By Sgt. Jesus J. Aranda JrJuly 22, 2015
FORT BELVOIR, Virginia -- As is the case with many Army Military Intelligence (MI) units, the Meade Operations Center (MOC) at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, performs many great services for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Intelligence Community but can't openly discuss their jobs outside the workplace. Their missions are almost universally classified and sensitive in nature but their unit is truly unique in the caliber and variety of MI professionals who make up the command beyond their workspaces.
With a joint staff consisting of military members from each service, the MOC, a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), enables deployed cryptologic support to military forces and provides expeditionary signals intelligence support to crisis and contingency mission worldwide.
MOC professionals such as the 70th Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Wing Airman, Staff Sgt. Armando and spouse Ellie, represent the public face of the command through local community volunteerism and charity assistance.
Armando, an analyst for the MOC, and Ellie, a stay-at-home mother and the Vice President of the Enlisted Spouses' Club, have been recently been recognized for Fort Meade's Garrison Command as Military Family of the Year at the annual Volunteer Awards Banquet for their support to not just the MOC's community but the Fort Meade military family community as well.
"Volunteering has always been second nature to us. We don't do it to get something back -- we do it because we enjoy it," said Armando.
Among the many acts for which the family was commended include establishing and coordinating charity events such as "Trees for Troops" which helps military families receive Christmas trees, "Toys for Troops" which helps military members share plush toys and sports balls with young children overseas, and around-the-home support for spouses of deployed service members.
Ellie, also nominated for this year's Fort Meade Military Spouse of the Year and a long-time advocate for community volunteerism, met Armando in high school through mutual friends and bonded over a shared enthusiasm for community service. Through the years, their commitment to helping their neighbors followed them wherever the Air Force took them.
"I love to help plan and set up events either for our club members or the Fort Meade Community," said Ellie. "I love reaching out to spouses and reminding them that even though their family may be far away, their military family is here to fill in those shoes for a while."
According to Armando, Ellie's service does more than just support the community. The support of family members also inspires him and other service members to do their best.
"I'm very proud of Ellie and all she has done," said Armando. "It's not just me in the military -- the whole family is in the military, as I see it. We're a team and without them I wouldn't be nearly as successful."
Inspiration to help community members is part of the reason why another MOC analyst took action in a dire situation.
Marine Corps Cpl. Doug Watson was driving on his way to the gym one April afternoon after work when he encountered a vehicle wreck at Exit 20 on Maryland Highway 100 West. When other bystanders showed hesitation to approach the accident, Watson knew he needed to step up.
"Everyone was on the phone but nobody was walking up to help," said Watson. "I didn't know if people were going to take action or not. I just felt they were taking a little longer than I would have liked so I did it myself."
Inaction was not an option for him; Watson's actions inspired the nearby witnesses to join in on the assistance, with bystanders helping him evacuate the victims to the side of the road until emergency responders could arrive.
"I wouldn't have been able to look myself in the mirror if I kept driving knowing that someone there saw a person in uniform driving by. If I was in a bad spot and couldn't do anything about it, of course I would want someone to help me out."
Thanks to Watson and those whom his actions inspired, the victims of the wreck were treated with no serious injuries.
The selflessness of Armando and Ellie and the courage of Doug exemplify the drive of uniformed service members and spouses to put the needs of others before their own. Sacrifices, small and large by MI professionals such as these speak of the character of units such as the MOC and make great strides toward extending the term of "family" and "community" beyond those who live with and nearby those larger communities -- of which the Fort Meade community is a part.
"Ellie and these two service members and their respective Families represent what's good about the character of our Joint Service Family…and are in their acts what the rest of us should strive to emulate." Col. Michael A. Marti, MOC commander.