The 12th Sergeant Major of the Army, SMA Jack E. Tilley, in an interview with the NCO journal (2000), recounted telling his wife about his selection to the position –
“I came home and said, Gloria you know I’ve been selected as the twelfth Sergeant Major of the Army. She said how many people are there in the Army? I said, well including the Reserves and the National Guard, and Active Duty – I’d probably say there are about a million Soldiers. She then said, how many congratulations notes did you receive? I said, About 300. And she said, you’ve got a lot of work to do! So, that was very humbling for me”.
This interview was printed the same year I started recruiting. It reminded me that the two or three new Future Soldiers I found every month were only the tip of the spear in the bigger picture of what I was doing. It was my responsibility to ensure I earned the trust and respect of the entire community at large. I had to be welcome in high schools, colleges, businesses, and homes.
Getting a thank you letter from a Soldier when they enlist or when they finish training comes with the territory for professional NCOs. Getting those letters from parents, teachers, aunts, and uncles is something else entirely. When a recruiter’s wall is plastered with thank you letters from influencers like these, he/she has made a real difference in more than just a young person’s life or the strength of the Army. That wall tells the story of a LEADER who put everything and everyone ahead of self for the good of all, every single day.
I’ve seen many dozens of these high quality Soldiers over the years. I’ve watched them inspire their teammates and build cohesion with their genuine concern for others. I’ve had the pleasure to work for many of them, work next to many of them, and lead many more of them. Today I have the pleasure of having a great number of high quality NCOs in my charge. In recent months I have seen our organization become a literal Team of Teams that looks out for each other and their community.
I have a “tough love” style with my Soldiers that often comes through as kind of cranky I imagine. Tough love though, is the most genuine of all. The only time I ever spanked my daughter was when she put her finger in a light socket. I had to do it because it was in her best interest. My position requires that I remain ever vigilant putting the best interest of my Soldiers, Future Soldier, families, and the organization FIRST – and so I do. I do it out of respect for their professionalism and to ensure others always see them as I do…as the best, because they are!
I could not be more proud of the team I have assembled today! Today, I could retire on a high note. But, I rather enjoy watching them flourish, so today I will stay. I will stay and watch them win! Thank you Mustangs!
Until next time,