Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

By | October 14, 2019

[October 14, 2019]  You will them throughout airports as you travel across the United States, in train stations, and on buses.  Members of the U.S. Marine Corps are easy to spot by the way they hold themselves, dress, and speak.  But there is one thing that is also easy to “see.” The Marines Corps values and their slogans!  One of my favorites is Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.

Several years ago on a sunny day back in February, I was in Washington, D.C. to meet with the state representatives of New Jersey.  Since moving here, my attendance is occasionally requested by Mission Readiness; the non-profit that I worth with to advocate for young children.  While walking through the halls of the Longworth House Office Building, I came upon a group U.S. Marines, both young men and women, who were on tour.

I stopped briefly to speak with them and to thank them for their service.  “Semper Fi, sir,” was the first thing one of them said to me.  These young Marines looked neat, clean, and were alert to their surroundings.  I asked why they were in this building today.  One of the Marines – who looked like he was 15 years old – said that they had been invited to tour Washington D.C. by U.S. President George W. Bush.  They had met the President during his presidency while he was visiting Iraq.

A U.S. President (current or past) is not in the habit of inviting just a bunch of service members on a tour so my curiosity was up.  The back story was that they had been part of a supply unit that had been ambushed by insurgents out west of Fallujah, Iraq.  At the time, the oldest was 19 but each had the sense to act as a team and aggressively return fire on a group of insurgents.  Not only that but they called in a USMC Cobra gunship and a Medevac.  This accidental engagement broke up a larger insurgent attack on a nearby base, giving the Marines time to react and suppress the attack early.  Lives were saved.

These young Marines improvised a quick defense, adapted to the ambush, and overcame it quickly.  For this they were recognized by George W. Bush during one of his visits to Iraq.  Do we see young men and women like this walking the streets of American today?  Some will say the answer is probably ‘no.’  But there are Marines, as well as their brothers and sisters in the other military services, that can and do improvise, adapt, and overcome.

So often repeated, this phrase is commonly heard from U.S. Marines when a challenging situation arises.  I was proud to speak with this group of Marines and hear their story of bravery at a time when most young people would likely just pee their pants.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

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

22 thoughts on “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

  1. ZB22

    The idea here, in my opinion, is that we can learn those things that have made us humans successful. The traditions of old have sorted out those things that do not work. What is left remaining is a lot of “rules” on how to succeed. We ignore them at our peril.

  2. Fred Weber

    Excellent article. My uncle was a US Marine in Vietnam and he used to tell me stories about his time in combat. Wow, this sure does bring back memories. War is bad but it doesn’t mean that it is bad for everyone. My uncle said he became a better man, more faithful in his Catholicism, helpful in his community, and a good family man. This is what propelled him to be better than he would have been if not for his time in combat. Now we are all proud of him and his family too. We are all big supporters of the US Marines and all our military services.

    1. Bryan Lee

      Fred, you have a great man for an uncle and should be proud of him. Thanks for the story and your experience in “seeing” how to be a better person thru the stories of your uncle.

    1. Tony Custer

      Thank you both, ladies for these articles. I never read newspapers any more but I went to these articles and found them helpful. Much obliged.

  3. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Genuinely interesting article. Thank you Gen. Satterfield for another on-target article that deals with how our young people are not all lost in the PC ideology of today.

  4. Max Foster

    The stories about how our soldiers, sailors, marines, etc. have improvised, adapted, and overcame is one of the greatest stories of our times. When I look at the young service members of today, I stand proud at their accomplishments and their great attitudes. When I look at them and then look to the universities I see another world of victimhood, self moral superiority, intolerance, and hatred. Interesting differences.

    1. Ronny Fisher

      Max, yes! Any comparison of our service members to college students is a study in contrasts. I makes me sick what I see in our colleges today and the broken intellects that come from it. We’ve flogged this issue very hard in this blog before so I won’t go too long. But remember that this country is slowly dividing itself between those who protect it and those who want to destroy it and replace it with a socialist, big brother government.

      1. Jerome Smith

        Ronny, you are spot on with this comment. The contrasts are striking and sickening.

    2. JT Patterson

      Excellent comments. I too see the difference and you can also see it when these folks reach the age of their mid to upper 20s. The college students who were indoctrinated are now terrible people who are full of hate and envy.

    3. Mr. T.J. Asper

      There are some excellent points in this string of comments about the contrast of young people. I also see those going into private business (but not college) straight from High School. They are also so very different from the college students. Our higher education system has done a great disservice to our nation and its peoples.

  5. Army Captain

    In the Army we just say HOOAH. Shorter but means the same thing.

  6. Albert Ayer

    I’ve heard this on tv and occasionally from other people but I didn’t know it was a US Marine saying. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield, another piece of intellectual property for my brain. Ha Ha.

Comments are closed.