NEWS | Sept. 30, 2009

Sailor wins JTF-Bravo's 'Trooper of Quarter' award

By Staff Sgt. Chad Thompson Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

A Navy corpsman from the Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element won Trooper of the Quarter Sept. 15, proving that in a joint environment excellence is recognized regardless of the branch of service.

Christian Mewes, a hospitalman (HN) deployed from Yokosuka, Japan, was the first Sailor in history to win Trooper of the Quarter for JTF-Bravo, said Command Sgt. Maj. Eloy Alcivar, JTF-Bravo command sergeant major.

The Army's Trooper of the Quarter is based on a 600-point evaluation process, testing E-1s to E-4s on physical fitness, weapons qualification, land navigation, a written exam on Soldier knowledge and an administrative board.

"I really didn't know what to expect," HN Mewes said. "I think the land navigation was the most difficult portion of the [award selection] process."

He said Command Sgt. Maj. Alcivar prepared all the nominees before the evaluation with a short familiarization class on land navigation.

"So in about five minutes I had to learn what Soldiers have been doing since basic training," HN Mewes said. "And I didn't really think I did that well until the results came out."

His score spoke for itself: 523 out of a possible 600 points, which was 66 points higher than his nearest competitor.

"He's a team player who always puts others and the unit first," said Tech. Sgt. Cassandra Glasco, HN Mewes' supervisor. "He is filling an NCO position that was filled by two other individuals prior to his arrival, and since he has been here he's always the first person who comes to mind when there is anything that needs to be done."

But there is another piece to this puzzle -- the job HN Mewes is doing here isn't even part of his Navy rate, or specialty.

HN Mewes is a combat medic by trade, filling an operations NCO deployment slot in JTF-Bravo's Medical Element, or MEDEL.

"I'm doing the job I was asked to do," HN Mewes said. "I might not be practicing combat medicine but I am still learning a lot from this assignment."

In the award package Sergeant Glasco submitted she said "HN Mewes' attention to detail was instrumental in the execution of numerous JTF-Bravo humanitarian civil assistance missions in support of U.S. Southern Command. He ensured timely management, maintenance and accountability of $964,000 in vehicle assets, ensuring 100 percent mission capability for 15 missions."

Discipline, dedication and responsibility are all things HN Mewes said he had learned from his two years in the Navy.

HN Mewes was going to school to be a mechanical engineer when he decided to join the Navy. He said he joined because the idea of getting money for college was intriguing.

"The Navy has been a very good stepping stone and it has opened up a lot of opportunities for me that I might not have gotten in a civilian job," he said. "It's good for most people who don't really have an idea of what they want to do with their lives."

While he continues his education to finish his engineering degree he enjoys building race cars as a hobby, HN Mewes said.

So being in charge of the maintenance schedule, cleanliness and overall upkeep of 27 MEDEL vehicles may be as close as it gets to his dream job right now for this Jersey native, he said.

"Assignments like this are what you make it," HN Mewes said. "If you have an open mind it enables you to enjoy the experience regardless of the circumstances."

Taking advantage of every situation and seeking opportunities to excel is what makes an assignment like this fun, he said.

During a recent medical readiness training exercise, or MEDRETE, to San Fernando, El Salvador HN Mewes took the opportunity to do some combat medic training, said Air Force 1st Lt. Adam Bailey, a physician assistant at MEDEL.

"HN Mewes is constantly trying to find things to do rather than just sit around," Lieutenant Bailey said. "Other people were enjoying a break [in El Salvador] and he was practicing doing IV's and looking for opportunities to excel."

HN Mewes said he thinks being away from his job will actually make him a better combat medic when he gets back to Japan because he has new experiences to enable him to look at things differently.

The whole-person concept is always used in evaluating service members in these types of awards, Sergeant Glasco said. One thing that echoes through the halls of JTF-Bravo's Medical Element is, "HN Mewes is a super star."