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Army Master Sgt.
JTF J1 non-commissioned officer-in-charge
Akin to the four cardinal points, north to south and
east to west, loyalty is a part of our principles and way
of life. On and off duty, it is an image of who we really
are; because, no matter the situation, we best perceive
loyalty from within ourselves.
Put yourself in a leader's position and ask, "What
inspires Troopers to be loyal?" Once the academic
answers are sifted through, there remains a single
theme which forms the answer to that question -
trust. If a senior leader can inspire trust, he will
also inspire loyalty. Without trust, he may be
able momentarily to compel compliance
with his orders, but this compliance will
not be the same as loyalty. Loyalty is
not compelled; it is inspired and earned.
Where loyalty exists, commitment,
respect and obedience to orders are
characterized by a special kind of
Loyalty is sometimes misunderstood
or worse, misused, not only in the
military but also in the civilian world.
Loyalty to the service, to your unit,
superiors and finally to yourself is a
key part of our learning process. On the
other hand, loyalty to subordinates and
peers is absolutely essential and part of
Our actions speak louder than
words and they demonstrate our true
character. We should not ask others for
things that we ourselves are unwilling to
do. Live and act in a similar manner, and
you will discourage those naysayers from
ever thinking that you can be drawn into their
web of deceit and their cowardly, illegitimate
evocation of your loyalty for foul ends. Lead by
example and do what's right even when it appears
no one sees you. Because there's always someone
watching the real you.
By nature, it is a process to give and gain trust.
The realization of trust is only obtained if integrity
is evident in the demonstration of one's loyalty. A
Trooper may obey you if he is afraid of you, but his
obedience is a weak and fleeting thing. Remove the
immediate grounds of his fear and you have removed
his sole reason for obeying. If that same Trooper is
loyal to you, his obedience will have been ensured in
a much more lasting way, for the attitude of loyalty is
a stronger stimulus than the attitude of fear.
Loyalty can be inspired, in a manner that the
military goal of discipline can be achieved along
with the social goal of having individuals who are
reflective, morally-aware individuals. This conception
of loyalty is one of loyalty inspired by trust, where that
trust resides in the moral integrity of senior leaders. "My
loyalty is my honor"-my loyalty resides in a person of
integrity, to whom I give my trust. 0
PAGE 2 I THE WIRE
TROOPER-TO-TROOPER I FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009
Army Staff Sgt.
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Sometimes it seems like the media
is the only source of information
people back home have about Joint
Task Force Guantanamo. Although
the media do visit here and report on
the detention mission, other visitors
come to the JTF for many different
reasons and it is the Joint Visitors'
Bureau's responsibility to make
sure those visitors get on-island and
have the opportunity to see the entire
spectrum of operations.
"It's our mission to make sure
that visitors get a clear picture of
what JTF GTMO is all about and
to communicate to them the safe
and transparent way we conduct our
mission," said Maj. Victor Perez, the
officer-in-charge of the JVB.
The Joint Visitors' Bureau
coordinates visits of the JTF
for distinguished guests such
as congressional delegations,
non-governmental agencies and
various military and governmental
groups. The bureau coordinates
approximately 100 visits each year.
Each group is made of different
people who have different reasons
for visiting the JTF. In a recent week,
for instance, the JVB hosted tours for
the Virgin Islands National Guard,
U.S. Southern Command and federal
law enforcement representatives.
Some come for information or fact-
finding, others come to visit the
"All of the people who visit
here have a certain sector of the
community that they can reach and
spread the message of what we do,"
Whatever the reason for the visit,
the JTF JVB is informed by the
Office of the Secretary of Defense
of upcoming visits and is then
responsible for coordinating that
visit, from creating the itinerary to
making sure proper accommodations
are provided. Depending on the
reason for the visit, the JVB will
tailor the schedule to meet the needs
of the visitors. For example, a group
of visiting jurists may spend longer
touring the Expeditionary Legal
Complex. Each itinerary will differ
depending on a group's timeline and
Recently, the JVB assisted
with the Joint Civilian Orientation
Conference, the largest tour of its kind
that seeks to provide civilian public
opinion leaders with an opportunity to
increase their knowledge of military
and national defense issues. The tour
this year came through Naval Station
Guantanamo Bay because of its
unique joint missions. To coordinate
a tour of that size took a great deal
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009 I MISSION
THE WIRE I PAGE 3
"1 I [ I
Yih I0-i ) ;
better with age.
