Category Archives: Departments

Recommended reading for new advisors to senior leaders


By JAMES SHUFELT and AL BOURQUE
U.S. Army War College

The following recommended reading list has been generated by the Senior Leader Seminar and Executive Leader Course faculty based on their research, course development and execution experience, student recommendations and other sources. The intent of this list is simple: to provide a self-study resource for advisors to senior leaders, supplementing existing recommended reading lists. This list cannot be all-inclusive due to the rapid annual generation of new leadership articles and books. It may also duplicate other reading lists because of the recognized value of many classic leadership documents.

Critical Army and Joint Doctrine:

    1. ADP 1, “The Army,” September 2012 (new version pending)
    2. ADRP 6-22, “Army Leadership,” August 2012
    3. ADRP 1, “The Army Profession,” June 2013
    4. Department of Defense, “The Armed Forces Officer, GPO,” January 2006
    5. National Defense University, “The Noncommissioned Officer and Petty Officer; Backbone of the Armed Forces,” Washington, D.C.: NDU Press, 2014

Comment: If we are truly professionals, we must fully understand our service and its doctrine on leadership, the profession, and the role of the Officer and Noncommissioned Officer Corps. These works provide a starting point for understanding these critical topics. ADP 1 explains the Army’s purpose, vision and values, as well as its role in the joint force and a broad view of the current path forward. ADRP 6-22 lays out the central tenets of the Army leadership model. ADRP 1 details the importance and requirements of the Army profession. The Armed Forces Officer explains the origin and unique roles and responsibilities of the Officer Corps within the Department of Defense. The companion NDU document provides a joint view of the roles and responsibilities of noncommissioned and petty officers.

Leadership Theory:

Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last, New York: Penguin, 2014.

Comment: Considered a classic, along with its predecessor, Start With Why, Sinek discusses how visionary, empathetic and committed leaders can create strong teams that succeed in today’s challenging business and national security environments. Using multiple examples, including contemporary military situations, Sinek demonstrates how effective leaders who place their employees and organizations first can create successful resolutions to complex crises. An easy, but useful read, Sinek’s work is a solid introduction to professional leadership thought.

Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader, (download: https://greenleaf.org/products-page/the-servant-as-leader/).

Comment: Greenleaf’s seminal philosophical essay on servant leadership inspired a sub-genre of leadership studies and books. Greenleaf’s theory, which is fundamentally consistent with Army leadership doctrine and the Army profession concept, is that the most effective leaders start as servants, or followers, then rise to become leaders because they want to serve, not because they want to become leaders. The true servant-leader ensures that other people’s needs are addressed first, whereas the leader-first person is motivated by personal ambition to be in charge or to acquire more possessions. In addition, the servant-leader utilizes persuasive power to motivate, rather than using coercive or manipulative power. The greatest value of Greenleaf’s essay is that it can inspire the diligent reader to look internally and assess his or her motivations and methods of leadership.

Bill George, Discover Your True North, Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2015

Comment: An updated and expanded version of his 2007 True North, George’s book examines the leadership evolution experienced by a large number of executives who capably lead business and government institutions. Although they have worked in a wide variety of fields, he identifies common factors that enable leader success, including identification of guiding personal principles and the requirement for authenticity in leadership style. George’s use of short case studies enhances this work, making it easily digestible to a wide range of readers and readily applicable in many different types of organizations. His discussion of the final stage of leadership – when “your true north meets the world” – is especially valuable to senior military leaders, who are now in this critical stage of leadership development and implementation.

Organizational Theory:

Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, New York: Penguin, 2007.

Comment: Brafman and Beckstrom argue that the pace of change and the social and electronic interconnectedness of the modern world demand new decentralized organizational structures and decision-making processes. These ideas are a direct challenge to traditional bureaucratically organized business and government entities, which inherently lack the agility to quickly adapt to the changing environment. Using historical examples and current case studies, the authors demonstrate the need for immediate intellectual and organizational change, proposing 10 game-changing rules that need to be considered in order for organizations to remain competitive.

Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams; New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, New York: Penguin, 2015

Comment: Although many potential military readers may be disinclined to read this book, there is great value in Team of Teams’ discussion of the role of networked matrix teams in resolving complex situations. Based on his experiences in the Global War on Terrorism, (Ret.) Gen. McChrystal explains his personal intellectual evolution and the corresponding changes within his organization as they wrestled how to analyze, manage, plan, and execute global actions to defeat similarly evolving terrorist organizations. In many ways, this book explains how a military organization successfully morphed itself into the type of organization championed by Brafman and Beckstrom.

