On Nov. 5, 1966, Captain Robert Foley, 25, led a company assault on enemy machine gun positions in Quan Dau Tieng, Vietnam.
Pinned down by enemy fire and with both his radio operators hit, he grabbed a machine gun and charged the enemy, shouting orders and rallying his men.
Now 81, Foley — who was 6 feet 7 inches and had chosen the Army over a college basketball scholarship — is the author of Standing Tall: Leadership Lessons in the Life of a Soldier.
AARP Veteran Report asked him for seven leadership lessons. You may not still be serving, but here are some lessons you can apply to everyday life:
1. Develop moral courage
The ability to do the right thing is paramount. Respect and courtesy is one aspect, but Aristotle was correct when he wrote that character is a habit, the daily choice of right over wrong.
Basing decision-making on values is vital yet more difficult when you deal with more complex issues. Begin by recognizing the existence of a dilemma and then determine a course of action, even if it is unpopular.
If you get an order to do something that is wrong or won’t work, you need the moral courage to say so. In the military, you are dealing with matters of life and death. Doing the right thing is not always easy in the short term, but it works in the long term.
2. Lead by example
Sergeant Major of the Army Julius W. Gates once told me: “Be visible and be accessible”. Soldiers want to see you. Join them for lunch in the dining facility, sit in a muddy foxhole with them, run by their side on a misty early morning.