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