Yesterday I did an interview with PRI (see the link below) about Afghanistan. I got a lot of really great feedback, but there was one that struck me as extra special. My former battalion commander, Col. Chris Toner, called to check in and see how I was doing, offer counsel and most importantly, just listen to what I had to say to see if he could help.
Col. Toner is now the Chief of Staff of the 101st Airborne (a damn busy job) but we wound up talking for about a half-hour. I was once again reminded how lucky I was to have not just good leadership, but great leadership in the Army. He was the kind that demanded a lot of sweat in training, kept up high standards in country inside and outside the wire, drove us nuts by insisting on the best from his soldiers, even when we were dog tired or just plain done—and in doing so, kept a lot of us alive. What’s more, he is the kind that will still reach out, five years later, to one of his former soldiers.
In other assignments both in the military and as a writer, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to observe other officers and NCOs who fancied themselves leaders but were really just preening careerists charting a course to the next pay grade. These bureaucrats in camouflage, powerpoint rangers, and middle managers with bad haircuts could learn a thing or two from men like the leaders I had: Col. Toner, 1SG Smith, Captain Torres, Captain Wilson and Captain Bryant, Sgt. Laroche, SFC Shillito, CSM Sparks and CSM Bruner—thanks for showing me what right looks like.
So I was on the radio today
Curious George sometimes appears to be a naughty little monkey, but never means to cause any trouble.
How does this relate to the concept of hamartia in classic Greek drama?
Dr. Leo Marvin: Are you married?
Bob Wiley: I’m divorced.
Dr. Leo Marvin: Would you like to talk about that?
Bob Wiley: There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don’t. My ex-wife loves him.
Dr. Leo Marvin: [pause] I see. So, what you’re saying is that even though you are an almost-paralyzed, multiphobic personality who is in a constant state of panic, your wife did not leave you, you left her because she… liked Neil Diamond?