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This is a book of quotations by and about noncommissioned officers, and spans centuries of the Armyís experience in peace and war. It includes all members of the Total Army: the Active Army, the Reserve Components (Reserves and National Guard), the Army Family, the Civilian Corps, Veterans, and the Retired Corps, and has three purposes...:

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Our future leaders (NCOs and Officers) must possess faith, determination, and a positive attitude. I believe a positive attitude will carry you farther than ability. -MSG Roy Benavidez, "ĎMy LT and Meí Article Stirs Memories." NCO Journal, Spring 1993, p. 21

The way Iíve approached every job Iíve ever had in the Army [is that] if it says "Army" on it, I know Iíll like it. -SSG Charlie Jett, in "If It Says Army on It, I Know Iíll Like It." Sergeantsí Business, Mar-Apr 1989 p. 13

Enthusiasm, optimism, and geniality create a contagion that is sure to spread where ever you go and always make you welcome. -SGT Frederick Sigmund, "How to Be a Successful Recruiter." U.S. Army Recruiting News, 31 Jul 1920, p. 6

If I came to [the 1SG] for a classic gripe-session, he turned it into an optimistís planning meeting. -SGT Gary St. Lawrence, "Learning from NCOs." INSCOM, Aug-Sep 1989, p. 5

You cannot wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time. -GEN Frederick M. Franks, quoted by CSM Milton B. Hazzard, "From the Quartermaster Sergeant Major." Quartermaster NCO Update, Winter/Spring 1993, p. ii

Your mind can convince you that you canít do something when you really can. -SSG Samuel Harris, in "Climbing to the Summit." Soldiers, Nov 1995, p. 16

There are too many good things in this life to ruin it by dwelling on the bad ones.... You can take a lot of punishment if you learn not to complain about the little stuff. -SMA William G. Bainbridge, Top Sergeant, 1995, pp. 95, 14

One concern I have is for the soldiers who operate our powerful information systems.... Once these systems are given to us, our mission is to make them work! Just emphasize what you can do, not how hard it is or what it cannot do. -CSM Randolph S. Hollingsworth, "CSM Forum." Military Intelligence, Jan-Mar 1996, pp. 3, 4

We must see the good in everyone. We must see the good in our friends. We must see the good in our family. We must see the good in our leaders. We must not see through people, we must see people through. We must counsel them, coach them, and guide them. -SMA Gene C. McKinney, address, USASMA, 1996

We would be much better served if we could do a better job of accentuating the positive. Pat that young NCO on the back when he does it right. Better yet, have the guts to underwrite NCO mistakes and back up our junior NCOs. Finally, look for solutions and suggest them instead of problems to our commanders. -SMA William A. Connelly, "NCOs: Itís Time to Get Tough." ARMY, Oct 1981, p. 30

Months go by and some of the basic privates have blossomed out with new stripes. In what ways did they stand out? The fact that they were promoted to positions of leadership and responsibility is, in the main, proof of the fact that they were considered to be superior soldiers. What, then, was the secret of their success? Some of their success was due, of course, to their superior mastery of the basic skills of the Infantryman. In addition, however, it is likely that their morale attitudes also contributed. This idea is borne out by a study among Infantry privates in two regiments of a division in the U.S. which reveals striking differences between the morale attitudes of privates who were destined to be promoted to line NCOs and those who were not. -in What the Soldier Thinks: A Monthly Digest of War Department Studies on the Attitudes of American Troops, WWII, Apr 1944, p. 12


Successful NCOs must project the image of mental, physical, and spiritual wellness to soldiers, adversaries, and to the people of their country. -CSM Henry Bone, "Fit to Lead; Fit to Fight." NCO Journal, Summer 1993, p. 3

The Army didnít give you your stripes cheaply. Donít cheapen them by acting like a child. -SSG John A. Sigmon, "Counseling." NCO Journal, Fall 1992, p. 20

All Officers, and non-commissioníd Officers must take pains to inspire the men with an ambition to appear always dressed in a graceful, and Soldier-like manner; for if a man takes no delight in his own person, he must consequently have more of the clown remaining in his composition, than of the Soldier. -Regulations for the Prussian Infantry, 1759, p. 420

The sergeant of the guard [in our French Foreign Legion unit] carefully inspected every body who wanted to go out, so that the Legionís reputation for chic should not suffer. -Erwin Rosen, 19th century?, in Rank and File, p. 135

Our...soldiers should look as good as they are. -SMA Julius W. Gates, "From the Top." Army Trainer, Fall 1989, p. 5 No Serjeants, Corporals, drummers, fifers, or private soldiers, are to appear in the barrack-yard, or street, without their hair being well platted and tucked under their hats; their shoes well blacked, stockings clean, black garters, black stocks, buckles bright, and cloaths in thorough repair. -The Military Guide for Young Officers, 1776, p. 234

We want a clean Camp, clean cloathes, well-dressed victuals. However deeply involved in rags our Army may be we still can do our best to appear decently attentive to our behaviour in these regards.... Sergeants and Corporals are to set example for the men. -GEN George Washington, 1778, Ordeal at Valley Forge, p. 226


Character... is the most important quality you can find in any person, but especially in a soldier. It is the foundation that will get anybody through anything he may encounter. -SMA Glen E. Morrell, "Performance, Character and Contact." Soldiers, Jan 1984, p. 7

We build character...in order for us to withstand the rigors of combat and resist the temptations to compromise our principles in peacetime. We must build character in peacetime because there is no time in war.... Noncommissioned officers must have the intestinal fortitude to carry out their duties and to do what is right for our soldiers and our Army. It takes guts for an NCO to use inherent authority and responsibility in training, maintaining, leading, and caring for soldiers. -SMA Glen E. Morrell, "What Soldiering Is All About." ARMY, Oct 1986, pp. 40, 41

Reputation is what people think you are; character is what you are- that is the staying power. -SMA Glen E. Morrell, "The NCO: More Vital Than Ever to Readiness." ARMY, Oct 1983, p. 28

When we speak of a soldier of character, we are speaking of an individual with a combination of traits that causes him to do what he knows is right- regardless of pressures. -FM 22-600-20, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1986, p. 11

One does not develop character in the heat of battle or a moment of crisis. Character grows out of the steady application of moral values and ethical behavior in oneís life.... A personís visible behavior is an indication of his character.... Professional beliefs, values, and ethics are the foundation of a leaderís character. -NCOPD Study, Vol 1, 1986, pp. 59, 58

The NCO must have that resolution of character to translate the officerís guidance into action- a vital ingredient in the mutual trust that binds the officer and NCO. -MG John A. Dubia and CSM James C. McKinney, "The Officer-NCO Team: The Touchstone of Army Leadership for the 21st Century." Field Artillery, Jun 1994, p. 2

The NCO must have...purity of character. -SGT Benjamin P. Shakman, in "The NCO" In Their Own Words, 1991, no page number


[When the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered,] large numbers of the rebel soldiers came over to us. We were glad to see them. They had fought bravely, and were as glad as we that the war was over.... We received them kindly, and exchanged pocket knives and sundry trinkets, that each could have something to carry home as a reminiscence of the great event. -Theodore Gerrish, 20th Maine Volunteers, April 1865, Civil War, in Rank and File, p. 327

Weíre suckers for the kids, as usual. -SGT Henry Giles, WWII, The G.I. Journal of Sergeant Giles, p. 373

The flag of white appears. Soldiers fight with guts of steel but answer the white with the compassion they feel. -CSM Harold F. Shrewsberry, Desert Storm, "On to War." Field Artillery, Oct 1991, p. 35

Our sergeants [in Desert Storm translated our] vision into the tactics, techniques, and procedures that molded the youth of America into tough, disciplined soldiers who fought with ferocious resolve and yet could render humanitarian assistance with compassion. -GEN Carl E. Vuono, Collected Works, 1991, p. 381


As [a] leader, you must be a master of all you survey- professionally proficient to teach every aspect of your business. Teach it! Thatís the fundamental test. What you know well enough to teach, you know. If you donít have the training, set pride aside and get it. Ask questions and refer to the manual until youíve got the skills down cold.... When that private says, "What do we do, Sergeant?" his life is riding on your answer. -CSM Matthew Lee, "Are You Ready for the First Battle?" Engineer, Summer 1986, p. 3

Professionally competent leaders inherently command respect for their authority and the sergeant must be unquestionably competent in order to carry out the mission correctly, accomplish each task, and care for assigned soldiers. -Army National Guard Noncommissioned Officer Handbook, 1989, p. A-10

The confidence your soldiers have in your tactical and technical proficiency will affect your ability to train and lead them. Your soldiers will know whether you are knowledgeable in a given area and will take pride in the fact that you have the experience or know-how to train and lead them. Your technical and tactical proficiency are, therefore, keys to their respect, trust, and confidence in you as a leader. -TC 22-6, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1990, p. 23

