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News | March 28, 2024

Lt. Col. Michael Norton, First Recruiting Battalion Commander to Receive the Gold Recruiting Badge

By 2nd Lt. Reynaldo Rodriquez Jr, Advertising & Public Affairs Miami Recruiting Battalion

We are thrilled to announce an achievement within our ranks as Lt. Col. Michael D. Norton, Commander, Miami Recruiting Battalion became the first battalion commander in U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s history to be awarded the prestigious Army Gold Recruiter Badge.

A proud Army brat, Norton’s connection to the military runs deep, having carried an ID card every day of his life. Following in his father's footsteps, who retired in 1996, he embarked on his own military career, signing his contract with the Army in 1998. Commissioning as a Field Artillery Officer in 2002, he graduated as a Distinguished Honor Graduate from Sam Houston State University, setting the foundation for a remarkable career ahead. His path led him through various roles, including a transition to Military Intelligence after serving his initial Branch Detail. His dedication and capability shone through as he excelled in numerous exceptional organizations and positions, culminating in a well-deserved selection for Battalion Command.

Tasked to lead the Tampa Recruiting Battalion, a role that presented a unique challenge as he ventured into unfamiliar territory without prior Army recruiting experience, he tackled this opportunity with characteristic determination and skill.

Norton entered recruiting with a broad goal: to be tactically proficient and improve it beyond how he found it. He has accomplished that and much more for the two recruiting battalions he has led. His time at the Miami Recruiting Battalion started in 2023, and as it comes to an end, this is what he has to say about his accomplishments:

History being made; How does it feel to be the first battalion commander to earn the Army gold recruiter badge?

"Being the first to do something has a mystique to it, however, this accomplishment is the result of dedicated professionals executing their assigned mission, nothing more! At a time when our Army needs us more than ever, I’ve been privileged to lead the very Soldiers that are responsible for filling our ranks!  This accomplishment is a credit to all of them and their hard work…I’m honored to wear this badge and represent the very best that the United States Army Recruiting Command has to offer!"

What does receiving the Army gold recruiter badge mean to you personally and professionally?

"Personally, I view this as a token of remembrance of my time in this command. I’ve had a blast and I continue to have fun! I never considered Army recruiting before my selection to command a battalion. Once selected and in the position, I realized I spent most of my career failing to find people to join our Army. These past 3 years in this command have been the highlight of my career and I’ve worked very hard to make up for lost time! Professionally, I think this is an opportunity to create conversations as I continue to serve. It’s not often you see an officer with this badge and when you do, they usually were a previous recruiter during their enlisted time. I will work to generate interest in Army recruiting in the hopes of getting more people to serve!"

How has recruiting impacted your perspective on leadership and the military?

"Recruiting has its challenges…leading during challenging times is exactly what our Army needs. Leadership matters in all aspects of our military none more so important than finding the best and brightest to join our Army! Everyone in this command can win…the question is, are you willing to do the work required to accomplish your assigned mission? Leadership is what drives the formation to accomplish its assigned mission…Remember, mission accomplishment is the bare minimum. We owe more to our Army and the Nation!"

What advice do you have for aspiring recruiters or those looking to excel in their recruiting roles?

"Be yourself. Speak WITH people…not at them! My previous Battalion Command Sgt. Maj., Command Sgt. Maj. Ulises Morel, offered exceptional advice when I first joined the command. He asked, ‘Sir, do you know the secret to Army recruiting?’ Here I’m thinking I’m about to get all his years of wisdom, so I grab a piece of paper and a pen ready to feverishly write everything down. He said, “Everyone wants to join our Army, they are just waiting for you to ask!” He’s 100% correct…everyone is waiting on YOU to provide them the opportunity to do exactly what you are doing…ASK THE QUESTION!"

How do you plan to inspire and mentor others in your battalion based on your achievements in recruiting?

"I strongly believe we inspire those around us by DOING! Actions mater…The late, great Elvis Presley said, “a little less conversation, a little more action!” As leaders, we often forget we have two hands that can get dirty just like everyone else. Don’t be afraid to make the phone call, ask the question, and show your Soldiers you are in the fight with them! As for mentorship, this is a lost art. I often tell people…find a mentor and when you get the chance, be one! I stand ready to discuss the Army, Army recruiting, or life with anyone that wants to listen!"

What are some challenges you have faced as a recruiting battalion commander, and how have you overcome them?

"Challenges present themselves daily…I believe we must control the narrative. I choose to see challenges as opportunities. The opportunity to excel is provided every morning you wake up! We have the opportunity to compete with the person in the mirror. We can look at the geographic dispersion of the command as a challenge or an opportunity to share our Army with more people. We can look at the complexities of each market as a challenge or an opportunity to increase the propensity to serve! Viewing these as opportunities means that you don’t have to overcome every challenge…simply be better each day!"

How do you see the future of recruiting evolving within the Army, and what role do you think you can play in shaping that future?

"Our Commanding General has an exceptional vision for this command, and it’s been an honor to watch that vision come to fruition.…. We are not where we need to be, YET, but we are on the right course and are moving forward. We have the right leaders at the right time to shape the Army of the future. Can we be better?  Of course, we can…and we WILL be! Commanding two recruiting battalions has been the honor of my career. If the Army affords me the opportunity to command at the Brigade level in this organization, I believe I can use the same passion and energy impacting even more people!"

Do you have any additional comments you would like to share?

"I’ve asked a question many times over my career, how many times have you woken up in the morning and wanted to have a bad day? I have yet to hear anyone say they want to have a bad day…I’ll submit to you, DON’T! You control the way you react to everything! Have a great day, every day! Smile at someone, greet them with a good morning/afternoon/evening, place them above yourself; you never know when your smile can change someone’s life!"



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