13 top American CEOs with military experience - We Are The Mighty
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13 top American CEOs with military experience

There are plenty of differences between America’s biggest companies but for some there is a common bond: CEOs with military backgrounds.


While it’s not a requirement that a company leader have time in uniform, a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed it certainly doesn’t hurt. CEOs with military backgrounds are fairly conservative with company financials and often outperform peers during stressful times, the paper found.

Unfortunately, the number of corporate CEOs with backgrounds in the military is shrinking, but here are 13 of the biggest names, along with what they did in the military.

1. Alex Gorsky

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Johnson Johnson

Currently: CEO of Johnson Johnson

Military experience: Graduated from West Point, then served six years in the U.S. Army and attained the rank of Captain. Ranger and Airborne qualified with service in Europe and Panama.

2. Lowell McAdam

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Currently: CEO of Verizon

Military experience: Spent six years in the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps and attended Cornell on a Naval ROTC scholarship.

3. Bob Parsons

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Currently: Founder and CEO of YAM Worldwide, Inc., and board member at GoDaddy, which he founded. He previously served as CEO of GoDaddy.

Military experience: Served as a U.S. Marine rifleman in Vietnam, where he was wounded by enemy fire while on patrol. He received the Combat Action Ribbon, Purple Heart, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

4. Fred Smith

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Currently: Chairman, president, and CEO of FedEx Corporation

Military experience: Came up with the business model for Fedex will an undergrad at Yale, but took a break from school to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served two tours in Vietnam before he founded what would become FedEx in 1971.

5. Robert S. Morrison

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Currently: Serves in board positions at Aon plc, 3M, and Illinois Tool Works Inc, among others. He previously served as the Vice Chairman at Pepsico, Inc., and the CEO of The Quaker Oats Company.

Military experience: Served as a Marine during the Vietnam war, where he received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for combat wounds. He left the Corps at the rank of captain.

6. Daniel Akerson

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Currently: Special advisor at the Carlyle Group. Akerson previously served as the chairman and CEO of General Motors from 2010 to 2014.

Military experience: Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1970 and served on the destroyer USS Dupont.

7. Robert McDonald

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Currently: The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He previously served as the CEO of Procter Gamble.

Military experience: A West Point graduate, McDonald served in the 82nd Airborne division and attained the rank of captain.

8. Scott Wine

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Polaris

Currently: Chairman and CEO of Polaris

Military experience: Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1989 and served in the Navy Supply Corps.

9. Stuart Parker

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Currently: CEO of USAA

Military experience: Served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly ten years, flying combat missions during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

10. James Mulva

CurrentlySits on the board of directors at GE. He previously served as the president and CEO of ConocoPhillips.

Military experience: Graduated from Navy ROTC from The University of Texas in 1969 and served as a Navy officer until 1973.

11. Robert Stevens

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Lockheed

Currently: Retired. Served as chairman, president, and CEO of Lockheed Martin, and later as Executive Chairman.

Military experience: Stevens enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1970, serving three years in III Marine Amphibious Force.

12. Jim Skinner

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: McDonalds

Currently: Chairman of Walgreens. Previously, he was the vice chairman and CEO of McDonalds.

Military experience: Over nearly ten years of service, completed two tours in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War with the U.S. Navy.

13. Robert Myers

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Currently: Chairman and CEO of Casey’s General Stores, Inc.

Military experience: Enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966, and served for 22 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He served in Germany, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, according to Fortune.

SEE ALSO: 17 wild facts about the Vietnam War  

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Whiteman pilot logs 6000 A-10 hours

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Then, U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. John Marks in an A-10 Thunderbolt II in 1991 next to, now, Lt. Col. Marks in the cockpit of an A-10 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 14, 2016. Marks reached 6,000 hours in an A-10 after flying for nearly three decades. | Courtesy photo provided by Lt. Col. Marks


Lt. Col. John Marks, a pilot with the 303rd Fighter Squadron, logged his 6,000th hour in the A-10 Thunderbolt II at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Nov. 14, 2016.

Nearly three decades of flying and 11 combat deployments later, Marks has achieved a milestone that equates to 250 days in the cockpit, which most fighter pilots will never reach and puts him among the highest time fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Force.

Also read: The Air Force will keep the A-10 in production ‘indefinitely’

Ever since the end of the Cold War Era when Marks began his Air Force career, the mission in the A-10 has remained the same— protect the ground forces.

“Six thousand hours is about 3,500 sorties with a takeoff and landing, often in lousy weather and inhospitable terrain,” said Col. Jim Macaulay, the 442d Operations Group commander. “It’s solving the tactical problem on the ground hundreds of times and getting it right every time, keeping the friendlies safe. This includes being targeted and engaged hundreds of times by enemy fire.”

He also said it’s a testament to Marks’ skill that he’s never had to eject, and they both praise and respect the 442d Maintenance Squadron for keeping the planes mission ready.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. John Marks poses with an A-10 Thunderbolt II at King Fahd Air Base, Saudi Arabia, during Desert Storm in February, 1991. Destroying and damaging more than 30 Iraqi tanks was one of Marks most memorable combat missions during Desert Storm. | Courtesy photo provided by Lt. Col. Marks

Marks’ early sorties were low-altitude missions above a European battlefield, so different tactics have been used in more recent sorties that have focused on high-altitude missions above a middle-eastern battlefield.

