Lost Ammo: Learning about Loyalty - The Warrior's Journey®

Lost Ammo: Learning about Loyalty

Empty Casings. Photo by Army is licensed under CC By 2.0

A New Lieutenant

Imagine you are a brand new second lieutenant on a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula.

You are less than a year out of West Point, and only a few weeks out of the basic course. You are standing at a strict position of attention in front of your battalion commander, a man you will come to realize was one of the finest soldiers with whom you’ve ever served, and you are being questioned about a mistake—a big mistake—which you’ve made. You see, your platoon lost some live-ammo.

Oh sure, it was eventually found, but for a few hours you had the entire battalion scrambling. Your battalion commander is not yelling at you though, he’s not demeaning you, he’s simply taking this opportunity to ensure you learn from the experience.

An Old Sergeant

And you do, you learn that people make mistakes, that those mistakes do not usually result in the end of the world, and that such occasions are valuable opportunities to impart some higher lessons. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see your platoon sergeant emerge from behind a building.

He’s an old soldier—a fine soldier though—whose knees have seen a few too many airborne operations. He sees you and the colonel—and he takes off at a run. You see him approaching from behind the colonel, and the next thing you see is the back of your platoon sergeant’s head.

He is now standing between you and your battalion commander—the two are eyeball to eyeball. Your platoon sergeant says, with a touch of indignation in his voice

“Leave my lieutenant alone, sir. He didn’t lose the ammo, I did. I was the one who miscounted. You want someone’s ass, you take mine.”

And you learn another lesson—you learn about loyalty.

(Excerpted from a speech that LTC Guy Lofaro (former USMA Military History professor) gave at a company dining-in during 2001. LTC Lofaro also taught at West Point during the mid-1990s.)

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