My father just turned 88 recently, and served as an artillery officer with the 1st Armored Division based out of Fort Hood, during the Korean War era. He met and became friends with Dick Gregory—a young black soldier stationed there with special services. He later “managed” acts for the young Gregory, who was very popular for his humor among even white officers in the early 1950s in that racist part of Texas.
My father—a white officer—being friends and helping manage a black enlisted man. My dad was always proud of their friendship, and he got out of the Army after the end of the Korean War, and went on to have a highly successful career as an engineer building combat jets for the Marine Corps and Navy at Vought Aerospace—later named LTV Corporation. He spent 36 years at that same company. I became friends and flying buddies with LTV’s CEO Paul Thayer, who flew the F4U Corsair in the Pacific War and became an “ace” after shooting many enemy planes into the ocean.
Thayer (a Reagan Republican) was like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren—he was indomitable, unflappable, cool, calm, intelligent, and very personable if he wanted to be—and he usually very much wanted to be. When he was promoted from chief test pilot at Vought in the 1960s to president of the company, later CEO of LTV, the company was about to go under—bankruptcy loomed. But Thayer’s positive attitude and good management skills, and hard work, brought LTV out of the red and well into the black. The company thrived under his leadership. I wrote a story about it that he loved, back when I was a cub reporter in 1990 just out of college.
When my dad had a bad heart attack 15 years ago, I asked Paul to call him while in recovery to boost his spirits and help him recover. He called, and it worked. Though my dad was very surprised to hear from the former CEO of the company where he was working as an aerospace engineer—basically—and a director of production. But he was much farther down the ladder and it was years after Thayer retired. But he remembered my father. That’s what kind of a man he was.
We Americans require and demand competent leadership like that today—a sense that we’re a team here in America working on the most noble effort in human history—the perfection of the American Experiment. I recently read the U.S. Constitution in detail, and realize the only big problem is too much executive power. That’s clear enough. When George Washington took office as the first president, he perfected the art of gaining power by giving it away—he didn’t WANT too much power. Wow. What a concept.
That’s humility in public office. And it’s just what the doctor ordered to save a patient named the United States of America—to save us from dictatorship.
An infection cannot create its own antibiotic, just as Trump cannot heal the damage he continues to inflict.
Trump wants to divide and conquer, but people like my father—and there are millions of liberal-minded non-racists in America—prove good will toward others is the key to people getting along with each other. He proved it can be done even 65 years ago in the middle of Redneck Texas.
Admiral John W. Flores is a disabled American veteran, and a journalist and author in the mountains of northern New Mexico. He is a recipient of the U.S. Navy Public Service Award—presented to him in a 2009 ceremony at the 4th Recon Battalion HQ. The citation was signed by then-Marine Corps Commandant James Conway.