“In the end, we can cover the ground forces with everything from a very low-altitude strafe pass only meters away from their position, to a long-range precision weapon delivered from outside threat ranges, and everything in between,” said Marks.

Most combat sorties leave lasting impressions because the adrenaline rush makes it unforgettable, said Marks.

“The trio of missions I flew on February 25, 1991, with Eric Salomonson on which we destroyed or damaged 23 Iraqi tanks with oil fires raging all over Kuwait certainly stands out,” he expressed. “The sky was black from oil fires and smoke and burning targets, lending to an almost apocalyptic feel.”

“Recently, a mission I flew on our most recent trip to Afghanistan, relieving a ground force pinned down by Taliban on 3 sides and in danger of being surrounded, using our own weapons while also coordinating strikes by an AC-130 gunship, 2 flights of F-16s, Apaches, and AH-6 Little Birds, stands out as a mission I’m proud of,” continued Marks about one of the most rewarding missions of his career, which earned him the President’s Award for the Air Force Reserve Command in 2015.

Having more than 950 combat hours like Marks does is valuable for pilots in training because experience adds credibility, said Macaulay.

“I’ve watched him mentor young pilots in the briefing room then teach them in the air,” said Macaulay. “Every sortie, he brings it strong, which infects our young pilots that seek to emulate him.”

As an instructor pilot, Marks said he uses his firsthand experience to help describe situations that pilots learn during their book studies, such as, what it’s really like to withstand enemy fire.

“I like to think we can show them a good work ethic as well,” Marks added. “You always have to be up on the newest weapons, the newest threats, the newest systems. You can never sit still.”

Marks plans on flying the A-10 until he is no longer capable, which gives him a few more years in the cockpit and the potential to reach 7,000 hours.

“I love being part of something that’s bigger than any individual and doing something as a career that truly makes a difference – whatever you do in the Air Force, you’re part of that effort,” said Marks. “It’s going to be up to you to carry on the great tradition we have in our relatively short history as an Air Force.”

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Stories Behind the Stars: An extraordinary commitment to our fallen World War II heroes

World War II veterans are widely regarded as “The Greatest Generation.” Interviews with the surviving veterans are sacred but one man felt like something was missing. We’d forgotten to tell the stories of the 416,000 heroes who didn’t make it home. 

“It always bothered me a little bit that coverage goes to those who survived but we don’t get a lot of attention on those who never made it back,” Don Milne, Founder and Director of Stories Behind the Stars said. He began by using his free time to research and tell the stories of those fallen World War II heroes who’d be celebrating their 100th birthday, if they’d survived. 

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo submitted by Don Milne

Milne started with those who died in the attacks on Pearl Harbor, thinking he’d stop there. “I thought that could be my contribution as a memorial to remember these people,” he shared. 

But it didn’t end there. When he announced he’d be stopping, those following and reading his stories implored him to keep going. Through research Milne learned about Fold 3, an Ancestry company that saves the stories and records of America’s military. “So we said, why don’t we start saving the stories here and invite other people to do the same,” he explained. 

Not long after that, his 30-year role at a bank had been eliminated and he was given a generous severance package. The pandemic had just hit the United States and opportunities for employment were slim. With a year on his hands, Milne knew what he wanted to do with it. 

The Stories Behind the Stars was founded as an official nonprofit and he was all in on honoring the fallen of World War II, beginning right at home. “I reached out to the media in Utah and explained what I was doing and my hope to tell the stories of all the World War II fallen in the state,” Milne explained. “I got some good help and ended up with 126 volunteers. Over a six month period we ended up doing all 2,100 stories.”

After that, Milne connected with the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. “We got their list of the 2,502 Americans who died on day one of D-Day. I put the word out for more volunteers…since January until now, these 130 people have been taking time out of their day writing these stories,” he said. “It’s a way to raise awareness…we are hoping enough people will see this and think it’s a fun project to be a part of.”

He hopes that this will reach young people in particular. “As they walk through these fields and scan these graves, they’ll find that many of them are around their age,” Milne said. 

A trip to Gettysburg National Ceremony with his grandson would lead to a life-changing teaching moment. Milne said he found the grave of a fallen World War II veteran he’d written about and asked his grandson to figure out how old he was when he passed away. 

“He did the math and said ‘He was 16 years old, that’s how old I am!’ and I think that touched him more than more than most because that was an individual that had to lie to get into the Navy, probably because he wanted to support the effort to bring freedom here and around the world,” he shared. “Stories like this will not be forgotten.”

What’s unique about this project and all of these stories is that they aren’t just going on the internet. “We are going to have a smartphone app so that you can find any of these people from World War II and scan their headstone to find and learn their stories,” Milne said. “There’s no reason why we can’t bring the vast knowledge that we have on the internet and make every grave a portal to the stories of the fallen.”

Although covering all of the World War II fallen is a lofty goal, Milne feels confident in being able to do it with enough volunteers. “If we can get a couple thousand volunteers and write one story a week…we can have them all done by the 80th anniversary of the end of World War II in September of 2025,” he said. 

Signing up to volunteer is easy and it’s done through their website. As we approach Memorial Day, this is a true way to honor and remember America’s fallen heroes. By telling and sharing their stories, we can ensure that the willing ultimate sacrifice of their lives will never be forgotten.

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13 new shows and movies vets should watch

Hollywood and other multimedia producers get it wrong a lot of the time when they’re trying to appeal to the military community.


But there are those out there who try their best to nail it.

