INSCOM names Linguist of the Year

By Shirley K. Startzman

"A whole lot of ‘hooah’ demands a whole lot of ‘doah’," said Maj. Gen. Robert W. Noonan Jr., commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command.

He rewarded both spirit and accomplishment when he named Staff Sgt. Rodney J. Burch the command’s Linguist of the Year in a ceremony at INSCOM headquarters Aug. 26.

Burch is a linguist assigned to the 748th Military Intelligence Battalion, 702d MI Group, in San Antonio. "He represents a special skill in intelligence and personifies what we ask for in our branch of very technical skills. It is not an easy thing to do. Staff Sgt. Burch is an exceptional soldier and noncommissioned officer. He is accomplished in three languages and ‘dabbles’ in a couple of others," said Noonan.

Admitting his English skills could be improved, Burch only learned of his aptitude for languages after taking two entrance tests to join the Army. The recruiter offered him an $8,000 enlistment bonus.

"I grew up in south Texas and don’t speak English that well," said Burch. "I had no prior language experience."

Burch encourages other soldiers to do what he does: keep their language scores at the highest level possible and do as many things as possible. His "do" list included an assignment to Detachment D, 201st MI Battalion, 513th MI Brigade. Capt. Darrin J. Ray, detachment commander, entered Burch in the competition.

"He put me in for it without my knowledge," said Burch. After winning, Burch grinned and said, "Outstanding!"

Shirley K. Startzman is a public affairs specialist with the Public Affairs Office, headquarters, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, Fort Belvoir, Va.

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Last Updated: 14 December, 1998