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Medal of Honor recipient discusses leadership with Andersen Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariah Haddenham
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
A Medal of Honor recipient toured Andersen Air Force Base, and spoke to members of Andersen's Top Three, May 3.

Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Don Jenkins, one of the 85 living Medal of Honor recipients, spoke to approximately 40 senior NCOs about his experiences as a young soldier and expressed his opinion on being a senior leader.

During his speech, Jenkins spoke about leading younger Airmen, and their tendencies to change and grow, especially during war.

"I was young in the military once, and things can change fast," Jenkins said. "I'm the only private first class to get an Article 15 at 10 a.m. one day, and less than 24 hours later be put in for the Congressional Medal of Honor by my leadership for my actions in Vietnam."

Jenkins also discussed how it is a supervisor's responsibility to be someone to their subordinates want to emulate as they progress in their careers.

"As a leader, you have to not only be an example of good leadership, but instill those values in your Airmen. Respect them, take care of your Airmen, talk to them," he said. "Because with the way the world is changing, you could go a lot of places with them. Someday you might go to war with those very Airmen and they just might pull you out of a bind."

Jenkins joined the Army from Nashville, Tenn. and began serving as a private first class in Company A, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division.

According to his citation, during a firefight on Jan. 6, 1969, in Kien Phong Province, Republic of Vietnam, Jenkins repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire to engage the enemy. Despite being wounded himself, he was able to resupply his ammunition, obtain new weapons and make several trips through intense fire to rescue other wounded Soldiers.

"The importance of Mr. Jenkins' visit speaks for itself," said Chief Master Sgt. Dave Martin, 36th Medical Group superintendent. "He is living history and a great role model for all enlisted members. I learned many things about leadership never change. Leadership is about knowing your people and situation and not being afraid of doing what needs to be done."

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