Baumholder Soldier recognized as best in Army

by Sgt. 1st Class Randall Jackson
30th Medical Command Public Affairs

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Before the Army, Sgt. Denicio Diaz worked some very long days to support his young family.

Each morning, he’d wake at sunrise for his shift at a grocery store, followed by a second job in airport retail. The Chicago native did all he could to support his infant son and fiancee.

Coming home at midnight, he’d say a few words to his soon-to-be-bride before falling asleep. For 18 months, Diaz worked six days a week, but never made enough to offer his family what he felt they deserved. Each day was the same grueling routine, each week a struggle that got him nowhere.

His brother had become a Soldier, inspiring Diaz to look into joining the service. In June 2008, he met with an Army recruiter.

“I never thought I could be a Soldier,” Diaz said. “My mindset of a Soldier was of an invincible human who couldn’t be harmed, couldn’t be touched.”

Diaz joined the field artillery. Before leaving for basic training, he married, so his wife and son could be with him wherever the Army posted him. While serving as an artilleryman, leaders encouraged Diaz to change jobs and follow what he now considers his true calling. He transferred to the Adjutant General Corps as a human resources specialist.

“There’s one thing I learned as an artilleryman: Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Diaz said. “There’s always a resource. Behind that resource is a human resources specialist.”

Now assigned to the Baumholder-based 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, Diaz supports the personnel needs of 350 fellow Soldiers. Earlier this year, U.S. Army Europe recognized Diaz as the command’s 2012 Human Resources Soldier of the Year.

On May 31, at a stateside ceremony, Diaz received an even greater recognition for his military efforts — the Sgt. Maj. Larry L. Strickland Medal for Distinguished Achievement, an Army-level award for Soldiers of the Adjutant General’s Corps.

“He’s definitely a huge asset to the battalion,” said 1st Lt. Elisabeth Glass, the officer in charge of the personnel section. “He actually taught me a lot of what I know about human resources.”

Now, Diaz is at another crossroads: re-enlist and hopefully move to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, or leave the Army to become a teacher and role model through the troops to teachers program. Either way, he plans to continue to provide quality customer service to the Army’s most important resource — its Soldiers.

“The Army has allowed me to become not just a leader, but also a teacher, not just to my fellow Soldiers, but also to the kids back home who need a role model,” Diaz said. “Regardless of what I do, I still want to keep human resources in my future. Human resources all the way.”