"Roberts Under the Hat"
In the last few weeks’ leadership has been the topic of many of my conversations. Good leadership and bad leadership. At first, I said maybe my ideas only pertain to the profession of arms, since that is the world I live in. Well, I think that good leadership applies everywhere. Leadership is in every aspect of our lives, such as leading your household or leadership at work. Principles of good leadership are fluid and will fit in every scenario.
What is a good leader? Well, in my opinion, a good leader is a servant. The first principle of leadership is servitude. A leader is simply not a position of authority and greatness. It is, in fact, a position of service. As a leader, we must be willing to serve those we lead. We must be willing to sacrifice and go above and beyond for those that look to us for leadership. We must be willing to work harder and longer. We must be willing to put ourselves out so that our people can be successful. We must be willing to work for free, work tired, work hungry and take the jobs nobody wants. We must serve our people!
The next principle is setting the example. Many leaders out there lead with the mindset do as I say not as I do. This for a lack of better words is a big pile of horse S***. In the Army we lived the standards of being, know, do when it comes to leadership. We must set the example of success and greatness. How can you drive your followers to greatness and success, if you are jacked up like a soup sandwich? If you want your patrol shift to achieve the intermediate and advanced level licenses, then you better already have it or better be steadily working on it. You want your men to shoot expert at the next qualification then you better be shooting that 36 or better out of 40 on the range. If you want your children to be respectful and clean, well then mom or dad better fix yourself. You as a leader are the walking and talking standard. Your followers should be able to look at you and know what they are working towards. Never ask your men or women to do something you are not willing to or haven’t done yourself.
Integrity is the foundation of it all. The third principle, but not the least by any means is Integrity. You must be honest. You must be willing to admit your faults and take responsibility for them. Sometimes you have to take the heat for one of your people, welcome to leadership. Be honest with yourself and with your people. They will truly respect you more if you have integrity. By taking responsibility good or bad and learning from it, you are setting the stage for greatness with your followers.
Growth is the fourth principle. You as the leader must grow. You demand excellence from your followers, make sure you are giving them the same. You as an individual while pushing your team to greatness should be reaching for it yourself. Always work towards being a better leader, better cop, better soldier, better parent, better Mailroom guy, etc…. Being promoted is not a stop sign of progression, if anything it’s a turbo boost. Not only should you and your followers grow as a team you should all be growing as individuals as well. Push yourself as well as your team to achieve greatness. Push them to grow to be the very best.
The fifth and last principle are to be firm but fair. Being a leader is not a position of friendship it is a position of leadership. You must be fair but firm with those you lead. Establish the standard and enforce it. You are not helping them grow if you try and be their friend instead of their boss. Sometimes honesty hurts, but it is almost always productive. Do not be afraid to correct them, they expect it and need it. Always congratulate a good job and help fix the bad ones. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
Servitude, setting the example, integrity, growth, and firm, fair leadership I feel are some of the most important principles concerning leadership. The Army non-commissioned officer’s creed has a line in it that is the truest line I have ever read. “All soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership.” Ladies and gentlemen leadership is not about you; it is about your team and the mission. I once read that good leadership is telling your men, to go to hell and having them look forward to the trip. Unfortunately, in today’s society, we deal with more bad, unqualified self-serving leaders than we do a good leader. Be a good one. Always put your men first, lead from the front and achieve greatness.
Daniel Sargent II
Founder of Stay Alert Stay Alive 55
This weekend I had the privilege of not only assist in coordinating but also participating in the 1st annual Stay Alert Stay Alive 55 ruck march in my home county of Brazoria County, Texas. Seven months ago a good friend of mine Daniel Sargent II, a fellow infantryman asked me to help him bring his idea to life. He wanted to do a ruck march to raise money for a boots on the ground veterans organization. We decided to raise money for the Warrior Angel Foundation out of Dallas, Texas. Founded and ran by Former Army snake eater Andrew Marr, the warrior angel foundation provides cost-free treatment to veterans who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A great organization that works with Carrick Brain Centers and are helping the veterans community stay alive and healthy. Daniel wanted to make this a veterans only march so that it gave veterans a chance to connect with other veterans while accomplishing a mission. I call it ruck march therapy.
So the details were simple. Each marcher collected sponsors to pledge an amount for every mile their marcher walked or pledged to make a one-time donation. We would then march 55 miles and raise the money. We set a goal to raise $5,000, and although the final numbers are not in yet, the rough numbers say we cleared well over $7,000.