Technical competence is more than being able to perform your tasks. It is the building block of confidence, respect, and trust your soldiers will have in you as a leader. -CSM W. E. Woodall, "Bridge the Gap." Engineer, Jul 1991, p. 3

If discipline is the foundation, then technical and tactical proficiency are the bricks with which you build.... Instead of a house or a skyscraper, NCOs build units. -CSM George D. Mock and SFC John K. DíAmato, "Building the Force: Skill, Will and Teamwork.í" NCO Journal, Summer 1991, pp. 19, 18


Confidence and energy are the progressive traits of the non-commissioned officer who would be successful. -Customs of Service for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers, 1865, p. 101

Morale...may well be summed up in one word- Confidence. Confidence in his training, equipment, leadership, in himself, in his unit, and in the support from home. The military commanders play a big part in it but so do civilian officials, members of Congress, the press, radio commentators, and the general public at home. Together they must insure that the soldier does well an important job and receives recognition for it. -DA Pam 350-12, Guide for Squad Leaders, 1967, p. 37

To earn [soldiersí] confidence, you must have confidence in yourself. You must know that you can handle any problem your duties may present. This sense of inner security is strengthened by studying the manuals, by completing courses at unit and service schools, by reading military books and magazines, and, in general, by continuing efforts to improve your professional abilities. -The New Noncomís Guide, 1970, p. 11

Confidence gives your soldiers the deep seated belief the unit CAN and WILL accomplish the mission no matter how unfavorable the odds. This confidence will allow your unit to withstand adverse conditions. -TC 22-6, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1990, p. 36


A hero is an individual who is faced with an undesirable situation and employs whatever means at his disposal to make the situation tenable or to nullify or negate it. -SGM John G. Stepanek, "As a Senior NCO Sees It." Army Digest, Aug 1967, p. 6

A lot of you out there may think courage and heroic acts are too much a matter of circumstance- and this is peacetime, or you sit at a desk, or you donít find heroes on ordinary work sites. The fact is, you do. The time for moral courage is always NOW. The time for physical courage could be a heartbeat away. Sometimes when we least expect the test, we get it. -CSM Matthew Lee, "Bridge the Gap." Engineer, No. 3, 1987, p. 3

The question is not to get killed bravely and to disappear; one must live and conquer. In order to preserve his life, the coward tries not to expose it; brave men reckon on their courage to defend it.... When there are no more officers or noncommissioned officers, there are always intrepid soldiers to stop those who are afraid and to say to them, "I shall kill the first one who falls back." -CPT Andre Laffargue, 153d Infantry (French), "Precepts and Duties of the Infantryman." Infantry, Nov-Dec 1916, pp. 255, 275

Professional courage...is the steel fiber that makes an NCO unafraid and willing to tell it like it is.... The concept of professional courage does not always mean being as tough as nails, either. It also suggests a willingness to listen to the soldiersí problems, to go to bat for them in a tough situation and it means knowing just how far they can go. It also means being willing to tell the boss when he is wrong. -SMA William A. Connelly, "NCOs: Itís Time to Get Tough." ARMY, Oct 1981, p. 31

NCOs must have the courage to tell their officers when they are wrong, when something is not in the best interest of the unit and its soldiers.... It takes courage to tell someone they are not right, but thatís NCO business. -CSM Harry E. Hicks, "Hicks Speaks on ADA Concerns, Strengths." Air Defense Artillery, Sep-Oct 1987, p. 32

You may need moral courage not only on the battlefield, but in peacetime garrison and field duty, as well. You may face pressures from superiors or subordinates to bend rules, look the other way, or ignore standards. "I donít care how you do it, just get it done," is an open invitation to bypass established procedures. -TC 22-6, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1990, p. 42

Perhaps [moral courage] is the greater test. Courage comes easier on the battlefield, where it is often an unthinking reaction to the demands of a dangerous moment. But in almost every day of a leaderís service there are times when he must display...moral courage. -The Noncomís Guide, 1954, p. 40

Moral courage, to me, is much more demanding than physical courage. -SMA Leon L. Van Autreve, in "The Armyís SMAs from the Beginning to the Present." NCO Journal, Summer 1994, pp. 10-11

Being the backbone of the Army means having the "backbone" to recognize that some things are "Officer Business," some things are "NCO Business," and some things [bending or breaking the rules] are "Nobodyís Business." -MSG Jack DíAmato, "ĎNobodyís Businessí Creates Ethical Dilemmas." NCO Journal, Winter 1995, p. 7

I donít believe thereís any man who, in his heart of hearts, wouldnít rather be called brave than have any other virtue attributed to him. And this elemental, if you like, unreasoning, male attitude is a sound one, because courage is not merely a virtue; it is the virtue. Without it there are no other virtues. Faith, hope, charity, all the rest donít become virtues until it takes courage to exercise them. Courage isnít only the basis of all virtues; itís its expression. True, you may be bad and brave, but you canít be good without being brave.

Courage is a mental state- an affair of the spirit- and so gets its strength from spiritual and intellectual sources. The way in which these spiritual and intellectual elements are blended, I think, produces roughly two types of courage. The first, an emotional state which urges a man to risk injury or death- physical courage. The second, a more reasoning attitude which enables him coolly to stake career, happiness, his whole future, on his judgment of what he thinks either right or worth while- moral courage.
Now these two types of courage, physical and moral, are very distinct. Iíve known many men who have marked physical courage, but lacked moral courage. Some of them were in high places but they failed to be great in themselves because they lacked it. On the other hand Iíve seen men who undoubtedly possessed moral courage very cautious about taking physical risks. But Iíve never met a man with moral courage who wouldnít, when it was really necessary, face bodily danger. Moral courage is a higher and a rarer virtue than physical courage. To be really great, a man- or a nation- must possess both kinds of courage....
All men have some degree of physical courage- itís surprising how much. Courage is like having money in the bank. We start with a certain capital of courage, some large, some small, and we proceed to draw on our balance, for donít forget, courage is an expendable quality. We can use it up. If there are heavy, and what is more serious, if there are continuous calls on our courage we begin to overdraw. If we go on overdrawing on our store of courage we go bankrupt- we break down.
You can see this overdraft mounting clearly in the men who endure the most prolonged strains of war, the submarine complement, the infantry platoon, the bomber crew. First there comes a growing impatience and irritability; then a hint of recklessness, a sort of "Oh to hell with it, chaps, weíll attack" spirit; next real foolhardiness, what the soldier calls "asking for it"; and last, sudden changes of mood from false hilarity to black moroseness. If before that stage is reached the manís commander has spotted what is happening and pulled him out for a rest, heíll recover and in a few months be back again as brave and as balanced as ever. The capital in his bank of courage will have built up and he can start spending again.
There are, of course, some people whose capital is so small that it is not worth while employing them in peace or war in any job requiring courage- they overdraw too quickly. With us these types are surprisingly few. Complete cowards are almost nonexistent. Another matter for astonishment is the large number of men and women in any group who will behave in emergency with extreme gallantry. Who theyíll be you canít tell until theyíre tested....
Can courage be taught? I am sure in one sense physical courage can. What in effect you must do is train the man not to draw too heavily on his stock of courage. Teach him what to expect, not to be frightened by bogeys- by the unknown. If you send an untrained soldier on patrol in the jungle, every time a branch creaks, every time thereís a rustle in the undergrowth, when an animal slinks across the track, when a bush moves in the wind, heíll draw heavily and unnecessarily on his stock of courage. And heíll come back a shaken man, with a report of no value. But if you train that man beforehand, let him live in the jungle, teach him its craft, then send him on patrol, heíll come back with his balance of courage unimpaired....
To teach moral courage is another matter- and it has to be taught because so few, if any, have it naturally. The young can learn it from their parents, in their homes, in school and university, from religion, from other early influences, but to inculcate it in a grownup who lacks it requires not so much teaching as some striking emotional experience- something that suddenly bursts upon him- something in the nature of a vision or insight. That happens rarely- and thatís why youíll find that most men with moral courage learnt it by precept and example in their youth. -Field-Marshal Sir William Slim (former enlisted soldier), "What Is Courage?" Infantry, Aug 1947, pp. 23-24

Sometimes heroism is merely grim determination or even a matter of timing. -The Story of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, 1989, p. 215

Donít be a sissy. -1SG Robert W. Burns (and former NCO in the British Army), in Command, Leadership, and Effective Staff Support, 1996, p. 186


Courtesy among military men is indispensable to discipline.... In the Army courtesy...helps to keep the great machine moving without friction. -Manual for Noncommissioned Officers and Privates of Infantry of the Army of the United States, 1917, pp. 11, 13

