Face of Defense: Corporal Becomes Unit’s ‘Go-To’ Guy
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Brent Hunt
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Aug. 26, 2008 Though the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were a big factor in why Cpl. Jack Condon joined the Army, he also had another reason in mind.
Army Cpl. Jack Condon briefs Army Sgt. 1st Class Albert Rodriguez on the daily operations in the Tactical Operations Center on Camp Taji, Iraq, Aug. 22, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brent Hunt, Multinational Division Baghdad
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“I really wanted to make my family proud of me,” he said.
The aviation operations specialist serving in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, has succeeded making not only his family, but also his fellow soldiers, proud.
Condon is serving his second combat tour in Iraq, and he has become the “go to guy” in the Gambler Gun’s Tactical Operations Center here.
“Condon is one of those guys who make stuff happen,” said Sgt. 1st Class Albert Rodriguez, first sergeant for the battalion’s headquarters company, who compared the corporal to a 1980s television character who always found a way to succeed. “He gets the mission done. He is a ‘MacGyver’ type of guy who can fix anything from a piece of equipment to analyzing a problem and coming up with a solution quickly.”
Rodriguez said Condon has merged as an effective leader. “He really takes charge in the TOC,” the first sergeant said. “He trains the soldiers how to do their job step by step.”
Condon said that when he deployed to Iraq this summer, he essentially was in charge of himself. His job was simple: be in the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform. Although this is the task of most soldiers, leaders around the battalion recognized that he would be an effective noncommissioned officer.
“I have been put in charge of six soldiers since I’ve been here,” said the Catoosa, Okla., native. “The great thing about being a leader is watching soldiers grow, even though when I was a private I thought I could never do what an NCO does.”
Condon’s day starts with the shift-change brief, in which soldiers coming on shift are informed of the night’s activity while getting information that pertains to their upcoming 12-hour shift.
After the briefing and the handing out of assignments, Condon supervises and teaches his troops while simultaneously verifying flight schedules, tracking missions and ensuring equipment is maintained properly so the operations center runs smoothly and efficiently.
“Every 15 minutes I get a [situation report] so I can inform the commander on the mission and what is going on. I have been put in the center of the information flow,” Condon said as soldiers throughout the TOC constantly asked him questions and pulled him in different directions. “Nothing can happen unless we are here.”
Condon works in one of the brigade’s two Apache helicopter battalions. Their mission is to protect soldiers on the ground, escort air ambulance missions and conduct combat operations.
As Condon grows in experience and knowledge, he said, he occasionally asks for advice from leaders throughout the battalion.
“I still ask for guidance from the senior NCOs about what to do with a soldier or a situation, because every soldier and situation is different,” he said. “What keeps me going is watching my soldiers grow. That’s how my NCOs are, and I want to be the same.”
Growing into a great leader seems to be Condon’s destiny. Working hard on getting college courses completed before and after shifts is the next goal in his already long list of achievements.
“I’m hoping to get my third stripe here shortly,” he said. “That is my next goal.”
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Brent Hunt serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade.)