I was sent this via my brother from my uncle Pat, a Green Beret (COL Rtd., Army S.F.) It is from the Superintendent of West Point, sent to all cadets following the Army Navy game this year:

I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

Future Army Lieutenants,

The Warrior Ethos is simple. 23 words. But it isn’t easy to live up to.

Like you I am disappointed in Saturday’s result and in this entire football season. I am more disappointed than you as I have been a passionate Army football fan for 40 years. But I am not disappointed in the team. I am not disappointed in the players. I am not disappointed in the Corps that cheered until the last second even though we were down by 5 touchdowns.

The West Point leadership development system teaches us never to quit; to never accept defeat. Living up to those above 23 words on a miserable, cold day in Baltimore, even after 4 years of losing to Navy on a football field, will teach you lessons of leadership that you may never find elsewhere. Lessons on leading your Soldiers for months in the desert, or in the cities in Iraq, or in the mountains and villages of Afghanistan. When your Soldiers are killed and wounded, and they are looking to you for leadership and hope.

We cannot have leaders who quit. Your Soldiers will not survive under it. Our Nation will not allow it. And the Long Gray Line won’t stand for it.

What shows your true colors is not support of Army and Army Football when they have winning season, go to bowl games and Beat Navy (and this will all happen). You show your true colors when we don’t have winning seasons, when we don’t go to bowl games and we don’t beat Navy.

Let me quote a paragraph that changed the world because it helped a fledgling group of colonies with a losing Army refuse to accept defeat:

These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. - Published on 23 December 1776

Football is not war, and losing to Navy does not equal losing a battle. But character is character. Leadership is leadership. Be leaders.

LTG Buster Hagenbeck

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One Response to “Leadership”

  1. on 18 Dec 2007 at 3:37 pm Mike Roark

    This note for LTG Hagenbeck touches me deeply this morning. I don’t why now as opposed to when I first read it a week or so ago. I also read the original email from the cadet that started all this. I think he addresses the cadet’s frustration but restates the overriding necessity to not waver under any circumstance. His reference and reminder too us of the “summer soldier” is perfect. Now is the time stand a man the battlements and watchtowers and NOT waver.

    LTG Hagenbeck is my classmate, although I do not know him personally. I am proud that his leadership is in place and West Point to pass th torch the the next generation of warriors.

    Mike Roark

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