2013-10-04 / Front Page

CG hosts leader professional development session, welcomes guest speaker Smith

Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Jo Bridgwater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Maj. Gen. Perry M. Smith, USAF (Ret.) addresses officers on the theme of “Learning from Our Heroes” as part of a Fort Gordon leader professional development assembly conducted Tuesday at Alexander Hall. 
Photo by Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Maj. Gen. Perry M. Smith, USAF (Ret.) addresses officers on the theme of “Learning from Our Heroes” as part of a Fort Gordon leader professional development assembly conducted Tuesday at Alexander Hall. Photo by Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Officers and senior leaders from all branches of service on Fort Gordon spent Tuesday afternoon listening to the words of Maj. Gen. Perry M. Smith, Air Force (Ret.), talk about the importance of self-development and how we can ‘learn from our heroes’ – civilian and military heroes alike -- in the first of two sessions in support of the commanding general of Fort Gordon and the U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence, Maj. Gen. LaWarren V. Patterson’s leader professional development program.

The program focused on the importance of self-development and how officers and leaders can learn from each other from both success and failure. He offered guidance taken from his book “Rules & Tools for Leaders” from developing your own skills to running organizations of any size, practical advice for leaders at all levels.

“Leaders are made,” said Smith when asked whether or not leaders were born or made. During his address he talked about those heroes who have been awarded the Medal of Honor and the Carnegie Medal – an award that goes to individuals in the United States and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others – stressed that during times of crisis it was the actions of these select heroes that provides the material from which the rest of us can learn.

He said he wanted to know what was going through the mind of the people who acted so courageously and selflessly as they performed various acts of heroism. Smith said when speaking to one World War II veteran it boiled down to a simple few words, “If not me, who, and if not now, when?”

That motto has become important in my life and can be important in your life (as leaders), said Smith to the officers.

Smith, who served in the Air Force for 30 years and during his time commanded an F-15 fighter wing in Germany, served as the top Air Force planner, and was commandant of the National War College, said many of the recipients of the Medal of Honor and the Carnegie Medal do not consider themselves to be heroes and are humble about their acts of heroism. He has a number of helpful hints geared toward self-development that he shared with the audience that included making time for self-development such as reading one book a month and clearing out the ‘junk’; fruitless activities that take up time and money that could be used instead for personal growth.

He said to develop a brain trust and leverage from that trust to develop a network of friends and colleagues who share in your ethics and integrity as a way to “…Leverage your skills and work on your weaknesses but also leverage your strength.”

During the Vietnam War Smith flew 180 combat missions in an F-4 aircraft over Laos and North Vietnam. He is currently a teacher, author, and TV/radio commentator.

Smith moved to Augusta in 190 and is actively involved in the community. He has worked to raise funds for the river rooms of Saint Paul’s Church, the new fisher House, the Kroc Center, the Boy Scouts, and the Heritage Academy. He also serves as the secretary of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and serves on the board of the Augusta Museum of history and the Augusta Warrior Project.

Smith’s visit was the first of two LPD sessions. A second visit is set for early November.

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