By 2nd Lt. Tyler Pedue and 2nd lt. Hailey Bertin, 428th Field Artillery Brigade Public AffairsDecember 7, 2017
FORT SILL, Okla. (Dec. 7, 2017) -- The Soldiers and leaders of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery delivered justice as the battalion mascots Staff Sgt. Big Deuce (mule) and Sgt. Short Round (Afghan goat) received Articles 15 and reductions in rank, Dec. 4, in front of Sanders Stables, their barracks.
Presiding over the proceedings, Lt. Col. James Dayhoff, 2-2nd FA commander, summed up the charges against the accused.
"We've had a couple problems with our mascots over the last couple of months. Short Round has gotten really fat -- he's gained probably 30 percent body weight over the last six months, and not only that, but he's been malingering on duty. He failed to walk to one of his appointed places of duty, so now he's a corporal," he said.
Dayhoff then addressed the problems of Big Deuce, who bit the sergeant major.
"Even during the court proceedings he was mistreating his handlers and just really didn't want to be there, so we imposed justice on him as well. He is now Sergeant Big Deuce," said the colonel.
Furthermore, Dayhoff warned that he expected better performance from the two, and that while Short Round may be close to his Expiration Term of Service date (and/or PCSing to greener pastures), there is no excuse for Big Deuce. He "just needs a little bit of discipline and a little bit of practice, maybe some ceremony training," said Dayhoff.
Command Sgt. Maj. David Cutshall, the victim of the malingering mule, spoke of the incident in question.
"When Big Deuce first bit me, I was trying to figure out why. I was simply petting him, and then he suddenly bit me on the arm and wouldn't let loose."
Fortunately, the victim saved himself from further injury or abuse.
"I actually had to swat him a little bit to get him off of me. I expect more out of my NCOs, obviously, and by far, he's not living up to the standard of being the face of this battalion that everybody knows and loves," said Cutshall.
However, the sergeant major said relations between him and his assailant have not soured too much.
"We've had a few talks since the incident back in November. He's come around a little bit, and he hasn't tried to nip me since then," he said. "Hopefully, this is a good sign that things are looking up."
1st Lt. Megan Gemar, Sanders Stables officer in charge, defended the accused and pointed out the mule is still young and learning his ways in the Army.
"Big Deuce especially, since he's very, very young, he's still growing into his equipment, he's just a baby, and they're always excited to support the battery and all that we do," she said.
When it came to their actions leading up to their trials, she said that "Short Round is a big fan of the treats, to be 100 percent honest, but he is trying. He likes to stand on his igloo for exercise, and he also likes to wander around his pen and hit things with his horns, so we are going to continue to develop an appropriate exercise regimen for him."
Gemar said his handlers are working on walking him around the pen more.
As for Big Deuce, "He doesn't like to stand on gravel, he prefers to stand on grass, so we're still training him to stand on gravel when duty calls," she said. "He's still getting a handle on his duties, and we hope to see him continue to grow and develop."
It seems, however, this this is not an incident that would surprise anyone who interacts with either of the accused on a daily basis.
As A Battery's commander, Capt. Kelly Turner put it, while Short Round and Big Deuce are given the responsibility of being the mascots, both of them have fallen short of their duties.
"Short Round really did not perform well as an NCO. He malingered in his duties during ceremonies, and he really just isn't showing that NCO-quality these days, so we felt that a field-grade Article 15 was in order to correct that behavior," said Turner.
That being said, she pointed to his only being demoted to corporal (as opposed to specialist) as a good sign for his career:
"It's no secret within the battalion (mascot corps) that we are a little short on NCO leadership, so although he's not quite hitting that height and weight standard, we figured he could still have a chance as a corporal," said the captain.
A Battery 1st Sgt. Robert McGinnis had similar words about the mascots' less than stellar attitude, but wasn't ready to put the animals out to pasture.
"We feel like they're retainable, this is something they can bounce back from," he said.
Commenting on Big Deuce, who showed no remorse for his actions as he proceeded to walk in circles during his trial, causing his handlers and the battalion leadership great distress, Turner said that's just his usual attitude.
"He's a really young staff sergeant, he's got a lot of attitude, and he shows it almost every day," she said. "So, we're trying to reduce him in rank to reflect what that bad behavior gets you in this unit."
That being said, Turner was not worried about how Sgt. Big Deuce was influencing the newer Soldiers within the Mule Battalion.
"I don't think he's going to be a bad influence," she said. "We have enough good NCOs within this battery that we can counteract his jackassery."