Story by SSG Shameeka Stanley on 02/21/2019U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James T. Lee, a signals collection analyst, assigned to Headquarters Operations Company (HOC), 715th Military Intelligence Battalion, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade-Theater (MIB-T), is named the Brigade's Vanguard of the Month for February 2019.
Born and raised in Washington D.C., Lee learned at a young age what it means to be a leader and part of a team. Inspired by those who paved the way and supported him throughout his adolescent years and into adulthood, Lee was determined to keep the cycle going by not only training and mentoring Soldiers but serving in the community as well. Lee's passion and "can do" attitude exude a lasting impact on everyone he comes in contact with. He exemplifies great leadership and selfless service.
Fresh out of High School and into college, Lee was ready to embark on a new journey in his career but life had other plans for him. He was enrolled in college on partial scholarships and was concerned about how he was going to pay for college. That is when he decided to join the U.S. Army in 2001. Lee attended Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and became a cannon crewmember (13B).
"My cousin joined [the Army] prior to me and I had a few scholarships but it was partial scholarships so I was worried about how I was going to pay for the rest of college," said Lee. "Then I thought I can do this for a few years then go back and finish school. But then when I joined and starting enjoying it, it became my passion. So here I am now 17 years later."
Lee's first assignment as a cannon crewmember was at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Although he was technically and tactfully proficient in his new skill set and became one of the unit's subject matter experts, Lee sought other career opportunities and decided to change his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) to become a signals collection analyst.
Lee continued to work hard and allow his passion for his job to take him to higher levels in his career. He has held many positions and leadership roles to include but not limited to squad leader, platoon sergeant, Equal Opportunity Leader (EOL), Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) analytical support to military operations, and security watch officer team lead. Lee currently serves as the Chief of Security Operations Center for the National Security Agency/Central Security Services-Hawaii (NSA/CSS-Hawaii).
As a husband, a father of three, and all that he does to support the unit's mission and NSA/CSS-Hawaii, Lee's life and career is encompassed by the role models and leaders who have been influential in his life long before he joined the Army.
"I learned different types of leadership styles," said Lee. "It's so many things that I took away from them, that has molded me into the person that I am now. I love the fact that I can affect the warfighter in so many different ways by not necessarily being out there in the field."
On his off-duty time, Lee selflessly dedicates himself to giving back to the military community and the local community through volunteering as a coach for youth sports and supporting those that are in need. While stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland, Lee volunteered as a high school softball and football coach, and mentored the youth at the Respect and Honor Academy through sports and life skills.
Lee played sports for most of his life. He has been able to apply his leadership attributes and coaching skills to influence Soldiers and youth while sharing his personal story and experiences with them.
"One thing that I realize is that I looked up to a lot of coaches that I've dealt with in the past," said the D.C. native. "I really looked up to them because they not only gave up their free time, they gave a different mindset to the kids by showing them they are willing to go the extra mile."
In 2016, Lee was awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (MOVSM) for outstanding volunteer community service. That same year he received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award through a nomination by his unit's Family Readiness Group (FRG).
Living the Army Values both on and off duty is what it is all about. Lee continues to encourage Soldiers to give back to the community and volunteer to make a difference in someone's life. No matter what you do as a leader, the outcome will affect the next person some way or another. It could either have a positive impact or a negative impact. The choice is yours.
Since his arrival to the unit in 2017, Lee continues to volunteer his time coaching track and field, football, soccer and baseball for the Child Youth Sports Program on Schofield Barracks. He also serves as the junior varsity football assistant coach at Leilehua High School, on Oahu. With his leadership contributions and guidance, his team finished the season with an undefeated record and won the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division Championship in 2018.
Lee is looking forward to receiving his Bachelor's degree in Computer Networks and Cybersecurity in 2020 and transitioning into other career broadening opportunities in the Army.
"You have to have a passion for everything that you do," said Lee. "A lot of times you're not going to get the outcome that you want but if you have passion, you can continue to work on it. That's one thing that I can say over the years as a coach, mentor and father you're not perfect and you're going to make mistakes, but then you make that mistake, learn from it and continue to use your passion to get there."