The Making of a Navy SEAL by Brandon Webb

The Making of a Navy SEAL: My Story of Surviving the Toughest Challenge and Training the Best Hardcover – August 25, 2015
by Brandon Webb (Author), John David Mann (Author), Marcus Luttrell (Foreword)

Brandon Webb is a former U.S. Navy SEAL; his last assignment with the SEALs was Course Manager for the elite SEAL Sniper Course, where he trained some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century including Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle.

The Making of a Navy SEAL is a guts and glory tale of an American boy pursuing an American dream. Having literally grown up at sea, Brandon was an experienced boatsman and rescue diver by the age of sixteen. Searching for a purpose and path in life, Brandon learns about the SEALs one day by some fellow divers and from that moment on, he knew what he wanted to do.

Overcoming one obstacle after another, Brandon’s grit and perserverance kept him on point with his goal of becoming a SEAL. Brandon does a fantastic job of describing the struggles and challenges of SEAL training, fleet operations, and mission deployments.

This book is as much about leadership as it is a window into the life of military special operations. I was particularly interested in his experiences with the implementation of mental management with his students and continuous improvement with his courses. Brandon raised the bar and made significant contributions to America’s strategies, preparedness, and fighting men and women.

The challenges, stories and insights are of value to any audience, whether military, business, or other. Once again, character and competence surface as the two most important ingredients in the excellence recipe.

Grab this book, read it, and pay it forward.

The Making of a Navy SEAL will be released on August 25, 2015.
http://www.amazon.com/Making-Navy-SEAL-Surviving-Challenge/dp/1250069424

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The Navy SEAL Art of War

Successful military leaders who transition into business like gangbusters, have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to the aspiring and even experienced business leader. “The Navy SEAL Art Of War” by Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer (Ret.), Rob Roy is full of what I call “gold nuggets”; proven modi operandi and wisdom to supplement leadership competence.

Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer (Ret.), Rob Roy
Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer (Ret.), Rob Roy

It was reinforcing to read many familiar references to some favorite sources in Rob’s book such as “Good To Great” by Jim Collins, “The Art Of War” by Sun Tzu, and familiar phrases like “Semper Gumby” (Marine speak for always flexible), the OODA Loop, “Commander’s Intent”, “No Better Friend – No Worse Enemy” and a General Mattis Christmas story.

While the book is littered with meaningful, situational stories and material, here’s my top five leadership gold nuggets from “The Navy SEAL Art Of War”

1. Competence & Character
In short, Know your job extremely well (competence) and be someone others want on the team by being trustworthy, respectful, empathetic, honorable, and humble (character).

2. Have a Servant’s Heart
“The best leaders I know not only provide a tremendous service, but they also serve. They subordinate their own individual needs and desires to some greater good. They have, in short, a servant’s heart. Referencing Jim Collins’ “Good To Great”, Rob reminds us of “level five” CEOs are servant-type leaders who possess characteristics like humility and self-awareness. The type to shun personal glory and who glean greater satisfaction from solving problems and helping others than they do in heaping praise and honors onto themselves.

3. Have a Vision
Rob’s vision is “To continually provide value, and to serve”. A short but meaningful vision. I like that.

4. Everyone on a Team is important
“There’s a good chance that someone out there might be better than me at a given task, but better than my SEAL team? Not likely.”

5. Crystal-clear communication is critical
“The more direct and precise you can be in your language, the better the result.”

More notable highlights:
“It is better to have one person with passion than forty who are merely interested”.
“In the absence of leadership, LEAD! SEALs expect to lead, but they are also willing to be led by someone with a better plan. In the absence of orders, we take charge.”
“humility is the bedrock of any high-speed team”.
“Well, at least it’s not raining.” In essence, things could always be worse.
“Think in terms of possibilities, not limitations.”
“A well-aimed shot will always hit the target. Stay in the zone.”
“It’s all about the teams.”

When I go through a good leadership book, I like to dog-ear pages, underline, and highlight key takeaways so that I can review and summarize after I finish reading. I’m not sure I’ve ever marked up a book as much as I did this one. “The Navy SEAL Art Of War”, has found its place as a permanent fixture on my bookshelf of leadership references.

