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The Army Lawyer


From Legal Clerks to Paralegal Specialists


A Short History of Enlisted Soldiers in the Corps

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MOS 27D Advanced Individual Training at TJAGSA, circa 2016.

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Today, there are some 3,500 men and women in our Corps who have the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 27D, Paralegal Specialist. Roughly 1,400 are on active duty, about 1,100 are in the Army Reserve, and about as many are in the Army National Guard. The Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGC) relies on these paralegals to support the delivery of legal services throughout the Army. Although there have been uniformed lawyers in the Army since 1775, enlisted personnel were not authorized in the Judge Advocate General’s Department (JAGD)—as the Corps was then called—until 1918. This means that paralegals, and their forerunners, have been an integral part of Army law for 100 years.

This short history begins by looking at the origins of enlisted personnel in the Corps before examining the role of legal clerks, legal specialists, and paralegal specialists in the Army. It discusses the evolution of the MOS for enlisted men and women and the development of legal education and training for them, including the creation of a Legal Clerk Course and Noncommissioned Officers Academy (NCOA). This article then looks at the origin and evolution of court reporters in the Army before discussing the creation of a position for the top enlisted Soldier in the Corps. It finishes by identifying a handful of enlisted Soldiers who served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq before highlighting ten noncommissioned officers of note in Corps history.


Although the JAGD began requesting that enlisted “clerks” be assigned to it in the 1890s, it was not until World War I that the War Department finally assigned enlisted personnel to the JAGD. General Orders No. 27, published by the Army on 22 March 1918, provided in part that:

The enlisted personnel for the Judge Advocate General’s Department, authorized for the period of the existing emergency . . . shall consist of such numbers and grades as may from time to time be authorized by the Secretary of War1 (emphasis added).

Regimental sergeants major and battalion sergeants major, Judge Advocate General’s Department, will be appointed by the Judge Advocate General.2

The enlisted personnel of the Judge Advocate General’s Department may be appointed from the line of the Army or may be obtained directly by voluntary enlistment or draft, and when appointed will be designated in their grades as noncommissioned officers of the Judge Advocate General’s Department, National Army3 (emphasis added).

Note that the language of this General Orders states clearly that “enlisted personnel” would be assigned only as long as the United States was at war (the “existing emergency”); it was contemplated that after hostilities, the JAGD would go back to an officer-only organization. When one remembers, however, that in 1916 the entire JAGD consisted of but thirteen officers, perhaps this makes sense.4 The Army no doubt believed that when the fighting in Europe ceased, the JAGD would be reduced to its pre-war numbers, and would not need enlisted personnel.

Note also that the General Orders provided that the Judge Advocate General (tJAG)5 had the authority—and flexibility—to give the rank of regimental or battalion sergeant major to any man who voluntarily enlisted or was drafted and who wanted to serve in the JAGD.

It should come as no surprise that given the language in General Orders No. 27, tJAG’s 1919 annual report to the War Department disclosed that the majority of the sixty-one enlisted personnel in the JAGD during World War I had been lawyers or court reporters in civilian life prior to volunteering or being drafted. For example, Regimental Sergeant Major Edmond G. Toomey was a Montana lawyer who, after being appointed by tJAG Enoch H. Crowder,6 served as a legal clerk in Vladivostok, Russia, with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), Siberia. From 1919 to 1920, Toomey worked alongside his Montana law partner, Major Albert Galen, who served as the lone judge advocate in the AEF Siberia.7

It is important to remember that the enlisted personnel who served in the JAGD during World War I received no education or training when they joined the Department; everything was learned “on the job training” or “OJT.” This lack of schooling, however, was the norm. After all, there was no Judge Advocate General’s School until 1942; judge advocates also learned military law by osmosis. When clerks like Toomey left active duty at the end of World War I, they were replaced with civilian employees.8

Legal Clerks, Legal Specialists, and Paralegal Specialists

In the 1920s and 1930s, enlisted personnel were sometimes detailed to the JAGD as clerks but this was done on an ad hoc basis. Moreover, these men were not “legal clerks” because a legal clerk MOS did not exist until July 1944, when Technical Manual 12-427 announced MOS 279, Legal Clerk. The duties of the MOS were:

Assists Judge Advocates, Legal Officers, Claims Officers, and Legal Assistance Officers in the performance of their duties. Performs such duties as research in military and civil laws, regulations and other sources of authority; furnishing legal advice in appropriate cases; preparing [court-martial] charges, records of proceedings, orders, opinions, reports, documents, correspondence and other papers required in the conduct of the business of a military legal office; handling the distribution of messages, files, supplies and other matters of office routine. Civilian experience as a lawyer or law clerk required. Knowledge of typing desirable.9

In this April 1958 photograph, Specialist Two Gilbert E. Kaschmeier, a court reporter for the Judge Advocate Section, US Army Garrison, Regional Camp Zama, Japan, demonstrates a "stenomask." With this device, he can record every word and describe every gesture during court or board proceedings, as rapidly as 420 words a minute.

