By: Katie McGuire Photo by William Kolb
Brigadier Gen. Willard Burleson III visited Fort Knox Thursday, August 6th, 2015 to speak to Cadet Initial Entry Training Regiment 8 about their future army careers.
Burleson was commissioned as an officer of the United States Army in 1988 from the United States Military Academy. He has done many tours in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Panama and Kosovo working in Infantry and other various operations. Gen. Burleson is also a decorated officer with many service awards such as: the Legion of Merit (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Bronze Star Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Combat Infantrymen Badge (with Star), Army Commendation Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters) and many more.
The General spoke with cadets on many topics to encourage them in their future army careers. He spoke on four points: Initial Certification, Self-regulating, Providing valuable service to society, and Bruno Mars, the last point bringing confusion and laughter in the auditorium.
“Think of this journey as an initial step towards your profession,” he advised the cadets. For most of these cadets, this is the first step in becoming a part of the Army family, and they are learning all of the tactical and physical requirements, as well as what is expected in a future army officer.
He told the cadets it is very important to be physically sound for the profession of their choice, and if they already have that, they are halfway there in their training.
Although Burleson focused his speech mainly on some of the training aspects, he commented on how these cadets not only have to be physically ready, but also mentally. An army officer “must be morally and ethically straight” in this profession, he said.
He then commended the cadets in getting this far in their training. He told them to be proud of what they’ve been doing this summer at Cadet Summer Training, both individually and as a team.
Last, he left the floor open to cadets to figure out how the pop singer Bruno Mars fits in to his speech. After multiple guesses and play on Mars’ lyrics, Gen. Burleson explained further. Training and committing to the army lifestyle and profession is hard work but worth it and finished with, “Don’t believe me? Just watch”, a popular verse from Bruno Mars’ summer hit “Uptown Funk.”
Burleson then encouraged cadets to ask him questions about his career, his experiences, and any more advice he has for them as they complete their last three days of training and continue their future careers in the United States Army.