By Emily BrainardMarch 20, 2009
FORT RUCKER, Ala.--Master Sgt. James W. Goins, a Pomona, Calif., native, first sergeant of B Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, Hawaii, has only been here a few weeks, but has already earned a reputation.
"I would say that I am, compared to other first sergeants that I've been told about, very motivating and loud and I have way too much energy, especially with caffeine... I love my coffee and I like my (soda)," he said, grinning.
The extra energy works to his benefit. Goins, 37, recently came to the Fort Rucker Noncommissioned Officer Academy (NCOA) for his whirlwind five-and-a-half-weeklong Advanced Noncommissioned Officers Course (ANCOC).
This year, the official Year of the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO), is special to Goins. He said it recognizes the people who take care of Soldiers but do not get much credit for doing so.
Goins has deployed four times. His most recent tour was to Kirkuk, Iraq, from July 2006 to October 2007. He said each deployment offers a unique opportunity to form relationships.
"You have more opportunity to learn about your Soldiers and your peers than a lot of times back in garrison (where) you really don't get that one-on-one time. When you're deployed, the people you're there with (are) who you count on every day. They actually become part of your Family," Goins said.
One of his closest friends is retired Sgt. 1st Class Donald Williams, whom he has known for 13 years. Williams recalls meeting Goins during a deployment to Bosnia where Goins' Fort Campbell unit was attached to Williams' Fort Polk squadron for aircraft maintenance support.
Several ranks his senior, Williams took Goins under his wing.
"I was more of a mentor for him... at the time," Williams said of the deployment.
Now they both have a significant amount of experience in the military-22 years for Williams and nearly 20 for Goins-and they still keep in touch.
"I call him my brother. A true brother," Williams said. "We keep in touch all the time. I lived with him for close to 14 months in Iraq. (He is) dedicated, always there. If you've got a problem, he's on it. (He is) motivated, always pushing and going and going and going."
He says this and always putting Soldiers first is what makes Goins a superb NCO.
"I trained him," Williams said. "He took everything I told him and other senior leaders told him and put it into his own way of leading his troops. He is all about making sure that his troops are well taken care of."
In Hawaii, Goins serves as first sergeant to a UH-60 Black Hawk unit.
As an NCO, he said his priority is to care for the men and women he leads.
"I am responsible for the health and welfare of the Soldiers in our company. I do fly at times, but primarily my job is to take care of the Soldiers and their Families," Goins said.
Part of that responsibility is preparing the unit for an upcoming deployment to Iraq in September.
Even with all the experience and preparation Goins meticulously carries out, Williams recalls a humorous mistake Goins made in training once. He said they were in Germany conducting a field exercise at a Combat Training Center and Goins was in charge of a mission and got lost.
"He just kind of rolled right through the assembly area of the 'enemy,'" Williams said, laughing. "That was pretty funny when he got back. He just rolled right through there like he belonged there."
Goins enlisted in the Army at 18, "to get college money." He said it was time spent around several exceptional NCOs that encouraged him to stay in and progress to where he is today.
The most important part of his personal life is his wife of nearly two years, Denise. After ANCOC, Goins looks forward to returning to Hawaii, his Family and his unit.
As for Williams, Goins said, "I learned everything I know from him."