Navy Sensitivity, Marine Tact
Navy Sensitivity and Marine Tact
Years ago, a young Navy Pilot was severely injured while ejecting from his A-4 Skyhawk due to engine failure during a catapult shot from the aircraft carrier, but due to the heroics of rescue helicopter and the ship's hospital staff, the only permanent injury was the loss of one ear.
Since he was now physically impaired he did not remain on flight status but eventually became an Admiral. However, during his career, he was always sensitive about his appearance.
One day, the Admiral was interviewing two Navy Master Chiefs and a Marine Sergeant Major for his personal staff.
The first Master Chief was a Surface Navy-type, and it was a great interview. At the end of the interview, the Admiral asked him, "Do you notice anything different about me?" The Master Chief answered, "Why, yes, Admiral. I couldn't help but notice that you're missing your starboard ear, and I don't know whether this impacts your hearing on that side.
The Admiral got very angry at this lack of tact, and threw him out of his office
The next candidate, an Aviation Master Chief, when asked this same question, answered, "Well, yes, Sir. You seem to be short one ear." The Admiral threw him out, as well.
The third interview was with the Marine Sergeant Major. He was articulate, extremely sharp, and seemed to know more than the two Master Chiefs put together. The Admiral wanted this guy, but went ahead with the same question. "Do you notice anything different about me?"
To his surprise, the Sergeant Major said, "Yes, Sir. You wear contact lenses."
The Admiral was impressed, and thought to himself, 'What an incredibly tactful Marine'. "And how would you know that?", the Admiral asked.
The Sergeant Major replied: "Well, Sir, it's pretty hard to wear glasses with only one fking' ear!"
Dispite our best intentions, the system is dysfunctional that intelligence failure is guaranteed.
Russ Travers, CIA analyst, 2001