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My Men Are My Heroes – The Brad Kasal Story

Last summer, a friend gave me a copy of “My Men Are My Heroes”, the book which tells the story of Marine First Sergeant Brad Kasal, the senior NCO in 3/1’s Weapons Company in Iraq during the November 2004 Battle for Fallujah. As I had several other books I was either reading or planned to read, I put this one in the queue with anticipation of reading it in a few months. Last week as I packed for a beach vacation and brought it along.

my-men-are-my-heroes
As a Marine, I thoroughly enjoyed the book which was full of familiar stories, jargon, history, and acronyms. The author did a good job keeping the material organized and sectioned. Much of the book provided great insight into Marine training and preparation required to succeed in combat as well as the complicated logistics and rules of engagement in combat situations.

Long before you’ll read about “The House Of Hell” where First Sergeant Kasal is shot (as seen on the book cover), the author takes you briefly through Kasal’s life growing up in Iowa, his joining the Corps, and into the challenging career of a Marine Grunt.

You’ll read about how Kasal was considered by some Marines to be the toughest Marine (mentally and physically) they had met and how he could “outrun, outfight, outshoot, and outthink the much younger men he led”. Many of his Marines called him “Robo-Grunt” because he was able to run them into the ground lone before he got tired.

After being medevac’d from Fallujah, First Sergeant Kasal endured unimaginable physical pain during the many surgeries and long recovery process but he describes his greatest pain as not being able to return to the fight with his men in Iraq.

“To this day, many consider it a miracle that I lived after the severe blood loss and trauma caused by seven gunshot wounds and several dozen shrapnel wounds. I simple see it as just the love for a fellow Marine and a little bit of toughness and stubbornness. Throughout this entire ordeal from the time of being wounded until I was medically evacuated close to an hour later, and despite the multiple wounds and loss of blood, I never lost consciousness or quit my post while guarding that doorway. While some may call this heroic, I just call it loyalty. It was because I loved the Marine next to me and I was determined to do anything it took to keep him alive, even at my own risk. He would have done the same for me. It’s called being a Marine – we’re all brothers and a family.”

Kasal struggled with depression, doubt, and fear during his rehabilitation. He offers his advice to others in similar situations which includes not being afraid to ask for help, not being afraid to talk about what you’re thinking and doing, and understanding that you will succeed or fail based on your own willpower.

I was very impressed with First Sergeant Kasal’s endurance, bearing, unselfishness, courage, loyalty to the Corps, and love for his brother Marines. A true Marine leader.

“My Men Are My Heroes” should be required reading for all Marines, especially Infantry Marines and Corpsmen.

In May of 2006, Brad Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism
In May of 2006, Brad Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism

I understand that Sergeant Major Kasal is still serving. Always Faithful!

Thank you Marine for sharing your experiences and love of Corps in “My Men Are My Heroes”. Semper Fi Brother!

~Cpl. Beddoe

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The Lieutenant Don’t Know

In “The Lieutenant Don’t Know“, Marine Lt. Jeff Clement of Combat Logistics Battalion 6, provides a gripping and descriptive view into navigating the hostile and challenging terrain of North Helmand Province in Afghanistan where the supply routes between the main base Camp Leatherneck, and the various remote outposts are described by Jeff as either ‘bad’ or ‘worse’.

The Lieutenant Don't Know
A Combat Logistics Battalion is responsible for keeping forward operating bases within a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) supplied with fuel, water, and other critical supplies as well as recovering destroyed or blown-up trucks from the field, among other things.

Whump! IED. IED. IED!

Slide35Lt. Clement tells of the daily challenges faced by the Logistics Marines where IEDs were commonplace and Rules of Engagement restricted their role ‘outside the wire’ to a defensive one. Often averaging five miles per hour, their large truck convoys were constant targets of bombs and snipers. However, the lieutenant goes on to explain that “Freedom was outside the wire”, contrasting their ability to be decisive and get things done while on the road and under fire was far easier than dealing with the politics and administrative REMF personnel who had no idea of reality outside Camp Leatherneck.

