CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq- “Growing up, I always strived and progressed to be a leader.”

Cpl. Matthew Odom, a military policeman, “Punisher” platoon, Provincial Police Transition Team,1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, said he joined the military to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps.

The four-year veteran and Stonewall, Miss., native, said he also joined to make something of himself.

“It was a good thing, for me, to see my dad in the military,” said Odom. “When I was younger, I would put on my dad’s uniforms and I remember how proud I was of my father for being a part of something great.”

He said he always had a fondness for law enforcement and, through the influence of MP friends he had growing up, he enlisted as an MP.

Gaining experience from his first two years with the 615th MP Company, Germany, Odom said he leads through that experience.

“His demeanor, attitude and knowledge is on a level above that of his peers,” said Sgt. Eric Muessel, a team member in Odom’s squad. “He always wants to learn and find the best way to go about a situation.”

“As a leader, he is competent, motivated, resilient and mature,” continued Muessel, a Houston native, “and that’s why the Soldiers in the squad look up to him.”

For Odom, a noncommissioned officer and leader is someone who is in charge and takes the initiative to get the mission accomplished no matter what. Although he has not been in the military for a long time, he said he has a lot of experience that his peers and subordinates can acknowledge.

“You have to be your own type of leader,” said Odom. “You can pull from everybody else, but you shouldn’t be like anybody else.”

Odom’s peers say he is a great leader.

“If I had to describe Odom, I would say he is dedicated, and anything less than standard is not good enough,” Muessel said. “He is an awesome leader and a great NCO.”

Muessel said, as a unit supporting Operation New Dawn, the MPs facilitate the maneuvers of other law enforcement professionals as they assist various Iraqi Police stations and talk with their IP counterparts.

Muessel said Odom, being a team leader, helps with the mission planning and execution.

“He’s his truck commander; he helps with security and coordination with the dismounts while we’re conducting missions,” continued Muessel, “and he looks out for the Soldier’s overall welfare.”

As his career progresses, he hopes to take the experience and knowledge he gained being an NCO with him in future endeavors.

“I plan to retire in the Army, and I know having experience in the military as an NCO will make me more disciplined and knowledgeable, and will help me advance,” said Odom.