Advisor Practice:

Michael Useem, Leading Up; How to Lead Your Boss so You Both Win, New York: Crown, 2001.

Comment: Another business leadership classic, Useem challenges traditional hierarchal leadership models, arguing that there is an important role for subordinate leaders who “lead up,” providing critical advice and leadership to the benefit of the organization. Often requiring significant shifts in organizational culture, this leadership technique may be challenging to insecure senior leaders, but was necessary for success in the multiple case studies offered by Useem.

John J. Gabarro and John P. Kotter, Managing Your Boss, Harvard Business Review, January 2005 (download: https://hbr.org/2005/01/managing-your-boss/ar/1)

Comment: A reprint of a 1980 article that inspired major changes in business management and leadership theory, Gabarro and Kotter similarly challenge traditional management models, stressing the importance of creating and maintaining effective two-way relationships with your boss. Though many military readers might find this intuitively obvious, “managing your boss” to achieve the best results for your organization is simple in theory but complex in execution as it requires significant effort to establish and maintain effective working relationships, especially at the most senior levels. In addition, this concept requires a high-level of self-awareness for all leaders to understand each other’s style, triggers, preferences, strengths and weaknesses.

David Maister, Charles Green and Robert Galford, The Trusted Advisor, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002.

Comment: Though this work focuses on the role of an advisor in the business sales environment, its discussion of the pivotal role of trust in business client-advisor relationships is applicable to a much wider audience of potential leaders and advisors. The authors provide detailed guidance on how to earn trust, give advice and build relationships, along with subsequent discussions on the challenges of maintaining trust, changing clients and other related issues. It is a book that has direct applicability to new advisors to senior leaders.

James E. Lukaszewski, Why Should the Boss Listen to You? The Seven Disciplines of the Trusted Strategic Advisor, San Francisco: Wiley, 2008

Comment: Lukaszewski’s book directly addresses techniques that can lead to greater success for strategic advisors in any type of organization. Proposing seven disciplines, ranging from being trustworthy to thinking strategically to teaching your boss how to accept your advice, this work is a practical resource for both new and experienced senior advisors. Lukaszewski’s work is well-worth the time to read and digest its discussion and recommendations.

Leadership Challenges:

Dean C. Ludwig and Clinton O. Longenecker, The Bathsheba Syndrome: The ethical failure of successful leaders, Journal of Business Ethics (April 1993) Vol. 12, Issue 4, pp 265-273. (download: http://ksuweb.kennesaw.edu/~uzimmerm/Notes/Ludwig+Longenecker,%20The%20Bathsheba%20Syndrome.pdf )

Comment: Unfortunately, all of us may have to deal with ethical failures either personal or our bosses’. Ludwig and Longenecker address why these failures happen with senior leaders, using the biblical parable of King David and Bathsheba to illustrate the causes and repercussions of unethical senior leader behavior. They propose methods to avoid these situations and suggest ways to respond when they occur despite the use of avoidance/prevention methods. Their recommendation to use “guardrails” during potentially disastrous personal behavior situations has great value for senior leaders and their most senior advisors.

Kurt Sanger and Dan Stallard, The Nathan Solution to the Bathsheba Syndrome, Marine Corps Gazette, April 2014 (download: http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/mca-members/doc/ 1515632573.html?FMT=TG)

Comment: Sanger, a U.S. Marines Corps lawyer, and Stallard, a U.S. Navy chaplain, take Ludwig and Longenecker’s ideas and apply them to the contemporary environment, where negative actions by senior leaders continue to receive great attention from the public and, ultimately, severely damage unit capabilities and their ability to lead effectively. Citing the important role played by Nathan, a trusted advisor who admonished King David for his improper behavior, they highlight the valuable advice and other assistance provided by today’s military lawyers and chaplains. They also stress the continued importance of quality unit training and education on ethical behavior.

Leonard Wong and Stephen J. Gerras, Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession, U.S. Army War College SSI Feb 2015 (download: www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB1250.pdf)

Comment: Dr. Wong and Dr. Gerras of the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute directly address the institutional pressure within the U.S. Army to be untruthful when reporting because of the overwhelming number of directed training requirements. The authors explain causes of this important ethical issue, providing recommendations to help bring requirements and compliance checks under control and further encourage honest reporting and truthful leadership.

