CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ-EAST, Iraq - Sgt. Guillermo Martinez Quintana, a native of Mayaguez, P.R., says that every noncommissioned officer needs to look to his left.

"As a leader you will need to be confident on your abilities to lead our future generation of Soldiers that more than ever seek guidance from their leaders," said Martinez, redeployment movement NCO for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

"When the road seems tough and the task too overwhelming, look to your left and remember that every Soldier in your section is depending on you to lead them.

" The veteran Soldier, who has served in Puerto Rico and Korea, and deployed to Eygpt, Kuwait and now Iraq, said an NCO has to have a diverse skill set to be a true leader. "It means to be a leader that influences the people around him to improve and excel," he said.

"A leader should inspire others to walk that road full of challenges and build resilience in his subordinates. A leader is a person of patience, understanding and versatility in our diverse Army, who is always able to adapt to the changing combat operational environment.

" Martinez said a leader has to put his Soldiers first. "Being a noncommissioned officer requires one to sacrifice his personal needs for his Soldiers' and for the overall welfare of the unit," said Martinez.

Martinez said a good NCO shaped his career early on. "During my time in his unit, I was a young private without a clear path on my military career and didn't know what being a professional Soldier was all about," he said.

"Sgt. 1st Class Tavai took time from his daily duties as a first sergeant to coach me and mentor me on what being a Soldier is all about and what the Army expects from me as a professional. He represented everything that a leader should be, a person of character, values and a person who genuinely cared for Soldiers."

But the thing Tiava did that really made the difference was to see Martinez not just as one Soldier among many, but as a capable individual.

"Most importantly, he took the time to know my weaknesses and strengths so he could develop me as a professional Soldier," he said. Martinez said he challenges his Soldiers to strive above and beyond their everyday missions.

"I coached and mentored a Soldier to win four company-level boards and the battalion Soldier of the Quarter board, which qualified her to represent the battalion at the brigade level," he said.

"I helped develop three Soldiers in my squad to become noncommissioned officers." This deployment has helped Martinez to get to know himself, and who he is as a leader, he said.

"This deployment has tested my resilience in every aspect," Martinez said. "I have been challenged more mentally and spiritually than prior deployments.

This has been a very important phase of my life in which I have grown as a person and learned the importance of not judging others but helping them grow. I realized that as a leader you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

" Martinez, who entered the military in 1998, has a wife, Amelia, and a son, Denzel. The avid surfer and martial artist said he wants to someday follow in the family tradition and complete a degree in the medical field.