The Army Reserve Association (ARA)
           "Representing the Federal Army Reserve!"                       A voice for the U.S. Army Reserve!
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Colonel Norman P. Gottlieb, USA, Ret., exemplifies the worth and value of the
Army Reserve Officer Training Corps
(Read below his powerful and enduring message to a graduating ROTC class.)





I.  Acknowledgements:

Brigadier General Edmunds

Colonel Clysdale and distinguish WMU ROTC Alumni Members

University Facility and Staff

Fellow Officers

Distinguished Guests

Service and Veteran’s Organization Representatives

Commissionees and their family and friends

Members of the Bronco Battalion

And my dear family and friends


II.  It is good to be back at Western Michigan University.


A.  I am truly honored to receive this extraordinary recognition and to have the opportunity of addressing the newest lieutenants in the United States Army.


B.  It gives a seasoned soldier like me a chance to share with these new officers what he believes is the key to a successful military career and a honorable life.


C.  I would like to thank both the Western Michigan University Military Science Department and the ROTC Alumni Association for selecting me for this honor.


D.  As I retire from the active roles of the Army this year this recognition will remain with me as one of my fondest memories.


III.  I would like to recognize a very special group of men and women in our audience today:


A.  If those military veterans among us would indulge me and stand up, if you are able, I would greatly appreciate it.


B.  All of us here would like to thank you for your faithful service and the sacrifices you and your families have made for our Nation.  Would you please raise your hand if you are a Vietnam Veteran.  Let me welcome you home!  Let’s give all these great Americans a round of applause!


IV.  While basking in the glow of this wonderful moment it’s hard not take yourself too seriously.  We sometimes forget who helped get us to where we are.


A. The memory of a trip last summer to my wife Joan’s high school class reunion always reminds me of that.  Traveling to New Jersey we pulled into a gas station in her hometown to refill our gas tank.  In New Jersey they don’t have self serve gas so an attendant must pump the gas for you.  While the gas was being pumped Joan slipped out of the car and I observed her in the rear view mirror having a lengthy discussion with the attendant.  My interest was really peaked when she gave him a long and final embrace.  As we departed the station I asked her “what that was all about?”  She said “Oh, that was Harry, my old high school sweetheart.”  Mildly relieved I said something like, “Well I’m sure you’re glad you married me instead of Harry!”  She quickly replied with “You’re the one who should be thankful – if I had married Harry he would be the Colonel today!”  (Should be laughter)


B.  I don’t believe anyone accomplishes anything in our Army purely on his or her own.   What has been accomplished can almost always be traced back to a team effort.


C.  In my life I have been blessed with great mentors devoted friends, understanding and professional Non Commissioned Officers, helpful colleagues and a wonderfully supportive family.


D.  I am sure that each of you soon to be Lieutenants can also identify those team members that helped get you here today.  I strongly urge you that after your commissioning you take the time to seek them out and thank each and every one of them.


E.  I would like to recognize some of the important individuals in my life who are here with us today:


1.  Candi Strong and Greg Dundun are what you call friends for life.

2.  Mike Thompson who made sure I went to college.

3.  Coach Elf Pedler, my high school Track & cross-country coach and who was recently inducted into the Michigan Coaches Hall of Fame inspired me and many others to succeed.

4.  Rick Markoff, our 1968 Class President, and his wife Bev, who offer their lives to so many others.

5. My brother Mike and his wife Anita, my anchorage here in Kalamazoo.

6.  All my cousins and nieces and nephews whom I think the world of.

7. And my dear wife Joan and our 12-year-old daughter Marion who give my life meaning.


V.  This now brings me to the most important event of the day, the commissioning of Western Michigan University’s finest graduates.


A.  What makes these graduates so special?

1.  First, they have earned their degrees through years of diligent study and hard work.

2.  Secondly, they have completed a rigorous course in the Military Arts and in leadership training and have passed all stations with a GO.

3.  Lastly, they are true patriots!  We are a Nation at War and it is these great Americans who have stepped forward from the hundreds of other University graduates to take the scared oath of office.  It is these dedicated few who are willing to defend our form of government and our very way of life.


B.  We have a motto in Army Aviation, which is my branch of the Army.  It is “Above the Best”.  I can’t think of any other label that better describes these soon to be Army Lieutenants.


