Posted on Oct 30, 2014
COL Jean (John) F. B.
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Many of us may have done things in our careers that, in our minds, were the right things to do, but, technically, could have impacted or ended our careers if the "wrong" people found out about them. For example, I used to sometimes give good soldiers who simply made a mistake Article 15s, but never process them, resulting in them doing extra duty and walking around with the wrong rank for a few weeks, without putting a permanent black mark in their records.

I don't want to get anyone in trouble, so be careful how you reply, especially if you are still on active duty. I could fill a book with "out of the box" things I did, so I will start this off with a couple, just to get the discussion started.

Case #1

While assigned as an Army ROTC instructor at a public university, I received a phone call from an irate mother of one of our female cadets. She had tried to call our Professor of Military Science, a Colonel who had just been assigned to the ROTC Detachment, but he was out, so the call was transferred to me.

The mother related to me that she had just found out that her daughter (as I said, a cadet in our ROTC Program) was dating one of the NCOs assigned to our detachment and she was irate about it. She stated that she wanted the NCO fired and that she was going to file an official complaint with the university. I asked her to please wait and not do anything until I had the opportunity to look into it and that I would get back to her with what I was able to find out about her allegations.

I called the NCO (SFC, Training NCO) in and discussed the allegation with him, advising him that it was against Army policy, as well as university policy, for him to be dating a cadet/student. He did not deny the allegation and told me that he had been dating her for over a year, without anybody’s knowledge, as they had kept it very close hold, but that the cadet had finally confided in her mother that they were dating because they had recently talked about getting married. He stated that he knew it was wrong, as far as the military and university were concerned, but that he could not help who he fell in love with and just had to accept the consequences of his choice.

I should state, at this point, that the SFC was one of the most outstanding NCOs I have ever served with and that we had served together previously in the Ranger Department at Ft. Benning. I knew that the “right thing to do” was to report this incident to my PMS and the university and let the chips fall where they may, which would have resulted in immediate relief of duty, reassignment out of the university and cause a permanent black mark on his record that would be with him throughout his career.

I decided, instead, to see if I could get this “back in the box”, without anyone getting hurt (including myself). I talked to the cadet and she verified that she intended to marry the SFC, regardless of what happened with this situation, which is the same thing the SFC told me. As such, I requested to meet with the cadet’s parent s and laid out the possible scenarios for them.

I told them that I could follow policy and report this infraction, explaining what would happen to the SFC and his career in the Army. I told them that I was prepared to do that, if that is what they wanted. I reminded them that their daughter was going to marry him, regardless of what happened. I asked them if they would prefer that their daughter marry a senior NCO with a promising career ahead of him or an NCO who would be lucky to retain his rank and would probably end up being put out of the Army over this.

The parents thought this over and decided to not pursue their complaint about the SFC.

Since I could not knowingly allow this situation to continue, I required the cadet to drop out of the ROTC Program and transfer to another school, if I was going to go along with this. She and her parents agreed and the plan was implemented as soon as that semester ended. I made them promise to not see each other (as in dating) for the approximately six weeks until the semester was over.

Months later, when my Colonel found out about it (by way of a wedding announcement), he almost blew a cork. He “counseled” me rather severely and said all the right things about my violation of orders/policy, etc., however, he later confided that I had done the right thing to save this outstanding NCO’s career.

The SFC and former cadet were married and still are today, more than 30 years later.

The SFC continued to do very well in his Army career and served as the Corps Command Sergeant Major of the most elite Corps in the Army and later was one of three candidates seriously being considered for the position of Sergeant Major of the Army a few years back.

Case #2

While assigned as a battalion commander, I was notified that one of my SFC/E-7 had been selected for a Quality Management Program (QMP) discharge by the E-8 Promotion Board and that he was going to be discharged from the Army in the next 90 days (as I recall). My instructions were to notify him of his selection for QMP and have him sign the paperwork. I was informed that time was of the essence in that he would soon have 18 years of service and that, if he was not notified of this QMP action within 7 days, he would be locked in for retirement.

I argued on the SFC’s behalf and told them that it was unconscionable to be doing this to him when he was so close to being locked in for retirement. I was advised that the decision was final and that there was nothing that could be done about it.

The SFC in question was an outstanding NCO and I did not have a clue what could have been in his records to have caused him to be selected for QMP action. I asked someone I knew at Military Police Enlisted Branch and he told me that the only thing he could find in the record was a DUI about 15 years earlier, when the SFC was an E-4. Other than that, his record was spotless and above average as far as evaluations and assignments were concerned.

I called my Command Sergeant Major in my office and told him what was going on. I instructed him to contact SFC X and tell him to immediately go on leave. I told him that he had to be gone for at least 10 days and that he was to ensure that nobody knew where he was and that nobody could contact him.

Once I got confirmation that the SFC was gone, I called hi company commander and told him that I needed him to bring the SFC to my office. I was told that the SFC was on leave, to which I replied that I did not care, that he was to contact him and tell him to report to me as soon as possible. I told the company commander to keep a record of any and all attempts to contact him. The commander tried several times to contact him by phone, by sending someone to his quarters, etc., all to no avail. This went on for several days, each time keeping copious notes of our attempt to contact him.

