VICKSBURG, Miss. - Loyalty is a trait commonly looked for by employers. The Army is one employer that emphasizes the importance of this attribute as one of the Army Values.
Many Soldiers embrace this trait, but few exemplify it.
Staff Sgt. Cedric Douglas, culinary specialist, 412th Theater Engineer Command, is one Soldier whose leadership believes he is an embodiment of loyalty.
The Army defines loyalty as: Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers. Bearing true faith and allegiance is a matter of believing in and devoting yourself to something or someone. A loyal Soldier is one who supports the leadership and stands up for fellow Soldiers. By wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army you are expressing your loyalty. And by doing your share, you show your loyalty to your unit.
"My idea of loyalty and like I said, if I had to pick one person in this entire building it was Douglas. It's more than just the things that he does," said Roxanne L. Pitts, 412th Theater Engineer Command, supervisory logistics management specialist, from Flinton, Pennsylvania. "It's the ability to have faith in that person knowing that what they do or how they do it, where they're at, their entire persona is based off of how it effects others and their consideration for us as a whole team. The fact that he not only brings it into work, but uses it in his entire life."
Douglas shows his loyalty in all aspects of the Army's definition as well. He believes in and devotes himself to the Army and his fellow military and civilian members.
"I'm loyal, military or civilian side, because I do what I can to help others when needed with the experience I have received here at the TEC the last 28 years, from my first UA, Ms. Shirley Warner-Preacely showing me how to take care of Soldiers and throughout my career, that's what I've always done, military or civilian," said Douglas, a Vicksburg, Mississippi, native. "If the person needs it I will either do it myself or find a way to get it done."
In addition to being a culinary specialist, Douglas is also a logistic management specialist for the 412th TEC as a civilian employee. In both his military and civilian roles, his leadership is impressed with his dedication.
He does a great job with the (logistics section), I'm very proud to have him on our team," said Lt. Col. Janice Waltman, 412th Theater Engineer Command, logistics officer-in-charge, and a Mount Holly, New Jersey, resident. "We have a great team with the (logistics section) and he's definitely an embodiment of someone who is loyal to the organization and I know he is very loyal to the Soldiers. He loves the Soldiers. He loves to cook and he does just an outstanding job."
"He is the most dependable, reliable, loyal person when it comes to Army Values, he embodies everything in the loyalty of the Army Values," added Pitts. "There is nothing I wouldn't trust him with, no task that I won't give him that he doesn't accomplish and he never complains about anything."
While Douglas may be the loyal Soldier and civilian his leaders need, his personal life has its own struggles.
"He has a lot of challenges in his personal life, but he never lets that interfere with his work and he's always here to help out anybody here in the (logistics) family," said Pitts. "I've never seen somebody so dedicated to the rest of their staff: peers, supervisors alike, as Mr. Douglas."
Douglas' daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer at the age of 17. Now, four years later, Douglas cares for her on a daily basis. He says his leadership's support of his situation is one reason he works so hard.
"They've been very supportive. That's one reason I come to work everyday with the smile I have and try to take care of everyone I see because I see how important life is," said Douglas. "Everyday that I can leave home and see my daughter is living is a plus for me. That's one reason I come in and give 110 percent or more to my job. No matter what the situation is at home, I know I have a family at home and here at the 412th to get me through whatever the deal might be."
His daughter's illness is only the tip of the iceberg for Douglas. His sister passed away last year after spending 12 years on dialysis.
"I've had at least three family members go through different things, from dialysis to cancer," said Douglas. "Family has made me very strong here at work and without family nothing else would be possible."
While Douglas believes his family has made him strong, Pitts, his supervisor, believes the impact of Douglas' situation has affected the entire logistics section.
"I think it makes him give the rest of us perspective on how to appreciate what we have because we know. I don't think it's widely known around the TEC what he goes through on a daily basis," said Pitts. "He never lets it get to him and brings this cheerful attitude into work and make sure we all appreciate, in the (logistics section), what we have as a family here. I'm sure that has played a part into it, but it's because of his loving and caring nature that he takes care of her at home and us here. But, I think it's just his personality, I don't think it's because of anything that had happened. Because of what has happened, we appreciate more what he's offering."
