CACI Chairman Dr. J.P. (Jack) London's 2013 Naval Order of the United States Admiral of the Navy George Dewey Award Acceptance Speech
On November 2, 2013, CACI Chairman Dr. J. P. London received the Admiral of the Navy George Dewey Award from the Naval Order of the United States. The following is the transcript of his speech at the event.
"Thank you, [Capt.] Vance [Morrison]. Good afternoon, everyone. It's a pleasure to be here in beautiful and historic Charleston. I'd like begin by thanking the Naval Order for being selected as your 2013 recipient of the Admiral of the Navy George Dewey Award. I also want to thank Doug Moore, David and Hartley Porter, and all the leadership for their warm welcome and superb hospitality. And thanks to Jim Brooke for getting me involved with the Naval Order.
This really is a special honor because Adm. Dewey was an early supporter of the Naval Order and its mission. He served as Commander of the New York Commandery from 1898 to 1900. Dewey later served as the fourth Commander General of the Naval Order, from 1907 to 1917.
I have always believed in the Naval Order's mission - to preserve and promote naval and maritime history, as well as the legacy of the U.S. Navy. In support of it, I attended the unveiling and dedication of our statue of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in Hawaii this past Labor Day weekend.
Admirals Nimitz and Dewey are in that select group of Navy legends known for their courage, commitment and integrity. I had always known about Admiral Dewey and his epic story at the Battle of Manila Bay. But I was surprised to discover that we had some things in common - the Admiral and me.
Admiral Dewey and I are both Naval Academy grads and both sailed a Mediterranean cruise in our last year. We were both instructors at the Naval Academy. Dewey commanded a dispatch boat, the USS Dolphin. My ancestor, Captain Samuel Nicholson, of the Continental Navy, commanded the cutter Dolphin in 1777. Later on, Dewey was in charge of vessels at the Naval Academy, including the USS Constitution. And coincidentally, my Captain Nicholson was the Constitution's first commanding officer.
I have also been aboard the USS Olympia, Dewey's flagship, now berthed in Philadelphia. And I have been to visit Manila Bay in the Philippines, where that famous sea battle took place on May 1, 1898. On many occasions, I have visited his tomb in the Bethlehem Chapel at the Washington National Cathedral in D.C. Adm. Dewey was, indeed, "one of a kind."
Men, like Dewey, are heroes for many reasons. But discovering that you have things in common with them makes them even more inspirational. After all, that's what heroes and leaders are supposed to do - inspire us through their accomplishments and make us believe we can do the same for ourselves.
The importance of inspiration is often underestimated. It's not a saying on a poster or a "eureka" moment. It's something we have to find every day to keep us going and to continue growing. Inspiration is an opportunity, the motivation to do more and be more. But it's also a responsibility, setting an example for others the way it was set for you.
I found this kind of inspiration at the Naval Academy, as I suspect George Dewey did, as well. It's a place of American naval history and folklore, and the rich heritage of many American naval heroes. The truth is, for Jack London, the Academy changed my life, my direction, and my view of the world.
During my first summer in 1955, I participated in a change of command ceremony for Adm. Arleigh Burke. This young man from Oklahoma City was suddenly among military leaders, like the Chief of Naval Operations, telling us about his wartime experiences. Despite the weather delays and hours standing (and sweating) in rank that hot, steamy August day, I got to see some of the Navy's great leaders.
Later, I would have the great fortune to work for some of these leaders. They were also my role models. For me, role models have been a great way to learn and be inspired. It's like the saying, "If they can, so can I." And I wanted to be like them.
As a young officer, I worked for Admiral J.D. "Jack" Arnold when he was Vice Chief of Naval Material. My Admiral was a real leader and a true hero. At Pearl Harbor, he was the only Naval Aviator credited with a "kill," while on the ground, for shooting down an enemy plane with a "BAR". He also led Carrier Air Group TWO flying "Hellcats" from the USS Hornet during the decisive Battle of the Philippine Sea - the infamous Marianas "Turkey Shoot." Arnold was a recipient of the Navy Cross and DFC.
Jack Arnold set an example as a leader who always gave his best and expected everyone else to give their best. After the war, Adm. Arnold became the Navy's chief aeronautical engineering duty officer. I was selected to work as his aide for two years during the height of the Vietnam War. Everyone who worked for him knew they had to meet his "high" expectations. But they were proud to be part of his team and were inspired to do their best.
Jack Arnold also helped connect me with another Navy great who would become a colleague and a role model. Admiral Thomas H. Moorer was the two-term Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a two-term Chief of Naval Operations in the 1967-74 time frame. A veteran of Pearl Harbor and a hero of the Pacific War, Adm. Moorer - to this day - is one of the most highly revered men of the Navy. He was a recipient of the Silver Star and DFC. His fine reputation was one reason I put him on a short list of people to fill a vacancy on CACI's Board of Directors in the late 80s. Tom knew Adm. Jack Arnold from their Academy days and the war. I must have gotten an "up check" from Jack or Tom would have never joined CACI.
