Medal of Honor recipient and Special Forces Colonel Roger Donlon emphasizes the importance of taking the time to mentor each other in Part Three of my exclusive video interview. He also shares stories publicly for the first time of other Special Forces legends and character development, as part of the lead up to Friday’s National Congressional Medal of Honor Day.
Col. Donlon discusses the man who mentored him: Col. Aaron Bank, who’d served with the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) during World War II, which is the precursor to modern-day Special Forces and the CIA. Bank is considered the father of Special Forces.
Donlon, in turn, mentored another Green Beret legend: Col. Robert L. Howard, who was nominated for the Medal of Honor three times and was one of the most highly decorated soldiers in American history. Col. Donlon also remarks on how Col. Howard decided to mentor me, a war reporter, and why (a seemingly unlikely candidate, as I was neither a Ranger, nor Green Beret, nor male).
“I watched him give you polite, and then some more direct guidance at times,” Donlon says with a smile on camera.
“That’s a nice way of putting it,” I reply.
“Some people might say not so polite,” Donlon laughs. “It was more direct. But straight from the heart and straight from his shoulders.”
Donlon admonishes every one of us has that responsibility in life: to mentor others.
“But before you can become a mentor, you become a proven leader. Then you’re able to look in the rear-view mirror and say, ‘Hey I see some leadership qualities in somebody else,’ and you reach out and mentor them, be pro-active,” Donlon says.
Donlon also points out the importance of finding your “true North”, and sticking to your “moral compass.”
“What we are is God’s gift to us,” Donlon says. “What we become, is our gift to God.”
The 82-year-old suffers from Agent Orange related Parkinson’s Disease. Donlon was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor for the Vietnam War, and the first for any special operations forces commando.