Here are 13 upcoming shows and movies that get it right, according to Got Your 6.

1. “American Veteran”

The feature length documentary tells the story of U.S. Army Sergeant Nick Mendes, who was paralyzed from the neck down by a 500 pound improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2011. The documentary follows Nick for five years following the explosion as he rebuilds his life and falls in love with Wendy, an extraordinary medical caregiver he meets in a VA hospital. The film chronicles his long recovery, struggles, and pain, but never perpetuates the stereotype of the “wounded veteran.” BetterThanFiction Productions

2. “Criminal Minds”

The long-running American police crime drama, set primarily at the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) based in Quantico, Virginia, follows a group of FBI profilers who catch various criminals through behavioral profiling. The plot focuses on the team’s cases and their personal lives, depicting the hardened life and statutory requirements of a profiler. Actor Joe Mantegna plays Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi, a senior level profiler who happens to be a Vietnam veteran as well as a moral core of the show. His service is primarily mentioned in passing, depicting his veteran status as one of many characteristics as opposed to defining his identity. The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios, CBS Television Studios

3. “Fences”

Directed by Denzel Washington with a screenplay by August Wilson based upon his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Fences” follows Troy Maxson in 1950s Pittsburgh as he fights to provide for those he loves. Troy once dreamed of a baseball career, but was deemed too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. He tries to be a good husband and father, but his lost dream of glory eats at him, and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart. Troy’s brother Gabriel, a disabled veteran, acts as a shining beacon of hope, despite his traumatic backstory. Gabriel is a fresh take on the sorts of wounds soldiers endure and showcases the strength of the human spirit. Paramount Pictures, in association with Bron Creative and Macro Media

4. “Five Came Back”

Netflix’s “Five Came Back” is a three-part adaptation of Mark Harris’ bestseller, directed by Laurent Bouzereau. Meryl Streep narrates Harris’ story of how five esteemed Hollywood directors – Frank Capra (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”), George Stevens (“Swing Time”), William Wyler (“The Letter,” “Jezebel”), John Ford (“Stagecoach,” “The Grapes of Wrath”), and John Huston (“The Maltese Falcon”) – volunteered to make propaganda films for the United States and its fighting corps. For the adaptation, it was Bouzereau’s vision to ask five current filmmakers – Guillermo del Toro, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Lawrence Kasdan and Paul Greengrass – to consider the Hollywood quintet who went to war and returned forever altered by what they saw and did. Amblin Television, IACF Productions, Netflix, Passion Pictures, Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment

5. “Megan Leavey”

This film is based on the true life story of a young U.S. Marine corporal (played by Kate Mara) whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (“Blackfish”) and written by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, and Tim Lovestedt, the film documents their journey of more than 100 missions until an IED explosion injures them. Bleecker Street/LD Entertainment

6. “Sand Castle”

Set in Iraq in 2003, “Sand Castle” follows a platoon of U.S. Army soldiers in the early days of Iraq War. Inexperienced Private Matt Ocre (played by Nicolas Hoult) and his unit are ordered to the outskirts of the village Baqubah to repair a water pumping station damaged by U.S. bombs. Ocre struggles with the true cost of war and learns that trying to win the hearts and minds of the locals is a task fraught with danger. The film was written by U.S. Army veteran and Tillman Scholar, Chris Roessner. Treehouse Pictures, Voltage Pictures, 42/Automatik, Netflix

7. “Seeing Blind”

A digital short produced by Crown Royal as part of its “Living Generously” campaign, “Seeing Blind” tells the story of U.S. Army Major Scotty Smiley, a combat veteran who was blinded in Iraq and continued to serve in active duty for another decade as the Army’s first blind commander. To thank Major Smiley for his service, Crown Royal paired him with internationally renowned poet Matthew Dickman to help him visualize his hometown of Pasco, Wash., in a poetic new way. Good Company

8. “Seven Dates With Death”

This moving documentary short is about Moreese Bickham, a man jailed for an act of self-defense who survives half his life in prison by holding onto his faith, resilience, and hope. Viewers don’t learn he is a veteran until the end credits when an American flag is draped on his coffin at his funeral; however, this symbolic end showcases the depth of Moreese’s life and sacrifice. The short documentary is currently playing in film festivals across the U.S. and London and is expected to be publicly released by the end of 2017. Executive Producers Joan M. Cheever, Mike Holland

9. “Taken”

A television series based on the “Taken” film trilogy, this series acts as a modern day origin story for former Green Beret Bryan Mills (played by Clive Standen), who overcomes a personal tragedy while starting his career as a special intelligence operative. As a former CIA agent and post-9/11 veteran, Mills has spontaneous flashbacks to his military service. While the show touches on his service, it allows the audience to be empathetic with his experience and the skills learned while in uniform. “Taken” consulted with Got Your 6 team members on specific issues regarding active duty service and veteran reintegration. FLW Films, Universal Television, Europacorp Television, NBC

10. “The Vietnam War”

This 10-part documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick will air on PBS in September 2017. In an immersive 360-degree narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War through the testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many American veterans who served in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides. Florentine Films, PBS

11. “This is Us”

This hit American television series stars Milo Ventimiglia (Jack) and Mandy Moore (Rebecca), parents of triplets – two natural-born and one adopted after their third child is stillborn. The series follows siblings Kate, Kevin and Randall as their lives intertwine. After 18 episodes, it is revealed that Jack – who must balance being the best father he can be with the struggles of supporting for his family of five – is a Vietnam War veteran. This dramedy challenges everyday presumptions about how well we think we know the people around us. Rhode Island Ave. Productions, Zaftig Films, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC

