News: The Army; selflessly serving
By Command Sgt. Maj. Travis D. Votaw
5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage are not merely words on paper or a buzz-worthy acronym; they are a code that the men and women of the United States Army are to uphold. The values that the Army holds at its core are not that different than what one would expect of a family member, friend, or neighbor. The major difference being that the Army Values are not merely expected to be upheld, Soldiers are required to uphold them. All seven hold their importance and some will argue that one is more so than another, when in reality they fit together like puzzle pieces to describe the whole, as without one the picture would be incomplete.
The word “selfless” defined by Webster’s is, “having or showing great concern for other people and little or no concern for yourself.” Following the acronym the Army uses to reinforce its values, the ‘S’ represents Selfless Service, and can be described as putting the “we before the me.”
The creed of the noncommissioned officer has a line that directly illustrates selfless service and its importance when it states that, “I know my soldiers and will always place their needs above my own.” Ensuring the team is adamantly aware of the fact that the leader is willing to forego for the sake of his soldiers is paramount to teambuilding and eventual mission success.
As an Army, we routinely find ourselves committed to something bigger than just the individual soldier; a collective mission that binds multiple people and units together in order to accomplish the task at hand. One such example was prominently displayed in Afghanistan by Spc. Ty Carter during the defense of Combat Outpost Keating in October 2009.
Though surrounded and outnumbered five to one by a determined enemy and with several members of his unit wounded or killed, Carter maneuvered from one position to another to reinforce weak points or pull the wounded to cover. With complete disregard for his own wounds and safety, Carter did this multiple times all under intense enemy fire during the course of the 12 hour attack clearly putting the organization ahead of his own needs and nearly defining selfless service; for his actions he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. But Carter was far from the only one of his organization that put the unit first that day, as there was another Medal of Honor, nine Silver Stars for gallantry, and over fifty medals for valor awarded to other men for putting the “we before the me” in defense of COP Keating.
Our rich military history shows countless examples from soldiers of all backgrounds proudly putting the mission and the welfare of others above their own. Selfless service may not be more important than any of the other six Army values, but without it they would be incomplete.