02 Mar

Honor is one of the seven US Army core values and it's defined as...“Live up to Army values. The nation’s highest military award is The Medal of Honor. This award goes to Soldiers who make honor a matter of daily living — Soldiers who develop the habit of being honorable, and solidify that habit with every value choice they make. Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do.”

A personal story about honor from my new book From the Battlefield to the White House to the Boardroom

In 1998, I was recruited and selected to serve in a special operations unit (yes, even special forces need HR people!).  The position I was going to fill required me to be airborne qualified, which I wasn’t, so I had to go to Fort Benning, Georgia for training.  I went of course, but was quickly asking myself “who am I?”  On the surface and with zero experience jumping out of airplanes, it seemed like a simple thing to accomplish.  Training was just 3 weeks in duration...who couldn’t do that???  Well, that was an incredibly long 3 weeks!  The course had 3 phases - ground week, tower week, and jump week.  A proper parachute landing fall (PLF) and keeping your feet and knees together were darn near the entire focus of the course, along with running everywhere you go, doing pull-ups each and every time you enter or leave the barracks, and most of all, not dozens of PLF’s, but hundreds...maybe a thousand (all before ever jumping out of a plane)!  At the end of week 1 when we finished our morning qualifying run and slowed down to a march, my right knee wouldn’t bend.  A black hat (instructor) noticed and pulled me out of formation and sent me to the medical clinic.  The doc said I had two options, get a medical profile which would lead to dismissal from the course, or a get of shot of cortisone in the right butt-cheek and drive on.  This was the first “who am I?”  Answer - I’m not a quitter and I’m not going back to the unit without jump wings so give me the shot doc!  By the end of week 2, my left hip looked like a slab of raw meat it was so bruised from doing hundreds of PLF’s.  Here comes “who am I” number two.  Again, two basic options, go see the doc again and most likely get sent home, or suck it up, so I answered myself the same way and added prayer for healing and good winds during jump week that would help me land on my right side!  Folks, I finished airborne training, had jump wings pinned to my chest like thousands of service members before me and learned a significant lesson about who I was.

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