By By Staff Sgt. MATT MEADOWS 4th BCT, 10th Mtn Div PAOAugust 17, 2009
FORT POLK, La. -- As the "Year of the NCO" continues, a motor sergeant who earned a prestigious recruiting award before coming to Fort Polk this year, exemplifies Army values, according to his command leadership.
Staff Sgt. Louis Whaley, battalion motor sergeant for 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, uses his Army knowledge and values to mentor his Soldiers -- some of whom he may have recruited into the Army. Before becoming a Patriot Brigade leader, Whaley earned United States Army Recruiting Command's Glen E. Morrell Award, contracting 86 recruits to join the Army.
The Morrell medallion is the ultimate achievement award for recruiting excellence, according to a USAREC web site. It is named for retired Sergeant Major of the Army Glen E. Morrell, who was USAREC's command sergeant major from October 1981 to September 1982.
"I had been working in the motor pool for about nine years when I decided that I wanted to do something a little more challenging," Whaley said. "In recruiting, they teach you how to be meticulous and pay attention to detail. "You have to be the type of person that can listen as well as articulate what you have been listening to."
Whaley said he found his passion for the Army all over again while he was a detail recruiter. He expressed a love for telling potential recruits and their Families how great the Army is and what it has to offer.
Sometimes recruits did not believe the Army life was as good as Whaley claimed and said he was "just icing the cake." However, this is when he would draw similarities to any other line of work.
"All I can remember telling people about some of the bad things is 'You have a career, just like any civilian career,'" Whaley said. "'Some days you don't feel like getting out of the bed; some days you might not like your boss; some days you might not like your coworkers, but as long as you come to work with a positive attitude, you come to work mission oriented, come to work knowing that what you are doing is serving a purpose greater than yourself, (it's OK).'"
A detail recruiter from May 2006 to May 2009, Whaley said he used to believe one person could not affect a generation or an entire organization, but Army recruiting changed his mind.
Whaley said he did not have to compromise his integrity to achieve success. When he arrived at his recruiting battalion, he said he told his first sergeant he was not going to go against his ethics and beliefs.
"If I don't write a contract this month or next month, (no matter) how many times I'm (called) on the carpet, it's not going to push me to say something that is not true about this Army and this uniform," he said. "I have strict standards, and I was hard on myself. I said to myself, 'if I put trash in the Army, substandard Soldiers in the Army, either that is going to be a burden on some noncommissioned officer or it's going to end up being a burden to me.'"
Whaley attributes his recruiting success to being honest and passionate, not just trying to get people to sign a contract.
"Being truthful and forthright with people," is Whaley's style, he said. "I've won a lot of parents over just by going into the living room and telling them, 'Listen, I'm not going to tell you that your son or daughter won't be on the battlefield. I'm not going to tell you they won't be in harm's way,'" he said. "'But I will tell you this, that the cost of freedom isn't free, and if everyone turned their head and said that someone else can do it, where would our country be''"
Having deployed three times to Iraq from 2002 to 2005, Whaley can back up his patriotic, passionate expressions. In addition to honesty and passion, Whaley's success has a lot to do with meditation, prayer and his best friend: his wife, he said.
"Every time I would step foot in my office I would ask God to give me guidance," Whaley said. "When I got weary and wanted to give up, she (his wife) told me to hang in there. She has always been there to keep me lifted up and tell me it's going to be OK."
Chief Warrant Officer Jeremy Bentley is a maintenance technical officer for 2nd Bn, 30th Inf Reg. He works with Whaley, and described his leadership style as "tough love."
"He knows the NCO Creed in his head, and it is not just a verbal or a written thing. It is something he lives," Bentley said. "He is an outstanding NCO, and he lives by the Army values."
Whaley said he wants to "Soldier" as long as the Army will allow.
"All it takes is a little TLC from a noncommissioned officer to show a Soldier I care; that I am not just concerned about work performance," he said. "In my shop, I want Soldiers to know how important their jobs are. I want them to understand the big picture and how it affects our Army."