When Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado reflects on his first deployment 30 years ago for Operation Desert Storm, the impressions his leaders and fellow Soldiers made then still represent what he considers one of the Army’s foundational benefits today — the importance of fostering relationships and taking care of people.

“Your legacy shouldn’t be about what you’ve accomplished or what you’ve done,” Delgado said. “Your legacy should be about who you’ve brought up with you and who you’ve developed and invested in.”

Delgado, then Spc. Delgado, was only 19 years old in 1989 when he was sent overseas and away from his family in New York City for the first time in his life. He trained for combat in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment assigned to the 210th Artillery Brigade. That’s where he first got to know his unit leaders, but didn’t yet know how deployment and experiencing real artillery would ultimately build the relationships within his unit.

In 1991, his unit was deployed out of Ansbach, Germany, to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield, then to Kuwait and Iraq for Desert Storm.

“One of the first things I remember is when we landed in Saudi Arabia and we went to ‘tent city,’ just a bunch of tents on a concrete slab, dust blowing all over the place, that’s when reality hit,” he said. “’Wow, we’re in a different country and we’re going to war.’ It was a scary moment.”

His superiors left an impression on Delgado and his young Soldier comrades. Even though many of them had never been in combat, Delgado said leaders took the time to talk to younger Soldiers and get to know them.

“I think what stuck with me the most was the relationships we built,” he said. “The friendships, trust, candor of the leaders. It really showed how much they cared about us.”

But building relationships and making friends didn’t come without the hardships of war.