Celebrating FedEx Ground Veterans: From one veteran to another
Mutual admiration sums up the feelings of two Gulf War veterans who support the Great Plains district. Rock Sherman (district managing director), served a combined 25 years in the U.S. Air Force in active and reserve duty, attaining the rank of major, while Chris Grau (district maintenance specialist), earned the rank of captain during his 10-year career with the Army.
Thanks from one veteran to another
For Rock, Chris’ role in the Gulf War is particularly admirable. He explains, “Chris is a true hero who was on the ground looking the enemy in the eye during that conflict. I engaged the enemy, too, but from the air. There’s a difference.” Indeed, Chris, along with members of his unit in Baghdad, Iraq received the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in the combat zone.
Chris, too, is quick to point out that Rock’s roll in the Gulf War was also laudable. “Rock was a ‘Wild Weasel,” Chris states. “Wild Weasels are ‘first in, last out’ in a combat zone. Their goal is to shut down the enemy’s radar via direct attacks.”
Achieving that goal earned Rock his own medal — the Distinguished Flying Cross. The medal is awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight. Rock, the lead F-4 Wild Weasel protecting an F-111 bombing raid over Baghdad, ran out of missiles. “I made spoofer calls and used flairs and other tricks to make the enemy think I was firing.” While Rock was engaged in battle, a surface-to-air missile locked on and exploded about 1500 feet to the side of his Phantom. No battle damage was sustained.
Military skills translate in the workplace
Both men credit their military experience as instrumental in their success at FedEx Ground. “Many of the leadership skills are the same,” says Chris. “For example, when you’re in charge of a group of soldiers, you don’t eat, sleep or get your equipment until they do, which is what Servant Leadership is all about.” Rock adds, “The regimental discipline required in the military is key, too. My repetitive, ‘checklist’ mindset, which I learned in the Air Force, continues to serves me well in the district. So much of our success depends upon understanding and following a series of safety and/or operational steps.”
Honoring FedEx Ground veterans
While Chris and Rock agree that many people do not give Veterans Day the attention it deserves, they are impressed by FedEx’s positive focus on veterans, especially the company’s founder and CEO. In 1966, Fred Smith joined the Marines and completed two tours in Vietnam, including engaging in combat with the Vietcong and, like Chris, earning a Bronze Star, along with a Silver Star and two Purple Heart medals. “We veterans often get a thank you from Fred Smith,” says Chris. “From one soldier to another – that means a lot.”