BY KIYEON LEE
With less than one percent of the United States population currently serving in the active duty military, every member holds high value and respect. From that “less-than-one percent” statistic, an even smaller number has served in an elite infantry group, served numerous wartime deployments, and is an instructor for the future of the United States Army’s officers. Master Sergeant Jeffrey Dennis Winstead fills all these categories and then some.
Raised in the small town of Sidney, Nebraska, MSG Winstead was born May 29, 1974. His education went up to high school in which, at the age of 18, he enlisted into the United States Army. His reason being, when asked, was “I didn’t want to stay in town. I wanted to get out of there and explore around.” MSG Winstead’s reason is not uncommon to hear especially from those that grow up in smaller, rural towns.
His military career, since his start, has shot straight up. He was part of the Infantry branch of the U.S. Army, the ground soldiers and those that go directly to the frontline. In 1995, he had gone through the infamous and arduous Ranger School in Ft. Benning, Georgia and graduated, becoming part of the elite infantry group known as the U.S. Army Rangers. When asked how many combat deployments he served, he answered, “I was in 11 combat deployments from Afghanistan to Iraq and all over.” Army combat deployments are currently nine months in duration.
After coming back from his last deployment in May 2010, the next step in his military career was to become a cadre member of Pacific Lutheran University’s Army ROTC program. A cadre member is defined as an individual whose responsibility is to train future soldiers and officers. Starting in September 2010, MSG Winstead became the Senior Military Instructor in which his role was to take charge of training events and overlook all training operations.
Currently, he has seen through three classes of cadets graduate and commission into 2nd Lieutenants. Under his tutelage, Pacific Lutheran University’s ROTC program has won the General Douglas MacArthur Award, a prestigious award that only eight ROTC programs receive yearly, two times within the past two years.
When asked to describe MSG Winstead in a sentence, 2nd Lieutenant Jonny Helgren said, “He’s a veteran Master Sergeant Ranger that speaks very little, but commands respect when he does.” This is seen even from first-year cadets such as Cadet Andrew Phommavongsay who had these words to say about him, “knowledgeable, calm, funny, ‘monk-like’.” It just goes to show how his level of commitment extends to all cadets in the battalion.
After his first year as Senior Military Instructor at Pacific Lutheran, he also became the instructor for the third-year cadets, MS III’s. MS III Cadet Connor Scott envisions him as the “epitome of the modern day U.S. Army.” As MS III instructor, he focuses much of his efforts onto setting MS III’s up for success.
When asked how much longer he plans on staying at Pacific Lutheran University, he replied, “I’ll be here for one more year and come June 2014, I’ll be gone.” He plans on continuing his education at Pierce Community College attempting to get his bachelor’s degree.
In essence, CDT Scott Hallmann, an MS IV, sums up MSG Winstead in this sentence, “He is a no-nonsense mentor who loves teaching.” He makes instructing and developing cadets his priority and is helping in providing the U.S. Army with its future leaders.