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Christopher Larsen

Warrior Shepherd

by Christopher E. Larsen

20 December 2008

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At the end of each year Olive Drab Journal honors members from our community whose actions exemplify the quintessential traits of the warrior, the leader, and the shepherd. This recognition does not come lightly. We look inward amongst our community to identify those brilliant men and women whose leadership and mentorship have been inspirational.

Dr. Allan Ensor discovered One Shepherd through a colleague in early 2006. Asked to bolster the numbers of an OPFOR team to train an NROTC Marine detachment at the University of Missouri, Al was immediately hooked.

Born in San Diego to a Navy coxswain after the Second World War, Al is a true Baby Boomer. He attended Carl Junction High School north of Joplin, Missouri, and joined the Navy himself in 1972. He served as signalman on deck, just above the command bridge, earning the rank of petty officer third class on the destroyer USS Henderson and the minesweeper USS Excell. Al was honorably discharged from the US Navy in 1978, but his love of all things military did not end there.

Al pursued his bachelor degree in psychology from Pittsburg University, Kansas prior to entering the Navy. Afterwards, he continued his studies earning a bachelor degree in sociology and history through Missouri Southern State College. He returned to Pittsburg University for a master degree in clinical psychology. And Al earned a Ph.D. in school psychology at the University of Missouri in 1992 with a dissertation in improving reading fluency in deaf adolescents.

Al’s favorite saying is, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Al appeared as a teacher early on. He found his calling as a learning disabilities instructor at Webb High School in Webb City, Missouri. He went on to serve 21 years as a teacher and director at the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton, Missouri. Al is now a professor at William Woods University in Fulton. During his impressive teaching career he has served as the state delegate to the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) and as president of the Missouri Association of School Psychologist (MASP).

However, Al’s love of teaching goes beyond his admirable work with deaf children. Al enlisted in World War II re-enacting with the 2nd Ranger Battalion located in St. Louis and with the 84th Infantry Division in Columbia, Missouri. Through these two living history associations, Al is able to discuss the historical perspective of his father’s generation with younger generations of Americans.

Al’s relationship and experience with these two re-enacting organizations, as well as his participation and instructor status in NRA competition shooting prepared him well for the One Shepherd Student Leadership Program (SLP).

At an age when most people have long since settled into a more static lifestyle, Al was literally rolling in the mud and shooting back! He was immediately thrust into leadership roles with One Shepherd, commanding an infantry platoon during training weekends and through three-day field exercises in some of Missouri’s most treacherous terrain and arduous weather conditions ranging from humid plus 100 temperatures to freezing, sleeting ice storms.

Additionally, Al has served with One Shepherd as cadre teaching leadership, teambuilding, and marksmanship courses. Al’s insistence on molding – often pulling – the best out of younger student members is remarkable.

Al has a lifetime of demonstrated service to his local, state, and national community. He has sought every opportunity to advance himself, and he continues to mentor the same self-determination and accountability in his students. For his selfless service as an educator and demonstrated service as a warrior, we recognize and welcome Al into the ranks of the Warrior-Shepherd.

Warrior-Shepherds pave a path of success through commitment to local, national, and global communities. Warrior-Shepherds set the bar high and challenged all who follow. In honoring them, we must find our own path on the journey to becoming a Warrior-Shepherd.

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[Christopher Larsen is the author of Light Infantry Tactics: for Small Teams (AuthorHouse 2005) and co-founder of One Shepherd. He is currently assigned as an instructional systems designer at the US Army’s Command & General Staff College.]




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