A US Army veteran is stepping forward with claims that a beloved Tennessee Army National Guard Sergeant Major was playing the role of “Jody”- in a Shakespearean-esque act of betrayal that has ultimately played a role in the end of his marriage.
Earlier this year, Tennessee native and Iraq War veteran Kevin Sutton was outraged to find that Sergeant Major Darren Tracy McDow- who took over NCOIC responsibilities of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment last year- had been carrying on a long and intimate relationship with his wife since 2016.
In 2015, a retiring first sergeant, Dennis Carter accused the unit of being plagued with sub par non-commissioned officers and a commander with a toxic leadership style.
CSM McDow’s predecessor, CSM Vincent Roach, was described as “the worst excuse for a Senior NCO…his leadership is so substandard I doubt he could lead a pack of kindergartners to the the playground,” in Carter’s retirement request. He concluded his request by saying, “I hope you all die a slow, lingering, painful death, preferably the day before you receive your first retirement check, F**k you all and f**ck the 278th ACR.”
“I never served with the guy [McDow],” former 82nd Airborne infantryman Sutton clarified before continuing his interview with Popular Military. “I got out in October 2010 and he was a Command Sergeant Major when the affair started in mid-2016. He’s with the 278th ACR of the Tennessee National Guard.”
“He actually grew up in my town,” he added. “We know each other. He also knew my wife from childhood.”
According to Sutton, he was told that McDow had since been replaced by Command Sergeant Major Michael Gentry and laterally reduced to Sergeant Major, albeit not due to the affair.
Sutton found out about the affair earlier this year, after he found McDow’s belongings stuffed under the bed that he and his soon-to-be ex-wife once shared- including the Sergeant Major’s dog tags.
“I found letters, cards, a copy of his dog tags for some reason, a regimental coin and a burner phone under our mattress,” Sutton said. “I guess it’s good I found out when I did, but talk about a major Jody.”
Looking for answers, Sutton attempted to seek out McDow, but ended up finding the Sergeant Major’s scorned wife, who told him more than he wanted to know- and had documents to back up her claims.
“She informed they are going through a divorce and my wife is named in their divorce,” Sutton recalled. “[SGM McDow] admitted under oath during a deposition her lawyer did on him of the affair with my wife.”
Popular Military was provided with a plethora of evidence, including copies of court documents, written correspondence between lovers and McDow’s dog tags. In the court depositions, McDow admits contact with Sutton’s wife, including having her over on several occasions and that they were planning a life together.
Sutton claims McDow used assets from both his civilian job at Hennessy Industries and his duties in the 278th to carry out his affair with Kim Sutton.
“This guy used company time and his company phone at his civilian job to talk to my wife thousands of hours while supposedly working,” Sutton said. “He also had my wife visit him on base in Smyrna at the temporary housing when he was staying there a few nights. That’s a real good use of government assets.”
To make matters worse, McDow allegedly abandoned his actual family to pursue the relationship with Kim.
“According to his wife he, has pretty much abandoned her, has skipped out on paying the bills and has nothing to do with his kid,” Sutton said. “Once he started seeing Kim, he told Mrs. McDow -after twenty years of being together- that he never loved her or wanted anything to do with her.”
To Sutton, McDow is a personal and physical example of how someone who does not live up to Army values can still go far in the military.
“I told his unit’s CSM about it and suggested punishment, but apparently nothing can be done under UCMJ since the unit isn’t currently activated,” Sutton said. “He’s also on the National Guard Association of Tennessee Board, so I contacted them. Nothing. Looks like the Guard is going to just sweep this one under the rug, more or less.”
Despite his alleged moral shortcomings, McDow seemingly has no problems playing the part of a state hero.
“He drives around with Bronze Star vanity plates on his vehicle,” Sutton said. “You know, the meritorious award command groups give themselves for going out of country? It’s pathetic. If it doesn’t have a “Valor” device attached to it, it’s a slap in the face to soldiers who actually earned or deserved one.”
Sutton also revealed that McDow has since moved to (presumably) be closer to Kim, who is currently locked in the divorce process with the former paratrooper.
“They’re still seeing each other,” Sutton said. “He moved closer to where I live. I’m assuming he can be closer to my wife that way. I have my feelings about all of this, but I’m going to keep them to myself until this divorce is finalized.”
“If it were happening to you,” he asked, “How would you handle it?”
McDow could be punished for adultery under the Uniform Code of Military Justice but beause his unit is part of the National Guard it would have to be activated or mobilized for his personal life actions to be subject to military law.
“Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes criminal the act of adultery when certain legal criteria, known as “elements,” have all been met. There are three distinct elements to the crime of adultery under the UCMJ: first, a Soldier must have had sexual intercourse with someone; second, the Soldier or their sexual partner was married to someone else at the time; and third, that under the circumstances, the conduct of the Soldier was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
According to the National Guard Association of Tennessee website, McDow is still serving as a Sergeant Major and maintains his position as Secretary of the Board of Trustees.
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