Year of the NCO: 'It's about taking care of Soldiers'
November 28, 2009
- Cav scout makes Army a career
- Top enlisted leader in Iraq says 'it's a win for the Army'
BAGHDAD -- Leaders aren't born; they are made. Noncommissioned officers spend years honing their leadership skills and mentoring and caring for Soldiers. However, the choice to remain a leader in the Army can be a difficult one, but it is one Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Sammons made Nov. 25.
Right hand raised, he stood in the rotunda of Camp Victory's Al Faw Palace and, once again, took the oath of enlistment. As a Soldier, Sammons swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. As a leader, the day marked a promise to continue taking care of Soldiers.
"It's a win for the Army, for the Sammons family and for future units that he will go to," Multi-National Force-Iraq Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Wilson said of Sammons' choice to reenlist indefinitely.
Sammons, a Doerun, Ga., native, is Wilson's personal security detail noncommissioned officer in charge and has spent the last nine months serving by Wilson's side as they've traveled throughout Iraq.
The decision to stay in, Sammons said, was not one he initially knew he would make.
"It's been a rocky road deciding whether or not to reenlist," he said. "I've found some great inspiration from (Command) Sergeant Major Wilson, and I have had a lot of support from my team and my wife."
His wife, Warrant Officer Laurimar Sammons, served as the enlisting officer during the ceremony. She is also deployed to Iraq, serving as the Multi-National Corps-Iraq Corps Analysis and Control Element officer in charge. Both serve with Fort Lewis' I Corps.
"It's an honor to be reenlisting my husband," the Arecibo, Puerto Rico, native said. "This is a decision we made together, and I am thankful for all the support we have had."
Growing up, Sammons said he always wanted to serve his country in the United States Army. At the age of 26, he made the decision to do so. Three deployments and nearly 11 years later, Sammons decided to make the Army a career.
"On average, it takes 14 years to mentor, teach and advance our noncommissioned officers and for them to develop that expertise and talent as a leader. It's very important that we keep experienced NCOs, like (Sgt. 1st Class) Sammons in the Army," Wilson said.
When describing an ideal NCO, Sammons said they must be able to spot problems, accomplish their mission, be proactive and, most importantly, take care of their Soldiers.
"Not only am I responsible for me and my family, but I'm responsible for my Soldiers and their families," he said.
Chief Sammons said she sees no better example of taking care of Soldiers than when her and her husband visit Soldiers they previously worked with.
"We went over to see everyone in (4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division) because we were with them back at Lewis, and every time we see our old Soldiers they still call us 'mom' and 'dad.' We become a family. We treat them like they are our own kids."
Prior to serving with I Corps and Multi-National Force-Iraq, Sammons served as a cavalry scout platoon sergeant at Fort Carson, Colo.; Korea; and Fort Polk, La. Typically, Sammons was in charge of a 21-man platoon.
He said it has been a challenge to adjust from being a brigade-level platoon sergeant to working at a higher headquarters, but it has made a positive impact on him as an NCO.
"Being able to experience the diversity at this level has really been a challenge," he said. "The way of Iraq has changed. The people of Iraq are changing. When I was here in 2007 and 2008, we were still kicking in doors and patrolling."
While Soldiers aren't patrolling the streets, their mission has not diminished, he said.
"We are focusing and working on partnership with the Iraqis," Sammons said. "We're doing the right thing here."
Sammons was originally scheduled to complete a 12-month tour, but a recent selection to join Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston's team has forced Sammons to pack up early. Sammons and his wife will both redeploy in early December and prepare for their move to the Washington D.C. area.
"This will prove to be a challenging job for him. It's going to be very demanding, but it will better prepare him for future assignments," Wilson said. "He's a well-rounded NCO and this is going to allow him to be a better leader."
Sammons said being able to work for Preston is an opportunity that will only strengthen him as an NCO.
"He is the highest command sergeant major there is. It's an honor," Sammons said. "I want to learn everything I can from him, pick his brain and see what made him say 'Yes, this is the best decision' or 'No, let's do it this way.' It's that knowledge that has made him the NCO he is today that I want to learn."