It would be an understatement to say my students inspire me. Content is the A number one thing that grabs me–that and realness. When student writers do that, I don’t see any grammar or punctuation errors because I am so gripped by story. Last week I had the honor to read many such essays.
The Balancing Act of a Competent Marine Sergeant/Squad Leader
By Stephen Perry
Sergeant Caleb Bensen wasn’t an immensely imposing man. Bensen only stands at about 6 feet tall and weighs in at just under 180 pounds. An imposing figure, while not always necessary to a squad leader, helps to inspire fear, which is useful for motivating subordinates. What makes Bensen such a magnificent squad leader is his ability to command respect, not only from his underlings but his superiors as well.
Bensen is possessed of a skill that is highly valued in the Marine Corps: competence. Few other leaders in our company could boast the level of competence that Bensen had. Whereas other leaders would complete tasks by the book, which means that simple tasks might require hours to perform, Bensen could find a simpler way of doing things that would save everyone time. The commanders would often take note of Bensen’s ability to coordinate so well with the members of his squad. While no leader was by any means ignorant, many lacked the creativeness of Sgt. Bensen.
Several of the other leaders in the company would always find ways to set themselves apart from the members of their squad. This is to avoid what is known as fraternizing and to ensure orders are always obeyed. A friend telling another friend to run through a hail of bullets doesn’t persuade with the same weight or urgency as an order given by an aloof superior. With Bensen, however, not one member of our squad would ever question such an order (even though he was on familiar terms with his subordinates). Bensen was more than just a leader; he was also a friend. Bensen had no issue with sitting on a post with members of his squad through the long hours of the night while others might prefer to relax in the heated command post. Bensen would always rather stand in the cold among his friends.
Short fuses are a part of everyday life in the Marines. I can hardly remember a day in which nobody was being yelled at for something. Bensen on the other hand very rarely needed to yell. That’s not to say there wasn’t punishment distributed for any wrongdoings, but Bensen was never mad when he did these things. Even while Skyping with his fiancé who was back in the USA, Bensen always managed to keep his calm composure. Bensen was able to keep his calm even when others would snap at him. He was able to recognize that others were just going through a hard time.
Bensen was able to lead his men through some of the darkest days of their lives. His ever-contemplative mind, friendship and composure prevailed in our time in Afghanistan. For not all the battles we fought together were physical; many of the battles we fought raged within ourselves. However, thanks to my leader Caleb Bensen, I survived those times. His success as a leader delivered us all, enabling us to return home.