Although the War Department now listed the MOS in official documents, there was still no education or training for the MOS; Soldiers were legal clerks by virtue of their assigned position and learned OJT. By the 1960s, however, the JAGC had developed a five-week, self-paced course that a Soldier studied if he wanted to be a legal clerk. At the end of the self-paced course, the Soldier took an exam and, after obtaining a passing score, was reclassified as MOS 713, Legal Clerk. As a general rule, a Soldier could not reclassify into MOS 713 until he had completed his initial enlistment in his original MOS, although there most likely were exceptions to this rule.10

Creation of the Legal Clerk Course

With the enactment of the Military Justice Act of 1968, and the resulting involvement of judge advocates at special courts-martial when that legislation was implemented in 1969, there was a greatly increased need for legal clerks. The JAGC now recognized that it was no longer practical to rely on reclassification as a method for obtaining legal clerks (who now held MOS 71D). After a Department of the Army manpower study confirmed that there was an urgent need for such personnel, and that this required a MOS-qualifying course for legal clerks, the Corps looked for the best way to create a “Legal Clerk Course.”11

Initially, the Corps planned to establish the legal clerk’s course at The Judge Advocate General’s School, U.S. Army (TJAGSA), in Charlottesville, Virginia. It soon became apparent, however, that the number of enlisted soldiers who would be trained at TJAGSA was more than that institution could handle, “primarily because of its isolation from a military post and its limited facilities on the University of Virginia (UVA) campus.”12 This makes sense when one remembers that TJAGSA was still located on UVA’s main grounds, shared facilities with its law school, and did not have a separate building on North Grounds until 1975.

After discussions with The Adjutant General’s (AG) Corps, and given the perceived similarity between legal clerk duties and those of clerks, typists, and stenographers who held AG MOSs, the Army approved the establishment of a Legal Clerk Course at The Adjutant General’s School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. The first MOS 71D legal clerk instructor reported for duty on 15 November 1971, and he was joined by four more by mid-January 1972. These five instructors spent the first three months of 1972 creating the course, which included selecting tasks to be taught, designing tests, preparing a program of instruction, and preparing instructional material.

The first class of students started on 3 April 1972. The intent of the seven-week, three-day course was to train these men and women “to function as legal clerks at [non-bad conduct discharge] special courts-martial.” The plan was to conduct twenty classes a year, with about forty-five students each. Soldiers received classes on non-judicial punishment (32 hours), pre-trial punishment (31 hours), summary courts-martial (20 hours), special courts-martial (84 hours), administrative board actions and line of duty investigations (28 hours), and claims (12 hours). Given the intent of the course—to qualify men and women to serve as legal clerks at special courts—the Soldiers received only background information on general courts and special courts authorized to adjudge a punitive discharge. The idea was that more experienced MOS 71Ds would work at this level of court and that those Soldiers completing the course at Fort Benjamin Harrison would work exclusively at “straight” or “vanilla” special courts.13 When one considers that the Army tried 18,660 courts-martial in 1972, of which 16,613 were special courts, there was plenty of work for these newly minted legal clerks.14

Note that unlike today, enlisted Soldiers complete basic training and then qualify as MOS 27D, Paralegal Specialist, at Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Lee, Virginia. Soldiers going to the Legal Clerk Course at Fort Benjamin Harrison already were AIT graduates—with most having the MOS 71B10, Clerk Typist. Since they had obtained this MOS at Fort Benjamin, this meant they were going directly from AIT to the Legal Clerk Course. Of course, there were Soldiers reclassifying from other occupational specialties at the Legal Clerk Course, but most Soldiers apparently came to the MOS 71D course after qualifying as MOS 71B. In fact, most students in the Legal Clerk Course were reclassifying from another MOS until the late 1970s.

The next major change in the 71D MOS occurred in June 1984, when Career Management Field (CMF) 71 was revised. Under this revision, “Legal Clerk” became “Legal Specialist” and the Legal Clerk Course became the Legal Specialist Course.

On 1 October 1994, MOS 71D Legal Specialist merged with MOS 71E Court Reporter. The latter had been a stand-alone MOS for many years but the Corps combined the MOSs chiefly to give additional opportunities—and increased promotion possibilities—to court reporters. The latter were now 71Ds with the C5 Additional Skill Identifier, i.e., 71DC5.

In 1991, the Base Realignment and Closure process recommended closing Fort Benjamin Harrison, and the Soldier Support Institute (SSI),15 to which the Adjutant General School now belonged, moved to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. This meant that MOS 71D training went to Fort Jackson, too. All new Soldiers coming into the MOS were trained at Fort Jackson, along with noncommissioned officers in the Corps, who completed their Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course (BNCOC) and Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course (ANCOC) education at the SSI as well. There also were changes to the curriculum with the move to Fort Jackson, as legal specialists received more training on legal assistance, administrative law, and the emerging field of operational law. These new subjects meant more class time, and the MOS 71D course soon expanded to ten weeks and three days.

