View Full Version : A sad story...

04-20-2012, 07:03 AM
Although this is a sad situation, I thought I would share it anyways. There are some lessons to be learned.

First off, a short piece about myself. I'm a Medic with about 25 months time in service, a relative newbie. I'm still with my very first unit. My first deployment was short and furious, with me being thrown into a Senior Line Medic position without any experience and also having my own patrol to roll out with 2-3 times a day. At the end of the deployment I had earned my CMB, passed the promotion board and picked up several acknowledgements between battalion and the brigade commander. Upon coming home, I was whisked off to WLC where I graduated on the Commandant's List. A few months later I was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. All of this, and I say again, all of this was due to the constant push from a young Staff Sergeant in my section that figured he was going to make an NCO out of me.

This man pushed me to my limits on everything. I've been smoked, chewed out and praised all in the same day before. He never gave me an option to falter or do anything half-assed. I honestly don't believe I'd be in my current position without him. He is probably the most hard-nosed, stubborn NCO I've ever met, and I've never worked as hard in my life as I have for him.

This past Monday we were conducting PT in the motorpool as usual. After a vigorous 4 mile run out on the road, we had come back to do some mobility sprints and muscle failure. During a relay that involved backpedaling, my SSG somehow (I never saw the fall, only heard it) tripped and fell, striking his head on the concrete. At first, I thought he was going to just sit up and keep running. When he didn't get up, we ran over to check on him, and unfortunately it was obvious that he had fractured his skull (if you're a medic, you know what you're looking for.)

We worked to stabilize him until the EMT's arrived. It was upsetting to me that he was postictal and combative the entire time without any sort of verbal responsiveness. By the end of the day, he was in surgery to try and correct a subdural hemorrhage. At this time, he is currently in a medically-induced coma and on drugs to control the encephalitis. I'd like to think that he's just too tough and stubborn to die, however, the prognosis to anyone that knows a little about medicine (which is a curse sometimes) is not good.

He pinned me on the 3rd of this month and told me that he'd never been so proud to promote someone as he had been with me. I regret that I had never taken the time to tell him that I've never been so proud to have such an oustanding mentor. A lot of people always thought he was just too high strung and angry all the time. I personally never had a problem with his leadership style, and I believe that I'm a better person as a result. Many soldiers don't realize that all of the tough standards and pressure placed on them by particular NCOs is an effort to bring out the best in them.

There are only 4 NCO's left in my section now, including myself. Our PSG, one E5 who is awaiting an MEB and another E5 that is applying for Flight Medic School. As we have posted a 24 hour watch over our fallen comrade (BN CMDR mandates E6 and above, the rest of us visit him when we're off duty,) that leaves myself and one other E5 to run the platoon. The work that my E6 did "behind the scenes" and often from home to take care of everything is immense. We still can't figure out how he did it all, and the two of us are pretty ragged at this point. It's apparent that this man was a legend around here, and the effects of this loss have affected many people.

NCOs are so very important to everyone, and especially the good ones. I only hope that I can follow in his footsteps with as much courage and strength as he did.

04-20-2012, 12:33 PM
Sergeant, I'm very sorry to see this. Truly great leaders inspire and motivate their Soldiers, and it's obvious he was one of them.

I regret that I had never taken the time to tell him that I've never been so proud to have such an oustanding mentor.

He knew. You didn't have to tell him.

04-20-2012, 12:34 PM
What a wonderful tribute to your mentor. I hope he is able to read it someday. If not, I would send what you just wrote to his family, they will cherish the words.

MSG Glenn
04-20-2012, 02:47 PM
What a shame. I certainly hope he pulls through & can continue his career. The Army needs NCOs like him. My prayers are with him.

I have a similar but opposite experience. When I was a 1SG I had an outstanding SSG Squad Leader. I had pulled him off of his squad to be my Training NCO. He did a spectacular job. I rolled him back to a squad & when there was an opening for an E-7 platoon Sgt coming up shortly I groomed him, pushed him mercilessly, forced him to ace the APFT when he already had a consistently good score, made sure he had all his tickets punched & everything I could help him get E-7. A week before the board he came down with meningitis He pulled through it okay but had some lingering disability & was medically discharged from the Army. I (and he) were devastated. The Army lost an outstanding NCO & future Senior NCO. It would not have surprised me if he could have stayed in he'd wind up as SMA.

It can be hard from both sides of the leadership chain.