Tom served on our Board of Directors from 1988 to 1993. He was a tremendous resource for me, and taught me the value of determination and refusing to give in - refusing to fail. It was something to see someone in action who was "really" committed. In 2007, we named CACI's Boardroom after him, so his legacy would keep inspiring our leaders, too.
There are a few others of this great Naval generation who still inspire me. Adm. Ignatius "Pete" Galantin was a World War II submarine hero that I had the privilege of knowing while I was at the Naval Material Command. He was recipient of the Navy Cross. I learned about RADM Eugene "Gene" Fluckey, another World War II submarine hero and Medal of Honor recipient, when he was a department head at the Naval Academy and I was a Midshipman. I knew him as a friend in the late 90s through the Boy Scouts Board of Directors and the Civil War commemorations. He was also a friend of my Adm. Arnold and Adm. Galantin. I also became close friends with former POW Commander Everett Alvarez in 2003, meeting at a CACI event marking the 30th anniversary of the American POWs release from Vietnam.
These heroes of the U.S. Navy, a group in which Adm. Dewey stands out, all held values that I admire and embrace, including courage, leadership, decisiveness, loyalty, and commitment. They were consummate professionals, dignified people, and real gentlemen who treated everyone with genuine respect. These men and others like them have truly been an inspiration to me.
The U.S. Navy also has inspired many lessons and values that I still adhere to. For example, the Naval Academy provided a moral education based on "respect for human dignity, respect for honesty and respect for the property of others." I have worked to apply these values throughout my career. I have even worked to embed them into CACI's corporate culture, where I have spent the last forty-two years of my life. CACI was one of the first companies in the government contracting and services industry to document and publish widely its values and standards of ethics. Our culture documents are given to every new employee and are available on our internal website. They are discussed in our Management Manuals, which describe what we at CACI believe is "the right way" to do business.
As you can see, my time in the Navy - 24 years total - has inspired me in many ways. I believe I can say I've taken every opportunity to accomplish what I was inspired to do. But just as I believe the CACI example shows, I have also accepted the responsibility to motivate and inspire others.
In this way, I recently helped establish the U.S. Naval Institute Leadership Essay Contest. It focuses on the roles of leadership and character in America's Sea Services from the Junior Officers' perspective. My goal for this contest is to continue inspiring our upcoming leaders the way I was inspired by Adm. Dewey and the others, like Adm. Nimitz, who once said, "Leadership is about picking good men and helping them do their best." I know his words continue to inspire because that quote is in this year's winning essay at the Naval Institute.
I have also recently established two awards programs at the Naval Academy. The first is the Captain Samuel Nicholson Naval and Marine Corps History and Leadership Award. Yes, the same Capt. Nicholson I mentioned earlier. The other is the Capt. J. Phillip London Cyber Security Studies award. Since there were no ancestors with cyber experience - and having run an IT company, I thought I could lead the charge here! The purpose of both awards is to encourage academic excellence in these fields. I look forward to presenting the first awards next year.
There is one more example of inspiring that I'd like to mention. Last month marked the release of my new book, entitled: Character: The Ultimate Success Factor. I argue that while a variety of factors form our abilities and influence the events in our lives, character is the only thing that creates genuine success.
Character is a unique set of moral and ethical qualities that define what you believe in, what you stand for, and what you expect of yourself and others. How you act on these qualities - your statement of character - will determine how far you will go; whether you will succeed or fail.
Success is also uniquely defined as acting with honesty and integrity, performing to the best of your ability, and appreciating the people who helped you achieve your goals.
Character drives success because it means that you - and you alone - are responsible for what you do and what happens to you. Even when circumstances are beyond your control, you still have control over your attitude, your choices, and your reactions. And by choosing to do the right thing, instead of simply anything- or nothing- you will learn how to define and gain genuine success. Understanding this is a big advantage!
There are few guarantees in life, but I contend that your character will absolutely determine the kind of life that you will live. This is what I believe - and that is what my book is all about! I used numerous examples from my naval career to highlight the lessons in the book. I hope the people who read my book are inspired to accept this responsibility-to take action and succeed at everything they do!
Adm. of the Navy George Dewey was certainly a man of action. It's no accident that his most famous quote - "Fire when ready, Gridley" - is a decisive order. Dewey's decisions and actions represented a lifetime of learning and a legacy of leadership. In a phrase, he took the opportunity to be inspired- and he took on the responsibility of inspiring others.
So you can see, I have always looked to Naval leaders, like Dewey, for inspiration. And I now endeavor to provide some of that inspiration. For that reason, I am very honored and most humbled to be receiving the Admiral of the Navy George Dewey Award from the Naval Order of the United States.
Companions and Compatriots - I thank you, very much!