Top NCO Shares Laughs, Hope with Troops in Korea
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
SEOUL, South Korea, June 18, 2007 The Defense Department’s top enlisted servicemember today urged hundreds of troops here to live their dreams, because life is short.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey (center), senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks with Navy Petty Officer Terry E. Selvera before going on the air for a live question-and-answer session June 18, 2007, at Armed Forces Network Korea. Selvera is the Defense Department’s Joint Staff Servicemember of the Year and is accompanying Gainey on his trip to South Korea. Also pictured is Army Sgt. Craig Rader (left), afternoon disc jockey for AFN Korea, and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Barry C. Wheeler, 8th U.S. Army command sergeant major. Photo by Fred W. Baker III
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he learned this lesson during the 13 months he spent in Iraq before taking his current position advising Marine Gen. Peter Pace on enlisted matters.
Gainey visited servicemembers at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan on the first leg of a weeklong visit to South Korea. This is Gainey’s second trip here as Pace’s senior enlisted advisor.
During the day, Gainey hosted a live call-in radio show on Armed Forces Network Korea, alongside Army Command Sgt. Maj. Barry C. Wheeler, command sergeant major for 8th U.S. Army. He toured Special Operations Command Korea, lunched with troops from 18th Medical Command, and toured the 121st Combat Support Hospital.
He also held two town hall meetings, with the first for about 50 troops at the hospital and the second for about 150 servicemembers representing units from across Yongsan. There, he explained his role and fielded questions from troops ranging from uniforms and promotions, to how he was selected for his current job.
He also had office calls with U.S. Forces Korea commander Army Gen. Burwell B. Bell and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs for the Republic of Korea military, Gen. Kwan Jin Kim.
Everywhere Gainey went, he talked and joked with troops, passing out coins and advice on how they should live out their dreams and never compromise who they are.
As a litmus test of sorts, Gainey said servicemembers should ask themselves five questions before fulfilling their dreams: Is it illegal? Is it immoral? Will it hurt me? Will it hurt others? Will it disgrace my name or service?
If the answer is ‘no’ to all five questions, Gainey told the servicemembers to “go for it.”
“People are quick to tell you that you can’t do something,” Gainey said. “Life is very short. Live the best life you can. Fulfill all your dreams.”
During the meetings, Gainey also stressed that servicemembers will no longer serve on battlefields with only their respective service, but in a joint environment.
Gainey told servicemembers in the audience to cover the branch -- Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines -- on their uniforms with one finger. “All you have left is us (U.S.),” he said.
Troops are basically the same, only the tactics, techniques and procedures change, Gainey said. “They all have the same hopes, desires and dreams,” he said.
Gainey emphasized to troops that, no matter what their jobs, each plays a key role in the nation’s defense, and he encouraged them to do their best. “If you’re a broom pusher, be the best broom pusher,” he said. “Be proud of who you are and what you do.”
Everyone’s role is important, Gainey told the servicemembers. “If you don’t think what you are doing is important, you’re wrong,” he said.