Sergeants thrive on challenges, enjoy leading Soldiers
Sgt. Charles Harris, left, and Sgt. Donnie Bass, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) prepare to enter a building during a cordon-and-search training mission in Camp Robertson Training area near Schweinfurt, Germany.

SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- The smell of gunpowder and smoke hang in the air, while the rapid exchange of gunfire begins to slow down. Inside the makeshift building in Camp Robertson Training Area, a small group of four Soldiers discuss their next move.

Sgt. Donnie Bass and Sgt. Charles Harris, both with Blackhorse Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, plot their small-team strategy.

No supervision required.

"To get to be an NCO, you have to be willing not only to take the initiative, but also to take control of any situation," Harris said, following a cordon-and-search mission during the first full day of Operation Saber Charge, a training exercise that prepares Soldiers to conduct a variety of missions.

"You should be able to accomplish that task without hesitating," he said.

Harris and Bass, sergeants for three years and roughly nine months, respectively, are both combat-tested sergeants - perhaps the most heavily populated rank in the noncommissioned officer corps.

"Deployment opens your eyes a lot. You get there, at first, it's a big change...it's everything," Bass said. "It literally changes you. I grew older. I literally matures you a lot."

"For young Soldiers, it not only gets your blood pumping; it also gets you to think more on your feet," said Harris, who has deployed four times in his seven-year career.

Whether on a deployment or conducting missions in a local training area, sergeants must be role models for their Soldiers, according to Bass.

"It's just training your Soldiers. I mean they look up to you, when it all comes down to it, and you've got to be there to lead them and guide them in the right direction," he said.

"When you're a Soldier, you're basically a mirror image of your NCO. That's the way I was brought up," Bass said. "Brought up" would be accurate for Bass, whose father is a retired sergeant major and brother is about to become a staff sergeant.

"I enjoy when Soldiers look up to me, and it makes me feel a sense of responsibility. It makes me feel like I can teach them," Bass said.

He and Harris agreed that they are up to the challenges of leading Soldiers.

"I'm willing to take on anything thrown at me," Harris said.

Page last updated Fri March 27th, 2009 at 06:36