As the Corps entered a new century, one of the most important developments in the role of enlisted personnel in the Corps occurred with the establishment of “Career Management Field 27 Paralegal Specialist” on 1 October 2001. For the first time in history, the Army recognized enlisted personnel in the Corps as paralegals. The 71D MOS was gone—as were Legal Specialists—and was replaced with the MOS 27D. As judge advocates and legal administrators had MOSs 27A and 270A, respectively, the decision to move enlisted personnel into the same CMF bought them into the “27” series and formally aligned them with officers and warrant officers in the legal field.

Part of the rationale behind this change was a recognition by senior leaders in the Corps that every individual involved in legal operations should be in the same CMF. There was, however, a more fundamental reason for the change: the JAGC no longer needed legal clerks. With the dramatic drop in courts-martial numbers in the 1980s and 1990s, the need for thousands of clerks to record, type, and assemble records of trial disappeared.16 Additionally, the arrival of personal computers in the work place—first desktops and then laptops—meant that every member of the Corps, regardless of rank, began to do his own typing. The days of Army lawyers drafting letters, motions, and other legal documents in long hand on a yellow pad were at an end—another reason for the declining need for clerks. But what the Corps did need was paralegals who could support judge advocates across the full range of legal operations.

In March 2012, the MOS 27D training moved from Fort Jackson to Fort Lee. Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Joseph “Pat” Lister, then the Regimental CSM, spearheaded this initiative, as he believed—as did others in leadership positions in the Corps—that a move to Fort Lee would take advantage of the NCO paralegal expertise at TJAGLCS, where the Noncommissioned Officers Academy (NCOA) had been in operation since 2004.

On 12 March 2012, “J” (Juliet) Company was activated under the 244th Quartermaster Battalion, 23d Quartermaster Brigade.17 It was no accident that the company was designated as “J” Company, or that the Soldiers assigned to the company call themselves the “JAGuars.”18 The first paralegal specialist course at Fort Lee began on 26 March 2012.

Noncommissioned Officer MOS 71D & 27D Paralegal Training

As long as legal clerks and legal specialists were part of CMF 71 “Administration,” it made sense for them to be trained at the SSI at Fort Jackson. But when the Corps’ enlisted personnel became paralegal specialists in CMF 27, there was an increased recognition that the Corps must take more responsibility for the education and training of NCOs, and that the time had come to centralize all officer, warrant officer, and NCO legal training. Since judge advocates and legal administrators were already being taught at TJAGSA, the next logical step was to transfer the NCO courses for MOS 27D from the SSI to TJAGSA.

In November 2002, when the Army Chief of Staff gave “concept approval” to a plan to transform TJAGSA into The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS), an important part of the TJAGLCS concept was to move “NCO legal training” to Charlottesville.

When Major General Thomas J. Romig, then serving as The Judge Advocate General, examined more closely the possibility of moving the BNCOC and ANCOC courses to TJAGSA, it was soon apparent that there were at least three options. First, the Corps could continue to conduct Phase I (Common Core) at Fort Jackson’s SSI, with Phase II (MOS 27D) taught at TJAGSA. Second, Phase I could be taught at Fort Lee (but still under the auspices of SSI), with Phase II at TJAGSA. A third option was to create a stand-alone NCOA at TJAGSA. The first two options would not require the establishment of an NCOA, but it meant that paralegals would remain subject to the policies, direction, and inspections of the SSI. It also meant that BNCOC and ANCOC academic reports and diplomas would be signed by the SSI, NCOA Commandant. Selecting the third option, however, would require the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA) accreditation of a JAG Corps NCOA.

An early proponent of creating a stand-alone NCOA was SGM Howard Metcalf, who served as Sergeant Major of the Corps from 1998 to 2002. Metcalf was convinced that NCO paralegals must be educated alongside judge advocates, legal administrators, and court reporters because a single, shared learning environment would ensure that the Corps was “training” the way we would “fight.” As SGM Cornell Gilmore and CSM Michael Glaze, who followed Metcalf, were no less committed to the idea of bringing NCO education to TJAGSA, a team of judge advocates and paralegals began exploring the best course of action.

In March 2003, Colonel Richard D. Rosen, then serving as TJAGSA Commandant, recommended to TJAG Romig that an NCOA be created in Charlottesville. Major General Romig, convinced that there must be one Regimental home for all members of the Corps, approved this recommendation in May 2003.

Much had to be done before the NCOA could be activated. Members of the NCOA cadre and the TJAGLCS Training Development Department created management plans and standard operating procedures, revised course materials, coordinated training sites, and rehearsed training procedures. On 14 June 2004, the NCOA was activated, with SGM Michael Ray assuming duties as the first Commandant.

The first BNCOC and ANCOC sessions began three months later, in October 2004. In the seven months that followed, the NCOA trained twenty-three senior NCOs and fifty-nine junior NCOs. Central to this early time period was a challenging field training exercise (FTX), which was held at Fort Pickett, Virginia. The FTX served as the culminating event for the students and focused on NCO leadership. A full day of the FTX was devoted to urban combat training and improvised explosive device identification, as these were the two most challenging aspects facing paralegals deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq.

