NORMANDY, France -- Thirty-eight Army officers and noncommissioned officers assigned to Public Health Command Europe and its subordinate units, participated in a staff ride to Normandy recently.The three-day staff ride focused on the study and discussion of World War II's Operation Overlord, commonly referred to as 'D-Day'. Professional input from military leaders and briefings from the historian that accompanied the group provided the basis for discussions about character, innovative leadership, professionalism and military history.1st Lt. Tirone Young, PHCE Health Physics Division radiation safety officer, conducted the staff ride on behalf of the command."Per U.S. Army definition, leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization," said Young. "WWII illustrates that leadership can and should be taught."Retired Army Colonel, Scott Wheeler, PhD., played a vital role in the staff ride.Wheeler taught history at the Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana, the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.Wheeler's insight and understanding of what transpired on the beaches of Normandy in June of 1944 formed the basis of subsequent discussions among the group."Throughout our military career we are taught to lead with the question, 'why?'" said Staff Sgt. Claudine Beckford, a supply sergeant at PHCE."In the military, we refer to this as the leader's or commander's intent," Beckford said. "This formulates the desired outcome, but it doesn't implement how the mission is carried out. By providing the why, we empower others and give the reason why it's important that something gets done.""Throughout World War II this lesson in leadership was prevalent in how troops were led. The purpose, or why, of the mission was clearly understood by senior officers all the way down to the private level." said Young.The historical aspect of the staff ride focused on regional operations, primarily the landing beaches and airborne area. Staff ride participants visited the famous Omaha and Utah beaches, as well as Pointe du Hoc, and other Allied-Axis battlegrounds.