OTF Soldier Story for November 29, 2010 - Staff Sgt. Chris McDougall
Current Unit: U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Provost Marshal’s Office
Current Position: Senior Desk Sergeant
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Stuttgart, Germany
Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind.
Years of Service: 10
As the newly-appointed Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year, Staff Sgt. Chris McDougall is called upon to serve as a leader and mentor for all the other NCOs within the Army’s ranks. Although he has only been in the role for a short time, it is a challenge he is ready to undertake.
“From the day they pinned on my sergeant stripes, I’ve always wanted to be the leader who led by example. I want to work alongside my Soldiers and go out on the mission with them,” he said. “To me, the most credible leaders and the ones that make it easy to follow are the ones who lead by example.”
During his deployment to Iraq in 2007-2009, McDougall knew the importance of his role as a leader on the battlefield. Serving as the squad leader for the commander’s security squad, his efforts were critical to ensuring the safety of the commander as he traveled through central Iraq to meet with his subordinate units. The NCO also conducted missions with police transition teams, which served as advisors and liaisons for the Iraqi Police.
On March 14, 2008, McDougall’s leadership was put to the test when his squad was hit by an explosively formed projectile. As a result, three Soldiers in the squad were severely wounded, and ultimately faced amputations of their legs, and a fourth Soldier was wounded by shrapnel. Just a few months into a 15-month deployment, it fell on McDougall’s shoulders to keep the squad focused on the mission.
“We only had 15 guys in the squad, and four of them were sent home for injuries,” he said. “I knew everyone would handle it differently, but I had to keep them focused. We went out on a mission the next day, and we still needed to get the job done.”
The success of McDougall’s leadership was also evident in the relationship he formed with the Iraqi leaders.
“The turning point of the deployment was when we could tell that the Iraqi general finally believed in the work our squad was doing,” he said. “It made our job easier knowing that there was common trust between us and the Iraqis.”
For meritorious service throughout his deployment, McDougall was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Prior to serving on active duty, McDougall served with the Indiana National Guard.
“I originally joined the Army to help pay for college education, but then I realized that I really enjoyed doing it. I could see myself doing it full-time, and the rest is history,” he said.
Currently, he serves at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, and lives in Germany with his wife and two children. In the future, McDougall hopes to serve as a platoon sergeant in the Military Police Corps.
“I want to get back out on the field. I’ve learned a lot being in garrison, but I want to lead alongside my Soldiers,” he said, adding that he hopes to have the opportunity to deploy again.