CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq - "Being a non-commissioned officer is about leading, training and mentoring Soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Helmer, battalion motor sergeant, 391st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade.

Helmer, a Pineville, Mo., native, has been leading troops since 1997, when he became an NCO.

"Your job as an NCO is to enforce the standards," Helmer said. "Train your Soldiers hard at every opportunity. Do not be afraid to fail; there will be times when you will not succeed. Learn from the failure and move on. Inspect do not expect. Be motivated and motivate your Soldiers."

Helmer said he learned leadership at a young age from one of his neighbors, a Korean War veteran, Phil Moomaw.
"He was very proud of his service and always spoke very highly of the military," said Helmer. "Listening to his stories about what he did in Korea and the struggles they had to overcome there really had an impact on me."

Since enlisting in 1992, Helmer has deployed five times. His deployments have spanned the globe and include: Panama, Egypt, Kuwait, Hungary and now Iraq.

"This deployment has been rewarding for me," Helmer said. "I have been afforded numerous opportunities to grow as a leader. During this deployment I have served as a platoon sergeant, battle captain and I am currently serving as the battalion motor sergeant. Each of these opportunities helped me become a more well-rounded and effective leader."

Helmer is currently in charge of the 391st CSSB's combatives program. He has trained and helped certify 94 level-one and 54 level-two combatants during this deployment, but nearly one-thousand Soldiers in his career.

"Sergeant First Class Helmer has always found the balance between accomplishing his assigned tasks and going out of his way to train Soldiers," said Command Sgt. Maj. David Emerick, command sergeant major, 391st CSSB. "No matter what implied or specified task, he takes it on and always completes it to standard."

It's not all work for Helmer, though. When he's not in uniform he likes to travel and go fishing. He's traveled throughout Europe to places such as England, Tenerife, Palma de Mallorca, and Belgium. But when it's time to relax, the promotable sergeant first class likes to pull out the rod and reel and head to the water with his wife of nine years, Monika.
"Fishing is a way to relive some stress and enjoy some time with my wife," said Helmer.

Like many deployed Soldiers, Helmer has had to find a balance between work and family.

"A 15-month deployment is hard on any family," Helmer said. "My wife and I have had to learn how to deal with being separated for such a long period. I owe a lot of my success in the Army to the support I receive from my wife."