The history of the JAGALP (formerly the JAG NCO Association), as told by SGM(R) Tae Sture, with supplemental information provided by MSG(R) Rick Cox

The idea of a JAG NCO Association actually arose where most great ideas are formed - over a beer at bar with a couple of old guys telling lies and war stories.

Actually, me (SGM(R) Tae Sture), SGM Bobbie Giddens (Giddens) and LTC Tom Pyrz met at a bar outside of Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN (Ft. Harrison) to discuss the idea.  We met outside of Ft. Harrison in 1990 because we did not want to run afoul of any rules against private organizations meeting on a military installation. 

During that meeting, we discussed the possibility of forming an Association of Retired JAG NCOs as a means of: promoting camaraderie of Retired JAG NCOs; renewing friendships; swapping war stories; contributing in some fashion to the development and education at Active Duty JAG Soldiers; and promoting a separate identity for the JAG NCO. We spoke of purchasing the JAG Regimental crest for our AIT graduates and then “pinning” them in a formal ceremony so they would understand and appreciate the significance of becoming a member of the JAG Regiment. We spoke of sharing with active duty senior JAG NCOs, who were about to retire, our collective experiences in transitioning to retired life. We spoke of recognizing outstanding accomplishments of young JAG soldiers through scholarship awards or certificates of recognition. We spoke of collecting a history of the enlisted JAG Corps from those retirees who knew how it all got started.

So, long story short, and insofar as I am loathe to take the blame for getting things going, it was my idea. I talked for several years about the idea and conferred with then Regimental SGM John Nicholai and Regimental SGM Howard Metcalf, who both liked the idea. A few of us also floated the idea of a formal "reunion." 

Finally in 1998, I was able to get another retired JAG NCO to help us put together the first reunion, held in Las Vegas in 1999.  The group did not meet in 2000, although four of us, again over several beers which is where we do our best thinking, met in Nashville where we hatched a plan to really get things going. Attendees of this informal meeting included: myself, Giddens, MSG(R) Terry Showers (Showers), and SGM Maurice Flewelling (Flewelling).   

The first “official” JAG NCO Association Reunion and Meeting was held in Charlottesville in July 2003, which coincided with the Chief Military Paralegal NCO Course at the United States Army JAG Legal Center and School.  I set up the interim Executive Committee, pending elections in 2004 and the membership approved me as the “first” President of this great Association.  The principal founder (SGM Tae Sture) of the JAG NCO Association envisioned an association which would include retired JAG NCO's, JAG legal specialist, who got out after completing their enlistment, and Reserve and National Guard legal NCO's, retired or otherwise, hence the name JAGNCO Asscoiation.  From 1999 to 2003, the Association was known as the JAG NCO Association.  However, at the inaugural reunion of the Association in 2003, Sherwin Fulton and others suggested a name change to JAG Retired NCO Association.  This name change was voted in by the newly formed Association and stuck until the name to "JAGALP" at the Association meeting in New Orleans in 2016. 

The Constitution and Bylaws Committee of Flewelling, Giddens, Showers and MSG(R) Rick Cox (Cox) met in late 2003 in Cherokee, NC (Cox was the designated driver for that event). They finalized the documents for ratification at the next Association Reunion/Meeting held in June, 2004, in Charlottesville, VA. At that meeting, we formally organized the Judge Advocate General’s Corps Retired NCO Association (JAGCRNCOA). The first elected Executive Committee was Rick Cox, President, who did a bang up job for ten years, SGM(R) Lenny Finklestein, Vice President, SFC(R) W. Sherwin Fulton III, Secretary, MSG(R) Anthony Taylor, Treasurer, and Flewelling (Flew), Member-At-Large.  I commissioned Bruce “Cramer” (San Antonio) to design the JAGNCO Assn logo. 

For a detailed bio on MSG(R) Cox, former JAGRNCOA President, click on this 2016 Article.

Current Update

At the New Orleans, LA 2016 and Charlottesville, VA 2017 meetings, the membership discussed, and voted to approve, changing the name of the association and updating the JAGCRNCOA’s mission to include assisting Active, Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers and Civilians in becoming credentialed paralegals through the organization and obtaining dual membership with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). The Association formally changed its name from JAGCRNCOA to the Judge Advocate General’s Association of Legal Paraprofessionals (JAGALP) and has amended its Constitution and Bylaws in 2018. Firmly rooted in the original intent of the association, the retirees continue to act as mentors and leaders utilized by junior Solders, both active and newly retired; recognizing Soldiers with the Coggins Award, NCO/Soldiers of the Year Award, Nicolai Leadership Lecture Program, Distinguished Honor Graduates from the NCO Academy and Court Reporter Course, attending the annual reunion, and maintaining the core values and history of the association.

Our sincerest thank you to all of the leadership, past and present, for their contributions to the association’s creation and longevity.

2005 JAGC Regimental Sergeants Major Panel

Legal Training

When the Army started the “legal education” for enlisted back in the late 1970s, they chose not to build a building to house the program, so it started in an elementary school. The program really only taught  typing and other office skills.   Since then, the JAG Corps moved the Advanced Individual Training from Fort Jackson, SC to Fort Lee, VA (the military course where Army Paralegals learn how to be paralegals) and the course has continued to develop and now has a state of the art classroom to train the enlisted.

When we moved the training to Ft Lee, VA, in 2012, the JAG Corps officially took over the training and we FINALLY got a building to call our own. The brick featured in these photos is a symbol to show the growth of the overall program. The brick now sits in the classroom building to signify the growth of the program.

To read more about the original Legal Clerk's Course, check out this August 1972 Article published in the Army Lawyer, The Legal Clerk's Course.

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More Historical Documents

Read the 2011 JAGRNCOA Newsletter to find out more details about the Association's annual events and members.

Check out the 2012 Fort Lee Traveller Article announcing the AIT 27D Activation and the program from that ceremony.

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