• 40th MP Bn. hosts cadence calling contest

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    “Sound-off, 1-2. Sound off, 3-4. Cadence count, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4.”
    Known as the “Duckworth Chant,” above is the first recorded cadence call in U.S. Army history, which was led by Pvt. Willie Duckworth in 1944.
    Command Sgt. Maj. Veronica Knapp, 40th Military Police Battalion (Detention), spoke of this cadence during her opening remarks at the 40th MP Battalion (Detention) Cadence Calling Competition May 24 outside the company operations facilities.
    “The company was returning from a long march through rough terrain and a chant broke the stillness of the night. Private Duckworth was singing to build up the spirit of his comrades,” Knapp said. “It was not long before the rhythm was spread throughout the ranks. Weary soldiers started picking up their step and singing along. The company began lifting their heads up. They were smiling and they no longer seemed tired. It was tremendous for morale and enabled flawless drill and troop precision.”
    Later, Duckworth helped compose a series of verses to be used as a marching cadence that became known as “Sound Off,” Knapp said.
    “The cadences spread throughout the military force and greatly contributed to esprit de corps,” Knapp said. “Cadence not only keeps soldiers in step, but it motivates them. (It) is just a small part of the Army history and traditions, but it’s become a lost art.”
    “Before the Army was modular, it had limited transportation assets,” she said. “The soldiers moved everywhere by foot. Times have changed and now units no longer march and formation runs are few and far between. Today, I’m hoping to keep the tradition alive.”
    The competition had five categories including junior enlisted soldier, noncommissioned officer, senior NCO/former drill sergeant, civilian and retiree. Competitor had three minutes to call as many cadences — marching or running — as they could. They were judged on uniqueness of the cadence by 1st Sgt. Edward Cartwright, 526th MP Company, 40th, and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Hansen; rhyme and rhythm by 1st Sgt. Rex Bailey, 291st MP Company, 40th, and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Wallace; voice control by 1st Sgt. Tabitha Hernandez, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks; voice inflection by retired Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Baker and 1st Sgt. Mallory Niese-Morrow, HHC, 40th; and appropriateness and timing by Command Sgt. Maj. William Ramsey, 15th MP Brigade, and 1st Sgt. Jarrod Phillips, 256th MP Company, 40th. Competitors were given a score of one through five per category for a possible 30 points. Winners each received a trophy plus a coin from 15th MP Brigade Commander Col. Dawn Hilton.
    Overall, eight junior soldiers, eight NCOs, three senior NCOs, two civilians and one retiree competed.
    Page 2 of 2 - “You have to put in the work to win,” Knapp said. “Participants will get recognized for their work, soldiers will get ideas to make cadences of their own and I am hoping the community will earn a new respect for soldiers, will want to get better or inspire others to excel.”
    The junior enlisted winner was Pfc. Brittany Smith, HHC, 40th; the NCO winner was Sgt. Trevor McGee, 526th MP Company, 40th; the senior NCO/former drill sergeant winner was Sgt. 1st Class Aimee Yasin, 291st MP Company, 40th; the civilian winner was 9-year-old Mahsiya Langlois; the retiree winner was Baker; Yasin and Langlois both received perfect scores.
    McGee said he felt it was important to compete.
    “Cadence is actually one of the things I hold near and dear,” McGee said. “It’s not necessarily for the parading event. It’s more the esprit de corps and what it represents.”
    “It’s the idea of being soldiers,” he said. “It helps to hold the Army values. It gets instilled within the words of each individual cadence.”
    Langlois said she decided to compete because she likes being a part of things.
    “This is my first trophy. I’ve only had two medals,” she said. “It’s cool, especially since it’s from the Army.”
    Langlois is the daughter of Staff Sgt. Michael Langlois, HHC, 40th, and Army Guard Reserve Sgt. Nakima Langlois, 603rd MP Company in Belton, Mo.
    Baker, who also signed up later in the competition, said it was fun to call a cadence again.
    “I’m here to support the battalion and brigade, so it was definitely worth putting myself out there if everybody else was going to do it,” he said. “You lead from the front, and if you don’t do it, no one else is going to do it.
    “This is an opportunity to show how effective this can be and raise the esprit de corps for units,” he said.
    Knapp said she had several hopes for the outcome of the competition.
    “I hope that this event instills a feeling of pride and fellowship with a friendly competition (and) that it inspires others to improve their skills and just plain motivates you,” she said.
    “I guarantee we’ll all be singing cadence out of the blue for the next couple of days, because once it’s in your head, it’s hard to get out.”
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