By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram staff writer July 29, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Part of the Army Creed reads: I will always place the mission first.
For former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman and past Fort Myer resident Gen. Colin Powell, his recent missions involve not getting writer's cramp or having a pen go dry or run low on ink.
The former secretary of state was on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall July 25 at a Marine Exchange book signing attended by more than 200 admirers. The former cabinet member greeted active duty service members and the public and autographed his most recent book, "It Worked For Me - In Life and Leadership."
"We do well. We have it down to a science," the general said about his book-signing routine. "With the help of my two assistants, the books get passed to me, and I sign them. Frankly, (writer's cramp) has been less trouble this time than the last time I was doing book signings 17 years ago. I must be loosening up because of age, or I'm more agile than I was then."
Fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, Powell brought his humor to the exchange floor to those waiting in line for as long as an hour to meet him.
Army Capt. Jamillah Johnson of Fort Knox, Ky., was book signing customer number one in the active duty line. She held two Powell books - one was to be a gift for her fiancé.
"This is huge; I was born in Mississippi and don't get much of a chance to see generals like this," said Johnson, who is in the Military District of Washington on a training mission.
Since the introduction of "It Worked For Me" to the bookshelves, Powell has conducted 30 book signings during the past 14 months. The Henderson Hall event was his fourth in 2013. While he usually is swamped by the media for interview requests, he finds it refreshing to field questions from regular folk.
"Sometimes we just talk about the service. Very often (service members) will tell me they've served with me years and years and years ago," Powell said prior to the book signing. "We usually just have exchanges between fellow GIs, as I still like to call all of our servicemen. Very seldom do they ask any policy or substantive questions."