USMC Leadership Basics

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is yet another true story about a veteran who is no longer with us. In this particular case, the veteran was my cousin.

Submitted: February 04, 2015

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Submitted: February 04, 2015

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Willard was a freshly minted second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He was burrowed in the sand behind a fallen palm tree on the beach at Iejima, a small island caught up in the Battle of Okinawa. He was awaiting the order to move inland.

It was Willard's first combat assignment. He felt like a fish out of water. He had been placed in charge of a squad of battle hardened grunts. He knew the men would be watching his every move. Willard realized that his leadership performance that day, provided he survived the day, would be vital to gaining the respect required to lead an effective fighting unit.

As luck would have it, Willard's team was opposite a gap in the enemy defenses. Resistance there was light. After a short firefight, the Marines had penetrated 200 yards and reached a clump of cycad bushes. The sergeant recommended they remain there until other squads moved up to cover the flanks. Willard decided otherwise.

He ordered the men to push on. He had a goal in mind. The company commander had offered a prize, a fifth of the finest Kentucky Bourbon whiskey, to the junior officer who led his men to the other side of the island first. Willard figured winning the prize would validate his leadership ability.

With minimal combat and without having taken a single casualty, the squad reached the far side of the island in the early afternoon. Proud of himself, Willard radioed headquarters to stake his claim on the whiskey. He was shocked to learn that the rest of the Marines were bogged down on the beach in heavy fighting and that he was isolated clean on the other side of of Japanese held island.

Willard ordered his men to dig in and to cover themselves with foliage. He thought it best to attempt escape under the cover of darkness. It was his most unpopular decision that day. They sat motionless for hours, in tropical heat, drenched in sweat and plagued by crawling, biting, stinging insects. It was not the way Marines prefer to fight a war.

The next day, Willard reported to the company commander. After he gave his synopsis of the action, Willard discretely inquired about the whiskey. He didn't get it. There was no whiskey. It didn't exist. It had never existed.

It proved to be Willard's most important lesson in Marine Corps leadership — success is mandatory; truth is optional.

Copyright © 2012 - 2015 W.C. Bell; All rights reserved.


© Copyright 2019 Whiskey Charlie. All rights reserved.

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