agent for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and Spc. Angela Felder, a paralegal with 385th Military Police Battalion, which is attached to the brigade, sign paperwork Jan. 25, 2012, authorizing a compensation payment. (Photo by Sgt. Ruth Pagan)
Sgt. 1st Class Buford Willie (right), the pay agent for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and Spc. Angela Felder, a paralegal with 385th Military Police Battalion, which is attached to the brigade, sign paperwork Jan. 25, 2012, authorizing a compensation payment. (Photo by
Sgt. Ruth Pagan)

“We looked a few years ago and, per capita as far as bachelor’s degrees are concerned, we were the most-educated [military occupational specialty] across the Army,” he said. “We do have high education requirements. We have some enlisted Soldiers who actually have their law degrees, but because the way the Army is set up, they come in and serve their enlisted time to pay off their loans, then they access to the officer corps as a judge advocate.”

Enlisted paralegals’ military education is similarly intense. And thanks to an arrangement with the University of Great Falls in Montana, Soldiers begin earning credits toward an American Bar Association-accredited associate’s or bachelor’s degree while in Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Va., Lister said.

“To progress in our MOS, at different stages you’re going to have to have a degree. There’s just no doubt about it,” he said. “Just by completing our AIT, you will get 10 semester hours toward your associate’s or bachelor’s degree from there. Then, you’ll come to [the Advanced Leader Course] and get more credits toward that degree; you’ll come to [the Senior Leader Course] and get more credits.”

The credits are well-earned in the NCO Education Courses, Lister said, because ALC and SLC are designed to be pressure cookers.

“We overload them with work,” he said. “We throw a lot at them, and what we try to do is evaluate their demeanor. You’re going to be placed in things you wouldn’t normally do as an NCO; how does your demeanor as a leader change? With what we deal with in law, you can’t lose your cool. The more you get overloaded, the more you might be hasty to give a decision that might not be right. And if you do something that’s not right, there are several echelons of consequences from that. You really do have to think, because what comes out of your mouth to somebody could really have a significant impact if it’s wrong.”

“With an Article 15, you’re affecting somebody’s pay, their career, their freedom,” Tyler said. “With a court-martial, you could be sending somebody away for a very long time. You could even help end somebody’s life, depending on the severity of the crime and whether the death penalty is on the table.”

Indeed, paralegals are often relied upon after accidental deaths downrange, as they are frequently used as pay officers to compensate foreign residents for damaged property, injuries or loss of life caused by American service members, Tyler explained.

Staff Sgt. Steve Kalfman, a paralegal with 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, assists an Afghan junior captain and lieutenant colonel from the Kandahar Air Wing to locate basic terrain features on a map Nov. 21 during a class on understanding basic land navigation.  (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder)
Staff Sgt. Steve Kalfman, a paralegal with 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, assists an Afghan junior captain and lieutenant colonel from the Kandahar Air Wing to locate basic terrain features on a map Nov. 21 during a class on understanding basic land navigation. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder)

“A lot of people don’t realize that when paralegals go outside the wire, we may not be kicking in doors on a regular basis, but we’re going out and dealing face-to-face with families when they believe a U.S. Soldier has killed a family member. We sit and talk with judges and lawyers and hurt family members.

“In one incident, there was a young lady whom I was making a payment to as the paying officer the first time I deployed. I paid this lady, and all I could see were the eyes through her burqa. The way this lady looked at me — after U.S. forces had killed her husband and brother — the look that she gave me I will never forget for the rest of my life. I tried to hand her the money, but she didn’t flinch. She didn’t blink. She didn’t look at the money. She didn’t look at the walls. And as her father reached around and took the money, she just continued to stare at me, like if she was staring through my soul. Those types of things, people don’t realize we often deal face-to-face with
the public.”

Paralegals working in the Army’s courtrooms must remain especially neutral in demeanor, even when case content is repugnant, said Sgt. 1st Class Angel Sims, the chief of court reporter training at TJAGLCS.

