NCO balances mission and humor
June 18, 2009
- Mission and humor not mutually exclusive for successful NCO
- Lighthearted NCO leads team to success
FORT RUCKER, Ala.--Sgt. Levi Britain believes that all work and no play makes for a dull time up in the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower at Hanchey Army Heliport. The 33-year-old C Company, 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment Soldier from Dallas, said that having a good time while still staying focused on the task at hand is the way to work.
"The mission is number one, but that doesn't mean you can't make the job fun," Britain said. "I laugh at everything. I'm just going to stay lose. While I'm at work, (we) just have fun. You cannot let things get to you." 1st Sgt. Ross Coffee, C Co., 1st Bn., 11th Avn. Regt., agrees with Britain's theory after watching him work this way for five years.
"Keeping the job fun is really important because, being in the Army, (there's) a lot of repetition sometimes. We have to ask a lot of our Soldiers, and to do that sometimes, we (need to) motivate them in different ways. You have to find what motivates each and every Soldier and (Britain is) really good at doing that. He's very optimistic.
He sees the light at the end of the tunnel. He doesn't let one situation bog him down," Coffee said.
Britain's lightheartedness does not compromise his dedication or commitment to his job and troops. Coffee describes Britain as a go-getter and a team player. He also noted his caring, dependable nature. "He's very outgoing. He's always there for you. You can always count on him no matter what. He's very compassionate toward his Soldiers and he takes being an NCO very seriously especially (by) taking care of those below him," Coffee said.
"Being an NCO sometimes is pretty much like a big brother, just with a little bit of added discipline. He's a very caring individual. He's a good listener." Britain said he has developed his leadership style by watching those above him for more than 10 years he's spent in the Army. "I've had great leadership (and) I've had terrible leadership," he said. 'I learn more from the bad (and) do a 180 (degree opposite) from what that person's doing."
One of his fellow ATCs, Hanchey Facility Chief Staff Sgt. Michael Marshall, C Co., 1st Bn., 11th Avn. Regt., looks to Britain as an outstanding example of what a leader should be. "Sgt. Britain is a great NCO. He's a good role model," Marshall said.
During the Year of the NCO, the entire Army is recognizing role models such as Britain. "It's recognizing our responsibilities and how important our role is as far as military operations go," Britain said. "It's just kind of putting us out there and showing the world and the military how much responsibility we have. We're not just the old guys that wear stripes and yell at people. We have a really important job."
One of those important jobs was his role as an ATC during his last deployment to Kuwait. "Guys would literally get lost (while flying in the desert) and we would bring them back in," Britain said. "Or, dust storms would kick in where they (literally) couldn't see in front of them, so it was our job to keep them from running into each other and bring them back to the airfield."
Coffee said this is just part of Britain's nature, and that he always volunteers to take up a challenge. He also said Britain is a "big time Family man." This dedication to his wife and three young children was part of his motivation in requesting to be stationed here at the end of last year.
While many Soldiers complain about the summer heat or the lack of recreational activities in the area, Britain said he enjoys it here. "I love being here," he said. "If I had my way, I would spend the next decade here. I may not see my Family (even) 20 minutes a day, but I'd rather see them 20 minutes a day, every day, rather than go six to eight months and then seeing them for two weeks then leave for another four or five months (like I have at other posts). That was one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to come here."