FORT LEONARD WOOD – The National Defense Transportation Association recognized Fort Leonard Wood's Sgt. 1st Class Wayne St. Croix as their Instructor of the Year Oct. 9 in St. Louis, Missouri, during their annual fall meeting.
The award -- given to one individual and one unit each year across the entire U.S. military -- recognized St. Croix's exceptional technical instruction in the service of transportation. However, he said he was surprised to get the notification of his selection.
"For a while, I was a little shocked because we made the submission last year, and we didn't hear anything for about four months," he said. "Then, out of the blue, it just came back that I was selected. I didn't understand the magnitude of it. The history and the impact the NDTA has had across the armed forces, it got a little overwhelming, just for a second."
As the leader of a team of 20 instructors at Fort Leonard Wood, St. Croix demonstrated a unique pairing of intellect and motivation, but statistics also made him stand out.
"Each year the NDTA looks for strong logisticians across the Department of Defense -- technical-wise, as well as their contributions to logistics as a whole," he said. "In my position, I'm able to train a bunch of Soldiers and I manage a team, so the impact was pretty good."
St. Croix said his students in Company A, 58th Transportation Battalion, now have some of the highest grade-point averages. They led the battalion in instructor proficiency and honor graduates.
"Having instructors come in early, staying late, sometimes making sacrifices -- coming in on the weekends -- we built different systems to improve how the Soldiers retain information," he said.
"On the professional development side, I pushed for a lot of NCOs to obtain college and just do things differently," he added. "It was trial and error. Our averages were a little low, and we just looked at what we could do to raise the bar while maintaining integrity. Physically, out on the training areas, that's just more or less a management piece, looking to see what you can do to keep the NCOs motivated. They work pretty hard, they sacrifice a lot of time, and they're doing the same tasks over and over, so sometimes you have to motivate them, maybe get them some extra time off when you can … get them some recognition. Sometimes this job can become a routine, and so you want to make sure they're recognized."
In leading both instructors and students, St. Croix -- who's been in the Army 13 years -- described his management style as flexible, but stern.
"I know the biggest thing here for most of the instructors is family," he said. "We work hard, but I try to make sure that they have the same amount of downtime. It may not necessarily be on the weekends. It may be just an opportunity to have breakfast with the kids or a significant other."
At the week-long NDTA conference, St. Croix said his eyes were opened to where he sees his path in logistics leading him.
"I didn't think logistics and transportation holds that kind of power," he said. "I would like to work at the strategic level. Sometimes you get tunnel vision because you just get focused on being a master of your (military operation code). I'd like to be a master of logistics as a whole. Anything that's logistics related -- now I want to know about it."
St. Croix said one of his future goals is to win the NDTA unit award, but for now, he said, he's going to try repeating this win again next year.
"It was an opportunity I'll never forget," he said. "This award, this conference -- it unlocked more potential in me."
The NDTA is a non-political, non-profit global transportation educational organization that supports the DoD logistically in all facets, from equipment movement to cyberspace technology.