Who Is MJ West

Birthdate: 27 August 76

 

Birthplace:  Patterson, New Jersey 

 

 

Unfavorable Circumstances led me and my youngest brother into the foster care system at ages 3 and 4.  In 1985 we were adopted by the West Family and started a new life in Red Bank, NJ. My father was a Pop Warner football coach so naturally, I was drawn to playing football. My positions were full back, defensive end, and outside linebacker. I was good at playing football, earning the most improved player and most valuable player trophies. In the late 80s, my mother and father began going through marital issues. This led to a divorce in the early 90s. Around this time football was no longer my focus. I was more interested in making rap music while being inspired by EPMD, NWA, LL Cool J, Tribe Called Quest, and Public Enemy. I also found myself deep in street culture.  Causing trouble, fighting rivals, and evading the police.  It wasn’t long before I found myself in jail, in court, and on probation. After my girlfriend told me she was pregnant I was determined to do better. I figured joining the Army would be a good idea. My recruiter helped me beat a case by convincing the judge I was taking steps to improve. A few months later I got married to my pregnant girlfriend and went off to Basic Training.

 

I had a rough start to my Army career getting in trouble and fighting with other Soldiers in Basic and Advanced Individual Training. I calmed down once my family moved to my first duty station Fort Irwin, CA. However, the wife and I were at odds most of the time. The neighbors would complain about the arguments and call the military police. The constant trips to the MP Station had me in hot water with my command.  My failure to conform to military standards caused me to be the recipient of a summarized article 15, flags and bars to reenlistment. Eventually, my wife and I got divorced. This is when I started drinking heavily, often drinking until I passed out. I was fortunate to have strong leaders that motivated me to do better.  I started getting better at my job and used physical training to help me get ahead.

 

I went from a 3-year PFC to a specialist and eventually got promoted to SGT in 2001.

Once I figured out how to convert negative energy to positive energy my life and military career got a lot better.  Three years

Later I was promoted to Staff Sergeant and became a member of 10th Mountain Division 3 BDE 710 BSB D Co FSC.  This was around the time the Army was doing away with the “in the rear with the gear concept”. Forward Support Companies were embedded with the battalions/squadrons they supported.  D FSC was attached to the 3-71 Cav Squadron. I was fortunate enough to oversee a Maintenance Support Team attached to B Trp 3-71.  I can remember several times hearing our Squadron Commander LTC Fenty tell my battle and me to be prepared for what was coming. When equipment breaks down, we fix it but if nothing is broken we search and destroy it alongside the 19Ds. I can remember being taught how to call for fire by SFC Monti.

My maintenance support team consisted of a six-man crew who were responsible for maintaining the troop’s vehicles and generators. 

 

In 2006 we deployed to Afghanistan and all our training was put to the test. From this 

deployment I learned a lot about my Soldiers and myself. A boy who was once scared of heights was leading Soldiers up a 10000 Ft Mountain to perform FOB OP watch for 2 -4 weeks at a time. No port-a-potties, just finding a good spot on the side of the mountain to handle our business. Recovering vehicles while taking fire, returning fire, and repelling the enemy. Unfortunately, we lost some good Soldiers on this deployment including LTC Fenty and SFC Monti. I went on two more deployments to Afghanistan with E Co 1-32 INF and F Co 2-87 INF respectively. These deployments were filled with some fun times but also some setbacks and losses.  

 

In 2010, I decided to give marriage another shot and married my girlfriend of seven years.  I learned from the mistakes I made the first time around. She supported me for the remainder of my career giving me her unfiltered advice as I served as the 1SG for E Co 5-52 ADA and D Co 6-8 Cavalry 

 

 

 

Time In Service 23 Years from February 1996 - January 2019

MOS: 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic 

 

 

Units: 

10th Mountain Division (710Th BSB, 3-71CAV  1-32 IN, 2-87 IN). 

Positions: Section Sgt, Platoon Sgt, Battalion Motor Sergeant, Maintenance Control SGT

 

 

11 ADA BDE (5-52 ADA)  

Position: 1SG E Co 5-52 

 

3ID 2BDE

1SG D Co 6-8 Cavalry 

 

240 BN. 19th Qm

 

11th ACR

 

406 BN 

 

Deployments:  Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey 

                 

Awards and Decorations:

3 Meritorious Service Medals; 6 Army Commendation Medals; 5 Army Achievement Medals; Combat Action Badge 

 

Hard Ships:

 

Lost my father to diabetes in 2006 (while 

deployed)

Divorce 

 

 

Challenges/ Struggles 

Paranoia

Anxiety 

Depression