By Maj. Jay Taylor, 31st ADA PAOOctober 6, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla. -- "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time," said Gen. George Patton.
This famous quotation is prominently posted in the offensive line team room at Oklahoma State University and 35 Soldiers from Fort Sill experienced how OSU football players applied that particular military maxim to daily practice.
The Soldiers, from the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, traveled to Stillwater to spend the day with the Cowboy football team Sept. 27. While there, they explored the similarities of leadership, core values and team building between Army units and college football.
The Soldiers spent the day at Boone Pickens Stadium touring the facilities, joining players during team meetings and watching a team practice. The OSU players and Soldiers ended the day with dinner at the Cowboy training table.
Mike Gundy, OSU head coach, spoke to the players and Soldiers during a team meeting, stressing the importance of discipline and leadership. Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Joseph, the top enlisted Soldier for the brigade, led the Soldiers in reciting the Warrior Ethos, which received a hooah from the players and coaches.
"A football player and a Soldier share the same standard of discipline and getting our individual jobs done to create a winning team," said Joseph. "This is a great opportunity for our Soldiers to see that and have an appreciation that enforcing standards is required in any successful organization."
"They were able to talk about their accountability to each other and their training," said Gundy. "If they have a missed assignment, it's a bad thing compared to what we have."
The Soldiers broke into small groups to shadow the players as they went through their practice session and quickly recognized familiar processes for the improvement of performance.
"Watching the team, I could see the similarity between what I do and what they do," said Pfc. Lindsey Claunch, a Patriot crew member from C Battery, 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery. "They talked about their mistakes but didn't dwell on them. They learned from them and moved on."
The air defenders got a rare opportunity to get an inside look at the OSU football program and enjoyed the VIP treatment. Staff Sgt. Scott Smith, an assistant operations sergeant for the brigade and Oklahoma native, seized the chance to visit the campus.
"My parents are Cowboy football season ticket holders, but I get them most Saturdays," said Smith. "This facility is amazing and shows that the OSU football program has a great future. It's been a lot of fun visiting today and getting an inside look at the program."
The idea for the event was sparked after a recent visit to OSU by Maj. Gen. David Halverson, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, and
Riki Ellison, a three-time Super Bowl champion. Ellison is the founder and chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building public support for the development of missile defense systems.
"One of our biggest goals is to inspire Soldiers and show them the gratitude they deserve for the things they do every day," said Ellison. "The OSU Cowboys are a championship level football team and inviting [Soldiers] to be a part of that team is a way to show them just how important their role is since they do not get the recognition they deserve, we have the ability to do this."
OSU and the 31st ADA are planning future events, which pleases Claunch, who is also an Oklahoma native. She wants the team to come to Fort Sill to show the Cowboys what her team does.
"I am from Newcastle and watched Justin Blackmon tear us up on the football field. He comes from a military family and was very appreciative of us. He made time to talk to us and made us feel very welcome. I would like them to see what we do at Fort Sill."
The Cowboys next game is Oct. 8 against Kansas. Joseph hopes to see the Cowboy defensive backs enforce a "no-fly zone" against the Jayhawks the same as he has spent his 22 years of service doing.