Warrior NCO Spotlight: Safety NCO leads 'from the front'
June 17, 2009
CAMP HUMPHEYS, Korea - For Master Sgt. James C. Dillman, the safety noncommissioned officer of 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, being a good NCO is not very different from being a good Soldier. After 22 years' service in the Army, Dillman said the secret to his successful career has been getting the job done without fail.
As the safety NCO of the 2nd CAB, Dillman oversees all safety operation within the brigade and provides other battalions appropriate operational guidance as well as equipment.
Dillman served in the Marine Corps Reserves while attending college, but decided to enlist in the Army after graduation. When Dillman decided to join the Army, his wife was pregnant with the couple's first child. He chose helicopter mechanic as his military occupational specialty and immediately started a rapid progression through the Army ranks.
"I spent most of my career as an E-7, after (it took) eight years to reach the rank," Dillman said in his easy-going style of speech. He credits his success with being "just a little bit fortunate."
In fact, luck had little to do with Dillman's success. He served in several positions and at various locations, from the U.S. to Germany, Iraq and South Korea. The well-traveled NCO spent 19 of his 22 years in the Army leading Soldiers from the front as an NCO.
"I don't think I'm a better person than any young Soldiers," Dillman said. The truth is he treats Soldiers as he wants to be treated and works with his Soldiers. "I don't tell them they've got to do something. I just do it with them."
Through this "from-the-front" leadership style, Dillman inspires Soldiers to want to accomplish the mission as part of the Army team.
"We come together, work together and go back home together," Dillman said.
A great deal of Dillman's success stems from providing Soldiers a strong tie to the Army Family by making them feel at home in the service. Soldiers under his care routinely choose the hard right over the easy wrong because of the positive atmosphere he creates.
"We should have trust in each other (because) we live together, just like a Family," he said.
Dillman said his relationship with Soldiers is one he won't soon forget.
"I would never forget my whole 22 years in the Army," he said. "This is part of my life, and the Army changed me a lot."
Dillman said he wasn't sure what he could do before he joined the Army; but the responsibility and commitment he experienced in the Army made him "grow up" and become more confident in himself.
After growing up and developing into a distinguished leader in the Army, Dillman said, "It's time to move on." The safety NCO is slated to retire in November 2009. He plans to go back home and try something new for his next mission in life with his wife and his three sons.
Dillman served faithfully by applying the fundamentals of what it means to be a Soldier.
"Don't fall short and do your job," he said succinctly. This simple philosophy has served him and his Soldiers well during a long and challenging career.