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Calendar >  Duty, Honor, Country -Thomas Calabrese

Duty, Honor, Country -Thomas Calabrese

By   /  March 23, 2024  /  10 Comments


Our Favorite West Point Dropout

Thomas Calabrese -Audie McCain was seventh generation Army and was named after the greatest war hero in American history. One of his ancestors was in the 1909 West Point graduating class with George Patton and served with him in World War I. His great-grandfather was Audie Murphy’s platoon commander when they both were in the 15th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in North Africa during World War II. His grandfather was also a West Point graduate and served as a battalion commander with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam and later retired as a three star general. Audie’s father attended West Point and commanded units during Desert Storm, Iraq and the Afghanistan conflicts.

Young Audie never had any doubt about following the family tradition of attending West Point Academy and was in his third year when the current administration decided to remove the words ‘Duty, Honor, Country’ motto from its mission statement. It would now read: ‘To build, educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets to be commissioned leaders of character committed to the Army Values and ready for a lifetime of service to the Army and Nation.’

Lewis McCain, Audie’s father was a retired Army officer. He sent a scathing letter to the West Point Association with copies to Fox News and Newsmax expressing his opposition. His letter is below;

Duty, Honor, Country. Duty: A moral or legal obligation, a responsibility. A task or action that someone is required to perform. Honor: High respect, great esteem. An adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct. Country: A nation with its own government occupying a particular territory. The United States Military Academy’s decision to strike the words “Duty, Honor, Country” from its mission statement is confusing and confounding on its surface, but there is a much more sinister motive at work. Why at this particular time would anyone with any sense of patriotism choose to make a controversial decision that they knew would alienate veterans and further divide our country?

On 12 May 1962 General Douglas MacArthur used these words in a farewell speech to West Point Cadets. Our current political leadership is more concerned with a cultural Marxist ideological agenda and leftist social policies than patriotism and military readiness. It is glaringly evident to me that “Duty, Honor, Country,” are just empty words to politicized military leaders and ‘Deep State’ parasites.

 Duty, Honor, Country is a creed, a way of life for noble men and women who willingly go into harm’s way to protect and possibly make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Anyone in the West Point chain of command who supports this radical change should resign immediately. I feel so strongly about this issue that if the Commander-in Chief and the Joint Chief of Staff also support this change, they should resign as well. Our country has shed too much blood and too many lives have been lost to ever surrender to cowards and criminals who will do anything to weaken our country, including manipulating the English language for nefarious purposes.

 Lewis McCain, Army Ret.

Lt. General Adam Rossman, Superintendent of Cadet West Point called Audie McCain to his office. He stood at attention and said in a loud and clear voice, “Cadet McCain reporting as ordered, Sir.”

            “At ease, McCain. We have a serious problem,” Lt. General Rossman stated.

Audie did not respond and Lt. General Rossman continued, “Your father’s letter is causing serious repercussions in the military and throughout the Department of Defense. I assume that you have read it.”

            “That would be correct, sir,” Audie responded without hesitation.

            “What is your opinion?” Lt. General Rossman asked.

            “I respectfully decline to answer that question,” Audie said.

            “Why is that?”

Audie explained, “It is Department of Defense policy that active duty personnel and cadets should not engage in political activity and I intend to remain in compliance with that directive. My father is retired and he is free to exercise his constitutional first amendment rights.”

            “You’re involved in this whether you like it or not,” Lt. General Rossman said. “You can mitigate the damage that your father caused by denouncing his statements.”

            “Sir, that is never going to happen,” Audie said defiantly.

            “This isn’t a request, it’s an order!” Lt, General Rossman yelled.

            “Once again, I repeat, that is never going to happen, sir,” Audie said.

            “Your father and I have had our share of disagreements during our careers, but this is a bridge too far even for him. He never could figure out how to play the game. Hell, with his impressive war record, your father could have been a general, but he could not his keep opinions to himself,” Lt. General Rossman said, “He had to know that this would fall back on you.”

            “Sir, permission to speak freely,” Audie said.

            “Permission granted.”

Audie said, “If you asked the men who served with my father about who they would rather have in command, a  woke bureaucrat who minces words and goes along with the flow or a warrior who says what he means and means what he says…. which one would do you think they’d choose?  My father is a man of honor so it’s not in his nature to turn his back on a problem especially one that has to do with our country. In rare cases a man get to choose his battles, but in most cases the battle choose him. This one chose him and he stepped up like he always does.”

