By Joyce M. Conant, ARL Public AffairsJune 16, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June 16, 2014) -- Sgt. 1st Class Robert Wooldridge is the project noncommissioned officer responsible for human factors engineering and MANPRINT support for infantry systems at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Human Research and Engineering Directorate, Fort Benning, Ga., Field Element.
Wooldridge joined the Army in June of 1990 and has traveled to many locations throughout the world. He has been with ARL for nearly two years.
In his current position, Wooldridge serves as resident expert on infantry tactics, techniques and procedures. He develops, coordinates, resources, executes and documents experiments and assessments of infantry systems; interfaces with, supports and advises materiel developers, customers and contractors in identification and resolution of Soldier system interface issues; and is accountable for experimentation equipment valued in excess of $2 million.
A native from a small town in South Eastern Ohio, Wooldridge grew up in a military family.
"My father served in the Korean War and Vietnam War, he retired as a Sgt. 1st Class. I also have two brothers who served in the Army for a short while and my oldest brother, he was a Marine, a damn good one too!" said Wooldridge. "All in all, the values we learned from our dad actually made us very dependable Soldiers."
According to Wooldridge, there was more that encouraged him to join.
"I volunteered to support of all of the American volunteers -- family away from family. I wanted to serve my country as a Soldier," Wooldridge said.
After 25 years of service, Wooldridge said what he most likes about his job is supporting the Soldier.
"Dealing with a Soldier firsthand, no matter whether it was when I was a private helping some kid adjust to culture shock or being the drill sergeant who was the first 'real' NCO who had contact with them, to now -- having the opportunity to interact with Soldiers, sometimes on a one-on-one basis, with possible new equipment that they may have issued to them one day," said Wooldridge.
Wooldridge said he has developed many friendships during his time in service and there are three he continues to stay in touch with.
"I'd like the Army to know you make family, but a different type of brotherhood. Ok so, Master Sgt. Aaron Hoelzer, (now retired), Lt. Stacy Spell, now with the Los Angeles Police Department and Maj. Michael Schoonover, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician -- they were all from my first duty station and I am still in contact with my other set of brothers," said Wooldridge. "These guys continue to reach out to me, as I do to them. I am lucky to be friends with these guys after all these years."
Wooldridge said trust is a valuable lesson he has learned from his wife and throughout life.
"I learned to trust my wife not only as a spouse, but as a friend for being there for me through multiple deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Kosovo, and Bosnia," said Wooldridge. "I grew up hard, tough love if you will, and with her being on the reins at home with me dodging bullets somewhere, she enabled me to focus on what needed to be done. I don't always have to be the one doing everything."
Wooldridge said something that really stands out during his time in the Army is being a drill sergeant.
"Being told at an early rank that I should be a drill sergeant someday always stands out to me. Not too many privates I know of can say that. So, I would say my entire time as a drill sergeant stands out to me. I intercepted guys from all over and told them one day I will address them as a Soldier. Because I was a man of many roles with that campaign hat -- drill, father figure, mentor, hero, big brother, counselor, that guy who wouldn't settle for anything less than above average -- in the end when they completed the 14 weeks (infantry), and I could see it in their eyes they understood why I did or how I did it in order to form them, mold them, that made me feel accomplished," said Wooldridge. "Moreover, they understand the fact that 'I care' and that when I graduated them I called them a real Soldier."
Wooldridge said the Army Birthday means a lot to him and further explains his reasons why.
"Historically it's … and this is a quote, 'When the American Revolution broke out, the rebellious colonies did not possess an Army in the modern sense. Rather, the revolutionaries fielded an amateur force of colonial troops, cobbled together from various New England militia companies. They had no unified chain of command, and although Artemas Ward of Massachusetts exercised authority by informal agreement, officers from other colonies were not obligated to obey his orders. The American volunteers were led, equipped, armed, paid for and supported by the colonies from which they were raised.' But, from what I draw from this is the subtle background explanation of why I joined," said Wooldridge.
Outside of work, Wooldridge said he enjoys hunting and fishing, and even more so now since his son passed his hunter safety course. He also enjoys watching both of his children play soccer.
Wooldridge said he is blessed to serve and to be able to spend time with family.
Wooldridge said, "Morals, values, standards and the fact knowing my name is tied to a project means a lot to me. My father taught me well. I do my best at this job here at Benning and ensure that there are Soldiers to do the evaluations for every experiment done so far. So I would like to thank all those who have supported me and I want to wish a Happy Birthday to our Army!"
The Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness--technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection and sustainment--to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.