Thursday, June 07, 2007


Most of the first classes I work with are transferring or retiring in the next couple of months. I usually don’t talk about my coworkers but I’ll make an excuse today since he’s not around and I warned him that I was going to blog him sometime in the future. He’ll just have to read about it later.

I’ve worked for a lot of people in my time, seen various leadership types and picked up lessons from most of them. During my last deployment to Iraq, I worked for an HM1 Thomas, he was the leading petty officer of the MAG (Marine Air Group). The MAG is the headquarters element a collection of squadrons, in this case they ran the helicopters. HM1 was responsible for herding all of the corpsman of these squadrons, making sure of that all of the reports were turned in on time, that they were doing their jobs and that their Marines were taken care of. He would gather the LPO’s of all of the squadrons every week to get a pulse of what was going on and pass gouge.

My last trip was actually my second trip out there with him, I didn’t know him on the first trip but he was there the night of my first mortar attack. There were some Marines who were seriously injured that night and HM1 was the first person at the scene. He still carries that night around with him.

There are events in every person’s life that the rest of their life pivots around. I think that night was one of his. From that night through all of his following trips to the sand box, he never left any building without wearing his flak and Kevlar.

Which isn’t a bad idea if you think about it, but he carried this a bit further then that, every other day at noon, he would run 5 miles wearing all of his armor. All of the Marines thought this guy was hard as nails and a bit nuts, do you know how hot it gets there in the summer? Nothing slowed him down, he was a machine of muscle, tendon, bone in a sack of skin. I know he was one of the hardest charging corpsman I’ve ever ran across. Every once in a while he would talk someone to go out running with him, that usually only lasted a couple of runs and they wouldn’t even be wearing their body armor. Not bad for a 40 year old guy.

He gave those that worked for him an ideal of what a person in the military should be, what a corpsman should be. I know I fall far short of many of his examples but he gave me an image to live up too. Everybody who interacted with him in Iraq took something away and if they were smart, they remembered his lessons.

Being a leader is more then just issuing orders, it’s more then being the voice for the commander, it’s about caring for the people who you are responsible for and bringing them up with you. Giving each and everyone of them value for what they do and leading by example. HM1 made conscious choices to always do the right thing no matter how small the detail while still being flexible enough to shift instantly into any of the various missions that we had to do out there.

He reminded some people were reminded of Flanders of Simpson fame, even though he was hard physically, his stories tended to take on a preaching aspect (sometimes long). But there was always a moral to all of his lessons, when he taught something, he taught it in such a way to force you to change your way of thinking so you would remember it at a deeper level.

Some big shoes to fill, I hope people consider me half of the leader that he was. Fair winds and following seas brother.

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