By Army Sgt. Keith Anderson
Special to American Forces Press Service
July 7, 2009 - Army Sgt. 1st Class JennyAnne Bright believes noncommissioned officers have to practice what they preach. "Soldiers look up to NCOs, because NCOs hold themselves and their soldiers to the highest standards," said Bright, shower laundry and clothing repair noncommissioned officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade. "NCOs lead by example, take pride in the corps and are proud to be the backbone of the Army."
The former drill sergeant and current Sergeant Audie Murphy Club member holds herself and those around her to high standards. The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is a private organization founded to promote the ideals exemplified by World War II's most highly decorated U.S. soldiers, and Army installations worldwide conduct boards for induction.
"An NCO is a trainer, mentor and a coach," Bright said. "They take care of soldiers, not by giving days off, but by teaching their soldiers everything they need to accomplish their mission, to survive in combat, and help them become successful in the Army."
Bright, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., even takes her stripes home with her. She encouraged her husband -- Army Sgt. 1st Class Terence Bright, responsible officer at the Q-West bulk fuel farm, 574th Quartermaster Company, 30th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade -- to attend the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club board, and studied with him over the phone and the Internet. He became a club member at the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command's board on May 21.
"JennyAnne is an outstanding NCO who always strives to improve daily as a leader," her husband said. "She continues to encourage me to become a better NCO and leader, constantly learning and always teaching, mentoring, and training soldiers to strive for excellence."
The couple met while they were both drill sergeants at Fort Lee, Va., in 2005. They married in Virginia Beach on June 6 during their rest and recuperation leave during their current deployment.
"We were both assigned to the 262nd Quartermaster Battalion," Bright said. "Afterward, we both received orders to Germany. It just happened to be Grafenwoehr."
Being a drill sergeant shaped her career, Bright said.
"Being a drill sergeant was the best job I have held so far in the Army," she said. "It was very challenging, but in the end, it was a rewarding experience. It was a greatest job because I was able to train so many soldiers with different [specialties] to prepare them for the operational Army. This job enhanced my abilities to lead. It sharpened my skills as an NCO."
The versatile NCO has many additional duties in Iraq.
She writes articles and takes pictures that are used in military and civilian publications, has served as the company's equal opportunity leader, and is one of the company's three small-arms marksmanship masters.
Bright, who entered the military in 1997 and is on her second deployment, said the thing she will remember most about service in the Army is the opportunity she's had to touch lives.
"When I look back at my career, what I will remember most about being an NCO is that it is great to be an NCO," she said. "Throughout the years, you look back and think of all the soldiers you have trained and made an impact on. Training soldiers is the best job to have. Being an NCO enabled me to teach a soldier everything from marching, conducting personal hygiene, digging a fox hole and disassembling weapons to leading other soldiers."
The avid runner said she hopes someday to be a sergeant major in the Quartermaster Corps and to become an elementary teacher after retirement.
Bright offered some tips for new NCOs.
"Take charge and fulfill the responsibilities that come with the rank," she advised. "Soldiers look up to you for direction, purpose and motivation. Soldiers are always looking at you, even when you think they are not looking."
She said doing the right thing is its own reward.
"Always train to standard to prepare them for combat," Bright said. "The NCO rank is a powerful rank. Use it to teach, coach and mentor soldiers. Take care of soldiers to the best of your abilities, and they will take care of you in return without question."
(Army Sgt. Keith Anderson serves with the 16th Sustainment Brigade.)