Category Archives: Leadership

First Ship, First Cruise


By Lex, on Sat – April 30, 2005


I was talking to my chief-of-staff the other day about the first CO I’d had as midshipman – his name escaped me, but his adventures had not. One of those tales brought a glimmer of recognition to his eyes, and he asked, “what ship, and what timeframe?”

Turned out that nearly 30 years ago, the COS and I had been across the pier from one another – he as Lieutenant Junior Grade, and I as a third class midshipman. One of those strange circularities of the service, things that somehow ought to surprise, but over time and experience have lost their ability to do so. He remembered the CO well, and caught me up on his career after I’d left the ship.

Turned out the man had made admiral, and retired with one star on his collar. For reasons which I will in time reveal, this surprised me.

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Neptunus Lex: Essays On Leadership

To the reader – this is a work in progress and I am trying to better organize Lex’s posts by category. I suspect before I am done some will be added here.

01-08-2004    For Everything There Is A Time

07-07-2004    The Goat Locker

05-08-2004      Hobson’s Choice

08-26-2004   All Kinds of leadership

02-10-2005     My First Chief

03-30-2005     Leadership

04-23-2005    A Retirement Speech

04-30-2005    First Ship, First Cruise

03-20-2007    Leadership

06-27-2007    “When I was a plebe”

10-16-2007     Got A letter In The Mail

11-03-2008     BBSOB

01-24-2009    Old Ghosts

02-19-2011      Class Act

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Neptunus Lex: Some Recommended Posts By Category

Please note: This is still a work in progress. I am not finished with all of the categories. I have noticed too that in most of the post links, it does not open a second window, so I will have a bit of work to do 😉 

As I am about to finish reposting Lex’s posts, I thought it would be nice to offer some recommended reading by category. Lex had a lot of interesting posts – some humorous, some instructional….Some about life. I am sure that as I read through these I will pick some more categories. 

This is by no means a “definitive list” – I will probably have 1,500 or more posts by the time I am done, but it is a start. And I am certainly not the arbitrator of what should be here; if you have some favorites please let me know! 

I am just going down the Best Of Index


Stories & Essays of the Navy




Naval Aviation and Safety








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Class Act

Posted by Lex, on July 28, 2010


General McChrystal’s retirement speech, for those of you who missed it:


This is frustrating. I spent a career waiting to give a retirement speech and lie about what a great soldier I was. Then people show up who were actually there. It proves what Doug Brown taught me long ago; nothing ruins a good war story like an eyewitness.

 To show you how bad it is, I can’t even tell you I was the best player in my little league because the kid who was the best player is here tonight. In case you’re looking around, he’s not a kid anymore.

 But to those here tonight who feel the need to contradict my memories with the truth, remember I was there too. I have stories on all of you, photos on many, and I know a Rolling Stone reporter. (Laughter.) (Applause.)


To paraphrase the Bard, nothing in his service became him as his leaving it.

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A tired trope

Posted by lex, on August 20, 2008


The Prof points us to this dissection of Barack Obama’s claim that America’s greatest moral failure in his lifetime has been our collective lack of charity:

Whatever the case is with his own selfishness, the evidence of an internationally superior American generosity is impressive, beginning with the numbers on our charitable giving. We give twice as much as the British per capita, and according to The American magazine, seven times as much as the Germans and 14 times as much as the Italians.

Even in inflation-adjusted dollars, the amount given each year just keeps getting larger, and meanwhile, we do far more volunteer work than in other industrialized countries.

This old canard has so often been trotted out – and so ritually debunked – that one wonders why anyone bothers anymore. It is only barely possible that otherwise intelligent, “reality based” people can continue to believe something that’s patently untrue. Do they just like the way it sounds? Or do they really believe that they can fool the rest of us?

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1LT Elliot Ackerman

By Lex, Posted on February 11, 2007


Awarded the Silver Star for service in the assault on Fallujah in 2004.

“We had a mission to get a foothold for the battalion,” said Ackerman, who returned last month from his second deployment, the latest as a member of Battalion Landing Team 1/8, the ground combat element of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “We saw that the original building we intended to go in to just wouldn’t work to get that mission done. We pushed a little bit deeper than it probably would have been prudent to do.”

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Pretty Much the Coolest Thing Ever

By lex, on January 24th, 2012

When Son Number One got his wings in Pensacola these last months past, I took the opportunity to go down with hizzoner and his sainted ma, for to see the Naval Aviation Museum there. That being one of my cultural touchstones, for ours is a proud history with many fine and honorable heroes who preceded us, to serve as examples.

Eugene Ely it was who first put an airplane down upon a carrier deck, just a little over a hundred years ago. Butch O’Hare shot down three Betty bombers – and damaged two others – who were targeting USS Lexington on the unopposed side, saving the ship and thousands of his shipmates, while earning our first ever Medal of Honor. He was trained by Jimmy Thach, who turned a performance disadvantage into a winning tactic, setting the example for generations of innovators. His soul has gone on to meet its reward, but his spirit is with us still.

Pappy Boyington taught the young kids how to fight in the Solomons, and later paid his rent as a guest of Imperial Japan. Joe Foss got his kills at Guadalcanal, and helped protect the grunts from adding to the butcher’s bill.

Jessie Brown broke the color line to serve a country that didn’t yet deserve him in the Korean War, and paid for it with his life. Thomas Hudner crashed his airplane alongside him, behind enemy lines, trying to save his life. He also earned the MoH.  John Koelsch gave his life so that another might live. Clyde Lassen learned his example a decade or so later.

Jim Stockdale earned his ribbon refusing to submit to the North Vietnamese. Mike Estocin understood the concept of being on “government time” over Haiphong. He went missing because of it, his fate known to God alone.

It’s a lot to live up to.

But they all came from somewhere. Ely came from Davenport, Iowa. O’Hare from Saint Louis. Thach from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Pappy from Coeur D’Alene. Foss from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jessie Brown from the hard hate of Hattiesburg, MS. Hudner from Fall River, Mass. Jack Koelsch from London, England. Lassen from Fort Myers, FL. Admiral Stockdale from Abingdon, IL. Estocin from Turtle Creek, PA.

Flyover country, mostly.  Not the kinds of places that send kids to Harvard or Yale. Apart from Koelsch. Who came from the old country for reasons of his own, and gave his life for one of his adopted brothers.

Where do we grow the next crop? How do we reach them?

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