Soldier in Focus - Spc. Russell Madden
July 15, 2009
BAGHDAD - Spc. Russell Madden crunches numbers, but not just any numbers. He makes sure the important figures on his computer screen translate into mission-essential equipment, and sees that it gets to the proper places in a safe and hasty manner. He also has the vital job of keeping track of sensitive items he does not have actual "hands on."
The 31 year-old Hastings, Mich. native, unit supply specialist and unit armorer with the 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade, says he keeps on his toes by always asking questions of his non-commissioned officers.
"It's a thankless job," stated Madden, the father of three, half-joking. "People don't realize that everything has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is supply. They take us for granted until they need something."
At the beginning of this tour, he served in the 46th ECB (H) battalion's S4 (Supply). His primary duties were tracking requisitions from the companies, scheduling transportation, and handling the bill of materials for the battalion's construction projects throughout Multi-National Division Baghdad.
"When Spc. Madden arrived to the unit you could tell that he wasn't just another private," stated Capt. Kelly Boone, battalion S4 officer in charge. "He is mature and that was a big factor in the missions he was assigned."
Madden's maturity, exceptional organizational skills, ability to order replacement parts, provide necessary items for the company to conduct daily operations, and ability to keep track of vital information to provide critical supplies to his fellow Soldiers led Boone to nominate then Pfc. Madden for the first battlefield promotion of the battalion, which he earned in November 2008. Now a specialist, Madden begins his additional job as the unit armorer and he says it's a little bit tricky as he tracks dozens of sensitive items he doesn't really have in his possession.
"The equipment is signed out to the Soldiers but I need to have accountability at all times," stated Madden. "So, I do monthly inventories to make sure things are where they're supposed to be."
The newly-assigned armorer and unit supply specialist says he looks forward to going home to his three children; Nathan, Trevor and Grace, and seeing his wife whom he's known since kindergarten.
"I've known my wife for 26 years and we lived only two miles apart in Michigan," Madden said. "My wife and I talk to the kids to try to explain to them what their daddy does out here. They are a big part of our family decisions. I think my 8 year old, Nathan, has an idea of what the Army does. The others are too young to grasp the whole concept right now."
Each morning, right before physical training Madden makes time to speak to his family.
"This deployment is nothing like I'd thought it would be," Madden said. "I'm lucky enough to live in a containerized housing unit - not a tent, I have internet access, and can keep in touch with my family pretty well."
In his spare time Spc. Madden loves to run, a habit one of his NCOs got him into. He is an avid runner now and has enjoyed participating in the many organized runs held on the Victory Base Complex during his 15-month deployment to Iraq.
"As this deployment winds down I have mixed feelings about leaving because we have worked so hard to improve this country and want to continue making great strides," said Madden. "On the other hand, it is time to let another unit come in and leave their mark on the country."
In ten years, Spc. Madden expects to be finished with his degree in Criminal Justice, since he's already a junior at Central Texas College, and also paying for his son's college tuition. Right now, he continues to enjoy his job taking care of his fellow Soldiers doing an important, yet sometimes overlooked job.
"There really isn't a down side to this job," added Madden. "I'm an important part of the overall picture and I never have to ask anyone for a pen."