By Spc. Brea DuBose, 75th Field Artillery Brigade Public AffairsJanuary 25, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla. (Jan. 25, 2018) -- Pfc. Chad Fox scored a 299 on his Army Physical Fitness Test during basic combat training making him the highest scoring Soldier in his class and earning him special recognition during his upcoming graduation.
Naturally, after Fox was told he had the highest score in his graduating class, his drill sergeant, Staff Sgt. Marva Tanksley, asked him if he would have family attending the ceremony to support his accomplishments.
It was then that Fox told Tanksley that he would have family visiting, but they wouldn't be able to hear the ceremony because his parents are deaf.
When 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Sabreena Grogins heard her fellow drill sergeant had a Soldier with hearing impaired parents, she had a solution. Grogins asked her husband, Staff Sgt. Curtis Grogins from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 75th Field Artillery Brigade, to use his sign language skills to interpret the graduation ceremony for Fox's family.
Capt. Richard Miller, B Battery, 1-31st FA commander, said this was the first time during his command that a situation like this arose.
"I was just lucky to have a drill sergeant with a husband who knew American Sign Language (ASL)," Miller said. When he found out it was something Curtis would do, he contacted the infrastructure support noncommissioned officer's NCOIC and commander to get approval for him to attend the graduation.
Curtis said he agreed to interpret the graduation, recalling his own experience when he graduated basic training and there wasn't a sign language interpreter there for his hearing impaired mother in 2006.
"I thought it'd be cool for (Fox's) family to have the opportunity to witness his basic training graduation and to also have someone there who could convey what's going on," he said.
Curtis grew up in a home with deaf parents, so he learned ASL at a young age to communicate with them. Although the graduation wouldn't be his first time interpreting, it would be his first time using his skills to interpret in a long time and his first time ever interpreting for a military event, he said.
On Jan. 19, Fox's father, Allyn Fox along with Fox's girlfriend and brother attended the basic training graduation inside Cache Creek Chapel on post. Fox's mother wasn't able to attend the ceremony.
His guests sat in the front row on the right side of the auditorium for a close view. Curtis then interpreted the ceremony from the initial welcome all the way to the calling of Fox's name as he walked across the stage.
"He did pretty good," Allyn signed with a smile and a chuckle. "He needs a little more practice, but he did well for his first time interpreting."
Allyn also expressed warm regards to his son.
"I am very happy to have been able to see him graduate," Allyn said. "I'm proud he got a 299 on his physical training test!"
Miller called graduation "a momentous occasion" for the young Soldiers.
"Anytime families are here to partake in the festivities, I believe that everyone should feel included," he said. "Their disability shouldn't hinder them from the experience and joy of watching their son or daughter graduate basic training."
Curtis said, he enjoyed interpreting for Fox's father and hopes to use his skill more often for the Army.