Montalvo arrived at the Old Guard just about four months ago.
Montalvo has earned several prestigious honors: a Pathfinder badge in July of 2007, he has worked as a drill sergeant from 2005 to 2007, and in 2004 he was inducted in the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club.
The Pathfinder school is a three-week course that teaches soldiers how to establish and operate drop zones for helicopters. Other tasks include providing air traffic control to both rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft, and conducting sling load operations for moving equipment in and out of an area.
“The challenge that I faced is its not a physical course,” said Montalvo. “Its more of a mental course. You have to do a lot of thinking. You have to do a lot of mathematics.”
The biggest challenge of Pathfinder school was memorizing large amounts of information, Montalvo said.
“I’m not very good at math,” said Montalvo. “I went there with a clear head, willing to learn some new stuff. It was a pretty challenging course, but a rewarding course.”
Montalvo said Pathfinder certification is valuable since he could be called upon to perform drop zone duties as part of contingency operations in the national capital region.
Montalvo was a Drill Sergeant at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
Montalvo wasn’t necessarily thrilled with his orders to become a Drill Sergeant at for mainly support jobs.
Once again, an open mind allowed him to succeed.
“I’m an infantryman, and I was stationed at Fort Jackson,” said Montalvo. “I was a young staff sergeant, so I wanted to train infantrymen. But I realized that here in the future, the same soldiers that I am training here are going to be my soldiers.”
Montalvo decided that he would train support occupations like cooks and clerks with the same level of enthusiasm as infantrymen.
Drill Sergeant School once again challenged his ability to memorize the modules to teach basic trainees, Montalvo said.
The orders to be a Drill Sergeant however did prove to be rewarding.
“It’s a great honor or a privilege to be able to teach the new recruits coming in the Army the basics,” said Montalvo. “Those soldiers coming in, their family is entrusting you to train for whatever they see in the future.”
“You’ll get a soldier who’s been hand fed his entire life,” said Montalvo. “You will watch them grow from civilian, slowly transitioning to a warfighter.”
Montalvo said it was extremely rewarding on family day and graduation when he would meet parents of recruits that didn’t recognize their son or daughter because the transition was so encompassing.
Montalvo had to develop his study habits for entry into the Audie Murphy Club.
“A lot of studying,” he said. “You must be well versed in everything being a member of that prestigious club.”
Remaining open to possibilities allowed Montalvo to succeed.
“I was a horrible student,” said Montalvo. “That (memorization) came with time.”
All of the accolades he has earned since his enlistment in 1998 have brought him to his new post as first sergeant of Delta Company 1-3.
“The Old Guard has really opened my eyes,” said Montalvo. “The attention to detail in this unit is outstanding.”
Montalvo said he finds an influx of older, more mature soldiers has been joining lately.
Montalvo said the Army is transitioning into more of a profession.
“The soldiers coming in today have the ability to think on their own,” he said. “To think outside the box.”
Montalvo said one of the bigger adjustments he’s had to make is giving out more responsibility to the members of the Old Guard.
“I entrust my young specialists and sergeants to go to the sergeant major of the Army’s house to set up a flag mission,” said Montalvo. “Where if I was in a regular infantry battalion, that may be a tasking for a staff sergeant or a sergeant first class.”
With everything he has accomplished, Montalvo looks at the Old Guard as his career highlight.
“Our mission is high vis (visibility),” said Montalvo. “We’re doing great things for the fallen’s family. We’re giving the proper respect and proper burial.”
Montalvo has been enriched by his ability to keep an open mind and stretch beyond his comfort zone.
“The impact is very good,” Montalvo said. “Going to these courses, bettering myself, my soldiers can see, ‘Hey, First Sergeant has been to this course, lets ask him about it.’”
“My career so far has been a great one for me,” said Montalvo. “I’ve done just about everything that I set out of my own goals.”