When the USASMA quality assurance team conducted its initial evaluation of the NCOA from 14 to 17 January 2005, they came away impressed with the NCOA’s Small Group Leaders and with every other aspect of the NCOA and TJAGLCS. As a result, the NCOA was awarded full Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) accreditation and recognized as a “Learning Institution of Excellence.” In January 2012, TRADOC again accredited the NCOA as a “Learning Institution of Excellence” (the highest possible accreditation); since that time, the NCOA has continued to maintain this top TRADOC status.

On 2 October 2006, SGM Shannon D. Boyer pinned on Command Sergeant Major insignia and became the first CSM Commandant, another historical “first.” On 1 October 2009, BNCOC and ANCOC became the Advanced Leaders Course (ALC) and Senior Leaders Course (SLC), respectively. Today, the NCOA conducts six ALC classes per year, with each class lasting five weeks and five days. As for SLC, the NCOA holds four classes a year, with each class lasting four weeks and five days.19 Education and training is conducted using the seminar format, which shifts the teaching methodology from “what to think” to “how to think.” Students learn through group participation and assignment as discussion leaders.

Court Reporters

While clerks able to handle legal paperwork efficiently and effectively have always been important in the Corps, court reporters were just as critical to legal operations, especially as courts-martial were the biggest part of judge advocate business for many years.

Under Article 90 of the 1806 Articles of War, “[e]very judge advocate . . . at any general court-martial” was required to “transmit” . . . the original proceedings and sentence of such court-martial to the Secretary of War.20 But the judge advocate, who was prosecuting the case and acting “as counsel for the accused”21 once the trial was underway, did not have time to record the proceedings. This explains why Article 93 provided for an oath to be administered to a “recorder” who swore that he would “accurately and impartially record the proceedings of the court, and the evidence to be given in the case in hearing.”22

Articles 90 and 93, however, did not require that the judge advocate utilize a court reporter. Rather, the law required only that “every court-martial . . . keep a complete and accurate record of its proceedings,”23 with completeness and accuracy left up to the judgment of the judge advocate. Consequently, except in very important cases, the judge advocate typically took some notes in longhand and later transcribed them into a record.

Even when a judge advocate decided that he must employ a “stenographic reporter” to take notes in shorthand, the hiring of this civilian reporter was authorized only for general courts-martial and moneys for this reporter could be expensive.24 Under the 1905 Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), a court reporter was authorized to be paid “$1 an hour for the time occupied by himself” and “10 cents per 100 words for transcribing [his] notes.” This reporter also was entitled to claim “8 cents per mile going to the place of holding the court and $3 per day for expenses.”25 When one remembers that a worker in the “building trades” worked an average of forty-five hours a week and made about fifty cents an hour, pay for a civilian court reporter was considerable.26

In 1908, the Army provided the first explicit authority for enlisted military clerks at courts-martial. The new MCM authorized a commanding officer to “detail, when necessary, a suitable enlisted man as clerk to assist the judge advocate of a general court-martial, or military commission, or the recorder of a court of inquiry.” (emphasis added). Such assistance did not necessarily mean that the Soldier would serve as a court reporter and this explains why the 1908 MCM also provides for the hiring of a civilian court reporter.

But there is no doubt that enlisted personnel were serving as shorthand court reporters in the early 1900s. In fact, Congress enacted legislation in August 1912 that expressly permitted “enlisted men [to] be detailed to serve as stenographic reporters for general courts-martial”27 and an opinion published that same year in The Digest of Opinions of the Judge Advocate General acknowledged that at least one enlisted Soldier had served as a shorthand reporter in a legal proceeding.28 Interestingly, a Soldier detailed as a court reporter received “extra pay at the rate of not exceeding five cents for each one hundred words taken in shorthand and transcribed.”29 This was a recognition by the Army that stenographic skills did not fall into the category of general clerical skills, and consequently were entitled to extra pay. This extra compensation certainly encouraged a Soldier with shorthand skills to “swear to faithfully perform the duties of reporter.”30

As for the record itself, there was no requirement that witness testimony be verbatim. Rather, the court reporter need only produce an “accurate” record, with the testimony of each witness be “as nearly as possible in his own language.”31 Unlike today, however, the record of each day’s proceedings had to be completed at the end of the day’s court session, since the president of the court, and the judge advocate, had to authenticate the record, by “affixing” their “signature to each day’s proceedings.”32

After the War Department authorized the assignment of enlisted Soldiers to the JAGD in 1918, there were almost certainly some court reporters among those Soldiers who received appointments from tJAG Crowder as regimental or battalion SGMs. But just as the Army did not yet have legal clerks, there also still was not a system of dedicated court reporters.

