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Third Quarter 2005

Silver Star

SGT Leigh Ann Hester of the 617th Military Police Company received the Silver Star for actions taken during an enemy ambush on her convoy in Iraq, becoming the first woman to receive the medal since World War II.

Hester, 23, has been in the Army National Guard since April 2001. Her squad was escorting a supply convoy on 20 March when insurgents launched their surprise attack.

The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the enemy and cutting off their escape route. Hester led her team through the “kill zone” and assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 grenade-launcher rounds. She and SSG Timothy Nein, her squad leader, then cleared two trenches, at which time she killed three insurgents with her rifle. After the battle 27 insurgents were dead, six wounded and one captured.

“Your training kicks in and the Soldier kicks in,” Hester said about her reaction to the ambush. “You’ve got a job to do: protecting yourself and your fellow comrades.”
She said she is honored to be the first woman since World War II to receive the Silver Star, but the honor is more about being considered for—let alone being awarded—the medal than the fact that it was awarded to a woman. “It really doesn’t have anything to do with being a female,” she said. “It’s about the duties I performed that day as a Soldier.”

Army Ten-Miler: Early Close
If the race is run at the pace of the race’s registration, look for the fastest ever Army Ten-Miler on 2 October. Registration for the 2005 Army Ten-Miler reached its 20,000-runner ceiling 10 July, breaking last year’s record-setting mark by 30 days.

While the majority of this year’s race participants are U.S. residents, several other countries are represented, including Argentina, Canada, Germany, Iraq, Italy and South Korea. This year’s field is made up of roughly 35 percent military and 65 percent civilian, with a nearly equal number of men and women.

The race, scheduled for Sunday, 2 October, starts and finishes at the Pentagon. The course winds through downtown Washington, D.C., and passes the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial and the Capitol building.

Race Weekend activities include runners’ clinics, an expo, and the annual GEICO Pasta Dinner. Post-race festivities (ranging from live music performances to Youth Activity and Hooah Tent Zones) have been planned for runners and spectators alike. Individuals who missed the registration deadline may consider volunteering for the race.
The Army Ten-Miler, the largest 10-mile race in America, is produced by the U. S. Army Military District of Washington and run on the eve of the Association of the United States Army’s 3–5 October Annual Meeting.

Recruit and Retain
Continuing to man the force is not just the Army’s challenge, it is the nation’s challenge. The recruiting environment remains difficult in terms of economic conditions and alternatives. Therefore, the Army has increased its resources, including additional recruiters, incentives and advertising to compete in the current and future markets. These adjustments are expected to begin to take hold in the upcoming months. The Army is concerned about meeting the fiscal year 2005 recruiting missions but is confident that the recruiting initiatives will take hold and that the American public will respond.

    Active Army: FY 2005 recruiting mission: 80,000
    6,157 Soldiers accessed in June (109 percent of the monthly goal of 5,650).
    47,121 Soldiers joined from the beginning of the fiscal year through the end of June.

    Army National Guard: FY 2005 recruiting mission: 63,002
    * 4,337 Soldiers accessed in June (86 percent of the monthly goal of 5,032).
    * 34,589 Soldiers joined from the beginning of the fiscal year through the end of June.

    Army Reserve: FY 2005 recruiting mission: 22,175
    * 3,651 Soldiers accessed in June (101 percent of the monthly goal of 3,610).
    * 13,203 Soldiers joined from the beginning of the fiscal year through the end of June.

    Active Army: FY 2005 retention mission: 64,162
    53,120 Soldiers have reenlisted so far this fiscal year.

    Army National Guard: FY 2005 retention mission: 32,570
    25,046 Soldiers have reenlisted so far this fiscal year.

    Army Reserve: FY 2005 retention mission: 16,248
    12,444 Soldiers have reenlisted so far this fiscal year.

    a. Qualified recruits without prior military service who enlist for at least three years in the active Army in specific job categories and who report for training before 30 September are eligible for an enlistment bonus of at least $5,000, which may be combined with all other existing bonuses for a total of up to $20,000.

    b. The maximum combination of cash bonuses for a three-year enlistment is $20,000 for some high-priority jobs, and $10,000 for most of the Army’s more than 150 entry-level jobs. The maximum combination of cash bonuses for an active Army enlistment of four or more years is $20,000.

    c. These cash bonuses may also be combined with either the Army’s Loan Repayment Program or the Army College Fund, but not both. The Army College Fund, which is available to recruits who select high-priority specialties, offers up to $70,000 for higher education. The Student Loan Repayment Program, available to all recruits with qualifying student loans who enlist for at least three years in any military occupational specialty, can repay up to $65,000. (From Army G-1.)