“The Lieutenant Don’t Know” is a great read for its insight and straightforwardness. After you read this book, you’ll have a renewed appreciation for the Marines serving in logistics capacities. Marines from any era or MOS discipline will appreciate the familiar and timeless hard-charging attitudes and logistical frustrations we all know and love.

Clement writes “Our sense of normal is distorted. I think this is essential to getting our jobs done, but sometimes Marine leaders take this distorted sense of reality for granted. Like when somebody forgets to provide food to Marines in training. “You haven’t eaten in 48 hours?” Suck it up! You’re Marines! You’ll get food when you get there!” or when somebody doesn’t plan for some kind of shelter in case there is a huge storm during a parade or ceremony; “You’re getting wet, oh well, you’re Marines… your amphibious! Suck it up!”

“Why do Marines do whatever they’re asked? The lieutenant don’t know.

The thing is, the Marines will do whatever they’re asked. Conditions that would cause a mutiny in the Army or Navy will be accepted by the Marines. Sure, we’ll complain… griping is part of who we are. It’s when the Marines stop complaining that we have problems.”

Know your Marines, know yourself, and know your shit!

Bravo Zulu Lt. Clement! “The Lieutenant Don’t Know” now has a permanent spot in my military must-read bookshelf.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffclement

Yut! Drive On!

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“Backbone” USMC Leadership Traits – JJDIDTIEBUCKLE

by Cpl. Beddoe, 2013

JJDIDTIEBUCKLE is an acronym used by Marines representing their 14 leadership traits.

Justice, Judgment, Dependability, Initiative, Decisiveness, Tact, Integrity, Endurance, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty,& Enthusiasm.

BACKBONE is a fantastic book (Julia Dye, Ph.D., 2011) about those leadership traits and includes fitting stories of iconic Leathernecks and others who signified those traits in their actions in and out of combat.

backboneIf there is one constant about the fourteen leadership traits recognized by the Marine Corps, it is that not one of them stands alone or above all the others. They are intertwined and interdependent, like the parts of a fine watch or the gears in a complex machine. Absent one trait, all the others are affected: the watch loses time, the machine malfunctions. Without unselfishness, it may be difficult to be dependable. Without knowledge, it’s tough to make solid judgment calls.

For Marines, it’s about the mission and keeping the mission central to each tactical decision. Today’s complex and knowledge-intensive world requires the kind of bottom-up leadership that Marine NCO’s undertake every day.

I have summarized each trait below, using verbatim text in most cases, based on what I took away from each section in Backbone. I highly recommend acquiring a copy of the book for reference and for the great history lessons.

Justice
Justice is the practice of being fair and consistent. A just person gives consideration to each side of a situation and bases rewards or punishments on merit. As good leaders, we have to hold people accountable. We have to show that if you do good, you get good things. If you do bad, you will be held accountable.

Judgment
Often, leaders must assess situations quickly and without significant time to reflect. The Marine Corps refers to the “70 Percent Solution,” meaning an imperfect solution that can be acted upon quickly, rather than waiting for the perfect judgment – which may never come. This guideline doesn’t advise acting in extreme haste; rather, it advises avoiding “analysis Paralysis.” It argues that with 70 percent of the possible knowledge, having completed 70 percent of the analysis, and with a confidence rate of about 70 percent, the time is right to make an informed judgment.

Dependability
Amidst the stress and chaos of combat, there often is no telling how people will react. A hero one day may be a catatonic wreck the next. Some would say that’s perfectly understandable. Marines say that’s totally unacceptable. Marines demand dependability in all situations – on and off the battlefield. Leaders have consistency in crisis and do not over commit. They do what they say they’ll do when they say they’ll do it.

Initiative
Find a way to take the initiative; don’t do it for the recognition or for the glory, do it to help accomplish the mission. Think outside the box, try new things, and consider new solutions to existing problems. Improvise, Adapt, Overcome!