Douglas supports his leadership, accomplishing missions he is assigned.
"I devote myself to the Army by doing everything within my possible means to get the task given to me accomplished in a timely manner," he said. "I devote myself to my section leaders for giving me an opportunity to fulfill their everyday tasks given to me, either military or civilian side."
In addition to supporting them with task completion, he also checks up on them, caring for them when they need it.
"It's the little things. Anybody in the shop, even me as his supervisor, if I'm out sick a day, he'll call me up at home, he'll text me, 'Are you okay? Anything I can do, bring you?'" said Pitts. "With all of the shop he's like a brother, a dad, a companion to everybody and it's just the family he brings into the shop. He has all of the qualities you would want in those types of people in your life."
On top of taking care of his section, Douglas also takes care of all Soldiers he can with food service.
"I can say in my (military occupational specialty), the best thing about being a Soldier is having the opportunity to take care of other Soldiers," said Douglas. "Example, I'm a (culinary specialist), and I have an opportunity to see from the 2-star all the way down to private who comes through the chow line and makes me feel great that they expect a lot from the cooks and myself and it just means a lot to see people smile. I feel like I have contributed to the TEC through my long tenure here."
His leadership sees this contribution.
"As the food service (noncommissioned officer) he is completely devoted to the section," said Waltman. "He's got a big job down there. He will do anything for his Soldiers to ensure we get the best, he's always taking care of the Soldiers of the TEC."
Douglas supports his subordinate Soldiers as well.
"I give 100 percent to my cooks each and every day, whenever they need me, civilian side or military side," said Douglas. "I give them the best training possibly monthly because I feel like by us being here at the TEC we should set the example for all the cooks in the brigades, battalions and company level which I think we do a good job of. By winning the Phillip A. Conelly award twice here at the TEC, during my time, that's another reason I feel very comfortable with what we do here."
Douglas expresses his loyalty through wearing the uniform as well.
"Not too many people in this building can say they've been in the 412th for 28 plus years, at one unit and I've been a (military technician) civilian since 2010, I've been on orders probably six or seven years of my career here," said Douglas.
Douglas is not only loyal to the Army, but the 412th TEC as well.
"For the Army he has done this, he has dedicated his life, not just to the Army, but to the 412th. I think almost his entire career has been to the 412th, to our family programs, to our (Headquarters and Headquarters Company), to the Soldiers and the civilians of this TEC," said Pitts. "He has given everything to make sure they are taken care of, to make sure they're fed, that they are greeted with a kind word in the morning: the smallest things. Everything that he does is focused on his family at home or his family here at the TEC."
"I think he's done an outstanding job and he's completely loyal to the organization," added Waltman. "He's hard-working, he's dedicated. He does anything anyone asks him to do. He just loves his job."
Doing his share comes easy for Douglas.
"I think you can go around to any section in this building and ask a supervisor or anyone in that section when they ask me to do something I get it accomplished no matter how long it takes or what it takes to get it done, I do it," he said.
His leadership also sees his commitment to contribute to the team.
"He goes above and beyond in anything we ask him to do. Comes in early, stays late, works all facility issues, takes care of all repairs beyond just doing food service. Every field event we've had he's ran food service," said Pitts.
During River Assault, an extended combat training this past August at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, while Douglas was there supporting food service, a gustnado hit, knocking out power. Not having power didn't stop Douglas and Pitts from making sure the Soldiers had a hot meal. They picked up grills from Morale, Welfare and Recreation and went to work.
"In the mornings we did the heater types meals and prepared those outside and in the evenings we barbequed and he sat and barbequed and grilled for 1,200 Soldiers," said Pitts. "We did this for four days to make sure they all had hot meals. He does little things like that."
Those little things are what make him stand out to his leadership and make them believe others could learn from his example.
"I think other need to emulate and could learn a lot from him if they took the time to actually watch him and listen," said Pitts. "I think everyone kind of gets wrapped up in themselves too much. He has a lot to give and I really appreciate everything he's given to the TEC and the (logistics section)."
Editors note: This is the first of a seven part series highlighting Soldiers within the 412th Theater Engineer Command who exemplify the Army Values.