23 May 2014


By Andy Weddington
Friday, 23 May 2014

"When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things." Joe Namath

As Memorial Day weekend is upon us, a short tale about an old pal...

Confidence is self-assurance; boldness. It can take you far in life.

Confidence fuels courage - courage to overcome hesitation and to conquer fear. That is, to act when instinct restrains.

Confidence builds confidence. And confidence is contagious - confidence is a trait of leaders.

Warren, a six feet four inch lanky southern California easy-going beach type, reported to Marine Corps Officer Candidates School sporting a head full of shoulder-length wavy hair.

Alphabetical order, and not by height, fate in the squadbay.

Warren's first encounter with the platoon sergeant was a gem.

While the platoon was standing on line, Warren's size and hair caught the attention of Gunnery Sergeant Cooke.

Gunnery Sergeant Cooke, well under six feet, approached and in a loud, impatient voice stood before (and looking up at) Warren demanding to know why he was at OCS.

Not hesitating (there's that confidence thing), unflappable Warren calmly replied, "Dude, I'm gonna fly helicopters."

And so began the mission of Gunnery Sergeant Cooke - to see what Warren, soon tagged by the platoon with the moniker "Bebop," was made of.

By no means was Warren a PT stud. But he never fell back, never quit regardless the event or test.

Warren was a good officer candidate.

But Warren's nemesis was Saturday morning inspection - personnel; uniform; weapon; junk-on-the-bunk; locker; etc. - Warren never passed one.

Not passing required re-inspection Saturday afternoon - thus Warren did not enjoy the free time most in the platoon earned.

Warren, week after week, passed re-inspection.

Was Warren ever unsatisfactory that he could not pass Saturday morning inspection? Probably not - it was part of the screening; to see what he was made of. 

Ten weeks after arrival, 18 (from a platoon of nearly four times that many) were commissioned second lieutenants. Warren among them. 

Gunnery Sergeant Cooke did his job - he made a Marine.

Warren did his job - confidence never wavering.

Warren graduated The Basic School.

And then earned his wings in Pensacola.

Warren did fly helicopters - the CH-53 (Sea Stallion) - just as he had told Gunnery Sergeant Cooke, on day one, he would do. Other pilot friends said Warren was "a great stick."

Warren completed his obligation flying for the Marine Corps and then moved on to commercial aviation flying for US Airways.

He feared nothing.

Warren - courageous and outspoken with his directness often spiced with sarcasm; truth. Otherwise, he kept quiet. Yet neither arrogant nor presumptuous - his temperament more matter-of-fact with a big dose of self-assuredness.

Easy-going, happy-go-lucky, and fun to be around, Warren, a bold, confident dude, lived life - literally and figuratively - on the fly. 

Warren had fun! He did amazing things. In some ways, he was a lot like Joe Namath. 

Warren died 12 years ago - stomach cancer - a Marine and courageous to the end.

Warren Wise - one, among our land's fallen veterans, to remember and honor these next few days. Every day.

Wise confidence - lives on!

Post Script

A friend and fellow pilot reflected...


1 comment:

Unknown said...

We all should be thankful this weekend for the wise men and women who answer the call and keep us safe and warm in our beds.

God bless each and every one.