By Capt. Murray Shugars, 2nd Battalion, 198th Combined ArmsFebruary 2, 2010
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - A Mississippi Army National Guard Soldier received a command sergeant major award during a ceremony at Contingency Operating Location Q-West, Jan. 29.
Sgt. Eric S. Pettis - a native of Oxford, Miss., and the non-commissioned officer in charge of water mission-planning and container management for the Mayor Cell, 2nd Battalion, 198th Combined Arms, 155th Brigade Combat Team, out of Senatobia, Miss. - was acknowledged for embodying the Army value of integrity.
To honor outstanding service at the end of the deployment, the senior NCOs of the battalion recognized seven Soldiers from throughout the Battalion who embody one of the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, service, honor, integrity and personal courage, said Command Sgt. Maj. Perry Campbell.
"This is an NCO-driven effort to honor Soldiers who stood out during the deployment," said Campbell, a native of Senatobia, Miss. "The NCOs wanted to remind every Soldier in the Battalion that outstanding service is not always the result of a single act. It is the everyday practice of upholding the Army values."
1st Sgt. Carl Hunt, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Mayor Cell, said he could think of no Soldier in the Mayor Cell who better embodied integrity than Pettis.
"The Army defines integrity as doing what's right, legally and morally; it's our moral compass, our guide for doing the right thing always," said Hunt, a native of Louisville, Miss. "During this deployment, sergeant Pettis has shown great integrity. On day-one, he was pulled out of his military occupational specialty, which is Army cook, and put in the Mayor Cell water operations team, which he didn't know anything about. He worked hard and mastered water operations planning and execution, helping to keep water coming to COB Q-West. He went on numerous water missions, putting the health and welfare of his peers before his own."
Capt. John E. Satterfield, director of Public Works and native of Midway, Ga., agreed that Pettis deserved the recognition.
"Sgt. Pettis does the right thing even when no one else is around," said Satterfield. "His integrity is impeachable, and his word is his bond. When Sgt. Pettis tells me that he is going to take care of an issue or problem, he always gets it done. I have never have to check behind him. This is a defining quality of the best NCOs, and it is why we say NCOs are the backbone of the Army."
Sgt. James C. Haycraft, NCOIC of water missions, said he has grown to trust Pettis without question.
"I've known sergeant Pettis since we deployed to Iraq together in 2005, and I have always trusted his words and actions," said Haycraft, a resident of Brandon, Miss. "Whenever he tells me he has done something, I know it's done. For instance, sergeant Pettis manages all the daily reports that must be submitted for the Water Ops, and that's a lot of paperwork that he has always completed without fail."
Haycraft said that a person reveals integrity in the smallest acts.
"Sergeant Pettis shows his integrity by the little things," said Haycraft. "For instance, he recently took a mission to the pump house for me because I couldn't make it. After he got back, he went ahead and topped the truck off. We usually don't refuel the truck till the day before a mission, as that's when we do our preventative maintenance, checks services on the truck. A hundred small acts like that are what show sergeant Pettis' integrity."
Pettis said he was proud to be singled-out for the distinction.
"I'm honored by this recognition," said Pettis. "I'm surprised to know that people I work with every day have been watching me and they think my performance measured up. It makes everything I've done more worthwhile."