Faces From the Front for March 29, 2010 - Sgt. Maj. Charlie Fergurson
Current Unit: Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command
Current Position: Operations Sergeant Major
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Djibouti, Africa
Hometown: Alton, Ill.
Years of Service: 23
In 2008, when Sgt. Maj. Charlie Fergurson found out that his sons, Charlie and Steele were deploying to Iraq, he immediately decided to find a way to deploy with his boys.
"I found out within a two week period that both of my sons were being deployed to Iraq," Fergurson explained. "I devised this elaborate justification of why I should deploy, but in the end, I just explained to the Commanding General that both my sons were going and I would feel better being there, with them, than in the rear. So he said 'go'."
Hence Fergurson and his two sons, Charlie and Steele, served together in Iraq from 2008 to 2009, a time that the Soldier reflects favorably upon.
"It was great that I could be in Iraq while they were there," Fergurson said. "It's hard to explain, but I just wanted them to know that I was going through what they were going through. I had to be there so they knew they weren't going it alone, and I think it made a difference for them."
During this deployment, Fergurson and Charlie were located near one another in Baghdad, while Steele was severing in Tikrit, which is a 35-minute helicopter ride from Baghdad. Due to their proximity to each other, the Soldiers were able to spend some together during their deployment.
"Charlie and I were able to do lunch a couple of times and I got up to see Steele a couple of times too, but it was hard to get the time sometimes because of the operational tempo of our missions."
Fergurson is proud to have served with sons, and knows that his decision to volunteer for this deployment made an impact on them.
"I have never asked them to do anything I wouldn't do myself and deploying with the boys re-enforced what I have always preached to them. I hope they know that there isn't anything I wouldn't do for them," Fergurson said.
Over the past five years, Fergurson has deployed to Iraq three times and to Afghanistan once, and is now serving a fifth tour in Djibouti. As the operations sergeant major for the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, Fergurson and his Soldiers are responsible for coordinating with members of the opposing military and persuading them not to participate in warring against U.S. forces.
"We save American lives and shorten the wars by convincing the enemy not to fight," Fergurson said.
Fergurson and his Soldiers accomplish their mission by selecting a target audience within the opposing military's ranks, then analyzing the conditions, vulnerabilities and susceptibilities that exist in relation to that audience. Once the analysis is complete, Fergurson and his Soldiers utilize this information to determine what methods of communication can be used to reach their target audience in a way that will positively affect their behavior. Most often the Soldiers utilize audio, audiovisual and print materials to get their messages across to various segments of the enemy's military.
"It's a fun and rewarding Army job," Fergurson said of his work.
While Fergurson has spent a great deal of time away from his family the past five years, all of his deployments have proved to be unique experiences, in which he has learned a great deal and served with extraordinary Soldiers.
"I wouldn't trade any deployment for the other, I have had the opportunity to serve with exceptional Soldiers, real Heroes, on all deployments," Fergurson said.
Fergurson is slated to return home to North Carolina in May and looks forward to spending time with his wife and four sons, Colton, Charlie, Steele and Stone.
At age two, Stone may very well be the next member of the Fergurson clan to join the Army.
"I want to be an Army man and go to work like daddy," the boy recently told his mother.
"He may be well on his way," Fergurson said of Stone. "I would be OK with it if he does follow his brothers and I to the Army."
In addition to spending time with family, he hopes to attend his 35 year high school reunion in Alton, Ill., this summer.