By Ms. Stacie Shain (USAREC)March 31, 2011
During his visit to the Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion last week, Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts scored a first of his 27-year Army career: he got to promote a Future Soldier to E-2 Private.
Roberts, the deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, promoted Cierra Fountain, a 2008 graduate of Lawrence North High School, in a ceremony at the Indy East Recruiting Station held in front of Fountain's mother, Chiquita, and all the station's recruiters.
"I hope it was as significant for her as it was for me," Roberts said. "Normally this is done at the platoon level, and sometimes there are no ceremonies. Being promoted with your fellow Soldiers there is very significant, and it was even better that her mom was there to see it since Soldiers leave home and often families are not at the promotions."
Fountain left for basic training March 28, her first stop in becoming a health care specialist in the Army.
During the ceremony, Roberts told Fountain that the E-2 rank was called "mosquito wings" for a reason.
"Mosquitoes fly," he said, "and you will be going places."
Roberts' visit to the Indy East Recruiting Station was but one stop during his tour of the metropolitan area while in the Battalion's area of operation. His first stop was at the Indy West Recruiting Station in Avon, Ind., where he met with recruiters, company leadership and battalion leadership.
While visiting each recruiter at his or her workstation, Roberts noticed an NCAA Division I Men's Championship bracket taped to a cubicle. He engaged recruiters in banter about who would "win it all," and getting fun banter from recruiters, particularly Sgt. Adam Barnhart, an Ohio State University fan, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Rutledge, a University of Kentucky fan; those teams were scheduled to play the following night (and Kentucky defeated Ohio State 62-60).
"It was great that [Roberts] took an interest in our personal lives and the things that matter to us," Rutledge said. He added that the rivalry between himself and Barnhart was friendly, and that Barnhart even watched the Kentucky versus North Carolina game with him two days after Barnhart's Buckeyes lost.
Roberts also met with Future Soldier Jacob Bazoon and applicant Michael O'Stuckey, who had stopped by the recruiting station to meet with Staff Sgt. Mark Illichmann.
From the Indy West Recruiting Station, Roberts had lunch with the Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion staff and Indiana's Army Reserve Ambassador, Doug Gibbens.
"I was impressed for [Roberts'] great concern for our recruiters and their families, as well as our Army in general," Gibbens said. "Having the chance to have lunch with him was valuable to me as the Army Reserve Ambassador for Indiana because it gave me great insight to how the Army Recruiting Command is supporting the Army Reserve as an operational force."
In addition to promoting Fountain during his visit to the Indy East Recruiting Station, Roberts also met with Arsenal Tech High School Principal Dr. Vernita Robinson. Roberts and Robinson talked about education programs the Army offers and ways in which recruiters can continue to assist her students at Arsenal Tech. Roberts also thanked her for supporting the Army and recruiting.
Roberts reiterated to Robinson that Army recruiters can assist the schools by promotion education, physical fitness and Army Values - things, he said, high school educators struggle with daily.
"Use us any way you see fit, and continue to use us," Roberts said.
At Noblesville Recruiting Station, Roberts met with all of the recruiters in the Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion's newest station, which opened last fall. He discussed challenges of recruiting in the area, focusing on how to better penetrate the high school market.
Following the stops at recruiting stations, Roberts met with company commanders from the Indiana-based recruiting companies and battalion leadership over dinner. He thanked them for their hard work and dedication and challenged them to continue to provide solid leadership for the battalion.
During dinner, Roberts presented a coin and an Army pin to Jim George, who owns the restaurant where the leaders dined. George offers strong support to the Army, noting that he is passionate about the military because his father was a World War II veteran.
The following morning, Roberts visited the Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion headquarters and recognized civilians for their tenure in government service. He presented five-year service plaques to Eric Johnson, Karl Worley, and Pam Dickman and a 25-year service plaque to Dr. Eileen Van Kavelaar. He also presented recruiter rings to Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Wilson, Staff Sgts. Scott Valentic, Brian Loop and Phillip McFarland, and Sgts. Calvin Sanders and Travis Sawyers.
As he was leaving the headquarters, Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Dwayne Harris thanked Roberts for his visit and presented him with an Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion polo shirt embroidered with the battalion's logo and Roberts' name. Command Sgt. Maj. Marcus Robinson presented Roberts with a physical training shirt emblazoned with the battalion's logo.
Before leaving the Indianapolis Battalion and returning to Fort Knox, Roberts made one last stop, visiting the Indy South Recruiting Station.
Roberts noted that the station had branded itself with the community by decorating each wall with memorabilia from every school in which the station's Soldiers recruit. He praised the station's Future Soldier board, which has the photos of each recruit positioned on a map next to where they will attend Basic Combat Training.
During the visit, Roberts chatted with Sgt. Jeffrey Jacobus and shared stories about the 1st Cavalry Division, where they both served during Roberts' command of the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade. Roberts gave Jacobus his USAREC coin to display with the Black Jack Bde coin on his desk.
Roberts was also entertained during his visit to the Indy South Recruiting Station. Sgt. Michael Shadel and Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy Allen, the station commander, broke into song with "Dog-Faced Soldier," a song from the 3rd Infantry Division.
"When Brigadier General Roberts noticed while talking with Shadel that he had a 3rd Infantry Division patch on, he asked if he knew the 'Dog Face Soldier' song," Allen said. "When you're in 3rd ID, you sing that song every morning. So, the general asked us to sing it."
The song was written in 1942 by two Soldiers in protest to the commercial war songs that were being published, according to the Fort Stewart Web site. The lyrics include lines such as "I wouldn't give a bean to be a fancy pants Marine; I'd rather be a Dog Face Soldier like I am" and "So feed me ammunition; keep me in the Third Division; your Dog Face Soldier's A-OK."
Roberts also met with an applicant, 19-year old Trevor Lynch of Indianapolis, and Lynch's father, Don. The Lynches were in the recruiting station meeting with Staff Sgt. Kyle Wu about Army opportunities. Lynch wants to become an Airborne Ranger.
"This was something I'd like to be able to do more of," Roberts said. "I don't usually get to see recruiters doing interviews like I did today."
Roberts said his visit confirmed his impressions that Indianapolis is a fantastic battalion.
"This battalion lives up the reputation it has at USAREC," Roberts said. "This visit just confirmed how good this battalion really is."
Roberts said he wanted recruiters to know that the recruiting command leadership recognizes that they are doing a very important job for the Army and to show them that the leaders care.
"We want to make sure they have what they need and let them know they are important to us," Roberts said. "We want to make sure that they know we care about them professionally and personally."
Roberts said that in addition to meeting with recruiters, he enjoyed giving out civilian service awards and recruiter rings to recognize excellence.
"It is important to be able to recognize civilians for their tenure and recruiters for their outstanding work," he said.
Harris said that the battalion was happy to take advantage of the great opportunity to host Roberts.
"He's a Soldier's Soldier," Harris said, "and that was evident by the time he took with each Soldier he visited with. He got to know them personally; he didn't just have a quick handshake with them."
Harris also said that Roberts' recognition of the Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion's success shows that the battalion is on the right path.
"The battalion is doing what is right, taking care of Soldiers and Families, and getting at the mission with precision," Harris said.