Disappointed that he didn’t get accepted to any of the colleges that he wanted to attend, Kwesi Blackman would not be discouraged. Instead, he made a crucial decision that would change his life forever. He enlisted in the United States Army. A year after boot camp, he was deployed to Iraq. Although he was only seventeen at the time, he was excited to go to Iraq. “I was a combat soldier in the U.S. Army going to war is what we train for everyday.”
Kwesi served two tours in Iraq, “my duties were to conduct raids, mounted/dismounted patrols, and traffic check points. Before joining the army, Kwesi had no views on war, but once he became a soldier, his only view was to “defend the United States and follows the orders of our President that was my duty.” With strong will and determination, in only two years, he rose from the rank of Private to a Non-commission (Corporal/ Sergeant).
When asked how he felt being in command, his response was that “being a leader is like being a parent (I expect, not being a parent myself yet), you have to care for the welfare of your subordinates more than yourself. In the civilian world I have seen people fight and argue to be in charge, to be the leader. I see from my time as a leader they don’t understand the burden of leadership, they only see the power. When you are a leader you are not the most important person in that group, as I once thought, in fact you are the least important person.
As a leader you must put the need of others before yours. When I think of being a leader I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from General Douglas McArthur, that summarizes my thoughts on the topic, it says “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”
“My fellow soldiers were my family while I was in the Army and for a short period of time Iraq was my home. There were several times I feared I was not going to come back home, but I was willing to give my life for the United States of America and for my fellow comrades, it was our duty as soldiers. General George S. Patton once said “Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.”
After SGT Kwesi W. Blackman was honorably discharged from active duty in September 2005, he served a year in the New York Army National Guard. Now Kwesi Blackman is a medical student at Howard University College of Medicine (class 2014). “I decided to pursue a new career because I have always dreamed of becoming a surgeon, ever since I was very young. When I was not accepted to any colleges I lost confidence in my ability to achieve that goal. Being a leader in the Army restored my confidence, and with the skills I acquired in the Army I prepared a plan to turn my dream of becoming a surgeon into a reality…