h birthday, the
int Task Force
the JTF, Sept.
it wasn't until
Soldiers whom he feels may not always get the recogn
ought to have.
"Our guards are here doing their jobs outside of the
and they do a great job," said Conyers.
After Conyers' remarks, the battalion held a ceremc
cutting with the highest ranking Soldier, Joint Detentio
commander Army Col. Bruce Vargo, and the youngest
Army Pvt. John Grauer, doing the honors.
Grauerjust completed his Advanced Individual Traini
approximately five months ago. He felt the MP corps
for him because of their long history of making a diffe
"I wanted to enlist as an M P because back home I h
as a firefighter and I wanted to continue to help peopi
With person to Iraq. Af istn nd
Force Guantaolice reco ed
IVIISSION I FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2UU9
PAGE 4 I IHE WIRE
Navy Petty Officer Ia Class
JTF Guantanamo Public Affa rs
Informed Troopers are acting as fire
the Joint Task Force safety miion. Acco
Bay Fire Inspector Tim Hargraves, fire safety
Fire Warden position] is a part of the JTF trails
and is mandatory under the OPNAV & COMN
"GTMO firefighters are so f the finest trained a
in the world. They are able to respond with multiple appa
and with resources on the ground in minutes in the event of a
fire," said Hargraves. However, "there is still a need to have
knowledgeable Troopers in lace acting as wardens in order to
prevent fires from gd Hargraves. "Military
members Troopr a ii actors are being asked
to be attentive in p h es and others against fire
inform the G'
when it come
i The GCTM
sk Force G ntanamo must have
signated fi arden and warden
>ers' fire safety awareness. The
es on base to identify and correct
rds and aid in setting fu
:complished t h fire wrd
: Warden Program is desind to
y of what to be on the l for
said Hargr aves.
sponsible for their designated
Before they deploy home.
Sis. dedicated to providing
rough renesseducation and
c rs topics such as building
S materials, evacuNion
s ildii d ner s tv. it
er. I ne two-I
th, and each
fire inspector will give
C o hours and can
D n office at ext.
y and property
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009 I MISSION
, Crash and
of both life
THE WIRE I PAGE 5
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Naval Station Guantanamo Bay's Morale, Welfare and Recreation
program will kickoff the Monday Night Fun Bowling League at the
recently-renovated Marblehead Lanes Bowling Center, Oct. 5.
"It is a league for people to have fun and compete," said Jon Bradley,
Marblehead Lanes Bowling manager.
There are two leagues: one league is an 18-week, 14-team league,
and the other is a nine-week, 10-team league.
"The purpose of the two leagues is to compensate for the individuals
on continuous rotations," Bradley explained. "We offer two alternatives
to help keep people from making a substantial commitment."
The leagues are handicap leagues, which allow people with different
skill levels to compete with one another.
Army Spc. Juan Mangualvilanova, with the Guantanamo Pins, started
taking bowling seriously since his arrival to the island.
"I am an alright bowler. I have gotten a lot better since I have been
here," Mangualvilanova said. "A good day for me would be around 250
[points in a game], but my average is about 170. I can have a very bad
day around 120."
"I love bowling," Mangualvilanova continued. "It is something that
everyone can participate in, since it is not too physically demanding."
MWR offers games at reduced rates for the bowling league.
"The rate per game is about $2.75, but the league only pays $6.50 for
three games," Bradley said.
Bradley, who is new to Guantanamo Bay, is looking forward to
having a successful league.
