Michigan National Guard
Story by 2nd Lt. Ashley Goodwin
WASHINGTON - “I can’t believe I won first place,” said Spc. Markeice Patrick in astonishment when he heard his documentary film about the struggles of a single mother during COVID-19 won first place in a statewide competition in Michigan.
With his sights set on becoming a documentary filmmaker, Patrick, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 156th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Michigan National Guard, is a full-time media arts and film studies student at Wayne State University in Detroit.
He currently serves in Washington, supporting the U.S. Capitol Police as part of the Capitol Response mission.
Following the 59th Presidential Inauguration, the National Guard has been requested to continue supporting district and federal law enforcement agencies with security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics, and safety support through mid-March.
“My official role here in Washington is to keep accountability of Soldiers,” said Patrick. “There are many service members arriving in this area, all from different units and states. Our team makes sure items like medical, health insurance and pay are taken care of. We also handle promotions and awards to recognize their hard work.”
Looking back to last year, Patrick delivered test kits and medical supplies to alternative care facilities across Michigan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the spring of 2020, my Michigan National Guard unit was activated to support the COVID-19 response,” he said, adding he also assisted mission leadership with administrative tasks.
At the time, Patrick and a team of other university students were working together on the documentary film as an assignment for a class.
“When I began the COVID-19 mission, it was really hard to find time to edit my documentary,” said Patrick. “I honestly went weeks without touching it until I finally decided to ask my friends for help.”
Shooting additional footage was difficult for Patrick due to social distancing restrictions in accordance with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. The family featured in his documentary could not get together and his school was closed, making it impossible to use necessary film equipment.
“I started to get discouraged with my abilities as a filmmaker,” said Patrick. “There were so many obstacles at the time I didn’t have a massive incentive to finish except to receive a passing grade for my documentary class.”
Despite those challenges, Patrick passed the class and entered the film in the non-fiction film category of the statewide Liberal Arts and Network for Development conference and competition.
“When they told me I won the competition, I felt like my efforts, and my team’s efforts were all worth it,” he said. “One of my professors is now submitting the film to the Student Emmys.”
The Student Emmy awards represent the next step in what Patrick said he hopes will be great opportunities. But what does Patrick want to do next?
“I would like to become a public affairs officer,” he shared, adding he recently made the decision to join Army ROTC.
“I will be able to reach a greater number of Soldiers and influence their lives in a positive way,” said Patrick. “I've had inspirational commanders who truly lead from the front and were great examples to me.”
Military leaders who work with Patrick are not surprised by his civilian success.
“I worked with Spc. Patrick on the COVID-19 mission last year,” said 1st Sgt. Wesley Fisk with Bravo Co., 156th ESB. “He is a detailed and articulate Soldier. On multiple occasions, he surpassed leadership expectations by completing tasks with little oversight.”
Regarding Patrick’s ability to reach others, Fisk added, “He is the type of Soldier who leads by example and maintains a positive outlook in all situations. He has been a pleasure to both train and mentor.”
Patrick said he could not have made it this far in his military or civilian life without help from others, especially from his leadership.
“I have a better direction on where to go in life,” said Patrick. “Not just with my military career but in the civilian world as well. My leaders were the ones who helped me get through really rough times in my life and I owe them so much. I will never be able to pay them back.”
“As servicemembers, we are often under a microscope of scrutiny,” said Col. Chris McKinney, commander of both the 177th Military Police Brigade and Joint Task Force Independence. “But we take our leadership role seriously. Other servicemembers, our families and civilians, especially those we serve here in D.C., are closely watching our example.”
With the Michigan National Guard as the lead element, JTF Independence is a combined, joint military effort to provide security for key buildings and personnel around Washington, D.C., and McKinney oversees those efforts.Patrick’s journey to become a documentary filmmaker continues to benefit from his military career. He looks forward to training in public affairs, photography and videography.
With his experience on the COVID-19 mission, as well as the Washington mission, his interactions with other service members mean he may never be lacking in subject matter for his documentary projects.
“There are so many Guardsmen who have overcome obstacles in their life,” said Patrick. “I know where they’ve been and what they’ve gone through. I was there myself and I want to be a part of sharing their stories.”
It’s also something that fills him with pride.
“I am proud to be part of an organization such as this and the people in it,” he said.