The Question: Which make the better officers, those who finish near the top of their college classes or the athletes?

December 05, 1955

REAR ADMIRAL W. D. LEGGETT
USN (ret.)
"History shows that some of each were tops. It takes balance to make the best Army or Navy officer. There is a premium today on physical vigor, but without smart longrange guidance, this can go far afield. Fortunately, the Army and Navy education system provides the balance needed."

LT. GEN. THOMAS W. HERREN, USA
Commander, First Army
"The first requirement is moral courage. If this factor is equal, the athlete is apt to stand out at once because of prior leadership, experience and physical ability. This advantage is equalized for the scholar as he gains experience and higher rank where the intellect assumes more importance."

REAR ADMIRAL ROSCOE H. HILLENKOETTER
USN
Commandant, Third Naval District
"Athletic ability is of no more consequence than the color of hair or eyes. For every officer who was an athlete, I can name an equally good officer who was a scholar. It's like comparing apples and potatoes. If there is a connection, no one has as yet defined it."

REAR ADMIRAL REGINALD R. BELKNAP
USN (ret.)
"Neither the outstanding athletes nor the top students. Service experience, with study and discussions at the service war colleges, develops the high commanders who have perspective, grasp of any situation and feel of command. Nimitz finished near the top of his class, Halsey in the lower half of his."

CAPT. MAURICE M. WITHERSPOON
USN (ret.)
"The man with all-round ability who has starred in sports and developed his personality makes a better officer than the one who puts his nose to the grindstone and hasn't learned how to get along with fellow classmen. The all-round men in the lower half of their classes are the better officers."

REAR ADMIRAL GORDON McLINTOCK
Supt., U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
"Few officers can be great leaders without a combination of both. A midshipman or cadet who crams his way without competing in athletics seldom gets top command. Many athletes also have brilliant minds. But for time spent in athletics, they would have better scholastic records."

VICE-ADMIRAL CALVIN T. DURGIN
USN (ret.)
President, N.Y. State Maritime College
"I don't think that the pure 'grind' officer ever gets top command, but it's true that the very top commands usually go to the officers who finished near the top of their classes. But I'm sure that you will also find that these officers were more or less proficient in athletics."

ADMIRAL JOSEPH J. CLARK
USN (ret.)
"The top officers are usually a combination of both. Officers and enlisted men have a basic respect for the great athlete. Admiral Nimitz was a scholar and athlete at the Naval Academy. He charted the Navy's brilliant campaign which knocked the props from under the Japs in the Pacific."

VICE-ADMIRAL LYNDE D. McCORMICK
USN
President Naval War College
"Every military man is a better leader if he has starred in athletics, but no comparison can be drawn for potential leaders between the pure scholar and the great athlete. However, a star athlete who has learned teamwork on a great team and isn't spoiled has a head start over other young officers."

CAPT. WILLIAM D. PULESTON
USN (ret.)
"A higher percentage of athletes become better officers. A man of all-round ability is a better example to those under him and a better leader. Of course, the more brilliant officers get the top commands, but you will find that most have profited from the lessons taught on the athletic field."

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN J. BERGEN
USNR
"The athletes. A formal education teaches the technical requirements of a job and the humanities, but outside activities, particularly athletics, tend to develop the personal leadership of the successful officer. A review of the roster of eminent Army and Navy leaders confirms this belief."

ILLUSTRATION ELEVEN PHOTOS

NEXT WEEK:

Do you agree that you should kill more deer to save the herd?

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