News: Army Non-Commissioned officer leads by example
MOSUL, Iraq (5 June, 2006) -- Being an infantry battalion squad leader can be challenging. It takes dedication and responsibility to lead Soldiers. It is a responsiblity that Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Cruz from Comerio, Puerto Rico takes seriously.
Cruz, a weapons squad leader with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, has been a squad leader for more than a year and a weapons squad leader for about three months.
From making split-second tactical decisions on the streets of Mosul to helping junior Soldiers on Forward Operating Base Marez, Cruz has been there to support and train junior members of his squad and other team members in Co A.
"Being a weapon squad leader, I have lots of responsibilities," said Cruz. "You have to be a mentor to others, to teach them to become future non-commissioned officers."
According to Cruz, he will never ask a Soldier to do anything that he has not already done or would do himself, no matter what the task is. Whether it is physical fitness or searching for insurgents on the streets, he must be willing to do it first.
"He leads by example," said Spc. Nicholas Stabley, vehicle commander, 2nd Bn., 1st Inf. Rgt., and a native of South Williamsport, Pa. "He maintains his confidence and composer at all times and he will not make a Soldier do what he is not willing to do or is not able to do."
"I hope someday when I become a squad leader, I hope to be just as good as Cruz is." said Spc. Jeff McDonald, vehicle driver, and native of Fort Collins, Colo. "Cruz is really good with all the Soldiers, knows his job and the job of other Soldiers."
According to Cruz, physical fitness helps Soldiers relieve stress, so he ensures that they exercise properly. He is not one who simply tells them to work out; he is also there with them to exercise.
"I try and maintain a physical fitness standard that my Soldiers have to follow," said Cruz. "This isn't a game out here, so I have to make sure they are ready mentally and physically at all times."
Cruz's native language is Spanish which gives him the opportunity to talk to young Soldiers who are more comfortable speaking Spanish.
"I am a Mexican-born Soldier and Cruz will always speak to me in Spanish, making sure I never forget where I have come from," said Pfc. Oscar Cuellar, gun team and native of Palmdale, Calif. "One thing that Cruz does is listen to you and make sure you are satisfied with what ever decision you as a Soldier come up with, he is not just our weapons squad leader, he is also our friend."
Cruz said the biggest challenge for him is being away from home for a year and being on his third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"I look forward to seeing my daughter when I get back home," he said. "For now, I will try and make sure each and every Soldier that works for me also makes it home to see their families."