I was a Wimp before I Joined the U.S. Army

By | January 10, 2022

[January 10, 2022]  It’s a fact; I was a wimp before joining the U.S. Army.  My upbringing was not at fault.  I grew up around combat veterans, had a good formal and religious education, and had plenty of freedom to fish, hunt, and camp.  I had plenty of opportunities but not enough challenges.

Sure, I had dirty jobs as a kid, like picking cotton, cleaning pig pens, milking cows, and picking up cow manure, but that was not a real test of manhood.  Nor did anyone question my integrity or my abilities.  Yeah, a few bullies tried to beat me up, but I could run like the wind.  Furthermore, I had a bad habit of quitting something if it was too hard.  I was lazy.  I was a wimp.

Then, one day, knowing full well that I was a wimp (weak, timid, and fearful), I decided to join the U.S. Army.  That’s when my life changed for what I hoped was for the better.  The Army would ensure I could not quit, and good NCOs would instill some values in me like honor and loyalty and make me strong.  For me, once I joined, there was no turning back.  That’s a good thing because I would have quit after the first day.

Army Basic Combat training was tough.  I was not a fast learner under pressure as Drill Sergeants yelled and screamed at us “low-lifes.”  I was too scared to run away or talk back.  You kept your mouth shut, do exactly as you are told, make your bunk tight with hospital corners, and keep your weapon sparkling clean.  Otherwise, you would get a size 10 boot up your rear.  I began to learn that maybe the Army was not for me.  It was for me, I just didn’t know it yet.

One Drill Sergeant, SGT Bryant, told me that I might make something of myself, just maybe.  He showed us low-lifes how to be good Soldiers.  That meant that our feelings didn’t matter one hoot, and life wasn’t fair.  It also meant that we weren’t good enough to be “real” Soldiers.  SGT Bryant, you see, was a Vietnam Veteran and always looking for ways to bring down pain on us.  More pain meant stronger men.  No wimps allowed in his unit.

To finally get rid of my title of wimp, I was taught that adopting responsibility was the way.  It’s the military way.  Adopt responsibility, or you’re out of the Army on your butt.  Promotions were fast because of the Vietnam War, and the Army was about 1.65 million strong, primarily men.1  Men were a dime a dozen.  No one cared about you as an individual but only thought of you as a part of a team.  That’s when I learned that teamwork with responsibility was the key to being a man.

I could now do things most men could not do or would not do.  I would be a Soldier.  And my plan to stay in the Army for only a couple of years turned out to be a career that lasted 40 years.  I was no longer a wimp.

People are joining the U.S. Army for many reasons, often to prove their manhood.  Soldiers often stay because of their comrades.  I stayed to prove to myself that I was no wimp.

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  1. https://alternatewars.com/BBOW/Stats/US_Mil_Manpower_1789-1997.htm

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Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

50 thoughts on “I was a Wimp before I Joined the U.S. Army

  1. Tom Bushmaster

    Loved this article, so thanks Gen. Satterfield for showing us that we can turn our life around. We just have to have the guts to do so.

    Reply
  2. Dale Paul Fox

    Gen. Satterfield shows us his humility and that is one of his endearing traits. But don’t take him for being what I call a ‘wimp.’ Just read about what Gen. S. did as a kid, the jobs and his talks with combat veterans from WW2 and Korea. His upbringing gave him a solid base from which to grow.

    Reply
  3. Rebel Plains

    POW!!!! Nailed it. Learning a lot from Gen. Satterfield. He is what helps make America great. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

    Reply
    1. Dog Man

      Yep, support your family, your community, and your country. That way, when you need them, they are there for you.

      Reply
  4. Buster 1983

    I really enjoyed this article. Keep up the work on exposing the truth behind leadership and the skills to be successful. Well done and GO America. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

    Reply
  5. MrJohn22

    ” I stayed [in the US Army] to prove to myself that I was no wimp.” This says a bunch about Gen. Satterfield but I also believe, after being an avid reader of his website (and his new book on Iraq) that he means much more than is written here. Gen. Satterfield is a complex man. He shows us what needs to be shown and tells the truths that are truths throughout the history of mankind.

    Reply
  6. Dead Pool Guy

    I think that Gen. Satterfield might have underrated himself as a kid growing up in the Deep South. This was not an easy time. You had to survive but life was much simpler. Any kid who would have these jobs is no simpleminded country hick. Far from it. Strength matters but it’s not all physical strength. See today’s article.

    Reply
    1. Army Vet

      Correct, and let’s not be fooled. People don’t change that much immediately after joining the US Army or Marines or become a Navy SEAL. It takes time to adopt their values and live the values.

      Reply
      1. Valkerie

        👍👍👍👍👍 Thanks for your input, Army Vet. I’m your biggest fan! I’m really loving this website by General Satterfield. It’s the best thing that happened to me in a long time.

        Reply
      2. Mr. Savage

        ….. always great to here from a true American Hero, Army Vet. Thanks for what you do to help keep America free.

        Reply
        1. Commie Red

          Heroes are silly but Army Vet does know what the diff is betw reality and fake honor.

