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Feature Stories

NEWS | Jan. 16, 2020

30th Armored Brigade Combat Team honors legacy of Martin Luther King through mentorship

By Story by Lt. Col. Cindi King 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., raised the question in a speech over thirty years ago, “What are you doing for others?"

As America celebrates King’s legacy on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, Soldiers in the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team deployed in the Middle East are putting his words into action through mentorship.

“Mentors coach our future leaders and it’s important,” said U.S. Col. Robert Bumgardner, commander of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. “Soldiers learn from one another, both from the good and bad. I encourage them to seek out mentors who represent where they want to see themselves.”

U.S. Army Maj. Hollis Gaynor, the brigade budget officer, said that serving as a mentor is rewarding to him because he understands the importance of interaction and discussion. He wants Soldiers to learn different ways to handle certain situations and look at various approaches to problem-solving.

“I have been mentoring a group of junior officers that has grown," said Gaynor. “It’s a blessing to me to have this chance to talk to them and share my experiences.”

Gaynor said that Soldiers should seek out mentors to help them with their career goals and also encourage self-reflection. He added he likes to recommend books he has read that have shaped his philosophy as well as work-life balance.

U.S. Army Capt. Karley Litaker, the brigade assistant logistics officer, said that the influence of her last mentor taught her the importance of taking on challenging assignments and pushing herself to learn, as well as taking ownership of the job.

“I’ve always gravitated myself towards mentors and want to surround myself with people who take pride in their job,” said Litaker. “We have to represent the very best of the patch we are wearing.”

Litaker added one leadership tool she likes to share is for Soldiers to understand the value their work adds to the organization as well as how their expertise makes an impact. She encourages individuals to think about their service and know what gives them a sense of pride and fulfillment in their job.

Not only is the federal holiday honoring King a day to reflect on his civil rights work and teachings, but it is also a day of service where citizens are encouraged to find ways to improve their communities.

“Something I’ve always told my own children and I share with our Soldiers in that leadership is about service to others,” said Bumgardner. “Leaders are servers.”

The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is comprised of National Guard Soldiers from units in North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia and Washington. They are deployed to the Middle East to support Operation Spartan Shield.