Learning Leadership

Originally posted elsewhere on 28 August 2012:

Today, I explained to my students the hows and whys of keeping a journal. Since I’m asking them to do it, I figured I should also. After all, it doesn’t seem fair for me to ask people to do things I’m not willing to do.

This principle of leadership was implanted into my brain while I was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. We had returned from a field exercise, and it was time to clean the equipment. Hawaii has a lot of red dirt which, when wet, turns into red mud that gets into everything. What’s more, it requires serious effort to clean the mud out of cloth and canvas.

We were in the motor pool. It was late, probably after midnight. Several of us had spread a large general purpose tent over the asphalt. It had rained during the field exercise, and the tent had changed color from olive drab to brick red over a large part of its surface. We crawled around the spread-out tent on our hands and knees, stiff scrub brushes in one hand and bottles of Simple Green in the other. The process was simple: spray the tent with Simple Green, scrub like maniacs, and then rinse and repeat until the tent was back to its original color.

While we did this, all the senior noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers stood around, drinking coffee, smoking, and laughing, but at least when they weren’t complaining about how slow we were in getting the tent cleaned.

That is, all except for First Lieutenant Freehill. Freehill was right there with us on his hands and knees, spraying and scrubbing and rinsing.

I remember a major telling Lieutenant Freehill that he didn’t have to scrub the tent. Freehill responded, “Yes, sir, but I’m not going to ask my soldiers to do something I’m not willing to do.”

My term of service at Schofield overlapped Freehill’s by about a year and a half. During that time, I don’t recall ever hearing any lower enlisted folks having anything other than words of praise for that young lieutenant.

March 31st, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

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