By Franklin FisherJune 19, 2014
CAMP RED CLOUD -- The senior enlisted adviser for the Army's main support unit in Area I is an intense, hard-driving, veteran leader who keeps to his mission at "180 miles an hour" and seeks out Soldiers face-to-face to learn their needs and steer them toward personal and professional excellence.
Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick M. Quirk became the senior enlisted adviser of U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I in February. He replaced Command Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Hatfield, who held the position for two years before moving to a new assignment in the United States.
"I like to operate at 180 miles an hour," said Quirk. "That's my comfort zone."
With 26 years of Army service, Quirk has easily moved into the role of garrison Command Sergeant Major and welcomes the chance to get outside the office and interact with the Area I community, he said.
Before joining USAG Red Cloud and Area I, Quirk spent most of his Army career in the Military Police branch and has served in Japan, Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States, and, in 1999 and 2000, in Seoul, Korea. He's from Marshalltown, Iowa.
Quirk's approach to leadership is based on "passion" and "making a difference" that benefits Soldiers and the Army.
"If I have the opportunity to talk to a young Soldier waiting at the bus stop for ten minutes I'm gonna do it because I want to know, bottom-up, where things are not right. That's why I like talking to Soldiers."
He has certain questions he typically asks them.
"'What's not workin?' 'How is it I can make a difference?' And I always ask them about using their education benefits. 'Are you in school?' Because of the money crunch, the first year they're in the military they can't get tuition assistance." But Quirk fills them in on what they can do to earn college credit until they qualify for tuition assistance.
"Because that 15 seconds you take out of your busy day as a first sergeant to talk to a Soldier, take him on the side to say 'How's your wife?' 'How are the kids?' 'How's the school going?' 'Finances okay?' helps in my daily assessment from the bottom up on how well Soldiers are being taken care of.
"When you do that 15 seconds, you'll leave with a smile on your face, you'll look over your shoulder and now he's got a smile on his face. Now you're making a difference. So for whoever you are as a leader, it's important to be passionate about what you do."
As the garrison's senior enlisted adviser, Quirk will have several priorities in view, he said.
One will be to keep a guiding hand on Area I's robust, award-winning BOSS program, for Better Opportunities for Single (and unaccompanied) Soldiers. The program sets up recreational outings and chances to perform volunteer service, along with other events geared to recreation and leisure, community service, and Soldier well-being. Among typical Area I BOSS activities are sports competitions, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, ski trips, and visits to points of historical and cultural interest.
The Area I BOSS program at Camp Stanley was named the best in the Pacific region for fiscal year 2013 by the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, which oversees the Army's garrisons worldwide.
Noting that the program thrived previously, Quirk will act "to ensure that the BOSS program continues to lead the way in the Pacific. There's so many things for Soldiers to do, especially here on the peninsula."
He'll also be encouraging Soldiers to volunteer for events that bring them in contact with the Korean community, to "get out and embrace" the culture of the country they're serving in, he said.
That involves "learning Korean as a second language, going out there, rubbing elbows with and making friends of a different culture and better understanding each other," he said.
Another key priority will be working with others in the Area I senior leadership to see that the combat units the Army will be bringing to Area I on nine-month rotations get the support they need from arrival to departure.
The first of those units, the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, part of the 1st Cavalry Division, deployed from Fort Hood to Area I in January.
"At the end of the day," said Quirk, "you gotta ask yourself, 'How did I make a difference?' And if you didn't, then you gotta kind of change your bearings and get back on a glide path to do that.