In military life...personal courtesies are even more necessary than on the outside. The members of a military organization must, of necessity, live very close to one another.... But in the Army...you cannot pick and choose your companions. You march, you drill, you eat, you sleep, you literally live beside your neighbor who is assigned to his place the same as you are assigned to yours. Under such circumstances it requires more than ordinary forbearance and common courtesy to make life worth living. -The Old Sergeantís Conferences, 1930, pp. 40-41

We act with courtesy toward our senior because we recognize his responsibility and authority. Toward a junior, we show equal courtesy, acknowledging the essential role he plays as a member of the military team. -The Noncomís Guide, 1948, p. 98


To quote General Creighton W. Abrams, "There must be, within our army, a sense of purpose and a dedication to that purpose. There must be a willingness to march a little farther, to carry a heavier load, to step out into the dark and the unknown for the safety and well-being of others." I will take some liberties with that statement and close with this: "You must, as an NCO, have a sense of purpose and a dedication to that purpose. You must be willing to march a little farther, to carry a heavier load, to step out into the dark and the unknown for the safety and well-being of your soldiers, and for the country that you have sworn to defend." -CSM John W. Gillis, "NCO Leadership at the Company Level." Armor, Nov-Dec 1981, p. 9

"We are all born to be heroes..." The words belong to an American philosopher named William James. The attitude can belong to anyone who decides to own it. James also said, "We commonly lead lives inferior to ourselves." So which is it going to be for you- becoming what you were born to be, or continuing to be less than you are?... You can teach yourself devotion to duty. You can practice dedication. Itís in attention to the split seconds that we make a glory of life. -CSM Matthew Lee, "Bridge the Gap." Engineer, No. 3, 1987, p. 3

Two years after the close of [WWI, 1SG Fred A. Allen] suddenly found himself the holder of a document which proclaimed him a nobleman [a duke], which was bestowed upon him at the direction of Albert, King of the Belgians, for bravery in the front line trenches in France. [Now as] a member of the Belgian society, Sergeant Allen would be allotted a yearly allowance from that government were he residing in Europe, towards the upkeep of his rank. However, a true American, the veteran soldier prefers to be just "a top-kick in the good Ďoleí United States Army..." -William F. Salathe, "A Noble Top Sergeant." U.S. Army Recruiting News, 1 Aug 1929, p. 6

Sergeant Christopher Reid...had been wounded in action...when fighting had erupted in Mogadishu. He told me his squad and members of his platoon had fought through three city blocks to reach a downed U.S. Army helicopter. The last thing he remembered was the heat of the helicopter burning and everything turning red. When he woke up, he was in a hospital, missing a leg and part of an arm. Chris told me his story in a strong, unwavering voice. He did not have to be there that cold, winter morning, but he wanted to be with his squad, with his friends, one more time. He then looked into my eyes and with great determination said, "You know, sir, knowing what I know now, I would do it again." -GEN Gordon R. Sullivan, Hope Is Not a Method, 1996, p. 61

More than any calling, soldiers do not live by bread alone. -Rudyard Kipling, address "National Bands." 1915, p. 3

The duties required [of the Sergeant Major] are more varied and exacting, the hours longer, and an all-day holiday, or even a free Sunday, is an unknown pleasure to him, unless he avails himself of a pass or furlough, which he very seldom does on account of the responsibility for the continued and proper performance of the work intrusted to him. -Report of the Inspector-General, 1893, p. 789

Without commitment, our freedom, our rights, and the peace we take for granted would cease to exist. -CSM Randolph S. Hollingsworth, "Vantage Point." Military Intelligence, Oct-Dec 1995, p. 3

It is all for the Union. -Elisha Rhodes (CPL, SGM, and COL), regarding hardships during the Civil War, All for the Union, p. 41


A soldier always wants the best to be at his front, rear, right and left, trained to stay there regardless of what may happen. -SMA Glen E. Morrell, in The Sergeants Major of the Army: On Leadership and the Profession of Arms, 1996, p. 7

Every soldierís performance is important [and] in teams every soldier depends on every other soldier. -FM 22-600-20, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1980, p. 5

Your men must feel that they can rely upon you in an emergency. -The New Noncomís Guide, 1970, p. 11

We will always plan, rehearse, and refine, but when push comes to shove, we will rely on our sergeants. -GEN Gordon R. Sullivan, "The Chiefís View of NCO Leadership Challenges." NCO Journal, Winter 1994, p. 7


We were going to stand or die. Thatís all there was to it. This was not an order from HQ; it was the determined opinion of the men. -Albert M. Ettinger, WWI, A Doughboy with the Fighting Sixty-Ninth, p. 122

We have been so intent on death that we have forgotten life. And now suddenly life faces us. I swear to myself that I will measure up to it. I may be branded by war, but I will not be defeated by it. -Audie Murphy, To Hell and Back, 1949, p. 273

I again found myself in the midst of old chums, but what a difference! Poor half starved miserable looking men, mere wrecks of humanity- but with that unconquerable look about them. -SGM Tim Gowing, Crimean War, in On the Word of Command, p. 35

If your task is hard, that of the enemy is not easier, perhaps even more difficult than yours. You only see your own difficulties and not those of the enemy, which certainly exist. Therefore, never despair, but always be bold and stubborn. -"Battle Maxims for the Russian Soldier." Infantry, Feb 1917, p. 469

One man leads by sheer strength of his determination which sweeps all obstacles before it. Another leads through thoughts and ideas which stir...minds.... Overcome the obstacles that fall across your pathway. -The Old Sergeantís Conferences, 1930, pp. 134-135, 130-131

One of the tests of your quality as a soldier is your ability to "take it," to carry on with your duties in spite of your personal griefs or joys. -Old Sarge, How to Get Along in the Army, 1942, p. 104

When you donít have quantity you make up for it with quality and staying power. -SMA William G. Bainbridge, "First, and Getting Firster." ARMY, Oct 1975, p. 24

[The soldier in basic training] needs to decide that he really wants to do it. Itís about 85 percent mental. -Drill Sergeant Jim Barrett, in "A Day in the Life of a Drill Sergeant." Soldiers, Aug 1978, p. 10

The "three Ps"- prayer, patience, and perseverance- get you ahead and allow you to get through anything. -CSM Daisy C. Brown, in "Prayer, Patience, Perseverance." ARMY, Apr 1989, p. 41

Adversity brings the best out of most soldiers. -RSM Fred Grimshaw, in On the Word of Command, 1990, p. 67

Thereís nothing in the world that can take the place of persistence. Talent wonít, genius wonít, education wonít. If youíre persistent and determined to keep going, youíll get there.... You can never see the full development of yourself down the road. But thereís a certain distance you can see. I believe if you go as far as you can see and then get there, youíll be able to see a little bit farther and so on. -SMA Gene C. McKinney, in "SMA McKinney Launches Each Day with NCO Creed." NCO Journal, Fall 1995, p. 14

Most of lifeís failures and consequent suffering is due to the fact that the force of will is neither developed nor trained by conscious intelligent effort.... It is commonly known that the secret of concentration is interest in the thing at hand. A man who fails in his mission and cannot see his fault will never improve, and since military discipline knocks men about with such ruthless jocularity one is made to see his faults, whether or no, and soon sees the foolishness of not being interested. Military training gives the student sufficient power of will to do the things that should be done, to become interested in the things he knows he should be interested in.... Military training causes the student to be patient. It endows him with determined persistence of purpose. It gives one a dynamic but abiding will which can always accomplish more than the static or explosive will. The person who has the true spirit of the soldier has got the grip of a bulldog. -SSG Ray H. Duncan, "The Value of Military Training." U.S. Army Recruiting News, 1 Mar 1925, pp. 4, 12

All of the tactical and technical proficiency in the world will do no good unless you have the will to use it. -TC 22-6, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1990, p. 40

I...learned one thing in my various scraps in the Army: Fight hard and fast and donít let up. Then, even if you get beat, the guy wonít bother you again. -Albert M. Ettinger, WWI, A Doughboy with the Fighting Sixty-Ninth, p. 181

The equipment and weaponry will continually change and improve, and the size of the military will expand as needed, decreasing during times of peace. But the unyielding will of the soldier and the dedication of professional military leaders will not change. -SMA George W. Dunaway, Center of Military History Interview, 1990, p. 66


I was determined to keep my life focused and disciplined so that I could continue to serve my country and honor all those soldiers who had died that others might be free. -MSG Roy Benavidez, Medal of Honor, 1995, p. 170

People have said to me the Armyís hard. Well, life is hard. They say it requires too much discipline. But everything requires discipline: Army, school, job, marriage. -SGM Richard Willis, in recruiting brochure "Whatís in It for You?", no date or page number

Discipline...gives you control over yourself under combat and hazardous conditions. -The Noncomís Guide, 1954, p. 62

As a recruit I took discipline as a nasty medicine; today itís the nectar of the Gods. -Jim, an old war-scarred veteran, in "Who Gets the Most Out of Life?" U.S. Army Recruiting News, 1 Nov 1923, p. 16

