Heroes and Bragging

“You know the thing about heroes?  They don’t brag”*

– Senator John McCain


Biography of a Humble Hero and Leader –

John McCain – United States Naval Academy Graduate (1958), Naval Aviator, and survivor of the 1967 USS Forrestal fire.  In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.  He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona, where he entered politics. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, he served two terms, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning re-election easily four times, most recently in 2010.


*Interview with John McCain – The O’ReillyFactor – April 30, 2012

Additional Resources for this Content –

McCain on Obama’s Bin Laden Death Victory Lap: ‘You Know the Thing About Heroes? They Don’t Brag’ (nation.foxnews.com)

McCain: Obama ‘Politicizing’ Bin Laden Death (video) (video.foxnews.com)


Source of Biographical Information –

John McCain – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – Page Modified on 3 May 2012 at 03:40 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCain – Accessed 3 May 2012 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/


Related Articles –

How to Brag Without Being a Braggart (leadershipfreak.wordpress.com)

Senator John McCain’s Speech at the Naval Academy (The Forrestal Lecture Series) (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

12 Responses to “Heroes and Bragging”

  1. […] background-position: 50% 0px ; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com – Today, 7:42 […]


  2. David Navarre Says:

    Exactly. Heroes don’t spike the football, they act like they’ve scored before and they’ll score again.


  3. Brag on your Soldiers. They’re the ones who execute the tasks given. We just guide and pull the reins from time to time after we’ve trained them. Push them into the spot light. They deserve it and your platoon we’ll become even closer and “Espirit De Corps” will cultivate itself. These “boys of war” will show the best of all human qualities that even their mothers have never witnessed. The best leaders are rarley seen or recognized and most are ok with it.


  4. Mike H. Says:

    Heroes don’t brag because they realize that it was primarily luck that made them a hero, as opposed to one who didn’t make it.


    • Mike H., Very interesting perspective. I appreciate your comment. But, I would contend that in some instances, heroes have performed above and outside their typical realm and ability. They have chosen a course of action that requires a higher than normal level of courage and commitment. When one chooses this path, luck may have played a part in their survival or success, but being a hero was to have made the choice to take action to begin with. Luck was what pulled them through, in addition to their personal ability and strength; strength of mind, body and spirit.



    • “Heroes don’t brag because they realize that it was primarily luck that made them a hero, as opposed to one who didn’t make it.”

      Mike, I respectfully disagree. Luck has nothing to do with preparation and training, but improper preparation and training have everything to do with failure. You can train on a task with a half hearted effort, but still fail because cause you failed to train well. If you train well, the execution of said task becomes more “fluid” and precision. This leads to efficient attainment of the organizational goal. TActical or otherwise. This leads to a “collective awareness” among your Soldiers that they’ve done well. This motivates them
      and the become more chohesive. Tell any Soldier who has been involved in a “two way” live fire exercise…Iraq or Afghanistan an see if they believe in luck when it came to their execution of collective platoon tasks.



    • David Navarre Says:

      Luck often is what allowed them to survive, but as the others point out, preparation and motivation put them in a position and gave them the capability to be labelled a hero. I’ve often heard veterans say, “The heroes are the ones who didn’t make it home.” I’ve also often heard be-medaled men say that they were just doing what anyone else would have done. So luck has something to do with it, but so does the bit about actually doing what needed to be done.


  5. Sorry about the mispellings. chohesive should’ve been “cohesive” etc. My pop up blocker is not allowing the paragrah to cascade down as I type. I suppose the computer algorithms are a result of poor training.


  6. Dale,
    You’re welcome. Every time that I’ve been shot at or blasted with an IED, there was no luck. Chance maybe….God’s hand certainly. I cannot explain some of the things that I’ve witnessed.


  7. David Navarre Says:

    You should really check out Ed Eaton’s story on BlackFive http://www.blackfive.net/main/2012/04/choosing-honor-ed-eaton.html


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