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The great task remaining before us

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christina Russo
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

More than 25 Reserve Citizen Airmen and civilian personnel from Youngstown Air Reserve Station traveled to Gettysburg on Oct.10, 2019, for a three-day leadership staff ride.

Facilitated by Col. Don Wren, 910th Mission Support Group commander at YARS, and Col. Barry Crane, individual mobilization augmentee to the director for Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the staff ride followed the events that unfolded over the three-day Battle of Gettysburg that took place in July 1863.

“Why are we at Gettysburg now?” asked Crane. “It is simple. Gettysburg is a fantastic leadership laboratory.”

The staff ride was not just focused on the historical events, but rather, the leadership and command tactics used during the Battle of Gettysburg.

“In 1906, the Army began the practice of staff rides to help provide practical studies into tactics, leadership, communication, and terrain studies,” said Crane, addressing attendees. “Staff rides were a way to add to the military educational experience and to put in place the human side of historical perspectives and events. Our trip to Gettysburg is a new take on staff rides, one which will add to your own educational experience and continued self-improvement.”

Much like Crane, Wren also describes Gettysburg as a laboratory for learning.

“When you take this terrain, the political environment of the time, as well as the leaders, and you put that all together, we can learn something from that,” said Wren.

For Wren, American history has always been a topic of interest. His respect for it invokes a sense of determination to educate those around him.

“If you don’t know your history, you don’t know your country,” said Wren.

Throughout the three-day staff ride, Crane and Wren took the Airmen and civilians from YARS on a personal journey which provided the chance to allow the battlegrounds to speak to them.

“Gettysburg is ripe for teaching us leadership through critical analysis of decisions made during this crisis, and applying that learning and understanding to our own style and methods,” said Wren.

The staff ride concluded with YARS personnel walking the same ground that soldiers charged on during the third and final day of battle. Crane and Wren asked the Airmen and civilians from the installation to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice that was made during those three days. They also challenged them to take in the examples of leadership shown during the Battle of Gettysburg and to use it as motivation to strengthen their own leadership skills.

President Abraham Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address that we have a great task remaining before us-that these dead shall not have died in vain. Through the use of staff rides, Crane and Wren are doing their part ensuring those dead did not die in vain by educating military and civilians on the importance of leadership and command. Both men understand and value the significant role Gettysburg played during the Civil War and in the history of our nation.