In order to assess the character of Samuel Damon from Once and Eagle from a military point of view this paper will follow a rough format of the Leadership Assessment Report (blue card) used to assess Army ROTC cadets. As the assessment of Damon is being made Courtney Massengale will also be assessed in order to compare the two men’s leadership styles. The assessment of both will also show a contrast of what a good leader is from a poor one.
The book begins with Damon at his hometown in Nebraska. Before Damon ever enlists into the army, he already exhibits the qualities of a leader. While reading the first part, Orchard, in Once an Eagle, we find out that he works as night clerk at a hotel in town. We know that he is the oldest son in his family and that his father has passed. He works not only to make money, but also to make money to support his family. This shows his sense of Duty and Selfless-Service towards his family that we later see carry on into his military career. We also learn of his Personal Courage when being confronted with Riley who arrived at the hotel drunk, demanding to be served. Damon did not run away when being threatened by a man so much bigger than himself. He is able to devise a plan to take out Riley, successfully executing it, earning himself a reputation as “The Night Clerk” that follows him through his military career. In this first part of the book alone Damon proves that he is a very capable leader, exhibiting Duty, Selfless-Service, Personal Courage, and adding on to the qualities already listed, Confidence, Resilience, showing Mental Agility, and being Physically Fit. Damon continuously presents all of these throughout the book.
Damon attempts to go to West Point to start his military career, but he could not wait another year for the position the Nebraskan congressman had promised (Damon proved himself by making an excellent score on the exam and impressing the congressman). He enlists despite the protests of his family. Damon sees action during World War I, and it is during this time that he fights a battle that is a great example of how he is meant to lead. Damon is separated from his platoon during a battle; finds one of his men (Brewster) and the two are on their way to meet up with the rest of their forces. Along the way he encounters Devlin, Raebyrne and Poletti captured by two Germans and walking down a road. He displays Mental Agility when planning how to free his men from their captors. He quickly briefs Brewster, who is terrified, but Damon motivates him, telling him that he is absolutely capable of completing the plan (Developing Others and Interpersonal Tact). They are able to free their comrades and as they continue on they pick up two more soldiers from C Company.
As they continue, they arrive at Brigny-le-Thiep, which Damon recognizes from a brief that was the German’s main objective. Again exhibiting his Mental Agility, he creates a plan that he successfully executes, showing how Resilient he was in his attack despite them being outnumbered and ill equipped. He takes out the German force up in the farmhouse, showing to his mean his Confidence and ability to Lead by Example. As soon as the farmhouse is captured he places the men in positions to defend, using Sound Judgment and his experience as a night clerk at a hotel (the height being just right, as he reports to Major Caldwell) to keep watch and conduct an attack on approaching German forces. As expected, the German force arrived, and maintaining his Confidence, Military Bearing, and Domain Knowledge in tactics, he waits till the Germans are barely one hundred yards from the farmhouse before he orders the men to fire. His actions win him the attention of Major Caldwell, who becomes a key figure in his life (he is also to be his father-in-law). Other battles such as these further illustrate Damon’s leadership, and despite hardships, he never quits.
The book doesn’t...