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Lessons from history:

  • Exactly 50 years ago I was mustered out of the U.S. Army, completing my tour of overseas duty in the Philippines and Korea.

  • I returned to graduate school a profoundly changed person. I had greatly disliked the Army and was scornful of any future usefulness from my Army experience.

  • Now, looking backwards … perhaps I learned more from my Army service than from my university education?

  • The Army may have taught me little about chemistry or geology, but I learned a great deal about working with other people.

  • I learned that common sense is as rare as a 160 IQ, and probably more valuable.

  • I learned that real merit does not depend on a college degree, family fortune, athletic ability or personal beauty.

  • I learned that progress toward important objectives is made by motivating EVERYONE in the unit, not just the leadership.

When I left Inchon, the Army gave me (sort of) a recommendation. It said: "This will certify that Cpl. Marlan Downey is free of vermin and infectious diseases."

I've been wary of recommendations ever since.

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