Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Murph on management





I was thinking about Audie Murphy yesterday, specifically about a nugget of management advice I long ago found hidden like an Easter egg in some of his writing.

Wait! What? Management advice from Audie Murphy?

Most of us know the bare bones of Murphy's story. Well, I expect most readers of this blog do, anyway.

He was born in 1925 in Texas into a sharecropping family. Most descriptions say "poor sharecropping family." Well, gee, a poor sharecropping family? How did that happen I wonder? But I digress.
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Murphy wrote about being hungry as a child, saying that he used to put pepper on molasses. "The pepper burned my stomach and made it feel full," he said.

I guess it helps to understand that peppery molasses was the entire meal available to him, and the only meal of the day.

At 17 he joined the Army to fight in WWII. He lied about his age, using a falsified birth certificate which showed his birth date as 1924. He barely made the minimum weight standard, and then only after eating six bananas and drinking a gallon of milk.

Assigned to the 3rd ID,
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Murphy fought in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He hit the beach in southern France as part of Operation Dragoon and fought across France and much of Germany.

He is often described as the most decorated soldier of WWII, having been awarded every US decoration for valor, as well as decorations for heroism from five other nations.
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Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on January 26, 1945, near the town of Holzwihr, France. Second Lieutenant Murphy, commissioned only the day before, commanded a badly depleted company (18 effectives) holding a woodline against a determined German counter-attack by two companies of infantry and six tanks. Supporting B Company were a pair of M-10 TD's, armed with three-inch guns and M2 .50 cal machine guns. The tank destroyers were knocked out by enemy tank fire almost immediately. With his troops desperately trying to dig in to the frozen ground and about to be rolled up and destroyed, Murphy dragged a field phone up onto the burning hulk of an M-10 and began to call in arty while engaging enemy troops with the M2 machine gun. The TD was hit several times by tank fire and Murphy was peppered by shrapnel, but he continued to engage the enemy and call in artillery, ultimately beating off the attack.
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That's probably the main thing that people remember about his military service.

After the war James Cagney invited Murphy to Hollywood. After sleeping in a gymnasium and eating cheese sandwiches for two years he started getting film roles and ultimately became a star. He appeared in more than 40 films, most of them westerns.
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Murphy died, along with five others, on May 28, 1971 in a private plane crash near Roanoke, Virginia.
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He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, where his grave marker still reflects the doctored birth certificate which allowed him to join the army at 17.
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You might be wondering what this post is all about, considering the title and my reference to a nugget of management advice he mentioned in "To Hell and Back."

His advice was just this: "Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves."

I was worried about the high winds we were having, you see, and how they would affect the cows and calves. The wind was a big thing, and completely out of my control





So I took care of the little things. Fences up, gates closed, stock tanks full of water, shelter available. A cow calved in the evening, and everything was fine.
See the little shit?

This morning the wind was down, there was another new calf, and it was fixin' to be another beautiful day.


The other thing I thought about Audie Murphy yesterday was that he was lucky to have died in 1971 so he wouldn't have to see how terrible things are today.

Then it hit me. Reality that is. For firetruck's sake, Evertson, the guy did the '42-'45 ETO tour! He stood on a burning TD that was getting hit by tank fire, calling in arty and lighting up a Kraut infantry attack! World Firetrucking War Two!

Sometimes my brain just don't work right.












11 comments:

  1. Yup, the little things add up. Get those right, most of the rest will fall into place.

    And yes, I spotted the little calf, had to embiggify but there it was.

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    1. It was kind of funny watching that little calf try to negotiate the trees last evening. Mama could walk right through, but she's got longer legs and more practice.

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  2. This reminds me of something I heard years ago. After all his mishaps and firsts, you know why Chuck Yeager is still alive? Because God loves Chuck Yeager. No other explanation. Same thing for Murphy, except for that last day- lives through countless battles, only to die in a frikken plane crash.

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    1. Impossible to completely wrap one's mind around such questions. In "To Hell and Back" he describes so many combat deaths that you begin to see the difference between living and dying as completely random. In the naval aviation experience we all saw the same thing, bad stuff happening seemingly at random, people surviving in impossible situations and perishing in mundane, survivable situations. Hurts my head whenever I try to understand.

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  3. Another outstanding post, thanks.

    Paul L. Quandt

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  4. I had one CO (the most miserable excuse for an officer and worst CO I ever worked for) who used to tell me that if I just took care of the little things the big things would take care of themselves. He was/is an idiot. Main Propulsion Diesel Engines don't just realign themselves. It take a lot of time, work, effort and phenolics. He told me he only had 5 number 1 priorities and he expected me to do those and everything else of course on a ship that was down to 11% manning because, somehow.... If I ever run across Richard G. Merten again, be he on fire, I wouldn't cross the road to piss on him.
    Life and death was just a matter of seconds and a foot or so. It was way better to be lucky than 'survive'. Best thing was to be about 2 feet away from the badness. A mile if you could make it.

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    1. That's what happens when you redefine little things as big things. Any asshole can turn good to bad that way.

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  5. I think Mr. Murphy would be appalled by what is going on here. After all he and his compatriots went through in the ETO and Pacific, the totalitarians have won in the end.

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    1. They haven't won yet, and their increasingly shrill screeching is imo a good sign. A few real Americans are starting to get their fat lazy asses up off the couch and behave like sovereign citizens again. It's gonna take a hell of a lot more, but it's a doable proposition.

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    2. I am in hopes that it is their death screams.

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