Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 51

THE ROLE OF CHARACTER with sentiment and nostalgia, a certain amount of sentiment was apparent. He expressed the great respect he had for his troops. He wrote that a piece of him always would be with the “3-4 horse,” and not the piece that Charlie got. He said he never would forget some of the battles and the hard times they went through together. Enduring Character After the war, the squadron held reunions every two years. Otis attended when he could, even after being promoted to general officer. The troopers found him a fascinating storyteller as well as a good listener. Otis seemed to remember every one of his soldiers, living or dead. He corresponded with several and helped them and their families when he could. For instance, he wrote a letter to support the application of a former soldier’s son to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In later years, Otis continued to pursue the award of the Medal of Honor to Dwight Birdwell, a Native American who had played a heroic role in the battle for Tan Son Nhut. Mutual respect. Throughout his life, Otis was known to respect the whole person and overlook differences. For example, a junior officer who fought alongside Otis during the battle for Saigon later became an avid antiwar demonstrator. Their friendship and mutual respect endured nonetheless. One of his former captains said that to serve under his command was a once-in-a-lifetime privilege. As a soldier and in retirement, Glenn Otis needed no special paraphernalia, no grenades hanging from his belt, no crushed hat, no pearl-handled pistols, no dog on a leash, no smoking pipe, no dangling cigar. People who met him could tell he was a giant of a man, a true leader of men. Glenn Otis was a person of character. Timeless leadership. As I reflected upon my quest to find out what was so special about Glenn Otis as a leader, it brought me back to my first meeting with him. The answer was right there in front of me. There he was, standing quietly alone; a humble and thoughtful man, openly friendly to a complete stranger. He connected with his officers and soldiers similarly. His soldiers did not feel they worked for him but that they worked with him. They felt Otis talked with them rather than to them. His sincerity, humility, and a real caring for his subordinates were the qualities that set Glenn Otis far above his contemporaries. His example of effective leadership is timeless. Conclusion Many leaders are respected. There is a distinction, however, between respect and reverence. In the Army, showing respect to leaders is a matter of obligation. Soldiers show respect by deference, courtesy, and obedience. Reverence, on the other hand, is respect earned. Soldiers who come to revere a leader show their respect through veneration. Glenn Otis was, and still is, revered by his troopers. When I contacted the surviving members of the 3-4 Cavalry, I was surprised how often they said they loved their commander. This is rather unusual coming from a diverse bunch of rough, tough men, many of whom grew up during the 1960s in run-down neighborhoods or in poor, backcountry towns where survival was a challenge and authority was not well received. Character does far more than help a leader “determine what is right” and “do what is appropriate,” as written in ADRP 6-22. The story of Glenn Otis shows how a leader of character can inspire men not only on the battlefield, but throughout their lives. NOTES 1. Dwight W. Birdwell and Keith William Nolan, A Hundred Miles of Bad Road: An Armored Cavalryman in Vietnam, 19671968, (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1997). Excerpts paraphrased and used by permission. 2. I want to thank members of 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, without whose help I could not have written this paper: Dwight W. Birdwell, Thomas Fleming, Rolland Fletcher, Jimmy Greer, Jerry MILITARY REVIEW  September-October 2014 Headley, Oliver Jones, Ralph Martinez, Malcom Otis, Jim Ross, William E. Shaffer, and Robert Sevene. The surviving members of 3-4 Cavalry who contributed information consistently expressed their reverence and love for their former commander. 3. Glenn K. Otis, in “Vietnam Mechanized Operations Oral Histories 1965-1973,” (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center). 49