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Since the events of 11 September 2001, it is more evident than ever that every American has the duty to contribute to the well being of our Nation and its people; military service is one form of contribution. It is a privilege to bear arms as a soldier in the defense of a free people. This privilege is afforded only to individuals of good standing and of good reputation. What you do with this opportunity is up to you. You took an oath that binds you to this organization called the Army. Taking that oath meant that you would defend our Constitution and comply with all the orders, regulations and directions given by superiors. Always remember this commitment.

Although being a soldier is a dangerous profession, it can be the greatest and most rewarding adventure of your life. The friends you make while in the service will be your friends for life. This is especially true if you serve with them in combat. If you stay in the Army you may serve with them again in various jobs and locations. Where the Army takes you depends on your personal and professional goals. When I was drafted in May of 1966, I planned to serve only two years, but given all the opportunities the Army afforded me, I spent a total of 24 years in the service. Many of those opportunities are available to you; it is up to you to place yourself in the position to take advantage of them.

This manual is a general guide that gives you a wealth of information about the United States Army. Throughout your military service you have many questions. Even if this guide does not have every answer you need, it should give you the source to find the answer. I remember reading my Soldier's Guide (the 1961 version) during basic training and advanced individual training as a medical corpsman. While it answered some questions and was helpful in refreshing my memory, its main purpose was to help us adjust to Army life because the more we knew about the Army, the quicker the adjustment would be. This manual you have today applies to every soldier in the Army. Still, it's a guide. You may have to look in other Army publications for more detailed answers. Form the habit of using it whenever a question about the Army comes to mind or in discussion with your fellow soldiers.

Chapter 1 describes the individual soldier's obligations to the Army and leaders' obligations to soldiers. You will find a discussion of Army values, those qualities that make the Army the elite organization it has become. Although you already know Army values, this chapter will help explain why they are important. This chapter tells you about team building and its importance in the successful completion of the mission. Some day you will be ready to assume a leadership position. When you demonstrate the qualities highlighted in this chapter, you will have to accept the responsibility to lead. In 1968, I was a staff sergeant responsible for 100 soldiers going through medical training. My leaders saw something in me and I also thought I could contribute even more to the Army, and so I applied for a direct commission. The teaching, coaching, and mentoring of my leaders and my own assessment of my leadership skills allowed me to assume positions of greater responsibility. It is the nature of military service for soldiers to become leaders.

Chapter 2 contains a short history of the Army and it describes the environment in which the Army operates. You can also refresh your knowledge of how our government is organized and the Army's place within the government. The history of our Army goes back over 300 years, and you are part of a page in that history. I didn't imagine when I came in the Army that I would receive the Medal of Honor, much less among a group that, for the first time ever, was composed of all four branches of the service. As you are reading do your very best to understand where you fit in the larger picture. As a member of the military you might serve in any number of locations so be prepared to meet an ever widening set of situations. You are a soldier but you could perform a variety of duties in the completion of your service. Because you support and defend the Constitution, it is important to understand how the government works and how it affects you.

Chapter 3 details the duties, responsibilities, and authority of soldiers. You will learn the sources of military authority and the reasons why authority exists. This chapter also provides a guide on appearance and uniform standards of the Army and answers most questions you may have about the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Army's standards of conduct. These are basic requirements of all soldiers.

Chapter 4 addresses the customs, courtesies, and traditions of the Army. Any organization that has been in existence as long as the Army has many customs and traditions. They help make the Army and each unit unique. It may be the motto or greeting that sets you apart as a member of a specific unit, or it can even be the simple act of standing at parade rest, but our customs and traditions are important to the spirit and morale of soldiers. Take the time to learn these customs and traditions and what they mean, always remembering that someone like you may have been the one that started that tradition.

Chapter 5 contains information on training and how it will impact you. For a person to be proficient in any skill, they must first have a good understanding of what is to be accomplished. The knowledge needed may come from classroom instruction, demonstrations, or field exercises. Keep in mind that your training teaches you to shoot, move, communicate, and survive so your unit can succeed in combat. The more you know the better your chances for success. As a combat medic with an infantry company during the Vietnam War, I trained on a number of skills that were not normally expected of a medic. Our company required each soldier to be able to adjust artillery, operate a radio, and many other tasks that, at the time, I did not consider necessary. But a short time later I had to perform all those tasks together, along with my basic medical training, and it made a difference. During your training you must trust the knowledge and experience of your leaders and learn all that is asked of you. Skills that you consider unnecessary now may turn out to be important later.

Chapter 6 is about counseling and professional development. Here is how the Army lets you know how you are doing and what you need to improve. The service has a set path along which you can advance but you are responsible for achieving your full potential. Your self-improvement program is up to you. My experience over a period of 24 years shows how a person can plan and advance in the service. Even though I had planned to serve only two years when I was drafted, I discovered that I enjoyed soldiering and wanted to continue being a soldier. I took advantage of opportunities the Army offers every soldier who has the ability, discipline, and desire to succeed and improve. I was able to have what was a rewarding and successful career.

