By Sgt. Brandon Moreno (8th U.S. Army Public Affairs)February 13, 2009
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - The phrase "age is nothing more than a number" could quite possibly be used as a catch-phrase for 20-year-old Sgt. Jamin Bassette, the training room noncommissioned officer for the United Nations Command Honor Guard.
He has served just over three years in the military and earned two Army Commendation Medals and six Army Achievement Medals. He also accomplished induction into the legendary Sgt. Audie Murphy Club.
Bassette started out as a mechanic, but not too long after working this job he decided it was time for a change and became an infantryman.
It was his switch from working in the motor pool to practically living in the field that eventually brought him to the NCOs who would enable him to be the leader he's become today.
"Before I came to Korea I was stationed at the National Training Center in California," he said. "When I would screw up, my NCOs would have me study an Army Regulation and write a report on it instead conducting some form of physical training. I believe this corrective training is what really prepared me in the future for the boards I would attend."
Although this form of reprimand might seem less conventional by some, it eventually contributed to his induction into the storied Sgt. Audie Murphy Club. What this corrective training also contributed to was Bassette's two consecutive wins at the NCO of the Quarter board.
"Beyond just knowing the text book answers, it was also my leaders and my own personal experiences in the Army that enabled me," Bassette said. "The Sgt. Audie Murphy board was no joke. I remember they asked me questions like 'how would you react if one of your Soldiers pulled a knife on another Soldier.' They really wanted to see if you had the kind of leadership skills you can't learn from reading a regulation."
After talking about his own experiences, he took some time to reflect on his own personal beliefs pertaining to leadership and gave future leaders a word or two of advice.
"If you have great NCOs learn everything you can from them they are what make and break you in this Army," he said. "The Army makes a big deal about the Noncommissioned Officer Education System and professional development schools, and don't get me wrong they're great, but that's not what makes a leader."
Bassette said he thinks what makes a leader is apprenticeship.
"I truly believe you have to start as a junior Soldier in order to become a leader," he said. "As a junior Soldier, learn as much as you can from your NCOs. In the end they will only help you to develop as a Soldier and a leader."
These ideas and leadership skills are reflected in his Soldiers. One Soldier in particular is following is his footsteps.
"One of my Soldiers, Pfc. Shawn Coleman, was recently named the Soldier of the Quarter," Bassette said. "When he went to the board, I remember he was asked to describe subjects like the chain of command in his words and his responses were what we would call infantry answers. Although the board members thought some of the answers were funny, they knew they came from a place of true understanding and confidence."
In the future, Bassette will take his knowledge and skills and put them to the test when he competes in the 8th U.S. Army NCO of the year competition. If all go goes well, he will continue on to the Department of the Army Level to compete for the title of NCO of the Year.