Tag Archives: Act of Valor


Podcast: USN Captain Greg Zettler: Courage to do the right thing and ownership in the mission

Captain Greg Zettler speaks about lessons of integrity as a priority of his education at the United States Naval Academy. Captain Zettler speaks about the significance of service and recommends one assumes that everyone on their team has noble intent. Captain Zettler stresses the importance of creating individual ownership of the collective mission. The best advice Captain Zettler has received was to not try to by perfect: to rely on his innate ability and the training he has been provided. Zettler’s advice for those entering the military is relevant life advice for any person, especially youth: “Come in ready to learn, ready to work hard, ready to embrace the opportunities that come your way. Strive to achieve the mission. Embrace your own ownership for the mission.” For Captain Greg Zettler, valor is the willingness to do the right thing in the face of potential consequences to yourself.

“Captain Greg Zettler became the USS Norfolk’s 16th Commanding Officer November 18, 2011. He graduated from the Naval Academy in May of 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering. He has also earned a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Human Resource Development from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Master’s Degree in National Security Resources from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He has received several decorations in his career” (United States Navy).

American Valor Podcast

Podcast: Mr. Buster Olney on National Baseball HOFer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Coleman

Mr. Buster Olney shares his upbringing around the game of baseball, his career as a sports columnist covering the game, Hall of Fame voting and personal memories and stories from baseball legends Tony Gwynn and Jerry Coleman, including Gwynn’s gregarious personality and Coleman’s humility towards his service and respect for his comrades who did not return home from war.

Jerry Coleman: Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Coleman is the only Major League Baseball player to serve in combat in two wars, flying 57 combat missions in the SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber during World War II and 63 close air support and interdiction strike missions earning six more Air Medals during the Korean War. Lieutenant Colonel Coleman was selected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the Ford C. Frick Award recipient as an announcer in 2005 (Bob Feller Foundation).

Buster Olney: “Robert “Buster” Olney is a senior writer for ESPN.com and reporter for ESPN’s exclusive Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. He joined ESPN in June 2003 to cover baseball for all ESPN entities, including ESPN Radio, ESPNEWS and SportsCenter. He writes a daily column for ESPN.com and hosts the popular Baseball Tonight podcast as well as appearing on ESPN’s baseball studio show by the same name.

Olney’s two favorite events he has covered for ESPN are the 2014 and 2016 postseasons. “Particularly,” he said, “the historic performances of Madison Bumgarner.”

Olney began covering baseball in 1989 as the Nashville Banner’s beat reporter for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. He later covered the San Diego Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune (1993 – 1994) and the Baltimore Orioles (Baltimore Sun, 1995 – 1996). He arrived at ESPN after six years at the New York Times covering the Mets (1997) and the Yankees (1998 – 2001)” (ESPN Press Room).

American Valor Podcast

Podcast: Dr. Himesh Lakhlani: Family, Education, and Support of Country

Dr. Himesh Lakhlani speaks about lessons learned from the difficult situations his parents lived through. His parents taught him hard work, commitment, humility, and the value of family. Himesh is passionate about providing awareness to individuals who do not have a family history of pursuing higher education. Himesh defines valor as standing up for others who don’t have the ability to stand up on their own. Dr. Lakhlani emphasizes the importance of spending time with family. Dr. Lakhlani currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation.

“Dr. Himesh Lakhani was born in a suburb of Mumbai, India and at the age of three immigrated with his parents and younger brother to Rochester, New York. While obtaining his bachelor’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh, he studied Political Science with a focus on Immigration Law. His passion and commitment to helping those that share similar backgrounds began in young adulthood. After graduating college, he went on to attend Medical School abroad and received a Doctor of Medicine in 2007 with a core focus of Infectious Disease, Healthcare Administration and Emergency Medicine. He was the first in his family to graduate High School, graduate College and graduate from Medical School. He became involved in higher education after graduation from medical school and has now spent over a decade in both health care and education. He was elected President and Chief Executive Officer for Jacksonville Management & Staffing in 2014, which operated as a Clinical and Administrative healthcare management firm. Since his relocation to Houston in 2017, he has served as Campus President of The College of Health Care Professions. He has been an advocate of access to health care and education to economically disadvantaged communities and has worked with affiliates of Mayor Turner’s office and the Harris County of Department of Public Health. Himesh was recently recognized as the “2019 Beacon of Light” by the University of Houston’s Immigration Law Center for his work with the immigration population in Houston, Texas” (Actofvaloraward.org).

American Valor Podcast

Podcast: Mr. Carl Erskine: Jackie Robinson’s teammate, discipline, and change

“Baseball saw some of its biggest transformations in the 1940s and 50s. The introduction of night games, television, racial desegregation, and prevalence of jet travel all had a profound impact on how the game was forever played, observed, and experienced. Through these unprecedented times stood Carl Erskine, famed pitcher of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, and a witness to history.