After some bumps in the road and a few not so funny stories the march day came. We had nine veterans step off on the morning of November 7th in Angleton Texas on a 55-mile ruck march journey. The Army, Navy, and Marines were proudly represented amongst the marchers.
We started off dry but then the rain came at about the 5-mile mark or so and didn't let us get dry to late in the evening around mile 18 or 19. The rain took its toll on the marchers, anyone that has ever rucked knows wet feet do not help the cause. We lost our first two marchers at the 18-mile mark. I am extremely proud of them for their effort, and they pushed until they could not physically perform any further. At about the 25-mile mark, everyone was feeling the day of rain and the long haul but we were still pushing on. We marched on into the wee hours of the morning stopping only to eat and perform foot maintenance. We lost one more at the 27-mile marker and two more at the 30-mile mark. The four of us left marched until our schedule long. When we broke, we were at the 35-mile mark. We all tore up and hurting but hanging in there for a bunch of out of shape ole vets. After the break, we were down to 3 marchers. The event staff along with the medical staff made an executive decision based on the welfare and safety of the remaining marchers, and the march was sadly brought to an end at 35-mile mark at about 4 AM Sunday.
The call to end it was frustrating for sure but probably the right decision to make. We had a good support staff and a great doc that were genuinely looking out for us. The call was made, and the financial goal was still met according to rough numbers.
My final thoughts are simple I watched a few grunts, a sailor, a marine, a tanker, a crew chief, and a gun bunny all come together to complete a mission at the price of their body and time. Not one person in this event quit. If they came up short is was because Doc didn't give them a choice (honestly who argues with doc?). Every marcher gave 110% and pushed way beyond their limit, and I was proud to be a part of it. I was proud to walk with these great Americans. I look forward to next year and what Stay Alert Stay Alive 55 holds next year. A lot was learned by Daniel and I, and we will make it better...
A special thanks to Chuck Bundren and Texas Tactical Hats, as well as all the support staff and great people that made this event happen
Well this past weekend, I attended my first Watermelon Run for the Fallen in Hempstead, Texas. My fiance and her family attend this event every year since it began. My fiance's brother SGT. Joshua Ward was KIA February 2009 in Mosul Iraq. So as a gold star family it is very important for them to attend this event every year. Well this year was the first year I have been able to attend. I can proudly say that once I mentioned the event, a few of my good friends decided they were going to come walk it to. I was joined by the owner of Texas Tactical Hats Chuck Bundren and his lovely wife Rochelle, My long time friend Lloyd Brown, and Fellow Combat Infantryman Daniel Sargent and my kiddos Madi, Colton, and Bryson. So our group along with my fiance's family and all the kiddos spent the morning remembering our fallen heroes. Our crew in the picture at the top decided to strap on our rucks for the walk. Our group stood out for sure, Daniel and I waving our unit flags proudly and Lloyd sporting his Black Watch Kilt and bluetooth speaker blaring some good rock n roll, bagpipes, or irish pub songs.
When you register for the event you can select a specific soldier to walk for or they will randomly select one for you, that is what the bibs on our rucksacks are for. Then they also line the route with the pictures of every veteran that was KIA from Texas. My son Bryson and I walked in honor of my fellow Headhunter Spc. Josiah Vandertulip.
The Ward family all walked in honor of Josh. Lloyd walked in honor of a vet selected for him by the run named Lcpl Wesley Canning. After the march Lcpl Cannings father found Lloyd and gave him the bracelet pictured below. Daniel, Chuck and Rochelle all walked for randomly selected heroes as well.
Chuck walked for Spc Adolf C. Carballo
This event was an awesome experience. There are a lot of people that come out for this event, and it makes me proud to see so many grateful people come to honor those brave warriors that paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. I was proud to participate in the event and honor my fellow headhunter and my fiance's brother. Daniel decided prior to the event that we should heavy up our rucks for the event. So Daniel and I humped the event with 60 lb ruck sacks. I train normally with 45 so it was a step up adding the extra 15 lbs. The distance was short, but with the extra weight I have to say my shoulders were a bit sore. The pain was therapeutic, I have found comfort when honoring my fallen comrades in the physical pain I may experience. The small amount of pain I endure to honor them is nothing compared to the pain they suffered or their families suffered in giving their life for this great nation. I was proud of the crew that walked with me, as well as the Ward family. My soon to be mother in law jogged it in at the finish, was very proud of her (pictured above). It was a great solemn day and look forward to next year and the many more after that. I could ramble on and on about the event, but I will shut up now and post some more pictures.