VI.  I have been asked to offer you new lieutenants some helpful advice today to start you on your way.


A.  It is the beginning of your day one, and for me it is the end of day thirteen thousand one hundred and fifty three in our military


B.  From all my years of experience what nugget of wisdom can I share with you that might make a difference to you in your life in just the few short minutes that I have?


C.  I struggled with that question and had to look back 36 years ago to my own cadet years and commissioning here at Western.


D.  I discovered the beginning of a common thread that has held my career together and has been a guiding light through my years in the Army.


VII.  I have decided the best advice that I could share with you is to emphasis the virtues that you already have.


A.  If you did not possess these virtues today you would not be here receiving your commission.


B.  The virtues I am talking about are your VALUES.


VIII.  In his book “All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten” Robert Fulghum describes the beginnings of our more grown up values and how important they are to us today.


A.  These early values were further developed in our homes, our churches, our schools and in our association with others.


B.  Throughout our lives we continued to mature and nurture these values.


C.  When you joined the ROTC program you embraced the Cadet Creed which defined the values that you had to posses to be a successful cadet.


D.  Today you are ready to take the Oath of Office as a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army.  At that very same moment you will be required to embrace the Seven Army Values that you have learned about as a cadet and which all soldiers must live by in today’s Army.  These are not values relegated to a textbook, but obligations that we as soldiers live by.


E.  It is truly fitting that your family and friends are here with you today to witness your commitment to these noble values that are not required of any other profession.


IX.  Living these values is your KEY to a successful military career! 


A.  They tell you what you need to be, everyday, in every action you take.   Follow these values and I can promise you that you will be well armed to deal with all of life’s challenges that will be coming to you each new day.


C.  Army Values form the very identify of America’s Army.  They are the solid rock upon which everything else stands, especially in combat.  Simply put, the Army Values define WHO WE ARE as soldiers.


X.  So what are these values and what do they mean?

A.  The first is LOYALITY – To bear true faith and allegiance to the United States Constitution, the Army, your unit and other soldiers.

B.  The second is DUTY – You are to fulfill your obligations.

C.  The third is RESPECT – Treat people as they should be treated.

D.  The fourth is SELFLESS SERVICE – You are to put the welfare of the Nation, the Army and those who you lead before your own.

E.  The fifth is HONOR – Which means to live up to all the Army Values.

F.  The sixth is INTEGRITY – Do what is right, legally and morally.

G.  The finial value is PERSONAL COURAGE – Face fear, danger, or adversity (physical or moral).


XI.  There is much commentary in the literature on leadership about what each of these values mean.  I would like to share with you just a few of those comments from some important leaders:


A. Brigadier General Marshall, in his book “Men Against Fire”, said that Loyalty is the big thing, the greatest asset of all.  But no person ever wins the loyalty of troops by preaching loyalty.  It is given to them as they prove their possession of the other virtues.”


B. Former Army Chief of Staff John Wickham, Jr. said “The essence of duty is acting in the absence of orders or direction of others, based on an inner sense of what is morally and professionally right.”


C. Lieutenant General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, CSA, said, “what is life without honor?  Degradation is worse than death.”


D.  Former Army Chief of Staff Lawton Collins said, “The American people rightly look to their military leaders not only to be skilled in the technical aspects of the profession of arms, but also to be men of integrity.”


E.  And finally, former Sergeant Major of the Army, William Connelly said, “The concept of professional courage does not always mean being tough as nails either.  It also suggests a willingness to listen to the soldier’s problems, to go to bat for them in a tough situation, and it means knowing just how far they can go.  It also means being willing to tell the boss when he is wrong.”


XII.  Living by these values will not always be easy or popular but it will ensure that you will have many restful nights.


A.  I believe that you have been well prepared to accept these values.  Thanks to the love, caring and guidance from your family, church, friends, educators and your ROTC experience. 


B.  So, that is my nugget of wisdom for you.  Living these values has served me well.  Accept them and they shall serve as your guideposts, anchors and waystations and help lead you through a challenging, rewarding and successful Army Career.


C.  Later, having been deeply engrained, these same values will also serve you and your community well when it is time for you move beyond the Army.