CROWS: View ‘n’ Shoot
CROWS (Common Remotely Operated Weapon System) takes the gunner out of the roof and puts him or her safely in the back of the armored vehicle. Instead of looking down the sights of a barrel, the gunner now looks at a computer screen and controls the machine gun by using a joystick. CROWS takes video training and places it into everyday Soldier use like never before.

A CROWS unit comes equipped with a second-generation infrared camera and a laser range finder. It is complete with zoom capabilities and automatically adjusts the rifle for height and distance, putting the rounds on the target under almost any conditions.

On Display Among Real American Heroes
After more than 40 years of active service in the playrooms, sandboxes and lawns of children, the G.I. Joe action figure is now doing duty in the Pentagon.

Two display cases (down the hall from the Army Chief of Staff and next to GEN MacArthur’s corridor) feature G.I. Joe tableaux depicting scenes of Soldiers in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom and at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

While assigned to the Joint Staff, LTC Michael Warsocki, an avid G.I. Joe collector, came up with the idea to fill the two empty display cases in the newly renovated area of the Pentagon. Warsocki contacted two other G.I. Joe collectors, Patrick Kelly and Derryl Depriest, to produce the displays. Kelly and his wife operate Diorama Dreams, a Louisville, Kentucky, professional artisan studio specializing in custom scale miniatures for private and corporate displays. Kelly has built G.I. Joe displays for FAO Schwarz in New York City and for a touring exhibit.

“Patrick did the work pro bono just out of his desire to get Joe into the Pentagon,” Warsocki said. The display, he said, “pays homage to two great things: the American Soldier and G.I. Joe.”

Chicago Ribbons
Members of the Chicago Police Department who deploy as members of the National Guard or Reserve will get a new ribbon to wear—on their police uniforms.

The Military Deployment Award is given to Chicago police officers in recognition of their overseas deployments. The new award was introduced at a 25 May ceremony in which the ribbon was bestowed upon 88 police officers, among them veterans of the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“You’ve defended our city, and you’ve defended our nation; you’ve taken great risks, and for that we are thankful,” said Chicago Alderman James Balcer, himself a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War.

Police officers wearing the ribbon will receive an additional star to place on the ribbon each time they deploy.

“I think the awardees were amazed that the department took steps to recognize their service to the country,” said ribbon recipient Robert Cargie, an Army Reserve sergeant major who served in Bosnia and Iraq. “Universally, the servicemembers and their families were pleased.”

Arlington National Cemetery Expanding
In 1998, Arlington National Cemetery officials feared they would run out of burial space by the year 2025. Recently, the cemetery gained more than 70 acres of land, extending the longevity of the cemetery.

“We estimated that we would run out of grave space between the year 2025 and 2030,” said cemetery superintendent John Metzler. “So one of the new things we were directed to do was develop a new master plan and to look at not only what we needed to do internally to maintain the cemetery, but also how we could look at expanding the cemetery beyond the year of 2025.”

The cemetery looked to its borders on all sides to see who owned the land and pondered the likelihood of acquiring the land.

“As a result of all this, we’ve been able to acquire three parcels of land so far, including the 44-acre Navy Annex that lies to our south,” Metzler said. “We also acquired a piece of property inside the cemetery that had belonged to the National Park Service. There was a 24-acre tract and we were able to acquire half of that—12 acres.”

A 17-acre picnic area adjacent to Fort Myer will also be converted to new burial grounds. With these countermeasures in place, the cemetery should be able to continue regular operations well into the year 2060.

Crowding for the Push-up Table
Inspired by the Marines’ Pull-up Bar, the Army has constructed the Push-up Table to attract competitive youth and spread positive information about the Army at public events like concerts and fairs.

The table, which fits in the rear of a Humvee much like a toolbox in the back of a pickup truck, tests the arm strength and strength of will among prospective recruits.

The table was designed by SSG Michael Brock and SFC Jimmie Bowie, who wanted something to compete with the Marines. “We wanted something that these young men and women can do that we do during our physical fitness training,” said Bowie.

The table has already drawn a crowd at a recent concert. More than 200 young men and women wanted to prove they were sterner stuff atop the black and gold table.

“They were eating it up because the crowd was around them,” said Bowie. “They were getting a chance to show off what they could do and loving it.”

