Hawai'i recruiters honored
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
The Army's Honolulu Recruiting Company is the top producer of recruits in the western United States, placing more than 1,200 men and women each year in the Army and Army Reserves.
US Army Recruiting Company
Sgt. 1st Class James Freedman receives his recruiter's ring from Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Tilley. The ring, representing excellence in recruiting, is the command's second-highest award.
US Army Recruiting Company
Freedman, 38, who grew up in 'Ewa Beach and is commander of the Army recruiting station at 1221 Kapi'olani Blvd., was awarded the recruiter ring, the command's second-highest award, by Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Tilley, the highest-ranking enlisted man in the Army.
But not before Tilley challenged the recruiters assembled in Portland, Ore., to a one-handed push-up contest.
Tilley cranked out at least 50, besting several recruiters who took him on.
Freedman, meanwhile, is just proud to have earned the gold ring with the green stone that represents recruiting excellence. Those who get to wear the ring are in select company.
"It's not an easy thing to get," Freedman said. "It means you've worked hard. When you are talking with other recruiters and you are a full-time recruiter, the first thing you look for is the gold badge, and then you look to see if there's that ring on their finger."
Recruiters work their way through silver and gold badges before attempting to earn the recruiter ring and the ultimate achievement of recruiting excellence, the Glen E. Morrell Award.
There are 35 Army recruiters in Hawai'i working out of four stations on O'ahu and three others on Kaua'i, the Big Island and Maui.
The Honolulu Company is part of the Portland Battalion, which includes parts of California, Washington state, Hawai'i, American Samoa, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and American dependents in Japan and Korea.
Of the Portland Battalion's 135 recruiters, 23 received recruiter rings and seven were awarded Morrell awards for fiscal 2001.
The Honolulu company took home six of those rings, which are based on points that take into account factors such as numbers of recruits and quality of background.
Three of the company's rings and a Morrell award went to recruiters in Guam. In addition to Freedman, Kane'ohe recruiters Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Manglona, from Saipan, and Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Carcabuso, who is from San Diego, also earned rings.
"We've done well (with recruiting)," said company Public Affairs Officer Ray Graham. "We've been pretty much the top company in the Portland Battalion."
With American flags fluttering from car antennas to porches and patriotism high following Sept. 11, it would be easy to assume that the war on terrorism has given a big boost to recruiting. But that hasn't been the case.
Like other recruiting stations across the country, there hasn't been a flood of enlistments here.
"Interest (in serving in the Army) has picked up, although it's mainly among veterans or people who have tried to get in before," Graham said. "We haven't seen any long lines like they saw in World War II, but we have seen an increase in phone calls."
"As far as a big increase as a result of the war," Graham adds, "no, it didn't happen."
The Honolulu Company relies on the dedication of recruiters like Freedman and consistently high numbers for its success.
Men and women from American Samoa and Guam in particular volunteer in significant numbers for the Army, Graham said.
"We've got some real patriots in Guam and Samoa," he said.
For some, it's a chance to see the world.
There are financial advantages as well in a tight economy, like up to $50,000 for college for a four-year enlistment, and as much as $20,000 enlistment bonuses for some of the harder-to-fill jobs.
Freedman, a 1981 St. Louis School graduate who has been in the Army for 17 years, has been a recruiter for the past four, a job that's given him the chance to return to Hawai'i.
"It's a lot of fun for me to be back on the island and to help young kids," he said. "The Army is a way for them to branch out and get some money for college."
Reach William Cole at email@example.com or 525-5459.