During Cadet Basic Training, I benefited greatly from the leadership of my cadre members. They stimulated my development in many ways. By far, it was my second detail Platoon Sergeant, Sergeant Mathis, who most greatly instilled in me the warrior ethos. The second detail of Cadet Basic Training consisted mostly of field training. This was the first experience that us new cadets had with such training, and we quickly learned that it can be far from enjoyable. Despite the difficulties that my platoon went through, my platoon sergeant motivated and instilled in us the warrior ethos, driving us through and beyond the remainder of Cadet Basic Training.
Many of my cadre members told me, “It’s not training unless it’s raining.” In their own way, they all tried to justify the training conditions that were prevalent throughout Cadet Basic Training. The dark skies and heavy downpours were responsible for the decreased morale and attitude prevalent in many of the new cadets. Most of our training was not difficult, but the weather conditions made everything significantly harder. Our weeklong bivouac at Lake Fredrick had jokingly been referred to as “Camp Fun-Fun,” but had it not been for the heavy rains that transformed the beautiful lake resort into an open cesspool, our stay there may very well have been “Camp Fun-Fun.” Despite the negative conditions that nature had dealt my platoon, Sergeant Mathis continued to remain highly motivated.
Sergeant Mathis loved to train, even under the worst of conditions, and as it seemed to everyone that these were the worst conditions, it was his time to shine. During our downtime, he would keep us positive by getting us motivated and looking forward to the training that we were going to experience in the next couple of days. Finally, when we were at the training sites, he would amaze us by his performance. He entered the gas chamber without his mask, ran down the side of out rappelling cliff “Ozzie Style,” and was the loudest and dirtiest soldier at the bayonet assault course. His leadership motivated everyone. We saw how much he pushed himself in all of the training, driving us to meet his standard. His warrior ethos proved to be very contagious.
Sergeant Mathis has become my model for a soldier truly embodying the warrior ethos. During training, I try to strive to meet his level of performance. I attribute my award as the most motivated new cadet of my Cadet Basic Training platoon to him in this capacity. During all of my field training, I pushed myself to be like Sergeant Mathis: the loudest and dirtiest soldier prepared to take anything that anyone put me through. All of the cadets that experienced Sergeant Mathis’s leadership benefited from it. We are all substantially more motivated and excited about our future careers in the United States Army. I am positive that many future privates will benefit from Lieutenant Mathis’s outstanding leadership and warrior ethos, both from him directly and indirectly through the cadets that he affected so greatly.