12. “VOW” (digital shorts)

“VOW” (Veterans Operation Wellness) is a Spike campaign created to inspire veterans to make the same commitment to their health and wellness that they made to their country. Two of the campaign’s digital shorts, “Operation Surf Helps Returning Soldiers” and “NYC Veterans Day Parade 2016,” were awarded 6 Certified status. In addition to featuring inspiring veterans, the shorts serve to motivate civilians to connect with veterans through community-building events and activities. Witness Films, Viacom

13. “When We Rise”

This four-part mini-series event which chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs, and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBTQ men and women who helped pioneer the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Ken Jones (played by Michael K. Williams and Jonathan Majors), an African-American Vietnam veteran, joined the gay-liberation movement in San Francisco, only to discover and confront racism within the gay men’s community. For years he organized services for homeless youth, worked to diversify the gay movement, and led efforts to confront the devastation of the AIDS epidemic. ABC Studios

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5 crimes involving a lot of troops that were forgiven by the United States

We all make mistakes. Sometimes we all make mistakes together. And when we all make mistakes sometimes punishing us isn’t worth the time, effort and money. Depending on the severity of the crime, it might be more efficient to just give us all a mulligan and call the whole thing off.


The U.S.Department of Defense is familiar with this sort of calculus. Between Selective Service (aka “The Draft”) with civilians and the crimes unique to military personnel, problems with the application of laws involving the military are bound to happen. Sometimes they happened en masse. In those instances, the government has decided it would be better not to prosecute or the law became unenforceable because so many people committed the crime. It’s rare, but it happened. Here are five times where we were forgiven our trespasses:

1. Adultery (by the masses)

The list of email addresses released by hacktivists The Impact Group included thousands of .mil addresses. This means military members actually used their military email accounts to sign up for Ashley Madison, a site designed to facilitate adultery, which is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), punishable by a year in confinement and a dishonorable discharge.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Among these were 250 addresses from various aircraft carriers, addresses from every destroyer and amphibious assault ship in the Navy, 1,665 navy.mil and 809 usmc.mil addresses, 54 af.mil addresses, and 46 uscg.mil addresses. The Army was the most impressive, with 6,788 army.mil addresses signed up. At first, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said DoD would investigate but the Pentagon has since decided not to, since there would be no proof of actual adultery and simply signing up for a website isn’t a crime.

2. Homosexuality

After 18 years, the policy governing homosexuality in the U.S. military known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was repealed. In response to the repeal, the Army issued a statement saying simply “the law is repealed” and reminded soldiers to treat each other fairly.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The thing is being gay is not in itself a crime under the UCMJ, but the way homosexuals have sex is, under Article 125. Homosexuals were simply given an “Other than Honorable” discharge. With more than 66,000 gay and lesbian men and women in uniform, trying to control the way they have sex becomes problematic after a while. Now with the DADT repeal, former service members are allowed to reenlist, but their cases will not be given priority. Officials have so far failed to address how all of this affects Article 125 of the UCMJ.

3. Dodging the draft

On January 21, 1977, newly-elected President Jimmy Carter granted a full pardon to hundreds of thousands of American men who evaded the Vietnam War draft by fleeing the country or not registering. Carter campaigned on this promise in an effort to help heal the country from the cultural rift the war created.

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Most fled to Canada, where they were eventually welcomed as immigrants. Exempt from the pardon were deserters from the U.S. Army who met their obligation and then fled. 50,000 Americans became Canadian during the draft, facing prosecution if they returned home.

4. Seceding from the Union

In the most egregious example of getting away with flaunting the rules (to put it mildly), in 1872 Congress passed a bill signed by then-President Ulysses S. Grant which restored voting rights and the right to hold public office to all but 500 members of the Southern Confederacy during the Civil War.

13 top American CEOs with military experience

The original act restricting the rights of former Confederates was passed in 1866. The act covered more than 150,000 former Confederate troops. The 500 who were still restricted were among the top leadership of the Confederacy.

5. Illegal Immigration

This one hasn’t happened yet but the discussion is very serious. The current version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains a controversial plan to allow illegal immigrants with deportation deferments to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. U.S. military veterans currently serving in the House of Representatives offer bipartisan public support for the provision.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
(Photo: TA4.org)

The NDAA as is faces significant challenges in the entire Congress. Last year, Representatives Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), a Desert Storm veteran and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Iraq War veteran entered a similar bill, called the ENLIST Act, which would have had the same provisions but it was quickly sidelined.

 

NOW: 6 Weird laws unique to the U.S. military

OR: The 5 military laws that nearly everyone breaks

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Watch the F-22 take on 5 F-15s — and dominate

The F-22 Raptor is an expensive plane. While some critics pegged its cost at over $300 million a plane, the actual fly-away cost could go down to $116 million per Raptor, according to a 2006 Air Force release.


13 top American CEOs with military experience
An F-22 deploys flares. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The F-22 was slated to replace the F-15A/B/C/D Eagles as the premier air-superiority fighter. But the Raptor’s production was halted at 187 airframes. Let’s go through a tale of the tape on these planes, before we see what happens when five Eagles jump a Raptor.

