Taking Names and Breaking Furniture

By | March 24, 2021

[March 24, 2021]  My dad knew him as a “badass.”  Dougie McDuranty (not exact name due to my dad’s memory) had his picture taken somewhere in the Pacific Theater of World War II.  It was after he was part of a U.S. Marine squad responsible for killing many Japanese soldiers on Guadalcanal.  Like my dad said, this Marine was into taking names and breaking furniture.  In other words, he got things done but without the niceties you find elsewhere.

My dad knew him years after WWII while working on the Missouri Pacific Railroad (the MoPAC).  Dougie was a ‘gandy danger’ who installed what we call ‘stick’ or jointed rail that required bolting to a wooden tie.  It was a dangerous job, not very glamorous, and the crews were full of some of the meanest people you can imagine.

Retiring from the railroad in 1990, my dad had started at the bottom as a Telegrapher and finished as a Superintendent (just under Vice President).  Living the railroad life, our family knew about the Section Gangs (gandy dancer being an old term) and what they did to ensure the trains ran safely on the steel tracks.

On a few occasions, Dougie told my dad stories about the war in the Pacific and how he and his buddies killed the Japanese.  The one my dad remembers most is about how Marine squads would be sent to destroy hard defenses the Japanese had set up in anticipation of an invasion by the Americans.  This article is not so much about the killing in war but how these teams could be effective.

As I understood the stories re-told to me, there were several key to success on the battlefield that Dougie pointed out.  First, good intell (knowing the enemy location and firepower).  Second, a diversion (to distract the Japanese from Dougie’s team).  And, third, teamwork (they had to work closely together with a common goal).

Dougie told my dad that it wasn’t the American officers who mattered most on the battlefield in those Pacific island battles, but the lowest sergeant in the chain of command.  If this sergeant was not up to the task, he got his men killed or injured.  Dougie started on Guadacanal as a Lance Corporal.  Five months later, as the Guadalcanal campaign ended, he was a Staff Sergeant.  The reason was the effectiveness of him and his teams.

Good leadership is always tricky to spot right away.  Certainly, Dougie did not look much like a leader.  He was short, scraggly looking, and seem to need a shave no matter how much he tried.  But Dougie was a real leader.  We are all better off with men like Dougie.  It’s a good thing he did not serve in garrison duty.

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.

22 thoughts on “Taking Names and Breaking Furniture

  1. Len Jakosky

    Another top-notch article by Gen. Satterfield, explaining – in this case – that you cannot judge a book by its cover. I suspect this is true of all people. You never know what they can do when you give them your support and care.

      1. Tracey Brockman

        I only wish that I’d met this man, as well. Rarely do you find them around. They don’t work out well in a peaceful environment like at home but do so well during war.

  2. Lynn Pitts

    Wow, I’ve known a few men like this Dougie guy. Hey, thanks for revealing real men. I like real men and so do normal women.

  3. Janna Faulkner

    Hey thanks, Gen. Satterfield. Loved today’s article. I always like to read about real stories as they involve our combat veterans. It’s about REAL MEN. There are so few left anymore.

  4. Maureen S. Sullivan

    Here is the key take away from this article:
    1. knowing the enemy
    2. distract the enemy
    3. work closely together with a common goal
    If you got all that, then you pass the test of Gen. Satterfield’s article. Keep this in mind while working, especially if you are in the US military.

    1. Anya B.

      Maureen, you took this right out of my thinking. Well said. Yes, let us not forget the lessons today and apply them. It would be a good idea to put them on your refrig to read every morning you get up.

      1. Harry Donner

        Good summary Maureen. Too bad so many folks simply ignore the most obvious. In Gen. Satterfield’s pages, he gives us the solution and the ‘how to’ to be successful leaders. I would envision most of us simply ignore his input and read these pages for their entertainment value alone. Let’s not overlook it moral value.

  5. Greg Heyman

    I enjoyed today’s article, Gen. Satterfield. Sure thing, your dad was fortunate to have worked with a WW2 vet. They may have been common when he met this guy but today they are not around anymore; at least the real tough ones are not around. Sad.

  6. Army Captain

    I hope someday to meet someone like this man your dad knew. Sadly, they are no longer around. I believe, like Gen. Satterfield, that men today in the US are meek, weak, and effete. Maybe it takes something harsh like war to stiffen their spines up a bit.

      1. Audrey

        Yep, and to think that they are the ones who would have made such a huge difference during the Battle of Guadalcanal and other island battles of the Pacific part of the war. I’m amazed that there is not more said about it these days. But, alas, our universities are more into safe spaces and timeouts with play-doe and soft bunnies than reality, so I’m not surprised at all.

        1. Linux Man

          Yep, you hit that nail on the head, Audrey. Well said. I find that we are dumbing down our youth so that they are easier to control later on. They won’t resist ever after they see themselves only as victims.

          1. Yusaf from Texas

            Thanks to Gen. Satterfield, we are all better off. I would, however, like to see more detail in these articles. Whether this is done through more references or thru more written detail. Somehow, perhaps, Gen. Satterfield could make another tab feature that gives these details.

  7. Dead Pool Guy

    Excellent article, Gen. Satterfield about your dad and those he knew from the war.

  8. Scotty Bush

    Your dad was a luck guy to know this “Dougie” fellow. And, I bet that your dad knew it, as well.

  9. Willie Shrumburger

    You gotta be aware that people like the guy your dad knew are the kind that you might not want to around you. But, in time of war, they are exactly who you want right next to you and protecting your rear end from the enemy. Is this a contradiction of some sort?

    1. the ace

      A contradiction? I don’t think so. I believe this kind of “man” is in all of us. Strong, brutish, and targeted. Only chaos (to use Dr. Peterson’s term that Gen. S. also uses) is what unleashes the beast within us. We are all real men when the going gets tough or we die. Simple.

    2. JT Patterson

      Well said, Willie. And, no, I don’t either think it’s a contradiction so much as an observation of reality. 👍

      1. Tom Bushmaster

        Yep, good one today, right JT? I’m glad I’m up early today to read this article. Gives me something to discuss with my new co-worker. We are starting to hit it off well these days. We have idiots to talk about in politics and that is making my work time go by faster. Ha Ha. Politicians are becoming the lemmings of the world of woke.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.