By AMCOM Public AffairsMay 15, 2017
Using the backdrop of Redstone Arsenal's rich history and legacy, Brig. Gen. Bob Stewart, USA, Ret., addressed the AMCOM Leadership Prayer Breakfast Tuesday at The Summit at Redstone.
Also using history points, Bill Marriott, AMCOM Deputy to the Commanding General, welcomed attendees saying that a National Day of Prayer has been part of the country's fabric since 1775.
The Deputy noted that President Abraham Lincoln re-initiated the first Thursday in May observance during the course of the Civil War, following a hiatus in its national attention.
"This special event is designed to bring leaders together across AMCOM for fellowship, prayer, spiritual resilience and to enhance leadership skills," Marriott said. "My prayer is that each of you will come away from this gathering with a renewed sense of community, hope and unity."
Stewart became the first Army astronaut in 1984, was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007.
"I confess that I am a bit intimidated to be speaking to an Army leadership event since that is a bit like the old saying: 'Taking coals to Newcastle,' Stewart said. "But I do hope I can show a different side of leadership by looking at the remarkable events of the past here at Redstone."
In 1954, Wernher von Braun proposed launching an artificial earth satellite using his Redstone missile. It was a joint Army/Navy effort called Project Orbiter, which, eventually, spawned the Army Ballistic Missile Agency.
"On Sept. 20, 1956, the Army launched Jupiter C # RS-27(a satellite launching variant of the Redstone) 682 miles into space and 3,350 down range." Stewart said. "By the way, the rocket that Alan Shephard rode into space was RS-29.
"In November, 1957, the Army was directed to launch a satellite before March 1958. ABMA actually launched Explorer I on 31 Jan 1958, 84 days after getting the "go ahead."
"It still amazes me that the Army was able to bring together Maj. Gen. John Bruce Medaris and Wehrner von Braun at a time when, under orders from the DoD, the Army was limited to building surface to surface rockets with a range of less than 200 miles," Stewart, who has logged 1,035 combat hours in Vietnam, said. "These visionaries then went on to build the Saturn V.
"But on further thought they followed this directive to the letter. If you put a big enough payload on a Saturn V, it probably wouldn't go more than 200 miles. And it was a surface to surface missile. No one asked; so they didn't tell anyone, that it was Surface of the Earth to Surface of the Moon.
Key takeaway point from the 28-year veteran
"Now what does all of this have to do with leadership," Stewart asked. "There are many different kinds of leaders. Some leaders are needed to lead groups down familiar paths to known objectives. But there is room for a few mavericks to leave the well understood and well-worn paths; to strike out across unknown territory and to blaze new trails for others to follow.
"There is great risk in being one of this second breed, but the world needs these leaders. I will leave you with a thought from one highly accomplished leader, Alexander the Great, who said: 'I do not fear an army of lions led by a sheep, but I fear an army of sheep led by a lion.' The U.S. Army had a couple of lions in Medaris and von Braun."
Attendees received a copy of 'Courageous Leadership' by Bill Hybels. The book illustrates the use of compass points for a 360-degree focus on providing maximum direction to others.