According to Joe Baugher, the F-15 has a top speed of Mach 2.5, a cruising speed of 570 knots, can carry eight air-to-air missiles (usually four AIM-120/AIM-7 and four AIM-9), and has a 20mm M61 cannon with 940 rounds. It has a range of 3,450 miles.

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Baugher notes that the F-22 has a top speed of Mach 2.2 slightly slower than the F-15. But the F-22 cruises at Mach 1.6. It carries four AIM-120 and four AIM-9 missiles. It also has a 20mm M61 cannon. It has a combat radius of up to 800 nautical miles.

Here’s the video showing how the five Eagles fared against the Raptor. Warning: This was not a fair fight.

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Step into an 82nd Airborne operation with this awesome 360-degree video

Kaj Larsen with VICE News went on an airborne operation with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team and filmed a 360-degree video of what it’s like to climb onto the plane and conduct a jump from 1,000 feet.


Check it out below. Computer users can click and drag in the video to look around. Phone users should play the video full screen and then turn their phone to look in different directions.

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Here’s how a little girl who lost her Marine dad taught the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the full cost of war

13 top American CEOs with military experience
General Dempsey talking to the troops in Iraq. (Photo: CBS News)


Like most general officers commissioned right after the Vietnam War ended, Gen. Martin Dempsey’s firsthand experience of dealing with combat losses came relatively late in his career. During the summer of 2003, then-Major General Dempsey was commanding “Task Force Iron” in Iraq when the post-invasion lull ended and the insurgency began going after American troops.

“We started taking casualties,” Gen. Dempsey recounted. “And during the morning briefing, after we talked about the high-level mission items and what we called ‘significant incidents,’ we’d flash up the names of the fallen and have a moment of silence.

“The names were up there on the screen and then, whoosh, they were gone,” he said. “After about two or three weeks of the same thing, I became really uncomfortable with that. One minute it was there and real, and then the next minute it was somebody else’s problem.”

Gen. Dempsey attended a number of the memorial services held at the forward operating bases downrange for those killed in action.

“They were both heart wrenching and inspirational,” the general said about the services. “To see the love that these soldiers had for each other made me take my responsibilities that much more seriously.”

But as he greeted the battle buddies of the fallen, Gen. Dempsey wasn’t sure what to say to them that would help at those moments. “I had nothing,” he said. “I mean, I’d say, ‘hang in there’ or ‘we’re really sorry about what happened’ . . . I felt so superficial.”

Then it hit him one morning after he was just waking up in his quarters in Baghdad. “A phrase was echoing in my head,” he remembered. “Make it matter.”

He did two things immediately after that: First, he had laminated cards made for every soldier who had been killed to that point. The cards were carried by all the general officers in theater as a constant physical reminder of the human cost of the war. In time the number of casualties became so great that it was impractical to carry the cards at all times, so he had a mahogany box engraved with “Make it Matter” on the top and put all but three of the cards inside of it. He would constantly rotate the three he carried in his pocket with the ones in the box.

Second, from that point forward when he would address the soldiers in units that had experienced losses, he’d simply say, “Make it matter.”

“They knew exactly what I meant,” Gen. Dempsey said.

****

Five years after Gen. Dempsey’s introduction to the challenges a two-star leader faces during periods of significant combat losses, Marine Corps Major David Yaggy, a veteran of three combat deployments, was an instructor flying in the rear cockpit of a Navy T-34C trainer on a cross-country flight between Florida and South Carolina when the airplane went down in the hills of Alabama. Yaggy and his flight student at the controls in the front cockpit were both killed in the crash.

The day of that crash is burned into the memory of Maj. Yaggy’s widow, Erin. She first heard from a realtor friend that a helicopter had gone down, and she immediately went online and saw a report that, in fact, a T-34 had crashed in Alabama. Fearing the worst, she put her 18-month-old daughter Lizzy in a stroller and went for a walk, in denial and hoping to avoid any officials who might show up to tell her that her husband had been killed.

During the walk, she received a phone call from her cousin. “Where are you?” she asked.

“I’m at your house,” he replied. That was all he said.

Erin ran home pushing the stroller, in her words, “like a crazy person.” When she arrived she caught a glimpse of a uniform, and she broke down, hysterical. “That didn’t go so well,” she said.

She had a long period of vacillating between shock, anger, and sorrow. “I felt like other people wanted me to cry,” she said. “I was like, ‘I don’t want permission to cry, I just want him here.”

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Lizzy Yaggy visiting the Arlington National Cemetery gravesite of her father. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The sister of the flight student killed with Erin’s husband convinced her to get involved with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), and she wound up making the short trip from Baltimore to Washington DC to attend her first Good Grief Camp — the organization’s signature gathering — when Lizzy was four years old.

****

General Dempsey had just taken over as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army when his aide briefed him that he was scheduled to address the TAPS Good Grief Camp attendees gathered in a hotel ballroom across the interstate from the Pentagon. Although the general had heard of TAPS and was armed with the requisite three-by-five cards filled with talking points provided by his staff, when he got there he realized he wasn’t fully ready for what he was walking into.

“I walked into this room with 600 kids all wearing big round buttons with images of their parents, and I knew I was ill-prepared,” Gen. Dempsey said. “It was emotionally overwhelming. It’s hard enough meeting a single family that’s had a loss. It’s another thing altogether meeting 600 families.”

