SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Gen. George S. Patton once said, "I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom."Despite facing multiple personal challenges, Sgt. Daven Gates, of Queens, New York, competes and places second in the United States Army Pacific's Paralegal Warrior Challenge in Hawaii Sept. 12-16."The greatest takeaway for the event is that I realized that with all odds against me, I was able to put my mind at ease and focus on the challenge ahead," said Gates, a paralegal specialist assigned to 2nd Squadron 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. "Being resilient is a major key to being successful both in my professional and personal life."Maj. Brent Thompson, 2nd IBCT's judge advocate, describes Gates as being tough, smart and driven to excel in all of his duties."Sgt Gates is the complete package. The other paralegals can look to Sgt. Gates' example and see what they are capable of accomplishing if they just want something bad enough and work hard enough for it," said Thompson. "Sgt. Gates has internalized the NCO Creed, and I mean that literally. He consciously thinks through how to proactively accomplish his duties so that I, as an officer, will have maximum time to accomplish my duties. He exercises initiative in the absence of orders. I love how Sgt. Gates is a "fire and forget" type of Soldier. I just give him the toughest mission and watch him excel."By competing in these events Gates was able to learn how much grit and determination he had."Prior to the competition I had my car broken into and my mother in law, wife, and I had all of our belongings stolen out of it. Money, identification cards, jewelry, and even the awards and ribbons that I wore on my uniform that I had just taken off as I dropped my uniform off at the cleaners," he said. "This included my name plates and all of the buttons off of my jacket as well. Even my beret. I found out that my wife had been pregnant and miscarried all in the same day. The weeks leading up to the challenge were not looking so well. My leadership did not allow me to quit on myself or stay down in the dumps. They did their best to keep me in good spirits."
Gates and other competitors from around the Pacific's area of operations were tested on warrior tasks, assembly and disassembly of weapons, weapon qualification, written examinations, a question and answer board, the Army physical fitness test, a road march, and a general knowledge examination on their specific military occupation.
"Going into this challenge I was worried that I would not be able to put in the time to study and focus to come out on top," said Gates. "With little time to study and prepare my body, I was still able to push myself to the limit both physically and mentally to win as the 25th ID's Paralegal of the Year and to place 2nd in USARPAC."
"Soldiers should always be ready to participate in these events," he continued. "These events are made to set Soldiers a part from their peers. Many Soldiers from other Military Occupational Specialties look at Paralegals as desk workers who are scared to get their hands dirty. I do this to show that I am a Soldier first that just happens to be a Paralegal."
While Gates put forth the effort his driving force consisted of his wife and his Soldiers.
"There are two driving forces for me to compete in these challenges. First and foremost would be my wife Robin," he said. "She makes me want to be better every day. She doesn't let me quit at anything I do. Anything that I have my mind set on, she is there to support me 100%. Next would be my Soldiers. I wouldn't tell my Soldiers to do anything that I wouldn't do myself. I want to see my Soldiers go out and compete, just as I did. We are both a direct reflection of each other. I want to make my Soldiers look great."Sgt. Gates plan on recharging his batteries and attending Air Assault School, compete in the next Brigade Soldier of the Quarter Board, and competing in the JAG Corps Best Paralegal Competition in May of 2017."One thing that I would add is that although I did not come in first at USARPAC, I still took the title for the 25th Infantry Division. I feel like I represented my Strykehorse Squadron well as well as 2d Infantry Brigade," he said. "Being an NCO for only a few months now, I was able to go compete against other NCO's, who were far more experienced than I was. With a little dedication, drive, and determination, I placed second in everyone else's eyes, but first to the person it mattered to the most, me."