By Jon Micheal Connor, ASC Public AffairsApril 2, 2018
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Sometimes learning of another person's plight puts things in perspective regarding your own life. Whether it's their amazing journey to success or their unfortunate tales of woe, hearing such personal testimony can lead others to re-evaluate and make changes for the better.
A motivational speaker can do just that.
The U.S. Army Sustainment Command offers such speakers on a quarterly basis to its workforce and the RIA community. Its next speaker is Bill Albracht. He is slated to tell his story of adversity and success at 1 p.m., April 11, in Heritage Hall, Building 60.
"My co-worker, Nick Osterhaus, heard him speak at Black Hawk College and
thought he had an amazing story to share that would resonate with our workforce," explained Mary Ann Wicks, team lead for the ASC Resilience Program, a part of the Wellness Division, G-1 (Personnel). "He really captures you when telling his story of his time at Firebase Kate.
"It is a story of perseverance, courage, and resilience."
Firebase Kate was the location where in 1969 then-Army Capt. Albracht -- age 21 and the youngest captain to command combat troops in Vietnam -- led 180-plus Soldiers consisting of 27 American Soldiers and 156 Montagnard militiamen who came under attack from an overwhelming, well-armed North Vietnamese force of 6,000.
The Montagnards were recruited into service by the American Special Forces in Vietnam's mountain highlands, defending villages against the Viet Cong and serving as a rapid response force.
During five fierce days of fighting, with no resupply and cut off from air and artillery support, Albracht led his men through enemy lines in the darkness to escape and evade the enemy -- a feat never repeated in that war.
The details of his exploits can be found in the book "Abandoned in Hell: The Fight for Vietnam's Firebase Kate." The book was written by Albracht and former Army combat photographer and now author, Marvin Wolf.
The battle has also been made into a nationally televised documentary entitled "Escape From Firebase Kate" directed and produced by Davenport, Iowa, independent videographer Paul Kakert.
Albracht went on to become one of the most decorated Soldiers of the Vietnam War being awarded three Silver Stars for gallantry in action, three Purple Hearts, five Bronze Stars, and other awards for combat valor.
A native of Rock Island, Illinois, and graduate of its Alleman Catholic High School, and now resident of Bettendorf, Iowa, Albracht became a special agent of the U.S. Secret Service after his military service.
During a 25-year career, he protected six presidents and their families, as well as visiting foreign heads of state.
"We are grateful our leaders see the importance of resilience training and how it can have a positive influence our workforce," Wicks said.
She added that the team looks for speakers "who can show the workforce that even in the toughest situations, we hopefully can find the strength and courage to pull ourselves up and overcome adversity."
The ASC Resilience Team is responsible for installation-wide resilience training.
"We cover the in-process training that is done each month for military personnel and their families that are new to RIA," Wicks said. "Our training is also geared to the civilian workforce to help employees operate at a more optimal level of performance. It is a work-life balance approach to being able to bounce back from adversity and move on to bigger and better things."