Decisiveness
Research indicates that most people make decisions intuitively rather than analytically more than 90 percent of the time. The Handbook for Marine NCOs has the following advice for modern Marines: “Make sound and timely decisions. TO make a sound decision, you should know your mission, what you are capable of doing to accomplish it, what means you have to accomplish it, and what possible impediments or obstacles exist (in combat, these would be enemy capabilities) that might stand in the way. Timeliness is also important as soundness. In many military situations, a timely, though inferior, decision is better than a long-delayed theoretically correct, decision.

Tact
Tact is the ability to communicate in the language that best allows a listener to understand the message or meaning that’s being communicated and to be motivated to act upon it. Given that background, the tactful leader chooses the language or behavior that will help the people in his audience to motivate themselves. Tact is the ability to say something or make a point in such a way that not only is the other person not offended; they are totally receptive. Being tactful comes with training and maturity but it’s also determined by making the right decisions – the right decisions about what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and who to say it to.

Integrity
Integrity in a leader is reflected by honesty as well as a desire to inspire and a devotion of values that the leader constantly tried to communicate to those he or she leads. The leader with integrity can rarely if ever relax a commitment to what he or she believes is the behavior that best reflects those closely held values. When followers see leaders acting with integrity, they are more likely to want to emulate that quality. Integrity is the cornerstone of leadership. There’s only one thing that no one can take away from you. They can take your life, they can take your savings, they can take your property, they can take everything you’ve got… but the one thing no one can take from you is you integrity, your honor. You have to voluntarily give that up. You’re the owner of your integrity. And some people sell it awfully cheap.

Endurance
The enduring leader defaults to responsibility. If something must be done, then it must be done, even if the best resources or relevant training aren’t available. During the battle of Guadalcanal, Marine John Basilone exemplified endurance when he manned his machine gun non-stop for three days and nights without sleep, rest, or food stalling the efforts of an entire enemy regiment. At the end of the battle, only three Marines from Basilone’s machinegun crew were still standing. Basilone endured with a pair of burned hands. Basilone’s asbestos gloves had been lost in the chaos and he used his bare hands to handle the hot guns.

Bearing
A Marine with bearing is driven toward a goal with purpose, jumping at opportunities with self-improvement that increase his ability to reach that goal. Bearing is about channeling that drive to other people. Leaders with bearing know where they stand, and they understand the environment in which they work. They set an example for others to follow in both attitude and behavior.

Unselfishness
Unselfish leaders make decisions that benefit as many as possible, without worrying too much about themselves. They look out for the welfare of their teams beyond simple job descriptions, legal concerns, and even their own personal comfort. And they do this most particularly in difficult situations.

Courage
Courage is never an easy commodity to find, whether it’s disciplining a subordinate, standing up to superiors, or facing swarms of charging enemies. Courage is situational; it lives in the moments when it is required by people who believe in themselves and in priorities beyond personal comfort and the risks of pain or failure. Courage is doing what’s right, adhering to a higher standard of personal conduct; to lead by example and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure. It is the inner strength that enables a Marine to take that extra step.

Knowledge
The business of knowing what to do and how to do it lifts the leader above the crowd. Knowledge goes beyond the facts of the job; it is also knowledge of your team: who they are and what motivates them. It is knowledge of the culture in which you work, so that you understand what your superior’s goals and missions are. And is also is self-knowledge: unflinchingly knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and having a desire to excel. Sharing knowledge with subordinates can feel to some leaders as though they are giving up control, and they may be loathe to do so. In reality, though, leaders are not effective because they are the knowledge holders. Rather, the best leaders are the ones who make knowledge available to their teams and understand how best to deploy that knowledge in the best possible manner.

Loyalty
A leader expresses loyalty to his subordinates by supporting their needs and ensuring their welfare in a number of ways. Subordinates express loyalty to that sort of caring leadership by positively and efficiently carrying out the leader’s orders and instructions. Loyalty is the most common expression of aspects of all Marine Corps leadership traits and characteristics. Those who get it express it through dedication and professional performance of duty. The most loyal Marine or employee is not necessarily the one who has held the job longest. Some are simply marking time, with little or no interest in making valuable contributions to the organization.

