Civilian Police Guardsman Earns Military Police Crest
By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo., Mar. 1, 2004 Tennessee Army National Guard Spc. Michael Parson speaks with authority about two things that matter most to National Guard troops involved in the war against terrorism these days: serving in the Army's total force and the extent to which some civilian employers are supporting the troops.
Tennessee Army National Guard Spec. Michael Parson is a student and Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Hermes Acevedo, from Alabama, is an instructor at the Army's Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. They have a lot in common as civilian police officers who have been called up to take part in the global war against terrorism. Photo by Army Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, National Guard Bureau
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
He belongs to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 115th Field Artillery, that today completed a month of condensed military police training at this central Missouri post. Next stop is Hawaii, where Parson and about 100 other soldiers in that company will pull garrison duty for the next year.
Parson is a patrol officer, as well as a medic, a training officer and a member of the tactical team, for the Jackson, Tenn., Police Department. That makes him one of just a few citizen-soldiers in that artillery battalion who are civilian police officers and who have earned their MP crests.
The training has not been all that demanding or different from the training he underwent nearly 10 years ago to become a policeman, explained Parson, who said he was physically and mentally prepared for the challenge.
He said he has, however, found a total force friend and brother of the badge during his month at the Army's Military Police School. That is Staff Sgt. Hermes Acevedo, an Army Reserve trainer who has helped show the Army Guard artillery soldiers the military police ropes.
Acevedo, nicknamed "Ace," belongs to the Army School System's 2nd Battalion, 100th Military Police, out of Nashville, Tenn. Acevedo is also a civilian policeman, the training officer for the Lee County Sheriff's Office in Auburn, Ala. He was among the MPs who went into Bosnia with the first wave of American troops in December 1995.
"These Reserve guys are very thorough. They take this training very seriously," said Parson, whose face was painted camouflage green during a 36-hour combat training exercise in late February when the Guard soldiers completed their rites of passage into the Military Police Corps.
Parson and Acevedo did swap a few police war stories after some Guard students responded to a simulated ambush while providing security for a four-vehicle convoy along a heavily wooded dirt road.
But Acevedo quickly reassumed his role as instructor, and Parson again became the student who pointed out that as good as the training is, "you get most of your experience out there beating the streets."
Parson has been away from the streets of Jackson, a western Tennessee city of nearly 61,000, quite a lot lately. This is his third mobilization since the terrorists attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and Parson said his boss, police chief Rick Staples, has given him and other members of the force who have been called up his total support.
Parson spent one year, beginning in November 2001, helping to guard a munitions plant in Milan, Tenn. He attended military schools for five months last year at Fort Campbell, Ky., after originally being mobilized to serve as a medic with an artillery unit that was called up for Operation Iraqi Freedom but did not go overseas.
Three other Jackson policemen also are Tennessee Army Guard artillery soldiers who are being reclassified as MPs for this yearlong deployment to Hawaii, Parson said.
"In all, 10 members of our force have been deployed for military duty during the last two years," he added. "Our chief has been very supportive. I don't earn nearly as much as a specialist, an E-4, on active duty as I make as a police officer. The department makes up the difference in my base pay. That means a lot."
(Army Master Sgt. Bob Haskell is assigned to the National Guard Bureau.)