After 13 years in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jerry W. Albright, human resources technician, 90th Troop Command, Oklahoma Army National Guard, has used his career to affect change from a higher level.
It wasn’t always an easy road in the military for Albright. There were instances of injustice in his career, but he was motivated to stay in the military and deal with those moments directly by his leadership, who always enforced equality. Without that support, his career in the military might have ended after his initial 6-year enlistment.
“Growing up in East Texas, I saw some stuff that really wasn’t good, and my grandpa drove me to be great at whatever I did because a lot of people paid the price for me to even be here right now,” Albright said. “So, what Black History Month means to me is trying to be great.”
African Americans have fought in every war in which the U.S. has engaged. As a state, Oklahoma has a unique African American military history. After the Civil War, the first African American Soldiers in the state were part of the “Buffalo Soldiers” regiment.
These were the first peacetime all-black regiments in the U.S. Army, and were stationed around Oklahoma at Fort Sill, Fort Supply, Fort Reno and Fort Gibson.
The Buffalo Soldiers helped pursue outlaws and cattle thieves, build and renovate posts and camps, as well as construct thousands of miles of roads and telegraph lines. They were there when the site of Fort Sill was first staked out in Southwestern Oklahoma and helped eject David Payne’s Boomers from Indian Territory several times.
The Soldiers played an important part in controlling Boomers, as well as preventing the “Sooner” participants of the Land Run from entering the territory before the rush officially began. The Buffalo Soldiers’ service overlapped with the creation of the Oklahoma National Guard in 1895. Additionally, members at Fort Reno played a peacekeeping role on the central plains as the territory transitioned to a state.
“I hadn’t seen a lot of minority officers, so I didn’t think it was possible,” said Albright about his initial enlistment. “When I got to the Fires Brigade, I was like ‘Oh, well I can see I can probably make this happen.’”
He started his pursuit in becoming an officer in the Army as a result of his enlistment experience, and found that the role of warrant officer would allow him to affect change while staying specialized in a certain field. Albright said he learned a lot about writing policies and how to make changes “the right way.”
“He was prior enlisted before he became a warrant officer,” said Spc. Crystal Roseman, human resources clerk, 90th Troop Command. “For someone in a leadership position, that is something I really look up to – when they remember where they came from. Those are the traits I would like to keep from him.
‘That is something that I would like to be as well whenever I become a leader. He is inspiring and he does help you move forward. And he takes very good care of us.”
Albright feels strongly about helping his Soldiers move forward. When he was enlisted, a huge frustration for him was it seemed he was having to train himself for his job, rather than be trained on how to do the job by those with more experience. As a leader, he tries to keep his people engaged and trained so they are prepared if they have to deploy as the personnel shop.
With his care in ensuring the professionalism of his Soldiers, Albright advises those in and out of the military who might identify with his story, and are possibly having a hard time striving to succeed, to “embrace the challenge.”
“I got through it knowing at some point I was going to be able to make some changes,” Albright said. “It’s not going to always be 100% easy.”