Posted on Oct 10, 2014
LTC Scott O'Neil
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A military leader, I am not specifying Officer, NCO, Warrant or soldier. I said leader and a leader can be anyone who sets the standard, leads from the front or by example. Many soldiers know what the words Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage mean. How many are leaders and actually live and breathe these qualities? Officers, NCOs, Warrants and soldiers have these characteristics identified to them from the first day they place pen to paper and promise to provide their services to the country and people of The United States of America. Yet in signing their name and taking their oath they are promising to live and breathe these qualities for as long as they wear the uniform and beyond the day they take it off.
The Marines have a saying “once a Marine Always a Marine”, this should also be true for all services. Military leaders are the backbone upon which this country was built. From the first minuteman to fire upon the British fighting for freedom from tyranny to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who protect and serve this country and its people every day, today and in the future.
For those who wear the uniform of our county put their lives on the line so that their fellow Americans can be and do what they want every day of their lives. They are ambassadors exemplifying what America stands for to the people of other countries and to those who would do fellow Americans harm. It is a thankless job and the Tobey Keith song, “American Soldier”, says it best, “I don’t do it for the money, there are bills that I can pay, I don’t do it for the glory, I just do it anyway”. He describes the Honor, Integrity, personal courage and selfless service our men and women in uniform exemplify every day.
I am a retired Lieutenant Colonel, who served 25 plus years in The Army. I would not change my choice to serve or anything about my service. I am proud of my honorable service. I was proud to wear the uniform, and I want to believe, I was a leader who made a difference in the lives of those peers, subordinates and superiors I served with. One day while doing something I loved, I looked in the mirror and said, I can no longer set the example in physical fitness, and in appearance and thus it is time to retire and make room for someone who can still lead from the front. My decision was not an easy one and it was not because I did not have the desire or mental fortitude to remain in The Army. My body due to the 25 plus years or service and the wear and tear of that service was such that I could no longer set the example for others to emulate. Sure, I have just toughed it out and I could have just done the standard on the PT test and I could have just got a medical slip to allow me to not remain within the body fat standard. Then I said to myself, what kind of leader would I be, instead I retired and took off the uniform and ended my service for the people and country I love so much.
When describing a Military leaders there are no words that show a bias in rank, sex, sexual orientation or race. Each military service has a set of values that highlight the characteristics of those who serve, yet those same characteristics are those of leadership as well: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. These characteristics are the backbone for which a leader is formed upon. If a Officer, Warrant, NCO or Soldier cannot embrace these characteristics then they do not belong in the military. Every soldier wearing a uniform has the potential to be a leader and will have a chance to display these qualities during their time of service. There is a leader in each of us who put on the uniform to serve this great country and its people.
Edited 7 y ago
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Responses: 7
SGT Mark Sullivan
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Spot On
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CW5 Desk Officer
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Great post, sir!
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MSG Brad Sand
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LTC Scott O'Neil

Yes Sir. With all that being said, when I joined, I was a foolish kid that did not even have a hint of what I was actually signing or swearing an oath to do. At 17 I thought I knew something, but I would have been wrong. I did learn what you posted about, but would not have if not for the military. I think we reap what we sow, and we sow what we reap. Leaders need to be leaders, so soldiers can learn to be soldiers and grow into a military leaders, which is vastly different than just being a leader.
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