Fort McCoy Year of the NCO speaker used training as springboard
May 21, 2009
By Rob Schuette
No detail is too small to overlook in combat because Soldiers donAca,!a,,ct get second chances, said a Soldier who often is described as an American hero by his peers and superiors and who used mobilization training at Fort McCoy as a springboard to success during a deployment.
Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Nein told his story to a Fort McCoy audience May 8 during a Year of the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) event.
Nein participated in mobilization training in 2004 at Fort McCoy in preparation for a deployment. Nein was honored with the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during a March 20, 2005 ambush in Iraq. The Distinguished Service Cross is second only to the Medal of Honor among awards for valor in battle.
Although the award was for a particular event, Nein said the award was part of a team effort, which included the personnel at Fort McCoy who helped get him and other members of the 617th Military Police Company he served with ready for deployment.
"The people sitting in this room today are a lot of the reason that we were successful in 2005," Nein said. "You have a great facility here. You do great things. IAca,!a,,cve deployed four times, as IAca,!a,,cve said, out of four different locations. And if they had asked me where I wanted to go to, it would be this location."
"I owe it to the people in this room to tell my story, and to talk about leadership," he said, explaining why he readily accepted the invitation to speak at Fort McCoy.
NCOs have become known as the backbone of the Army, Nein said. Being part of a team is what an NCO is all about.
NCOs are leading, developing, mentoring and training Soldiers to be an extremely proficient force on the battlefield. NCOs donAca,!a,,ct take Army Values, the NCO Creed and Warrior Ethos lightly as they are tools that can help them live up to and adhere to principles each and every day.
Nein related the story about Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Iraq. During a ceremony honoring Smith at the Victory Base Complex in Iraq, his fellow Soldiers said no matter what they did he insisted they had to do it to standard.
"From cleaning their weapons three times a day to laying out Aca,!A| wire and burying the wire to standard six inches underground while others just laid it on top of the ground," Nein said. "Standards were his watchword."
During his first deployment, Nein said he realized he had a well-trained and proficient squad, but one of the things he was missing was teamwork.
As he prepared for his second tour in 2004 at Fort McCoy, he decided one of his most important tasks was to unite the Soldiers into a team.
Personnel identified the tactics they did well and identified the procedures they could improve, he said. All Soldiers became cross-trained on all available weapons systems/equipment.
All vehicles were loaded with the same equipment, he said.
"We talked for hours about what we would do in and planning for specific instances," Nein said. "Nothing was left to chance."
The attention to detail and teamwork served them well during the March 20, 2005 incident.
Nein said it began with personnel from his unit shadowing a convoy, which was the target of hit-and-run ambushes against convoys. Events ahead of them indicated an ambush was under way.
"We raced up to the contact area and got to the contact side of ambush," Nein said. "Immediately our trucks received a massive amount of fire. I remembered thinking that Aca,!Eoenot even our up-armored vehicle could stop all this fire.\'"
Then he saw an adjacent road, which he knew unit members could use to flank the enemy and gain a tactical advantage.
As they came into contact with the enemy, Nein said they realized the enemy force was three to five times their size, and they knew they were in trouble.
Yet, the troops began to rally and everybody looked for targets and did their jobs.
Nein recounted he threw grenades to cover them. Other personnel used weapon systems to subdue the enemy.
One Soldier fired an M-249 machine gun and M-4 rifle at the same time and in different directions to combat the enemy. Seemingly, foot-by-foot they fought toward the enemy until the opposing forces were quieted.
Altogether, the squad killed 27 enemy soldiers and captured seven without a death in their own squad. In addition to NeinAca,!a,,cs award, the Soldiers received a Silver Star and many other high-ranking awards.
"There were many things that went into making that day a success Aca,!" most were great weapons systems and great equipment," Nein said. "But the most important to me were training preparations and teamwork."
"We took advantage of every opportunity to train," he said. "Every experience was a learning experience to make us stronger. We spent countless hours preparing for the mission. Even while in country we were continually training."
Nein also paid tribute to his wife, who couldnAca,!a,,ct attend because of her job, and all the other spouses whose support made it possible for him and other Soldiers to accomplish their missions.
Her support was key to his having four successful deployments in the past eight years, and it was appropriate to recognize and thank her and all the other spouses on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, he said.
Fort McCoy Garrison Command Sergeant Major Command Sgt. Maj. M. Kevin Dubois recognized Nein as an American hero and thanked him for attending what was the first of several Year of the NCO events at Fort McCoy this year.
"Sergeant First Class Nein is a humble individual," Dubois said. "We met him for the first time at a meal at Fort McCoy this morning. I liked that when we ate with him Sergeant Nein didnAca,!a,,ct talk just about the event. He talked about basketball, baseball and kids, and hunting with the commander."
Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. David E. Chesser noted he was in Europe after the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, and several years later when he met former Soviet Bloc military personnel they were impressed by the quality of the U.S. Army NCO Corps and couldnAca,!a,,ct believe the responsibility and authority NCOs have.
"And to this day, I donAca,!a,,ct think they can replicate that," he said. "So that goes to the value of the Noncommissioned Officers Corps, and why weAca,!a,,cre celebrating today."