Thursday, May 19, 2011
Photo By Sgt. Erika Vinyard
Sgt. 1st Class James Dean of the Caisson Platoon has the opportunity to be a vital part of this heritage.
With Dean’s natural affinity for horses, the position of platoon sergeant is tailored for his talents as the noncommissioned officer who guides and grooms his platoon in a flawless manner.
“I love my job,”said Dean, who has been platoon sergeant for a year.“I got everything I wanted to get out of it.”
A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dean currently resides in Culpeper, Va. on five acres of land with five horses.
He was in The Old Guard from 2000-2004 and came back in Sept. 2009 to fulfill his dream of being Caisson’s platoon sergeant.
“Not only does he have great knowledge on horses but his management style is really easy to work with also,”said Staff Sgt. Charles W. Kane, Caisson operations noncommissioned officer in charge.
“It’s a very unique mission; every single day we’re going out conducting eight funerals in Arlington National Cemetery,”he said.
In addition to providing final honors to our nation’s fallen comrades, the platoon also provides the caparisoned horses used in full honors funerals, supports wounded warriors participating in a therapeutic riding program and participates in historic pageants and ceremonies conducted by The Old Guard.
“Our duty in the cemetery is our prominent mission and that’s what we focus on. Regardless of what other tasks the regiment gives us, we are always doing what our mission is,”said Dean.
The pride and distinction is immediately apparent to any visitor as he describes his daily routine.
“It’s the best mission here; it’s a no fail mission because we’re one of the few units that can’t rely on other companies to do the job,”said Dean.
New Soldiers receive 10 weeks of training in a course before joining the platoon. Dean incorporated training modules and different courses including an advanced riding course to build horseman skills.
“He’s outlined a good training module for the Soldiers and they’ve given us a lot more to look forward to in regard to building our horsemanship,”said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Marciano, a Caisson squad leader.
“As a leader, Sergeant First Class Dean is exceptional; one of the few I’ve really looked up to,”said Marciano.
“He’s not going to let you fail at your job; he mentors all the squad leaders [using] his experience and gives us all the pertinent information to do our jobs correctly.”
Fellow Caisson Soldiers agree that Dean excels in his position as platoon sergeant.
“He’s truly one of the best leaders; because of the trust he’s instilled in his squad leaders. It makes me want to be more proactive so I don’t have to let him down,”said Kane.