Q-WEST, Iraq – "A good NCO [non-commissioned officer] is an NCO who lives by the Army Values and is guided by the NCO Creed. A good NCO is an NCO that takes the time to guide his or her Soldiers in the right direction. A good NCO knows his or her Soldier's goals and dreams. A good NCO is an NCO who is responsible for his Soldier's health and welfare. A good NCO is an NCO who listens to his or her Soldier. A good NCO is a good leader and a professional Soldier."
These words, spoken by Army Staff Sgt. Patricia McCarthy of Olympia Wash., a Soldier serving in Q-West, Iraq, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 181st Brigade Support Battalion, 81st Brigade Combat Team, sum up what she believes makes a good NCO.
Now on her first deployment, the mother of two is putting those qualities to work.
McCarthy screens and badges Iraqi and third country nationals who work on Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq. The badging process is a vital part of base security as it provides the ability to verify and track everyone who enters the American base.
"She is dedicated to duty, as well as her peers, superiors, and especially to her subordinates. She has taken on a very difficult job during this deployment that is unlike anything we would do in CONUS [continental United States], and has excelled," said Sgt. Maj. Debra R. Clarke from Rochester, Wash., McCarthy's non-commissioned officer in charge.
"She is in the first line of defense for force protection as the Soldier who works directly with contractors, retailers and Iraqi businessmen," Clarke added. "She has an innate ability to recognize applicants who are possible security risks and can expertly use the automated tools we've been provided to assist in that process.
"Staff Sgt. McCarthy is just as diligent in her responsibilities of taking care of her subordinates, providing guidance and counsel on an on-going basis."
McCarthy, who has served for the past 15 years in both the Washington and California National Guards, plans on retiring from the National Guard, which she said has been like a second home to her.
"I have met a lot of great people and have made long-lasting friendships. I still have plenty to learn from my senior leadership and plan to be part of the National Guard for several more years," she said.
McCarthy has worked full time for the Washington National Guard for many years in both recruiting and administration. She is currently working on a business administration degree, "so when it does come time to leave the National Guard, I could find another job to call home," she said.
McCarthy is not just a dedicated Soldier and student, she is a dedicated wife and mother as well. Her husband, Staff Sgt. Aaron McCarthy, is also serving with the 81st BCT at Camp Al Taqqadum, Iraq. He calls his wife the rock of their family and his best friend. He also expresses his unfaltering pride in her.
"Patty loves a challenge and loves to be challenged and will never accept defeat. My wife is a very professional Soldier that lives the Army values. She is a great leader and role model," he said.
Though Aaron could endlessly talk about the things that make his wife so wonderful, one quality sums her up the best.
"...The one thing that everyone says about my wife is true. She is so nice. That is my wife. There is nothing more important to my wife than helping people all the way from recruiting, to her job in Bldg. 15 and to here. She makes you feel good and she truly cares, that is why I love her."