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P1 First Person: If it were easy, anyone could do it


By Sgt. Ti Goetz
Hawthorne (Calif.) Police Department

If I had to pick one hero of my youth — aside from my father — it would have to be the Duke. I grew up on John Wayne. In fact, his portrayal of that tough as nails Sgt. John Stryker in “Sands of Iwo Jima” is what inspired me to join the Marine Corps on the very day I turned seventeen. I still remember lying on the living room floor as a child, watching mesmerized as Sgt. Striker barked out his orders which, of course, were always quickly obeyed. I soaked up Hollywood’s heroic depiction of how he dealt with the difficult decisions he typically faced, always making the right call for the right reasons with a certainty of command that simply screamed, “Leadership!”

In that movie land world of make believe, he always did the right thing no matter what the personal costs. Yes indeed, whether he was struggling up Mount Suribachi or facing down overwhelming odds in “The Alamo,” you never caught the Duke slipping. He was always in the front, leading by example, shrugging off fear and doubt, shouldering more than his share of the burdens, shoring up the defenses, encouraging the weak or disheartened, meting out justice, towing the line, standing up for the those unable to stand up for themselves, and just plain being one hell of a guy!

Yep, the mission came first for the Duke no matter what the odds were or how dangerous the situation might be. He shrugged off pain and suffering, hostility or dislike, maintained his pride and dignity in the face of treachery and deceit, and always, always, got the job done. In my young and impressionable mind, he was what leadership was all about and my most fervent hope was that someday I would command the same respect the Duke did when leading men.

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