Love of Law, Army and Nation
October 15, 2012
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. --The legacy began with a testimony of the 'greatness that is America' -- a land of hope and possibility as Vincent J. Faggioli, Army Materiel Command's Command Counsel, calls it.
Faggioli shared his background and lessons learned with the AMC team during his retirement and award ceremony Oct 1, during which he received a Department of the Army decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service.
"Today is about love for me: love of law, love of Army and love of Nation," he began.
Like many Americans, his story begins with immigration. His father's parents and siblings crossed the Atlantic from Italy in search of a better future.
"None of the family went to college and to this day none of my cousins went to college. Heck, none of my uncles even darkened the door of a high school, but they all signed up for the military and most fought in Europe, many times against Italians," Faggioli stated.
It was the military that assigned Faggioli's father to Utah, where he met his mother, an immigrant as well. Her family migrated across the plains with the Mormon pioneers in the 1850s settling in the farm country of Ioka, Utah.
"I am grateful to a country wherein descendents from such immigrants can become college graduates, lawyers, serve 30 years in the Army as a JAG [Judge Advocate General's]Officer and retire as an SES [senior executive service] Command Counsel -- what a country!," Faggioli proclaimed with pride.
Laced with humor, he continued, "Yep, I didn't have to work in the mills or in the family business -- I never was very good at carrying violin cases. Besides I am too disorganized to belong to organized crime!"
Faggioli's career began as an Infantry Officer in 1971, serving with the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. One day during maneuvers, he found himself sitting in a puddle with a mud-clogged weapon after a week in the Kahuku Mountains of Oahu and decided to go to law school.
And with those memories, he continues to train the lawyers under his tutelage.
"To this day, I have a boot scuffed and cut and almost destroyed by the lava. I use that boot to in-brief new lawyers or to counsel lawyers who might want to keep 'bankers' hours' as a teaching point as to just how bad things can be in the field," Faggioli said. "It is prudent for us all to remember that we are supporting people for whom being in the field is tough work -- never 'time off' -- never late arrival, never early departure. Those who fight for us deserve our dedicated service."
But why law school one might wonder; no other answer than love for law will suffice as a response.
"I came to the JAG Corps and the practice of law because I love the law -- that which civilizes us, that which makes life fair, that which punishes wrongdoing, that which organizes society. I love the law because in the law we see the foundation of our freedoms, of our rights [natural rights] and of our ability to be safe," he explained.
Faggioli reflected on many case wins and some losses, but love of country remained the theme of his remarks.
"I was always proud to be representing the United States -- to represent the people of the United States in ensuring that the law was obeyed," he said.
The Army and the practice of law offered Faggioli many life lessons, for example compassion and the importance of understanding before you speak.
Faggioli recalled the power of compassion from a specialist in jeopardy of being chaptered out of the Army. He gave a second and third chance to the young man to continue serving. After 20 years, he received a note from the specialist's son thanking him for giving his father a chance to succeed.
As a trial observer in Germany, Faggioli received the lasting lesson of listening and understanding before you speak.
He was assigned to offer relief and assistance to the defendant of a murder trial.
"I came to know this Soldier and understood a little of his background that led to this horrendous crime.So, being a neophyte German speaker and hearer, I listened intently when the sentence was delivered. We expected a sentence of 50 years, so I was happy for him when what I heard was only 15 years behind bars," Faggioli explained. "I bounded up to congratulate the Soldier telling him he would be out in no time."
It's the dazed look on the prisoner's face as he was led away that stuck with Faggioli.
"It was only a few minutes later when I discovered that his sentence was life plus 15 years. I should have listened more carefully before speaking. I learned that lesson well and it has served me well," he continued.
Faggioli assured the audience that he could fill many hours with accounts and experiences of his more than 41 years of service in boots or a tie.
"I could tell you tales of service in Fort Irwin, of the Pentagon, of White Sands Missile Range, of 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, of the Justice Department, of U.S. Forces Korea of U.S. European Command, of Cavalese [Italy] cable car disaster and Kosovo bombing campaign, of Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, Japan, Alaska and Palau, of Fort Belvoir and now of Redstone. But I will spare you. Suffice to say that every single assignment, in uniform or suit and tie has been a pleasure," he remarked with a smile.
Faggioli was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in April 2007, and became Command Counsel and technical leader for more than 350 attorneys throughout the world for AMC in April 2009.
"Since being deputy command counsel and command counsel for AMC. I have come to know and love AMC and had the opportunity to practice all I have learned about the law and leadership," Faggioli said.
"I am grateful to have served the finest Generals in the Army while in AMC. Gen. [ret.] Griffin, Gen. [ret.] Dunwoody and Gen. Via set the standard for dedication to duty and love of country," he continued.
In closing, Faggioli remarked, "What a story -- no, not the story of me -- but the story of America. A story of all who serve her, of all who love her and in my case the son of recent immigrants, one who received mentoring from bosses and subordinates alike. I would not give up my experiences for a million dollars or re-live them for two million!"
With gratitude he gave appreciation to the Nation for the opportunity it allows its residents and referenced the loves of his life: his wife Karen, a retired Army Officer and elementary school teacher; his son, Vincent, a commercial pilot; and God.
"I love so much my wife of 41 years, Karen," he said. "They followed me and my career over 25 moves and 41 years. I also appreciate God and all he has given to us. I recognize the freedom he gives us through this blessed land founded by wise men upon eternal principals," Faggioli said. "I feel honored to have served America for 41 years and count myself as the luckiest man on the face of the earth."