“The hardest cases for me involve child pornography. And that was my first case as a court reporter,” she said. “As the court reporter, here I am now with all these images, and I’m stamping them and I’m labeling them, and I’m getting more and more mad. That became an issue for me, because the senior court reporter was sitting in the gallery and, at the very first break, came over and said, ‘See how the judge is stone-faced? You have to be just like that. You cannot show that you are mad. I can see it all over your face, and so can everyone else in this courtroom.’ That I had to work on.”

Ultimately, senior JAG Corps leaders hope that the Army’s paralegals and judge advocates will be viewed more as helpful resources rather than people to be feared.

“Most Soldiers, when they hear you’re going to JAG, it’s a negative thing. But we’re a service organization,” Lister said. “What I’d like them to think is that we help them to stay out of trouble.”

“We have a huge role in preventive law,” Tyler said. “As NCOs and paralegals, we’re down there in the unit. You’re assigned to a battalion or a brigade, and you give legal classes to the people who you work with. That goes a long way, compared to having a judge advocate come down. You’re in a room full of sergeants … these are your peers, the guys you do PT with. You’ve done the same things these guys have done. So you can tell them what the common violations are — this is what can get you into trouble.”

“An NCO can sit down with another NCO and guide how to get that FLIPL (Financial Liability Investigations of Property Loss) processed quickly,” Darpino said. “Administrative separations — the criminal law section can help that NCO get together that chapter packet so it doesn’t get kicked back. If NCOs out there would leverage the value that, not only our legal NCOs but our JAG office as a whole, can bring to them when it comes to a variety of issues, I think they would benefit greatly.” ♦

 

Tips from the Army’s legal pros

“When you say you’re ‘going to JAG,’ it’s always perceived as a bad thing. But we do so many other services that help Soldiers,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Lister, the command sergeant major of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Va. To help keep Soldiers from getting into legal trouble, members of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps offer these helpful tips:

  • Reach out to JAG to prevent something bad happening to you or your family. Go to legal assistance and get advice on the car you want to buy. Use those other services we do other than military justice. — Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Lister, command sergeant major of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Va.
  • You should be talking with the NCOs who work in your legal office, just like you would if you were taking your vehicle in for maintenance. You talk to the motor sergeant about what you can do about preventive maintenance and what you can do to make sure you get through that inspection. It’s the same thing with legal paperwork: Talk to us; let us help you so that things go smoothly. — Brig. Gen. Flora D. Darpino, commandant of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School
  • The “barracks lawyer” is one of our worst enemies, because they will tell Soldiers what they think they know, or what they remember happened to their friend, or what somebody once said. They think because they can crack open the UCMJ, they’re a paralegal now, and they start advising guys on what they can and cannot do. But they have no clue what they’re doing. — Command Sgt. Maj. Troy Tyler, JAG Corps regimental command sergeant major
  • Sergeants major, first sergeants and commanders are our clients. But if the squad leaders and the platoon leaders, if they started talking to the paralegals in their unit, we can help them understand how to build the packets once they do need to initiate an action, or how to prevent situations that they keep seeing their Soldiers getting into. They want to take care of their Soldiers, and we can help them in the legal arena. — Sgt. Maj. Barbara Rubio, command paralegal, 25th Infantry Division
  • Predatory lending is one of the things that upsets me the most, because they take advantage of our junior Soldiers. It sounds cliché, but Soldiers need to run through the second- and third-order effects of what they’re going to do before they do it. But they often act at the spur of the moment — that car looks good! — and they have money burning a hole in their pocket. — Command Sgt. Maj. Troy Tyler
  • It’s too easy: Follow the Army Values. If you follow that, that’s it. For some reason, that’s too hard for some people. But discipline and standards are what it’s all about. If you have to think too hard about what you’re about to do, you probably shouldn’t do it. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. — Sgt. 1st Class Angel Sims, chief of court reporter training, The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School

 

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.