Be self-disciplined enough to be the "rock" all seek when the water begins to churn. -CSM Brent H. Cottrell, "Keeping the Troops Informed." AUSA files, no date or page number

It makes me sad when I reflect on an NCO who is optimistic, flourishing, and successful, and who goes down for the count over an instance of lacking self-discipline. Then there is always more the crushing realization that now, a whole family is in distress. Whatever self-indulgent pump you get from this loss of discipline, canít be worth the consequences. -SGM Joseph B. Quig, "Self-Discipline." Recruiter, May 1992, p. 13

The core of a soldier is moral discipline. It is intertwined with the discipline of physical and mental achievement. It motivates doing on your own what is right without prodding.... It is an inner critic that refuses to tolerate less than your best.... Total discipline overcomes adversity, and physical stamina draws on an inner strength that says "drive on." -SMA William G. Bainbridge, "First, and Getting Firster." ARMY, Oct 1975, p. 24

Military discipline is looked upon by many in the sense of punishment, which it is not.... We live our lives in an atmosphere of discipline.... Everything with which we come in contact stands ready to enforce upon us certain immutable laws and to administer disciplinary correction when we violate them. Let me illustrate. We handle fire. If we are careless it burns us- disciplinary correction. We misuse our stomach. It rebels and puts us to bed- disciplinary correction....

So-called lenient discipline, of which there is no such thing, is the soldierís worst enemy. It sacrifices the collective welfare to the seeming advantage of the individual. More often it is distinctly detrimental to the individual himself, since it generally discourages transgression by others from which he must suffer indirectly. Military discipline does not crush the individual in any sense of the word. On the contrary it develops a higher degree of intelligence, for until a soldier is disciplined, he does not possess the confidence in his fellow-men that enables him to yield to the common good, in order that he, himself, may be benefitted all the more.... Discipline...does away with scolding and nagging [and] makes for the happiness of the soldier, for it eliminates friction, duplication of effort, confusion, useless hardship, doubt, and uncertainty....
The disciplined man is more apt to take the proper action in an emergency than one who is not disciplined. Not because he is all wise, but because he has learned by experience that there are certain things which he should not do. Therefore his chances of doing the right thing have been increased many fold by his experience. If a man has formed certain correct habits he is apt to act under the impulse of those habits. -The Old Sergeantís Conferences, 1930, pp. 62-63, 147, 146, 67

Many soldiers join the Army looking for and expecting discipline: They want an environment where confidence is instilled through tough training, where good performance is acknowledged and rewarded, and where leaders establish and enforce standards. -CSM Richard N. Wilson, "Bridge the Gap." Engineer, Nov 1992, p. 57

I [expect] strict discipline and I want it: if an officer or noncommissioned officer were to be easy and soft with me I would distrust him, for the reason that my experience with that sort of men has been that they always "duck" responsibility and try to throw the burden of any mistakes on the fellow under them or on somebody else. The sharp-spoken positive man has always been willing to take full responsibility for all his acts and orders even when he was wrong or had made a mistake. I know I can do better work under a strict and even a severe officer or non-commissioned officer than I could under an easy one. -a recruit, in "Talks by the ĎOld Man.í" National Guard, Apr 1915, p. 72

Doing Whatís Right

We must...prove by our acts conclusively, that Right Has Might. -Harry S. Truman (former CPL and CPT), address, 1945, Harry S. Truman: The Man from Missouri, p. 6

It is everyday actions that are the bone and muscle of a healthy code of ethics. -MSG Frank J. Clifford, "How to Be a Noncom." Combat Forces Journal, Dec 1954, p. 27

A code of ethics...cannot be developed overnight by edict or official pronouncement. It is developed by years of practice and performance of duty according to high ethical standards. It must be self-policing. Without such a code, a professional soldier or a group soon loses identity and effectiveness. -SMA Silas L. Copeland, "The NCO Must Grow with Army." ARMY, Oct 1972, p. 24

Our soldiers are counting on us to do what is right. -SMA Julius W. Gates, "Sergeant to Sergeant." Sergeantsí Business, Jan-Feb 1988, p. 4

CSM Don Stafford...taught me that youíve got to do the tough thing, but do it in the least painful way and make sure everyone...understands it. -BG Jay M. Garner, in "Sarge." Air Defense Artillery, Jul-Aug 1989, p. 15

Your goal should be the development of a shared ethical perspective so that your soldiers will act promptly, with the moral strength to do what is right.... Regardless of the source of pressure to act unethically, you usually know in your heart the right thing to do. -TC 22-6, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1990, p. 43

Serving with dedicated leaders who try to do what is right changes people for the better, and for their whole lives. Each of us can do that for those who serve with us. Everyone should experience how tremendous the Army can be. -CSM Saundra Matlock, in Command, Leadership, and Effective Staff Support, 1996, p. 197

Doing whatís right is practical, efficient, and effective because it saves time and trouble. I have seen this. -CSM David Spieles, in A Treasury of NCO Quotations, 1997, no page number


If you take the positive qualities of the soldier and develop them along the right lines [you will get] the flexibility and the cheerfulness which is so important in the soldier. -RSM J. C. Lord, To Revel in Godís Sunshine, 1981, p. 133

Flexibility is the ability to stay afloat in a sea of changes. -MSG Douglas E. Freed, "Learning to Lead." Army Trainer, Fall 1987, p. 29


Heart is what makes the American soldier. -SFC Barbara J. Ray, "Letters to the Editor." NCO Journal, Summer 1993, p. 21

I know the content of my heart. -MSG Roy Benavidez, Medal of Honor, 1995, p. 173


You must show your men why they must be honest- why it makes good sense.... Hereís another way to look at it. Say you are falsely accused of something. But the Old Man knows you are honest. So you tell him you didnít do it and that ends it. His time is saved for more profitable things, and you are spared the suspicion that always hangs over a man who is known to be even a little short of honest. -Handbook and Manual for the Noncommissioned Officer, 1952, pp. 14, 15

Among the things Iíve learned during my career is that you must be honest with everyone about everything. -SMA Glen E. Morrell, "Sergeant to Sergeant." Sergeantsí Business, May-Jun 1987, p. 4

Be tough. Let your people know where they stand.... Donít give lip service, nor accept it. Check personally. Donít make assumptions. Donít tolerate incompetence and donít alibi or procrastinate. Above all else, as a leader and as a human being, be honest in all that you do. -1SG Larry Drape, address "The Doís and Doníts of Quality NCO Leadership." 1990, p. 11

You have to be honest or people wonít come back to you. -Michelle A. Davis (NCO family member), in Command, Leadership, and Effective Staff Support, 1996, p. 133

You can count on NCOs to tell it like it is. The reason for this is because there is little leeway for errors at the mission execution level- the level at which NCOs operate. Things are right or they are wrong. -C. I. Yamamoto, in A Treasury of NCO Quotations, 1997, no page number

Keep a sharp eye out for individuals who constantly court your favor. These are...deceitful characters. -The Noncomís Guide, 1948, p. 18

Nothing was worse than a thief, for he would rob us of our trust in each other.... All our tomorrows, if there were to be tomorrows, would depend upon our trust in each other. -SGM Lloyd Decker, WWII, "The Sergeant Catches the (Gold) Ring." ARMY, Jul 1978, p. 37

Once you get away with a lie it sometimes becomes necessary to tell more and more of them to cover up the initial one, until you create a tissue of lies that sooner or later will collapse. -The NCO Guide, 1982, p. 105

Cheating...is beneath the professional standards of all soldiers, regardless of rank. -SFC Charles R. Souza, "MILES Cheating: Key to Failure." Army Trainer, Summer 1985, p. 5

Over time [being unethical] comes out. -Drill Sergeant Harry T. Conn, in "On Leadership." Soldiers, Mar 1985, p. 28

For love and honour are the same, Or else so near alloyíd, That neither can exist alone, But flourish side by side. -verses from "The NEW RECRUIT," or the "GALLANT VOLUNTEER, a New Song," 1778, Ordeal at Valley Forge, p. 227

Every unethical act done by one of us diminishes all of us. -MSG Jack DíAmato, "ĎNobodyís Businessí Creates Ethical Dilemmas." NCO Journal, Winter 1995, p. 7


Your word of honor...is the singular thing which you bring into this world. You are the only one who can give it, and you are the only one who can diminish its validity. To have someone value your word of honor with their trust is a supreme tribute. -1SG Larry L. Tolar, in "The NCO" In Their Own Words, 1991, no page number

Leaders have honor if they morally and courageously do their duty to the best of their ability. -FM 22-600-20, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1986, p. 42

Your soldiers want you to be good at your job, but they also want you to be decent and honorable. -TC 22-6, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1990, p. 42

