Driven Soldier looks to past for inspiration
February 17, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Sergeant Eddie Clark is your typical 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team Soldier in many ways: he's motivated, strong-willed and proficient. However, he is one of the few Soldiers that has received a battlefield promotion and is hoping to be an officer.
"Sergeant Clark is probably one of the most driven, ambitious Soldiers that I've met," said Sgt. 1st Class Keisha Alvarenga, 1st Bde. legal non-commissioned officer In charge, "From day one when I picked him up from the processing center he was talking about all the stuff he wanted to do- green berets, ranger, all this stuff and he was just a specialist out of Advanced Individual Training. He was like a sponge, he soaked everything up. Anything you told him to do he would do it. He was always wanting to find ways to improve and make himself better, not just in his work, but as a Soldier."
Sergeant Clark is the legal assistance non-commissioned officer in 1st Bde. and does his job with pride.
"We specialize in legal actions as far as providing legal assistance for Soldiers, dealing with power of attorney or preparing them to see an attorney in legal matters - whether it's criminal, Family law or legal actions," said Sgt. Clark. "A pet peeve about legal is that every time someone sees us they think they are going to get in trouble; we actually help people. I chose this job because I felt it is something that has benefits in the civilian world."
Sergeant Clark is also one of the chosen few who received a battlefield promotion during the "Raider Brigade's" recent deployment to Iraq.
"Getting a battlefield promotion meant a lot to me," Sgt. Clark said, "I had a good opportunity to work with NCOs that trained me and I was also self-motivated and ambitious. I'm pretty happy about it as I don't think any other paralegal has received that honor."
The U.S. Army discontinued battlefield promotions after Vietnam but reinstated it in 2009 to allow Soldiers who display extraordinary performance of duties while serving in combat or under combat conditions to be promoted one grade without having to attend a promotion board or meeting time in service or grade requirements.
"When the opportunity came for [Clark] to get a battlefield promotion he had to endure a lot," said Sgt. 1st Class Alvarenga. "He went to the range about five times, took his PT test and scored 300 or above, and submitting all that paper work and making him competitive. Ever since he pinned on the stripes and became an NCO he has raised the bar. He's the type of Soldier that any leader would love to have. When we deployed to Iraq, I put him in charge of the legal assistance section as a specialist and he did a remarkable job, I didn't have to watch him closely. He is always going above and beyond his level."
But Sgt. Clark has plans for the future that involve bars of gold and silver, and hopefully even oak leaf clusters.
"He's very ambitious," said Sgt. 1st Class Alvarenga, "After becoming an NCO and going this far in the enlisted realm he now wants to be an officer. He went to the officer board, did fantastic, and they were very impressed with him. So hopefully he will be picked up for Officer Candidate School and become and officer."
When it comes to motivation, Sgt. Clark points to his father as inspiration.
"My role model is my father," said Sgt. Clark, smiling, "He is a retired field artillery Sergeant First Class, he taught me a lot of necessary tools in life to be successful; as far as having the discipline, the 'go-getter' mentality and making sure that when you set out to do something you do it. He taught me a lot of things about how to be a man, and some of the things I didn't realize would help me start off well in the military."
This month also has a special significance for Sgt. Clark, as it is African American History Month.
"The month in itself reminds me of all the people that came before us that sacrificed their lives just to make everything equal," said Sgt. Clark, "Not just for African Americans but for all minorities. It reminds me how far we've come. Being an African American in today's culture is a privilege. I've been lucky not to have to go through prejudice and extremes to succeed."
However, no matter what era Sgt. Clark may have been born in its safe to say his qualities would remain the same. According to his superiors he is ambitious, caring, and spirited- an NCO who sacrifices time both on and off the clock to help others.
"Another quality about Sgt. Clark is that he is very caring, very passionate," said Sgt. 1st Class Alvarenga, "He is always willing to sacrifice personal time or whatever he needs to help someone else out. His overall performance is amazing; he is all about doing things as perfectly as possible."
"He's driven," she continued, "To me motivation is so important to being an NCO because if you don't have motivation you can't motivate your Soldiers."