Stay Safe, Train Hard, Train Real, Train Right
L to R: Lloyd Brown, Robert Heckler, Chuck Bundren, Rochelle Bundren, Daniel Sargent
Kiddos: My three kiddos Bryson, Madi, and Colton
Me, Lloyd, and Daniel before the march
Chuck & Rochelle
the crew with the marker for Sgt. Josh Ward
Prior to joining the military in 2001, I only had a slight idea what ruck marching was. Well in January 2001 when I hit Ft. Benning as the first step to becoming an infantryman, I quickly learned what it was all about. I remember dreading the idea of walking long distances while carrying what felt like the world on my back at first. Well, as time went on, and I learned the tricks of the trade I slowly fell in love with it. Here recently I entered a 90-day rucksack challenge with an outdoor group I am in. I hadn't seriously ruck marched since I left the Army in 2005. Well on the very first ruck march I was reacquainted with my one of my many loves of my infantry days. My body is a lot older and a lot heavier than what it was in my Army days and it hurt quite a bit, but it was painfully awesome to be back on the road marching again. I think a lot of people outside of military truly do not understand the many benefits of strapping up a ruck and stepping out on a march. For me, there are many benefits. Obviously the physical fitness side of it is a plus, but also the mental side of it.
Ruck Marching is a great physical fitness activity. It builds strength, burns calories, and builds endurance. Men's Health magazine published an article in May 2015 written by Michael Easter that talks about the benefits of ruck marching. Easter lists six good things about ruck marching in his article. He states that it crushes calories, relieves and prevents back pain (This does not include the soreness from actually doing good work). Ruck Marching also safely builds endurance, will make you better in the gym, is cheap and easy to do, and will also help change up the pace by getting you out of the gym. It has been my experience that ruck marching builds leg strength, back strength, shoulder strength and even works the core. The physical advantages of ruck marching are simply undeniable.
To me, ruck marching is also great for the mind. When ruck marching alone I use my marching time to clear my head, spend some time thinking and sorting out problems. For me, it also allows me time to reminisce about various things. When I walk with someone, it allows for good conversation. I most often walk with my fiancé, and it allows us to spend some quality time just her and I. Sometimes I walk with a buddy. The other day I walked with a fellow a grunt, and we spent the whole walk swapping war stories and comparing our times in the military, next thing you know we covered a good distance with ease. Ruck Marching also teaches patience and perseverance. It teaches you no matter how bad it hurts just to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
A couple quick tips if you want to get out there and do some rucking. 1. Get good footwear, I march in a pair of my Army boots. However, there are a lot of options out there, just depends on your comfort (also good insoles make a huge difference). 2. Wear good socks, thick boot socks or a good athletic sock is a good choice. 3. Find a good pack, I march with an old large ALICE pack and frame because that's what I am used to. Find you a good comfortable pack that will hold up and is comfortable. 4. Pack it right, my ruck weighs about 45 to 50 lbs., however, a good 35 lbs. Ruck is perfect, and you can pack it with rice beans whatever you want. I recommend putting the heaviest stuff on the top of the ruck, not the bottom. By packing it top heavy you will relieve the pressure on your lower back, and the weight sits more on your shoulders. 5. Start small and work your way up to heavier weight and farther distances, and push yourself each time.
In closing, that sums up my thoughts about ruck marching. I love it and feel great since I have picked it back up and do not plan on stopping anytime soon. Maybe shortly I'll be ready to take a shot at a 25-mile ruck like I did on the hills of Ft Benning during boot camp almost 15 yrs. ago. I encourage you to get out there and give it a shot. Until next time train real, train right and train often.
Here is the link to the Men’s Health magazine
Because of my background as a law enforcement officer, People often ask my opinion as to what gun they should buy to carry concealed. This question is asked by both men and women but most commonly it is women that mostly ask. The other question people usually ask me is “If I buy a gun, would you mind helping learn how to shoot it correctly?” My response to that question is always “of course I will!” When confronted with these questions, regardless if it is male or female, young or old, I always respond by asking them a question. “Are you prepared to kill someone?” When I first started asking that question, I anticipated a much different response than what I usually get. Especially from the female shooters. I hear “Well, I am not trying to kill anyone. I just want to scare them away!” By asking this question hundreds of times to people and getting a variety of responses from them. My opinion is of that a large majority of those wishing to carry a concealed weapon do indeed have the same mindset. They only want to scare them off.
