Leadership by example. Even in tragedy.

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Every now and then, my old battalion held unit-wide physical training. It was infrequent, but prior to reassignment for what is now my twilight tour, the battalion held two events.

I had the painful honor of giving the dedication for both.

One such event is depicted below. And it's the one that hit home the most.

On August 17, 2012, my friends and teammates, HM1 Darrel Enos and SSgt Greg Copes, were killed in action in Farah Province, Afghanistan.

Instead of rehashing the history of that tragic day, I used my invisible podium as a teachable moment to the junior Marines in the audience.

Instead I spoke about leadership, specifically the type that Greg and Darrel demonstrated.

They each had their personal touch. Darrel was compassionate. Greg was gruff. Both were accomplished and respected.

While their approaches varied, their foundations were indistinguishable.

Know yourself and seek improvement is the first leadership principle in the Marine Corps and US Naval Service. Greg and Darrel embodied this and more. Their knowledge in their specific specialties was encyclopedic. In fact, Greg’s many dog-eared pubs and notes fill a bookcase in the Copes Room at the battalion today.

However, they didn’t stop there. They demanded everyone approach professional development the same way. Lives might depend on it. Lives did that day or the tragedy might have been much worse.

Be like Greg and Darrel. Know yourself. Seek improvement. Demand more. From Yourself. Then others.