View Full Version : Top recon leader credits trust for team’s success

06-22-05, 08:57 AM
June 27, 2005

Top recon leader credits trust for team’s success

By Gidget Fuentes
Times staff writer

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Sgt. Sage L. Goyda shrugs off any extra attention and downplays the actions in Iraq that recently earned him a top honor from the 1st Recon Battalion Association.
He deflects the attention to the men he leads, saying, “I didn’t work alone, by any means. If it wasn’t for … the guy on my right and a guy on my left, who knows what I would have done?”

Yet it’s exactly that attitude — and the actions behind it — that led the association to name Goyda as Team Leader of the Year.

The award, one of the most prestigious honors given in the reconnaissance community, is as much a tribute to the five men he led into combat in Iraq last year, Goyda said.

“Leadership is a lot about responsibility, leading from the front, being strong,” said Goyda, 27, who grew up in Ford City, Pa., a town of 3,300 northeast of Pittsburgh. “They are all strong, no matter what task I give them. I don’t have to worry [about] it not getting done. I can depend on every guy in my team.”

Each member of the six-man team wears a collection of combat decorations, including Navy and Marine Corps Commendation and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals with combat “V” devices. Two of his men received combat promotions.

“The accomplishments of his men speak highly of the way they were led,” states the citation for a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal that Goyda received along with the team leader award in mid-May.

Goyda, who received the Bronze Star for his combat heroics during a vehicle patrol, was key to the success of more than 70 combat patrols and other operations in Iraq. But he said he’s most proud of the missions he didn’t go on, such as several counterambush patrols his men handled.

“They would go out and conduct themselves the way they should, without me being present,” he said. “I didn’t have to baby-sit them or have to worry, ‘Are they going to do the right thing?’”

What makes a good leader?

That’s due in part to the way he trained and led his team.

“You put a great deal of responsibility in that [noncommissioned officer],” said retired Lt. Col. Charles W. Kershaw, who commanded 1st Reconnaissance Battalion from 1989 to 1991 and is now president of the association. In Iraq, “you really have to rely on the NCOs. That’s why there’s a greater premium on someone like Sergeant Goyda.”

Team leadership has an integral role in the success of recon units, Kershaw said.

“It really does require a young Marine with a great deal of dedication, intelligence, endurance and a feel for technology today,” he said.

It was Goyda’s first time leading a team when he deployed to Iraq last year. Although his team included three men who, like him, were combat veterans of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, it also had two junior Marines fresh out of the School of Infantry.

Their training “was fast and hard,” he recalled. “We all chipped in. It was very intensive. We were constantly giving them classes and PT. Their learning curve is very steep. It had to be. We didn’t have a choice.”

The six-man teams of a recon unit don’t mirror the basic fire team that’s the backbone of Marine infantry. But nowhere do the basics of teamwork exist more simply and clearly than in a recon unit.

A team leader’s job, Goyda said, is to help build the team, to watch and supervise “until they get on their feet, and then you kind of ease off of them a little bit.” The leader helps set the bar and gives his team members the basic tools they need to do the job, he said.

So what qualities does the recon Team Leader of the Year look for in a team leader? To Goyda, it’s the same set of expectations he has for himself and the members of his team.

• Aggressiveness. “That’s the big thing,” Goyda said, “not being afraid to get the job done.” Being hungry to take on more responsibilities and challenges is a hallmark of a good team leader.

• Independence. The emphasis on small teams in the reconnaissance community, where NCO-led units may be operating far from company or battalion commanders, requires a leader who can decide and act on his own. And the leader and team members alike must be confident in orders and their own actions.

• Fitness. Recon team members must be physically fit. What’s more, the time and effort required to keep fit also helps maintain basic discipline in other areas.

• Field savvy. Basic infantry skills and field-craft are critical. A good team leader must be smart, resourceful and up-to-date on combat issues and weaponry — and be able to shape more junior members into seasoned operators cross-trained in every role.

Good team leaders, Goyda said, are effective managers of people and of time.

“A lot of it is having trust in the other guys,” he said. “You just have to be ready all of the time. Any time, we could get called in to do whatever.”


06-23-05, 04:42 AM
3rd Recon gets back in fight
Submitted by: II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story by: Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Evan M. Eagan
Story Identification #: 200562255554

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(June 22, 2005) -- After more than 30 years without deploying as a battalion, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, from Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan, landed in Iraq mid-March to conduct combat operations in Al Anbar province.

Although elements of 3rd Recon have deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the past few years, the last time the battalion colors flew in a combat zone was during the Vietnam War.

“Elements of the battalion conducted combat operations during Desert Storm and we had a platoon over here during Operation Iraqi Freedom II,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Masur, commanding officer, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “There just hasn’t been a war that required us to deploy as a battalion.”

Stationed at Camp Fallujah, the battalion consists of three companies: Headquarters and Service Company, Alpha Company, and a reserve unit, Echo Company, with 4th Reconnaissance Battalion from San Antonio.

“We have a great bunch of guys,” said Cpl. Roberto Gonzalez, assistant team leader, 2nd Team, 3rd Platoon, Echo Company. “Everybody works together and everybody is motivated. We are a young group of guys, but we have a lot of experience.”

In February, pre-deployment training was conducted in Okinawa, the battalion’s resident location, before going to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., for a revised combined arms exercise and then to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., for stability and support operations training.

After relieving 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., the ‘Men of the Forward Shadow’ have been conducting various missions throughout their area of operation to include mounted and dismounted patrolling, weapons cache sweeps, improvised explosive device sweeps, counter indirect fire missions, limited scale raids and hasty vehicle check points.

“The operations have been going very well,” said Masur, a Pittsburgh native. “It is very intelligence-driven. Every time we go out we get smarter and smarter about how the insurgents are operating. We are reducing the insurgent cells and their capability to operate in our zone.”

The battalion legacy is no stranger to combat, having served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and the current Marines were more than ready to answer their call to duty.

“It’s part of our job to remain ready,” said Masur. “We did additional training for combat operations in a different environment. We did one month of CONUS training where we went to Twentynine Palms for a RCAX and we went to Miramar for SASO training.”

Third Reconnaissance Battalion will be in Iraq for the remainder of its seven month deployment, but for the time being is only concerned about the mission ahead of them.

“It’s always motivating when you get these insurgents off the streets and find, reduce and destroy large weapons caches that can hurt fellow Marines by direct fire or indirect fire,” said Masur. “It’s satisfying when your intelligence leads to tangible results.”