Enthusiasm
When we’re enthusiastic about something, we’re willing to sacrifice for it. People who are enthusiastic about a cause will sacrifice time and money for it. People who are enthusiastic about their jobs will make personal sacrifices to spend time at work and educate themselves to do a better job. Men and women who are enthusiastic about being Marines understand that sacrifice might come at a very high price. Even when the requirements are difficult, enthusiastic leaders set aside any negative aspects of the mission and focus on the positive energy they can bring to the table. It’s not easy. It takes more than a little self-discipline. But it works, and a show of enthusiasm often leads to truly inspirational behavior.

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The Hypocrite

Is religion a blueprint for faith and ethical living or a means to manipulate and control?

Author Ron Winter’s just released novel The Hypocrite, seeks answers – and may well provide some – to these age old questions. In The Hypocrite Winter sets a self-described evangelist against a Marine veteran of the War on Terror who is seen by many as the quintessential agnostic. But reality and appearances clash nearly immediately and cordiality soon turns explosive.

Signed copies of The Hypocrite are available directly from the author at RonaldWinterbooks.

The Hypocrite

See also Masters of the Art

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Old Jarhead Poems

I recently read “Old Jarhead Poems – The Heart of a Marine” by Robert A. Hall.

Old Jarhead Poems
In all my years of reading Marine Corps literature, never I have come across such a meaningful and reflective book of Marine poems. One or two I recognized from past editions of Leatherneck Magazine but most of the poems I had never read and Brother, how beautifully inspiring they were.

Anyone who has served in our beloved Corps would thoroughly enjoy reading the outstanding heartfelt words of Robert Hall, such as this one:

The Honor of Our Corps

When the beer, it flows like water,
And the talk, it turns to war,
Then we speak of absent comrades
And the Honor of our Corps.

Of the fights in distant places
And the friends who are no more,
Dying faithful to the nation
And the Honor of our Corps.

Though our bones are growing brittle
And our eyes are growing poor,
Still our hearts are young and valiant
For the Honor of our Corps.

Should the Eagle, Globe and Anchor
Call us to the field once more,
We would muster at the summons
For the Honor of our Corps.

When the years have told our story
And we close the final door,
We will pass to you for keeping
Bright the Honor of our Corps.

Will you take the awesome burden?
Will you face the fire of war?
Will you proudly bear the title
For the Honor of our Corps?

Robert A. Hall served four years (1964-68) in the Marines before attending college, including a shortened and by his account very easy tour in Vietnam, where he was a Radio Relay Team Chief with Headquarters, 26th Marines at Khe Sanh in 1967. He left the Corps to attend college and enter politics, to try to serve the country in another way. While a state senator, he reenlisted in the Marine Reserves (1977-83), finishing with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He says being around Marines helped keep him sane in political life.

“This collection is far from all of my poetry, but I included those most likely to appeal to Marines. I’ve tried to note those I know were previously published, and where, but haven’t done a good job tracking that. No excuse, Sir. I hope this book will raise a few dollars to help wounded troops, and that my fellow Marines will find some merit in it. If not, well, the money went to a good cause. Semper Fidelis. ~Bob.”

All author’s proceeds from “Old Jarhead Poems” are donated to “The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund” to help wounded troops and their families, so buy your copy now!

Copyright © Robert A. Hall, 2011

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1776 by David McCullough

Are you looking for your next book to read?  I recently finished “1776” and I will say you can’t find a more educational and motivational book to pick up for your summer reading.

Cpl. Beddoe recommends 1776!

David McCullough’s book “1776” is a well-written story about the year 1776 and America’s rebels, led by George Washington, struggled with battle losses against the British, poorly outfitted troops, disease, harsh weather, loyalists, and poor morale but in the end, through Washington’s persistence, rallied to face the new year. This is a story of leadership, patriotism, endurance, and heart with many lessons to be learned. I highly recommend it.
 