Upon high school graduation in 1945, Erskine’s aspiration to play baseball came to a halt. With World War II in full swing, he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. A year later, Erskine introduced himself to the Navy recreation officer where he was stationed, and asked if he could play baseball. Already full of pitchers, he was turned away, but soon found consolation a few weeks later when scouted by the Dodgers and discharged from the Navy. Erskine spent the next year and a half in the minor leagues, at the time of widespread historical change in baseball.

While playing in 1947, baseball legend Jackie Robinson came on board the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African American player in Major League history. After pitching in a challenging game in the spring of 1948, Robinson, who had watched Erskine pitch that game, befriended him and said, “You’re going to be with us real soon.” Truly inspired and with a great sense of optimism, Robinson’s prediction came true. Later that year, Erskine joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In the late ‘40s, television was beginning to permeate American society and millions of people started to see baseball in a new way. No longer restricted to archaic radio waves, the heroes of the sport now had faces to go along with their larger-than-life reputations–another milestone that would eternally change the nature of games.

Throughout the 1950s, air travel changed the way people moved across the country. With West Coast cities experiencing dramatic population increases, the major leagues started to expand. In 1957, the Dodgers left Brooklyn, New York and headed to California to become the Los Angeles Dodgers. Erskine, who did not like being away from his family, decided that relocating was not for him. He lasted only a year and a half and pitched his last game on June 4, 1959. His career spanned 12 seasons and accumulated 122 wins (.61).

After retiring from baseball, Erskine returned to his native Indiana and started his own insurance business in 1960. For 12 years, he coached the Anderson University Raven baseball program winning four championship games. While in the insurance business, he sharpened his business acumen and landed a job at Star Financial Bank serving as its president and director from 1982-1993. Erskine has also given his time and talents to many organizations, sitting on the board of trustees of Anderson University, St. John’s Medical Center, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and numerous other state and civic institutions.

Erskine was inducted into the Indiana National Baseball Hall of fame in 1979. In 2001, he wrote his first book, Tales from the Dodger Dugout, a collection of heartwarming stories recounting his days in the major leagues. Four years later, he penned his memoir, What I Learned from Jackie Robinson, sharing his memories of Jackie’s battle for racial equality and their enduring friendship that taught him important lessons about life.

The unique perspective of Erskine during baseball’s transformative years is a good reminder that change is something not to fear, but embraced with an open mind and heart (from CarlErskine.com).”

American Valor Podcast

Podcast: Mrs. Anne Feller on Mr. Bob Feller’s Legacy

We were very fortunate to feature Mrs. Anne Feller, the widow of Mr. Bob Feller, on the American Valor Podcast. Mrs. Feller shares incredible stories of Mr. Feller’s recollection of his experiences in World War II and pride in his country, sharing insight into what made individuals like Mr. Feller and World War II and Korean War veteran Mr. Ted Williams so special.

Afterwards, hear about the upcoming baseball season.

American Valor Podcast

Podcast: Sports Journalist Ms. Lindsay Berra on Grandfather Yogi

On the American Valor Podcast, Sports Journalist Lindsay Berra spoke about her career decision and experience covering sports at the highest levels. She talks about lessons learned from her grandfather Yogi, one of the greatest baseball catchers of all time: humility, integrity, citizenship, treating all people equally, and many more. One special story includes Yogi’s reflection on his military service during World War II after watching the movie Band of Brothers. Mr. Berra did not frequently speak about his time in the military. Lindsay shares with listeners the wisdom of Yogi-isms, the educational components of the Yogi Berra museum, and how sports like baseball help to build communities.

“Lindsay Berra is a freelance sports journalist based in Montclair, NJ. At MLB.com from January 2013 through January 2018, she established herself as an authority on baseball fitness and injuries and appeared frequently on MLB Network to discuss her stories. From 1999 through 2012, she was a senior writer for ESPN Magazine, covering primarily ice hockey, tennis, baseball and the Olympics. Lindsay received her undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she played varsity softball and men’s club ice hockey. She is the oldest grandchild of Yogi and Carmen Berra and is a board member at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, NJ” (lindsayberra.com).

American Valor Podcast

Author Anne Keene: Baseball and Military in World War II

Author Anne Keene began her career as a writer after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree.

Anne’s father was a batboy for the Cloudbuster Nine, a World War II team of fighter-pilot cadets at an elite Navy training school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After her father’s passing, Anne began a research project on the Major League Baseball players who attended the training school that shaped the lives of many well-known individuals. Her book, The Cloudbuster Nine, was named as a finalist for the 2018 CASEY Award for “Best Baseball Book of the Year.”

Keene shares incredible stories and lessons learned from her conversations with surviving Major League Baseball World War II veterans. Common values of these individuals include fearlessness, pride in the military and service, generosity, service-oriented, modesty, humility, appreciation of freedom, clarity of beliefs, and respect for authority and leadership. Anne’s research reminds listeners of the importance of positive values and a desire to help others and make the world a better place.

