31 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Thirty-One: “And what will you keep for yourself, Alexander?”

Today, we’ll examine two more stories of Alexander … and see if we can learn how we was able, over ten years of war (during which the majority of his soldiers never saw their homes even for a brief leave or furlough) to maintain the passionate devotion of his officers and men.

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here

Subscribe here for the full series, or watch previous episodes here

7 Comments

  1. Joe Jansen on November 30, 2020 at 8:12 am

    In this story of the old soldier coming to his senses and finding Alexander sitting next to him, I again think of Mattis. In his 2006 book “One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer,” Nathaniel Fick writes about checking his unit’s perimeter lines at zero-dark-thirty one night:

    ***
    “Farther down the line, in the middle of a gravelly flat near the runway’s end, I approached another fighting hole, careful to come from the rear and listen for the verbal challenge. It was an assault rocket team, and there should have been two Marines awake. In the moonlight, I saw three heads silhouetted against the sky. I slide down into the hole with a rustle of cascading dirt. General Mattis leaned against a wall of sandbags, talking with a sergeant and a lance corporal.

    “This was real leadership. No one would have questioned Mattis if he’d slept eight hours each night in a private room, to be woken each morning by an aide to ironed his uniforms and heated his MREs. But there he was, in the middle of a freezing night, out on the lines with his Marines.”

    https://archive.org/details/onebulletaway00nath/page/118/mode/2up

  2. Joe on November 30, 2020 at 8:50 am

    ^^ . . . by an aide WHO ironed his uniforms and heated his MREs.”

  3. Andrew+Lubin on November 30, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Oh my; 3 outstanding leadership stories! Perhaps I can add a 4th:

    June 2003 I’m driving home from Camp LeJeune with my son, just returned from the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. A member of 1/10 (a 155mm artillery battalion), they’d distinguished themselves in the 10 day fight at An-Nasiriyah. The talk turned to leadership- and how did he,a PfC and the youngest Marine in the battalion, judge a good CO or Senior Enlisted? It’s easy, he told me; they tell us what to do, let us do our jobs as we’ve been trained, and help us if necessary. And the bad ones, I asked? Oh, also ready; they micromanage and get in the way, and in about the first 5 minutes we know what sort of CO we’ve got.

    That’s Leadership 101 from someone who turned 20 just 4 days before invading Iraq.

    Alexander returning to his men or refusing scarce water, Gen Mattis in his late 50’s checking on his Marines in the freezing zero-dark, my son’s battery commander helping unload arty shells from a 7-ton…be it then or now, what junior soldiers and Marines want to see is action and trust, and then they respond magnificently.

    • Joe on November 30, 2020 at 4:16 pm

      Good stuff, Andrew. Were you embedded *with* your son’s unit.

      • Joe on November 30, 2020 at 4:17 pm

        …followed by a question mark. (Where’s my editor?)

      • Andrew lubin on November 30, 2020 at 5:55 pm

        Joe; not that time, but spent a few days with him in 2010 Afg. Found out later he was as worried about me as I was about him.

        • Joe on November 30, 2020 at 7:37 pm

          I can imagine, on both counts.

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