Headquarters Company first sergeant, inspired by first NCO, practices lessons learned
June 11, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Army careers are often shaped by the NCOs met along the way.
For anyone who has served in the Army, naming a great NCO is easy. Listing the qualities of what makes a great NCO is a bit more difficult. It may be hard to list what makes them great, but we know them when we see them.
1st Sgt. Rietta Owens, Headquarters and Headquarters Company Special Activities, is one of those great NCOs.
Aca,!A"1st Sgt. OwenAca,!a,,cs professionalism, intelligence and confidence really stand out,Aca,!A? said Cpt. Andrea So, commander, HHC-SA. Aca,!A"She is intelligent. Not just in respect to the Army. There is no doubt in my mind she could do anything in the academic world she wanted to. She is well-educated, well-written and well- spoken.
Aca,!A"Every time I have a question, she can answer it, or can go right to the regulation that does. To me, that is just invaluable,Aca,!A? So said.
So and Owens have worked together since August.
Aca,!A"There is no doubt Owens is able to carry out whatever mission you give her,Aca,!A? So said. Aca,!A"She never waivers or shies away from a challenge. She is always ready to do what her leaders and peers ask of her. She is always there for her Soldiers.
Aca,!A"The first weekend Owens became my first sergeant, a Soldier got in trouble at 3 a.m. Her first weekend on the job, and she stepped right in,Aca,!A? So continued. Aca,!A"Owens picked the Soldier up; made sure the Soldier was taken care of and safe. I was notified, but she took care of everything. The situation was a hard thing to deal with right off the bat, which I certainly appreciated,Aca,!A? So said.
Owens also works closely with command group in BelvoirAca,!a,,cs Headquarters Battalion.
Aca,!A"1st Sgt. Owens is one of the most proficient first sergeants on Fort Belvoir. I am proud to have her as a part of the Eagle Team,Aca,!A? said Headquarters Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Allison Smith.
NCOs generally have two responsibilities above all others. Aca,!A"My number one responsibility is to take care of Soldiers. It is the key to what NCOs do. We make sure the health and welfare of our Soldiers and their families is taken care of. Everything that a Soldier needs to be successful should be provided,Aca,!A? Owens said.
Aca,!A"The second most important responsibility I have is accomplishing the mission. WeAca,!a,,cre here to do a job, and we need to make sure we do just that, accomplish the Army mission,Aca,!A? Owens said.
NCO doesnAca,!a,,ct just stand for leader. NCO also stands for mentor and teacher.
Aca,!A"When I look at 1st Sgt. Owens, I donAca,!a,,ct look at her as being an NCO and me as an officer,Aca,!A? So said. Aca,!A"I look at her as a mentor, because I learn from her every day. She exemplifies what it means to be a good leader, and what it means to be a good Soldier.
Aca,!A"I really try to incorporate some of what she has taught me into my own leadership style. She is just such a great example for anyone to follow, regardless of rank or background. Finding someone of her caliber is rare,Aca,!A? So said.
Owens joined the Army when she was 23 years old. Aca,!A"I had an older sister and older brother were both in the Army and it was something I just always wanted to do,Aca,!A? she said.
Aca,!A"I was already married and had a family. My husband and I sat down and talked about it. He said, Aca,!EoeIf you go in, youAca,!a,,cre going for the long haul.Aca,!a,,c Now itAca,!a,,cs been 17 years,Aca,!A? Owens said.
Before coming to Belvoir, Owens spent five years at Fort Stewart, Ga. Before that, she was a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Owens also served as the administrative NCO for the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency at Fort Myer, and as the administrative officer for Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Owens still remembers very clearly the NCO that shaped her own leadership style.
Aca,!A"Sgt. 1st Class Dodson was a squared-away NCO. He was hard, but fair. I looked up to the way he took care of us,Aca,!A? Owens said. Aca,!A"He was my first experience with the NCO side of the house.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cll never forget my drill sergeant, of course; but, Sgt. 1st Class Dodson was always mentoring, teaching and coaching. He was the very first NCO who showed me what NCOs are supposed to do. He really had compassion for Soldiers,Aca,!A? Owens said.
In OwenAca,!a,,cs unit, compassion is essential. HHC Special Activities supports the installation staff, but, also ensures Soldiers brought to Belvoir with compassionate reassignment orders have the resources and the time available to take care of whatever situation brought them here.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cve been able to help Soldiers understand Army regulations, procedures and policies. As a drill sergeant, I got to help mold civilians into Soldiers. As a first sergeant, I am still coaching, mentoring and teaching Soldiers, to help them be successful,Aca,!A? Owens said.
OwenAca,!a,,cs has several recommendations for Soldiers who want to succeed.
Aca,!A"Set a goal early on,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"I knew what rank I wanted to achieve. I got my career model off the Human Resources Command Web site, then strategically picked jobs to get to my goal.Aca,!A?
Owens passion and success has been passed on to her son, who recently decided to join the Army.
Aca,!A"I actually have a son in basic training right now. He likes it. HeAca,!a,,cs been around the Army all his life. I think heAca,!a,,cll do really great,Aca,!A? Owens said.
As advice to anyone looking for the opportunity to join the Army Owens says, Aca,!A"the Army is not just a career opportunity, itAca,!a,,cs a lifestyle. You have to be willing to live that lifestyle and be dedicated to what we stand for.
Aca,!A"You have to want it. There [are] great benefits. But, come in and want to be a Soldier.Aca,!A?