[When soldiers of the 4-32 Armor, 3AD began to take prisoners, the Iraqi soldiers] started yelling and screaming at my soldiers, "donít shoot us, donít shoot us," and one of my soldiers said, "hey, weíre from America, we donít shoot our prisoners." That sort of stuck with me. -1SG Dennis L. DeMasters, in TRADOC Pam 525-100-4, Leadership and Command on the Battlefield: Noncommissioned Officer Corps, 1994, p. 26

Humor (See also Some Things Never Change)

Experience has shown us that a sense of humor can accomplish a lot more than one would think. -SFC Bruce Danielson, in "The NCO" In Their Own Words, 1991, no page number

If you make people laugh, youíve created some happiness. -Bill Mauldin quoting his grandmother, The Brass Ring, 1971, p. 28

Without humor, war would drive any sane person out of his mind. -Bill Mauldin, in "Sgt. Bill Mauldin: ĎThe Enlisted Manís Cartoonist.í" NCO Journal, Winter 1992, p. 18

You have to have integrity in the Army, but you also need a sense of humor to deal with the problems involved with accomplishing the mission and taking care of soldiers. -1SG Stephen M. Bunting, in Command, Leadership, and Effective Staff Support, 1996, p. 162

I donít know but itís been said, The sergeant major buffs his head. -Jody call, "Hey, Baldy!" Soldiers, Jun 1988, p. 28

[During the Vietnam conflict, after Sergeant Roy Benavidez pulled a majorís leg with tall tales about Indian beliefs, the major said to him] "Sergeant, we are fortunate to have you. You are an American Indian. I am aware of the formidable scouting abilities of your people. You will be a great help on point." -Roy P. Benavidez, The Three Wars of Roy Benavidez, 1986, pp. 34-35

[In 19th-century India, British soldiers would sometimes teach a parrot or a minah bird] the uncomplimentary nickname of his troop-sergeant-major, and, when it was proficient, hang its cage up in a commanding position, where to the delight of the men, but chagrin of the victim, it would give public utterance to the obnoxious designation. -Troop-Sergeant-Major E. Mole, in Rank and File, pp. 130-131

Frisbee had not very many faults. The only ones I can readily recall were swearing, gambling, lying, drinking, stealing, and speaking evil of the orderly [first] sergeant. -E. Benjamin Andrews, Civil War, in Rank and File, p. 128

[At Windsor Castle, Drummer Arthur Spratley is filling a bucket with laurel leaves for a ceremony] when he finds a bearded, regal looking figure at his side. This regal figure is no less a person than HM King George V, who demands to know what the Drummer is doing. The Drummer explains the tradition and His Majesty enters into the spirit of things by saying that on this particular day he, personally, will choose the leaves. [The King is very meticulous in his selection of leaves, and upon Drummer Spratleyís return to the Guardroom, the RSM said] "Drummer, where the...hell have you been! and where...did you get that bloody mangy looking lot of leaves from?" -LTC G. H. Ealden (former RSM), in On the Word of Command, 1990, p. 182

Ingenuity and Innovation

If you work hard at being imaginative and resourceful as well as tactful, it will pay dividends.... Search out the problems and do something personally about them. -1SG Larry Drape, address "The Doís and Doníts of Quality NCO Leadership." 1990, pp. 9, 11

Officers and men must be encouraged to use imagination in their work, for it is imagination that holds interest. -MAJ B. G. Chynoweth, "The Enlisted Apprentice." Infantry, Nov 1921, p. 490

WARNING!! To utter, think, or practice any of the following within the hallowed walls of this Academy is tantamount to absolute disaster: "It canít be done because... Weíve never done it that way before; We tried it that way once before; Weíve always done it this way; Thatís not our (or my) responsibility." -sign posted just inside the entrance to the Sergeants Major Academy, "Ultimate for NCOs." Soldiers, Aug 1976, p. 22

Junior leaders, given a larger role in managing their soldiersí time, tap a gold mine of innovative and creative abilities in more efficiently accomplishing their missions. -CSM Autrail Cobb, "JRTC and Combat Success." NCO Journal, Summer 1991, p. 9

Since we execute policy and doctrine during exercises and combat operations, NCOs are the first to see whether the doctrine is sound. If the doctrine does not work- after honest effort- we are charged to suggest changes. -SFC Douglas C. Sleeth, "NCOs Need Encouragement to Write for Military Journal Publication." ARMY, Jul 1988, p. 14

NCOs could...display considerable ingenuity. Apparently peeved that in tugs of war occasionally staged between teams of horses and mules, the heavier horses usually won, a stable sergeant devised a scheme to insure a victory for the mules. Over several months he trained the mules to recognize that when he banged on a tin pan in the stables, their oats were ready. On the day of the big contest, the sergeant maneuvered the animals so that when the mules began to pull, they would be headed toward their stables. When an accomplice in the stables began at the strategic time to bang on a pan, the struggle was over. Leaning into their collars, pulling in unison, the mules dragged the proud horses backward across the field. Only a soldier who was "horse-drawn" could know the full extent of the disgrace. -GEN William C. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports, 1976, p. 16

The Navy officer informed me, "I canít reach their guys with this hardware, General. I need a plain old telephone." In this supersophisticated center we did not have a single ordinary line. A sergeant popped up and said, "I can get you one, sir." Go to it, I said, and he started tearing up the floor panels to run a line in. Our resourceful sergeant quickly produced a functioning commercial telephone. -GEN Colin L. Powell, My American Journey, 1995, pp. 442-443

A drum and its appurtenances may, in the hands of a clever fellow, answer many good purposes besides that of being beaten on. Should a flock of geese or ducks obstruct your line of march, two or three may be safely and secretly lodged in it; and the drum case will hold peas, beans, apples and potatoes, when the havresack is full. -Francis Grose, Advice to the Officers of the British Army, 1783, p. 120

Pose problems and assign creative projects to your men in addition to routine duties. Not only does this provide a constructive and satisfying outlet for their initiative, but the results can be beneficial to the unit- perhaps to the entire Army. In 1942 a committee of sergeants in Company D, 15th Infantry, brainstormed the method for dry-firing and sensing mortar burst at realistic ranges that was later adopted as standard for all IRTCs in the United States. -SFC Forrest K. Kleinman, "Tips on Troop Leading." ARMY, Aug 1958, p. 43

If there is a good idea that has found its way into our daily operation, thereís a good chance it either began or was nurtured by a noncommissioned officer. -MG Paul E. Funk, "The NCOís Role Is Crucial in Setting the Armyís Standards." Armor, Nov-Dec 1992, pp. 3-4

NCOs are in the best position to identify and implement...improvements at the soldier level. -SMA Richard A. Kidd, "From the SMA." NCO Call, Sep-Oct 1991, inside front cover

Fairness and Justice

In his relations with his men, a noncommissioned officer must try to be as just and impartial as his wisdom and experience will allow. Impartiality is a fine word, but it is an even finer action.... Because of the physical fact that the noncom is intimately associated with his subordinates...it is not easy for him to maintain the fine line of deference necessary for effective control. Uppermost in his mind should be the proven principle that he should not be "one of the boys." Heís not paid to be, heís not expected to be (especially by the boys), and it is entirely inappropriate that he be. He can only lose if he tries, the force of gravity being what it is. -MSG Frank J. Clifford, "How to Be a Noncom." Combat Forces Journal, Dec 1954, p. 27

All [victuals and ammunition] that shall be delivered by the Sardgentor...to the Corporal, he shall with equalitie devide and distribute the same betwexte the Souldieres of his squadron, withoute any fraude or parcialitie, and procure that they acomodate them selves in all places with amitie like true companiones, and let him selfe in worde and deede be carefull and lovinge towardes them, so shall he by the better reputed both by his Superiores and Inferiores. -A Discourse of Military Discipline, 1634, p. 12

The average private does not mind how strict you may be just so you are fair and impartial.... If there is any one thing that soldiers can not stand, it is partiality. -Noncommissioned Officersí Manual, 1909, pp. 12, 25

The confidence of the soldiers in the integrity of a non-commissioned officer can only be obtained by his being rigidly just and impartial to those under him, and by keeping his temper on all occasions, and discharging his duty without passion or feeling.... Non-commissioned officers have it in their power at times to favor certain soldiers, that is, to relieve them from the most disagreeable part of the duty before them, and give it to others. Such distinctions soon destroy their influence over men, and give rise to trouble and difficulty. -Customs of Service for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers, 1865, pp. 101, 103-104

A troop sergeant-major occupies a position which enables him to exert, for good or for evil, great influence over his men. It is said that the non-commissioned officer is the backbone of the army, but it is equally true that he can do much harm unless he is strictly impartial and identifies himself with the interests of his men. -Field Marshal Sir William Robertson (former private and SGM), c. 1885, in Rank and File, p. 156

During the winter we had several company courts martial, three noncommissioned officers sitting in judgment, and the proceedings reviewed and acted upon by the first sergeant. Of course, the written proceedings were not very voluminous. The result was, no man was tried by general or garrison court martial; summary courts were unknown. Another result, some men were doing extra guard and fatigue duty instead of loafing in the guard house and letting better men do their duty. When a man could not be managed without violence he went to the guard house, but much of the time "B" Troop was not represented there.

