By Anthony Hooker
215th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – A member of the 551st Medical Company (Logistics), became one of the first medical personnel to receive the newly authorized battlefield promotions earlier this year.
Sgt. Terrence Holmes, a Branchville, S.C., native who serves as the non-commissioned officer in charge of a forward distribution team, was promoted from the rank of corporal to sergeant May 16, 2008.
On April 1, the Army announced a one-year pilot program that recognizes and promotes Soldiers for extraordinary performance of duties while serving in combat or under combat conditions. Holmes, who was promoted based on the recommendation of his brigade's command staff, was the only candidate from all ranks chosen from a pool of 4,500 applicants.
To qualify for a battlefield promotion, Soldiers must be serving in Iraq or Afghanistan for Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom. The program waives time-in service and time-in-grade requirements for Soldiers in the grades E-1 through E-5.
Capt. Marc Welde, commander of the 551st MLC, said Holmes has been a great benefit to the company.
"When [the unit] deployed, we were short NCOs," said Welde, an Ogden, Utah native. "Our distribution team in Al Asad needed an NCO, so Sgt. Holmes got an opportunity to shine."Welde said during the first six, seven months of 551st MLC's deployment, Holmes, at the time a corporal, outperformed some of his higher-ranked counterparts, successfully providing logistical support to the area's Combat Support Hospitals and combat logistical patrols. Holmes and his four-Soldier staff met or exceeded demands despite being hundreds of miles away from any of his command's senior leadership.
Command Sgt. Maj. Eugene Jeffers, the senior-ranking enlisted member of the 62nd Medical Brigade, was part of the leadership that selected Holmes. Jeffers, whose unit is also from Ft. Lewis, Wash., said when reviewing a Soldier's qualifications, their performance should speak for itself.
"This NCO was performing a mission that was seventy-five percent more efficient than another Soldier who held staff sergeant rank," said Jeffers. "He had good time management, Soldier development, Soldier welfare . . . Every time we went to inspect [Holmes'] office, his vehicles were squared away, his Soldiers and their rooms were up to standard and he was doing what he should. Conversely, some sgts in similar position weren't doing half as much."
Jeffers pointed out that all of the Soldiers in theater are working hard, but that Holmes' efforts reflected what define leadership in the Army: the ability to provide purpose, direction and motivation.
"Ability is what you are capable of doing . . . [Holmes'] performance was outstanding," said Jeffers. "Many people have the ability to do many things; Sgt. Holmes is an example of someone getting out and doing things."
Holmes, who received his promotion orders through email, said he was glad the Army came up with the battlefield promotion concept. A former Marine who joined the Army in 2006, Holmes said the promotion didn't change his performance but served as motivation.
"Getting the battlefield promotion made me feel the Army could be a place for me," said Holmes, who recently reenlisted for six years. "I've had great opportunities and potential to grow within the Army."
Welde hopes Holmes' success will mean more opportunities for other Soldiers.
"He's a great example - Soldiers look at him and go 'Wow!,'" said Welde. "The Army has a regular progression of promotion, but when you go above and beyond and [perform] at a higher grade, you can be noticed. [Battlefield promotions] give Soldiers hope that they can be rewarded for their actions and not have to wait their regular time."
This work, Medical Logistics Soldier receives battlefield promotion, by SGT Anthony Hooker, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.