Trip to historic site adds context to leadership lessons
Melissa Olivas, from the Security Assistance Command's New Cumberland, Pa., location, provides an overview about Gen. John J. Pershing during a Mentor Program staff ride to Arlington National Cemetery. Daveine Butler and Ann Scott, also from New Cumb... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Eleven employees from the Security Assistance Command's New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, location participated in a staff ride to Arlington National Cemetery April 12 to learn about different leaders and their leadership styles.

The staff ride is part of a yearlong Mentor Program that also includes lunch-and-learn sessions that help mentees see how they fit into the big Army, presenting briefings to leaders about topics important to the New Cumberland workforce and completing two CAPSTONE projects.

Employees volunteer to participate in USASAC's Mentor Program as mentees; they are paired with volunteer mentors. This cohort will finish the program and graduate in May.

"We went to Gettysburg last year, and it was the second or third time that a lot of our participants had been there," said Jewel "Ann" Scott, USASAC G4 Services and Products Division chief. "We wanted something that was new, interesting and relevant."

To prepare for the trip, mentees and their mentors read and discussed various articles about leadership, leadership styles and how leadership and management are different but equally important.

A goal of the Arlington staff ride is to develop leadership skills by getting the mentees to think about leadership - what it is, what it isn't, what constitutes good leadership, whether leaders are born or made, what practices help foster leadership, etc., according to Scott.

Mentees and their mentors researched specific leaders who are buried at Arlington: Thurgood Marshall, Abner Doubleday, George Westinghouse, Walter Reed, John F. Kennedy, Audie Murphy, William Howard Taft and John J. Pershing. The group stopped at each grave site to get to know that person and discuss their leadership traits.

Shortly after the group started going to the different grave sites, it started to rain, and rained most of the afternoon. Without a thought, the group banded together, the umbrellas came out and the mission continued.

Daveine Butler, a logistics management specialist at New Cumberland, briefed the group about Walter Reed.

According to an online biography, Maj. Walter Reed was an Army physician, pathologist and bacteriologist who in 1901 led the experiments that proved yellow fever is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. His team's work continued efforts started by Carlos Finlay and directed by George Miller Sternberg, who has been called the first U.S. bacteriologist. The Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., was named in his honor.

"Walter Reed was a hard worker and a knowledge seeker," Butler said. "He was intellectually curious. He was people oriented and selfless, because he led from the front without thought of himself by going to Cuba and being on the front line of the epidemic. He spent his life gaining a lot of medical knowledge, which he used to come to the aid of the dying people in Cuba and help eradicate yellow fever."

Butler said she was impressed with the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

While traveling to the cemetery, the group watched a video on the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the motivation and dedication of the Soldiers who guard the tomb.

"The Tomb guards strive for perfection," she said. "They are disciplined and execute the movements with precision. They conduct themselves in a manner that commands respect. I think they can be viewed as selfless because they man their post until relieved."

Steven Ile, also a logistics management specialist, discussed Audie Murphy, the most decorated U.S. Soldier of World War II. Murphy returned home a hero and became an actor, starring in his own story, "To Hell and Back." Though he was only 21 years old at the end of the war, he had killed 240 German soldiers, had been wounded three times and had earned 33 awards and medals. After the war, he appeared in more than 40 films. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder throughout his life.

"He was a very courageous and empathetic leader," Ile said of Murphy. "It showed that there are many traits to being a leader, some you are born with and some are taught through learning."

The Mentor Program, now in its second year, incorporated lessons learned from the inaugural class.

Scott said the program is paying dividends.

"Three of the eight mentees who completed the previous cohort have been promoted," she said. "Several mentees have told me that they gained confidence and self-awareness as a result of their experience. Several have stayed in touch with their mentors, which is ideal, because the program is about building relationships, and that occurs best over time."