If punishment was not immediately meted out to an offender, his record was fairly kept and he was sure to be called on for the next fatigue party (details for fatigue to do some kind of dirty work), and during the whole winter scarcely a decently clean soldier was called upon- always the troublesome fellows got the job....
Of course, we did not always have peace and happiness, nor freedom from drunkenness, but we came nearer having home rule- self government- government within the troop and by the members of it than any of the oldest members had before seen. -1SG Percival G. Lowe, Five Years a Dragoon [1849-1854], pp. 123, 124

Remove justice and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale? -St. Augustine, quoted by CSM Aaron N. Gibson, "From the Regimental Command Sergeant Major." Army Chaplaincy, Summer 1995, p. 2


If I could say just one thing to soldiers, itís "keep faith in the Army." -SMA Robert E. Hall, in "New SMA Stresses ĎKeep Faith in Army.í" Pentagram, 17 Oct 1997, p. 2

You have a loyalty to your military superiors and a loyalty to the men under you. You work for them both. -Handbook and Manual for the Noncommissioned Officer, 1952, p. 5

Loyalty is one of the most desirable traits of a leader. But loyalty can be misdirected- and it often is. The result is a lessening of combat effectiveness because misdirected loyalty erodes the special trust that soldiers must have in the leaders who are responsible for their lives.... To determine whether or not we are guilty of misdirecting our loyalty, we should ask ourselves, "To whom are we being loyal?"... As a guideline [in being loyal to superiors] we might ask ourselves, "What information would I want and need to know if I were in charge?"...

Another way in which we sometimes misdirect our loyalty is by covering up and protecting others from their own ignorance, stupidity, inefficiency, or misconduct.... By covering up for our soldiers, though, we do them a grave injustice, and we compromise our own integrity, trust, confidence, and position....
The net gain for all of us [of true loyalty] will be an increase in combat effectiveness because the trust, respect, and confidence our subordinates have in us will increase and will last. To do less in our profession is suicidal since our lives may well depend on how and where we direct our loyalty. -MSG Archer W. Miller, "Misdirected Loyalty." Infantry, Jul-Aug 1980, pp. 11, 12

Loyalty to the unit [includes the] obligation to save lives, be considerate of the well-being of oneís subordinates and comrades, instill a sense of devotion and pride in [the] unit, and develop [the] cohesiveness and loyalty that mold individuals into effective fighting organizations. -FM 22-600-20, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1986, pp. 41-42

You must give [soldiers] reasons to have confidence and pride in themselves, in their leaders, and in their units. Only then will you have loyalty. -SMA George W. Dunaway, Center of Military History Interview, 1990, p. 60

Even though you perish, help your comrade. -"Battle Maxims for the Russian Soldier." Infantry, Feb 1917, p. 469

No matter how difficult times are...those of us who love the Army must stick with it. -CPT Charles Fry, quoted by SMA Richard A. Kidd, in "A Sergeant Equal to a General." Red Star, Jun 1993, no page number


The man who [is ready for an emergency] is the man who has prepared himself. He has studied beforehand the possible situation that might arise, he has made tentative plans covering such situations. When he is confronted by the emergency he is ready to meet it. -MAJ Christian Bach (former NCO), 1918, address "Leadership." in Congressional Record Appendix, Vol 88- Part 9, p. A2253

The better prepared you are, the better chance you have at being successful. -SMA Richard A. Kidd, in "Sgt. Maj. Kidd Visits Military Academy." Shenandoah, 11 Jan 1995, p. A 12

Forethought, a most valuable asset, is really an acquired trait. -Noncommissioned Officersí Manual, 1909, pp. 11-12

Think up problems and then solve them- imagine yourself in a certain situation and then work yourself out of it. -Noncommissioned Officersí Manual, 1917, p. 27

Never get so caught up in cutting wood that you forget to sharpen your axe. -1SG James J. Karolchyk, in "Leading by Example." EurArmy, Jan 1986, p. 26


It is said that "rank has its privileges." This is as it should be, particularly when we remember that one of the primary privileges of rank is to be entrusted with responsibility. -MSG Frank K. Nicolas "Noncommissioned Officer." Infantry, Jan 1958, p. 78

The king of Italy was remonstrated with for exposing himself to some danger. He replied, "It is my trade and I must do it." With everyone in high position, with everyone in command from the Corporal to the Major General or the Commander-in-Chief, there goes with the office and authority a responsibility and a requirement to sacrifice and expose oneself to danger and fatigue in order that the subordinates shall be enabled to do their work better or gain encouragement by the example. -"Talks by the ĎOld Man.í" National Guard, Jul 1915, p. 129

Each step up the ladder of leadership brings you a larger share of pay, prestige, and privileges. These are earned rewards for your willingness to accept greater responsibilities. They are not outright gifts. You are expected to pay back every dollar...in work and conscientious concern for your men and your unit, in many jobs well done. -The Noncomís Guide, 1962, pp. 40-41

In the long run itís better to take the blame than to "pass the buck." -DA Pam 350-13, Guide for Platoon Sergeants, 1967, p. 10

We have only one overriding responsibility: To perform our duty to the best of our ability, and with the initiative and extra effort needed to achieve teamwork and mission accomplishment.... If you are a commander, your command responsibility encompasses being held accountable for how well your unit detail, fire team, section, squad, platoon, etc., accomplished (or failed to accomplish) its organizational goals or missions. For example, the brigade commander and all the soldiers in an infantry battalion hold the Battalion Commander responsible and accountable for mission accomplishment. No one expects the Battalion Commander to act as a Tow Gunner- no matter how proficient he is. Because while he does so, who fights the battalion, makes future plans, and provides the resources and direction to the battle captains? If the Battalion Commander in this case did so, he is taking responsibility from one of his soldiers and not meeting his own.... Failure on the part of the company commander to hold the subordinate responsible shows that the company commander is shirking his/her responsibility to development subordinates. -FM 22-600-20, The Duties, Responsibilities and Authority of NCOís, 1977, pp. 27, 26

Personal responsibility...begins in the early days of training where the raw recruit and the young officer aspirant are taught to understand that the lives of fellow soldiers depend upon the full and complete discharge of assigned tasks, however small. It develops further as young NCOs face the challenge of being the one turned to by the squad when faced with an unfamiliar situation, faulty equipment, injustice or personal problems. -GEN Edward C. Meyer, "Professional Ethics Is Key to Well-Led, Trained Army." ARMY, Oct 1980, pp. 13-14

My country gave me some stripes and those stripes gave me the responsibility to lead. -SGT Rayson J. Billey (Bill Mauldinís "Willie"), in "Buck Sergeant Billey." Soldiers, Mar 1983, p. 26

Over the years we have seen many changes in our Army- vehicles, weapon systems, uniforms, and organizations- have all changed. However, one thing has not changed- the responsibility entrusted to U.S. Army noncommissioned officers to lead, train, take care of and serve as role models for our soldiers. -SMA Julius W. Gates, "Sergeant to Sergeant." Sergeantsí Business, Mar-Apr 1989 p. 2

Whatever job youíre assigned to and wherever you are in the world, think of the responsibilities you have. Think of that overall picture. -SSG Tejinder Soni, in "NCOs Speak for Themselves." Field Artillery, Aug 1989, p. 15

A duty is something you must do because of the position you hold. -FM 22-600-20, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1986, p. 25

A duty is a legal or moral obligation. There are specified duties related to your job and position. These specified duties are found in ARs, general orders, ARTEP publications, UCMJ and MOS job descriptions. These items prescribe duties and standards. We also have directed duties. These directed duties are given orally or in writing by a superior. Then there are implied duties.... These implied duties are not written anywhere; implied duties may not even be related to your MOS. They depend on your own initiative. Implied duties are the duties that make all the wonderful things that we do as NCOs happen. These are the duties that make you proactive instead of reactive. These are the duties that prevent training accidents and save young soldiersí lives. -CSM Joshua Perry, "Regimental Command Sergeant Major." Military Police, Nov 1989, p. 3

The job has to be done, and somebody has to do it, and we happen to be the ones that were picked to do it, so weíll go on doing it the best we can. -SGT Alban J. Petchal, WWII, Ernieís War, p. 230


No matter how humble the positions we were destined to fill [after the Civil War], we were always to derive infinite satisfaction from the thought that in the hour of the countryís peril we had not been found wanting, but had cheerfully rendered what little service we could, to defend its honor and preserve its life. -Theodore Gerrish, 20th Maine Volunteers, Civil War, in Rank and File, p. 412