"It has been a long time since [a bowling league here has] had a turn
out like this," said Bradley, who is glad to be here and to support the
Troopers. "We will continue to do this throughout the year."
"It is a great center. MWR has invested into a great system," Bradley
added. "This place is as nice, if not nicer, than anything in the states."
If you have any questions regarding the bowling center, call ext.
LOCAL SPORTS I FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009
PAGE 6 1 THE WIRE
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
A couple is honeymooning in Hawaii,
at the same time as local newspapers are
reporting a double murder and two killers
on the loose. What could go wrong?
Cliff and Cydney (Steve Zahn and
Milla Jovovich) are planning their hike
through the mountains when they hear
about a murderous couple on the rampage
through the state. Suddenly, all those
hard-bodied men and women they keep
encountering on the beach begin to
resemble Woody Harrelson and Juliette
Lewis in "Natural Born Killers." But,
of course, they continue on. As a matter
of fact, they manage to befriend another
young couple (Timothy Olyphant and
Kiele Sanchez) who almost immediately
turn out to be really creepy.
The viewer might think they have the plot
figured out about 10 minutes into the film,
but there are a couple of pleasant surprises
along the way. At the risk of revealing too
much, let's just say that everything is not
necessarily as it seems.
Considering the kind of movie "The
Perfect Getaway" is, Steve Zahn and Milla
Jovovich manage to infuse their characters
with two almost-full dimensions. Girl talk
being what it is, Cydney and Gina (Sanchez)
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009 I MOVIE RECON
soon know far more about each other than
they would have in any other setting.
Meanwhile, Nick (Olyphant) reveals a past
as a former special operations guy who is
"really hard to kill."
If the plot isn't entertaining enough, the
scenery in the movie is worth a glimpse.
The gorgeous beaches, lush mountainside
and glorious waterfalls are breathtaking.
This film could double as an advertisement
for honeymooners everywhere, if it weren't
for all the bad things that can happen far,
far away from civilization.
Director David Twohy is a successful
Hollywood screenwriter with films like
"G.I. Jane," "The Fugitive" and "The
Chronicles of Riddick" under his belt.
Coincidentally, the film's characters are
constantly discussing screenplay-writing
and relating it to the adventure they are
in. No sooner do they broach the subject
of "red herrings," for example, than one
pops up. This is one of several postmodern
devices that Twohy uses to transform the
film into a "smart" thriller.
While the plot's tension gets a little
boring after a while, there is enough
emotional background and plot twists to
keep the viewer interested for most of the
97 minutes. As long as it shows on, say, a
Monday night and remains free to GTMO
audiences "The Perfect Getaway" is worth
a gander. 0
THE WIRE I PAGE 7
Five Soldiers from the 525th Military Police Battalion
were inducted into the Army's non-commissioned
officer corps during a ceremony at Troopers' Chapel,
Sept. 30. Two Soldiers from the 525th's Headquarters
*and Headquarters Company Sgt. Helder Depina and
Sgt. Christine Moorhouse and three Soldiers from the
193'd Military Police Company Sgt. Jason Adams, Sgt.
theofficia-i were inducted into the Army's non-commissionedo
officer corps during a ceremony at Troopers' Chapel,
Sept. 30. Two Soldiers from the 52530.s Headquarters
Britlan Kamstra and Sgt. Rafael Sanchez were brought
into what is known as the "backbone of the Army."
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Joint Task Force Guan anarno's senior enlisted 1 into what is known as the "backbone of the Army-^im~r^^^^nii^^3^^
The Naval Station Guantanamo Bay skate
park opened in February 2009 and offers
numerous ramps and rails for bikers and
skaters of all ages. JTF Guantanamo
photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Have you ever wondered where the
sound of metal colliding with metal is
coming from over by the Denich Gym?
The sound is coming from skaters,
bikers and inline skaters grinding the rails
over at the skate park located right next to
Naval Station Guantanamo's G.J. Denich
Gym. This 11,000-square-foot concrete
jungle offers numerous ramps and rails for
any adrenaline junkie.
