Friday, July 30, 2010

Things your 1stSgt hates...

Leadership by e-mail.

"Didn't you get my e-mail?"

This is a common statement made by those in the military who are too enamored with 21st Century technology to leave their desk. Perhaps they don't possess the fortitude to actually speak to flesh and blood humans face to face. Either way, it is an unsatisfactory way to lead and if you are guilty of it just know that I hate you. Desk jockeys can e-mail their subordinates all they want but when is actual leadership applied?

It isn't.

Our Leadership Principles remind us to ensure orders are understood, carried out, and supervised. None of these requirements are met by merely hitting the SEND button. Sorry, it's true.

Getting a read receipt does not mean anyone has complied with the alleged electronic missive either. "Well he read my e-mail."; is a cowardly excuse for a lack of direct supervision. I say again, hitting SEND does not end our obligation to ...(wait for it)... FOLLOW UP and make sure tasks are getting accomplished. Read receipts have nothing to do with concepts like accountability. In case no one ever explained it before, accountability of personnel and equipment requires leaders to actually see things with their own eyes and touch them with their own hands. If this idea is an alien to anyone you may want to consider a line of work outside the military and please do not apply for a leadership position in regular society.

If geography makes it impossible to see someone face to face please have the courage to pick up the phone. When you try to chew out an individual electronically and CC a bunch of other people what you are really saying is: "It wasn't me! It was the one armed man in the TO line!" Barring any special circumstance where this might be warranted, all it does is scream that you are trying to affix the blame for your incompetence on someone else. And really, if you messed up, say you messed up. It won't save you from a butt chewing but at least we will respect you in the morning.

The bottom line is this: Get out from behind your desk and go lead someone once in a while.

That is all. Carry on with the plan of the day.
America's 1stSgt

Friday, July 23, 2010

Corporal Joe Wrightsman, United States Marine

The Department of Defense announced the death of a Marine who was supporting
Operation Enduring Freedom. Cpl. Joe L. Wrightsman, 23, of Jonesboro, La., died July 18 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

A Marine carry team lifts a transfer case containing the remains of Cpl. Joe L. Wrightsman Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

While all of the above is true it doesn't sit well with me to merely leave you with that sanitized version of events. As someone who knew Cpl Wrightsman's character, I will do my best to paint for you, the citizens he served, a better picture of an American fighting man.

To the best of my knowledge, this is what happened:

On July 18, Cpl Wrightsman was part of a patrol crossing the Helmand river when an ANP (Afghan National Police) was swept away in the river behind him. Without hesitation, Cpl Wrightsman, in full personal protective gear, dove into the water in an effort to rescue the ANP. He was last seen about 50 ft downstream when he surfaced briefly. Four other Marines had dropped their gear and went in after him but were unable to find anything. From what I understand the entire Marine Expeditionary Force threw its efforts into recovering Cpl Wrightsman. Every type of asset, aircraft, equipment, and personnel were employed. Taliban forces were beginning to move in from the north in an effort to capture Cpl Wrightsman's body before the Marines. They were thwarted after two days when both bodies were recovered by the Americans.

In the picture below you can see then Lance Corporal Wrightsman standing directly behind me serving as guidon bearer for Kilo Company 3/3 when we were getting ready to leave Fallujah and head home in 2008.

Then Lance Corporal Wrightsman as my guidon bearer in Iraq 2008.
I remember Wrightsman had a tattoo of the Green Lantern symbol. Many young men have joined the Corps with dreams of doing exploits. No doubt Wrightsman was no different, hoping to emulate the valor of his childhood heroes.

Graduating from Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Course, Al Asad, Iraq 2009.

Hamming it up with the Company 1stSgt during the Marine Corps Birthday November 2007.

Upon hearing what happened on July 18 nearly every one of us that knew him immediately thought: "But Wrightsman can't swim!" Fortunately, America still breeds men with a bias for action who don't dwell on what they can't do. I imagine Cpl Wrightsman thought to himself: "I can't let this guy down!" Then he heedlessly went after a man who wasn't a fellow Marine or even an American.

One of my last acts as Kilo Company 1stSgt was to submit Wrightsman for meritorious promotion to Corporal. At the time of his death his current 1stSgt had submitted him for meritorious Sergeant. It was recently remarked to me that all Cpl Wrightsman cared about was being a Marine and taking care of his squad. Yeah, that's just about my breed of Marine I'd say.

" And each man stands with his face in the light of his own drawn sword. Ready to do what a hero can." - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Semper Fidelis,
America's 1stSgt

Friday, July 16, 2010


Been kinda busy lately, but in support of Kanani over at the Kitchen Dispatch and some of our Army brethren, you should go see this film.

Check it out here.

"But 1stSgt, they're Army and you rarely have anything nice to say about them."

True, but they're Americans and were out there kicking the tail out of the Forces of Evil so I am on board. Any problems with that?

I didn't think so.

Semper Fidelis,
America's 1stSgt

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Office Equipment

Some of the odd objects I use to physically abuse myself and others.

Here you will notice the 80lb kettle bells, medicine balls, jump rope, gymnastic rings, 20lbs of body armor, and a 30lb battering ram.

Battering ram? Who in the world keeps a battering ram in their office?

That's who!

Semper Fi!