By avoiding emphasis of your own importance and at the same time retaining your firmness and fidelity to duty you place yourself in the best possible attitude to assist those under you in carrying out your orders without humiliation to themselves. The American citizen soldier may be taught to obey and endure, they may be induced to charge into the cannonís mouth; but it is patriotism and duty which dominates them- no man can drive them save as they recognize in him the fellow servant and the minister of the authority to which they acknowledge their allegiance. -Instructions for the Non-Commissioned Officer, 1909, p. 5

Serving my country is the best thing I can do with my life. -1SG Isaac Guest, in "Portrait of a First Sergeant." Soldiers, Aug 1979, p. 34

As leaders of men, we who are noncommissioned officers hold a lofty position in our military society. But we are also servants. Thomas Jefferson once said, "When a man assumes a public trust...he should consider himself public property." We are public property, in the service of others. And, if we look about us we find that our commanders are also servants. So are our congressmen, our senators, our Supreme Court judges, and even our President. We are all servants of the American people- of our nation. We must never lose sight of this. It is important to an understanding of what we really are. -MSG Frank K. Nicolas, "Noncommissioned Officer." Infantry, Jan 1958, p. 78

There is no trade that can be made more repugnant than that of the soldier if he must comply with the demands of leaders who have not the interests of their subordinates at heart, and who are absorbed in their personal ambitions. -MAJ B. G. Chynoweth, "The Enlisted Apprentice." Infantry, Nov 1921, p. 490

Are you truly doing whatís best for the nation, whatís best for the Army, whatís best for your unit, whatís best for your soldiers and their families? Are you taking all of that into consideration, or are you looking at what makes you as an individual look the best? -SMA Richard A. Kidd, in "Lessons on Leadership." Soldiers, Feb 1995, p. 20


A Corporall...should be free from all Vices, especially the besotting Vice of drunkennesse. -Animaídversions of Warre, 1639, p. 195

Reckless drinking is neither manly, military, nor gentlemanly, and is always a drain on the purse and body. -Noncommissioned Officersí Manual, 1917, p. 27

There is no place in "our Army" for those who sexually harass or intimidate others, or whose use of alcohol or drugs degrades themselves and the soldiers around them. -SMA Glen E. Morrell, "The NCO: More Vital Than Ever to Readiness." ARMY, Oct 1983, p. 30

Swearing (Not Swearing)

The Sergeant Major [must not] suffer anie blasphemer, yea, if it were possible, not to have anie swearing by the name of God. -The Theorike and Practike of Moderne Warres, 1598, p. 111

The retort was a swift and brilliant sketch of Kimís pedigree for three generations. "Ah!" [replied Kim], "In my country we call that the beginning of love-talk." -Kim (son of Colour Sergeant Kimball OíHara), in Kim, 1900, p. 56

Never swear, itís not fair. It only shows you are the one with ruffled hair- not him. -AcSM John Lord, in On the Word of Command, 1990, p. 100


The basic proposition of the worth and dignity of man is not a sentimental aspiration or a vain hope or a piece of rhetoric. It is the strongest, the most creative force now present in this world.... To meet the crisis which now hangs over the world, we need many different kinds of strength: military, economic, political, and moral. And of all these, I am convinced that moral strength is the most vital.... Our ultimate strength lies not alone in arms, but in the sense of moral values and moral truths that give meaning and vitality to the purposes of free people. -Harry S. Truman (former CPL and CPT), addresses 1945-1953, Harry S. Truman: The Man from Missouri, pp. 7, 27, 51

Once a person has undergone great trials and come through victorious, then throughout his life he draws strength from this victory. -Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgi Zhukov (former NCO), Reminiscences and Reflections, Vol 2, 1974, p. 474 One of the strengths of our great Army is the unique ability of our soldiers to rise to the occasion and get the job done, no matter what the adversities or the situation, during war and peace. -SMA Julius W. Gates, "Sergeant to Sergeant." Sergeantsí Business, Mar-Apr 1989 p. 2


You must...use your head for other purposes than a hat rack. -SGT Frederick Sigmund, "How to Be a Successful Recruiter." U.S. Army Recruiting News, 31 Jul 1920, p. 6

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. -Abraham Lincoln, "Message to Congress" 1 Dec 1862, quoted in NCOPD Study, Vol 1, 1986, p. 185

Good work requires much thought, and concentrated thinking is the secret of genius. -SSG Ray H. Duncan, "The Value of Military Training." U.S. Army Recruiting News, 1 Mar 1925, p. 12

Intelligence and education command respect. -SFC Stewart E. Werner, "20-Year Man or Professional NCO?" Infantry, Mar-Apr 1965, p. 5

Life is tough. Itís tougher if youíre stupid. -caption on photo of John Wayne as a Marine Corps sergeant

As a leader, make sure you take the time to gain insight...because it will help you grow, and more importantly, help your people grow. -1SG Larry Drape, address "The Doís and Doníts of Quality NCO Leadership." 1990, p. 8

Reflecting back provides insight on what may lie ahead...and helps formulate a game plan. -CSM David W. Salter, "Regimental Command Sergeant Major." Military Police, Dec 1992, p. 3

Working Hard

A manís whole life depends on his attitude towards his job. The fellow who looks upon it as a bore and a nuisance is riding to a fall- and that right fast. If he says, "I am a cog in a wheel"- a cog he will be, and remain.... The fellow who comes into the Army and is prepared to do [the right things] and does do them, is the one who gets ahead. You canít keep him down.... If you would be successful in the profession of soldiering you must be ambitious- have an eagerness to achieve. You must gaze into the future and try to divine what it may have in store for you. You must live your life today, doing the duty that falls to you, whatever it may be, to the best of your ability. You must be expectant of tomorrow, ever planning ahead, and preparing to meet your problems, so that no one of them may come upon you as a surprise. Aviate every now and then by building what we term "castles in the air." Such a change is mental rest and does you a lot of good. It adds power to you and lifts your thoughts....

To do only that which you are told to do gets you nowhere. Up to that point you are working for the other fellow. When you step out and do something extra, youíre working for yourself.... "Put your work first." Do this and your work will put you first. All the great creators have found it so. You are no exception to the rule. It is the secret of advancement. It is the honest to God reason back of what some people call good luck- of which there is no such thing.... You get out of a thing just exactly what you put into it- no more, no less. Put your heart, and body and soul into your work and cash in on the results. -The Old Sergeantís Conferences, 1930, pp. 2, 6, 130, 7, 8

Put all you have into [your work] and it will become increasingly attractive and enjoyable. -Jo Merrick (WWI NCO spouse), letter 15 Jan 1978

Try doing your job today- every minute of that day- as if you were inside the skin of the most dedicated person you know. Do it again tomorrow, the next day, and the next- you could become [the] hero you were born to be. -CSM Matthew Lee, "Bridge the Gap." Engineer, No. 3, 1987, p. 3

It only costs a nickel more effort to make a first class product. Invest that nickel- youíll get a good return. -former NCO Robert L. Laychak (who served in the 2d Armored Division at the same time as Elvis Presley), in Command, Leadership, and Effective Staff Support, 1996, p. 46

Just because the sun sets, the job doesnít stop. -CSM Alton E. Crews, in "On Leadership." Soldiers, Mar 1985, p. 30

Any soldier, whatever his field, is happy as long as heís doing something constructive. If heís training and learning and getting that pat on the back when he earns it, heís happy. -CSM David P. Taylor, "Education: One Key to NCO Development." Field Artillery, Dec 1988, p. 40

The hours are long, but if you love a job the way I love mine, you donít even notice the hours go by. -Drill Sergeant David Blouin, in "Getting Back to the Basics." Sergeantsí Business, Mar-Apr 1989 p. 6

Youíre not being paid by how hard you work, but by what you accomplish. -SMA William A. Connelly to MSG Dale Ward, in The Sergeants Major of the Army: On Leadership and the Profession of Arms, 1996, p. 33

The energy you exert in your job is transmitted to [soldiers], and that motivates them more than anything. -1SG Lloyd Smith, in "A Time to Become ĎAccelerated.í" ARMY, Mar 1989, p. 48

Many [soldiers] are experiencing a store of reserve energy they never knew existed. -SSG Rhonda S. Denny, in "The NCO" In Their Own Words, 1991, no page number

In Conclusion: Values


I...believe in...all the men who stood up against the enemy, taking their beatings without whimper and their triumphs without boasting. The men who went and would go again to hell and back to preserve what our country thinks right and decent. -Audie Murphy, To Hell and Back, 1949, p. 273

Values are ideas about the worth or importance of things, concepts, and people. They come from beliefs. They influence priorities.... Professional beliefs, values, and ethics are the foundation of a leaderís character which enable him to withstand great pressures.... NCOs must discuss, emphasize, and teach professional beliefs, values, and ethics.... This occurs naturally as respected leaders demonstrate their beliefs and values; and teach, counsel, and provide good training.... The more you build these traits [courage, candor, competence, and commitment] in yourself and others, the more successful you will be. -FM 22-600-20, The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, 1986, pp. 41, 11, 15