Conclusion: Professional study is a never-ending responsibility for all senior leaders and advisors. The intent of this list is to provide a starting point for self-study. Though hundreds of books and articles are published annually on leadership and related topics, only a few are truly worthy of study by busy military leaders and advisors.

This Month in NCO History: Feb. 26, 1991 — Bravery among the tanks at Desert Storm


Sgt. Young Min Dillon possessed an undaunted spirit throughout his Army career.

That notion was no more evident than in the last conversation he had with his father.

“I told him before he went into battle, ‘… don’t be a point man in a war. The point man is in front of the battle all the time. You could get killed doing that,’” Larry Dillon told the Rocky Mountain News of Denver, Colorado, in 2003.

His son’s reply was pointed and showed an awareness of the situation in which he was about to embark. It would eventually earn him a space in the annals of Army history as a recipient of the Silver Star.

“Well, if I get killed, I get killed,” the younger Dillon said.

Sgt. Dillon was part of Headquarters Battery, 82nd Field Artillery, 3rd Armored Division when it took part in the liberation of Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. On Feb. 26, 1991, Dillon was part of a brigade on its third day of a march through southern Iraq. The unit was spearheading VII Corps’ vast effort to encircle Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guards.

The few Iraqi fighters the brigade encountered were from second-string units who would waved white flags when spotting U.S. forces, according to a first-person account written by Lt. Col. M. Thomas Davis for the Washington Post in 1993. But the elite Republican Guards were determined to fight. On the third day of the march, the 3rd Armored Division found them.

After a few light skirmishes, the 2nd brigade of the 3rd AD became locked in combat with two brigades of the Guards’ Tawakalna Division. Dillon was at the front of the battle with one of the battalion’s fire-support teams. He was charged with accompanying the tank carrying the commander of the 4th Battalion, 8th Cavalry, and to direct artillery fire onto the targets he designated.

The battle with the Tawakalna went well into the night. Dillon stayed near the battalion commander’s tank, a precarious location given that the vehicle he was sharing with Capt. Perry Patton and their junior enlisted driver was an older model M113 armored personnel carrier, known as an APC or a track.

After nightfall, the brigade regrouped and its commander initiated a new plan to pierce through Iraqi lines. The tanks would attempt to penetrate the front about 15 miles east of their location in an operation dubbed Phase Line Bullet.

As the firing batteries moved into position, Dillon discovered his vehicle had a problem. One of the radios in the track had stopped working. Dillon decided it had to be replaced. He pulled the 30-pound device from the track, flagged down a humvee and asked its young driver to take him to the rear.

He arrived at the tank battalion’s operations center and acquired a replacement radio before jumping back into the humvee. By then the battle had erupted again. The young driver was unnerved by the tracer rounds zipping through the darkness around them and was unwilling to return to the front. Dillon grabbed another Soldier and ordered him to drive the vehicle back to the forward lines. In short order, the humvee pulled up behind an M1A1 Abrams tank as enemy fire lit up the night around it. Dillon exited the vehicle with the radio and told the driver to return to safety.

For several minutes, Dillon ran through darkness from tank to tank as he sought Patton and his track. Tank fire bellowed around him as he finally located it. He jumped inside, replaced the radio and climbed through the open top hatch to man the vehicle’s sole .50-caliber machine gun. By then, midnight was nearing and an artillery barrage from U.S. forces was about to begin.

American artillery unleashed wave after wave of rounds. Years later, Davis, recalled what transpired next in a May 30, 1993, editorial published in the Washington Post:

“From my track, about 400 yards to the rear, I observed our artillery preparation in awe. Behind me, our large guns and rocket launchers were firing feverishly. In the distance, their shells exploded, marking the invisible horizon with a long line of flame and smoke. Hearing enemy artillery rounds falling behind me, I turned to see if they were hitting any of our units. Satisfied that the Iraqis had not found the correct range … I turned forward just in time to observe a single shell detonating in the distance off to my left front, far short of the rounds that continued to rain on the enemy lines. Immediately I heard Capt. Patton yelling on the radio, confirming my fears that one of our rounds had fallen short.”

One of the rounds fired during the attack had malfunctioned. Its cargo of bomblets fell onto Dillon’s track, one of them landing just behind his right shoulder. Dillon’s flak jacket was shredded by the blast, leaving his shoulder and upper arm mangled and bloody. The Soldier fell back into the track, bleeding profusely.

Patton and the track’s driver pulled Dillon from the vehicle and immediately administered first aid. At one point, Dillon regained consciousness before he was loaded onto a medical vehicle. Unfortunately, he died before reaching the battalion surgeon.

