JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – In 1986, Sgt. Maj. Alan J. West enlisted in the Army for a three-year commitment. He planned on leaving the military and going to college after his initial enlistment, but after serving five years with the 95th Military Police Battalion, 272nd Military Police Company in Germany, he felt he had found his true calling. Twenty-seven years later, he said he will continue to serve until the Army kicks him out the door.
Now, the I Corps provost marshal sergeant major, West was awarded The Legend of the Order of the Marechaussee (Bronze) by Maj. Gen. David E. Quantock, provost marshal general of the Army, in a ceremony on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, April 17, 2013.
The award, established by the Military Police Regimental Association, recognizes significant contributions to the Military Police Regiment through dedicated and exemplary service of a period longer than 10 years.
“This is a great opportunity for me. I am a huge Sgt. Maj. West fan. When someone told me that I get to put the Marechaussee around Sgt. Maj. West’s neck, I said, ‘heck yeah.’ This is the guy that you want in the foxhole with you,” said Quantock. “When we give the Marechaussee award away, it reflects a total career, a total distinguished career. You have to be an exceptional soldier and have an impact not only at the tactical level but also the operational level. And that is exactly what this soldier has done throughout his entire 27-year career.”
Quantock went on to praise West, as an example of the outstanding Noncommissioned Officer Corps within the MP Regiment. Citing his experience working with West when he was the first sergeant of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 16th Military Police Brigade, during a deployment to Iraq in 2004, he said West was willing to tackle any challenge and accomplish missions that might have at first seemed impossible.
“Sergeant Major West would never ask a soldier to do something he wouldn’t do first himself, that’s the kind of leader he is. He was out there on the battlefield all the time supporting the soldiers. He was fearless, courageous and a great role model for those young MPs who saw him operate at the point of the spear,” said Quantock, prior to presenting West and his family with the award.
West said he was honored to have received the Marechaussee, especially honored that Quantock was the one to present it to him. He said the general is one of the greatest officers he ever served with. Shortly after receiving the award, West flipped over the medal and noted his was number 1,153. That he said, put him into a prestigious category, but he was quick to acknowledge many people helped him along the way.
“I have done a lot of great things, but I could never be where I am today without the help of the people around me. You are only as good as the people around you. Trust me, I have had some great people around me,” said West. “Although I got the medal, it is all due in part to what you do for me and the military every day. I appreciate it.”
While listening to Quantock discuss the high points of his career, West reflected on the changes he said seen throughout the length of his career; although he said the Army had changed since he enlisted, he was certain it was still the best Army in the world.
He also offered this advice to the future leaders of the Army, “Never burn your bridges. Give everything you can. Do whatever you can to succeed. Do what is right when no one is looking. And take each day as it comes.”
One day, he said, you will look up and 27 years will have passed.