What a week! We have officially opened our new office/studio here in Washington, D.C., and it is great to have a finger on the pulse – yeah, I know exactly what you are thinking.
See, I grew up in an organization defined by its respective mottos, creeds that guided those of us who served. And if people are really sincere about their service to this nation within their respective military units, these mottos define them for the rest of their lives.
I recall being a young fella and watching the movie “The Green Berets” with John Wayne. I remember the scene of him standing at Airborne School and shouting, “Who are you?” and hearing the reply, “Airborne!” The next challenge was “How far?” and the response was, “All the Way!” Years later, there I stood on that same training ground shouting: “Airborne, sir! Airborne Sergeant Black Hat!”
And when I and the rest of the 4th Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment (Airborne Battalion Combat Team) reached our first duty station in Vicenza, Italy, we took pride in our challenge and response, “Airborne all the way!” This motto signified that we were a cut above others, that our standards were just a bit higher. We were U.S. Army paratroopers after all.
My second duty assignment was in the famed 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan. Our motto harkened back to the division’s incredible landing on Omaha Beach, France, on D-Day: “No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great, duty first.”
That simple creed articulated what it meant to serve in that division but also to serve our nation. It was never about you. It was about duty first!
I also was an artillery officer and commanded Bravo Battery, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, where our motto was “Swift and bold.” I have always tried to honor that creed by being swift to action, not delaying, and being bold in my stance for freedom and principle.
After I commanded, I served in the 4th Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment. (Trivia fact: Our sister battalion, 1/5 FA, was the home of Alpha Battery, which was known as “Hamilton’s Own” after our first Treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, who served in that historic artillery outfit.) The motto of the 5th Field Artillery was “Faithful and true,” and God knows none of us are perfect but what a fantastic motto. To be faithful to a set of principles and true to something greater than self is the epitome of being a selfless servant of the republic.
We never apologized for being in the ole Black Patch Division. Some people saw us as the cannon fodder for a North Korea invasion. We knew that if the North Koreans ever thought about crossing the demilitarized zone separating them from South Korea, they would get a butt whuppin’ second to none!
After serving in Korea, I was promoted to major and selected to attend the Army Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. My orders then took me to Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 18th Field Artillery Brigade. My mentor Col. Denny R. Lewis was the brigade commander. He instituted a new motto to complement our “Sweat saves blood” unit crest motto – “Tough, proud, disciplined.”
I also served there in the 1st Battalion (Air Assault), 377th Field Artillery Regiment, where our motto was “Be bold, Air Assault.”
In the political realm, what liberal progressives need to understand is that my DNA is hardwired to be bold, tough, aggressive and disciplined in my stand against whatever threatens my nation. Plus I’m an ole Southern boy. Never get our dander up ’cause we like a good old-fashioned fight.
My last two duty assignments – Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Fort Hood, Texas – added the icing to the cake. First I was selected to do an exchange assignment with the 2nd Marines Expeditionary Force and the world knows the Marines motto “Semper fidelis,” translated “Always faithful!” My final assignment was to command an artillery battalion in the 4th Infantry Division, another historic Army unit that landed at Utah Beach, France, on D-Day.
The motto of our 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment (MLRS) was “Duty, not reward” – that is why we serve. And I still use the motto of the famed Ivy Division to sign off here every week: “Steadfast and loyal.”
Throughout my military career I also had some awesome call signs. OK, they were not as sexy as Maverick, Goose or Iceman from Hollywood’s “Top Gun. But Detonate 6, Ranger 14, Steel 3, Gunslinger 5, and Deep Strike 6 are still great.
What would you see as appropriate call signs for President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder?
I recount the units I served and their mottos with great pride. Those simple words were more than just momentary challenges and responses during my military career; they are defining descriptors for my life. And I couldn’t care less what characterless media writers say.
Ask yourself, can our elected leaders sign off with the words you see next?
Steadfast and Loyal,
Allen B. West
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