Fort Campbell hosts Colin Powell for book signing event
May 30, 2012
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (May 30, 2012) -- Exemplary leadership is a key aspect of military service, and one former Secretary of State Colin Powell learned while 2nd Brigade commander at Fort Campbell in 1976.
He visited Fort Campbell Wednesday for the first time since retiring as a part of a tour promoting his newly-released book, "It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership," co-written with Tony Koltz.
The book explores leadership through a series of parables from Powell's own life, drawing heavily from his military career and time as the 65th Secretary of State in George W. Bush's administration. The book chronicles experiences from his upbringing in Harlem to the now-famous Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction speech he delivered to the United Nations in 2003.
"It has a lot of Campbell stories in it," Powell said about the book, in an interview at McAuliffe Hall. "I was really quite surprised how many times I reflected back to my experience here at Fort Campbell and the 101st."
While post looks different now, with simulation centers and even a dog-grooming store much to Powell's surprise, the lessons in leadership that the Army provides are still readily available for young Soldiers looking to progress as he did.
"The only part [of post] that I truly recognize is the wooden barracks where the 2nd Brigade used to be," Powell said of Fort Campbell. "We went to look at the housing area where we lived -- it's gone. The house is gone. I used to live at 1560 Cole Park … right down the hill from the log cabin where the General, CG, used to live."
A Soldier for 35 years, Powell said it's most important to take care of your troops -- because then they'll take care of you and help you succeed.
"The underlying theme that I think Soldiers will enjoy reading about, young officers and noncommissioned officers, is the importance of building bonds of trust between leaders and followers," he explained. "For leaders to understand that they are of no use unless they have followers. You're not a leader without followers."
However, Powell said these military leadership stories can be translated to civilian populations easily as well. He regularly speaks to corporate groups who are eager to apply these principles.
"You have to set the example as a leader," he said. "You have to display confidence. You have to convey intensity and passion to what you're doing."
Throughout his career, which included a stint as National Security Advisor and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell said many people helped to shape his view of good leadership. Many of these men came from the Screaming Eagles, including Gen. John A. Wickham, who went on to serve as U.S. Army Chief of Staff from 1983-1987.
"When I was here at Campbell, there were a lot of people to admire," Powell said. "General Wickham was my division commander. It was the first time I had ever really worked for him … He was a mentor for me, not only here at Campbell, but for the rest of my career."
Others, such as then-Brig. Gen. Weldon C. "Tiger" Honeycutt and former 101st Airborne Division Chief of Staff Ted "Wild Turkey" Crozier, are colorfully remembered in Powell's books during a time just after the Vietnam War when the Army began to change from a male-dominated establishment to an increasingly more Family-friendly environment.
"You got to have a character like Tiger around," Powell said. "We learned a lot from him about being tough, but fair."
This is the second book release for Powell, after his autobiographical "My American Journey" sold record numbers in 1995. Many of the hundreds of people gathered Wednesday afternoon at the Post Exchange for the signing remember his first book and look forward to reading about the insights Powell provides in his latest effort.
"For one, most of his books talk about his leadership," said Master Sgt. Terrence Reyes, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade. "If you want to stay in the military, or even if you become a civilian, why not learn how to improve yourself?"
With some of those at the signing eagerly reading while waiting, it was evident Powell still speaks to Soldiers, Family members and retirees of all ages.
"I'm really enjoying it," said Evie King, a 526th Brigade Support Battalion spouse. "I'm not all the way through, but it definitely makes you want to turn the pages."
"It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership" begins by discussing "Thirteen Rules" for leaders, such as "Share credit" and "Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision." Powell said he enjoyed crafting this book over a period of several years, and he's happy with the way it turned out.
"Some people wanted me to write a regular political memoir … but I didn't feel like writing that because they only last a few weeks and then they're gone," he said. "Each story has a little profundity to it … I wrote it to be short, interesting, and hopefully people get something out of it."