After World War I, the JAGD continued to use both military and civilian court-reporters in legal proceedings. The 1920 MCM, authorized the detailing of Army field clerks as court reporters at general courts-martial, but those field clerks could no longer receive extra pay for working as reporters. But if a Soldier had shorthand skills and was not a field clerk, he could collect extra pay at the rate of five cents for each 100 words taken in shorthand and transcribed.33

The 1920 MCM also continued time limits for completing a record of trial, which had first appeared in the 1917 MCM. A court reporter was required “to furnish the type-written record of the proceedings of each session of the court . . . not later than twenty-four hours after adjournment of each session of the court.” Additionally, the complete record of trial was to “be finished, indexed, bound and ready for authentication not later than forty-eight hours after completion of the trial proceedings.”34 These time limits stand in contrast to what is expected of a court reporter today.

In 1950, when Congress enacted a new military criminal legal code that was uniformly applicable to all the services, it provided statutory authorization for the detailing of a court reporter to a court-martial. But it was no longer the judge advocate or the president of the court-martial who hired or appointed a court reporter. Rather, Article 28, UCMJ, provided that “qualified court reporters” could be detailed (military) or employed (civilians) by the court-martial convening authority.35

This requirement for “qualified” reporters meant increased court reporter education, training and professional development. Court reporters had recorded trial proceedings using stenographic machines in the 1940s and 1950s, but moved into a new era in January 1955, when the first class in “electronic court reporting for enlisted members of the Army” began at TJAGSA.36 The class consisted of eighteen Soldiers from sixteen general court-martial jurisdictions in the continental United States.

The goal of the six-week course was to “give training in all phases of court reporting.”37 The first two weeks were devoted to study and practice on the “facemask device” and “recorder-reproducer” so that a court reporter could take “court-martial proceedings at more than 200 words per minute.”38 The last four weeks trained court reporters in the proper assembly of records of trial.39

On 1 November 1959, court reporter training moved from TJAGSA to the U.S. Naval Justice School, Newport, Rhode Island. The first Army court reporters graduated there on 4 December 1959. Court reporter education and training for soldiers remained in Rhode Island for the next forty years; the court reporter course moved back to TJAGSA during the 1999 academic year.40

Today, the Legal Administrator and Paralegal Studies Department, TJAGLCS, is responsible for all court reporter training. This includes instruction on court reporting recording and playback equipment, and software usage, grammar, verbatim transcription, and record of trial assembly.41

Three courses are offered: a seven-week “basic” court reporter course (held three times a year); a two-week “advanced” course (held once a year); and a one-week “senior” course (held once a year). The seven week course focuses on “essential redictation speech recognition” training. Classes range from automation, typing, and grammar review to closed-mask and open headset style reporting, and speech recognition training proficiency. There also is instruction on assembling records of trial, both verbatim and summarized. As a general rule, only Soldiers with the rank of specialist (E-4) through staff sergeant (E-6) are eligible; other ranks wanting to attend the instruction are approved on a case-by-case basis. As for the advanced and senior court reporter courses, they focus on significant changes and new developments in court reporting.

Court reporters have been a part of military justice and the Army from the beginning. As long as courts-martial are part of the Army, the need for men and women to accurately and faithfully record legal proceedings will remain. As an aside, court reporters have done well in the Corps: Carlo Roquemore, who served as Regimental SGM from 1988 to 1992, was a court reporter, and Joseph “Pat” Lister was the first court reporter in history to wear CSM rank; he served as the Regimental CSM from 2013 to 2017.

Sergeant Major John H. Nolan, first SGM of the Corps.

Establishment of Sergeant Major of the Corps

On 6 December 1979, the Army approved a “Senior Staff Noncommissioned Officer” position in OTJAG. Major General Alton B. Harvey, who was then serving as TJAG, sent out a letter to major commands the following day requesting nominations. Based on the response to his call for nominations, TJAG Harvey selected SGM John H. Nolan, who was then serving at the Eighth U.S. Army in Korea. Nolan assumed his duties as the first Corps SGM in the Pentagon in May 1980.

In 1986, after the Army adopted the regimental system, and the JAGC obtained Regimental status, the Senior Staff NCO position was re-designated as Regimental SGM, with an effective date of 29 July 1986, the 211th anniversary of the appointment of William Tudor as the first Judge Advocate General. In October 2006, with the appointment of SGM Mike Glaze to CSM, the position became the Regimental Command Sergeant Major of the Corps.

The following have served as the top enlisted Soldier in the Corps since 1980: John Nolan (1980–83); Walter T. Cybart (1983–85); Gunther M. Nothnagel (1985–86); Dwight L. Lanford (1986–88), Carlo Roquemore (1988–92); John Nicolai (1992–94); Jeffrey A. Todd (1994–98); Howard Metcalf (1998–2002); Cornell W. Gilmore (2002–03); Michael Glaze (2004–09); Troy Tyler (2009–13); Joseph P. Lister (2013–17); Osvaldo Martinez Jr. (2017–present).

Legal Clerks in Vietnam and Paralegals in Afghanistan and Iraq

Enlisted Soldiers in our Corps have always deployed with judge advocates and legal administrators on military operations to faraway locations—as indicated by Regimental Sergeant Major Toomey’s deployment to Siberia in 1918.