Gen. Dempsey started his appearance with a question-and-answer session, and after a couple of innocent ones like “do you have your own airplane?” and “do you like pizza?” a little girl dramatically shifted the mood by asking, “Is my daddy an angel?”

“I was stunned,” Gen. Dempsey recalled. “How do you answer that question?”

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Lizzy Yaggy greets Gen. Dempsey during TAPS Good Grief Camp. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The general thought for a few moments before calling an audible of sorts. Fearing that he could well break down if he tried to talk he decided to attempt something else.

“I knew I could sing through emotion instead of trying to speak,” he said.

So he answered that, of course, her father was an angel — like the fathers of everyone there — and that the entire group should sing together because singing is joyful and the fact that their fathers were angels should bring them great joy.

Then he launched into the Irish classic, “The Unicorn Song,” including a lesson in the proper hand gestures required during the chorus. Soon the entire room was singing.

After his appearance, General Dempsey asked Bonnie Carroll, the founder of TAPS, if he could meet the little girl who’d asked the question and her family, so Bonnie introduced him to the Yaggys. The general was immediately struck by Lizzy’s spark, and, as Erin put it, Lizzy was drawn to the man with lots of silver stars on his Army uniform who’d raised her spirits by singing with all of the kids.

“His timing was perfect,” Erin said. “Before [General Dempsey’s singalong], Lizzy had just said, ‘I don’t want to talk about daddy being dead anymore.’ Her attitude changed after she met General Dempsey.”

****

At the following year’s Good Grief Camp, they began what blossomed into a tradition: Lizzy introduced him as the keynote speaker.

“She stood up and said, ‘this is General Dempsey.  We love him, and he loves to sing, and he makes us feel good,'” the general recalled. “And she finished with, ‘and now my friend, General Dempsey.'” With that, once again, General Dempsey had to fight back tears as he faced hundreds of military survivors.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Lizzy introducing Gen. Dempsey at the TAPS Gala for the first time. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

General Dempsey and his wife Deanie stayed in touch with the Yaggys, exchanging email updates and Christmas cards. The third year Lizzy introduced the general he’d taken over as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon’s senior-most position. Before they got on stage together she gave him a little box with an angel-shaped medallion in it, saying, “You’re my guardian angel.”

The general was deeply moved and wanted to return the gesture, but all his aide had in his possession was a ballcap with the numeral “18” on the front of it, signifying the 18th CJCS. He wrote in black ink on the bill: “To Lizzy — From your chairman friend. Martin E. Dempsey.”

“It was so cute to see her wearing that hat for the rest of the night,” Deanie Dempsey said. “Here was this little girl in this long green dress with a ballcap on.”

“She wore that hat all the time after that,” Erin said. “She even took it to bed with her.”

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Lizzy wearing her favorite hat, a gift from the 18th CJCS. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The entire time General Dempsey served as the chairman he only had two things on his desk in the Pentagon: The mahogany “Make it Matter” box full of the laminated cards that profiled those who were killed under his command in Iraq and the guardian angel medallion Lizzy gave him.

****

When it came time for the general to retire, the Pentagon’s protocol apparatus sprang into action — after all, a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff change of command is like the Super Bowl of military ceremonies. As the officials were coordinating all the moving parts, including the details surrounding President Obama’s attendance, they were surprised to learn who the outgoing chairman wanted to introduce him. They pushed back, but the general was insistent.

The day arrived and at the appropriate moment in the event, a little girl on the dais confidently strode by the dignitaries and political appointees and the President of the United States and stood on the box positioned behind the podium just for her.

And without any hesitation, Lizzy Yaggy delivered her remarks to the thousands in attendance, and finished with, “Please welcome my friend, General Dempsey . . .”

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Lizzy hugging now-retired Gen. Dempsey at this year’s TAPS Good Grief Camp in DC. (Photo: TAPS.org)

Articles

27 gorgeous photos of life in the US Navy

From foreign ports to polar explorations, life at sea is an adventure.


Out of all the service branches, the Navy requires the most traveling from its troops. Life at sea is anything but boring and the foreign port visits with your best friends are worth the long stretches of isolation.

Here are 27 amazing photos of life at sea:

1. Sailors conduct a swim call.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialists 3rd Class Bradley J. Gee/USN

2. USS Green Bay conducts amphibious operations.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Barnes/USN

3. USS Germantown conducts an amphibious assault exercise.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Patrick Dionne/USN

4.USS Ross conducts a replenishment-at-sea with USNS Leroy Grumman.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones/USN

5. A Sea Hawk helicopter flies off the coast of Kauai.

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Photo: Ensign Joseph Pfaff/USN

6. Divers participate in an International Mine Countermeasures Exercise.

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Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Rolston/USN

7. Navy ships anchored in the waters of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker/USN

8. An Uumanned underwater vehicle searches for mines.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary Keen/USN

9. A Royal Australian Navy ship pulls into the port of Dili to drop off members of Pacific Partnership.

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Photo: Kristopher Radder/USN

10. Divers return to USS Anchorage during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

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Photo: Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kimberly Leiter/USN

11. An X-47B unmanned aerial vehicle sits on an aircraft elevator.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis/USN

12. USS Iwo Jima holds a swim call.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Megan Anuci/USN

13. Jets fly in formation during an air power demonstration.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II/USN

14. A Sailor prepares for a live-fire exercise.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Collin Turner/USN

15. USS Cape St. George transits Pearl Harbor.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/USN

16. USS Peleliu conducts a swim call.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex Van’tLeven/USN

17. An Amphibious vessel delivers supplies during humanitarian assistance effort.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Grandin/USN