Davis personally delivered an account of Dillon’s actions to his grieving family. He also expressed his appreciation for the young sergeant who would be posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day.

“Sgt. Young Dillon did not have to replace his inoperative radio. No one asked him to,” Davis wrote. “He did not have to return to the front. No one would have ever known the difference had he stayed in the rear. But his loyalty and determination to do the right thing, to complete his mission, to stand at his post, compelled him to take action despite the obvious risks. He was where he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do, and it cost him and us his life.”

Dillon’s father echoed those sentiments to the Rocky Mountain News.

“My son — all Soldiers — they know what the risks and dangers are,” Larry Dillon said. “They know they’re risking their lives. … Even though there’s anger and sadness because they died in a conflict like this, they’re not dying in a useless cause, not dying in vain.”

Dillon is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. He was born Nov. 28, 1963, in Seoul, South Korea. His military home of record was Aurora, Colorado.

This Month in NCO History: Jan. 30, 1944 — Riding a tank to victory at Bougainville


When Staff Sgt. Jesse Ray Drowley arrived alone at an American camp on the Solomon Islands with a gaping wound in his chest, a missing eye and a shredded uniform, a junior officer threatened to court-martial him for abandoning his defense post. Instead, Drowley was put on the path to history.

On Jan. 30, 1944, Drowley was a rifle squad leader with B Company, 132nd Infantry Regiment, Americal Division, when he displayed the bravery that would earn him the Medal of Honor.

The Americal Division arrived on Bougainville on Dec. 25, 1943, as part of the Solomon Islands and New Guinea campaigns. The division was unique in World War II as it carried a name and not a numerical designation. It got its name from “American, New Caledonia,” the South Pacific island on which the unit was provisionally formed for defense in May 1942. Though officially known later as the 23rd Infantry Division, the Americal name remained.

A month after the unit’s arrival, Drowley was assigned a defensive role with his company as a neighboring company launched an attack against Japanese defensive positions. The staff sergeant witnessed three wounded Soldiers from the neighboring unit collapse. Intense enemy fire prevented their rescue. That’s when Drowley made a fateful decision.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, Drowley “fearlessly rushed forward to carry the wounded” one-by-one to cover. After moving two of the men to safety amid a hail of gunfire, Drowley discovered an enemy pillbox that American assault tanks had missed. The enemy fighters within were “inflicting heavy casualties upon the attacking force and … a chief obstacle to the success of the advance.”

The dire situation didn’t deter him. Drowley directed another Soldier to complete the rescue of the third wounded Soldier. Meanwhile, he darted out across open terrain to one of the American tanks. Drowley climbed the turret and signaled the crew. He exchanged his weapon for a submachine gun and rode the deck of the tank while firing toward the pillbox with tracer fire. As the tank ambled closer to the enemy position, Drowley received a severe wound to the chest. He refused to leave his position for medical treatment, instead continuing to direct the tank’s driver to the pillbox. He was shot again, losing his left eye and was knocked to the ground.

But Drowley remained undaunted. Despite his injuries, he continued to walk alongside the tank until it was able to open fire on the enemy pillbox and destroy it. In the process, American forces discovered another pillbox behind the first and destroyed it as well. With his mission finally completed, Drowley returned to camp for medical treatment. When he reached the safety of the American outpost, his platoon leader admonished him for leaving his post. But the reason he left was quickly learned, and he was eventually recommended for the nation’s highest military honor.

Drowley was awarded the Medal of Honor on Sept. 6, 1944. After receiving the accolade, he was offered a commission and a chance to speak at war rallies, but Drowley declined and eventually left the service. He lived a quiet life for the rest of his years. In 1991, he told The Spokesman Review of Spokane, Washington, that he shied away from the title of hero.

“People say, ‘What did you do to get the Medal of Honor?’ You were only doing your job,” Drowley said. “You’re fearless, all right. You’re so damned scared you’re past fearless. But you’re going to get killed if you don’t do anything.”

Along with the Medal of Honor, Drowley was also awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters and two Bronze Stars. He was the first Americal Soldier to be awarded the medal and the division’s lone recipient for action in World War II. While recovering from his wounds at a hospital in Spokane, he met his future wife, Kathleen McAvoy. He returned to Washington after the war from his native St. Charles, Michigan. He operated a service station before working as a civilian employee at Fairchild Air Force Base. He retired in 1980.

Drowley died May 20, 1996. He was 76. He was buried at Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane.

