“I hope you get a platoon of Soldiers just as sorry as you!” he exhorted to them. He had jumped up into the doorway of the bus to get a little elevation. He was obviously disappointed in his peers. He was student of mine in the United States Army Air Defense Officer Basic Course. He was a young Lieutenant learning how to lead, only he wasn’t quite as young as the rest of the guys and gals there. He was actually my age and had already been a platoon sergeant in the Army. He was what we called, “Prior Service.” He was not as tall as some, stockier than others, but it became clear as we worked out there in the desert, learning our Leader skills, that this guy was and is a true leader.
During just a short hike from one training area in the desert to another, we all had packs on our backs, the students had helmets, weapons, and blank ammunition. These were mostly young men and women straight out of their college commissioning. This was their first taste of the real Army. This was back in circa 2003. We were at war and trying to train leaders up for this new modern warfare that was going on in Afghanistan and Iraq. As we walked the short three miles from one spot in the desert to another, you could hear them grumbling. It was pretty typical growing pains as I saw it. Lieutenant McCormick saw it way different. He was not happy with his battle buddies.
As he stood on the bottom steps of that bus and addressed my students, I was taken aback. This guy was quick to jump on his buddies left and right. He exhorted them to step up, follow his lead, change their attitude and not be the sorry Soldiers that they sounded like as they were grumbling and whining.
I will always remember that day. It was as if the ghost of Patton showed up in my formation. That turned into one of the best classes of students that I have ever been a part of.
Almost twenty years has passed from that day until now. You probably wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that LT McCormick went on to earn three Purple Hearts, the Silver Star, at least one Bronze Star with V device for valor. Thanks for your service and leadership my friend.