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The Art of War – Sun Tzu

by Cpl. Beddoe

“The Art of War” is a book about strategy, opportunities, patience, planning, positioning, and winning by all means, specifically in war. There is much material about Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”. I will try to restrict my writing to that which is associated with our text and perhaps compliments our overall learning objectives.

Although accounts differ over the Sun Tzu’s origins, according to a biography written by a 2nd century BC historian he was a general who lived in the state of Wu in 6th century BC. Sun Tzu is most famous for the Art of War, praised as the definitive work on military strategy and tactics prior to the collapse of imperial China. (Discovery Channel)

In 1990, I worked for one of my earliest mentors; his name was Ronald Ching and he was from Hawaii. One day, Ron presented me with “The Art of War” and said that as a Marine, I would enjoy the lessons in the book. He was right. In the past 21 years, I have referenced “The Art of War” on many occasions. I believe the book is also required reading for military officers.

2,500 years ago a Chinese warrior and philosopher named Sun Tzu became a grand master of strategy and captured the essence of his philosophies in a book called, by English speaking nations, Sun Tzu on the Art of War. To this day, military strategists around the world have used Sun Tzu’s philosophies to win wars and have made Sun Tzu on the Art of War a staple of their military education.

Those seeking to understand strategy in business, law, and life have also turned to Sun Tzu on the Art of War for the wisdom therein. For at the heart of Sun Tzu’s philosophies are strategies for effective and efficient conflict resolution useful to all who wish to gain advantages over their opposition. (Cantrell)

Translations of Sun Tzu’s text spread throughout Asia. The ideas became a staple of Japanese military philosophy as firm as China’s own and no doubt influenced battle plans to include the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. (I never knew that)

Some military historians suggest that Napoleon applied Sun Tzu’s philosophies in his military planning and even carried a copy of Sun Tzu’s book with him on his campaigns.

The U.S. Marine Corps book of strategy, “Warfighting”, builds upon ideas about maneuver warfare taken directly from Sun Tzu on the Art of War. (Cantrell)

Sun Tzu (544-496 BC) wrote the original text of The Art of War shortly before 510 BC. During most of the past two thousand years, the common people in China were forbidden to read Sun Tzu’s text. However, the text was preserved by China’s nobility for over 2,500 years. Unfortunately, it was preserved in a variety of forms. A “complete” Chinese language version of the text wasn’t available until the 1970s. Before that, there were a number of conflicting, fragmentary versions in different parts of China, passed down through 125 generations of duplication. (“Sun tzu’s the,” )

The legend goes that Sun Tzu was born into minor nobility in what is now Shandong, a part of China north of Shanghai that became famous for Confucius and the really tasty Shandong Chicken. Born “Sun Wu”, he was given a good education and like Machiavelli, he wrote a military treatise in order to get noticed and hired by royalty. Unlike Machiavelli, it worked.

Sun Wu expanded his 13 chapter Art of War into 82 chapters and trained the army. Eventually he broke the peace by invading the southern state of Yue. Other conflicts ensured but although his troops were once outnumbered 30,000 to 200,000 he was always victorious. Many successes followed and continued after his death. Some considered his death to be another of his deceptions.

Finally though, the kingdom was defeated several years after his reported death. Just over 100 years later his descendant, Sun Bing, lead troops to victory again and wrote his own treatise. Sun Wu’s name was changed to Sun Tzu on the Art of War as a sign of his status a master of philosophy. (“About sun tzu,” )

I think the main message from the book is to be prepared, know yourself, and know your opponent(s) before committing to a battle or a contest. For me, there is value in Sun Tzu’s calmness. He portrays himself, through his writing, of a general who is very confident and studious. While I’m not certain how the stories and translations over the years have really maintained his original thoughts on war, The Art of War is a great resource for military strategists because it really makes you think. Makes you think about big picture scenarios. For example, Sun Tzu says never to get your enemy into a corner because they will fight their way out in desperation. Always make then think they have a way out. His book is full of references which have been quoted by many others in military documents.