— Compiled by Pablo Villa

 

Post-military employment: the final collective task


By DALE WILLIAMS
Special to the NCO Journal

More than 200,000 servicemembers are projected by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to leave the active service annually through 2019. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that recent veterans from 18 to 34 years of age have a higher unemployment rate than non-veterans in the same age range. Veteran hiring programs and initiatives have been shown to contain value. However, unemployment and post-military job retention problems among recent veterans persist.

Many public and private sector employers have undertaken initiatives to attract and hire veterans transitioning from active service. Ultimately, however, the primary responsibility for obtaining post-military employment rests with the individual Soldier. Thus, an NCO’s duty to care for a Soldier’s well-being is fulfilled once the individual leaves active service — or is it?

In contemplating what additional steps may help Soldiers establish productive post-military careers, NCOs may consider employing a “TripleA strategy,” where the three “A”s stand for Acceptance, Assistance and Accessibility.

A leader must first make a conscious commitment to accepting responsibility to support a Soldier entering the civilian workforce. It is purely a personal choice, but acceptance of this responsibility involves taking a proactive position, or mindset, that indicates a willingness to help the Soldier beyond mandated transition requirements.

Once a leader decides to accept responsibility to aid a transitioning Soldier, the second step requires leader assistance during the Soldier’s job-search period. The period occurs while the Soldier is in uniform. However, it is common for Soldiers to begin their job search on their own before entry into formal transition programs or after they leave the service. This aspect of the Soldier’s transition requires that the leader has a basic understanding of the civilian hiring process.

The NCO should understand that though there are differences in specific hiring procedures among private sector employers, as well as among federal and other public sector employers, the overall hiring process follows a general pattern. First, consider and identify the type of employment the Soldier desires after military service. When the Soldier shares his or her post-military employment plans with his or her leader, the leader, in turn, is better prepared to assist with and monitor key points in the hiring process.

It may be said that a Soldier’s relationship with an organization begins when the Soldier applies for the desired position, commonly through a company’s website. The individual is viewed as an applicant once their application is entered into the organization’s applicant tracking system for prescreening analysis. Depending on the system used, even highly qualified candidate applications may not make it beyond this stage of the process if the resume is not formatted to match the essential job functions of the position closely. It is vital that applicants read the position description carefully and ensure that their experience, knowledge, skills and abilities align with the specifications of the job — without copying the job description word-for-word into the resume.

Although it may initially appear as simple as uploading one’s resume, the application process often involves both uploading a formatted resume and manually entering the same resume information into specific fields on the company’s ATS. The applicant should have an electronic copy of the resume opened and be prepared to copy and paste information from it into the company’s system.

After the system has identified what its algorithm suggests are highly qualified candidates, applicants are selected for initial interviews. The interview validates information on the resume and further determines which candidates best meet the organization’s specific needs. As many Soldiers’ immediate supervisors are noncommissioned officers, the next step is where the NCO plays the most critical role: accessibility. After an interview, the remaining applicants may undergo testing, which may involve measures of aptitude, physical ability, personality and other pre-employment assessments.

Many employers also conduct background and reference checks of candidates they are interested in at this point. The leader should be accessible not only to their former Soldier but also the potential employer. Therefore, it is vital that applicants obtain and maintain accurate contact information (e.g., emails and phone numbers) of their former leaders or immediate supervisors. It is essential to establish a reach-back point of contact before transition between the Soldier and leaders who have something positive to say about the Soldier.

In the final stages of the process, companies often have narrowed the list down to a few candidates, sometimes holding a second or third round of interviews with additional company personnel present — potential supervisors or co-workers, for example — before making a conditional job offer. After the conditional offer is made, companies may sometimes require the candidate to undergo a physical exam or other post-offer assessments, making the job contingent on passing any final requirements. After that, the final offer is made. The final offer period is where many companies negotiate salary and benefits packages with the selected candidate, and presuming that there is agreement, the candidate is hired.

The current generation of veterans are the beneficiaries of unprecedented levels of collaboration between public and private sector entities in efforts to utilize the skills, knowledge and abilities that service members bring to the civilian workplace. Leaders who understand the selection and hiring processes are better able to predict where and how to assist Soldiers in their search for employment. For their part, transitioning service members who equip themselves with knowledge of civilian employment practices are better prepared to navigate paths toward obtaining the job they desire. Through effective communication between the transitioning Soldier and the leader, they can ensure that the final objective is successfully achieved.

