I should have written this post a LONG time ago. I’d like to take few minutes today and talk about the BEST NCO I ever served with during my 15+ year Army career. Although I worked with some superb NCOs during my career, one really stands out. To protect his identity (he would probably be embarrassed to read this and not want the credit), I will just call him SFC T. The “T” is the first letter of his last name.
To anyone who ever served with me in the 1/175th Infantry of the Maryland Army National Guard, I’m sure you know who SFC T. is. He’s THAT good!
SFC T. was my Readiness NCO while I was a Company Commander. When I first took command he was deployed to Iraq, but he returned home after I had been in command approximately six months. From the time I first met him, I knew there was something special about the guy. And for some reason I knew he would have a positive impact in my life.
So, why was SFC T. the best NCO ever? What made him stand out? What I want to do below is share some stories and share some of the qualities that made SFC T. so great. Enjoy.
# 1 Talent: SFC T. was good at many different things. By trade, he was a mechanic, but this guy knew just about everything about everything. He was good with weapons. He was a tremendous leader. He knew the regs. And whenever he didn’t know something, he knew where to get the information. I remember running a Small Arms Range during Annual Training and he was my Range NCOIC. He just amazed me at how knowledgeable he was about all of the different weapon systems we were using. Everything he did, he excelled at.
# 2 Passion & Heart: Talent is required to be a great leader, but heart is even more important. SFC T. had talent AND heart. This guy just loved being a Soldier, and it showed. I think it was in his blood. He always had a good attitude and was proud to wear the uniform.
# 3 Work Ethic: SFC T. put in some long hours at work. He definitely sacrificed a lot of family time to take care of his unit. Every day he would set priorities and get the most important things done. He almost always took a working lunch and you NEVER had to worry about him slacking off. He was a machine! He trained to standard, not to time. I used to have to “force” him out of the office. While I was away from the armory, I would have to call in and “order” him to go home.
# 4 Warrior Spirit: SFC T. was/is a man’s man and a Soldier’s Soldier. He lives the Warrior Spirit and Army Values. He is mentally tough and physically tough. When I think of “Soldier” I think of SFC T. He also instilled this attitude into everyone he worked with. His warrior spirit was contagious.
# 5 Self-less Service: As far as I’m concerned, SFC T. has the potential to be the Sergeant Major of the Army. He would have also been a fine officer. Despite his amazing talent and potential, his career was never about him. He always put the troops first and did whatever it took to help the unit succeed. He would come in early, stay late, and always put his Soldiers’ and unit’s needs above those of his own. He was never worried about his next promotion or next award either. He just wanted to get the mission done and take care of the Soldiers: nothing else.
# 6 Reliable: If SFC T. said he was going to do something, he did it. I never had to EVER worry about him dropping the ball, being late, or messing something up. Simply put, I could count on him in any situation.
# 7 He Spoke His Mind: One of the things I really admired about SFC T. was that he spoke his mind. He never sugarcoated things and he wasn’t scared to tell the General what he was thinking either. If something NEEDED to be said, he said it, even when it was not politically correct or expected. If something was shady, or a soup sandwich, he would be the first one to let you know. AND, he would even offer a solution to fix what was wrong.
I would like to close this post by saying “thank you” SFC T. While we worked together I told you many times how much I appreciated you. But, I should have said it even more. You really impacted my life on a personal and professional level. I owe you a HUGE amount of credit for helping me have such a successful Company Command. It was truly an honor to serve with you.
And I know that when you hang up your boots for good when you retire, it will be a sad day for the Army.
What are your thoughts? What do you think is the most important quality I covered that made SFC T. so great? Also, please leave a comment and tell me about the best NCO you ever served with. What made them so great? I look forward to reading your story.