By Spc. Kandi Huggins 1st Advise and Assist Task Force Public Affairs 1st Infantry Division, U.S. Division-NorthAugust 15, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq " With one knee on the ground and his eyes closed, Sgt. 1st Class Eric Cogdell knelt before Col. Michael Pappal, the ‘Devil Brigade’ commander, as a future knight before a king to be recognized for his superior work of valor and honor.
Cogdell, a tanker who served in support of Operation New Dawn as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 12th Iraqi Army Stability Transition Team, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, knelt before Pappal to be inducted into the Order of St. George.
Awarded only to officers and senior noncommissioned officers, the Order of St. George is given to recognize individual armor and cavalry leaders who have excelled in leadership and made a lasting effect on the armor community, according to Maj. Lane Bomar, a member of the Order of St. George, and the operations, plans and training advisor for 12th IA STT.
“An armored Soldier is a master of mounted warfare,” said Bomar, a San Francisco native. “But nowadays, an armored Soldier must be flexible enough to maneuver not only tanks, but Bradleys, Humvees, and Strykers, and still be able to conduct dismounted patrols and battle drills.”
Although this is his first time working with Cogdell, Bomar said his first impression was that he was very professional and always willing to share whatever experience and knowledge he could. It was easy to see why Cogdell was selected to be a member of the STT and the NCOIC who worked with the 12th IA sergeant major, said Bomar.
“During this deployment, I was the NCOIC of the STT, the advisor to the 12th IA Div. sergeant major, the operations NCOIC, linguist manager and compound mayor,” said Cogdell. “Before the deployment, I didn’t really have a clue as to what I would be doing. I just fell into the job and the more I did, the more responsibility they gave me, to show they were confident in my abilities to do the job.”
Bomar said Cogdell’s work ethic is one reason he was selected for the Order of St. George.
“If he is not the guy who is leading, he is always willing to help make sure the guy who is leading is properly set for success,” Bomar said. “And that is why I felt honored to nominate him for the Order of St. George.”
Cogdell, a tanker throughout his time in the Army, said being recognized was a huge accomplishment in his career. Having seen the caliber of armor NCOs knighted into the Order of St. George, Cogdell said he aspired to attain the award because it is such a prestigious award for leadership.
“My parents always taught me to be in the front, to not be a follower, but a leader,” said Cogdell, a Granite Falls, N.C., native. “I’m a very outgoing and open person, but have a quiet, down-to-earth type of leadership style.
“I don’t see the need to yell or curse at people, however, I will speak my mind and tell you exactly what I think, and how it should be no matter what your rank is, because rank means nothing when it comes to somebody’s life or training the proper way.”
Cogdell said although he has worked with great NCO and officer leaders, the biggest inspiration for his career has been his wife.
“I felt honored to (be) the one he dedicated his award to,” said Rena Bartlett, Cogdell’s wife. “I am happy that the work I do at home has allowed him the peace of mind and focus he needs to push himself forward to be the best Soldier he can be. I am truly honored to be a part of his success.”
Married for 13 years, Bartlett said being the wife of a Soldier can be similar to being a single person, if one considers the deployments, training, and times in the field, but since meeting during his first enlistment, they made the choice to make the Army Cogdell’s career.
“I support my husband 110 percent by doing the best I can to keep our foundation solid so he can focus on his career,” she said. “He takes his responsibilities very seriously and even uses his down time for continuing education to help him become a better leader.”