Lt. General Rossman continued, “You father is retired so he can veer off course as much as he wants, but I don’t have that privilege. It comes down to this… your father can submit a formal retraction or you can denounce his statement. It is Friday morning and I’ll give you the rest of the weekend to think about it…you’re dismissed.”

Audie did a crisp about face and left.

Monday morning came and Lt. General Rossman was in his office. Captain Ronald Mitchell knocked on the door and heard the word, ‘Enter,’ and came in. He said, “Cadet McCain is here.”

            “Send him in,” Lt. General Rossman ordered.

Audie entered and stood at attention. “At ease,” Rossman said then continued, “Did you make your decision?”

            “Yes sir,” Audie responded and handed Lt. General Rossman an envelope. The Superintendent opened it and read it, “I don’t understand.”

            “Sir, you gave me two options, but there was a third…my resignation,” Audie said.

            “Are you sure that this is the path that you want to take?” Lt. General Rossman asked.

            “Yes sir, the two choices you gave me were the major contributing factor in making my decision. Thank you for making it so clear.”

            “Then I accept you resignation…effective immediately.” When Lt. General Rossman opened the door to his office, he saw Audie’s father sitting in the lobby and walked over to him and apologized, “Hey Lewis, I want you to know that this wasn’t my idea…I’m only following orders.”

            “I know the drill,” Lewis responded, “There’s comes a time in every soldier’s life when he realizes that following orders isn’t the same as doing one’s duty. A reckoning is on your horizon and if not in this world then in the next.”

Father and son left the building in lockstep without as much as a backward glance.

Three months later, Lewis and Audie met with a group of former Delta Force Special Operators on a warship disguised to look like a freighter in the South China Seas. The helicopter landed and the two men were met by Chuck Greer who smiled, “Good to see again, Colonel.”

            “Looking good, Captain. This is my son, Audie.”

Audie said, “My father speaks highly and often of you, one of his favorite terms is warfighter extraordinaire.”

            “I learned from the best,” Chuck said.

The three men went below deck to the dining facility where four dozen Special Operators lined up to shake hands with the legendary Lewis McCain. While enjoying a buffet of steak, lobster and various delicacies, these American patriots socialized and talked business at the same time.

When it came time to leave, Lewis reminded his son, “You don’t have to be in the army to serve your country.”

            “I’ll be in touch,” Audie promised.

Lewis boarded the helicopter and it took off as Chuck came up and put his hand on Audie’s shoulder. The men aboard the freighter were seasoned veterans with years of combat experience. They felt confident that the person serving beside them was highly qualified and would not waiver when things got hairy. Despite their collective respect for Lewis McCain, Audie wasn’t going to get a free pass or even an easy path with these men…not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact he would be held to a higher standard because of his heritage.

Audie grew up learning martial arts from his father and instructors from around the world wherever the family was able to go on accompanied tours. To check his level of expertise in hand to hand combat skills, Chuck Greer challenged the new man to a friendly sparring match. Audie knew it was test and once he got hit a couple times, he knew that Chuck was very good. Keeping his wits about him, Audie circled to the left and ducked under a right footed kick then jumped up to avoid a left footed leg sweep. Chuck threw five punches, two missed, but the ones that made contact shook Audie to his very core. Young McCain couldn’t remember ever being hit so hard, but he wasn’t even close to giving up.

Chuck Greer was impressed by the young man’s determination and decided to end the conflict to save Audie any additional pain. He hit Audie with a powerful blow to the chest that sent him staggering backward. While doubled over and resting his hands on his knees, Chuck moved closer and Audie surprised him with a powerful punch that knocked him off his feet then fell to his knees. Both men looked at each other and Chuck asked, “How are you feeling?”

            “I’ve been better,” Audie grimaced, “thanks for asking.”

Chuck got to his feet and extended a hand to help Audie up. This was the first test in joining this elite fraternity, there would be others. This group of unique men traveled around the world doing various missions for governments, companies and individuals Three years later, they were contracted to develop and carry out a rescue mission in Nigeria where several American engineers and two dozen local workers were kidnapped by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.