Some competitors came back three or four times to see if they could beat the top scorer in their category.

Punished over Publishing Classified Information
An Arizona National Guardsman serving in Iraq has been demoted for posting classified information on his Internet web log (blog).

He was demoted from specialist to private first class and fined $1,640.

The National Guardsman could have appealed the ruling but declined to.

Soldiers in Iraq are allowed to maintain blogs or websites. They cannot however, post information about Army operations, movements. They also are barred from posting information about the death of a Soldier whose family hasn’t been notified.

These rules are set in place for the protection of Soldiers in the field, not to limit their rights. (From

NCOs Lead the Way
All the way over there
As the new recruits for the Afghan National Army’s 41st Kandak (battalion) stepped off the buses in front of the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC), they were met with booming voices screaming, “Zoot! Zoot! (Move! Move!).” Though the language was different, any U.S. Soldier would recognize the dulcet tones of U.S. Army drill sergeants bellowing forth.

These instructors are from the Army Reserve’s 95th Division (Institutional Training) in Oklahoma. Out of 150 drill sergeants who applied for the position, 26 were selected and deployed to Kabul. U.S. Special Forces initiated training for the Afghan National Army, and the Training Assistance Group and Soldiers from Regional Training Institutes have mentored Afghan officials running the KMTC. The U.S. Army drill sergeants were called on to help the Afghan National Army build a strong NCO corps by reinforcing the role of the NCO throughout the training.

For two weeks the drill sergeants observed training, went over schedules, discussed cultural issues and learned some commands and phrases in Dari, the Afghan language used at KMTC. The drill sergeants’ first class of recruits was the 41st Kandak, who were directed to run, sit, stand at attention and look straight ahead.

Aside from instilling discipline among the recruits, the drill sergeants are teaching by example the role of the NCO for the Afghan National Army’s NCOs. “The NCOs are emerging,” said MAJ Jeffrey Nichols, who has been mentoring the Kandak staff for 10 months and noted the difference in the Afghan National Army’s NCOs’ attitude and enthusiasm since the drill sergeants arrived.

“They are getting to conduct the training without the interference of the officers. The drill sergeants are the role models this cadre has needed.” (From Army News Service.)

Special Operations Diver Badge
The Special Operations Diver Badge recently replaced the Army Diver badge for U.S. Army Special Forces and Special Operations Soldiers.

Changes went into effect 20 July. In addition to the new badge, a new skill level known as the Special Operations Diving Supervisor’s Badge was created.

The Special Operations Diver Badge is awarded to graduates of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) Combat Diver Qualification Course, Special Forces Underwater Operations, located in Key West, Florida.

The award is also given to Soldiers who have completed any other U.S. Army Special Operations Command approved combat diver qualification course.

The Special Operations Diving Badge and Special Operations Diving Supervisor’s Badge may be awarded retroactively to affiliates of any service who successfully completed the SWCS Combat Diver’s Qualification course on or after 1 October 1964. (From Special Operations Public Affairs.)

County Dedicates Nature Trail to Fallen NCO
Pierce County Parks and Recreations in Puyallup, Washington have dedicated a 2.5-mile nature trail at the South Hill Community Park in memory of SFC Nathan Ross Chapman.

Chapman—a 1st Special Forces Group Soldier and long-time resident of Puyallup—died on 4 January 2002; he was the first U.S. servicemember to die from enemy fire in Afghanistan.

“The beauty and solitude of the trail embodies everything Nate enjoyed,” said MSG Chris Heim, a friend and former teammate of the honored Soldier.

The Soldiers attending the ceremony said it meant a lot to see the community where Chapman lived—and where his family still lives—honor the Green Beret. (From 1st Special Forces Group Public Affairs.)

Military Idol
The U. S. Army is looking for the next Ruben Studdard or Carrie Underwood amongst its own. This summer Soldiers on 34 Army installations worldwide are being given the opportunity to compete for the title of Military Idol.

Inspired by and based on the principles of the hit Fox television show “American Idol,” the “Military Idol” competition kicked off on 1 August; local competitions will continue through 30 September. Winners of the local competitions will compete with other camouflage-clad crooners during finals week, 17 through 22 October, at Alexander Hall, Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Cash prizes will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners on both the installation and Army-wide levels. The finalist who takes first place in the Army-wide competition will win $1,000 and become the Ambassador for Army Entertainment.

The Pentagon Channel will air a 90-minute live broadcast of the “Military Idol” finals.

