Faces From the Front for June 15, 2009 - Master Sgt. David Roman
Current Unit: A Company, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (HEAVY)
Current Position: Noncommissioned Officer
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Camp Liberty, Iraq
Hometown: Holland Patent, N.Y.
Years of Service: 24
As a senior Noncommissioned Officer in the U.S. Army, Master Sgt. David Roman takes his roles as teacher, leader and mentor very seriously. Responsible for ensuring the readiness of the Soldiers under his leadership, Roman has trained countless men and women over the course of his 24-year Army career not only in soldiering skills, but in the overall legacy of the thousands of Soldiers who have served before them.
With the Army celebrating its 234th birthday on June 14th, Soldiers and Army leaders around the globe will take time in the next week to honor the contributions Soldiers have made over the years. It is a legacy that the 45-year-old from Holland Patent, N.Y., has taken a personal stewardship role in preserving.
During his first deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Roman lost a friend and fellow NCO, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith. Smith was killed on April 4, 2003 in a fire fight that could have led to large casualties within his Task Force were it not for his selfless and heroic actions. Smith was posthumously awarded the first Medal of Honor for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) for saving the lives of more than 100 Soldiers.
When Roman returned for his second deployment to Iraq, he visited the spot where his friend had valiantly given his life. As he arrived at the location, he was surprised by what he saw.
"I thought there would be something here to let people know what happened, but there was nothing. Just all the bullet holes," said Roman.
As he stood there, Roman made a commitment to ensure his friend's legacy would be properly honored. He established a memorial run on the sixth anniversary of the events of April 4, 2003 and recruited more than 1,000 participants from all across the Victory Base Complex to participate. Today, a plaque tells the story of Smith's sacrifice and each week people stop by to read the words and reflect on the contributions of all Soldiers serving in OIF.
NCOs have long played a role in not only passing along the training Soldiers need to complete their missions, but in handing down the unwritten lessons and stories of those who have come before. It is a role Roman values and one he struggled with transitioning out of when he was put up for consideration for the Army's Sergeants Major Academy, as he knew it would lead to less time working with Soldiers on an individual basis.
"NCOs have a huge impact on individual Soldiers and will always be leading, mentoring and training Soldiers, Roman said. "The NCO Corps is truly the backbone of the Army and is one of the biggest reasons why our Army is the best in the world. My role as an NCO has been very important and I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to lead these great warriors for over 20 years."
Roman's family has its own legacy of service to country. Roman has been awarded the Army's Bronze Star Medal twice for his service, in addition to a host of other honors. His wife Patty works in the Casualty Affairs Office at Fort Bragg, and his father, grandfather and uncle all completed military service. Roman is slated to return home in the late summer and will continue to share the legacy of those who've come before with the young Soldiers he leads.
"We as Americans owe everything to our forefathers. When I have a bad day, all I have to do is think about our Soldiers during the Revolutionary War," said Roman. "They didn't have phones or email or air conditioning or heated quarters. They stood toe to toe in extreme weather with Soldiers that were better equipped and better trained. They were outnumbered most of the time. We lost a lot of great warriors. But, they stood tough for their vision of what we enjoy today. Shame on any one that does not honor their legacy and contributions on June 14th."