First off. I am very much pro concealed carry and honestly believe an armed society is a polite one. However, those that do carry these weapons must be of the mindset to be willing to use the weapon they carry. If you are not prepared to draw that weapon, squeeze the trigger and remove someone’s life from their body, then you need to get yourself a Taser or can of pepper spray. If you are not willing to use your gun but still present it to an offender, you have now put yourself at a much greater risk than you were before you pulled your weapon.
We have all heard of the fight or flight response. When placed in a high-stress situation your animal instincts kick in to survive, and you have to decide at that second whether to engage in the fight or flee. Well, criminals do that same thing. Their human nature is to survive, just as yours is. More often than not though, criminals commit their crimes without killing anyone. The homicide to assault rate has a very wide margin. A criminal out to commit a crime may have no intentions whatsoever of killing you. But if you pull out a gun, he or she will go into fight or flight mode and do what they have to do to survive. No matter how wrong they are or how right you are. It is the way it is. If you skin that smoke wagon of yours and you are not prepared to use it, they very well may now skin theirs and be willing to use it. They may well sense that you are not willing to use your weapon. Then they may attack you with the intention of taking it away from you, so that they can use it on you now as a means for them to survive.
Nine times out of 10, the offender may scream and scurry away at the sight of the gun. But then, that tenth time might just be the time a violator with no intentions of killing, sees your gun as a paper weight in your hands and decides to call your bluff.
A gun is a deadly force option. If you are not prepared to use deadly force. Then you need to get yourself a nonlethal option. Gun fighting is not for everyone, but for those of us who wear the title proudly, we know that the mind is the most important aspect of any gun battle.
So, if you already carry, are looking to carry, or have even thought about carrying, ask this question to yourself or your friend. Before you go and buy a gun, are you prepared to use it in defense of yourself or someone else? Are you prepared to pull the trigger and render a human being lifeless? If there is any question or hesitation, or if your answer is an outright no, then hang up your gun and tell them not to buy one. Go buy a Taser or stun gun instead.
For those that have made the decisions to carry and strap on the tools of freedom every day; I commend your sheepdog. For you have taken on a great responsibility protecting yourself and the flock.
Train hard, train real, train safe
We have all heard the saying practice makes perfect. Those of us that played sports heard it constantly. We have heard from our coaches you want to succeed you have to work hard. I use to hold these statements as true as the Ten Commandments until I entered the gunfighter arena. After over a decade of working in the profession of arms, I have learned that these statements simply are just not true. Some say that for something to become neurologically conditioned it must be repeated in excess of 1000 times. We know the fancy term of neurological conditioning as muscle memory. Well, many of us already know that not all muscle memory is a good thing. So if I am practicing on the range every day, shooting thousands of rounds but practicing bad shooting habits that are tactically unsound, I have now created a bad muscle memory. Many of you have probably already heard and felt the shift from instructors and training cadre that practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect. So this leads to quality over quantity. If I shoot 1000 rounds with bad technique, is it better than shooting 100 rounds with the perfect technique? It is not, and probably 98% of you agree with me on that mindset.
A gunfighter must fight the way he or she trains. However, we must crawl before we can run. We must build sound fundamentals on the range before we move into scenarios or reality based training. It has been my experience in teaching firearms that bad habits will very often get you by on the range. You may even shot a 250 or 300 score every time with your box full of nightmares. The problem is, without a good base to build from; these bad habits will surface when it is time for the meat to meet the metal. I hear all too often that it is just too expensive to train, I don’t have time, and I can’t find ammo, blah blah blah. The good news is that this is all a load of crap. I once had an old wise firearms instructor tell me that for every live round of ammunition you fire, it should be preceded by 50 dry fire drills. When you do not have bullets, be creative. Practice your draw from your duty belt or concealed rig in various types of situations. Create a threat practice, a good five-point draw presentation, come on target, acquire your sights, and fire a dry fire round. Guess what boys and girls? You just spent zero dollars, and it took all of 3 minutes.
