The Best Army Officer I Ever Served With

Last week I did a post about the best Army NCO I ever served with.  This week, I want to talk about the best Army Officer I ever served with during my 15+ year Army career.

For me, this one is a really easy decision.  I’ve served with many talented officers, but I’ve only met one person, let alone Army officer, in my entire life with the leadership ability and talent this guy has.  Let me begin by telling you that other than my dad, this man has had the greatest influence in my life, both personally and professionally.  I would not be the leader, or person, I am today without this officer’s mentorship.  And I know many other officers who say the exact same things about this officer.

I first met this officer way back in June 2001 when I was an Active Duty Second Lieutenant at Fort Carson, Colorado. I was part of the 64th Forward Support Battalion, part of 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.  I had been in the battalion about nine months when we had a new Battalion Commander take over.

Right from the start, I knew this guy was unlike any other Officer I had ever met.  He was serious, driven, focused, passionate and extremely COMPETENT.  He expected GREATNESS from everyone under his command.  I would describe him as a man’s man, an officer’s officer and most importantly, a leader’s leader.

If you were a high performer, this guy would be your dream boss.  If you were a slacker or average performer, you would either improve or move on to somewhere else.  He held everyone accountable to the Army standards, including himself, and he expected nothing less than YOUR BEST.

At the time, our battalion had low morale and really wasn’t that great of a unit.  We had the potential to be great.  We had lots of talented NCOs and Officers.  We just needed someone at the helm to take the bull by the horns and turn the Bad News Bears into a bunch of winners!

Needless to say, this guy did that.  And he did it within a few short months.

What  I want to do now is share some of the qualities this officer had and also share some things I learned from him.

  1. He taught me to take pride in what I do and be the best I can.  Before I met G.P. I didn’t have much pride in myself.  I’m embarrassed to tell you that, but it is the truth.  I was a crappy Second Lieutenant.  I had a chip on my shoulder and I just had a bad attitude and didn’t have high standards for myself or Soldiers.  I was immature and a bit irresponsible. Within a few months of working with him, I completely changed my mindset.
  2. He taught me to be tactically and technically proficient.  One lesson that really resonates with me is the importance of knowing your job, both technically and tactically.  G.P. taught me that soldiers rely on their officers in battle and we must know how to fight and win!  We must be tacticians and master our craft.  This process NEVER ends.  We must keep learning every day and never let our guard down.
  3. He taught me that officers are responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen. As a young officer, I didn’t totally comprehend how I, as an officer, could be held responsible for something my Soldiers did.  I understood personal responsibility but I didn’t understand a leader’s responsibility.  Thankfully, he taught me this lesson at a young age.
  4. He taught me to have the “just get it done” attitude and never accept excuses.  This is one of the most important lessons I learned from G.P.  In life, you can either make excuses or make things happen, but you can’t do both.  I used to have the victim mentality (if you can believe that).  This guy taught me that there is no such thing as “that is not my job” or “we can do it tomorrow.”  He taught me to be proactive, to do things right, and get them done on time.
  5. He taught me that my job was to support the war-fighter no matter what.  This is a lesson that  a lot of logisticians just don’t understand.  As a logistician, our MOST IMPORTANT job is to support the war-fighter.  They do not exist to support us.  We exist to support them.  Our job is to give them world-class customer support, no matter what.  All other missions and tasks come secondary to supporting the war-fighter.
  6. He taught me to have HIGH standards for myself and my followers.  The Army standard is just the starting point.  As a leader, you must always strive for excellence.  You need to set really high standards for yourself and team members and you need to find ways to improve every single day.  Leaders with low or marginal standards do not create EXCEPTIONAL units.  They have average units.
  7. Provide world-class customer service.  In the Army, everyone has customers.  Your job is to provide world-class customer service to your customers.  In the Army, you do not get to choose your customers and your customers do not get to choose who they do business with.  You are stuck with each other.  You exist to support your customer.  Your job is not to be a bureaucrat (we have enough of those) and make life difficult for your customers.  Your job is to make life better, and easier, for your customers.

I am forever grateful that I met G.P.  Those are his initials.  I still keep in touch with him a few times a year, just to see how he is doing and see what I can learn from him.  He is a tremendous leader and I consider myself lucky to even know him.

He is currently a Major General in the Active Duty Army and I’m sure he has a couple more promotions in store before he hangs up his boots for good!  Obviously, the Army recognized his leadership abilities and put him in positions where he can continue to make a difference.

I would like to close out this post with a challenge.  Why not be the best Army Officer you can be?  Why not impact your Soldiers’s lives the way that G.P. impacted my life?  That’s the challenge that I took after I served with G.P. and it really helped me be successful.  I know it can do the same for you.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below to tell me what you think about what I shared with you.  Also,who is the best officer you ever served with and why? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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10 thoughts on “The Best Army Officer I Ever Served With”

  1. Very inspiring… I think all the lessons you learned from G.P. especially #1 and #3 (as well as #6) are some of the most important things to take away from both the military but life at large. The best officers have these traits, and the fact that you can communicate that you learned them puts you amongst that group, too!

  2. I hope that this officer inspires many more and mentors other officers to follow in their footsteps. This world and our military need many more leaders with this structure and attitude. I also hope those officers who have laid back and our just waiting for retirement will read this and liven up with the realization that younger officers are watching.

  3. I am truly inspired by your success story, Chuck. We don’t come out of the womb with leadership abilities and knowing how to make it through life. You were gifted with a great leader and mentor and from the sound of it, you turned your life around. I would bet that G.P. would read this and even divert the attention away from himself and send it back your way. Leaders are doers and teach by being a living example. You are one of the lucky ones.

  4. I am always enthralled to hear of great people like this that have changed the lives of those around them for the better. There are a few things mentioned here that really “hit home.”

    “Get it done; no excuses.” I love this attitude. The world has become a world of excuses. Always trying to find fault or reason to not get things done. Sometimes we work harder to find ways to not do something, than to just “git ‘er done.” Something my Dad always said was you won’t do it tomorrow, because tomorrow never gets here.

    “Have high standards.” If we live by this, we will succeed.

    Great post, and I am glad you had this man as a mentor.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      I agree, Greg, that if we live by the creed of having high standards, everything else will follow. Demand excellence from yourself, develop that in others, and you will be very successful.

  5. Candace Ginestar

    Chuck,I think the top officers have these things in common, just like the top NCOs that we talked about in your article! I have served with some stellar officers, and there are a few that stand out above all others to me. I am thankful that we have these officers to look up to and that have also taken an interest in mentoring us – I know I feel very blessed!

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