by LTC Randy Carey, USA (Ret.)

Who are your heroes? My heroes include some names you might be familiar with: Colin Powell, Ronald Regan, and Jim Carey--but not Jim Carrey the actor you are probably thinking of! This Jim Carey is my father, SSG Jim Carey, part of the 94th Division. He won the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts fighting in World War II.

Those of you serving in today's military are heroes, too. You probably don't consider yourself a hero, but you are to those of us back home.

The mere fact that you joined the military in time of war makes you a brave person, if not a hero.

So how do you become a hero--or at least a good leader?

  • Take care of your soldiers and they will take care of you. Talk to them. Show interest in them. Take notes if you need to, but get to know your people personally.
  • Soldiers don't want you as a friend; they want you to be their leader.
  • Train hard. Lives may depend on how hard you train your soldiers. Do a drill one extra time rather than one less time.
  • Get to know your senior NCOs. These guys have seen and done it all--twice. Expect the best from them. Learn to work closely with them.
  • Show yours soldiers you will do everything you ask them to do. If possible, do it better than they do. You will gain respect and have credibility as a leader.
  • When you arrive at your new unit, watch, learn, and speak only when you have something positive to say. Quickly find your place in their unit.
  • Own up to your mistakes early and seek to correct them. It's what one learns from mistakes that separates a really good leader from an average one.
  • Always seek to be part of the solution.
  • Always maintain your integrity by thought, word, and deed. No one can force you to give up your integrity--it is yours alone to keep or to give away.
  • What you do is not about you. It's about serving others. Everything you do is about taking care of others. It's one of the reasons why a military career is so fulfilling.
  • You have chosen a profession that fewer and fewer people in this country understand. Don't waste time worrying about this--just do your duty with excellence.

As an officer you have been given one of the greatest responsibilities that can ever be bestowed--trust for the sons and daughters of America. From the moment you set foot in a unit you will be expected to lead these soldiers. Their lives depend on how well you do.

Our nation is counting on you to do your duty with excellence. Our freedom depends on it. You are being asked by your nation to possibly give your life for our safety and security, and that puts you in elite company. You are a hero.

*with CPT Sean Feeney, COL Paul Meredith, COL Sid Oaksmith, and COL John Odell