Another drill I use when watching TV is rapid target acquisition drills. I pick up one of my sons realistic toy guns. The one I use makes noise, slide works and is fairly realistic. I bought it at Wal-Mart for 7 dollars. Or you can choose to use your cleared, empty, checked and double checked, sidearm or duty weapon. As the scenes change, I acquire and engage every person on the screen and try to do so before the scene changes again. Sounds a bit weird and some of you are probably looking at this screen funny right now, but it works. I know it works because my acquisition on the range has got much faster. Mine follow up sight picture, and target transition has increased greatly and I do not always do it from a good shooting position. A lot of times I do it sitting on my couch. Bad muscle memory or possibly realistic style training. How many of you have practiced presenting your weapon and engaging from the front seat of your patrol car or POV? It all comes down to thinking outside the box and being creative. Gunfighters, we have to train. We can make all the excuses in the world for not training; however let's call a spade a spade, ITS JUST PLAIN LAZINESS. Laziness and complacency will get you on your back with nothing registering on the EKG machine.
Always remember that you carry the cloth of a gunfighter, and you have an obligation to your family and yourself to wear it competently. Train perfect, train hard, train real.
Well, boys and girls, I would like to take this time and give you something most of you do not get on a regular basis. We are called many things sheepdogs, warriors, heroes, Americans, patriots, modern day knights and Spartans.
LTC (RET) Dave Grossman once said while addressing a group of police officers, which if you are in a war then you are a warrior. Did He say to these officers are we not fighting a war against crime? Is there not a war on drugs? Warriors take on many forms. Combat happens in many different environments, shapes, and sizes. "Anytime somebody is shooting at you; that's war" (Bill Herbert USMC, Warriors in their words).
Ladies and gentlemen, you are the only reason our society can continue to progress. Without sentries within our society, we would live in a society of chaos that would inevitably destroy itself. I want to share with you two awesome quotes that are very true. Hans Heinz, a United States Marine said in the book, Warriors in their words that "By golly, you need wars. You need warriors and by gosh, you need somebody to defend this country and if we don’t watch out, the problem is going to be…we are going to create a society that is so soft that it’s going to implode just like it happened to the Roman Empire”. The other quote is by Loren Christianson who is often quoted by LTC Grossman in his books; it says “Dear God, where do we get such men? What loving God has provided, that each generation, afresh, there should arise new giants in the land. Were we to go but a single generation without such men we should surely be both damned and doomed?”
These quotes don’t just apply to the military. These quotes apply to every person who steps up and straps on a gun and body armor and says, today I will make a difference. They step up and say I will go where the call sends me, and I will run towards the gun when others run away. Many in our society hate us for what we do. We are the mean snarly dog that keeps them right, and when the wolf comes they can’t hide behind us fast enough. Despite the positive or negative opinions of our society, we are essential to our society. We are the breath of society that is taken for granted until it is absent from us.
This article is to say simply; thank you. Thank you for standing on the wall and keeping the wolf at bay on the streets of your jurisdiction as an officer of the law or soldier in a far away land. Paul Howe once wrote that the best defense is a layered offense. For our society to survive we must employ such layers. You are the layers. You are what keeps our society together. Police Officers are steadily bringing down crime rates and paying for it with their lives and a cost well paid, no doubt.
Our military are keeping the wolf bay and the paying the same cost. You all are the finest a society could ever hope to offer. Many people in our society save lives and do great things, but only the warrior does in despite of the self-sacrifice. We have all said that I will die doing my job if required. That my friend is what sets you apart. You are, the finest society has to offer. You wake up, strap up and eagerly determined, and without falter - hunt out, close with, and destroy the enemy that threatens your flock. You all are giants among men, Titans of our society, Keepers of the flock. As well as the human wall that divides civility and chaos. Because of you, lives are changed and saved. At a high cost, you give society the comfort of security and peace. Regardless of the uniform a warrior wears, none the less you are all warriors and deserve the appreciation and respect we seldom get or even ask for. In your mind, a hero is not befitting to you but many you are just that. A hero. Continue to be humble, continue to train, and continue to keep that wolf on the other side of the wall.
Warriors, from one sheepdog to another thank you. Thank you for what you do. Staying moral, ethical, and honorable. Thank you for ensuring that our society remains forever.
~ Robert Heckler
Former US Army infantryman and combat veteran. worked in law enforcement as a patrol supervisor, instructor, and SWAT operator. Holds a BS in criminal justice management and currently working towards his masters