The construction of the skate park
was started in November 2007 and was
completed in February 2009.
Craig Basel, GTMO's Morale, Welfare
and Recreation coordinator, said, "The
need for an updated and modern skate park
facility was one of the primary reasons
we built the park, plus we wanted to
consolidate the three old skate parks into
one facility. We held focus groups with the
skaters, bikers and roller bladers on several
different occasions and received many
great ideas from the customers."
The input from these focus groups and a
little input from some professionals helped
get the layout of the park.
"We received help from professional
skaters such as Omar Hassan, Rodney
Mullen, Mimi Knoop, Mitchie Brusco and
BMX pros Scotty Cranmer and Alistair
Whitton, plus professional designers at
Spohn Ranch," said Basel.
The skate park's layout includes a bowl,
fun box, bent penny, quarter pipes, rails and
sets of stairs to appeal to any type of skater
or biker. The park's setup can accommodate
anyone from experienced skaters or bikers
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven
Schuyler, a former mountain border who
recently got into skateboarding, said, "I saw
all the people skating and was convinced by
a friend to give it a go. It's no fun skating
alone so I knew we would both help each
Schuyler tries to fit the skate park into
his daily routine so he can become a better
"I have been going to the park for about
two hours at least every day if time permits.
Though sometimes I find myself staying
until I can no longer stand on the board,"
The skate park has improved the living
quality among Troopers who are looking
for a way to relax and have some fun.
"I think the response and appreciation
from the community says it all. Their
enthusiasm has been just outstanding.
The bowl and the bent penny are absolute
home runs with the skating crowd, and will
provide years of use and pleasure for these
skaters. It would be tough to find another
skate park that compares to this one
throughout the region," said Basel. 0
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009
PAGE 101 THE WIRE
Be aware: breast cancer affects all
April D. de Armas
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Breast cancer is a serious disease that thousands of people around
the world are diagnosed with every year. According to the Centers
for Disease Control, in 2005 alone, more than 180,000 women and
more than 1,700 men were diagnosed with breast cancer.
For Troopers at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, the risk of a
breast cancer diagnosis is just as real as anywhere in the world.
Army Sgt. Holly Craighead, a medic with the Joint Medical
Group said, "Although we have an overall healthy general
population, there have been a very few isolated cases [at Joint Task
Force Guantanamo] that have had to be addressed."
Military regulations follow the CDC recommendations when
stating the standards for medical fitness.
"All of the military forces follow the same standards as the CDC,"
Craighead said. "All female Troopers are screened during their
annual exams, as well as during periodic health assessments."
According to the CDC, the best way to detect possible breast
cancer is through self exams.
"No one knows their body better than their selves," Craighead
said. "If a Trooper has questions on how to do a self exam, we
have handouts and other material that will take them step by step
through the proper procedure. We also will show them during their
health assessments what to do and look for."
Breast cancer is the most common cause of death among
Hispanic women and the second most common killer among
white, black, Asian or Pacific Islander, and American Indian or
Alaskan Native women, according to the CDC. Although, more
white women get breast cancer, more black women die from breast
Army Capt. Leo Damasco the senior medical officer and
battalion surgeon with the JMG said, "The reasons for the risk
factors are different mainly due to the genetic make-up of the
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009 I NEWS & INFORMATION
There are several risk factors for breast cancer listed on the
CDC Web site, which include the intake of alcohol, the use of
oral contraceptives and not having children, or having them late
"One of the biggest risk factors for [males] and females is
family history," said Craighead. "If a female has a member of
the family that has had breast cancer at any time, they need to
start being proactive in having regular exams 10 years prior to the
age of the family member. In other words, if a female's mother
was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35, then the female
needs to start having exams at the age of 25."
Breast cancer does not just affect the older generation. It also
affects the younger generation.