Audie and Chuck and several other operators landed in Lagos, Nigeria and were met at the airport by former Lt. General Rossman and his entourage. Rossman was now working for Techtel Corporation, a global defense contractor. When Rossman saw Audie, he was momentarily surprised, “Hey McCain, so this is where you ended up.”

Audie said, “From the military to the military industrial complex, not much of stretch for you. You barely had to break stride.”

            “You can talk about the old times later, right now we needed actionable Intel,” Chuck reminded both men.

Rossman laid out a map on the hood of the SUV and pointed to an area that was circled in red, “This is their fortified compound and the area around it is heavily patrolled and mined. It won’t be easy to get in.”

            “There is one way that is unguarded,” Audie said.

It was five minutes after midnight and the plane was cruising at 20,000 feet when Audie McCain and sixteen other men did a high altitude low opening jump over the terrorist hideout. It is unfathomable to the majority of people that are unfamiliar with the immense capabilities of Special Operators that anybody could land in rapid succession on the roof of a warehouse without being seen or heard. That was the case however. Keeping their night vision goggles on, Audie and his comrades used a rope to descend from the roof to the ground. Using high tech weaponry that barely made a sound, the American warriors killed seventy-three terrorists and took control of the facility. Once the hostages were rescued, demolition charges were planted in strategic locations around the compound. Three helicopters landed, the rescue team and hostages boarded them and they lifted off.

Hovering above the compound at 1,500 feet, Chuck handed Audie a remote detonator, “Care to do the honors.”

            “Don’t mind if I do,” Audie took the device, pressed the button and destroyed the terrorist compound.

Rossman was waiting at the airport when the three helicopters touched down. He walked over the rescue team and said, “Great job!”

Chuck Greer snarled, “Build, educate, train, and inspire, but when it came time to get your people out, you came to men who live by the code of duty, honor and country. Sounds hypocritical to me,” Chuck spit on Rossman’s imported Italian loafers, walked off then turned around, “Expect a surcharge on your bill, General!”

Audie flashed a quick smile, “My team is waiting for me so I have to go, but I’ll leave you with a question, no answer is required. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be…can you say the same…General?”

 It was a week later and the freighter was docked in the Singapore harbor. It was Audie’s birthday and the entire team was in attendance for the festivities. Lewis McCain carried out a three tiered cake and set it on the table before his son. The writing on it had these words on it, Our Favorite West Point Dropout.

                                                                  The End

What is a famous quote from Audie Murphy? -Audie Murphy quotes are still relevant today. He wrote, “I’ll tell you what bravery really is. Bravery is just the determination to do a job that you know has to be done.” Upon Audie’s return to America, his boyish good looks were noticed by Hollywood executives and he launched an acting career.


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  1. Robert says:

    Very good story. Enjoyed.

  2. Skip says:

    Great story! Audie is the best! I told many of my Marines, “You don’t have to stay in the Corps to serve the Country”!

  3. John Michels says:

    Nice story Tom very quick read

  4. bob wolf says:

    good story

    regrettably the code of duty, honor and country. has been omitted. From the west point mission statement and is certainly not in the commander in chief vocabulary

  5. Tom says:

    I knew from the title that this would cause most if not all of your readers to stand up and say: “Hell yes!” To remove those sacred words from the West Point history is despicable! Many soldiers have died to keep those words alive. No doubt, Audie Murphy is rolling over in his grave in sheer disbelief. I know I would!

  6. Steve says:

    I really enjoyed the story…the message hit home…that’s for sure.

  7. Jeremy says:

    Another good one.

  8. Stephanie Boren says:

    Always a good story, Thanks Tom

  9. Jon Gregory Nielsen says:

    Sir Thomas C.,

    Thank you for this story. You provided your readers with a quick education surrounding our country erasing our long standing call to serve: Duty, Honor, Country.

    “Stay strong, stay true, stay real.”

  10. Tamra Jordan-Brown says:

    I really appreciate your stories and this was another amazing fictional delight! I just saw a YouTube video last night of famous entertainers and athletes, (from the Golden Age of Hollywood – the present ), who perished in airplane and helicopter crashes. Audie Murphy was one of them! He was absolutely gorgeous, a decorated military man and very good actor. Thanks Tom!

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