Steve was already a seasoned NCO when I was a first-yearcadet in ROTC. I remember being a rookie on the rugby team and Steve talking to me about the most important things-Soldiers-and how best towatch out for them. I was 18. I’m now 17 years into a career in special operations and still think about those talks I had with Erkle in the fall of 1999. I remember how proud I was that Erkle became a Sergeant Major and that it was fitting that someone so focused on Soldiers was a senior leader and responsible for a battalion’s welfare and mission readiness. The one thing I remember is Old Boys 2018 where we mauled a line out into a try (Steve scored it) and how much that mattered to keep him a part of our team. Steve brought me into the brotherhood of Army Leaders without any obligation-he cared about me being a good leader, even if it wasn’t for his Soldiers. He cared about me, because he knew I would eventually lead Soldiers and he wanted me to be ready. I will never forget Steve-he was pivotal to my Army career and my small part of Illinois Rugby.
Best,
MAJ Derek Elder
US Army Special Forces