Army Spc. Damaris Quintana is a human resources specialist
with Headquarters and Headquarters Company for Joint Task
Force Guantanamo. She is an operating room technician back
home in Puerto Rico and says she has seen many cases of breast
cancer, as well as assisted in mastectomies.
"I have seen women as young as 25 have to have a full
mastectomy because they are under the impression they were too
young to have breast cancer," Quintana said.
"The truth is, the sooner people start taking care of themselves
and performing their exams, the better off they will be."
There are several things to look for when performing a self
exam. Some things are more obvious than others.
"Although everyone is different, there are some signs that are
universal," Damasco said. "If there are changes in the overlying
skin, discoloration, dimpling, flaking skin, rash or discharge from
the nipple, then medical attention should be sought."
The overall message is that early detection is key and all
Troopers are responsible for their health.
For more information on how to perform a self exam or to make
an appointment for a health assessment, contact the Joint Trooper
Clinic at ext. 3395. O
THE WIRE I PAGE 11
Informing the force
Navy Rear Adm. Tom Copeman, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, speaks to Troopers during a briefing,
Sept. 30. The admiral used the opportunity to inform Troopers on the lastest news regarding the joint task force.
- JTF Guantanamo photo by Army Staff Sgt. Blair Heusdens
Hometown News Prog
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Wouldyou like to be one of more than 500,000 individuals
whose hometown news release is distributed to over 14,000
newspapers, television and radio stations each year? The
Department of Defense's Joint Hometown News Service
provides such an opportunity.
The hometown news program, which has been operating
for more than 40 years, combines all military service
programs that operate in San Antonio, Texas. They provide
print stories, along with still photography support and
video holiday greetings that are sent to each individual
service member's hometown. JHNS visited Naval Station
Guantanamo Bay for one week to conduct hometown news
releases and holiday greetings for friends and families back
home to view.
Air Force Senior Airman Chris Griffin, a photographer for the JHNS,
feels it is a great way to spread the word about what a service member
does, without getting too much into operational security issues.
"It gives military members a chance to participate in the Hometown
News Program," said Griffin, "and it gives them an opportunity to be
a hometown hero."
Army Staff Sgt. Kim Williams, a videographer for the JHNS,
handled the holiday greetings. She feels the holiday greetings help all
Troopers in a positive way.
"It has a big impact, it brings hope and that does a lot for morale,"
After a week of video greetings and hometown interviews, the group
departed to edit and prepare the material for release. That is where the
Joint Task Force Public Affairs Office will continue. The JTF PAO will
conduct various greetings and hometown releases in an effort to reach
out to the Troopers' families who otherwise would not have a chance to
see their loved ones.
For more information on hometown news releases or when and
where the next video greetings will be conducted, contact the JTF
public affairs office at ext. 8140 or 8141. O
NEWS & INFORMATION I FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009
PAGE 12 1 THE WIRE
JVB provides lasting first impression of task force
Army Sgt. 1st Class Nydia Garcia
communicates via radio to coordinate
with other members of the Joint Visitors'
Bureau during a tour of Joint Task Force
Guantanamo, Sept. 28. JTF Guantanamo
photo by Army Sgt. Carmen Gibson
JVB from 3
of unique joint missions. To coordinate
a tour of that size took a great deal of
planning and communication.
"Good communication is key," said
Perez. "You have to let people know in
advance what needs to be done."
The team has seen an increase in visits
since President Obama announced his
decision to close the detention centers
by Jan. 2010. Immediately after the
announcement, high-level officials such
as the Secretary of the Navy and the U. S.
Attorney General came to help make
decisions on how to proceed.
"The tempo has increased since the
executive order and we expect that it will
continue to increase as we approach the
deadline," saidArmy Sgt. 1st Class Nydia
Garcia, the JVB non-commissioned
Personnel with the JVB are
responsible for coordinating
transportation for the tours including
boat rides from leeward side to
windward side of the island and bus
transportation. They also coordinate
meals and provide the visitors with
sun block, rain protection and other
essentials while they are here.
