Q&A with Master Gunnery Sergeant Lyn Akermon, Naval Science Instructor at New Albany High School


By Aurora Robinson

Bagpiper: Can you describe to me what Basic Leadership Training is?

Lyn Akermon: “Basic Leadership Training in my opinion is character development. We take cadets from different schools around the local area— Louisville, Southern Indiana—and we mix them all together, they are all strangers. They have to be functional as one, as a unit. We make it stressful. It’s a stressful environment, stressful mentally and physically because we do a lot of physical training in it. The mental aspect is we teach classes, we put them in leadership roles. They all have to try a leadership role during the week. They have to learn each other’s weaknesses, each other’s strengths. To be a good leader you have to be a good follower. But some people have more leadership abilities than others. Basic Leadership Training is, to me, character development. It shows the individual what are my weaknesses what are my strengths? Am I better physically than others? It teaches me about teamwork, comradery, it teaches me how to give certain people tasks. You can’t task just anybody on anything until you know their strengths and weaknesses. So you wouldn’t give somebody a job, in other words, that you knew they were weak in that job and they could not accomplish that job or that mission. So it’s not just about you learning about you, it’s learning about others around you and in life you have to play the hand that you’re dealt. So, Basic Leadership Training teaches you strengths, weaknesses, not just yours, but your teammates and it teaches you how to accomplish goals, or the military calls it accomplish a mission together with what you have at hand. That’s what basic leadership training is.”

“We do it using the military style of training. Physical training, lots of marching. We have team events because we are huge on building teams, uniform inspections, and a lot of it, too, we just have fun events because we teach them that there’s time that you have to work and there’s time that you need to relax and enjoy yourself, too. That’s a lot how the military deals with stress. Everyone is human you’ve got to have some down time.”

BP: Why would you push your cadets to do BLT?

LA: “I don’t do this job to put people in the military. I do this job to make them productive citizens, to make them good citizens. Basically, to teach them that all through life there’s going to be leaders, there’s going to be followers, there’s going to be a lot of stress in your life and the sooner you learn to deal with the stresses of life, the better you can handle the tough situations in anything you do. If you go to college, if you go to the military, if you go to the workforce, family, no matter what happens, you can deal with stress in your life and you have got to learn how to accept it and you have got to learn how to overcome it. And that’s the main reason for leadership training.”

BP: Is there anything else you would like to add?

LA: “I think the most it does for them—it’s a confidence builder and it’s extremely good for those cadets who always doubt themselves. It just shows them that they can overcome obstacles in life. That’s the main thing.”

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