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Medal of Honor recipient shares views on principles of leadership

9 Apr 2004 | Cpl. Kat Johnson

After serving the Marine Corps for more than 43 years, and receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, retired Marine Col. Wesley L. Fox travels the country teaching Marines the value of positive leadership.

For 16 years, Fox served the Corps as an enlisted Marine, learning different styles of leadership and acquiring a vast knowledge of how to be a leader. When he received his commission in 1966, he had earned the rank of gunnery sergeant and looked forward to applying his leadership experiences to his new position as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.

“I enjoyed everything I did in the Marines,” Fox said. “It’s always great to be able to talk to Marines about the things I learned while serving the greatest service in the nation.”

Fox shared his principles of leadership with Fightertown Marines during a leadership brief at the Lasseter Theatre on April 2. He told of his history in the Corps and revealed to everyone why he believes some of the best leaders are those who can lead without fear.

“I had a Drill Instructor, a private first class, that would constantly make me push myself to the extreme,” Fox said. “But I didn’t do it for him, as my leader, I did it because I was afraid of what he would do to me if I didn’t. That was what my first encounter with leadership.”

During the brief, Fox explained why he feels his experiences from private to colonel can help Non-Commissioned and Commissioned Officers become exemplary leaders who will always have the support of their troops.
“My second encounter was with Corporal Myron Davis,” Fox said. “He was a leader that would take the last and worst of everything so his Marines could have more.”

Fox described how Davis would volunteer to eat the worst tasting MRE (meal-ready-to-eat) and insist all of his Marines had a chance to choose the better ones first.

“He even purchased a little food warmer, so we wouldn’t have to eat cold and frozen MREs,” Fox said. “But the thing about Davis that made me and the rest of us agree to follow him anywhere wasn’t that he purchased a warmer, it was what he did with it.”
Davis would take the warmer out at every meal and allow each of his troops to use it before he did.

“He carried that warmer all over Korea, and never once had one of us carry it, although we used it more than he did,” Fox said. “It was this and things like being the first to jump into a hole after a grenade and clear it before any of us entered, that made us follow him. It was his dedication to his troops that made us dedicated to him as our leader.”

Before Fox ended his brief he insisted that all Marines take the opportunity to make a decision for the benefit of someone else and not themselves.

“We, as leaders, owe it to our privates, lance corporals and even second lieutenants a chance to work for a good leader.” Fox said. “You don’t have to belittle, humiliate or make fun of men and women to make Marines, because if you are a good leader they will follow you, regardless, as a dedicated Marine.”