The JVB is comprised of about 5-6
members who have a large order to fill
in terms of transportation and personnel
requirements. A lot of their additional
assistance comes from other sections of
the JTF such as the personnel, supply and
communications offices for additional
vehicles and staff. Coast Guardsmen from
the Maritime Safety and Security Team
91101 provide the water transportation
for most tours.
Garcia makes it clear, not just anyone
can be a driver for the JVB. Drivers must
be professional and receive special training
on military customs and courtesies. They
also may be required to work extra hours.
The drivers are with the visitors for the
majority of the trip and must have an
intimate knowledge of the base and portray
a professional image at all times.
"Here, sometimes it's as simple as
knowing how to pass the bumps on the
road," said Garcia.
It's the simple things, such as a smooth
ride or friendly attitude and the small
details like a hot cup of coffee and a
clean vehicle that JVB strives for. At the
beginning of each tour, visitors receive a
command briefing to go over the mission
of the JTF; in that briefing, the visitors'
seats are marked with their names.
"They walk in and their name is there,"
said Navy Lt. Jonathan Ryan, the JVB
deputy director. "Addressing these types
of details help ensure a successful visit."
The JVB provides visitors with a look
at what the JTF is and how the Troopers
here perform their mission. Regardless
of who the visitors are or their reason for
coming to GTMO, the Troopers strive to
display professionalism and, above all,
"It doesn't matter who they are," said
Perez. "We treat them with the same
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009 I VOICE OF THE FORCE
THE WIRE I PAGE 13
Air Force Maj.
JTF Deputy Command Chaplain
There are outside influences that can
affect happiness. For some, it could be as
simple as the weather conditions. Yet for
others, their happiness centers on being in
a meaningful relationship. If they don't feel
loved and cared for, they are not happy.
Happiness as we know it is only
temporary. It is often based on what one
possesses, a certain activity or personal
You can do all the right things treat
your wife or husband right and still not
be happy, because things happen to us that
are beyond our control. Hurricane Katrina
wiped out New Orleans and other coastal
areas. Floods, droughts and other weather-
related conditions can change life with a
moment's notice. The death of a loved one
or close friend can take away happiness.
It makes no difference if you are rich
or poor. Wealth in itself cannot make
you happy. Some people have superficial
happiness with no real lasting value because
they assume that something outside of them
can make them happy. They feel that to
have possessions or to do some event will
somehow affect the condition of their heart.
But we can have something that is better
than happiness: I choose joy.
Joy is produced within us by the inward
work of the Holy Spirit. When you submit
your life to God and obey Him, the result is
peace and joy. It's a blessing knowing that
you are pleasing the Lord and that you are
living your life for His glory. If a husband
and wife submit their lives to God's will and
commit themselves to one-another, they will
have the joy of the Lord in their marriage. It
does not mean you will never have problems.
But you can rest assured that God will help
you work through your problems. Even
during deployments and family separation,
God can sustain you with His joy.
Some would argue that their spouse should
exist only to make them happy. That burden
is far beyond the ability of any husband or
wife to fulfill, because they can't control the
world, they can't control the weather and
they cannot control the behavior of people
who might treat a spouse with disrespect and
rudeness. Besides being selfish, this view
overlooks the fact that only God can give
you true happiness. While happiness is often
situational or based on circumstances; joy
comes as a gift of God from within.
I choose joy. The Bible says it is the fruit
of the Holy Spirit, according to Galatians
5:22. This fruit is produced in the heart of
the believer by the inward presence of God's
Spirit. I choose to follow the Lord and live
in the joy of the Lord. In the words of the
old spirituals: This joy that I have the world
didn't give it to me; the world didn't give it
and the world can't take it away." The joy
of the Lord is my strength. With this joy, my
wife and I have a wonderful marriage in the
Lord Not problem-free, but full of love,
peace and joy. O
III I1H J I H :I I IIi i i J
Sunday: 9 a.m.
Sunday: 6 p.m.
Wednesday: 7 p.m.