To learn more about Author Anne Keene and her work on baseball and the military, please visit her website: https://www.annerkeene.com/

Image: Anne Keene’s father receiving lessons from Boston Red Sox Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky

American Valor Podcast

American Values, Leadership, and the Power of the Individual: 75th Secretary of the Navy the Honorable Ray Mabus

On the twentieth episode of the American Valor Podcast, we are honored to be joined by the 75th Secretary of the Navy: the Honorable Ray Mabus. “Mr. Mabus served as the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy, the longest to serve as leader of the Navy and Marine Corps since World War I. Throughout his tenure, Secretary Mabus has focused on four key priorities – People, Platforms, Power and Partnerships – that enable the Navy and Marine Corps’ unique ability to maintain the global presence that reassures our allies and deters our adversaries.

Before his appointment by President Obama, Mabus held a variety of leadership positions. From 1988 to 1992, Mabus served as Governor of Mississippi, the youngest elected to that office in more than 150 years. Mabus was Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1994-1996 and later was Chairman and CEO of a manufacturing company which he led out of bankruptcy.

Mabus has been recognized for his leadership of the Navy and Marine Corps on multiple occasions. In 2013, he was named one of the top 50 highest rated CEOs by Glassdoor, an online jobs and career community. Mabus was the only person in government to receive this award.

Secretary Mabus is a native of Ackerman, Mississippi, and received a Bachelor’s Degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Mississippi, a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Law Degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. After Johns Hopkins, Mabus served in the Navy as an officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock” (defense.gov).

Mabus encourages listeners to believe you can do whatever you put your mind to. He describes being in the United States Navy as one of the defining experiences of his life, teaching Mr. Mabus what it means to be part of a team.

Mr. Mabus preaches the importance of being honest. He states that Americans must stand for equality, democracy, openness, and freedom of expression across the world. Our strength as a nation lies in our values and what we have stood for since 1776.

Ray Mabus’ three traits of a leader:

  1. Know what you are willing to lose.
  2. Set an example for others to follow.
  3. Be very clear. Know why you are doing what you are doing.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/316250

American Valor Podcast: MLB Veteran Doug Flynn on Baseball, Big Red Machine, Community Service

Mr. Doug Flynn is the latest person to join the American Valor Podcast!

Doug Flynn grew up playing several sports in Lexington, Kentucky. He attended the University of Kentucky and Somerset Community College before playing 11 seasons in Major League Baseball for the New York Mets, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers. Mr. Flynn was a member of the 1975 Big Red Machine team that won the World Series. He is currently a broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds and actively supports service men and women through multiple non-profit organizations, including Hope for the Warriors (supporting injured veterans and their families) at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, USACares (supporting family members of military personnel) and Save the Warriors (supporting veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/PTSD).

Mr. Flynn speaks about his blessed childhood growing up in Kentucky and the impact of playing several sports including basketball and baseball at the University of Kentucky. He shares stories of trying out for the Cincinnati Reds and his tribulations rising through the team’s minor league system before playing with the Big Red Machine and National Baseball Hall of Fame managers Sparky Anderson and Joe Torre in his Major League career. Doug shares lessons learned from some of the greatest coaches and players of his generation.

Doug preaches playing for the team name on the front of the jersey rather than the name on the back and speaks to the importance of community involvement, sharing stories of his support for service men and women, often with his good friend National Baseball Hall of Famer and Bob Feller Award recipient Mr. Johnny Bench. Hear Mr. Flynn’s thoughts on the current state of the game of baseball and his experience of going on tour with the Oak Ridge Boys during the 1981 Major League Baseball players’ strike.

American Valor Podcast

American Valor Podcast: Semper Fi with Marine Corps Reserve Major Chad Lennon

Marine Corps Reserve Major Chad Lennon speaks about his decision to join the Marine Corps and his service in both the active and reserve components of the Marine Corps, as well as his decision to attend law school. In 2010, Major Lennon deployed to Afghanistan, receiving the Purple Heart and Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his service to our country. Major Lennon then earned his Doctor of Law degree from the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, where he currently serves as Director of the Veterans and Servicemembers’ Rights’ Clinic.

Major Lennon encourages individuals interested in the military to research the four branches and speaks about the close connection among members of the military and the significance arising from service to others and country.

As an advisor to the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation and a community athlete for the Semper Fi Fund, an organization assisting injured veterans in all branches of the armed forces, Major Lennon became a Guinness World Record holder in the summer of 2019. His effort to earn the fastest one mile time pulling a 400 pound chain raised over $6,000 for the Semper Fi Fund.

Hear Major Lennon discuss the the Marine Corps slogan Semper Fi…Always Faithful.

Listen to the episode wherever you find podcasts, or on our website: https://actofvaloraward.org/american-valor-podcast/