Today his work has found new applications in areas totally unrelated to its original military purpose and used as a guide in business, sport, diplomacy, and even in dating!

“So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” ~Sun Tzu

Whenever I hear the name Sun Tzu, or mention of The Art of War, I think of my good friend and mentor Ron Ching, who in 1990 introduced me to Sun Tzu, the great general who lived in the state of Wu on the 6th century BC.

REFERENCES:
Cantrell, Robert. Understanding Sun Tzu.
Retrieved from http://www.artofwarsuntzu.com/1stChapter.pdf
Sun tzu’s the art of war.
Retrieved from http://knol.google.com/k/sun-tzu-s-the-art-of-war#
About sun tzu.
Retrieved from http://www.thetao.info/artofwar.thetao.info/china/suntzu.htm
Discovery Channel, Sun tzu.
Retrieved from http://www.yourdiscovery.com/ancient_china/famous/sun_tzu/index.shtml

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Masters of the Art

On Memorial Day Monday, I was flying back to JFK from a West Coast trip and was looking forward to finishing up a book I’d been reading. The Author, Ron Winter, is a member of the USMC Combat Helicopter Association, of which I have been the webmaster since around 1997. Ron sent me the book a while back and it was added to my stack of books I wanted to read. “Masters of the Art: A Fighting Marine’s Memoir of Vietnam” was well worth the wait and anticipation.

Ron opens the book with his detailed stories of Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island, S.C. and Sgt. Starbuck, one on his drill instructors who would change Ron’s life forever. Now anyone who has ever been to Marine Corps boot camp and survived would be taken back as they read the various stories of training, Marine Corps Style!

Ron’s talent for writing is realized immediately. His descriptions of the bases, ships, and squadrons he was assigned to simply bring the book to life! From MCAS New River to Quang Tri and Marble Mountain, Ron recalls the challenges, the motivations, and the fun of it all. His recollections as an avionics technician and of flying as a gunner in the CH-46 with HMM-161 make it seem like it was last month’s SITREP you were reading.

The title “Masters of the Art” refers to survival. Survival in war by those fighting in it and also those affected by it; working and sacrificing to survive life’s hardships.

Now remember, I’m reading this on Memorial Day and my mind was already flooded with thoughts of our heroes who never made it home from our country’s battles. As I read my way through the final pages, I’m pretty sure somebody on that plane had to wonder why I looked like I just walked out of the gas chamber (if you know what I mean). The way Ron ended his story was so moving, I literally was shaking.

I’d like to share this part of the book with you. The war for Ron was well over and Ron was attending the dedication of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial (The Wall) in D.C.

“… just before the dedication speeches commenced, as a military band started playing the various services’ anthems. They played “Anchors Away” for the navy and got a nice round of applause. They played the songs for the air force, the coast guard, and the army, and each time, another nice round of applause.

I quietly told my companion, “Watch what happens when they play “The Marine Hymn.”

“What do you mean?” she asked

“Just watch”, I repeated.

The last strains of “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” were just dying away, and the accompanying applause was dying out, with just a pause, the band struck up “The Marine Hymn.”

And from out of the hundred-thousand-plus crowd gathered before the memorial, a roar erupted that was sustained throughout the course of the Hymn. She looked at me with a perplexed look on her face and asked “How did you know?”

I had a feeling of pride in me that was so powerful it threatened to burst my chest, and I was afraid to answer her because I didn’t want to show how much it meant to me. But I did manage to say, “They’re Marines.”

As I turned to the final page of Ron’s book, he wrote “I tell my children that for a brief time in my life, I walked with heroes and giants, was privileged to be included in their company, and to be called “Marine,” using the highest definition of the word.”

Ron has written a very powerful, honest, and moving book and I highly recommend all who read this to consider adding it to your own reading lists.

Gen. (ret.) Al Gray, former Commandant, USMC, said that “Masters of the Art” was superb! I agree!

Masters of the Art: A Fighting Marine’s Memoir of Vietnam

Ronald Winter Books

Well done Marine!

~Cpl. Beddoe

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