          Reply
          1. Doc Blackshear

            What the heck are you talking about Commie? Gee, step up and help us understand. We are willing to read what you have to write even if we disagree but please give us a little more meat on the bone to talk about. That way we can intelligently comment.

  7. Allen the Amigo

    I’m not so sure Gen. Satterfield was ever a wimp. Read between the lines, folks. Look at those ‘dirty’ jobs. Nothing easy or sissy about them.

    Reply
  8. Anya B.

    Always a pleasure (entertaining and educational) to read this leadership blog brought to us by Gen. Satterfield. His professionalism is a much needed antidote to the ignorance we see so much of today.

    Reply
    1. Don Snow

      Pow! Got that right Wild Bill. That’s why I keep coming back to this leadership website. Gen. Satterfield sure has a way with words.

      Reply
        1. Arena of Fools

          Thanks Boy Sue for the link (also at the end of the each article). Got my copy yesterday and having a hard time putting it down.

          Reply
  9. American Girl

    This is the comment by Gen. Satterfield that stuck in my mind, “To finally get rid of my title of wimp, I was taught that adopting responsibility was the way. It’s the military way. Adopt responsibility, or you’re out of the Army on your butt.” This should be the standard for all men but it’s not. We no longer expect much from young men and therefore, they don’t step up to achieve but say ‘screw you, I’ll just go somewhere else and do my thing.’ Then we’ve lost them.

    Reply
  10. Nick Lighthouse

    If you are a male and not a real man, no one will respect you or care about you. You are a deserved loner without friends who will stick up for you.

    Reply
    1. Maureen S. Sullivan

      Yep! Nick you nailed it. Gen. Satterfield, this is one of your better articles. Better not because we learned something about you but because it helps set our expectations that we can change for the better.

      Reply
  11. Willie Strumburger

    Great article Gen. Satterfield. Oh, I got your book, ‘Our Longest Year in Iraq.’ Great!!!

    Reply
  12. Max Foster

    “I was no longer a wimp.” Nuff said. A real man has to do, what a man has to do. That is why we value strength and honor, good character and brains, and always demand that real men are leaders. Anything short of that is not acceptable. This is the place where men belong and should never stray from their duty to their families and communities. It’s a tough, dirty, often thankless job but at the heart of our community is strong men, not sissy men. Hang tough, gentlemen.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Z. Lee

      Well said Max. It took me a long time to finally figure out that the way to manhood was thru adopting responsibility and telling the truth. There is simply no other way. I agree. 👍

      Reply
    2. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Most men I meet who were never in the military service of the US, say that this is one of their biggest regrets in life. I wonder why? —- rhetorical question — !!

      Reply
      1. Fix It or Leave It

        Because they missed out on something of great importance. And, they know it.

        Reply
  13. Army Captain

    “Sure, I had dirty jobs as a kid, like picking cotton, cleaning pig pens, milking cows, and picking up cow manure, but that was not a real test of manhood. ” I don’t know but these jobs seem like a pretty good test to me.

    Reply
    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      These are the kind of jobs that make you a real man only if you learn from them that hanging in there and doing them every day, without quitting. I think Gen. Satterfield meant that he might not have had those jobs very long or maybe just one summer while out of school. Read his articles on each of them (see his links).

      Reply
      1. Pink Cloud

        Good point Otto, as I was thinking the same thing. Many of us get into jobs as young folks and decides the job is not worth the effort. That’s how we learn.

        Reply
    1. Laughing Monkey

      This is an example where we are learning a lot about a leader and that their life is not always roses and easy living.

      Reply
  14. Joe Omerrod

    I know what you mean. I think most 18 year olds are wimps! Very few are not. It takes a lot of working out physically and learning mentally to overcome the “wimp” in all of us men.

    Reply
    1. Janna Faulkner

      Why do you think women want to marry older men? Simple explanation is that they prefer not to marry wimps. Or, to have someone stronger, more reliable, happier, and responsible than a teenager who doesn’t know where he is going or has been. Rational!

      Reply
      1. KenFBrown

        Good logic and practical. Thanks Janna. Couldn’t have said it better. Women are perhaps pretty smart.

        Reply
        1. Janna Faulkner

          Harold, appreciate the happy face. Good points by all. Just another reason why so many folks that are responsible come here and make comments in the leadership forum. You get feedback, and some of it is valuable.

          Reply
    2. Tom Bushmaster

      You got that right Joe. I surely was NOT a real man at 18. At least not to meet the standards that my community placed on men. Only those who were in the military or police force were considered real men. That’s why I went out and joined the US Navy. That’s just the way it was. Today is hardly any different except we are all too scared to call a wimp, a wimp or we might get attacked on Twitter …. oh my.

      Reply
      1. Len Jakosky

        Hey Tom, did you get Gen. Satterfield’s book yet? I did. Remember its’ OUR LONGEST YEAR IN IRAQ. I’m almost finished. When you’re done, let me know what you think.

        Reply
          1. benrhodesatDOS

            Yes, thanks Len J. Good work. I’ll be ordering my copy soon. Gen. S. took the time to write it, I’ll take the time to buy and read it.

        1. Really Good

          I agree, buy Our Longest Year in Iraq by Gen. Satterfield. You will not be disappointed.

          Reply

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