Retiring Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis may be on his way out the door but that didn’t stop him from sending one last “Christmas present” to US troops stationed at home and abroad. This says quite a bit about the man he truly is.
President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that Secretary of Defense James Mattis will leave office on January 1, two months earlier than expected. Trump is appointing Mattis’ deputy, Patrick M. Shanahan, as acting defense secretary until a permanent replacement is found.
“I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019,” the president tweeted. “Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!”
Mattis tendered his resignation last Thursday after Trump decided to pull troops out of Syria, according to The Daily Caller.
“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues,” Mattis wrote.
“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” he continued.
Now, Mattis is on his way out the door, but that didn’t stop him from working straight through the holidays in keeping with tradition. This is something the retiring Secretary of Defense has done throughout his decades-long military career in the hopes that it would allow his troops the freedom to celebrate with their families.
This is nothing new for Mattis. Retired Marine General Charles Krulak relayed a story from Christmas Day 1998, when Mattis was a Brigadier General:
Every Christmas during his tenure, Krulak delivered cookies to every Marine duty post around Washington and Quantico, Va. Back in 1998, he was making his final delivery to Marine Corps Combat Development Command headquarters at Quantico when he asked the Marine on duty who the officer of the day was. “The young Marine said, ‘Sir, it’s Brigadier General Mattis.’”
Krulak thought the Marine had misunderstood him, so he asked again, but he got the same answer. “I looked around the duty hut and in the back, there were two cots: One for the officer of the day and one for young Marine. I said, ‘OK, let me cut through all of this: Who was the officer who slept in that bed last night?’
“And the Marine said, ‘Sir, Brigadier General Mattis.’” At that moment, Mattis walked around the corner.
“So I said to him, ‘Jim, what are you standing the duty for?’ “And he said, ‘Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it who is married and had a family; and so I’m a bachelor, I thought why should the major miss out on the fun of having Christmas with his family, and so I took the duty for him.’ ”
Never before or since has Krulak run into a general officer standing duty on Christmas Day. “I think it says volumes about Jim Mattis and his leadership style,” Krulak said. “He did it very unobtrusively. He just took the duty.” [Source: Stars And Stripes]
On Christmas Eve, Mattis sent what was possibly his last official memo as secretary of defense to all American service members. “We in the U.S. military are privileged to defend America, especially at this time of year, for we ensure our fellow Americans celebrate this season of hope in peace and safety,” the letter began. “We know our freedoms are not guaranteed by themselves; they need defenders.”
Noting that American service members have been spending holidays in harms way “since Washington crossed
“In this world awash in change, you hold the line. Storm clouds loom, yet because of you, your fellow citizens live safe at home,” he stated, concluding the missive with his own prayer for his men and women, saying, “Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe.”