Prayer Breakfast speaker lauds NCOs
February 27, 2009
- Chaplain School commandant lauds NCOs during National Prayer Breakfast event
FORT GORDON, Ga.-- (February 24, 2009) A crowd of 400 turned out before dawn Feb. 23 for Fort Gordon's Annual National Prayer Breakfast held at the Gordon Club.
This year's theme was "Praying for our service members and their Families."
"Prayer moves the hand that moves the world," said Chaplain (Col.) Mitchell Morton, garrison chaplain, as he welcomed attendees to the 2009 National Prayer Breakfast.
Morton said the event originated in the President Dwight Eisenhower era. "The President felt that the nation should come together to pray for the needs of our great country," he said.
"I believe those needs still exist today due to economic situations and terrorism," Morton said.
Following the welcome by the installation chaplain, the U.S. Army Signal Corps Band played music and members of the Navy Choral Group from the National Security Agency of Georgia sang the national anthem.
Chaplain (Maj.) Robert Allman, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade chaplain, gave the invocation before the open buffet breakfast was served.
Chaplain (Col.) William Laigaie, 7th Signal Command, then gave the prayer for the nation. Chaplain (Col.) Gary Brown, Fort Gordon Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care chief, said a prayer for the armed forces. Randy Dillard, Fort Gordon Religious Education director, prayed for the surrounding communities.
The Garrison chaplain then introduced the keynote speaker, Chaplain (Col.) Samuel Boone, U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School commandant, from Fort Jackson, S.C.
Boone, a former enlisted man, received training as a radio operator at Fort Gordon in the 30s, according to Morton. "He remembers cutting a lot of grass here," Morton jokingly said in his introduction.
"I not only remember cutting grass here as an AIT [Advanced Individual Training] student, but getting chewed out for leaving my lawn mower running while stopping to drink some water," said Boone.
"This is the Year of the NCO," Boone said. "With that in mind I want to share some thoughts with you today about our Army values and talk to you about some former NCOs who taught me about those values."
Before the Army adopted core values or the NCO creed I had NCOs teaching me about duty, honor, selfless service and showing respect for one another, said Boone. They did this not by words, but by their actions.
"I was in Reagan Airport one day and saw this book, Lest we Forget by William Meacham," said the Vanderbilt University alumnus. "Meacham was my pilot instructor in tactics at flight school,'' he said.
Boone, who returned to active duty in 1984, after serving with the Tennessee National Guard, first as a Signal Officer and later as commander of the 670th Air Traffic Control Detachment, read a portion of the book before continuing his talk about Army values. "I think this excerpt demonstrates what true leadership is about," he said.
It was during the Vietnam War. A Soldier was on his brick [field radio] radioing for help and someone cut in on the frequency he was on.
"This is Lucky Eagle," the officer said. "What is your situation'"
... "This is 25. Situation critical! Get the hack off my radio. I couldn't believe I just said that. "Lucky Eagle" is the call sign of the commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
"Oh, well, so much for a brief, but brilliant military career. However, I couldn't be bothered with rank protocol. I had more important things on my mind.
However, the general's reply came back just seconds later. It was short and it also showed the kind of great leader he was.
"This is Lucky Eagle. Roger, Out," said the general.
In another situation, Boone recalled being enlisted and having been invited to have dinner at the Officers' Club with an officer. At the time the clubs were segregated based on rank. Boone was asked to leave after being served. The officer [who had invited him to dinner] picked up his plate and the two of them left the Officers' Club. They finished eating their dinner on the hood of a jeep.
Each story he told demonstrated the merit and value of noncommissioned officers. The prayer breakfast concluded with everyone singing "America, The Beautiful."