Don't Punish Every Mistake
one of my assignments as a young infantry
officer, I was sent to the 48th Infantry near
Frankfort, Germany. In those days our prize
weapon was a huge 280-mm atomic cannon. Guarded
by infantry platoons, these guns were hauled
around the forests on trucks to keep the Soviets
from guessing their location.
day Captain Tom Miller assigned my platoon to
guard a 280. I alerted my men, loaded my .45
caliber pistol and jumped into my jeep. I had not
gone far when I realized that my .45 was gone.
was petrified. In the army, losing a weapon is
serious business. I had no choice but to radio
Captain Miller and tell him. "You
what?" he said in disbelief. He paused a few
seconds, then added, "All right, continue
I returned, uneasily contemplating my fate,
Miller called me over. "I've got something
for you," he said, handing me the pistol.
"Some kids in the village found it where it
fell out of your holster."
found it?" I felt a cold chill.
he said. "Luckily they only got off one
round before we heard the shot and took the gun
away." The disastrous possibilities left me
limp. "For God's sake, son, don't let that
drove off. I checked the magazine and found it
was full. The gun had not been fired. Later, I
learned that I had dropped it in my tent before I
ever got started. Miller had fabricated the scene
about the kids to give me a good scare.
the army might hold an investigation, call in
lawyers and likely enter a bad mark on my record.
Miller gave me the chance to learn from my
mistake. His example of intelligent leadership
was not lost on me. Nobody ever got to the top
without slipping up. When someone stumbles, I
don't believe in stomping on him. My philosophy
is "Pick 'em up, dust 'em off and get 'em
From the book, "A
Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul"
2001 Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Barry
Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul...Stories to
Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit".
Inspirational Stories and Poems
Friends Across America Home Page