In Chapter 7 you'll find detailed information on the benefits of serving in the Army and in the appendices, the various programs the Army has to help soldiers and their families. It is good information that will answer many of the questions you have throughout your career.

I wish I could give you the secret of success, but I don't have it. All I can say is that your success in the Army is a direct reflection of your effort. Work each day to improve yourself. Make a commitment to make your unit better by being a productive, proactive member of that unit. Try to learn something new each day because the Army is a fast moving organization and you must never stop learning. Treat your fellow soldiers as if they were part of your family. They are. In all things, do your best; what you make of yourself is your responsibility. And one last thing-be proud of being a soldier. You are defending our Nation, our people, and our way of life. There is no more honorable profession. Even after you leave the service you can be proud to say, "I am a soldier."

 Charles C. Hagemeister
LTC, US Army (Retired), MOH
1 September 2003


Biography of LTC Charles C. Hagemeister, US Army (Retired), MOH

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Chris Hagemeister (US Army, Retired) has served the Nation in both the enlisted and commissioned ranks. He has been both a reserve and regular Army officer. His assignments include tactical and training units, in peacetime and in combat.

He was drafted into the United States Army in March 1966 and entered service in May 1966 at Lincoln, Nebraska. He went through basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and completed advanced individual training as a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in November 1966.

LTC Hagemeister was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Vietnam. He was a Specialist 4 (SPC) at the time, supporting a platoon in A Company in Binh Dinh Province on 20 March 1967 during the Vietnam War. SPC Hagemeister's platoon suddenly came under heavy attack from three sides by an enemy force occupying well concealed, fortified positions and supported by machineguns and mortars.

After SPC Hagemeister saw two of his comrades seriously wounded in the initial action, he unhesitatingly and with total disregard for his safety raced through the deadly hail of enemy fire to provide them medical aid. SPC Hagemeister learned that the platoon leader and several other soldiers also had been wounded. He continued to brave the withering enemy fire and crawled forward to render lifesaving treatment and to offer words of encouragement. While attempting to evacuate the seriously wounded soldiers, SPC Hagemeister was taken under fire at close range by an enemy sniper. Realizing that the lives of his fellow soldiers depended on his actions, SPC Hagemeister seized a rifle from a fallen comrade and killed the sniper and three other enemy soldiers who were attempting to encircle his position. He then silenced an enemy machinegun that covered the area with deadly fire.

Unable to remove the wounded to a less exposed location and aware of the enemy's efforts to isolate his unit, he dashed through the heavy fire to secure help from a nearby platoon. Returning with help, he placed men in positions to cover his advance as he moved to evacuate the wounded forward of his location. These efforts successfully completed, he then moved to the other flank and evacuated additional wounded men, despite the fact that his every move drew fire from the enemy. SPC Hagemeister's repeated heroic and selfless actions at the risk of his life saved the lives of many of his comrades and inspired their actions in repelling the enemy assault. SPC Hagemeister received the Medal of Honor on 14 May 1968.

After his service in Vietnam, LTC Hagemeister (then Specialist 5) served at McDonald Army Hospital in Fort Eustis, Virginia, and then as a medical platoon sergeant in C Company, 1st Battalion, US Army Medical Training Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

LTC Hagemeister received a direct commission in the US Army Reserve as an armor officer. After training at Fort Knox, Kentucky he was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas where he served as a platoon leader, cavalry troop executive officer, and squadron liaison officer. In 1970 LTC Hagemeister went to Schweinfurt, Germany where he commanded Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3d Squadron, 7th Cavalry of the 3d Infantry Division where he was also the Squadron Intelligence Officer.

After attending the Armor Officer Advanced Course and the Data Processing Course LTC Hagemeister went back to Fort Hood in September 1977. There he served in the Communications Research and Development Command as the Tactical Operations System Controller. In 1980 he returned to Fort Knox and served as the Chief of Armor Test Development branch and later became the Chief of Platoon, Company, and Troop Training. LTC Hagemeister became a Regular Army officer on 15 December 1981 and was later promoted to Major. Following this promotion, LTC Hagemeister became the executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 1st Training Brigade at Fort Knox. He then attended the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He remained at Fort Leavenworth as the Director of the Division Commander's Course and then as the Author/Instructor for Corps Operations, Center for Army Tactics in the Command and General Staff College.

LTC Hagemeister retired from the Army in June 1990 but continued to serve the Nation as a contractor supporting the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) as a Maneuver and Fire Support Workstation Controller with the World Class Opposing Forces (WCOPFOR).


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