We serve our nation- our people- for the devotion, faith, and trust we place in our free, democratic system of government.... What is all this [emphasis placed on values and devotion to duty] about? It is all about surviving in this hectic, imperfect world; it is all about being free to live life to its fullest...and in that great intangible virtue possessed by all Americans- a commitment to service. It is about keeping our nation free. -SMA Glen E. Morrell, "What Soldiering Is All About." ARMY, Oct 1986, pp. 39, 40

Some of you may have heard me talk about my first platoon sergeant, SFC Putnam. He demonstrated his commitment to competence by teaching me, a new lieutenant, crew drills on the mortars and recoilless rifles that were the crew-served weapons in the platoon Iíd just taken over. SFC Putnam also realized that the soldiers needed to see- by my actions and his mentoring as an NCO- that we both valued competence. As a result, he made sure that he taught me those crew drills in a place where the soldiers would see their lieutenant working to master the skills of their trade. That NCO knew what was meant by living Army values, and Iíve never forgotten that lesson. -GEN John A. Wickham, "Values." Soldiers, Dec 1986, p. 2

Values...are the heart and soul of a great Army. -DA Pam 623-205, The NCO Evaluation Reporting System "In Brief", 1988, p. 12

That uniform stood for something to me- and it still does, something pretty grand and fine. -SGT Henry Giles, WWII, The G.I. Journal of Sergeant Giles, p. 4

Values and Army Themes

The Army traveled a long road during the eight-plus years John O. Marsh, Jr...served as its top civilian leader. Many soldiers will remember how Marsh, aided by former President Ronald Reaganís push for a strong defense, oversaw the fielding of dozens of new, state-of-the-art weapons systems- the M-1 Abrams, the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the Multiple Launch Rocket System, and others. Military strategists will credit the Marsh record with the Armyís continued transition to a lethal combination of heavy and light forces, including the activation of two new light infantry divisions. Aviation and Special Forces soldiers will remember that Marshís leadership brought them separate branches. Army family members will look back on Marsh as the leader who changed them from "dependents" to bonafide members of the Army community. And, no one will forget the astonishing rise in soldier quality during the Marsh years. But Marsh will likely be remembered best by the Armyís soldiers and civilians for his annual themes.

1981: Yorktown- Spirit of Victory: Marsh announced the first Army theme shortly after he was sworn into office in January 1981. An avid historian, Marsh sought to restore a perceived loss of pride and morale by calling attention to what he called the Armyís "greatest victory"- the triumph of the Continental Army over the British at Yorktown.... "America needs to be reminded of that victory.... Those soldiers in the Continental Line redeemed the pledge in the last line of the Declaration of Independence which reads, ĎAnd for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.í The time has come for America to make the same pledge they redeemed."
1982: Fitness: Marsh and then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. E. C. Meyer declared physical fitness 1982ís Army theme. The two leaders affirmed their intentions in a joint statement presented during Congressional testimony. They said, "We have recently placed additional emphasis on the physical fitness of soldiers throughout the Total Army and throughout each individualís full term of service." The statement read: "As part of this effort, we will establish an Army Physical Fitness Center to develop state-of-the-art exercise programs and to train leaders in proper physical training techniques.
We will also establish a surgeon general task force to design and promote programs for health and better living, and we will provide meaningful incentives to encourage and sustain high standards of physical fitness and soldierly appearance.
Force readiness begins with the physical fitness of the individual soldiers and the noncommissioned officers and officers who lead them." From that pledge came the Armyís fitness center...the Master Fitness Trainer course, and the Armyís...program of controlling smoking, alcohol deglamorization, and nutrition awareness.
1983: Excellence: The year 1983 was dedicated to improving the quality of the Army... "It requires talent, motivation, and patriotism to Ďbe all you can be,í" [said LTG Maxwell Thurman]. Army initiatives continued the trend of improving soldier quality. At the same time, it swung into high gear an all-out effort to improve quality of life throughout the Army community. The next yearís theme followed logically- "The Army Family."
1984: Families: "A healthy family environment is a force multiplier," said Gen. John A. Wickham Jr., the Armyís Chief of Staff in 1984. "Soldiers can better face the uncertainties and dangers of service life when they know that their familiesí well-being is important to their leaders." The Armyís leadership set into motion a campaign to show just how important those families are. The development of the Army Family Symposium program and the publication of the first Army Family Action Plan set the stage for an emphasis on the Army Family- soldiers, civilians, family members, and retirees- that has set new and lasting standards for Army life.
1985: Leadership: "Leadership" became the Armyís theme for 1985, and with it came renewed emphasis on training and developing leaders at all levels, from squad leaders and first-line supervisors to commanding generals. Marsh and Wickham summed it up in their joint proclamation, issued Dec. 10, 1984, "No matter what the leaderís rank, or organizational level, each leader has the same obligation. That obligation is to inspire and develop excellence in individuals and organizations, train members toward professional competency; instill members with a spirit to win; see to their needs and well-being; and to set standards that will be emulated by those they lead."
1986: Values: The next yearís theme, "Values," continued to stress character. The importance of soldierly conduct and integrity received so much attention that a "Values" section was eventually incorporated into the Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report. NCOs are now rated on how well they uphold the standards Marsh and Wickham discussed in their "Values" proclamation: "The Army Ethic comprises four enduring values: loyalty to country and the Army; loyalty to the unit; personal responsibility; and selfless service. It is beneath these overarching values that our soldierly and ethical standards and qualities- commitment, competence, candor, courage, and integrity- are nurtured and given opportunity for growth. This has to happen in peacetime because in war there is no time."
1987: The Constitution: With...the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, the Army paid tribute in 1987 to the living document which forms the basis of the American way of life....
1988: Training: [In 1988] the Army designated as its theme "Training," and the organizational pace quickened.... Calling training "the cornerstone of readiness" and "our top priority," [Chief of Staff GEN Carl] Vuono gave an old concept new life as an Army catch phrase- "technical and tactical proficiency." Throughout the Army, vigorous training programs set about making the catch phrase a reality....
1989: The NCO: Our Army leadership has designated the Army theme for [1989] as the year of the noncommissioned officer. The purpose of the theme is to focus the total Army on the dedicated service- past, present, and future- of the noncommissioned officer. -SSG J. C. Matthews, "Army Themes: Providing Identity, Purpose." INSCOM, Aug-Sep 1989, pp. 6-9 for themes 1982-1988; SMA Julius W. Gates, p. 14 for the 1989 theme

Values and Success

Success in the Army depends upon exploiting existing opportunities by hard work and application.... In the long run it may be said that the person who makes a success of the Army can be expected to make a success elsewhere. -MSG William J. Daly, "The Army as a Career." Army Information Digest, Feb 1952, pp. 46, 45

Inner discipline- one of the keys to success. -CSM George D. Mock, in "NCOs Reflect on Inspections." Sergeantsí Business, Jan-Feb 1990, p. 4

It is exciting to watch [young soldiersí] enthusiasm and eagerness. You have to love them when you see them excel, fail, and recover with an incredible effort to win. -CSM David P. Klehn, "Vantage Point." Military Intelligence, Jan-Mar 1991, p. 3

Find success, copy it, and modify it to fit your needs. -CSM John P. OíConnor, in "Learning (Small Group Instruction) in an Academic Environment (BNCOC)." Military Intelligence, Apr-Jun 1993, p. 52

I only asked three things from the soldiers I served with- to be on time for work and give me your best shot and take pride in your work. In turn, Iíll take care of you and make it work; we both win for the unit. -Medal of Honor recipient SGM Kenneth E. Stumpf, in "NCOs Who Wear the Badge of Honor." NCO Journal, Winter 1995, inside back cover

In the absence of any formal schooling...I watch a guy whoís been successful. -SMA Silas L. Copeland, in The Sergeants Major of the Army, 1995, p. 75

You need to act and look the way you want to be treated. To achieve the most success, act and look two grades higher than you are. -LTC Dean E. Mattson (former NCO), in A Treasury of NCO Quotations, 1997, no page number

Seize the initiative...create your own opportunities. -CSM Matthew Lee, "Are You Ready for the First Battle?" Engineer, Summer 1986, p. 3

What goes up must come down. What goes around, must come around. -SGM Hubert Black, in Command, Leadership, and Effective Staff Support, 1996, p. 109

The lucky fellow reaches out and grabs an opportunity, while others stand around and donít know itís there. -The Old Sergeantís Conferences, 1930, p. 9

Success beats quitting any time...and in the long run, itís easier. -SFC Patrick J. Coyle, "I Want Out." Army Trainer, Fall 1989, pp. 6, 7