FORT RUCKER, Alabama - Master Sgt. Angelo Minardi has a lot on his plate as a father and noncommissioned officer-in-charge (NCOIC) of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment, yet somehow he manages to balance everything out.
Even while experiencing lack of sleep due to his three-month-old daughter's schedule, Mindardi, 42, keeps up with his unit at Cairns Army Airfield.

Battalion S3 Maj. Jennifer Bailey, HHC 1st Bn., 223rd Avn. Regt., said she admires Minardi's unique dual commitment to his job and Family. She pinpointed the example of Minardi working through his lunch Monday in order to leave early and take his 10-year-old stepson out to eat for his birthday.

"One of the things that I have appreciated is his passion for his Family and always putting them first in whatever he's doing," she said. "It's nice (for him) to be here at Fort Rucker and to have that opportunity to spend time with Family when so many of the stories that we hear (are that) the parents are deployed. It's nice to see that he has that opportunity and that he takes advantage of it."

While he is a Family guy at heart, he is also dedicated to the Army. He has served for 22 years, and plans on finishing his career within the next two. He admits he never intended to stay in this long. He said he always knew he wanted to be an aviator, but he and his parents could not afford to send him to an aviation college. He then turned to the Army for the free training.

"It was supposed to be four years. When it came time for my first enlistment to be up there was a slump in the economy. I went home on leave (to Fairfield, Conn.) and there was just nothing available (for a job). I just decided to stay (in the Army)," he said.

Economic reasons were not the only thing holding him to the military. Minardi said he has always enjoyed what he has done in the Army and that in and of itself was reason enough to continue.
"I just really enjoyed what I was doing. (I like to) travel, I enjoy moving every two to three years (and going to) new places. I've been to a lot of good assignments," Minardi said.

He originally started out as a UH-1 Huey mechanic. He has flown both the Huey as well as the CH-47 Chinook. As the NCOIC, he said he misses spending time flying birds.

He said his all-time favorite assignment was training the Egyptian Air Force while stationed with the security assistance office out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

"That was a very trying experience," he said. "It was two different cultures coming together. Trying to teach them how we do business and them trying to show us how they do it (was a challenge)."

Teamwork is also crucial to Minardi. He emphasized this by retelling a helicopter crash story that took place in Colorado in 1991. He said while participating in a rescue mission he tried to land his UH-1 in the mountains during bad weather when they crashed. Training and preparation for potential emergencies just like that one and working together saved lives that day.

"The whole crew did exactly what we were trained to do in that event and everybody came out of it unhurt," he said.

At work, his Soldiers look up to him as a talented leader who always watches out for his troops' best interest.

"He's a good leader because he's a people person. He's right out there with you," said Spc. Tiffany Wesley, HHC 1st Bn., 223rd Avn. Regt.

Wesley explained Minardi always makes sure Soldiers have proper training and is extremely committed to his position as a leader.

Minardi believes the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) is important because of the role he and his peers play.

"It shows the community that our NCO Corps is one of the best in the world," he said.
"Our NCOs are better educated, better trained and we have a lot more responsibilities placed on our Army NCO Corps than (any other) country."