I have a friend who is a Colonel n the Marine Corps. He and I have served together and we occasionally turn up at the same conferences and events. We keep in touch on a fairly regular basis and just recently he was a guest speaker at a dinner I was invited to attend. Honestly, I had no intention of actually forking over a big donation to attend the event until I heard that The Colonel would be speaking. So a few weeks ago, I cleaned up and headed out so I could hear my friend speak.
As we were just cutting into our chicken, The Colonel went up to the podium. Now, The Colonel is an imposing man. Heâ€™s well over six feet tall, built like a angry bull and the man has seen too much and done too much killing. He is weathered, his voice low and rough and when you talk to him you know he is quietly measuring you and deciding what you are made of. His talk that night was of the importance of discipline and training in our troops. Because he is a Marine he focused on the training he put his Marines through in preparation for the Iraq War. He told a room full of men tuxedos and women in formal gowns sipping Chardonnay that he trained eighteen and nineteen year old men how to kill. He told us about the times he forced his men to go without sleep to prepare themselves for the physical demands of war. He drilled them in close combat exercise and evacuation procedures. He trained them to fire without hesitation when confronted by an enemy. He trained them to stay alive.
As part of his presentation he showed pictures of a firefight his Marines had fought early in the war. A journalist had happened to be there and kept snapping photos as the bullets and grenades flew past. As The Colonel showed the pictures and spoke with obvious pride for the young Marines who had kept their cool and fought with precision and discipline. He showed the guests that the months of hard and grueling training had paid off. When ambushed by the enemy, his Marines knew what to do and acted with courage and stoicism in the face of overwhelming odds. What I found interesting about his presentation was the fact that he never mentioned himself. As a friend of The Colonel, I knew that he too had been in that firefight. He had been pinned down with his Marines and he had fought beside them. But The Colonel never told the audience that he had fought with distinction and had received a medal for his actions. Instead, he gave the glory to the young men he had trained. He gave the honor to his brothers in arms. That is why The Colonel is a hero.