Dale Williams is a performance consultant with a Central Texas consulting firm that specializes in providing evidence-based integrated solutions to small businesses that increase efficiency, strengthen employee knowledge and abilities, improve leadership, and attain business goals. In addition to business-related consulting, he has worked with service members pro-bono for more than 10 years on numerous aspects of transitioning into the civilian work sector.

This Month in NCO History: Dec. 19, 1899 — A significant month for two brothers


The month of December held a certain significance for the Gaujot brothers. That meaning didn’t come from holiday fervor in their native Eagle Harbor, Michigan, or because the younger Gaujot’s birthday was Dec. 12. It came from history.

Antoine August Michel Gaujot and Julien Edward Victor Gaujot are one of eight sets of brothers who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, and they are also the only siblings to receive the nation’s highest military honor for actions in separate wars. Julien Gaujot also holds the distinction of being the only Soldier to be awarded the medal for actions of a peacekeeping nature.

During a skirmish April 13, 1911, along the Southwestern U.S. border between Mexican government troops and rebel forces, stray bullets caused American casualties in Douglas, Arizona. Julien Gaujot, at the time a captain with K Troop, 1st U.S. Cavalry, bravely rode through the field of fire into Agua Prieta in the Mexican state of Sonora. He was to obtain permission from the rebel commander to receive the surrender of the surrounded federal forces, together with five American prisoners, and escort them to the American border. Gaujot succeeded and was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Howard Taft during a ceremony at the White House in December 1912.

The honor came 13 years after Antoine Gaujot’s gallantry while an NCO during the Philippine-American War. The younger Gaujot was a corporal in M Company, 27th Infantry, U.S. Volunteers. On Dec. 18, 1899, the unit joined with others to follow Maj. Gen. Harry W. Lawton along the Marikina River toward San Mateo in the present-day province of Rizal. The American forces were on a punitive expedition, hunting for Brig. Gen. Pio del Pilar’s force of 1,000 troops, who had attacked the Marikina waterworks and the Manila wagon road to the north.

The following day, the forces made for San Mateo, approaching the Filipinos in the early morning hours as rain fell in torrents. As they neared San Mateo, they came under enemy fire from the Morong Command battalion led by Gen. Licerio Geronimo. The Filipinos forced Lawton’s Soldiers — Antoine Gaujot among them — to scramble for cover in the surrounding rice fields. Lawton walked up and down the line, rallying his men as they regrouped when he was shot by a sniper. He became the highest-ranking American commander to die in the Philippine conflict.

With their leader gone and unrelenting enemy fire peppering the paddies around them, the situation seemed bleak. The Americans also had to deal with the monsoon conditions that quickly made the river they were walking along nearly impassable. That’s when Gaujot leaped into action. According to his citation, “he made persistent effort under heavy enemy rifle fire to locate a ford in order to help his unit cross the swollen river to attack.”

Gaujot was unable to locate a safe passage. So he and another NCO, Sgt. Edward H. Gibson, made the fateful decision to swim across the rapidly rising river “under fire and against a dangerous current.” Upon reaching the northern shore of the Marikina, the two men located a canoe that belonged to the enemy and returned with it to the friendly side of the river. The seemingly innocuous effort to keep enemy forces from reaching their position would prove fruitful.

As rifle fire from the Filipino side subsided intermittently, American forces were able to use the canoe to move north. Eventually, the entire American contingent materialized on the enemy side of the river nearly six hours after first encountering resistance. Filipino forces, weary from inflicting minimal casualties after seemingly having the upper hand in the fight, retreated. They were eventually driven from San Mateo by the galvanized American force.

Antoine Gaujot and Edward Gibson were both awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions. Gaujot received his medal in February 1911 via registered mail. The hardware drew the admiration of his older brother.

“He wears it for watch fob, the damn civilian,” Julien Gaujot jabbed at his brother after the medal was issued. “I got to get me one them things for myself if I bust.”

Two months later, Julien was involved in the action that would earn him his medal during another celebratory December nearly two years later.

After his time in the Philippines, Antoine Gaujot was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard and saw service during the Mexican Border Crisis and in France during World War I. He died April 14, 1936, at age 57 in Williamson, West Virginia. He was buried in the city’s Fairview Cemetery.

Julien Gaujot retired from the Army in 1934 with the rank of colonel. He worked as a firefighter and a civil engineer. He died April 7, 1938, in Williamson. He was 63. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

The brothers both attended Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. A cenotaph at the university’s War Memorial Court bears their names along with the five other alumni who were awarded the Medal of Honor.

— Compiled by Pablo Villa