18. The USS Georgia prepares to moor in Diego Garcia.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chris Williamson/USN

19. Sailors run on the flight deck of USS George H.W. Bush.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis/USN

20. The USS Connecticut surfaces through the ice during an exercise.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O’Brien

21. Military and civilian personnel participate in Pacific Partnership 2011.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell/USN

22. USS John C. Stennis conducts helicopter operations.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ignacio D. Perez/USN

23. Navy divers recover the Orion crew module.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary Keen

24. Sailors conduct morning colors aboard the USS Monterey.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Billy Ho/USN

25. Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD/S) candidates participate in Surf Passage.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell/USN

26. A cruiser in the Arabian Gulf.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Walter M. Wayman

27. USS Mitscher (DDG 57) lights up its mast during night deck landing qualifications.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony R. Martinez/USN

Articles

This was America’s first anti-aircraft cruiser

Today, the Ticonderoga-class cruiser is the epitome of a vessel designed with the primary purpose of protecting capital ships from an aerial threat.


With the Aegis fire control system, two 64-cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems, and a pair of five-inch guns, among other weapons, the Tico can handle just about anything the enemy has that flies.

But this wasn’t the only cruiser designed to primarily confront the aerial threat. That honor falls to the cruiser USS Atlanta (CL 51), which was commissioned 17 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Atlanta was also designed to serve as a scout or a flotilla leader for destroyers, but her main battery of 16 5-inch/38 guns gave her a powerful anti-aircraft armament.

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USS Atlanta (CL 51) in 1942, coming up to USS San Francisco (CA 38). (US Navy photo)

The Navy originally ordered four of these cruisers, but doubled the total after the start of the war. Three slightly modified versions, known as the Juneau-class cruisers, were later acquired, but not finished until after the war.

According to the “Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships,” the USS Atlanta saw action in the Battle of Midway, the invasion of Guadalcanal, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, and the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. In that last battle, she was heavily damaged by both friendly and enemy fire, and ultimately had to be scuttled.

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USS Juneau (CL 119) during the Korean War, during which she sank three North Korean torpedo boats. (US Navy photo)

Other than the second ship of the class, USS Juneau (CL 52) — best known as the vessel that the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, perished aboard — the rest of the Atlanta-class cruisers survived the war.

The USS Reno (CL 96) did have a hell of a fight for survival after being torpedoed in November 1944.

The last Atlanta-class cruiser to serve in the United States Navy was the USS Juneau (CL 119), the lead ship of her sub-class that was completed in the months after World War II.

Ironically, the only action Juneau saw outside of shore bombardment was a naval battle on July 2, 1950, sinking three North Korean torpedo boats.

Articles

The service histories of 7 famous cartoon veterans

Some of the world’s favorite cartoon characters are veterans of World War II. When America entered the war at the end of 1941, Walt Disney, Looney Tunes, and other companies sent their casts to war.


Here are the wartime biographies of 7 characters who answered the call:

1. Donald Duck the Paratrooper

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Gif: Youtube/Donald Duck Cartoon

Donald Duck served in a number of ways. He was a soldier in World War II who tried to become a pilot but was tricked into becoming a paratrooper by a sergeant who didn’t like him. He was decorated for serving behind enemy lines in commando missions and destroying a Japanese base single-handedly.

Decades later in 1987, he returned to service as a sailor in the Navy, but there is little evidence of what he accomplished there. He gave up care of three of his nephews to enlist.

2. Daffy Duck

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Photo: Youtube/NewAndImprovedToons

Donald wasn’t the only one slipping behind enemy lines to disrupt enemy activity. Daffy Duck destroyed Nazi infrastructure and assassinated enemy leaders, primarily through wacky hijinks like time bombs and wooden mallets.

In a particularly daring raid, Daffy flew into a rally of Nazi party members and struck Adolf Hitler on the head with a large hammer.

3. Superman

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Gif: Youtube/Public Superman

In World War II, the cartoon Superman hunted down saboteurs and other threats to Metropolis on the home front as well as assisted in war games to train troops.

In the comic book, Clark Kent attempted to enlist but received a medical deferment when he accidentally read the eye chart in the next room with his X-Ray vision. Despite being medically deferred Superman helped out on the war front from time to time, sinking battleships, steering bombs to targets, and tying cannon barrels into knots.

4. Private Pluto

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Photo: Youtube/TresorsDisney

Pluto was a military working dog before it was a thing. He served as an Army private who attempted to keep Army equipment safe from saboteurs and small rodents. He had trouble with the second mission, as the chipmunks Chip and Dale used Army howitzers to crack open acorns despite Pluto’s best efforts.

Pluto also served a short period with the Navy, guarding ship supplies from rats. Like the battle against Chip and Dale, this effort did not go well for Pluto.

5. Popeye the Sailor

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Gif: Youtube/Pat Hawkins

America’s favorite sailor entered the Navy in 1941, but had previously served in the Coast Guard from 1937 to 1941. As a Navy sailor, Popeye processed incoming draftees, served as a boatswain’s mate, and even helped the Army perfect its tank program.

Unfortunately, Popeye did get in some trouble when he ran afoul of an uptight captain. Popeye later defeated an enemy fleet attacking the ship, and so was returned to normal duty. He was allowed to serve until 1978 when he returned to civilian life.

