Tag Archives: Mentorship

NCOs embrace Old Guard’s sense of tradition and duty

By MARTHA C. KOESTER
NCO Journal

Honor. Privilege. Prestige.

For the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), presiding over America’s fallen is a duty that the 1,600 Soldiers who volunteer for the Army’s oldest active-duty infantry regiment are dedicated to carrying out with the utmost precision.

Service in the elite unit, which has served since 1784 and is headquartered at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall at Arlington County, Virginia, means participating in several high profile, yet solemn, duties in the nation’s capital. Since World War II, the Old Guard has served as the official Army Honor Guard and escort to the president.

Sgt. 1st Class Adony A. Batista has served as the Casket Platoon squad leader and the Firing Party platoon sergeant for the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). “Out of everything I have done since I have been in the Army for 13 years, this has been the most rewarding,” Batista said.
Sgt. 1st Class Adony A. Batista has served as the Casket Platoon squad leader and the Firing Party platoon sergeant for the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). “Out of everything I have done since I have been in the Army for 13 years, this has been the most rewarding,” Batista said. (Photos by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

Noncommissioned officers are valued by the Old Guard for their combat experience and proficiency in soldiering skills. NCOs of the Old Guard lead Soldiers through a diverse set of missions, from ceremonies at the White House to memorial affairs at Arlington National Cemetery. Their professional appearance and conduct sets the standard for the Soldiers in their unit.

NCOs must also meet physical standards, which call for physically fit males to be at least 5 feet 10 inches tall and fit females at least 5 feet 8 inches.

Upon arrival, the demanding Regimental Orientation Program awaits each new member. The three-week course is designed to teach arrivals the Old Guard uniform nuances, rifle movements and marching unique to the unit.

Final honors

Perhaps the most well-known of duties that Old Guard Soldiers provide is the rendering of final military honors for fallen comrades. For the past three years, Sgt. 1st Class Adony A. Batista has been on hand during Army funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, whether as the Casket Platoon squad leader or most recently as the platoon sergeant for the Firing Party.

Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) set up for a Twilight Tattoo performance in June at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Arlington County, Virginia. Twilight Tattoo is a military pageant featuring the Soldiers of the Old Guard.
Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) set up for a Twilight Tattoo performance in June at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Arlington County, Virginia. Twilight Tattoo is a military pageant featuring the Soldiers of the Old Guard.

Up to 30 funerals take place daily at Arlington National Cemetery, and the Army does about half of those, Batista said.

“Out of everything I have done since I have been in the Army for 13 years, this has been the most rewarding,” Batista said. “We are the last Soldier some of these families see, whether it be here, rendering final honors for service members or at the Tomb of the Unknowns, [so we have to be on point]. We want to offer the families comfort and for them to know that we did our jobs in honoring and rendering services to our fallen service member in the way they are supposed to be honored.”

Aside from supervising Soldiers’ training and offering mentorship, Batista makes sure necessary personnel are available and ready for funeral services. Maintaining ceremonial composure may not be easy when you’re wearing a wool uniform in 90-degree heat with humidity.

“Honestly you get used to it, and you just learn to deal with it,” Batista said. “That’s why as an NCO you make sure your guys are hydrated, but in the summertime it can get pretty bad.”

Three teams are part of the Firing Party platoon ─ a full honors team and two standard honors teams. Military funerals with standard honors include a Casket Platoon, the Firing Party and a bugler, as well as a caisson for service members who have reached the top NCO grade of E-9. In addition to standard honors, full honors military funerals include an Escort Platoon and a military band.

Training is done consistently to ensure all members are in sync when the Firing Party commander orders them to fire their weapons. The intent is for it to sound as if one shot is being fired at the same time, Batista said.

“It’s seven guys firing, but it should only sound as one shot,” he said. “Three volleys for a total of 21 rounds are fired. You will notice that pretty much perfection is our standard or pretty close to that.”

 ‘Come humble’

Coming from operational assignments to the Old Guard has been a learning experience for Batista. He said he still does the same training, but it’s now training for another side of the Army.

Members of the Firing Party full honors team, 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), await the order to fire their weapons during a military funeral with full honors in June at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The Firing Party trains consistently to make sure that all members are in sync when they fire their weapons.
Members of the Firing Party full honors team, 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), await the order to fire their weapons during a military funeral with full honors in June at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The Firing Party trains consistently to make sure that all members are in sync when they fire their weapons.

“For the most part, you still provide that mentorship to the junior enlisted and help them to grow as Soldiers and NCOs,” Batista said.

Though his service in the Old Guard has provided him with a great sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, he has some advice for NCOs looking to join the unit.

“You have to come humble because this is one of the few units ─ because of our makeup ─ that the junior enlisted know the job sometimes better than the NCOs when you first come in,” he said. “So the mentorship, in a sense, not only goes from the top to bottom but bottom to top. Come humble and come ready to learn ─ from your first days at the unit, learning how to march all over again, to learning how to manipulate the sword.”

