The Sergeant
By: Jack  Serig, Sr., LTCOL Infantry, Retired

    Exceptional sergeants are not hard to find.  They were everywhere in the U.S. Army I served from 1953 to 1973.  Dedicated scholars and teachers of tactical warfare.  Administrators and managers.  Logisticians.  Technicians.  Professional.  Leaders.

    Every once in a while one sergeant would stand out above all the rest, as hard as that is to imagine when considering the “very exceptional” majority.   Our sergeant’s tailored uniforms and spit-shined boots were always a challenge for his men to match.  You knew he stood out when traffic stopped in all directions to simply watch him march his men to Jody-cadence tempo.  The troops marching under his command were meticulous with every step, insuring their lines were straight because they looked and felt proud marching with this not-so-ordinary leader.  They did it because of their deep reverence for their sergeant.  They did it for themselves because they witnessed and sensed his deep respect and loyalty to them.

    The persons in the stopped cars often got out for a better view.  You knew they sensed what the troops felt.  This happened many times in Fort Riley, Kansas and every day we supported the National Rifle/Pistol matches at Camp Perry Ohio. The clear, deep baritone cadence of our sergeant was inspiration in itself.  It made one proud to be a part of the moment---to be American and all that being American stands for.
    Our company commander called upon our sergeant to develop a ‘silent’ drill team.  His patient teaching and coaching of  the individual soldiers, all volunteers,  quickly formed them into a team that made them the envy of the other companies in our Battle Group.  The drill team was called upon to perform in Battle Group,  Division and local civilian events and was the pride of our unit..

    I first became aware of our sergeant when assigned to ‘C’ Company, 28th Infantry Battle Group, 1st Infantry Division, Ft. Riley, Kansas, in 1959.  

    Later in my assignment several letters, addressed to the Commanding Officer, were received from the sergeant’s creditors.  The sergeant  might need help and was asked in for a private conference.   I learned there was a pending divorce and a child involved.  The sergeant was advised to be forthright  in revealing the several problems he had with creditors and what kind of help he required.  For several months we worked through the personal financial problems that so many soldiers endure as a result of inadequate pay to cover living expenses, especially those with families.  We were able to obtain a grant from the Army Emergency Relief  Fund, have an American Red Cross Loan canceled and wrote letters reducing his monthly payments to creditors.  A small, personal loan was finally arranged with a local banker to pay off remaining debts leaving only the single bank payment monthly at an affordable payback rate.  

    Not at any time during his financial and personal crisis did the Sergeant fail to carry out his assignments in his usual efficient and credible manner.   He continued his important morale-enhancing work with the silent drill team.  Also, he was continually called on to provide his deep baritone and model military example to lead the troops in Jody-cadence wherever the company marched.  The cars and passersby kept stopping to watch the enjoyment of our sergeant’s work.

    He was masterful!

    Sergeant Mallory was very special to all of us.  When you talked about Sergeant Mallory, everyone paid close attention.  He set the highest standards for everyday soldiering for officers and enlisted to emulate.

    Sergeant Mallory was a proud American.  A descendant of slaves.