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    Finding a balance during deployment

    Finding a balance during deployment

    Photo By Spc. Anthony Zane | Lt. Col. John D. Herrera, deputy chief of plans for the 36th Infantry Division and a...... read more read more

    BASRA, Iraq – Proper leadership is essential to the success of any organization, and one lieutenant colonel’s passion for leadership and dedication to building a better Army has laid the foundation for success for many future leaders.

    Lt. Col. John D. Herrera, deputy chief of plans for the 36th Infantry Division, currently deployed to Contingency Operating Base Basra, has served four tours throughout his 24-year military career with the Texas Army National Guard and takes pride in his role during this deployment to Iraq.

    “We may be wearing the same uniform, standing side-by-side in a foxhole, and there is no difference between us. The differences that are there are very subtle, and it’s usually organizational, administrative practices or some unique processes the Guard has that active duty just doesn’t have and vice versa,” Herrera said, speaking of the challenges guard members face while deployed with their active-duty counterparts.

    Herrera is a Texas Tech University alumnus and graduate of the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and holds a master's degree in strategic military arts and sciences.

    Taking his leadership role seriously, Herrera views his career as a way to teach soldiers and future leaders the proper skills to be successful. In 2008, Herrera taught military science at Texas Tech, providing him the opportunity to practice what he preaches.

    “That was my way of giving back several years of my recent deployment experiences to a new crop of officers who would become captains, majors and lieutenant colonels ten years from now, and trying to impart to them words of wisdom and ways of being as an officer; what’s expected of the profession; what they should expect from themselves, their unit; how to enter into future relationships that are productive and not destructive when it comes to deployments; and just being part of the military lifestyle. For that it was rewarding,” he said.

    “If you have an opportunity to give back to the organization in a meaningful way, then you should do it,” said Herrera.

    As well as being a successful leader, having four deployments under his belt and teaching at his alma mater, Herrera is also a loving husband and proud father of four and an entrepreneur.

    Herrera and his wife, Funda, reside in Lubbock, Texas, with their four children: Erica, Stephen, Noah and Nathan. During Herrera’s deployment to Iraq, his wife is busy at home raising their children and running their learning center for children, a business to which Herrera brings the same passion as he does developing future officers in the Guard.

    My wife is passionate about childhood education and taking care of young kids, said Herrera. We get a lot of joy in seeing young children blossom, making sure they are properly nourished, and that they are in a safe and secure environment. It’s rewarding to see the business we pour ourselves into become productive, not only for ourselves, but for the community, he added.

    Herrera acknowledges that along with the benefits of his job, there are also challenges for him and his family.

    It’s easy and hard at the same time. "At this point at least, my family knows what to expect," said Herrera. "This is my third deployment in eight years, and everyone is ready for daddy to come home."

    The rewards Herrera has found throughout his military career have helped him find a balance between military and civilian life.

    "I’ve met some really great people that I could actually pick up the phone at any time day or night and know that that person would drive across the country from wherever they live, to help me or my family," said Herrera. "I can probably count those people on one hand, but I’ve met every single one of them in the military."

    “Our organization has a brotherhood of people that tend to be reflective of what the Army values are,” said Herrera. “You don’t find that in a lot of places in society, and for me, the most rewarding part has been meeting people like that.”

    After his military career comes to a close, Herrera looks forward to traveling and spending time in Turkey, where his wife is from, but for now, he continues his mission.

    “This phase in my career development as a strategic planner at the division level, and working a lot of core plans, has really broadened my understanding of the full spectrum of concerns, operations, and issues that higher headquarters have and may be lost to the tactical command,” he said. “So for me, it’s been an extremely rewarding assignment the last two years as the deputy planner for the division.”



    Date Taken: 08.05.2011
    Date Posted: 08.06.2011 07:39
    Story ID: 74951
    Location: BASRA, IQ

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