Sometimes a rock is more than just a rock. Sometimes it’s a rock with a sticker on it.
For Soldiers working in the 3rd Infantry Division’s Operations Center, a sticker-clad rock has a deeper meaning than its base components.
Known as the “Rock of the DOC,” it is an award given for support beyond the call of duty in what can feel like countless hours spent supporting the mission from a windowless area of the division’s headquarters. Soldiers working in the DOC oversee thousands of 3rd ID Soldiers conducting operations across the globe.
The concept is pretty simple. It starts with a plain rock and a sticker designed by Maj. Steve Orbon, the former 3rd ID chief of operations. Orbon settled on a rock because it is a play on the Division’s nickname “Rock of the Marne.”
The graphic Orbon designed is comprised of a skull wearing a WWI style M1917 helmet with a 3rd ID patch front and center. On the helmet rests a cockroach, representing the Soldiers who work in the DOC, who are known jokingly as DOC-roaches.
On the brim of the helmet are the words Dorian and COVID-19, in memory of the role that the DOC played in the division’s response for both the hurricane and the pandemic.
Certificates that accompany the Rock of the Doc include more references to the division’s history.
“The division's motto is ‘Nous Resterons La,’ which is French for ‘We Shall Remain There,’ given our history during WWI, said Orbon. “’We shall Remain Here’ is paying homage to the reality that throughout hurricanes, pandemics, exercises and deployments, the DOC will always remain manned.”
“It sounds incredibly small to hand out a sticker on a rock or just the sticker itself, but there hasn't been a single person who wasn't incredibly thankful that their hard work was being acknowledged,” said Maj. Billy Folinusz, the 3rd ID chief of operations.
The DOC is the “brains” of 3rd ID, explained Folinusz. The DOC serves as the command and control node for the division and all reportable information filters through the Soldiers that work there.
“It is manned 24 hours a day,” explained Folinusz. The DOC receives, refines, collates, and send reports and information to the commanding general, command group, staff and subordinate units as necessary.
The last year has been an especially demanding time for the Soldiers working in the DOC. The division has taken part in a number of command post exercises designed to simulate real world conflicts, all while supporting two brigade deployments to Europe and South Korea.
“A CPX is a massive lift for the team,” said Folinusz. “Between setting up and tearing down the tents and infrastructure that accompanies them multiple times for every event, we have spent countless hours dedicated to CPX prep.”
Prior to the exercises starting, the DOC played a large role in coordinating the division’s response for Hurricane Dorian. The DOC also plays an integral part in Fort Stewart’s ongoing response to COVID-19.
Leaders help balance quality of life, readiness and the demands of a challenging environment to ensure their teams are prepared to respond and serve our nation. Successfully overseeing all these events took a high level of teamwork, and that helped catalyze Orbon’s creation of the Rock of the DOC.
“I think building teams and branding them is one of the most important things we do as leaders,” said Orbon.
For Orbon, the rock also represents the fact that every team has “immovable objects, who everyone else can anchor themselves to during tough times.”
He said that small rewards, even if they are just rocks, create a lasting impression for a team.
“All teams need a symbol to rally behind,” Orbon said. “They need something that resonates with them and embodies what they are about.”
Leaders set the tone for cohesive teams, cultivating a culture of care, pride and ownership across the Army.
Orban said that as a leader, his number one daily habit was to praise the success of his team members.
“The response has been incredibly positive,” Orbon said. “I think some people were kind of taken aback that anyone was paying attention to the hard work they were putting forth. It’s the recognition that they really appreciate, not the rock.”
“Having those things sitting on their desk is a reminder that people value their efforts and they are part of a great team,” Orbon continued. “I also hope it acts as an extra boost during some of those long work days that come with the territory of working on a division staff.”
This small act of recognition went a long way for those Soldiers and civilians who received the award so far.
“As one of the early recipients of the Rock of the DOC, it was a surprise to receive the recognition because being in the DOC every day was normal to me,” said Sgt. Maj. Michelle Crittendon, the 3rd ID division engineer sergeant major.
“It truly made me feel like a valued member of the team,” she continued.
Although the Rock of the DOC’s creator has moved on to another assignment, his legacy endures as the new team continues to hand them out as a reward for a job well done.
“It means a tremendous amount to me that the team up at division has continued to embrace this simple way to recognize excellence and I hope it is something that endures long into the future,” Orbon said.