Yesterday was the viewing of my Dad, who passed away on Wednesday, February 1st at the age of 89 after more than five years of battling Alzheimer’s, which took him away a little bit at a time. We honor the passing of special man. I won’t call him a hero. He would have none of it. As he always said, “Words mean something,” and in his humility, I never heard him brag once. And insisted he was not a hero. So, I will honor his position.
But Dad was one of the last from the “Greatest Generation.” The son of an electrician who found opportunity at the Panama Canal allowing the family to escape the Great Depression, Dad grew up exploring the jungles of Panama and was a proud boy of the Canal Zone, a little enclave of America in Central America. The Balboa High School Senior Class President, Dad got permission from his mom to graduate early and join the World War II effort. At 17, he entered the war and ended with the mission of shipping back the battle hardened 10th Marines from Japan after the dropping of the A-bomb.
“His integrity and dedication to country and family were the standard I have always sought to emulate but of course never could reach, which I say with no shame.”
He graduated from Stanford on the GI bill and was recruited by the CIA where he served for almost 25 years. Early in his career as an operative, during the Korean War, he and future Commandant of the Marine Corps Bob Barrow, trained and led Nationalist Chinese guerrillas, conducting raids on the Chinese coast and Chinese shipping drawing Communist resources away from our boys in the Korean War. I am proud to tell my children that Papa was a pirate for Uncle Sam. Dad took great pride in the times he served with Marines during his career and in fact fired down range side by side with Marines during the attempted communist coup in the Dominican Republic in 1965. And it gave me great pride that I later served as a Marine myself, also at times serving with members of Dad’s old outfit.
Dad went on to lead a stellar career, in which he was highly regarded for his spy craft by friends and foes alike, with the foes making it a high priority to snuff Dad. Dad’s performance evaluation remarked that he conducted his missions with “ruthless precision,” where there was little margin for error. Thankfully, the Soviets never succeeded in taking out Dad and he went on to have four good kids with my mom who selflessly supported him throughout his career.
His later positions included serving as:
- Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Department of State as a Ronald Reagan appointee,
- Director of the Republican Study Committee and
- Foreign Affairs Staffer on Capitol Hill,
- Author, consultant, security advisor
- Founder of the Nathan Hale Institute, dedicated to increasing support and understanding of the importance of intelligence to our nation.
As a Dad, he was our North Star.
His integrity and dedication to country and family were the standard I have always sought to emulate but of course never could reach, which I say with no shame. I am privileged and honored that I have had that North Star to reach for and strive for. I never knew him to boast, curse or lie. Ever. Although always impeccable in appearance and grooming, he had no vanity. Nor did he have any excesses. He wore either black or brown oxfords, conservative suits purchased for a reasonable price. If he was working outside, he wore old versions of the same shoes, khakis, and a button-up shirt. He was driving economy cars before the liberals made it cool. He had one Scotch when he got home from work and a Pabst Blue Ribbon with dinner. His hobby was to read history or political books. He loved his work, his country and his family, and had the wonderful knack of offering his wisdom with gentle humility and support. I always felt his support and never felt criticized.
I continue to discover more not only of his professional exploits, but of his acts of love and kindness to people who were in need. I spent much of my life striving to making him proud which is funny, because he never burdened me with any expectations of grand accomplishments. He merely wanted all of us kids to work hard and be honest and good. To the extent we are that, Dad was indeed our North Star. Later in life, I am ecstatic to report that he committed himself to Jesus and I know God is pleased to have a worthy warrior in His kingdom.
Semper Fi Dad!
Colonel Brian Sulc designed and developed the Colonel’s Fitness Program from more than 32 years of experience in fitness. His experience involves the most important aspects of running an organization, including leadership, management, personal training, and group exercise instruction. He understands that leadership develops relationships with clients by listening to and understanding their needs, challenging them, motivating them and ensuring that they are getting what they need (which is not always what they think they want!).
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