Face of Defense: Soldier Works to Inspire Others
By Army Pfc. Lyndsey R. Dransfield
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Jul. 28, 2008 The rank insignia of a noncommissioned officer gives the wearer a title as well as the power to accomplish certain tasks and objectives, but the rank alone doesn’t always make a leader.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lowers, a Sunrise, Fla., native, and platoon chief, 1st Platoon, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad, poses next to an M777 Howitzer at Camp Taji, Iraq, July 21, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Lyndsey R. Dransfield, Multinational Division Baghdad
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Leadership involves inspiring others to achieve higher goals, and the Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Platoon, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, say Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lowers, a Sunrise, Fla., native -- their platoon chief and a member of the Sgt. Audi Murphy Club -- is someone they define as a true leader.
The soldiers call him “Sergeant Smoke,” a title commonly given to artillery chiefs. He supervises the fire base here, and is responsible for all artillery fires.
“There is nothing more exciting than putting a 100-pound projectile downrange knowing that you’ve done everything you can to make sure it hits its target,” Lowers said. “I think the battalion commander says it best: ‘It’s not a sexy job.’ However, we are in a support role, and it’s good to know that we do our part to support the infantry soldiers with their mission. I’d like to think our part is as important as the next guy’s.”
Lowers came to the United States from Jamaica when he was 19, and he enlisted in the Army five months later.
“I wanted to go to college, but my parents didn’t have the funds to support me, and I knew that the Army had a lot of opportunities,” he said.
After serving four years as a finance specialist, he said, he wanted to pursue a long-term career in the Army, so he spoke with his leaders about a job switch.
“I enjoyed finance, but I was young and wanted to do something more exciting. Going from finance to artillery is like night and day,” he said.
Lowers is not just a soldier in the Army; he is a soldier who fully believes in the Army.
“I can attribute everything I have and everything I’ve become to the Army. It has provided for me and my family and given us everything we need,” he said. “I’ve met so many people from all walks of life that are perusing the same dreams as me. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from them, as well as about life itself.”
Dedication is only one of the values Lowers displays. His soldiers have developed great admiration for his ability to react under pressure and to take care of their needs.
Army Spc. Justin Ren, native of Lincoln, Neb., and a cannon crew member with Headquarters Platoon, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, broke his leg in April while out at the fire base.
“Sergeant Smoke didn’t hesitate,” he said. “He immediately got the first aid kit, splinted my leg, and made sure I stayed calm and collected. He got me to the hospital and stayed with me for moral support while they performed X-rays. He always seems to know what to do and when to do it. If it’s for the soldiers’ needs, he never hesitates.”
Army Spc. Timothy Blair, a Nicholasville, Ky., native, agreed.
“He shows us the right way to handle any situation and always comes out on top,” said Blair, an assistant gunner with 1st Platoon, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery.
Blair has been in the Army for two years, is awaiting promotion to become a sergeant and in May, and was nominated for Soldier of the Month.
“He has developed me in everything I have done. He is one of the main reasons why I am where I am in my career,” Blair said. “He puts the opportunity up front and allows us to take initiative to achieve it.”
Lowers said he believes it is his responsibility to be the best leader possible.
“This is my job. Once I pinned on the sergeant stripes, it became my responsibility to teach, mentor, and develop my soldiers,” he said. “I have soldiers that come to me straight out of basic training and are not sure what the Army’s about. My job is to instill that knowledge in them and break it down to a level they can understand. I’ve seen soldiers transition from a private all the way to sergeant first class. Watching soldiers go through that transition is my inspiration.”
(Army Pfc. Lyndsey R. Dransfield serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)