Eye-opening experience

For Sgt. 1st Class Lane Duhon, Continental Color Guard platoon sergeant, any NCO who volunteers to come to the Old Guard is in for a unique opportunity to see the Army from a different perspective, he said.

“Leading highly motivated Soldiers who volunteer to be here and being able to see all the other noncommissioned officers and officers who want to be here and want to serve the duty that we are charged with, I think it diversifies NCOs’ careers and it helps them lead better and understand the dynamic of being a leader,” Duhon said.

Duhon credited multiple deployments and former operational assignments for instilling the discipline necessary to serve in the Honor Guard.

“This unit has opened my eyes from those experiences to see the Army from a different perspective ─ from being in an operational unit versus being here and being in a garrison, seeing a program of outreach to the civilian population,” he said. “We’re going to be balancing the military way of life with the civilian way of life. Hopefully we help the public understand us from our perspective and not a negative media perspective.

“Being a noncommissioned officer in the Honor Guard is a privilege, a unique opportunity to do something different in the infantry world and/or any MOS,” he said. “It’s a distinct privilege also to honor our fallen and be able to hopefully leave a lasting impression on people we perform for, leaving them with a positive impression of the military.”

Duhon will be heading back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and an operational assignment with the 82nd Airborne Division, but his time with the Honor Guard and “taking part and surveying the most prestigious job in the Army right now” gave him many learning opportunities, he said.

“I think I am going to take a better understanding of how to lead and mentor Soldiers from a 360-degree perspective versus one approach of getting Soldiers ready for combat,” Duhon said. “I have also had to learn a lot from Soldiers who have taught me lessons on how to do this job that we do here. Everyone knows a little something extra, so you can learn from everyone here.”

Click here to read more about the specialty platoons of the Old Guard.

From the CSM: Mentorship basics haven’t changed

By COMMAND SGT. MAJ. JOHN K. MIYATA
3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion 

As the deployment cycle winds down and we return to the garrison, we must take the time to mentor our young Soldiers.

Soldiers enlisting in the Army today are different than those 10 years ago and much different than those when I enlisted 27 years ago.

Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata (seated center right) speaks with members of the 3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion’s staff in their offices at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.   (Photo courtesy of Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata)
Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata (seated center right) speaks with members of the 3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion’s staff in their offices at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
(Photo courtesy of Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata)

The basics back in the day were conducting drill and ceremony, “hip-pocket” training, in-ranks inspections, land navigation and learning to operate the PRC-77 radio. Today, many Soldiers completed their Initial Military Training and deployed straight into theater; some of them have served multiple tours overseas.

However, the basic fundamentals that we seemed to have lost over the years are taking the time to sit with Soldiers, talking to them and mentoring them.

Take the time to map out your Soldiers’ careers, explain the milestones they’ll need to achieve and give them a plan to follow. Provide them with lessons learned from your career and advice on how to do things better. Teach them special skills that they may use as they move to staff level positions, such as the military decision-making process and staff action planning.

Get to know your Soldiers and their families, and see what you can do to help family members play a bigger part in Soldiers’ careers. Have them be involved in the unit’s family readiness group and be a part of the military family.

As we progress in our careers as noncommissioned officers, we accumulate a wealth of knowledge and experience over years of deployments, exercises and training missions. The Army spends millions of dollars training us to be proficient in our warrior and military occupational specialty skills.

Many Army Reserve Soldiers bring additional skills and talents from their civilian professions. When these skills and talents are combined, you end up with a highly skilled NCO capable of training tomorrow’s leaders.

As an Army Reserve citizen-Soldier, I’m faced with seeing my Soldiers only 40 to 50 days out of the year. Of those precious training days, we have to use every hour and minute to maximize training, and still find time to provide for counseling and mentorship.

As the command sergeant major of the 3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion, it’s a priority of mine to ensure not just Soldiers’ well-being, but also to use my experiences and knowledge to set them up for success in their future careers.

The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, FM 7-22.7, says, “Mentorship is demanding business, but the future of the Army depends on the trained and effective leaders whom you leave behind.

“Mentoring future leaders may require you to take risks,” the guide continues. “It requires you to give Soldiers the opportunity to learn and develop them while using your experience to guide them without micromanaging.

“Mentoring will lead your Soldiers to successes that build their confidence and skills for the future. The key to mentorship in the U.S. Army is a sustained relationship that may last through the entire career of a young Soldier, even into retirement,” the guide explains.

The basic principles of military leadership are tried and true. I use the basic fundamentals of “Be-Know-Do” and the seven core Army Values in my daily life. I use them with my sons, my Boy Scouts and my employees.

Now, let us all get back to using basic principles with our Soldiers.

 

Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata is the command sergeant major of the 3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion, 3rd Mobilization Support Group, 9th Mission Support Command, at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.