Former Secretary of Defense visits MMA

Secretary Gates issues award

Former Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director Dr. Robert Gates spoke to the Marine Military Academy Corps of Cadets on Oct. 12 about leadership.

Gates, an Eagle Scout, said the things he learned in Boy Scouts helped him become a leader in different organizations.

“The only management course I ever had in my entire life was going to a national youth leadership training program,” he said. “Nothing teaches leadership more than trying to get a bunch of 12 and 13-year-old boys to do what they don’t want to do — and you’re only a year older than them.”

Gates then talked to the boys about decisions.

“When you get as old as I am and you look back on your life, you see that lots of decisions that you’ve made … don’t seem very important at the time. You look back a long time later and you discover how incredibly important they were,” he said.

For this former CIA director, a small decision in college led to a huge career.

“The only reason I agreed to see the (CIA) recruiter was to get a free trip to Washington, D.C. … and all of a sudden it changed the whole course of my life,” Gates said.

Gates continued: “Always be on the lookout for opportunity; and always understand that the choices that you make will determine the course of the rest of your life.”

He then advised the cadets to always protect their integrity and honor.

“No matter what you do in life, the real leaders lead with integrity. Keeping your honor intact and maintaining your integrity are extremely important,” Gates said.

In closing, the speaker encouraged the cadets to always serve others.

“Make sure that service to others is always a component of your life. As you go through life … always remember to reach out and help other people in your community,” he said.

Another distinguished Eagle Scout was sitting in the audience: former NASA astronaut Michael Fossum. Fossum is presently the chief operating officer of Texas A&M University at Galveston

Marine Military Academy is a college-preparatory boarding school for young men in grades 7-12 with an optional post-graduate year. Since 1965, MMA is the only private school in the world based on the traditions and values of the U.S. Marine Corps. Located in Harlingen, Texas, MMA has been home to thousands of sons from across the world and is quarters to the historic Iwo Jima Monument. To learn more about MMA, visit