Fort Polk Guardian 11-09-2018

Editor’s note: This is the part one of a two-part column by Mark Leslie. Part two will run in the Nov. 16 edi- tion of the Guardian. FORT POLK, La. —As our coun- try prepares for the 2018 Veterans Day and subsequently, the 50th an- niversary of the height of the Vietnam War, I want- ed to take a few minutes to talk about the contribu- tions of these warriors to today’s Army. As I reflect on those that in- fluenced me as a young Soldier, I think about all the Vietnam veterans that I had the privilege to serve with in my career, but more importantly — learn from. Contrary to what you may think from the title, this article is not about me; it’s about them and what they did and continue to do for this Army of ours with their contri- bution — their legacy. My first combat was in Operation Just Cause in Panama (1989) and Desert Shield/Storm (1990-1991). When I went on to lead units in com- bat during the current war, it made me think that I must seem like the “old man” to the troops I was lead- ing, like the Vietnam Vets that were my role models so many years ago seemed to me. The time span was just about the same. This made me reflect on what I was passing on to them and that much of it was passed on to me from Vietnam veterans, and that the basics, never go out of style. While technology may change — the basics of staying alive will always be the same, always resonate and al- ways matter. When those basics are sharpened to a fine edge in combat like those in Vietnam experienced, they are and always will be the things that keep Soldiers alive. When I first came in the Army, al- most every command sergeant major (at least in my world as a private in the 82nd Airborne Division), most first sergeants and even a few pla- toon sergeants were Vietnam Veter- ans. They were mythical creatures to us. They were the “real deal” to us, real warriors. They had been in the mouth of the lion and survived. They had seen what we were train- ing for so hard every day. They had lived it, had experienced it and were passing it on to us. To Private Leslie in the mid-80s, the battalion commander, command sergeant major, first sergeant and platoon sergeants that were Vietnam veterans knew something I didn’t; they had that experience that I thought I wanted. I remember one of them “schooling” me after a “move- ment to daylight” (our lieutenant was infamous for his in- ability to read a map) where we had moved all night to a destination and I was an M60 gunner. The leaders met the “LT” (I was the lead gun that travelled with the LT) for a meeting in the middle of nowhere in the training areas of Fort Bragg. It felt like it was a thousand degrees and I, in a moment of ex- haustion, spit my ever-present Copenhagen discharge too loud. Our Vietnam vet platoon sergeant looked at me and told me that if I spit that loud again in the jungle, he would rip my lips off. That was that. He didn’t ask how I was, if I needed to see the medic or if I even needed help. His mission was THE MIS- SION. He cared about me in a very different way; he cared that I could make the mission and get no one else killed in the process by a simple act of making too much noise. The individual Soldier was as not as im- portant as the collective welfare of the group. Simple self-discipline or lack thereof could get others killed. The Army was about more than me, something that I was to reflect upon Viewpoint 2/ The Guardian , a civilian enter- prise newspaper, is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contents of the Guardian are not necessarily official views of, or en- dorsed by, the U.S. Government, De- partment of Defense, Department of the Army or Fort Polk. The Guardian is published weekly by the Public Affairs Office, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. Printed circulation is 13,000. Everything advertised in this publication shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage with- out regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation or any other nonmerit factor of the purchaser, user or patron. A confirmed violation of this policy of equal opportunity by an ad- vertiser will result in the refusal to print advertising from that source. All editorial content of the Guardian is prepared, edited, pro- vided and approved by the Public Af- fairs Office, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. The Guardian is printed by the Natchitoches Times , a private firm in no way connected with the Depart- ment of the Army, under exclusive written contract with Fort Polk. The civilian printer is responsible for com- mercial advertising. The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts and supplements, does not constitute en- dorsement by the Department of the Army or the Natchitoches Times of the products or services advertised. Guardian Editorial Staff Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commanding general Col. Jarrett Thomas II Garrison commander Kim Reischling Information strategies officer Chuck Cannon Editor Jean Dubiel Angie Thorne Staff writers Editorial Offices Building 4919, Magnolia Street Fort Polk, LA 71459-5060 Voice (337) 531-4033 Fax (337) 531-1401 Email: Trading post ads: Fort Polk Homepage Advertising For advertising contact (337) 404-7242 Email: In our view Guardian staff asked Fort Polk residents, "If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? " Here are their responses: Chevine Phillips: "An elephant be- cause they never for- get, are intelligent and family oriented." Tasia Rose: "A tiger because they are strong and stubborn or a lion because they have strong family ties." Nadia Milling: "I like lions and tigers be- cause they are fearless and brave." Guardian Nov. 9, 2018 Spc. Rudy Perez: "A dolphin because I love the ocean and they are always happy." Commentary Vietnam veterans provided lessons for writer Leslie Please see Vets page 6 By Retired Lt. Col. MARK LESLIE DPTMS chief, Plans and Operations For advertising contact Theresa Larue E ail: sales