I told DA that I had been trying to contact the SFC, but had been unable to, as of yet, but that I would keep trying.

After about 10 days, the SFC signed in off leave and was brought to my office. I “reamed him out” for being out of contact and then advised him of the QMP action but that I was not sure of his status since he was now inside his “lock-in” period. (of course, we both knew the answer to that question, but I had to play the part so the company commander and First Sergeant – who, to my knowledge, did not know what we had done -- could hear me say it and testify to that, if it became necessary).

The end result was that he was not QMP’d, deployed to Operation Desert Storm with the battalion, and was selected for E-8 by the next promotion board. I lost track of him after I left the battalion, but I assume he did very well until his retirement.
Posted in these groups: Getakwwcoach MentorshipLeadership abstract 007 Leadership
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MG President
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When I was the CG of the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools in 1995-1997, we uncovered an abuse of power by primarily drill sergeants to see how many AIT students they could have sex with. We made taking care of the survivors (victims) our number one priority. It became a national media topic. The leadership in Washington appeared to make protecting the image of the Army their number one priority. Ended my career, but would do it all again in a heartbeat. We did the hard right not the easy wrong. Made soldiers our top priority, not our egos. Details are spelled out in "The GAMe: Unravelling a Military Sex Scandal." MG(Ret) Robert D. Shadley
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CPT Freelance Writer
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Sir:
In my career, I rarely found officers really willing to take care of Soldiers, specially female Soldiers on distress. However, those that do take care of Soldiers often get ostracized and unfairly marginalized because in the eyes of the "Army" the opened up to the light of day shameful actions that may have been happening for years. On the other hand, you are never alone when you do good, for the Lord send a host of Angels by your side. Plus the people that you help sure do appreciate what you did for them. I just wish there were more Officer like you still in the Army.
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MG President
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You are spot on. If you do the right thing, it will all turn out for the best in the end. If you can look yourself in the mirror and smile at what you did, then you did good. Too many worry about themselves and getting ahead.
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SSG Kurt Edwards
SSG Kurt Edwards
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MG Robert Shadley,
I hold you in the HIGHEST regard for your courage and intestinal fortitude in doing the right thing, for the right reasons and for the right people. Please read my contribution to this topic elsewhere on this thread, sir, and you will see why you've earned my respect and admiration! I salute you, sir!
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MG President
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Thanks for your most kind comment. Always do the hard right and not the easy wrong and it will work out for the best
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I was confronted by a senior ranking officer from an outside unit while on a deployment about the status of my sidearm. This officer told me that my safety was off and that I was to place it on safe. He began to lecture me about knowing the status of my weapon at all times and I cut him off. I told him that not only did I know that my weapon was "not on safe", there was also a round in the chamber. At this point he lost his temper a bit and ordered me to place my weapon on safe which I politely refused. I informed him it was our unit SOP to have our sidearms always loaded, holstered when not in use, with the cocking/de-cocking lever in the "up" position (the safety for the unenlightened) and the hammer forward. He then began demanding to know who my commander was and what screwed up unit had this "unlawful" SOP that was in direct violation of Army regulations. I gave him my commander's POC and continued to refuse to put the cocking/de-cocking lever on my sidearm in the down position and walked off leaving the quite clearly enraged senior officer on the verge of an aneurism.

Needless to say, he called my commander, who outranked the eraged senior officer. My commander not only informed him that not only was I correct about the unit SOP for this particular sidearm (an M9 Beretta) but the SOP was a command wide SOP endorsed by a 4 star. He then proceeded to inform the officer that he was to come to our compound to receive training on the M9, from me on my personal time (as a punishment of sorts) which the officer reluctantly agreed to.

After an hour on the range, he was so blown away by what he didn't know that he asked if we could begin teaching some of the NCOs from his unit on how to properly use a sidearm and turned out to be a real likeable guy.
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Deborah Gregson
Deborah Gregson
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Education is enlightenment.
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SSG Kurt Edwards
SSG Kurt Edwards
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Just because you're an officer doesn't mean you know everything!
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SFC Greg Bruorton
SFC Greg Bruorton
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A great example of standing your ground in an impressive manner.
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SSG Paul Headlee
SSG Paul Headlee
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That's how I carry mine.
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SFC Contract Administrator
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Roger that, during Iraq 2003-2005, when I was trucking. My convoy would give the Iraqis MREs and Water going up and down the MSR(roads) during the outlaw days. Yes I am glad I did it, you gotta have a heart for the poor and needy begging for food.
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SFC Contract Administrator
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I always thought I would get UCMJ if I got caught, hey we all take short cuts sometimes. Well worth the risk and would do it over again.
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SFC Richard Giles
SFC Richard Giles
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We used to do the same thing. And it's funny that you call that time period "outlaw days" that's exactly what we called it as well. Compared to how it was in 09-10 deployment.
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Deborah Gregson
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SFC (Join to see) - Do the right thing the right way, it will always be right.
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SFC Contract Administrator
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Deborah Gregson - roger that, well said and profoundly conveyed!
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