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During a World War II battle in Holtzwihr, France, a wounded US soldier climbed into a burning tank, took a spot behind a .50-caliber machine gun and fired until the enemy was vanquished.
At the age of 19, Audie Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor, and to this day, he inspires military leaders and soldiers — especially Army Sgt. 1st Class Ernest Oberst.
“As a kid, I used to watch the Audie Murphy biography ‘To Hell and Back’ on TV, and I wanted to be a soldier. He was my hero,” Oberst said.
Oberst joined the Army three months after graduating from high school in Gladstone, Mich.
Now a platoon sergeant in Multinational Division Baghdad with 1st Platoon, Company B, 52nd Infantry Regiment, attached to the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Oberst is responsible for the 33 soldiers in his platoon. He takes care of administrative paperwork, leads patrols, makes sure each soldier has the right equipment and takes care of any issues that may arise, whether personal or work related.
“I do anything a mom or dad does,” he said jokingly.
Oberst has served in the Army for 14 years, and said he believes the best way to lead his soldiers is by setting an example for them and sharing the load.
“You can’t just supervise; you have to be a part of the team,” he said. “If my soldiers are out digging for caches, you won’t find me sitting in the truck. I’m an able body that can work, and I’ll be out there digging with them.”
His soldiers describe him as a well-rounded leader who maintains discipline and has the ability of doing the right thing at the right time, every time.
“No matter what the mission is, Oberst is the first one on the ground and the last one back in the vehicle. That’s just his style,” Army Cpl. Zachary Manuel said. Sgt. Lucas Collins said Oberst will give any soldier a chance to succeed.
“When I came into this unit, I had two blown-out knees,” said Collins, a team leader. “In the infantry, you are looked at as done. I was going to be chaptered out, but he gave me the chance to get better.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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