Installations holding “Military Idol” competitions include: Fort McCoy, WI; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Fort Carson, CO; Fort Lewis, WA; Fort Myer, Fort Lee and Fort Eustis, VA; Fort Sam Houston, TX; Fort Sill, OK; Fort Irwin, CA; Fort Huachuca, AZ; Fort Jackson, SC; Fort Knox, KY; Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Gordon, GA; Fort Rucker, AL; Schofield Barracks, HI; Fort Richardson, AK; Hohenfels, Wurzburg, Baumholder, Heidelberg, Weisbaden, Bamberg, Hanau, Ansbachand and Darmstadt, Germany; Chievers, Belgiuim; Camp Casey, Camp Walker, Camp Humpreys and Yongsan, Korea; and Camp Zama, Japan.
Competition dates, complete rules and additional information can be found at

Army Second in Inter-Service Chess Championships
SPC Mustapha Kahlouch recently led the All-Army chess team to a second-place finish behind Air Force and earned a spot in the NATO Chess Championships during the 2005 Inter-Service Chess Championships scheduled for 21–27 August.

Military chess aficionados said they cherished the camaraderie during the Inter-Service Chess Championships held 5–11 June at the Fort Myer, Virginia, Community Center.

“It’s a good feeling, especially on the Army side, because we didn’t know each other. Now we’re pretty close,” Kahlouch said. (From USACFSC Public Affairs.)

Deployment Checklist

When married Soldiers deploy, their families shoulder additional burdens during the prolonged absences. Many of these burdens can be lightened with a little preparation on the part of the Soldier and the spouse well ahead of receiving deployment orders.

• Set up a power of attorney, one for financial matters and one for health matters. The base Legal Affairs office can help. This would be a good opportunity to get wills written, too.

• Work out a budget together, listing who pays the bills each month and making sure additional costs caused by deployments can be covered. Establish a separate checking account the spouse can use to run the household, and set up a pay allotment that goes directly into that checking account.

• Make child care plans. Set up contingencies, especially if both spouses work and regularly switch off minding the children. Even if the spouse doesn’t have a job, enlist the help of a friend or colleague to call on in emergencies.

• Make a list of next of kin, personal lawyer, family mechanic, trusted friends and the like, with phone numbers and addresses.

• Get in touch with next of kin of both the Soldier and the spouse to tell them how to contact the Soldier in case of emergency and let them know the assistance available to them.

• Check the expiration dates on military ID cards. Also make sure the Emergency Data Cards and Family Care Plans are up to date.

• Check the car and major home appliances to make sure they are in good working order.

• Give family members a tour of the house to show them the fuse box, water heater, furnace, etc., and a tour of the post to show them the locations of the Army Community Service Center, chapel and unit.

• Create an “important documents” file that is secure but that the spouse can easily access. Among the documents that should be readily available are medical, shot and dental records for every family member (including pets), birth certificates/adoption papers for each family member, citizenship or naturalization papers, marriage certificate, divorce papers, death certificates, discharge papers, passports and visas, copies of orders, leave and earnings statements, wills and living wills, real estate documents such as leases, mortgages and deeds, car title and registration, federal and state tax returns, and a list of credit cards, installment contracts and loans with account numbers. (From AUSA/Institute of Land Warfare.)

Letters to the Editor. . .

Please allow me to add my objection to the host of others you hopefully received concerning the cover story headline “NCO Wins Military’s Highest Honor” in your 2nd Quarter NCO Update. Although the photograph’s caption correctly reflects that SFC Paul Ray Smith earned the Congressional Medal of Honor (as opposed to “winning” it), I am compelled to point out the headline detracts from the exceptionally heroic acts SFC Smith selflessly performed while earning the Medal. Thank you.

MSG Chris McCreary
Operations NCOIC
Kaiserslautern, Germany

Your headline reads “NCO Wins Military’s Highest Honor.” Does anybody really “win” the Medal of Honor? Since most Medals of Honor are presented posthumously, I wouldn’t call that “winning.” I know all the medals I have were “earned” with lots of blood, sweat, and sometimes tears. You do use the word “earned” in the photo caption, and I think that’s what SFC Smith did. He earned the Medal of Honor.

SFC Greg K. Harkness


NCO Update would like to hear from you. We want to know your opinions and possibly publish them in future issues. Please send your letters to Editor, NCO Update, AUSA, 2425 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201. Letters are also accepted via e-mail at with the subject line “Letters to the Editor.”