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Army Medical Service Officers achieve Quartermaster School first

Image of Two military personnel in masks pose for picture. Captains Tandrea Graham and Richard Tidwell pose for a publicity photo after their Sept. 2 graduation from the Aerial Delivery Material Officer Course offered through the Parachute Rigger School at Fort Lee. The Army Medical Service Corps officers are said to have achieved a Quartermaster School first by being the only students from their branch to attend the course. (Photo by Lesley Atkinson.)

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Two Army Medical Service Corps officers here have achieved a quartermaster school first, thanks to their hunger for professional development and willingness to grab the golden opportunity of available class seats.

Army Captains Tandrea Graham and Richard Tidwell – one assigned to Kenner Army Health Clinic at Fort Lee, Virginia, and the other moving to a new assignment at Fort Drum, New York – were presented their graduation certificates Sept. 2 for the Aerial Delivery Material Officer Course offered through the Parachute Rigger School at Fort Lee.

Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, the course that’s normally limited to QM soldiers only had open seats and school leaders offered them to others in the logistics community. The captains jumped at the chance.

“The main qualification requirement is being a graduate of the Basic Airborne Course, so we submitted our waivers for attendance and got in,” Graham said. 

“I want to be a well-rounded soldier and a force multiplier,” Tidwell interjected. “You can’t be a good medical officer without being a good logistician. This will help with being a better supporter of our soldiers.”

Ten officers attended the five-week course. The curriculum covers airdrop planning, leadership, supervision, and management. Students learn the skills required for inspecting, packing, rigging, recovering, storing, and maintaining airdrop equipment.

Graham noted how the course dives into the intricate details of packing parachutes, preparing cargo, and managing mission cycles. The material officer supports the warfighter with the correct application of equipment and aircraft for jumping personnel or supplies.

“Riggers always check everything before they jump,” Graham said. “The paratrooper checks are by the numbers. The parachute is packed according to standard, which is checked and double-checked. The rigger motto is, ‘I will be sure always.’”

They both agreed that being a medical service officer in a quartermaster-driven field is challenging.

“It’s probably no surprise that there are many in our branch who lack the skills that are critical for supporting airborne operations from a logistical standpoint,” Tidwell said. “This was a key moment in time to show the other MSOs that we can enter the other branches of the military and bring those lessons learned into the Army Medical Department to better support the combatant commander.”

During the training there were many junior soldiers at the facility doing the exact same program. It was imperative for the officers to set the tone for others to emulate.

“I love the responsibility of being an officer,” Graham said. “I want to set the example and push junior officers and soldiers to always strive to be better. No matter what your rank is, there is always something you can improve on or learn. You will have success and failure; however, it is how you respond to those successes and failures that builds your leadership philosophy and character.

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