The Most Influential Leaders of My Military Career

In today’s post, I want to share some Army leaders who inspired me during my military career.  None of these people are famous.  In fact, you probably don’t know them or have never even heard of them.  But these folks had a huge impact on me during my career.  They taught me many valuable leadership and life lessons.  I’ll list them in chronological order.

  1. Drill Sergeant’s Maxwell, Maldonado and Medina: These three NCOs were my drill sergeants during basic training at Fort Jackson, SC from January to March 1996.  I was part of 2nd Platoon (Strike Force), Charlie Company 128 Battalion (Black Lions).  From the time I arrived at basic training and stepped off the bus, these three NCOs taught me what right looks like.  They were very different with their personalities and leadership styles, but all of them were great leaders and teachers.  They were true professionals who taught me discipline.  If I could see them today, I would thank them for all they did for me.
  2. CPT Morris Goins and CPT William Dickey: Both of these gentlemen served as my Company Commander while I was assigned to HHC, the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) from Oct 96 to Dec 98.  CPT Morris Goins was the first officer in my career that inspired me to become an officer.  He was calm, poised, intelligent and a great leader.  After he left command, CPT Dickey took his place.  CPT William Dickey was a former Air Force Officer and great leader.  He saw the potential in me and recommended me for the Army’s Green to Gold Program.
  3. MAJ James Soos: My college years were rough years for me.  Even though I only spent 3 semesters in R.O.T.C. to get my degree, I almost didn’t make it.  I was a heavy drinker and socializer.  I just wanted to have fun drinking beer and chasing women.  In addition, I had a bad attitude.  MAJ Soos was the Assistant Professor of Military Science and Clarkson R.O.T.C.  I really admire MAJ Soos because he was a man’s man.  I would describe him as hard core, intelligent, and a great leader.  He taught me about personal finances, being a leader and even inspired me to become a Quartermaster officer.
  4. LTC Gustave F. Perna: Other than my father, I credit LTC Gustave F. Perna, more than anyone else, to my success as a man and Army Officer.  LTC Perna assumed duties as my Battalion Commander of the 64th Forward Support Battalion (3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division) at Fort Carson sometime around June 2001.  Up until I met him, I was a diamond in the rough.  LTC Perna taught me how to be a man and taught me how to be an officer and leader.  He led by example and instilled the “just get it done” and “dare to be great” mindset into my brain.  He had more impact on me as a person than any other military leader I ever worked with.  He is currently an Active Duty Major General.

I’ve worked with many other great leaders since then, but none of them had the same type of impact that these leaders did.

My goal for my military career was to have a similar impact on others that these folks had on me.  I figured if I could have that type of impact with even one person, my career would be successful.

Most of us have someone that we can thank for helping us develop our true potential.  If you would like to share a story about someone who influenced your career, I would love to hear your story.  Just leave a comment to this post to share it.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “The Most Influential Leaders of My Military Career”

  1. Having a good mentor is essential if you want to develop into a high functioning professional. Thanks for sharing your personal stories. Do you ever find yourself thinking about the lessons they taught you and how you might pass them on to younger generations?

  2. Katelyn Hensel

    I am sure that each and every one of these leaders would love to know how they have affected you and your career within the National Guard. Do any of them stick out in your mind as the single most influential person? Or are they all on pretty much equal footing? LTC Perma sounds kind of like a sterner father figure. I hope you let them all know in some way that they are part of the reason you are the person you are today.

    1. I’ve let one of my mentors know how they have helped me. The other two I haven’t spoken to in quite some time. Maybe I will look them up this week and contact them, just to say thank you. Thanks for the idea.

  3. Candace Ginestar

    Chuck, I love hearing about everyone’s mentors. We all have people who have influenced us profoundly in so many ways! I am fortunate to have some amazing people in my life that have shaped me throughout my career.
    One note I would like to make is that my TAG is retiring this July after 51 years of service (!) He has a wealth of knowledge and experience that is unmatched! They joke that the other GO’s at NGB call him ‘the Don’. He has touched so many people’s lives, it will be a very unique transition as he retires.

    1. 51 years of service. That is very, very impressive. With that much experience, I’m sure he brought a lot to the table, and had lots wisdom to share with others.

      Like you said Candace, we all have mentors. And we all mentor people. I always tell people that if you had someone who was mentor, make sure you tell them thanks. Send them a handwritten note to tell them how much they helped you. They deserve it.


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