Bolden speaks at Montford Point

18 Nov 2002 | Sgt. Allan J. Grdovich

"If there is any good advice I can give to take with you, it is to listen to the gunny," said retired Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden in front of a class of new Marine Corps second lieutenants.

The former 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general and NASA astronaut was the guest speaker here Nov. 12 as part of the Logistics Officer Course's lecture series with help from the Montford Point Marine Association.

Bolden, who retired in August, spoke in front of 180 new officers and a handful of enlisted Marines. During the event, he touched on a number of subjects pertaining to what the Marines will encounter during their careers and some keys to being successful.

"As lieutenants, you will have a chance to lead. Remember, if you demand highly of your Marines, they'll try harder. If you don't expect anything, they will not give you anything," he said.

Physical and mental wellness is also key, said Bolden. He said he keeps his mind sharp with spiritual wellness.

The South Carolina native concluded with a question and answer session during which Marines asked about his thoughts on the Osprey and continued retirement plans.

"The V-22 is a good idea. The program may need some guidance, but the concept is too good to dismiss," claimed Bolden.

He said if the Osprey is not found fit for military use, it would be a sound investment in the civilian world due to its range and speed.

Marines also asked Bolden about his space travel. The former Space Shuttle Discovery pilot said space travel changed his outlook on life.

"When looking down from about six hundred kilometers above the Earth, you realize how insignificant you are," he said.

Many would disagree, however, as the 34-year Marine veteran chalked up an impressive resume during his career. He began at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where he graduated in 1968. 

After undergoing flight training at Pensacola, Fla., and Kingsville, Texas, Bolden was designated a Naval aviator in May 1970. He later flew hundreds of combat missions over Vietnam.

In 1980, he was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA, and qualified as a space shuttle pilot in 1981. He subsequently flew four missions in space.

Bolden said during retirement he would like to do one of two things.

"My Marine Corps career consisted of breaking things and breaking others ... I want to heal," he said. "I would like to work for a nonprofit organization that provides health care."

Bolden said he also plans on returning to the aerospace industry.

Before retiring to a reception, the Montford Point Marine Association offered Bolden a framed picture of retired Sgt. Maj. "Hashmark" Johnson.

"I hope everyone knows who this is," Bolden said referring to the picture. "Until people know who this is, only then can we do away with such things as 'Black History Month.'"

In addition to Bolden's visit, other speakers for the logistics students in recent weeks include Jacksonville, N.C., native Tyrone Willingham. He is the current head football coach at the University of Notre Dame.