XIII.  Today is your day as the sunrises on your bright future.  The defense of this great Nation will now rest on your shoulders.  I salute you and wish you good fortune.  God bless you, the Bronco Battalion, the Army, and the United States of America. (Salute)

Coming Soon.





A native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Colonel Gottlieb was one of the first recipients of the Army’s ROTC Scholarship Program in 1965.  A Co-Captain of the WMU track team he was elected President of the WMU Letterman’s Club for two years and served on the WMU Presidents Student Advisor Council.  As a Distinguished Military Graduate he earned his degree and was commissioned in the Regular Army in 1968.


Upon completing Armor branch qualification at Ft. Knox, KY and Ranger School at Ft. Benning, GA, he was assigned to various leadership positions in Armor and Infantry units and a Brigade headquarters in the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Ft. Carson, CO.  Finishing airborne training at Ft. Benning and Rotary Wing Training at Ft. Rucker, AL, he was promoted to Captain.  Completing Cobra Gunship Training he was assigned to combat aviation leadership positions in Vietnam with the 123rd Aviation Battalion, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) and is the last remaining officer on Active Duty in the Army who served in that Division.


From Vietnam he was assigned to the 3rd Armored Division in Germany where he served in Armor leadership assignments and then in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate.  Resigning his Regular Army commission in 1975 he accepted a Reserve Commission and served in the Ready Reserve until 1983.  Volunteering for training and on special tours he acted as an aviation officer at Ft. Ord, CA and at Ft. Hunter Leggett, CA as the airfield commander; in the Headquarters, United States Army Europe, Heidelberg, Germany; and in the Headquarters, Training and Doctrine Command, Ft. Monroe, VA in operational, training and personnel positions and was promoted to Major.


While in the Ready Reserve he owned his own business in London, England and was later employed as a Department of Army Civilian and served as Chief, Postal Operations, Headquarters, U.S. Postal Group Europe, and next as an International Agreements Negotiator in Headquarters U.S. Army Europe in Heidelberg, Germany.


Returning to Active Duty in 1983 in the Active Guard and Reserve program he managed the Army Reserve’s largest flight facility at Naval Air Station Dallas, TX until 1985 when he was assigned as an Aviation Personnel Manager at the Army Reserve Personnel Center, St. Louis, MO.  He branch transferred from Armor to Aviation in 1984.  In 1987 he was assigned to the Pentagon to become the Army Reserve Aviation Force Integrator in the Office, Chief Army Reserve.  Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel he then served as the Division Chief for all Army Reserve Force Integrators.  In 1990 he served as the Army Reserve Command Manager in the Office, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans on the Army Staff.  Moving to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs in 1994 he served as a Senior Military Reserve Assistant to Secretary and was promoted to Colonel.


Retiring in 1996 he was immediately recalled to Active Duty to serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of the Army.  Assigned as Executive Officer to the Chief Army Reserve until his retirement in 1998 he was then reassigned as a Senior Board Member and the Reserve Component Advisor to the Army Review Board Agency and today serves as a voting member on the Army Clemency and Parole Board; on all Officer Elimination Boards; on the Army Physical Disability Appeals Board, the Army Discharge Review Board, the Army Grade Determination Board and the Army Security Review Board and as special advisor to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records.


His decorations, badges and unit awards include:  The Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal w/2 Oak Leak Clusters, Air Medal w/5 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal w/2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal w/2 Bronze Stars, Army Reserve Components Achievements Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Twenty Year Hour Glass, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal – Three Campaigns, Overseas Service Bars 2, Ranger Tab, Parachute Badge, Senior Army Aviator, Army Staff Badge, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Superior Unit Award w/3 stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.


Colonel Gottlieb intends on leaving Active Duty in September of 2004 and will have over 36 years of continues commissioned service.  He has plans to continue to work in the field of parole either with the U.S. Parole Commission or be appointed as a commissioner on one of the States or Territorial Parole Commissions.  He is married to Joan M. Curry of Hillsdale, New Jersey and has a young daughter who resides with them.  He is very active in promoting and supporting his communities civic and recreation associations and schools Parent Teachers Association in Falls Church, Virginia and is involved in a number of Veterans organizations.

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