By Charles Melton (USAG Fort Irwin)December 16, 2009
FORT IRWIN, Calif.- When Fort Irwin/National Training Center Commanding General Brig. Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams took to the airwaves of 88.3 FM KNTC, Fort Irwin's post radio station, on Wednesday morning he wasn't alone.
Instead of being accompanied by Fort Irwin/NTC Media Relations Officer Etric Smith, better known ot his listeners as Electric Etric, Brig. Gen. Abrams had four fifth-graders from Tiefort View Elementary School at Fort Irwin, Calif. asking him questions during the school's first radio broadcast led by TVIS principal Ruth Williams.
One of the students, Aaliyah Torres asked Brig. Gen. Abrams, "What makes a great soldier'"
Brig Gen. Abrams replied that there are several things which make a great soldier.
"Being a Soldier, a lot of it's got to do with just being a good American, with just being a good human being and a good person," he said. "Good Soldiers have values just like values that your parents and your teachers have tried to teach you about being loyal and doing what's right, having respect for other people, doing things for others instead of yourself, to have integrity, to tell the truth even if it hurts, to what's right even when nobody's watching and to have personal courage."
Soldiers also have to be physically fit because the job of a soldier is very challenging and soldiers travel to challenging locations to perform challenging missions, he said.
"They also have to be mentally tough. They have to be resilient," Brig. Gen. Abrams said. "They have to be able to face challenges and have inside them this feeling, 'No matter what I am not giving up.' They get the mission done."
When Rylie Rudd asked Brig. Gen. Abrams what his favorite Army vehicle is and added that some people have said it's the Abrams tank, the general was quick to confirm her answer.
"Yes, absolutely it's the Abrams tank. It is by far my favorite vehicle to ride on and I've been riding on them since 1986," he said. "It's a great, great vehicle. I'm proud to call myself a tanker, an armored cavalryman and I've been riding on them for a long, long time. Are you going to ask me what my least favorite vehicle is'"
Brig. Gen. Abrams told the students that his least favorite vehicle isn't actually a vehicle, but a transport system: the helicopter.
"Here's a little-known secret: Gen. Abrams does not like to fly, but he has to fly a lot and he's flown a lot since he was lieutenant," he said. "It's not because we don't have great pilots, because we've got the world's best pilots. I've got a little challenge with my inner ear with my balance and with vertigo, so I get airsick, which is why I don't like to fly."
Torres then asked Brig. Gen. Abrams how he got involved with the schools at Fort Irwin.
"I've got an older daughter who is out of college and now on her own; and I've got a younger son, who is a freshman at Silver Valley High School," he said. "That's sort of what drove my involvement and my wife's involvement in schools, because I think it starts with parents."
Brig. Gen. Abrams then encouraged all parents to step forward and step up and volunteer and help teachers, principals and school staff in any way they can.
"That's why it was an easy answer when Ms. Williams asked would I be willing to be interviewed today by you, four great students from TVIS, because if that's one small thing I can do to contribute to your school experience and your education, then I'm glad to do it," he said.
Brig. Gen. Abrams then turned the tables and asked the four students what they like most about living at Fort Irwin.
"AG I like Fort Irwin, because if you need something there's lots of space for you," said Angelo Gutirrez. "They have the pools, the schools and the PX, and it's all real close."
Torres and Rudd both said they like Fort Irwin, because it's small and they feel safe going anywhere on post.
"Every morning I walk my dog after PT, and it's a different times. It's always great to see kids at Fort Irwin at the bus stop and their parents," Brig. Gen. Abrams said. "The kids feel safe and the parents feel safe letting their kids go out to the bus stop. That's not that way everywhere in America. I'm glad that you feel safe."
After completing their first talk show on the radio, all of the students said they enjoyed the experience and speaking with the commanding general.
"I think it was great, because people got to listen to us and share what they were thinking," Courtney Strahl said.
In one last interesting piece of trivia, Brig. Gen. Abrams clarified the confusion about which one of his relatives the M1 Abrams tank was named after.
"The tank was not named after my grandfather. It was named after my dad," Brig. Gen. Abrams said.