FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 1, 2011) -- Graduating Soldiers of the Initial Entry Rotary Wing Aviator Course received professional counsel from their Branch commander as they prepared to embark on their new career paths.

Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, was the guest speaker for the IERW graduation ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum Aug. 25. He said it was not part of his usual duties, but he didn't want to miss this opportunity to talk to the new Aviators about what could be ahead for them.

"As you take this major step in your Aviation careers, I'm sure you have everyone and their mother trying to give you advice," Crutchfield said. "I am going to offer you some advice today that I hope you will take with you as you put Fort Rucker in your rearview mirror. Treat others the way you want to be treated, never lie, cheat or steal, and always say your prayers."

Though these suggestions are "basics," he added, it never hurts to be reminded of these things people know, but sometimes forget.

Following that advice, the general added some "Army basics" to help the new Aviators in their burgeoning careers.

"Be loyal -- always support your chain of command, take care of your buddy and never, ever leave a fallen comrade," he said. "Take care of Soldiers. That can refer to your helicopter crew or an entire platoon. It can mean making sure Soldiers are dry, fed and comfortable, but more often it will mean ensuring they get the promotion they deserve, are paid on time and are well trained to do the many challenging things you will ask them to do."

Crutchfield concluded his advice with what he said was the most important piece: "Lead from the front."

"You may not always be the fastest on the track or the smartest in the room, but you will come out on top if you show up for the mission before your Soldiers," he said. "Never ask them to do anything you aren't willing to do yourself. Always show them that there is no place you would rather be at that moment than right there, side-by-side with them."

WO1 Jesse N. Schram, an AH-64D pilot bound for assignment in Korea, said he thought the general's speech was well-thought out and he will take the advice with him for the rest of his career.

"Taking care of yourself, your Family and the Soldiers around you is vital," he said. "When you take care of them, they'll always take care of you."

Crutchfield also showed the graduates and their Families in attendance a picture of himself during his graduation ceremony on monitors placed around the stage area.

He told them that although they will look different years from now, this will always be a special day.