Leading From the Top
The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School Student Detachment Commander Capt. Keith Jaworski, Chief Warrant Officer Appolinaire Kombassere, 1st Sgt. Shamar Purdie and Staff Sgt. Monnea Slade stand at attention during the 221st Officer Basic Course graduation on December 14, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Billie Suttles) VIEW ORIGINAL

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – What does meal after meal after yet another meal of chicken, rice and broccoli plus countless hours grinding away at the gym equal? For 1st Sgt. Shamar Purdie of the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School Student Detachment, that kind of dedication and discipline adds up to not only being a better leader but also three Virginia powerlifting records.

The New Jersey native got into powerlifting at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I spend quite a bit of time throughout the day assisting others and trying to fill their cup, but I needed time to fill my own,” explained Purdie. “I originally started because I wanted to get stronger, but it quickly developed as ‘me time’ … my way of building mental resiliency through movement and physical fitness.”

Purdie enlisted in the Army twenty years ago, just after graduating high school. “I decided to join the military because I wanted to earn my independence, contribute to society in a meaningful way, and be part of something way bigger than myself,” said the paralegal.

Leading From the Top
The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School Student Detachment 1st Sgt. Shamar Purdie leads the 221st Officer Basic Course on the first Company Run since the beginning of COVID, on December 11, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maj. Daniel Franco-Santiago) VIEW ORIGINAL

He emerged from basic training with the singular goal of becoming a first sergeant. “There is something extremely important and impactful about being a standard bearer, trainer, leader, and enlisted advisor to a commander,” said Purdie. “It is where you have the opportunity to use your training and experience (both personal and professional) to ensure mission accomplishment while developing the Soldiers you are charged to lead.”

As the top enlisted leader for every Officer Basic Course coming through TJAGLCS, Purdie draws on lessons learned from overcoming fear to motivate and mentor Soldiers. “When I first thought about going to [Airborne] school and training [to be a paratrooper], people doubted me,” recalled Purdie. “I trained for it physically … but more so mentally.

“Every day I got a little bit better, grew more confident in my ability. From that experience alone, it taught me a lot about what you can do when you actually believe in yourself. There is no limit other than the one you set for yourself.”

Top applies the same mindset in the weight room, a place he goes to just to think sometimes. “I wanted to establish a goal, be consistent and disciplined in working to achieve that goal and inspire others along the way.”

Leading From the Top
The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School Student Detachment 1st Sgt. Shamar Purdie leads the 221st Officer Basic Course on the first Company Run since the beginning of COVID, on December 11, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maj. Daniel Franco-Santiago) VIEW ORIGINAL

Even though Purdie didn’t set out to achieve any records, his mental discipline and physical dedication earned him state-wide recognition in three separate events — back squat, bench press and deadlift — at the 2023 USPC Reapers Rebellion powerlifting competition. Despite all the accolades he earned in Fredericksburg this past July, Purdie credits flexing a different kind of strength for his success.

“Your mind is your most powerful muscle, and it must be worked every single day,” said Purdie. “I can’t stress that enough. No matter what you are doing, you have to be strong here. That’s why adversity and challenges are so important because they teach you.”

The Army knows good leadership when it sees it. Even though Purdie PCSed to Charlottesville in May 2023, he is headed to the U.S. Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss this summer.

“Every legal professional Soldier, civilian, NCO, commissioned officer, legal administrator comes through TJAGLCS at some point for training or professional development,” said Purdie. “I am most proud of being part of the team here. This is truly a special place unlike any other. Never forget that it is an honor, blessing, and privilege to serve.”