The Honorable Foot Soldier

By | November 5, 2018

[November 5, 2018]  From time immemorial, battles have been won or lost because of the ordinary foot soldier.  This foot soldier deserves to be called honorable because it is he who carries the nation’s colors, bears the burden of fighting and dying, and is the one also quickly forgotten.

The concept of foot soldier does not just apply to those who arrive to battle on foot or to the Infantryman; nor is he the mindless knuckle-dragger so many would have us believe.  A foot soldier could be a sailor, marine, airman, man, woman, any race, any religion, any social class; they all have something in common.  Every foot soldier knows that today may be his last one on Earth and only a few will mourn his departure.

“They were called the grunts, and many of them, however grudgingly, were proud of the name.  They were the infantryman, the foot soldiers of the war.” – Bernard Edelman, author ofDear America: Letters Home from Vietnam

Regardless of what is said of the foot soldier, this is an individual who prides himself on being the very person who carries the fight to the enemy.  Few want to do his job and even fewer can do it.  Who can face the enemy, see the “whites of his eyes,” and still do his job to kill the enemy (note I did not say ‘destroy the enemy’)?

And yet, do all this while exhausted, carrying heavy equipment, being at risk for every insect, crawling creature, and extreme heat and cold, rain and wind, and the randomness of death in combat.  Every foot soldier expects to be the first to attack and the last to come home.

And yet, he expects others to be envious of his teammate’s courage and élan.  No one knows of the mental and physical resilience it takes to do what he does or do can they even imagine it.

And yet, he does not want ordinary rewards of money, medals, or drink.  What he knows is that his valor is known by those foot soldiers that are at his side and will come to his aid whenever he needs it.  That is rewarding enough.  For the foot soldier knows that only he is truly honorable and being one of the few in history who actually make a difference.

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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.

23 thoughts on “The Honorable Foot Soldier

  1. Dennis Mathes

    Finally someone is recognizing the contribution of the lowly foot soldier. It’s about time that they get our respect and admiration.

    Reply
  2. Watson Bell

    The idea that a ‘foot soldier’ is deserving of honor is an old concept. But the idea seems to be universal, except in some Western nations like the US. With so many senior officers in the US, they get the recognition, the rewards, and media attention. The ‘little guy’ gets left out of the equation, it seems.

    Reply
  3. Nick Lighthouse

    Nothing is better than reading such a great article. Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Scotty Bush

    Hey General Satterfield, great article. I read it on my iPad while relaxing over a cup of java. My wife said she would finally read your website when I told her about what you wrote here. I’ve been a reader for a long time and my friends too but not my wife. She says that it’s too boring. Ha Ha. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not a site for those wanting to learn about good leadership principles.

    Reply
  5. Greg Heyman

    Another excellent article. Personally, I’ve never read anything that pushes the idea that the ordinary foot soldier was deserving of the honor. Of course, they do. And that is why your article surprised me a bit.

    Reply
  6. Willie Shrumburger

    “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” was a wartime speech made by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on 20 August 1940. Churchill was talking about the British Air Force. Those pilots saved Britain when she was most vulnerable. These were the “foot soldiers.”

    Reply
  7. Lynn Pitts

    Right on target. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for recognizing the ordinary soldier who never seems to get the credit due.

    Reply
  8. Darryl Sitterly

    I would suggest you also add those who are our first responders (nonmilitary) to your list of those who are foot soldiers.

    Reply
    1. Tomas C. Clooney

      Rise of the Footsoldier (2007). This was a movie about gangs. They could also be considered foot soldiers but were not honorable or heroic.

      Reply
  9. Billy Kenningston

    Finally, someone giving recognition to the foot soldier. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Did I say that enough? Of course not.

    Reply
  10. Edward Kennedy III

    I was smiling while reading your blog post today, Gen. Satterfield. The ordinary foot soldier has so often been overlooked that it is a cliche nowadays. They are, however, the backbone of any fighting force. Once the battle is joined, its the foot soldier against every enemy. And, you are right to note this includes all branches of the service, not just the army.

    Reply
    1. Fred Weber

      I’m one of your biggest fans Mr. Kennedy. I love the way you write and the subjects you chose. Please send in another article. Much appreciated.

      Reply
    2. Jonnie the Bart

      Me too !! I’m another fan, so please write another non-PC article for us!

      Reply
  11. Danny Burkholder

    Excellent. They should be honored but we are all too busy looking at other things. That is why great military leaders watch out for these men before, during, and after battle.

    Reply
  12. Drew Dill

    As a ‘grunt’ from the Vietnam War, I must say that you hit the nail right on the head and proper. Well written.

    Reply

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