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Day in the Life: Soldier strives to inspire others

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Holmes, NCO Academy Senior Leaders Course instructor for the career maintenance field, leads a class discussion May 22 at the NCO Academy. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Holmes, NCO Academy Senior Leaders Course instructor for the career maintenance field, leads a class discussion May 22 at the NCO Academy. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: May 29, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 29, 2014) -- Before the sun stretches its rays over the horizon each morning, more than 160 students at the NCO Academy are lined up ready to take on the day.

Students look to their instructors, also known as small group leaders, to lead them down the road to success and help them become better leaders.

And one SGL feels there is no better way to be an elite NCO than to instruct and teach other NCOs.

He aspires to be the leader he always wished to see in his units across the U.S., the one that others always aimed to be to make the NCO Corps a stronger and more professional force.

“I hope I can make an impression on them where they might think, ‘I had that great instructor at the Senior Leaders Course, and he really helped me out. I want to be a great leader like him for those who are under my leadership,’” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Holmes, NCO Academy Senior Leaders Course instructor for the career maintenance field.

He feels it is an honor to work at the academy because he not only loves the work he does, but he “truly” believes in the NCO Corps.

“That is where the rubber meets the road, and the academy is what makes or breaks a future leader. It’s great to guide other Soldiers to success,” he said.

His course consists of staff sergeants and sergeants first class, and he has anywhere between 16 and 20 students – all maintainer NCOs from Kiowa Warriors, Apaches, Black Hawks, Chinooks and the Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system – each cycle, which lasts for six weeks.

His primary mission is to teach and show his students the proper and most successful way to lead from the front, and instructs them on everything from leadership to the Army Body Composition Program.

Helping cultivate the next generation of elite NCOs, Holmes said he has to show and facilitate to his students what right looks like, answer any questions they might have concerning their profession, guide them towards the standards and demonstrate the standards so they will uphold the standards once they leave his classroom.

“Coming through my course is a Soldier’s next progression in their careers,” he said. “It is a stepping stone where once they complete the course they are that much more knowledgeable, have that many more tools that they can use to ensure that the future of the Army maintains it high standards and possibly even raises the standards.”

This class is more than just an Army requirement for Holmes, it is a gateway for NCOs and the Army to know that those who pass the course are ready for the next step the military might have in store for them.

“The classes I teach prepare Soldiers to be looked at for a master sergeant position,” he said. “Through my class, the Army will get the information it needs on these Soldiers – if they are ready or if they need more training before they are put in the front to lead.

“That is a big deal because we don’t just check blocks here at the academy – we look at the Soldier as a whole. From not only knowing what a manual says, but how to lead it in all its minute details,” he continued.

Soldiers cannot just wake up and show up to his class, they have to be prepared mentally every day. That goes for Homes, too.

“As their instructor, I am the one who they come to when they have questions, and I am the one who they look up to during that time for guidance,” he said. “If I am not on my A Game every day I will falter, and if I falter it might cause them to falter, and then it becomes a domino effect around the class.”

In the SLC maintainer classroom, HoImes is more of a facilitator, not a droning lecturer.

“I want the class to be relevant and realistic for them. So, I have the students talk in discussions to relay their experiences, that way they don’t only learn from me but they learn from their battle buddies,” he said. “That type of learning is more conducive to what the Army encourages during everyday training. It’s a great way to learn because each one has different experiences than I do, and the classroom ends up being a revolving door.”

Helping develop NCOs that will reinforce the powerhouse that is the Army, Holmes said that being around other top notch NCOs is the best thing about his job.

“There is nothing like a school full of NCOs. We all have the same mindset, and everyone is out to better themselves, learn and be the best Soldier they can be,” he said. “The students don’t only come to the academy with questions – they come with answers, too.

“And with Aviation being so small, there is a good chance that I will work with some of my students down the road. So, I want to make sure they are good enough to be in my unit, and I want to make sure I am good enough to be in theirs,” he added.

This article was originally published at

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