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Around Town: Postcard from Annapolis

October 05, 2012|By Anita S. Brenner

This post has been updated. See note below.

Right after Yom Kippur, we headed to our country's Naval Academy on a red-eye flight, or, as Virgin America puts it, “a midnight journey.” The stars were bright as we crossed the country.

The next day, on Thursday, we attended the Stockdale lecture, named after Admiral James B. Stockdale and held on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy. Stockdale received the Medal of Honor for his conduct as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

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Several hundred midshipmen were in the audience, seated behind us. The speakers were four veterans, all Naval Academy graduates from the Class of 2002, in town for their 10-year reunion.

One of the panelists was a special friend. Lt. Cmdr. Josh Welle, who recently served as special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has a master's degree from the University of Maryland in government and politics, a master's in business administration from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, completed graduate education at St Antony's College, Oxford University and was a military fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Last Wednesday, Welle celebrated his 33rd birthday.

The other panelists included Marine Capt. Rocky Checca, a helicopter pilot; Navy Lt. Meagan Varley Flannigan, one of the last Tomcat pilots, and Marine veteran Seth Lynn, the founder of Veterans Campaign, “a non-partisan, non-ideological organization whose mission is to train veterans to run for public office by holding workshops and lectures, and conducting research on campaigning and related topics.” Lynn has been deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Japan. He has a master's degree in public affairs from Princeton University.

There was a question-and-answer session. The midshipmen focused their questions on preparation for the long wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere: “How do I prepare to be a good leader in wartime?” “Did your experiences in combat affect you?” “What makes a good leader?”

The panel, none older than 33, all with multiple deployments, gave concise and instructive answers.

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