"The bullets were so close, I could hear them pinging off of the rotors."
The rotors were those of the Black Hawk helicopter piloted by Capt. Robert McDonough of the 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. The bullets were provided by up to 40 Taliban insurgents who had pinned down a German platoon in a remote area of Afghanistan.
On April 2, 2010, Capt. McDonough and 13 fellow members of the 12th CAB were conducting a medical evacuation of 11 German soldiers, wounded in the attack. Against advisement, the members of the 12th CAB flew into extremely hostile conditions to do all they could to save their German brothers. Eight trips in to and out of heavy fire rescued all 11.
Their evacuation is now called the Good Friday Mission in some circles.
Just in case you’re thinking, "well that’s just what soldiers do," I want you to know that those 14 members of the 12th CAB received Gold Cross medals from Germany. They are the first non-German soldiers to ever receive the disntinction. This was, and always will be, a special event.
Think for a moment about what it took for them to make such a feat possible.
- Human nature alone makes it difficult to put your life in danger. Everything about us is designed for self-preservation.
- Reaction time was next to none and they had no opportunity to strategize. They had to go NOW!
- Everything about this mission, about the lives of every soldier, is an exercise in service and is based in mindset.
Soldiers are called. In this day and age, most of them have a choice as to whether or not they will answer. They do.
Yes, they are trained extensively in the physical nature of their new world. Engineering, precision, and execution. But that physical representation of the life of a soldier is, in my humble opinion, the smallest percentage of what makes a soldier special. The physical acts are only an extension of the stability of their mindset.
Consider the 7 Elements of Personal Choice that make our mindsets and tell me one of them that a successful soldier doesn’t have.
Awareness - As a soldier in conflict, you are aware or dead. Even in peace, soldiers must be aware that their world can change in an instant. Soldiers cannot depend on stability, they create their own.
Vision - I grew up near Fort Leonard Wood in southern Missouri. Younger soldiers would often cite their reason for enlisting as a desire to be a certain type of person. A person of valor that could serve their country. They wanted peaceful freedom and were willing to be the sword and the shield to make it happen.
Purpose - Is there a deeper sense of purpose than what you find in a soldier? Enough said.
Belief - The time to ponder your level of belief ends during Boot Camp. One of the gifts of the military is that belief can be borrowed from your brothers and sisters in arms. Belief that they have you covered and will do their job. That they will put their own life on the line to save yours.
Forgiveness - Grudges wear you down and destroy your effectiveness. Who has to forgive more to move on and do their best job? Me because my boss yelled at me, or a soldiers who’s been told to move forward into gun fire?
Gratitude - Gratitude runs deep when you where your country’s colors. It runs even deeper when you know there are people wearing another country’s colors who are putting it on the line for you. Gratitude is an ideal and it is ideals that soldiers represent. Not country’s.
Action - A soldier who procrastinates is dead or leaves others dead.
Most of you reading this, and most certainly the guy writing it, work to craft our mindsets so that we can make good business decisions, have deep relationships, and fulfilling lives. I’ve personally hesitated to accept a speaking engagement because I worried the audience wouldn’t like what I had to say. Not once have I ever relied on my mindset to guide me through enemy fire to sa What if the strength of your mindset held the lives of 13 teammembers and 11 strangers, as well as your own?
Tell me again how hard it is to decide on a niche’ to market to. Remind me once more how little time you have to build a business.
Don’t feel shamed if you’ve been slack. Feel joyous because you can fix it NOW!
With every right comes a responsibility. There are soldiers from many countries; brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives laying it on line for our right to pursue the life we choose. Honor their commitment by claiming our responsibility to live life at the very edge of possibility. They deserve no less.
God bless the 12th CAB and all who serve to preserve and promote human freedom.