Friday, December 12, 2008

Words From Heros

Under Fire Afghanistan
Firefight Afghanistan
Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers
Mario Vittone, U. S. Coast Guard


Heroic behavior in many corners of today's self indulgent world is looked upon as a fool's mission, lumped together with religion, scruples and honor. Our political leaders, from all stripes are tarnished with countless lapses in public trust. Our sports and entertainment icons are given a pass for every fax pas, no matter how despicable their behavior.

Doing your duty today is mostly given lip service and honors are fleeting, even for those described below. Posting their words here may be preaching to the choir, but the examples of heroism and wise words about leadership deserve every forum.

This first story is going to piss all over the shoes of late Colonel S. L. A. Marshall, and his Ratio of Fire theory, Fire Away.

John Wayne Lives!

As Ford and Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding returned fire, Walding was hit below his right knee. Ford turned and saw that the bullet "basically amputated his right leg right there on the battlefield."

Walding, of Groesbeck, Tex., recalled: "I literally grabbed my boot and put it in my crotch, then got the boot laces and tied it to my thigh, so it would not flop around. There was about two inches of meat holding my leg on." He put on a tourniquet, watching the blood flow out the stump to see when it was tight enough.

Then Walding tried to inject himself with morphine but accidentally used the wrong tip of the syringe and put the needle in this thumb, he later recalled. "My thumb felt great," he said wryly, noting that throughout the incident he never lost consciousness. "My name is John Wayne," he said.

The battle described above began:

After jumping out of helicopters at daybreak onto jagged, ice-covered rocks and into water at an altitude of 10,000 feet, the 12-man Special Forces team scrambled up the steep mountainside toward its target -- an insurgent stronghold in northeast Afghanistan.

"Our plan," Capt. Kyle M. Walton recalled in an interview, "was to fight downhill."

But as the soldiers maneuvered toward a cluster of thick-walled mud buildings constructed layer upon layer about 1,000 feet farther up the mountain, insurgents quickly manned fighting positions, readying a barrage of fire for the exposed Green Berets.

Read the whole story: 10 Green Berets to Receive Silver Star for Afghan Battle - Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post

The United States Coast Guard has served our country and come to the aid of those in need across the world since 1790. Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard posted the following essay on his personal web blog, it is written by rescue swimmer Mario Vittone and is about leadership, and the full measure of inspiration it takes to be an effective leader.

Inspired Action:

Inspired action is a totally different thing altogether. Inspiring is hard work. It takes time, and integrity, and effort. It's harder (way) than giving orders. For old "do it cause I say so" types it requires a sometimes painful change from believing your people work for you, to making them believe that you work for them. You do, you do work for them. That was the subtle idea that I had missed. I thought it was my job to tell my guys what to do. But the primary job of a leader is to make them believe they should be doing it.

"You don't just do a mission, you believe in it."~Story Musgrave

The only way to create a truly great place to work is to ensure that each of the team members under you (read: next to you) are raging evangelists for the cause or...whatever your cause is.

The Power of Why:

This is where the harder work starts. This is where you learn why so many people are locked in the chain. Inspiration requires more work than giving orders does. If you have a hard time with that (the hard work part), remember that the reason you get paid more when you advance is because the work is supposed to be harder.

Read the whole post: Must Read from the Coast Guard

I have written before about service people doing their duty. The trait to be resilient is in our human DNA. These two brief examples of fortitude and insight have been replayed millions of times in human history. The above is a brief reminder that the ability to face challenges and think is built into every one of us.

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