[October 15, 2020] Officers in the U.S. military are, at minimum, give annual evaluations that provide feedback on both their performance and potential. Evaluations are crucial to the career of the officer and impact future performance. Thus, when I received my very first evaluation, I was upset. It read, ‘You’re only average, 2LT Satterfield.’
I don’t particularly appreciate being seen as average. My U.S. Army Infantry Battalion Commander, a senior officer, and an important military officer, sat down with me after making an appointment to discuss it. In our discussion, I said that I was not an average Second Lieutenant. With seven years as an enlisted soldier and experienced in Infantry tactics, equipment, and leading men, comparing me equally to new Second Lieutenants would be wrong.
My parting request was for him not to rate me “average” but in the future to rate me either below or above average. Lieutenant Colonel Don Munch smiled and said he would take it under consideration. We got along very well after the conversation, even if I might have been perceived as not being too pleased with his evaluation of me.
Colonel Munch had several quips that I wrote down for prosperity. He was unique as a leader and did his best to care for all his soldiers. Here are a few of them:
- “To lead men in combat is the ultimate leadership challenge. I will do so with all my soul and heart, and I expect you to do your duty.”
- “Those who think war should never be the answer, what do you think the Jews at Dachau would have said.”
- “If you find yourself in a fair fight in combat, you didn’t plan well.” (a modification of David Hackworth’s words)
- “A coward dies many deaths.”
- “I expect my officers to lead from the front and to adopt the Follow Me philosophy of the U.S. Army Infantry School.”
I was fortunate to have many long talks with Colonel Munch, mostly about leadership and leading men in combat. With his war experiences and list of accomplishments were helpful to me. At least I believe he appreciated those long discussions on topics of great interest to him.
He died of a brain tumor, presumably the result of his exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Don Munch was a good man. He was part of a long list of great Infantry leaders, those who lead men in battle, those who have been tested in war, and who were great patriots. I fully expected him to make General Officer at some point, but sadly we lost him to a hideous disease. He never saw me as average again.