Last week we lost a former Blue Angel, Bob Brandon, who served on the team 40 years ago. Bob wasn’t one of the jet demonstration pilots. He flew the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, delivering the support crew and equipment to the show sites each weekend.
Like an iceberg, the public views the Blue Angels as the six jets and their pilots, but we know that out-of-view is the heart and soul of the squadron: the support officers and enlisted teammates who work tirelessly to ensure mission success week-in and week-out throughout the year. The magnificent blue and gold jets really belonged to them; we pilots were privileged and honored to borrow them for an hour or so flight each day.
High-Trust Leaders genuinely understand the importance of every role on the team and never take them for granted. Bob Brandon was the epitome of the selfless teammate. His value to the 1978-79 Blue Angels was vividly remembered recently by the slot pilot of their A-4 Skyhawk jet formation:
I am deeply saddened by the shocking news about Bob. Amid the daily intensity that is the business of the Blue Angels, Bob was a remarkable and gentle place of respite. He always had time to chat, was keenly aware of the feelings of others, and, with humor and a kind heart, tended to defuse rather than heighten tensions. His voice was always calm, his thoughts always clear, and his presence always welcome. As years pass, there is a tendency for the grooves of one’s opinions to wear so deep that it can become impossible to empathize with the differing beliefs in others. Bob was not afflicted with this trait commonly found in so many of us. He solicited a variety of viewpoints, met them all with both warmth and a smile, and always valued the person above opinions. There is a special place in heaven for one who can perform in the Blue Angel environment and maintain the kind and generous personality of Bob Brandon. The goodness of heaven has now been incrementally increased, but I mourn the diminishment of it here on Earth.
LCDR Bruce Davey, USN(ret), Blue Angel #4, 1977-79
Who are the Bob Brandons on your team? Do they know how much you value their dedication and contributions? Are you sure?
In our current polarized culture, are you able to meet opposing viewpoints with warmth and a smile, seeing value in the person separate from differing opinions?
Be a High-Trust Leader: be like Bob Brandon — take time to chat, be aware of the feelings of others, and, with humor and a kind heart, defuse rather than heighten tensions.
Act the way you want to be remembered.
Blue Angel A-4 US Navy Photo by Jim Preston