I am the leader I am today because...

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A couple years ago, at a previous medical group promotion ceremony, our deputy group commander gave some of her perspectives on leadership. She borrowed one theme from US Coast Guard Admiral James Loy in 1993: "I am the leader I am today because...." Of the several reasons ADM Loy gave were his role models. These are some of the role models in my life who have made me the person and leader I am today.

I am the leader I am today because of the examples and values instilled in me by my parents - honesty, integrity, diligence, kindness, and a never ending quest for improvement.

I am the leader I am today because of my high school chemistry teacher who showed me that projects are often easier to tackle if one breaks them down into several components, especially if they involve hypergolic fuels.

I am the leader I am today because of my high school French teacher who showed me that our nation and culture had its origins in that of many different nations and cultures which we must appreciate for what they are.

I am the leader I am today because of my college swimming coach who taught me that I could succeed academically and athletically if I maintained self-discipline. He also reminded me that I might occasionally kiss my mother (and now my wife) with my mouth, so I had better pay attention to everything that came out of it.

I am the leader I am today because of my ROTC detachment commander who, after being shot shown over North Vietnam, refused to give up and escaped back to friendly forces. He also taught me never to turn down an opportunity to lead.

I am the leader I am today because of my medical school mentors Col. Robert Kadlec and Col. Pete Demitry who told me to stay focused on the mission - Volante Subvenimus: "We support the fliers."

I am the leader I am today because of my Family Medicine Residency mentors who taught me that I have to be comfortable with the fact that I do not know everything, but that I should always try to understand "Why?"

I am the leader I am today because of commanders like Brig. Gen. Klaus Schaffer, Lt. Gen. George Taylor, and, more recently, Col. Stephen McGuire, Col. Peggy Matarese, and Col. Jack Weinstein, who took a chance on me, bringing me along with patience despite my many shortcomings.

Lastly, and most importantly, I am the leader I am today because of my faith in Jesus Christ, the epitome of the Servant-Leader: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength... Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31, New International Version)