JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – A formation of soldiers wearing their black berets marches across the street. They sound off in a cadence that echoes in the misty morning air, a rhythm of words that is perfectly in tune with their steps. Soldiers of the 657th Forward Support Company, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, are on their way to practice drill and ceremony.
As the formation approaches its mark, there is one beret that stands above the rest. Standing tall at 6 feet 3 inches, Spc. Damian Powell wears a smile on his face and a serious look of determination in his eyes.
"Spc. Powell went to the [promotion] board yesterday and is up for promotion to sergeant," said 1st Sgt. Thomas Fenner, 657th Forward Support Company.
Powell, a Jamaica native, joined the Army in 2009 and while things have proven to be good for Powell now, it has not always been this way.
When Powell arrived at his first assignment with 17th Fires Brigade, he became part of cliques and got into some trouble. It did not take long for Powell to begin asking himself whether getting into trouble was really worth it.
“I started hanging out with the wrong cliques, I got my first Article 15 and that's when I began to wonder if going down that bad road was worth it,” said Powell.
Powell explains it was because of his leaders that he began questioning his actions and truly considering his short and long-term goals. He may have had some run-ins with trouble early in his military career but things have turned around through hard work and determination.
"I started studying for the board as a private," said Powell.
He was determined to leave the negative pieces of his past behind and commit to make those changes himself by doing things as simple as showing up to formation on time.
Doing the right thing is not something he only does while on the job. Powell has a young daughter, who he spends his free time with.
“My daughter is two years old and having her makes a difference; I have responsibilities,” said Powell.
Discipline is a characteristic that makes Powell standout. He committed himself to have the self-discipline and motivation that it takes to succeed.
"If you give him a task, he's going to take charge. He doesn't need much guidance" said Staff Sgt. Jemon Todman, a section leader in Powell's maintenance platoon.
Within just a couple of months, Powell made a significant positive impact on his company and on those working around him.
"My chain of command noticed my change and they realized that it wasn't a show and that I truly cared," said Powell.
In a humbled, yet proud tone, Powell relishes the opportunities he is receiving at the 17th Fires Brigade. To Powell, the most significant of these opportunities is being allowed to become a leader to others.
"You can't let someone dictate your future, you have to have that fortitude to apply yourself. Personal discipline is something you have to have to be resilient, to take yourself away from the negative," said Powell. "You're an individual and you know what is expected of you and you know what you need to do."
Article by U.S. Army Capt. Tania Donovan
Photo by U.S. Army PV2 Shelton Wright
Provided through DVIDS
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