Hundreds of MOS 71D legal clerks served in Vietnam. While their numbers were comparatively small during the era when the American presence from 1959 to 1963 was a Military Assistance Advisory Group, the arrival of the 173d Airborne Brigade in May 1965 was the beginning of direct U.S. intervention, a greatly increased judge advocate and legal clerk presence. While all 71Ds typed and assembled records of trial and prepared other legal documents, the hallmark of their service was that they did more than supporting legal operations. At the 101st Airborne Division, for example, then twenty-six year old Specialist Six Gunther M. Nothnagel served at “Camp Eagle” from December 1967 to December 1968. Nothnagel had enlisted in 1962 and by 1967 was a court reporter. In addition to recording general courts-martial proceedings, Nothnagel also pulled night perimeter guard duty and helped in the construction of a bunker for protection against Viet Cong mortar and rocket attacks.

Things were no different for MOS 27D paralegal specialists some forty years later. In Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in December 2005, then Sergeant First Class Kevin Henderson, a paralegal specialist, served as a convoy commander providing security for a United Arab Emirates special forces unit while that unit provided humanitarian assistance to local villagers. But paralegal Soldiers performing convoy duty was not that unusual. In Iraq the following year, then Private First Class Krista Bullard was travelling in a convoy from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait to Baghdad, Iraq. She had recently qualified on the .50 caliber machine gun and had volunteered to be a gunner on the convoy. When the convoy was attacked by Iraqi insurgents, Bullard returned fire with the .50 caliber. She subsequently was awarded the Combat Action Badge (CAB) for having personally engaged the enemy in combat. Bullard most likely is the first MOS 27D female to receive the CAB.

Another paralegal specialist whose work took her well out of typical MOS 27D duties was then Sergeant (SGT) Elizabeth “Elli” Holt, who was the NCO-in-Charge of a “Lioness Team” in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006. This was an all-female team of Soldiers that accompanied combat units on patrol and conducted searches of Iraqi civilian females when clearing buildings and other structures. At one point in October 2006, SGT Holt and her team cleared 3,000 buildings in thirteen hours—a tough mission made more difficult because they were subject to sniper fire.

A handful of MOS 27Ds have given their lives in the service of our Corps and our Army. Regimental SGM Cornell W. Gilmore was killed in action in Iraq in 2003 when the helicopter in which he was a passenger was shot down over Tikrit. Sergeant Michael J. Merila died from injuries received from an improvised explosive device (IED) in Iraq the following year. Corporal (CPL) Coty J. Phelps also died from injuries received from an IED in Iraq in 2007, and CPL Sascha Struble was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2005. They are honored with stained glass windows in TJAGLCS’s Hall of Heroes.

Some Legal Clerk, Legal Specialist, Paralegal, and Court Reporter NCOs of Note

While thousands and thousands of men and women have served as enlisted Soldiers in our Corps, here are ten NCOs of note, in alphabetical order.

Frances Black. Frances Lorene Black is the first African American female to reach the rank of SGM in the Corps. Born in Alabama, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps in 1969 and served in Vietnam as an MOS 71B Clerk Typist. In 1972, she completed the Legal Clerk Course at Fort Benjamin Harrison and then served in a variety of assignments, including: 21st Support Command (Germany), Fort McClellan, Fort Jackson, Fort Gillem, Fort Sheridan, Fort Sam Houston, and the Pentagon. She retired from active duty in 1995.

Eric L. Coggins. Born in 1973, Eric L. Coggins enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school in 1991. He subsequently volunteered for airborne training and, after earning his parachutists wings, served at Fort Bragg. Coggins was then assigned to the 2d Infantry Division at Camp Casey, Korea, where he demonstrated such outstanding abilities that he was chosen to be the noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of a brigade legal office. Sergeant Coggins was serving in Kuwait when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He died in 1996, at the age of twenty-three. In 1998, TJAG Walter B. Huffman established the SGT Eric L. Coggins Award for Excellence.42

Karla U.B. Frank. Born in Berlin, Germany, Karla Frank enlisted in 1974. In 1980, she was serving as a MOS 71B, Clerk Typist, in the 1st Infantry Division in Germany when she obtained a high cut off score for promotion to specialist six (E-6). When she learned that there was no E-6 slot for a MOS 71B, she took an MOS 71D, Legal Clerk, opening. Frank subsequently served at the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker and at U.S. Army Personnel Command, Alexandria, Virginia. On 1 April 1989, she was promoted to SGM—the first active duty female to reach the top enlisted rank in the Corps. Sergeant Major Frank retired in 1994.

Sergeant Major Cornell Gilmore, killed in action in Iraq, 2003.

Cornell W. Gilmore. Born in 1957, Cornell W. Gilmore enlisted in the Army in 1981 after graduating from the University of Maryland. He qualified as a Legal Specialist in 1982 and then served in a variety of assignments and locations, including: 1st Armored Division (Germany), 3d Infantry Division (Germany), 25th Infantry Division (Hawaii) and I Corps (Washington). In 2003, he was serving as the Regimental SGM of the Corps and was killed in action when the helicopter in which he was a passenger was shot down by a missile or rocket propelled grenade over Tikrit, Iraq. Gilmore was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, which makes him the most highly decorated paralegal specialist in history.

