Profile: SGT Don C
Branch of Service
United States Army
42A - Human Resource Specialist
Time in Service
Did you deploy?
Yes, Baghdad, Iraq in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom
What led you to the military?
I was a Sophomore in High School when 9/11 happened. I knew from that point that I was going to join the military. I had discussions with Army, Air Force, and Marine Corp recruiters.
I found out that I was color blind in the process of joining. Once I found that out, the Marine Corp and Air Force recruiters stopped talking to me. The Army recruiter listed out for me the remaining jobs that were available for a person that was color blind.
I decided to pick Human Resources as my Army profession since it would quickly translate to a civilian job once I got out.
What is the single most important lesson you’ve learned while serving?
The most important thing that I learned during my time in the Army was that decisive decisions generally lead to better outcomes than hesitant ones. A leader who is decisive and direct with their guidance will have greater control of the issues that they are presented. I have served under both indecisive and decisive leaders. Every time the leader that was more competent and in control of all situations was the decisive leader. I was lucky to have learned from both sides so that I know what works in leadership and what does not.
What is your most memorable moment or time during your service? Why?
I had an opportunity while in Iraq to work with 10th Special Forces Group while they were training Iraqi Troops. My job was to keep track of all Iraqis that were in the training and that flunked out of the training. After we completed my time on the detail, I got to go back with them and swim in one of Saddam's private swimming pools. Being able to hang around the Special Forces team, and witness the training they were doing was an experience in and of itself, and it is an experience that I will never forget.
How has the military helped you grow personally and professionally?
Personally, the military has made me responsible and showed me that I can accomplish any goal that I set for myself as long as I work hard to complete my goals.
Professionally it has allowed me to step into a civilian job, I went from Military Human Resources and into a Federal Human Resources position. The military has made me a good leader, and taught me that learning everyday is a good thing. Each day should be a day that you better yourself in one aspect of your job.
If you could tell the world anything you want, what would you say? Why?
Listening will get you farther than talking. Listen to others, learn from others, and talk only when necessary. Most people that you run into in the military and in the civilian world will either be categorized into one of these camps, Listeners and Talkers. From my experience, the listeners generally have a good understanding of what is needed to overcome an obstacle, and what their team can do in order to accomplish the goal. Talkers will say what they want accomplished, and talk about how they will accomplish the goal. The talker will generally have their own interests in mind while the listener has the interest of the group in mind when making decisions.
What’s the dumbest / most cliche thing you’ve heard someone say in the military?
When any NCO of a Staff group (HR, Comm, Supply, Ops, etc.) would say "Don't call me Sir, I work for a Living" to a civilian.
If you could go back in time and talk with yourself before you joined, what would you say? Why?
I am not sure I would actually want to talk to myself, I learned from my mistakes more than I could have ever learned from someone telling me something prior to joining. I would probably just tell myself to do my best and keep moving forward.
If you could tell the average civilian one thing, what would it be? Why?
Never under estimate a Veteran who has a desire to prove themselves. It doesn't matter what branch they served in, a Veteran who has a desire to prove themselves will find a way to succeed. No matter what their job was while they were in the service, no matter their background, creed, race, color, religion or age. A Veteran has been taught how to deal with diversity, they know how to overcome obstacles, and will deal with setbacks easier than most other civilians.
What’s been the most unexpected challenged you’ve faced since leaving the military?
Transitioning from an NCO to a Civilian leader. I am and have always been a straight to the point type of person. Making the transition from and NCO where I can point and the soldier does, to a Civilian Leader is a huge leap. Learning the nuances of my new surroundings took time, and I am still working on it everyday. I have to use a lot more Tact now than I ever did in the military.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that wasn’t previously covered?
My job during deployment was Casualty reporting and Awards. I was in charge of this for my Battalion which was at a total strength of around 550 men. Over the year that we were in theater, we had over 100 casualties. Over twenty of those casualties were killed in action (KIA's).
We took our first casualties on the first day that we took over our sector and the ride alongs were over. I remember that day for multiple reasons. It was 31-Oct-2005, I spent some time that morning with the patrol group that was about to go out right out side our building. We all had a smoke and joked around, but a few hours later after they had rolled out, I was called into the TOC.
The guys that I was just outside with had hit an IED. I took their Battle Roster Numbers, gathered their information from my files on each Soldier we had in our Battalion, and started my causality paperwork.
It was then I notice that we had lost four guys, one of which was the First Sergeant of the Company. A heavy loss on the first day of combat operations, and it set the tone for the rest of our deployment. Our entire Brigade went full on to defeat any and all threats from that point forward. By the time we were getting ready to leave, General George Casey sent out a statement to our Brigade that said "It's rare that I can point to a Brigade that has had such a strategic impact on my two goals - Securing Baghdad and Defeating Al-Qaeda."