Captain Dye's Blog
These are all the Blogs posted in April, 2010.
Tuesday, 13
The Lure of Leadership
We're a few months shy of Father's Day but I'm feeling particularly paternal right now so herewith some thoughts on raising other people's children. Mother Corps made me a father for the first time some forty years ago when I became a corporal and entered the ranks of noncommissioned officers. Likely believing that was too much way too soon, my Sergeant Major handed me an excerpt from an old Marine Corps Manual and ordered me to absorb it before I dared strut outside the barracks bearing my new chevrons.
Back in 1921, drawing on forty years of experience in war and peace, General John A. Lejeune, 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, said the connection between leaders and the people they lead "should partake of the nature of the relation between father and son." That got my context-free adolescent attention, so I read on to discover that General Lejeune thought good leaders had responsibilities far beyond simply issuing orders, taking objectives and winning wars. Military leaders influence people "in the formative period of their lives, and officers owe it to them, their parents, and to the nation, that when discharged from the services they should be far better men physically, mentally and morally than they were when they enlisted."
Those words changed my perspective and changed my life. With General Lejeune's thoughts in mind, I was able to conduct an insightful review of my personal trek from rebellious juvenile delinquent to Marine leader with special appreciation for a certain few relatives, teachers, coaches and counselors who understood their influence on a young life ran deep and might be pervasive. And it didn't take much effort to see the difference between solid officers and NCOs around me and self-centered ladder-climbers willing to reach the top on the bloody shoulders of their subordinates. I made a promise on that day when I officially assumed the mantle of leadership by Marine Corps decree to emulate the former and eschew the hell out of the latter.
What brings all this to mind before the time of year when we are supposed to think about such things is the steady influx of letters, phone calls, text messages and emails I get from people who served with me in one capacity or another during my days in uniform or fell under my influence in making military movies. It's truly rewarding when I hear from some aging man or woman who recalls in embarrassing detail how I influenced or motivated them in one command or another during our time together in uniform. It's a little puzzling but just as gratifying when I hear from young actors who claim their lives or perspectives have been changed forever by the training I put them through to portray military people on small or large screen. That's better than an Academy Award in my book. It proves that General Lejeune was right and - for a special period of time in the lives of some people - so was I.
There's a lot of verbiage blazing through the media just now as actors who portray World War II era Marines in our new HBO mini-series "The Pacific" reflect on the training and motivation that brought them through a year-long monumental project that looks to be as big or bigger than its ETO predecessor "Band of Brothers." Many of them credit me and my staff as having a big influence on both their performances and their lives in general. That's a gracious reflection on our leadership philosophy but no surprise. Like my old Sergeant Major years ago, I gave every one of our Warriors cadre the same excerpts from General Lejeune's treatise on leadership as a guide to how I wanted them to lead, teach and mentor throughout the production. The real lesson, of course, is that those we manage to influence for the better give us much more in return than we can ever give them in execution.
There's some painful irony in this when I look at my own children who got a lot less attention from their father than they deserved during formative years. Fortunately, none of them hold it against me -or at least they say they don't - but there's no escaping the fact that I was too often away fighting wars or chasing dreams when I should have been home helping them realize theirs. I don't feel as full of myself pondering that but the offspring have mainly prospered in spite of my failings. And maybe that's why I'm so concerned with leadership and why I put so much effort into mentoring my young charges in movie and TV projects. If so, I owe my kids a lot for lessons in tenacity, determination and independence. I didn't do much for them but they have certainly inspired me.
While I'm proud of all my kids, watching middle son Chris survive and thrive after a long, dirty struggle without his father's guiding light is particularly rewarding. As a talented and successful performer and composer in LA's tawdry rock music scene, Chris became intimately familiar with the euphoric highs and ugly lows of that brutal business. Fortunately, I was able to step back into his life during one of those low points and lend the hand that should have been there when he was growing up and I was chasing different demons in Vietnam. He's on an exciting path now, managing our ranchito in Texas, working when he wants to as an accomplished finish-carpenter and managing our new production entity, Dye Hard Productions, down in the Lone Star State. He's full of enthusiasm for life and living these days and that shows in the new music he's composed with a group of truly talented pals who call themselves - for reasons known only to rockers - Fire Violets.
My musical tastes run more toward Willie and Waylon with a special place in the middle ear reserved for Texas Troubadour Gary P. Nunn, but I've got to admit the tunes cranked out by Chris and his buddies make for really good listening to some seriously hard rocking. They've pressed a self-titled CD featuring a dozen original songs and it's available through the link on our Warriors, Inc. website (www.warriorsinc.com). I think you'll be amazed at how good this music is. I know you'll be amazed that one of Captain Dye's kids could produce it. Where he gets the talent, I'll never know but there it is. And I hope you'll give it a listen. The boy did it his way, and I'm more than a little proud to be his Dad.

Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 3:30 PM / Category:General News
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