A Mustang Officer is an officer who first enlists in the military before earning a commission. In my experience, they are among the best officers you could ever hope for. J’Dub is the epitome of that statement. No finer human being exists when hot lead goes down range, nor could anyone ask for a more complete leader.
My first impression of J’Dub was “unassuming”, though I quickly learned that his quiet demeanor and soft spoken leadership style was fully backed by a tough, competent and highly intelligent sergeant who only resorted to the “other” style of leadership when the situation dictated. And without hesitation.
As my squad leader in Somalia, he helped further develop the soldier and leader I became because he recognized that potential was sometimes just as important as experience. He leads from the front, never putting his soldiers in any danger that he himself didn’t bare. He leads by example. I can say all of that in the present tense, though I haven’t seen him in over 20 years. Men like this don’t change in that regard; they just become better.
Aside from flawless leadership and execution on every mission in our time in Somalia, J’Dub worked tirelessly to take care of his soldiers. He scrounged up enough pogue bait on our Christmas in Somalia to offer each man the choice between a pecan sandy or a butterscotch candy, knowing everyone was missing home as bad as he was as we listened to the gleeful sounds of our field grade officers enjoying a full Christmas meal. Had they asked, J’Dub would have told them how absolutely disrespectful that was, as well as just being poor leadership.
Having ETS’d (exited the service) directly after Somalia, he moved to TN and started school, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, before then earning a master’s degree in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2000.
After 9-11 he wanted nothing more than to be back in the mix and around soldiers so he joined the TN National Guard in 2002, promptly attending and graduating from Officer Candidate School in 2004. During his first tour in Iraq in 2005, he was assigned as the Platoon Leader of 1st Platoon, Lightning Troop, 3rd Squadron, 278th Regimental Combat Team which was stationed at Forward Operating Base COBRA in the Diyala Province of Iraq. It was here that he realized how important that the small unit (such as ours in Somalia) was in the counterinsurgency fight.
In 2010, J’Dub did his second tour in Iraq, first as the Executive Officer of Fox Troop, before transitioning as the Squadron Battle Captain of 2nd Squadron, 278th Armored Calvary Regiment, stationed at Joint Base Balad. After then becoming an ROTC instructor at East Tennessee State University, he became the Training Officer and assistant S-3 for 3rd Squadron, 278th Armored Calvary Regiment and is AGR (Active Guard Reserve).
During my writing of “Behind the Gun”, he has provided invaluable feedback by helping me enhance the level of detail from the leadership perspective, detail I couldn’t possibly have known as being the M-60 gunner. He also provides great contrasts between our time in Somalia and living in the dirt with no comforts of life with the relatively luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by many in today’s military when not on missions. XBOX, Skype, Café Lattes and chow that would make our 1 to 2 MRE’s per day seem like fine dining. When we deployed to Somalia, it happened so fast that he wasn’t even afforded time to say goodbye to his now adult daughter. And he is still married to the same woman, Kristy, to this day that he was married to when we deployed. A sign of character on both their parts.
He is able to point out many of the “lost arts” we mastered in Somalia, such as the art of infiltration. This input adds an invaluable new aspect to “Behind the Gun” as it can now be used as a training tool by current military leaders who are looking to master small unit tactics.
In the Chapter “The Baptism“, he executed flawlessly as we came under intense enemy, and ultimately friendly, fire as we lay caught in a crossfire as a Cobra Attack helicopter started a target run on our position. Just as I had done, he had signaled the helicopter using IR, causing it to pull off target at the last possible second.
In the Chapter “The Gift” in “Behind the Gun”, he put his own hide on the line by trusting my judgment in a highly tense situation, one of the most intense in my entire life, by backing me up 110% as I openly disobeyed a direct order in combat from a field grade officer, violating articles 90 and 92 of the UCMJ, which is punishable by death. His backing me put him in the same boat I was already in. Though, just as I put my life in his hands everyday in Somalia, he put his in mine by trusting my judgment. Obviously he was right to do so, or I wouldn’t be able to tell you this amazing story in “Behind the Gun”. Our actions were directly credited with saving multiple innocent lives that day.
J’Dub is one of a select few men I credit with my success in the military, both as a leader, and a soldier. I’ve asked him to write my soldier profile so you can get a more complete look at me rather than just listening to me rant on about what a bad ass I am.
Come read about J’Dub and scores of amazing soldiers in “Behind the Gun”!
Copyright© Bravo Charles & Behind the Gun 2016