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landmine leadership

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With lives at stake, landmine leadership matters.

Detecting landmines in the Korean War needed men who paid attention during training.

Those were the guys who stepped into the minefield first, the people with landmine leadership.

If they did the job they were trained for others could walk through the same area without blowing themselves up.

If the mine sweeper got it wrong?

That’s when the captains write those letters.

One Marine minesweeper from Korea, call him Frank, got it right every time, but he had to fight to get it right.

Frank talks about mines:

I came back from Korea and got a Master’s degree. Funny how going to war and an advanced degree helps people listen to you like you’ve got something important to say.

Back then, landmines were my specialty, finding them and disabling them.

They seemed like such an indiscriminate way to die in war. No glory, just guts.

And I was good at it, so good that two days before I was going home word came out they found a hidden minefield nearby and needed help.

I went. If a mine is going to get you, it’ll get you, on your first day or last. That’s part of landmine leadership.

They asked for volunteers and I’d done hundreds of them, so I went out one last time. Why let a new guy make a stupid mistake?

Landmine school wasn’t that hard, but you had to pay attention. One of the sergeants was more interested in calling himself the leader of a mine sweeping team then actually learning what to do.

While the rest of us were hunkered down with instructors, he was planning his future sucking up to one officer or another.

The thing about going to mine sweeping school is afterwards you go out and find mines. You have your life in your hands, along with your team members, and everyone else who might step on a mine you missed.

When the time came to put our training to the test, I refused to go with the sergeant. I told him he wasn’t qualified to go into the field. I flat out refused.

If you know anything about the military, refusing an order is big trouble. The sergeant insisted, I didn’t care how much he insisted and told him as much, and we went at it.

It got physical, it got violent. We traded blows and both ended up in front of the captain.

He gave me the eye while he asked the sergeant what happened. That’s how rank works. I was ready to take the fall.

The sergeant explained his side and wrapped it up with a statement of insubordination against me.

I was ready for a court martial when the captain asked me my side.

Halfway through he stopped me and explained to the sergeant where his next duty station would be.

The sergeant was getting transferred, and he asked why.

“Because you’re not worth a shit,” the captain said.

That sergeant would have gotten me killed, or someone else. Probably a lot of people, but it didn’t happen. The captain knew landmine leadership, and I give him credit for being alive today.

I was supposed to follow orders, and refusing to saved my life.

Ever since I’ve seen people put up as leaders and give them the test: Did they pay attention in class, or find other things to do?

Landmine leadership requires you to pay attention, to listen, and you can tell who does, and who doesn’t.

Mr. Trump reminds me of that sergeant.

About David Gillaspie
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