Michael W. Glaze. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1960, Mike Glaze enlisted in 1977 and qualified as a legal specialist the following year. He subsequently served multiple tours at Fort Bragg (XVIII Airborne Corps, Special Operations Command), as well as overseas in Kuwait. Glaze was selected as the 10th Regimental SGM of the Corps in 2004 and made history two years later when he was laterally appointed to CSM, the first paralegal specialist in history to hold that rank. Command Sergeant Major Glaze also was the first enlisted Soldier to have more than thirty years in the 71D/27D MOS.

Lorri M. Jenkins. After enlisting in 1976, Lorri Jenkins (then Lorri Greenly) completed a self-paced course as a clerk typist and earned MOS 71B. After a tour of duty in Germany, then Specialist Four Jenkins attended the Legal Clerk Course at Fort Benjamin Harrison and, after earning MOS 71D, was promoted to sergeant. From 1988 to 1990, then SSG Jenkins was an instructor at the Legal Specialist Course and earned honors as Instructor of the Year for the entire Adjutant General’s School at Fort Benjamin Harrison. She was the first legal specialist to earn the honor; other MOS 71Ds had won Instructor of the Quarter, but not Instructor of the Year.

In 1993, Jenkins was selected by Regimental SGM Nicolai to be the Director of Judge Advocate Recruiting and Placement Services. In this position, she helped legal specialists returning to civilian life as the result of the Army’s post-Cold War reduction-in-force. After retiring from the Regular Army as a master sergeant (MSG), she served as the Administrative Assistant to the Regimental CSM from May 2006 to September 2018.

Howard Metcalf. After enlisting in 1969, Howard Metcalf served as an infantryman in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971. After a brief tour in Korea, he left active duty and returned to civilian life. In 1977, Metcalf returned to the Army, qualified as a MOS 71D, Legal Specialist and resumed his career as a Soldier. He subsequently served three more tours of duty in Korea, and one in Germany. In 1997, SGM Metcalf was appointed as the eighth SGM of the Corps and, while serving in that position, played a key role in the creation of the Noncommissioned Officers Academy at TJAGLCS. Metcalf retired in 2002.

John H. Nolan. Born in Alabama in 1935, John Henry Nolan enlisted in 1953 and completed MOS training as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic. In 1967, he completed Officer Candidate School as was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant. Nolan then deployed to Vietnam, where he served a twelve-month tour and was wounded in action. In 1973, now Captain Nolan was subject to a Reduction in Force and agreed to return to the enlisted ranks as a MSG. Unable to return to Infantry Branch because of Vietnam-related injuries, Nolan selected MOS 71D as his new specialty. He was serving as a SGM at U.S. Eighth Army in Korea when selected to be the first Sergeant Major of the Corps in 1979. Nolan served in this position until retiring in 1983.

John A. Nicolai. Born in North Dakota in 1946, John A. Nicolai enlisted in the Army in 1964 and completed MOS training as a medical corpsman. After a break in service from 1968 to 1970, he reenlisted and then reclassified as a MOS 71D legal clerk in 1974. He served as the Chief Legal NCO, 8th Infantry Division, Germany, and Chief Legal NCO, I Corps and Fort Lewis, before assuming duties as SGM of the Corps in 1992. After his death in 2009, the Corps established an annual lecture delivered at TJAGLCS in his honor: the John A. Nicolai Leadership Lecture.

Tae Sture. Born in Korea in 1949 and adopted by an Air Force officer and his wife during the Korean War, Tae K. Sture enlisted in the Army in 1968 and retired in 1991. He is the first paralegal specialist in history to attain the rank of SGM and then, after retiring from active duty, graduate from law school and become a licensed attorney.

Sture began his Army career as an infantryman and served a tour of duty in Vietnam, where he provided security for convoys and also served a legal clerk. After returning from Southeast Asia, Sture served in a variety of locations, including Germany (Berlin), Alaska, and Korea. After retiring from active duty, he worked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as an investigator, supervisory team leader and mediator. He left the EEOC to open his own legal practice after earning his Juris Doctor from Indiana University. Since 2005, his practice has focused on employment law matters for individuals and small businesses. Sergeant Major (retired) Sture joined with other retired Army paralegals to establish the Retired JAG NCO Association, and served as its first president.43

As this brief Lore of the Corps article shows, the history of enlisted Soldiers in the Corps over the last one-hundred years is a rich and varied one, with the key event being the transformation of the MOS from legal clerk to paralegal specialist as the nature of the Corps’ legal practice changed over the last twenty-five years. As MOS 27D Soldiers begin their second century of service in the Army and our Corps, there are certain to be more changes ahead. What also is certain is that paralegal specialists will continue to be valued members of the JAGC Regiment. TAL


Mr. Borch is the Regimental Historian and Archivist.


1. War Dep’t, Gen. Orders No. 27 (22 Mar. 1918), para. XII.1.

2. Id. para. XII, 2.

3. Id. para. XII, 3.

4. Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Army, The Army Lawyer: A History of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, 1775–1975, at 107 (1975).

