Vietnam vet Col. Cully speaks to ROTC crowd


Retired Col. R. John Cully has his own take on the Marine Corps motto: “Semper Gumby,” always flexible.

Cully spoke to about 60 military science students Tuesday night about his experiences in the CMU Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, as a pilot in the Vietnam War and a member of the Military Intelligence branch of Special Forces. He played football for CMU before graduating in 1970 and is currently National Vice President of Sales at Resort Condominiums International.

Cully said if the cadets go into combat, they have to focus on survival in the first 18 months.

“When you go on active duty, you’re not only in the game, you’re starting,” he said.

Cully told students once they reach combat, they had to keep the objectives of mission, troop care and self-development in mind. He stressed learning leadership skills from role models and mentors.

His speech was part of the Colonel William B. Nolde lecture series, sponsored by the Military Science Department and Leadership Institute for LEAD Week.

“Everyone talks about mentors. I believe it,” he said. “Be a sponge. Learn to steal. Copy techniques. You’ve got to absorb this stuff because you’ve got to lead.”

Cully said his advice would work in the real world as well as in the military.

“Think safety all the time,” he said. “If you get yourself killed in combat, you’re a tragedy. If you get killed in a car accident, you’re a statistic.”

Some things can get any young person in trouble, whether or not they are not in the military, he said.

“Babes and boys, bucks and booze; it will get you in a jam,” he said. “Be accountable. Make sure you don’t lose valuable resources.”

Overall, Cully said it was important to take care of missions while in combat.

“You’re entrusted with the most precious resource the American public has: Their sons and daughters,” Cully said.

Southfield sophomore Ephraim Blevins, a squad leader, said he enjoyed Cully’s speech.

“It was funnier than the previous lectures I’ve sat through,” he said.

Cadet Battalion Cmdr. Nick Stout gave Cully a plaque to commemorate his time spent at CMU and in the military.

“It’s always a good thing to see CMU alumni with all the success that he’s had in his career come out here and speak to cadets who one day will eventually be in his shoes,” said Stout, Lake Orion senior. “It was an honor to have him.”

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