6. Bugs Bunny

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Photo: Youtube/TheWallStudios

Bugs single-handedly captured an island from the Japanese Imperial forces after he washed up on it, and later disrupted the Nazi headquarters. It isn’t clear though that he was in a military force or acting on official orders at the time.

He used a combination of direct assault and subterfuge to achieve his objectives.

7. Porky Pig the doughboy

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Photo: Youtube/8thManDVD.com Cartoon Channel

Porky Pig, famous for his stutter and shyness, became an unlikely presenter of American propaganda after enlisting in the U.S. Army. He served primarily on the homefront, selling war bonds and explaining the newest and best military technology for the benefit of the American people.

Lists

6 weird laws unique to the US military

U.S. troops obey a set of legal guidelines called the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While the UCMJ mirrors civilian law in many ways, there are some laws on the military books that are unique and somewhat bizarre.


Here’s a sampling of six of them:

1. Dueling

 

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Sorry, all you potential Aaron Burrs. Dueling isn’t allowed in the U.S. military. You cannot pull out your sword, pistol, or even your fists and challenge someone who has wronged you to a duel. According to the manual, “Any person subject to this chapter who fights or promotes, or is concerned in or connives at fighting a duel, or who, having knowledge of a challenge sent or about to be sent, fails to report the fact promptly to the proper authority, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Maximum punishment: Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.

2. Drinking liquor with prisoners

 

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If you’re standing post and guarding a prisoner, you aren’t supposed to give him or her booze. We thought this one was pretty weird, but the existence of such a law makes us think that someone, somewhere, must have actually done this one. But, umm, why?

Maximum punishment: Confinement for 3 months and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for 3 months.

3. Indecent language

13 top American CEOs with military experience

Profanity and dirty jokes are a crime, at least in the U.S. military. We’ve all heard the phrase “cuss like a sailor,” but that sailor can actually be busted for having a potty mouth. According to the manual, “‘Indecent’ language is that which is grossly offensive to modesty, decency, or propriety, or shocks the moral sense, because of its vulgar, filthy, or disgusting nature, or its tendency to incite lustful thought.”

This one probably isn’t enforced all that often, but it does carry some stiff punishments when it is.

Maximum punishment: Communicated to any child under the age of 16 years: Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years. Other cases: Bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months.

4. Jumping from vessel into the water

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If you accidentally fall off a ship, you won’t get in trouble. But if you take a plunge intentionally, there can be some consequences. If you plan on taking a dip, make sure your commander says it’s ok first.

Maximum punishment: Bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months.

5. Adultery

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Cheating on your spouse can get you kicked out of the military altogether, among other possible punishments. While not a unique law to the military — 21 states have anti-adultery laws on the books that are rarely enforced — commanders do sometimes charge service members with this crime.

Still, adultery charges are a bit hard to stick, since they can be difficult to prove, according to About.com.

Maximum punishment: Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.

6. Straggling

 

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Troops who fall behind or lose their way on marches or runs can find themselves in legal trouble. While a straggler on a hike is often just told to “hurry up” and motivated to continue by their non-commissioned officers, this offense is punishable under the UCMJ. “‘Straggle’ means to wander away, to stray, to become separated from, or to lag or linger behind,” the manual states.

Maximum punishment: Confinement for 3 months and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for 3 months.

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The Air Force says Space Marines are not happening… yet

The latest Air Force Chief of Staff’s world is a complete departure from his predecessor’s – one where things are not “pretty darn good.”


General David Goldfein is no stranger to agression. He’s a trained fighter pilot who flew missions during Desert Storm and over Serbia in Operation Allied Force.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
General David Goldfein being sworn in as the Air Force’s 21st Chief of Staff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Scott Ash)

Goldfein’s Air Force has 12 core functions and one of those is space defense. The top air officer says space is no longer going to be considered a “benign environment.” Instead, the Air Force will see it as a “war-fighting domain”– but space doesn’t need foot soldiers just yet, according to Goldfein.

“Anything that separates space and makes it unique and different, relative to all of the war-fighting missions that we perform that are reliant on space, I don’t think that will move us in the right direction at this time,” he told lawmakers during a hearing on Capitol Hill..

His comments come in response to Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and two subcommittees for readiness and strategic forces.

Rogers wants to create a “Space Corps” — a new military branch for operations in Earth’s orbit.

13 top American CEOs with military experience
Rogers Congratulates Medal of Honor recipient Bennie G. Adkins outside the Pentagon. (Mike Rogers photo)

Despite the Air Force being a “world-class military service,” space should not be led by people who “get up each morning thinking about fighters and bombers…you cannot organize, train, and equip in space the way you do a fighter squad,” Rogers said at the 33rd Space Symposium, held in Colorado Springs.

The Alabama Congressman went on to note that of the Air Force’s 37 newest one-star generals, not one had extensive space experience – they are predominantly pilots.

Rogers called for a Space Corps within the Air Force that would one day break off to form its own branch, much like the Army Air Corps broke from the Army in 1947.

The Air Force is currently undergoing major organizational changes to address the concerns about which Rogers is most concerned, a change that Goldfein says will be significantly affected by the formation of a Space Corps.

13 top American CEOs with military experience

“Whether there’s a time in our future when we want to take a look at this again, I would say that we probably ought to keep that dialogue open,” Goldfein said. “But right now, I think it would actually move us in the wrong direction.”

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