5. It was the Judge Advocate General until 1924, when the War Department designated the position as The Judge Advocate General. Id. at 139.

6. Enoch H. Crowder was the first tJAG to wear two stars, and he served as the Army’s top lawyer from 1911 to 1923. For a biography of Crowder, see David A. Lockmiller, Enoch H. Crowder: Soldier, Lawyer and Statesman (1955). See also Fred L. Borch, The Greatest Judge Advocate in History? The Extraordinary Life of Major General Enoch H. Crowder (1859–1932), Army Law., May 2012, at 1–3.

7. Fred L. Borch, Bolsheviks, Polar Bears, and Military Law, Prologue, Fall 1998, at 181–91.

8. Judge Advocate General’s Department, Annual Report to the Secretary of War, 1919.

9. War Department, Technical Manual 12-427, Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel (12 Jul. 1944).

10. Over the years, the legal clerk/legal specialist/paralegal specialist MOS was renumbered as the Army renumbered MOSs in other enlisted career fields. MOS 279 was redesignated as MOS 713; it was latter redesignated as MOS 71D before becoming today’s MOS 27D.

11. Bland J. Schreiber, The Legal Clerk’s Course, Army Law., Aug. 1972, at 1.

12. Id.

13. Id. In the jargon of the era, any special court that was not empowered to adjudge a punitive discharge was called a “straight” or “vanilla” special. That meant that the maximum punishment was six months confinement at hard labor, forfeiture of two-thirds pay for six months, and reduction to the lowest enlisted grade (E-1).

14. Email from John H. Taitt, Deputy Clerk of Court, U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, to Fred Borch, Regimental Historian, Jan. 29, 2019, 10:36 AM (on file with author). Compare these case numbers to today’s court-martial numbers: in 2018, the Army tried fewer than 500 courts-martial, general and special combined.

15. SSI History, Soldier Support Institute, https://www.ssi.army.mil/Historian/default.htm (last visited Feb. 23 2019).

16. While the Army tried more than 62,000 courts-martial in 1969 (of which 59,500 were special courts), and 18,600 courts in 1972, it tried only 1,132 cases in 2001.

17. On 16 December 2013, Juliet Company realigned under the 263d Quartermaster Battalion, 23d Quartermaster Brigade.

18. Email from Joseph P. Lister to Fred L. Borch (Jan. 30, 2019, 11:36 AM) (on file with author).

19. Email from First Sergeant Charlene M. Crisp to Fred L. Borch (Feb. 21, 2019, 3:35 PM) (on file with author).

20. Article 90, Articles of War, 1806.

21. Article 69, Articles of War, 1806.

22. Article 93, Articles of War, 1806.

23. William Winthrop, Military Law and Precedents 502 (1920).

24. A judge advocate who wanted a court reporter would have to hire a civilian; there simply were no enlisted personnel in the Army who could take notes in shorthand.

25. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States 26 (1905).

26. Facts and Figures, Income and Prices 1900–1999, U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany, http://usa.usembassy.de/etexts/his/e_prices1.htm (last visited Feb. 11, 2016).

27. Act of August 24, 1912, 37 Stat. 575.

28. Judge Advocate General’s Department, The Digest of Opinions of The Judge Advocate General233 (1917). The issue was whether an “enlisted man at a post . . . employed as a stenographic reporter of a board appointed to examine into . . . the mental status of a prisoner” could be paid “for this extra service.” While the Judge Advocate General determined that there was no legal authority to pay for this stenographic reporting, the import of this opinion is that (1) there were soldiers who had the skills to serve as stenographic reporters and (2) that such shorthand reporters were recording legal proceedings.

29. Act of August 24, 1912, 37 Stat. 575.

30. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States 30 (1908).

31. Id. at 62.

32. Id. at 61.

33. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States paras. 113, 114 (1920).

34. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States para. 112 (1917); Manual for Courts-Martial para. 116 (1920).

35. 10 U.S.C. § 828 (1950).

36. First Enlisted Men Training as Court Martial Reporters, Army Times, Jan. 29, 1955, at 8.

37. Id.

38. Id.

39. Id.

40. Annual Bulletin, TJAGSA, 2000–2001, at 3.

41. https://www.jagcnet2.army.mil/Sites/tjaglcs.nsf/homeContent.xsp?open&documentId=6C6219E3864390AC85257D270041F2B5 (last visited Feb. 12, 2016).

42. For more on the Coggins award, see “For Excellence” as a Junior Paralegal Specialist/Noncommissioned Officer: The History of the Sergeant Eric L. Coggins award, Lore of the Corps 165 (2018).

43. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tae-sture-5747534/ (last visited Feb. 4 2019). Oral History, Tae K. Sture, Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, April 2009. Today, the Retired JAG NCO Association is known as the Judge Advocate General’s Association of Legal Paraprofessionals (JAGALP). For more on JAGALP, see https://jag3saolp.wildapricot.org/History (last visited Feb. 23 2019).