Vince Patton, the eighth Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard and former chairman of the U.S. Naval Institute Editorial Board, recently reminisced on social media about joining the Delayed Entry Program in April 1972 and shipping off to boot camp later that year. In response, Coast Guard Chief Boatswain’s Mate Chris Browning elegantly captured Vince’s career: “You came in as a kid with a dream and you left as a man with a legacy.”
Chief Browning’s words are powerful and accurately describe a great and accomplished American by any standard. But they also reflect the experience of everyone who wears the cloth of our nation, even if their successes are not as public or prolific as Vince’s.
Just as Chief Browning’s words inspired this column, a leader’s words can inspire or discourage an individual sailor, a squad of Marines, or a Coast Guard cutter crew. It is imperative for leaders to be mindful of their words and actions. Leaders are watched and, although they may not always think so, they are listened to. Their words are powerful; their deeds even more so.