By Michael Fluharty, (ARL)June 16, 2008
ADELPHI, Md. - For 12 weeks a year, Army Maj. (ret.) Dan Turner returns a portion of what a lifetime in the Army has taught him. He volunteers with the Officer Candidate School to help Soldiers become new officers.
Turner retired at Fort Benning, Ga., and is a member of the Army Research Lab's Human Research and Engineering Directorate. His work supports the U.S. Army Infantry School through the evaluation of new weapons and equipment for the infantry Soldier, and conducts human factor evaluations of new equipment for program managers.
Annually, OCS provides more than 1,500 Soldiers with the opportunity to become officers in a three-part commissioning process. Turner guest lectures about combat leadership and the lessons learned during a Special Force attempt to rescue American POWs in Son Tay, North Vietnam, where he earned a Silver Star.
"OCS teaches you how to be flexible and how to think on your feet," said Turner.
Although OCS has changed some since he attended, the school continues to teach the timeless lessons and skills necessary to be a platoon leader and company commander.
"OCS develops confidence," Turner said. "OCS candidates have to realize the bottom line is it's your decision regardless of whether in combat, during a training event or in their everyday life. You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility."
He talks to candidates on a "one-on-one" basis, teaching them the value of team work and the brotherhood of warriors.
"Just being there and willing to listen and talk of lessons learned is a big step in the right direction," Turner said. "I tell them about the honor of camaraderie and how it is required by the warrior ethos. Being a mentor is not difficult. It is a desire to give back and be willing to give your time and your knowledge."
Turner completed his bachelor's degree at night while serving as an 82nd Airborne Division company commander. Much of Turner's success during this time depended on good time management - a skill he learned as an officer candidate.
"I've used OCS training throughout my life," Turner said. "Some of the things I learned in OCS were very beneficial in civilian life. Everything I've succeeded in during the last 40 years I could probably attribute to OCS."