Citizen-Soldier leads cream of the crop at Cold Steel II

By Spc. Noel Williams | U.S. Army Reserve Command | Nov. 27, 2017

FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. — A cool breeze sweeps through the air of a bright, sunny day. Soldiers line up against long horizontal white tables. Their training at Operation Cold Steel II has come to an end. The Soldiers put their protective masks, advanced combat helmets and tactical vests on to the table to turn into supply. Overseeing these Soldiers is U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Richard Midkiff.

At Task Force Coyote, Operation Cold Steel II, Midkiff, chalk liaison noncommissioned officer, with the 2nd Battalion 379th Regiment, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, is the go-to for Soldiers coming to train on crew-served weapons. As a chalk NCO, Midkiff ensures Soldiers arrive as well as assisting them with the turn-in and cleaning of issued gear.

Midkiff's civilian career, and military profession, are complete opposites, according to Midkiff. As a citizen-Soldier he is a police officer and a professor, which gives him an appreciation, while in his military uniform, for the young Soldiers, whom he calls the cream of the crop.

In the civilian world, Midkiff is a police officer at the Garland County sheriff's department, as well as a law professor at College of the Ouachitas in Malvern, Arkansas.

"Being a police officer, I deal with inmates and criminals, and I go from that to the cream of the crop, which is the United States military," said Midkiff. "These young Soldiers are here training to go fight, and they know that some of them might come back with a flag draped over them; which is something that at my other job they never think about , they are thinking about their next drug fix or the next place they're going to rob. So, this is the cream of the crop. This is America's best."

Midkiff, who is currently working toward his doctorate's degree, said when he first joined the military at 17, he had little to no education.

"I came in the military with little education, with a ninth-grade education,” said Midkiff. "So now, here, years later, I'm working on my doctorate."

He previously graduated with his second master's degree, May 13, 2017, from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia.

President Donald Trump was the guest speaker at Midkiff's graduation.

Midkiff felt encouraged by the speech the president gave. Not only was he able to apply the words of the president to his personal educational struggles, but to his careers as well.

"(Trump said) when people say you can't do it, take it as a challenge and do it. Don't let anybody say you can't do it," said Midkiff, who uses this quote to push himself further through hard times. "There will be times when people say you cant', but take it as something you can."