Monday, October 25, 2010

Leadership from the Biggest Brother

Another excerpt from a current project at True Men Ministries.

Home page is here.

Dick Winters arrived at Teccoa, Georgia in the summer of 1942. The U.S. Army camp where the paratroopers would initially train was not much of a camp. There were one or two permanent buildings when he arrived. The troops would live in tents until barracks could be built.

Overshadowing the camp was 1,735 foot Currahee Mountain. On trooper remarked, upon arriving and looking up at Currahee, “I bet we’ll be running up that at the end of our training.”

Wishful thinking.

Dick Winters and the troopers started their training with runs up Currahee, with the rallying cry, “Three miles up, three miles down!”

Capt. Herbert Sobel, Commanding Officer of Easy Company at Teccoa, made them run up Currahee hill numerous times. Why? Because he knew that physical training would be vital to the company’s chances of survival and victory in combat.

Running up Currahee was Sobel’s torture that would help Easy Company survive Normandy on June 6, 1944, Holland in September 1944, Bastogne in December 1944 and January 1945 and finally reach Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in May of 1945.

Currahee is thought to come from a Cherokee word that translates to, “stand alone.” It would become the motto of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division – “We Stand Alone … Together.” The physical training not only prepared Dick Winters and the men of Easy Company for the rigors of war, but it help them to endure it mentally and banded them together as brothers in battle – a brotherhood that would last their lifetimes.

Dick Winters recognized that physical stamina is the root of mental toughness. And the men of Easy Company would be pushed to the limit mentally from June 1944 to May 1945. Jumping out of a plane into a dark sky lit up by bursts of flak to land in enemy-occupied France. They would be pushed almost beyond the breaking point in the frozen forests of Belgium surrounded by the enemy shooting artillery shells into the trees above them day and night.

I’ve read many articles that claim that a sound mind stems from a sound body. I’m not exactly sure why that would be because I’m not a doctor. But I would think it has something to do with the body being healthy, with good blood flow to the brain, well oxygenated, able to endure long periods of physical testing.

The stories of soldiers in war strike a chord within me because as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I also am a soldier in war. The devil attacks with “flaming darts” (Ephesians 6), he prowls around (1 Peter 5), he makes war against us (Revelation 12). Not every attack by Satan is physical. Most of them are what we would call spiritual – they attack our faith, our relationship with Jesus Christ. But if we’re going to withstand these attacks, we’ll need to have physical and mental toughness.


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