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Face of Defense: Signal Support Soldier Strives for Success

By Army Sgt. Tanjie Patterson
3rd Sustainment Brigade

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, April 24, 2013 – As the Army downsizes, many leaders agree that to avoid the chopping block, soldiers need to stay competitive and stand out among their peers.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Rohan Malcolm poses for a photo after becoming the Soldier of the Month at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, April 19, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Rochelle Krueger

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

One soldier making strides to stay ahead of the pack is Army Spc. Rohan Malcolm, a signal support systems specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, and a native of Miramar, Fla.

Malcolm, who was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, moved to Miramar when he was 14. He completed high school there and then attended college at the University of Dubuque in Iowa on a partial football scholarship. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and had his first thoughts of joining the military while he was there.

“I never thought about a career in the military until a [fraternity] brother of mine told me about the Army,” said Malcolm, now 25. “I then did some research and decided that I would give the Army a try.”

Malcolm said he’s the only member of his family to serve in the military. He didn’t know what to expect, he said, because he’d heard so many myths about the organization. But now that he’s joined, he added, he loves the Army and wants to make service to his country his career.

Malcolm has been setting himself apart from his peers since basic combat training at Fort Jackson, S.C., where he was recognized as Soldier of the Cycle and earned his first Army Achievement Medal in November 2010.

“It felt good to have been recognized and awarded by the general of Fort Jackson,” Malcolm said. “All I kept saying to myself was, ‘Wow, I’m getting a chance to meet important people at such an early [point] in my career.’”

After basic combat training, Malcolm attended advanced individual training at Fort Gordon, Ga., followed by his first duty station in South Korea. His current home station is Fort Stewart, Ga., and he is serving his first combat tour here in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Malcolm not only fulfills his duties as a signal support systems specialist here, but also serves as the communications specialist on his command team’s personal security detachment.

He has worked in other positions outside of his military occupational specialty before, he said, including duty as a gunner while traveling along some of Afghanistan’s most-dangerous routes. He added that he’d do any job that supports the team and the mission.

When not at work, Malcolm is taking structured self-development and correspondence courses. His off-duty studies helped him to earn a new title: Battalion Soldier of the Month.

“I didn’t think I was going to win, because I had been laying cable 30 minutes prior to the board, so I was all dirty,” he said. “I arrived at the board and looked at my opponent, who was all clean and creased up, and I thought to myself, ‘Man, this guy is squared away. He’s going to win this for sure.’ But once I cleaned myself up, I went in and just went at it.”

Malcolm credited his success to his dedication and hard work, and made light of the fact that he competed against only one other soldier at the board.

“I guess when everyone else found out I was going to the board, they got scared and backed out,” he joked.

Malcolm said he will attend as many boards as he can. “Being No. 1 is a good feeling, and not winning is just not an option,” he added.

So when he’s not on the job or studying, he most likely is in the gym, working to improve his already above-average Army physical fitness test score, or out on a 5-kilometer morale run.

Malcolm said his next step toward success is to attend the promotion board in May. Although achieving the rank of sergeant is his short-term goal, he added, he also is looking to earn a commission.

“My long-term goal is to elevate my career, and for me, I think that I can achieve that by moving to the next level, which is to become an officer,” he said. Either way, he added, enlisted soldiers and commissioned officers need to stay competitive to succeed in the Army.

Malcolm, who is a newlywed with no children, said he is happy with all he has accomplished in his 32 months of service, but he won’t stop working hard and seeking self-improvement.

“My advice for my peers is that you have to separate yourself from your peers,” he said. “You have to sit down with yourself and decide what it is that you really want while serving in the military, and once you figure that out, you need to go and get it. You can’t care about what others think about you. You have to do what you know is right for yourself and your family.”


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