During a ceremony Feb. 24 on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presents a coin of excellence to (center) Staff Sgt. Jasper Barrett, 2nd Platoon, 561st Military Police Company, while Staff Sgt. James Rempala, 2nd Platoon, looks on. Photo by 1st Lt. Maris Pichon

‘Unwavering professionalism’

561st MP Co. earns top honors for providing security

Soldiers from the 716th Military Police Battalion received coins of excellence from Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a ceremony Feb. 24 for their professionalism in providing security to the Washington, D.C., area.

Second Platoon, 561st Military Police Company, deployed in January to augment security on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and Fort McNair. They are the only Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Soldiers assigned to the mission.

“The platoon has displayed unwavering professionalism in a high-profile environment since being deployed in January,” said Lt. Col. Christopher M. Church, commander, 716th MP Battalion. “They’ve been fortunate enough to interact with multiple Army senior leaders during the course of their daily mission and have grown from it.”

Those day-to-day interactions made a strong impression on Army leadership, said 1st Lt. Maris Pichon, platoon leader, 2nd Platoon, 561st MP Co., 716th MP Bn.

“They’ve noticed the Soldiers doing the right thing at all times and also being consummate professionals while conducting our duties here in the national capital region,” Pichon said. “The platoon is being recognized for unmatched professionalism in our work with a high-visibility population.”

Capt. Zachary K. Johnson, commander, 561st MP Co., 716th MP Bn., said the platoon has been challenged with many high-profile missions during recent rotations at Joint Readiness Training Center-Fort Polk, Louisiana. On post, the platoon conducts law enforcement.

“It was their exemplary performance and professionalism that led to their selection for this mission,” Johnson said.

Pichon said the mission’s selection standards were high, and the Soldiers are keeping that in mind when it comes to how they spend their time.

“There could have been any other company coming to do this and they chose us,” said Spc. Douglas Howard, 2nd Platoon, 561st MP Co. “Overall, it’s been a great feeling to come down here and be able to see new things, especially in the D.C. area since there’s a lot of historic stuff here.”

Soldiers also have connected with Army senior leaders, a standout part of the mission for Howard.

“When you’re at other bases, you really don’t see four-star generals or other higher-ranking officers,” he said. “But when you come here, you actually get to see them face-to-face, interact with them and talk with them. It’s pretty interesting actually getting to know them.”

Spc. Victor Garza, 2nd Platoon, 561st MP Co., said he was honored to deploy for the mission and proud of his platoon’s accomplishments.

“It feels good to see the platoon being awarded one of the highest honors in the military,” he said. “Especially with us being from Campbell, and coming all the way to the D.C. area.”

Pfc. Vanessa Sanders, 2nd Platoon, 561st MP Co., said traveling that distance was a chance to meet other posts’ units and learn how they approach military police work.

“I’m honored and happy that I was able to come on the mission and assist the home unit,” she said.

Sanders plans to use what she learned in D.C. when she returns home to Fort Campbell.

As each Soldier takes in these kinds of experiences, the platoon grows more well-rounded and prepared for success, Pichon said.

“We are here for a mission, but there are so many things in the area that I believe are beneficial to the Soldiers who might not have been here,” he said. “It was a very selective basis to come up to the National Capital Region, so the Soldiers are pretty excited to be here. They’re motivated, staying out and doing different things and they’re having opportunities afforded to them that they normally wouldn’t.”


By Ethan Steinquest

Fort Campbell Courier