Spanish Catholic Mass
Sunday: 5 p.m.
at NAVSTA Chapel
PAGE 14 1 THE WIRE
Sunday: 11 a.m.
LIFE & SPIRIT I FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009
6:30 a.m. Mass
Army Sgt. 1st Class
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
In this day and time, the primary focus on America's mind is
unemployment, economic recovery, escalating foreclosure rates,
personal finance, increasing credit card debt and high gas prices.
Gone are the days of purchasing items you can't afford at will and
expecting to pay for it at a later date. People are starting to realize
they have to become fiscally responsible and prepare now for the
life they want in the future.
When Army Sgt. Timothy "Timmy" Dawson, legal assistance
non-commissioned officer for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo
Staff Judge Advocate, deployed to Naval Station Guantanamo
Bay for a one-year deployment last October, he made a personal
commitment not to return in the same financial shape in which he
Twenty-five years old, engaged and with a one-year-old son,
Dawson left Queen Creek, Ariz., steeped in $27,200 of debt. His
array of debt included the balance of a vehicle repossession, the
residue of an identity theft mishap, medical bills, auto repair bills
and, the all too familiar villain credit card debt.
"When I first got here, someone told me 'everyone leaves here
a hunk, a chunk or a drunk,"' Dawson said, "So I thought, why not
leave here not broke?"
Initially Dawson's motivation was preserving his credit in order
to maintain his security clearance and he decided to take advantage
of the increase in pay he would receive throughout the year.
"I knew when I went home I wouldn't make this kind of money,"
he said. "I don't know how I made it with all the phone calls [from
creditors], the stress of the baby and wanting to do things without
wondering if a pack of beer would break me," Dawson added.
Dawson said before he came here he actually called the
bankruptcy people but then hung up the phone.
"I thought, no, you can do this," he added.
Getting out of debt is not accomplished without sacrifice and
Dawson said his biggest challenge to becoming debt-free was his
lack of a social life. While his friends were eating at the Bayview
or O'Kelly's, he was eating at the galley or not eating at all. He
also said in the beginning, he lost focus and bought some scuba
gear. But he quickly got back on track by securing a part-time job
working at the dive shop, which he said helped out a lot.
His family inspired him to stay focused because he remembered
how much stress the debt brought on him. He also credits his son
for helping him to stay centered on his goal.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009 I 15 MINUTES OF FAME
"Every time I called home, I'd hear him cry and I felt guilty
because money I was spending on myself I could be spending on
him," he said. "It's called being a responsible parent," he added.
He said he initially accumulated all his debt when he entered
the Army as a private. He thought he had more money than he
"I was situationally rich. I thought I was rich at the time, so I
bought all my friends pizza and the extra round of beer," Dawson
said. "Then I met my fiance and had a kid, and kids change your
Close friend and colleague Army Sgt. Christine Moorhouse, a
military justice paralegal for the joint task force, went along for the
ride as Dawson paid off his debt one bill at a time. When Dawson
first told her of his goal, she told him 'good luck' sarcastically
because she didn't think it was possible.
"I hadn't heard of too many other people managing to get
completely debt-free through a deployment," Moorhouse said.
"Most of the time, it puts a strain on finances," she added.
Moorhouse said she was proud of Dawson accomplishing his
"I thought it was great. I was kind of envious because I couldn't
do it. He was very disciplined," she added. "He'd brag about it,
'two more payments on the truck, one more payment on the truck,
after this week I may be broke but everything's paid for."'
If given the opportunity to give advice to someone who is in
over their head with debt, Dawson said he'd tell them to set a plan
and stick to it.
"The way I did it was to knock off the little bills first, Dawson
said, "Don't bite off more thanyou can chew. Whenyou're ready to
knock off that big bill, set up automatic payments," he continued.
"You can't just sit around having a pity party saying, 'poor me,
I have so much debt,'" he said. "You have to remember you put
yourself into it and only you can get yourself out. I paid this stuff
off as a specialist, so any rank can do it," he added. o
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