Corps Strength – Facing the Lion


The recent horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida made me recall something I learned from an international student of mine. Several years I ago in Sierra Leone, Africa training a large group of their senior NCO’s that were getting ready for a UN deployment to Sudan, as part of the ongoing peacekeeping mission there. These were mostly older guys, who had seen action as younger men during their civil war back in the 90’s. While they lacked a lot of formal training and education, they were tough, practical men who were good students, eager to learn. They were also an animated bunch, who liked to argue tactics and share experiences. Overall it was one of the best classes I’ve had since I joined the Intentional training rodeo. Our training was focused on basic stuff, troop leading, combat planning, etc. Land Navigation was also a primary subject as one guy told me, “When you fight in your village, you don’t need a map.” So, most of them had never used a compass before in their life, those were some interesting classes, to put it mildly.

So, one day we were discussing First Aid, Life-saving steps, etc. and I was telling them about the “Golden Hour” medical concept that we use. One student raised his hand and said, “We don’t have that here, and from what I’ve seen, most people that are shot, either die quick, or can hold on for a long time without care. Our mission is the most important and we can’t stay behind with the wounded.” I said. “Well, some lucky people do hold on for a long time, but in reality, seriously wounded people need trauma care ASAP.” “Yes”, he said. “But, I have myself have seen men survive very serious wounds with almost no care. My brother here, (pointing to a fellow student) survived all night, after being shot seven times.” I looked at the tall skinny man he was pointing too, who in response just shrugged his shoulders. I guess most of the class knowing him and his story, all laughed at his casual response.

At the next break, I went over to him, to hear his story. He told me he and some fellow soldiers were attempting to move on a group of rebels hold up in a local house, when they took some fire from another position. Two of his group were killed outright and our man was raked by automatic fire, hit seven times in the chest, arm, shoulder, with one round passing through his cheeks, taking a few teeth with it as it went. He showed me all the scars. His arm, shoulder and chest looked like someone had played connect the dots with a dull ax and he had a ragged quarter sized scar perfectly centered on each cheek. The rebels then fled and one of his buddies told him he was soon to be leaving this world for a better place, but they had to go on. So, he was propped up against a tree, his chest wound plugged with a bandana, they gave him a bottle of water, a half pack of smokes and left. They said they would be back in the morning to “collect him”. To their surprise when they returned the next morning, he was still alive and mad because he was out of cigarettes. How he was able to smoke with that wound to his face is beyond me? However, he was carried to a nearby hospital where he surprisingly recovered, even enough to stay in the Army.

So I asked him, how did he manage to stay alive all night? He said “We have a saying here. When you meet the Lion, you will always be alone, so prepare yourself. That night I met the Lion, but I was ready for him, so I lived. He smiled with a mostly toothless grin. I never forgot that story and my take away was that you never know when you may have to face the Lion. The Lion being something, or someone that wants to kill you. It could be a car wreck, an enemy solider, or some mental deranged kid in a high school. In any case, when the Lion comes you can bet it will be when you are least expecting it and probably alone.

I got to thinking about this again after the recent school shooting and all the second guessing about the police response, etc. It was obvious that some of the police weren’t ready to face the Lion, while some unarmed heroic students and teachers did, even thought they lost their lives in the process. They faced the Lion with courage and selfless action. They are beyond hero’s, IMO they’re warriors in every sense of the word.

I have to hope that if you, or I someday have to face the Lion, we will react as bravely as those who did in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I hope that even if I’m unarmed that maybe, just maybe the fact that I have worked hard all my life to keep myself in decent physical condition, that I have a physical edge that could save my life, or the life of another person(s). It may be just a foolish thought, as no man is tougher than a bullet, but being in shape can’t hurt and it just might be the slight mental and physical advantage that can make the difference when you’re in a tough spot. The final point being that keeping yourself in good condition can mean a whole lot more than just looking good on the beach, or doing better on the football field, It could be the difference between life or death, Military, firefighters and LE know this because they’re professional Lion Tamers. However, in today’s world the Lions seem to be everywhere? Even in our schools. Something to keep in mind when you don’t want to go to the gym, or out for a run. The Lion is out there and he is ready. Are you?

Till next month: Be Safe Always, Be Good When You Can.

Semper Fi


2 Responses to “Corps Strength – Facing the Lion”

  1. Hubb says:

    A lot of wisdom going on this Saturday.

  2. Bill Carty says:

    As a current federal agent, former police/military and tactical instructor, your article on when you will face the lion is spot on. The biggest problem I encounter in training is the “will not happen to me theory” , the second, unless you are training elite units (military/ SWAT) the “average” person is severely out of shape and as the old southern saying goes”, can’t fight their way out of wet paper bag”.

    Maybe the warriors coming up today should spent less time on electronics and more time in the gym. The last time someone tried to kill me, my cell phone didn’t help me at all. Thank you, great words.