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The Big Picture

By SFC John T. Wallace

1214 128 aAs leaders, we are always seeking a higher reason for what we do. We work to impart this to our Soldiers so that they are inspired. An informed and inspired Soldier can often accomplish more than an informed squad. If we inspire our Soldiers we will expand the boundaries of knowledge while maintaining the traditions of our profession.

Here in the training environment is where Soldiers first learn traditions of the Aviation branch and Army. Across the street from where I work, in the 1-210th Aviation Regiment S-3, is a wall in the Armament Platoon area. One day a few months back I came upon this wall tucked away in a small maze of instructor offices and classrooms. It caught me by surprise because I was not expecting it to be there. On the wall are pictures, names and other information about Army aviators and aviation Soldiers who have given their final measure, their all, during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

My impression upon seeing it was like walking into church blaring Rock and Roll music. I had to turn down, tune in and pay attention. I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck. I was immediately drawn to their images. Most of the faces were young and most were pilots. I looked to see if I knew any of them and as I was looking, I realized I knew all of them. I had never met any of them but I had seen their faces a thousand times and heard their laughter and their stories. I had passed them on the street. I had seen them in the supermarket. They had always been there. They are us.

I felt a sudden rush of mixed emotion ranging from comfort, like coming home, to guilt that I did and they didn’t. I saw my brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice. They are all truly heroes.

The wall focused me. It strengthened my resolve. It reminded me of the big picture. I do not mean the strategic picture. I mean what is truly important. The most valuable assets are the people. To ensure their sacrifice is not in vain, we owe them our vigilance in all we do. It may not require our lives, but it does require our best. The true test of a Soldier is not war but peace. This is the time when the most feared adversaries launch an all-out campaign.

The enemies of complacency and indifference rear their ugly heads. Soldiers forget to do the right thing because they are lulled into a false sense of security. “This is not combat, so, it isn’t important.” These are the most dangerous words a Soldier can utter. These let in laziness and selfishness. These corrode the effectiveness of our profession.

As General (Retired) Colin Powell stated, “There are no secrets to success: Don’t waste your time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work, and persistence.” Inspiration is most of the formula. However, there is also a need for knowledge, training and experience (learning from failure). More accurately it is a thirst for information.

We need to inspire and encourage the next generation of Aviation Soldiers to want to be the new subject matter experts. Inspiration gives them the fire in their gut to want to learn everything about our profession. We have to inspire the Soldiers we lead to learn to be better than we are. Then take care of and nurture those coming behind us so they will carry the legacy.

We all are inspired by different things. The leader has to find that intangible thing in each Soldier and make it grow. However, information is evolving and ever changing. We must ensure we evolve with it or we will perish. I challenge you to give your best and continue to give because anything less would be disrespectful.
Above the Best!

SFC John T. Wallace is a senior instructor assigned to 1st Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment, 128th Aviation Brigade, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA.

Caption: The display of fallen Aviation Soldiers with the theme “Freedom is not Free” is located in the Armament Aircraft Platoon area of the 1-210th Avn. Regt., 128th Avn. Bde., Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA./ PHOTO BY SFC JOHN T. WALLACE

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