By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Behlin, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jacinto Garza, the senior enlisted leader of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, describes his leadership philosophy as, “Teach, coach, mentor soldiers every day and only when you have to, use words.”
As the senior enlisted noncommissioned officer with the Pacific region’s senior Army logistics command, Garza oversees an organization of more than 2,000 soldiers and civilians who provide logistics and sustain combat readiness for a region spanning 9,000 miles and 36 countries.
Garza believes that soldiers are developed from the ground up, but that it takes strong, capable leaders to mentor them to be successful. He learned that through the love, support and even challenges he endured while growing up in Jasper, Texas.
A self-admitted introvert early in life, Garza said he spoke only Spanish when he started school in the U.S. He said he often felt behind the learning curve and was “not confident to speak up, because I was still learning the language.”
Born in Floresville, Texas, his development as a mentor started early, and in an unexpected way. Garza and his older sister would come home from school each day and teach his parents English. Their lessons paid off, enabling his parents to successfully go through the naturalization process, and eventually become American citizens.
Garza’s parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the early 1970s in hope of providing a better life for their family. He said his stepfather often referred to the U.S. as a country where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Garza said that attitude set the foundation for his joining the Army in 1996.
The dedication and loyalty he felt at home made Garza want to become part of something bigger than himself, he said.
Garza added, “Joining the Army was a way to give back to a country that’s given my parents and me so many opportunities.”
He said he found the same friendship and camaraderie in the Army that he’d previously experienced earlier in his civilian community.
“It had a real feeling of family, or a brother, sisterhood,” he said.
Taking Care of Soldiers
Twenty-one years later, Garza believes in taking care of his soldiers the way his family and community took care of him. Grateful for the success he’s had, Garza’s leadership philosophy is based on the lessons he learned early in life and centers on making sure soldiers have the necessary knowledge, training and equipment to achieve their missions.
“I couldn’t do anything without the support and example that my mother provided me. My mother loved us, but was tough on us,” he said. “I watched her work two, sometimes three jobs to make sure my sisters and I had the things that we needed. I use her example as a means of personally defining the phrase: ‘Taking care of soldiers.’”
Garza’s leadership philosophy focuses on the importance of building strong sergeants. “If we build strong sergeants, then we will have strong soldiers,” which, he said, makes for a strong Army.
Leadership in Plain Sight
Garza said there’s more he would like to accomplish.
“I believe that much of what soldiers look for in leaders can be seen in plain sight. They should be able to see what they want to be as leaders and emulate what they believe to be good examples,” he said.
When he’s not soldiering, you can often find Garza at the gym or in the library, reading. Garza said he finds at least 30 minutes of every day to read self-help or educational material. “Learning something new every day is a must,” he said.
Garza also said he strives to “be humble, be flexible and be willing to adapt to any environment.”