FORT HOOD, Texas (February 4, 2016) -- With a new year under way, the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade remains postured as the "Always Ready Brigade." For the brigade's Soldiers, standing ready to assist is part of their mindset, on and off-post. Epitomizing Noncommissioned Officer leadership, one Soldier has taken the Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer to heart placing his Soldiers' needs above his own.
Sgt. Tyler Lewis, the telecommunication NCO for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, takes it upon himself to support Soldiers and civilians who need assistance through a volunteer spirit.
He has participated in building homes with Habitat for Humanity and has been awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for volunteering more than 600 hours to the community. Lewis also gives of his time in another way. He has a unique hobby -- automotive repair -- that has allowed him to help fellow Soldiers and civilians under many conditions, often without compensation, but with an expectation to "pay it forward."
When he joined the Army, Lewis had to drive from his duty station at Fort Gordon, Georgia to his hometown of Amarillo, Texas. It was on this journey that his car broke down mid-way through his trip.
"I was literally in the middle of nowhere," Lewis said. "There was nothing either way for about 45 miles." It was there that a stranger, a random farmer, stopped to help the new Soldier. "He diagnosed my car, bought the part, and fixed my car for free on the side of the road," Lewis said.
Sgt. Lewis often uses the phrase "pay forward" regarding helping others. In exchange for payment, he influences others he helps into doing the same. Ever since the occurrence with the farmer, Lewis has been dedicated to helping anyone in need. He first learned how to repair tires and batteries, slowly acquiring knowledge and gaining experience in vehicle maintenance.
Even without advanced knowledge of automotive repair, Lewis enjoys the challenge of finding the necessary information and getting the job done. An example is the way he helped Sgt. Christopher Knowles, the senior transmission NCO, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, who needed axle repair on his car.
"I had never worked on an axle before. I had to look it up," Lewis said. "I've never started a job and not finished it."
Knowles said the assistance Sgt. Lewis provides to people in need is astonishing. In Knowles' case, the accident that broke the axle was a few hundred dollars short of totaling his car.
"He saved me about $800," Knowles said. "All I needed to do was purchase the parts. He basically did everything himself," Knowles said.
Spc. Edwin Clayton, a military intelligence systems maintainer, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, also remembers Sgt. Lewis helping him in a time of need.
"I went out and bought the parts I needed," Clayton said. "Sgt. Lewis volunteered to be the second set of hands I needed to get the work done."
Lewis said he understands how expensive car repairs can be, and having obligations to get to and from places.
"I know what it's like to not have enough money to fix my car and not have a car to get to places," Lewis said. "It's a horrible feeling."
Most people do not readily have the money to pay thousands of dollars for a mechanic, Lewis said. Anytime there is someone with his or her hazards lights blinking, Lewis stops to help. He said there is always some way to help. It may be working on a car or simply helping someone by towing it.
Lewis recalls one family over the Christmas holiday that had a tire blow on the highway as he drove by.
"It was cold outside and this guy was standing outside in a shirt, shorts, and crocks," Lewis said. "He was trying to get his tire to spin down because his spare was underneath the car."
Lewis, noticing the man's distress, took immediate action. He said he noticed the person was using the wrong tools for the task and quickly provided what the man needed.
Sgt. Lewis says he lives by a quote, "If there's something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action."