One Fine Person

Every once in a while, a name will float across my open memory banks and I will have an impression of that person pop into my brain housing group.   One such person is BG (Ret) Harold Sommers who passed away earlier this year.  I would like to write what about him that impressed me so much.

First of all, I think he generally liked most people and his positive like of people made people like him in return.  In almost every encounter with me, he always stressed the things that I had done right and did not go out of his way to focus on the small things I screwed up.  In our "one on one" conversations, he was very supportive and would encourage me on ways I could do something better. 

An example of this was the first Summer Camp I had with the 2nd Bn, 130th FA as the B Battery Commander.  I had been given a bunch of new Lieutenants that had a lot of ability but not a lot of time in the Field Artillery.  I think they all had been to the Field Artillery Officer Basic course at Fort Sill, OK so they weren't absolutely without some good training.  What they did lack was a lot of experience in all the positions in a Field Artillery Battery.  Harold, then a Lieutenant Colonel encouraged me to use my knowledge as a battery commander as a teacher and rotate the guys through all the positions and for me to focus on the battery XO because he was the guy I was with the most.  That was one of the best camps for me because it caused me to be in the trainer mode and not to focus on all the small stuff.  For the Record,  Tom Tritsch,  Bob Bartholomew,  Bob Johansen  were the three guys I really got to appreciate this first year as a commander.  I asked Frank Wright to come down to the battery the next year but I then took a full time job with another unit in Ottawa and didn't get to work with him as much.

One of the things I really liked about Harold Sommers was his competence at all the jobs in the Battalion.  At every staff meeting, he would ask questions of each area in my opinion, that needed asked.  He also had the patience of a saint in answering questions from anyone at the meetings.  There was little doubt that he was in charge and could answer almost any Field Artillery related question. 

Harold Sommers went on to command the 130th FA Bde. He also was one of the first STARC Commanders as a Brigadier General and happened to be on the Observation Point the last day of camp when our unit had stopped the ARTEP because of errors.  I was designated to be the next commander of the 1-127th FA and I was just sure that because they had screwed up, I would not be selected for command.   He took me aside and told me that he was on his way back to Topeka that day and he would discuss the problems with the 1-127th.  He asked me what I needed to do as the new commander and I spent several minutes going over what was needed.  He agreed with what I said and the result of his actions were that I did in fact get the Battalion that fall. 

I hope that Red Sommers is waiting at Fiddler's Green with a canteen of grog so when I get there we can discuss our time here on earth and our time in the Field Artillery.


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