One of the greatest honors in commanding the 100th Operations Group was the building the ties with the WWII veterans of the 100th Bomb Group. This is a brotherhood of warriors in its purest sense….warriors from very different times, very different wars, very different aircraft…but brothers in arms to be sure…ages 18 to 90+. Through this brotherhood, our present day warriors have all learned of the sacrifices, the service, the bravery, and the leadership of this incredible group of Americans–the Greatest Generation. We have also been blessed with new friendships–be it with the veterans themselves or their families: I am a stronger Airman, leader, and a better man for the relationships we have with these incredible people.
One such gentleman spoke at RAF Mildenhall on leadership way back in 2012: Joe Urice and his lesson still resonate all these years later.
On 11 Nov 43, a 19 year old, University of Texas student…Joe R. Urice answered his nation’s call and signed on with the Army Air Corps. He served in the 8th Air Force, 100th Bomb Group, 351st Squadron as Tail Gunner on Jesse Wofford’s B-17 crew based at Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk, England. From 29 Dec 44 to 19 Nov 45, Joe flew on 13 combat missions and 1 “Chowhound” mission before VE Day ( 8 May 45). He then served from 19 Nov 45 through 12 Jan 46 in Kassel, Germany and was discharged 6 Feb 46 at Ft Sam Houston, TX.
He later resumed his education and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1948. He joined the family oil drilling business drilling wells in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and North Carolina. In 1961, he joined Continental Oil Co.(later Conoco Inc.) and served in management positions in the Drilling and Treasury Departments. He retired in 1985 as President of a Conoco subsidiary and resides in Kerrville, TX.
1) VISION: The ability to define a common goal to which a group can relate and embrace. Leaders must be sure to limit the total number of goals.
2) PEOPLE: The skill of being able to relate to people and be a people person. Speaking skills are extremely valuable.
3) EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The need to possess the personal knowledge and expertise necessary to understand obstacles and solve problems: Common sense.
4) COHESION: To have the ability to develop the team and esprit de corps within the organization.
5) DEVELOPMENT: Possess skills in recognizing an individual’s abilities or inabilities–do not put a square peg in a round hole. Always strive to develop your people’s talents.
6) INSPIRATION: Encourage independent decision making and not looking to central authority for all decisions. Remember different people learn differently–visually, audibly, and some hands-on.
7) RESPECT: The ability and desire to garner respect from the personnel you lead. Support your subordinates’ actions during crucial times, or they often will not make decisions in later times.
8) RESULTS: Develop an attitude within the organization that expects results.
9) FLEXIBILITY: The ability to adjust and be self-reliant as new developments occur.
+1) HUMILITY: One last thought for those of you that do seek and achieve the highest leadership roles…There is an obvious DON’T…Joe suggests reading Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would be King…as in it there is a very important DON’T theme….DON’T believe that you have become one of the gods….that idea is destructive to you personally and to the organization.
In closing…Joe paraphrased Psalm 133: How good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity. It is like the dew that fell on Mount Zion where the Lord ordinated his blessings.
America and..indeed the world needs great leaders…. I hope you become one.
(WWII Us Air veterans visiting the 100th bomb group museum on the old airbase at Thorpe Abbotts. L-R visiting veterans Albert Lochra, Joe Urice, Russell Engel, Dewy Christopher, William Burkhart.)