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Face of Defense: Army Sergeant Embraces Role as Mentor

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal Defense Media Activity - Hawaii

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii, July 13, 2016 — After training hundreds of soldiers to conduct air assault operations, Army Sgt. Samnith Thy said he has learned from his students how to be a more effective leader.

“Every class I go through I learn something different,” Thy said. “The students don’t realize that, but I learn how to be a better instructor, a better NCO.”

Thy is an instructor at the 25th Infantry Division’s Lightning Academy air assault school here, where he mentors and teaches soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors.

Even while he is shouting instructions from inside an UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, or at the top of a rappel tower, Thy said he is still growing as a soldier himself.

Thy said he takes what he learns and pays it forward through the mentoring and instruction that he provides his students, a form of coaching where he brings back the basics and instills the foundation of air assault skills.

Attention to Detail

“What’s most rewarding is that I know I taught an air assault student how to do sling loads and rappelling, and how to understand aircraft,” Thy said. “A lot of soldiers that I’ve come up with have never done air assault school, so they don’t understand the attention to detail. What air assault does is it pulls you back in to the Army mentality of attention to detail. It’s the little things.”

Thy said the details can be the difference between pass or fail, or life and death during air assault operations. It’s because of this, he said, that there’s no room for error.

“Our school tests your mental and physical abilities,” Thy said. “We’re not lenient and we grade by the standards. We bring our soldiers to the standards and we never drop our standards to the soldiers.”

Army Staff Sgt. Donald Castelow, with the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, and an air assault school graduate, said that the quality of training provided by instructors like Thy, made the experience one that he will take to heart and bring back to his unit.

The instructors “are some of the most professional noncommissioned officers that I’ve seen,” Castelow said. “Everything they do goes by the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. It’s right by the book; it’s the way the United States military should be.”

Thy said 111 soldiers, one airman, and one Marine graduated from the course.

“I feel great when I go home and I know that I taught a soldier something,” Thy said “That’s my ultimate job in the United States Army.”

Distribution channels: Military