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NEWS | Nov. 17, 2021

Nevada National Guard Adjutant General shares wisdom on leadership, service as Veterans Day guest speaker at NUWC Division Newport

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Moving quickly from one insight to the next, Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry shared his knowledge on leadership and service in rapid fire during a livestream broadcast held Nov. 4 at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport.

“Leadership is the capacity to influence others through inspiration, motivated by passion, generated by vision, produced by conviction and ignited by a purpose,” Berry said, quoting minister Myles Munroe in one breath and citing an anecdote from American Civil Rights leader Whitney Young in another. “It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.”

Berry, the Adjutant General for the Nevada National Guard, joined Division Newport’s workforce, which includes many veterans, via video conference for his talk as a part of the command’s celebration of the Veterans Day holiday.

“Since 1775, Americans from every generation have had the privilege to serve in defense of our nation. More than 22 million people have answered that sacred calling,” Berry said. “There is no higher honor or calling, and I’m extremely proud when we talk about Veterans Day and what that means.”

In his opening remarks, Berry implored those listening to the livestream to take the time this Veterans Day to write six handwritten letters — three to veterans and three to family members of those who have served.

“It is my firm belief that military service is the noblest position in the history of this country. Your dedication reflects a proud legacy of the U.S. military; a brotherhood and sisterhood of devotion that can’t be matched,” Berry said. “I want to extend my sincere appreciation to all veterans for their sacrifice and their families.

“You are part of the finest fighting force in our nation’s history. This is still the greatest nation in the world, and I say proudly every day that I am proud to serve.”

Despite all the challenges in today’s world, the U.S. military continues to set the standard for how to work collectively as a team, Berry added. That in turn requires strong leadership.

“Leadership is not always about a title or position; it’s really about what you’re committed to contributing to the area of influence you’re around,” Berry said. “What did I do today to make myself better, wiser and more ready for what I’ve been called to do?”

An effective leader must not only inspire those around them, but also take steps to master their craft, Berry said. He identified four components — heartset, mindset, skillset and toolset — that are critical on this path. 

“Where’s their heart at and am I all in? Do I have a drive? Am I relentless about improving?” Berry questioned in describing the first component. “We don’t grow in comfort zones. Am I willing to be challenged and pushed to a new level?”

Having the requisite courage also entails a hunger to learn, coupled with laser focus and a desire to push the boundaries of what is possible. As Berry notes, possessing these traits is critical in today’s world.

“I look at what some of our near-peer competitors are doing and they’re playing the long game,” Berry said. “This has been one of the most crucial and defining times we face as a nation. Our competitors are putting strategies in place for the single purpose of trying to overtake our nation.”

These mental traits also must be translated into physical abilities, Berry said, emphasizing the importance of improving skills beyond competency and making sure one has all the right tools needed to excel at their job.

In closing, Berry offered some of his goals for achieving greatness — what he called “Berryisms.”

  • The first person that must lead is me. Before we demand of others, we have to have the foresight to push ourselves.
  • Never forget that leadership is a choice.
  • I’m loaded with potential and I cannot waste it.
  • If I am going to lead, I must be trusted. To be trusted, you must be trustworthy.
  • To whom much is given, much is required.
  • Successful people think differently than unsuccessful people. Your thoughts determine your destiny; your energy follows your thinking.
  • Everything starts out with attitude and the mental conversations you have with yourself.

“What kind of light are you? Some rooms brighten up when people leave; others darken,” Berry said. “When you show up in a room, do they notice that your presence matters?

“If you don’t have energy, if you can’t energize, if you’re not edgy and you don’t execute, you won’t lead people anywhere.”

As Adjutant General, Berry is the senior uniformed Nevada National Guard officer responsible for formulating, developing and coordinating all policies, programs and plans affecting more than 3,500 Nevada Army and Air National Guard personnel.

Appointed by Nevada’s governor, Berry serves as the governor's principal adviser on all National Guard issues, is responsible for both the federal and state missions of the Nevada National Guard, and serves as the official channel of communication with the National Guard Bureau, Department of the Army, and Department of the Air Force. Click here to read more about Berry.

Division Newport Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings later asked the workforce to pause on Nov. 11 to remember the sacrifices military members have made in serving our nation, wherever and whenever they were needed. 

“From one generation to the next, young men and women have willingly joined the ranks of America's armed forces,” Hennings said. “Aware of their obligations as citizens of the greatest nation on Earth, they answered its call; they served the United States with honor, courage and commitment.”

NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.

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