Any day you get to spend in the company of heroes is a good day. Back in March, I had the honor of spending time with heroes from 48 nations.
The Naval Command College was launched by the US Navy in 1953, with a vision is to foster knowledge, friendship, and cooperation among navies from around the world. It has been incredibly successful in building those bridges. Nations hand-select a key leader from within their own Navy, and then send him or her to the Naval War College based in Newport, Rhode Island for 11 months.
Fifty percent of the graduates of this program have gone on to become Admirals, and more than 10 percent have become the heads of their respective navies. These are the best of the best, and every year they choose to spend time in St. Louis, MO touring the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Boeing, the Arch and meeting with key business and community leaders in the area.
I had the privilege of touring the Danforth Center with these men and women in the morning, and then sitting down for dinner with them in the evening, along with other members of the St. Louis Navy League and business and community leaders. Spending time in conversation with men and women of this caliber is an amazing experience.
Talking about Norway and Scotland with CDR Jon Ivar Kjellin, a highly-skilled Norwegian Ranger who reminded me of the current James Bond character, was quite memorable. As was seeing the passion of CAPT Frederick Funebi Ogu as he talked about his home in Nigeria and the vision he had for the betterment of his nation.
And eating dinner, while in deep conversation with CDR John Anthony Craig of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy on one side and Father David Boase of the Church of England on the other, was highly enjoyable and inspirational.
I’m always humbled by opportunities like this. Growing up in the UK, surrounding by Airborne forces on one side, Air Force on another, tank regiments on the other, and every other branch of the military within just a few miles, I have always held those who serve in high regard. And my interactions with members of the military in the US, and now with leaders from many other nations, have only built that respect even higher.
If you are in St. Louis, and share this respect for our military, I highly recommend you get involved with the St. Louis Navy League. They have events throughout the year, many of which I attend. And be looking next year around this time for the next visit from the Naval Command College, and you too can have dinner with a global group of heroes.
It would be an evening well spent.