It is always an honor for Det 595 to host alumni. It is even better when the guest is a Lieutenant General who is wise, full of advice, and loves NC State.
On the 24th of October, Lieutenant General Anthony J. Cotton visited North Carolina State University and his former detachment, Detachment 595. He had a long day of touring the campus that developed him into the outstanding airman he is today.
Of all the places that he visited, the NC State Memorial Bell Tower was by far the most notable. The Bell Tower is a symbol held near and dear to the Wolfpack Family. The Memorial Bell Tower is a remarkable 115 feet tall and is dedicated to alumni lost in World War I. This dedication makes the tower not only significant to alumni but to all service men and women. In addition to General Cotton being able to view the Bell Tower once again after many years, he was also greeted by another memory from the past.
Dr. Thomas Stafford led General Cotton on a tour through the Bell Tower. The two had last seen one another when Cadet Cotton crossed the stage and shook hands with Vice Chancellor Stafford during his commissioning ceremony in 1986. It is possible that something rubbed off on the new Lieutenant as General Cotton, much like Dr. Stafford, lead and continues to lead a long, dedicated, and meaningful career. Dr. Stafford has been dedicated to education for 42 years, serving most of his time as the Vice Chancellor in charge of Student Affairs.
Even after 32 years, the friendly hand shake with Dr. Stafford in a familiar place must be the feeling of home. This feeling however was not isolated to the Bell Tower tour but could be experienced at the Luncheon as General Cotton was surrounded by his extended Wolfpack family. The luncheon not only gave cadets the opportunity to ask General Cotton questions, but it also allowed the cadets to converse with multitude of high-ranking personnel that had accompanied him. This created a more relaxed environment where cadets ranging from freshmen to seniors could receive information on the details that were pertinent to their specific needs. By having this environment and diverse set of people to answer questions, it enabled an easy flow of information among everyone. This information is part of what will set the next generation of airmen up for success.
After the luncheon, General Cotton attended one of the detachment’s Leadership Laboratories. This was a great chance to see how the 595 runs as a wing as well as an outstanding opportunity for the general to share his plethora of wisdom. One of the more notable points, was the general’s 4 C’s: competence, commitment, composure, and compassionate leadership. The general stressed how important education is and advised that cadets stay committed to improving themselves as well as the Air Force. In addition, he stated that no one will be able to go through their Air Force careers without running into hardship or difficulty. The answer to these inevitable dilemmas is to hold one’s composure. This information could be very vital to one’s Air Force career and should not be downplayed.
Compassion is what made the general’s visit so meaningful to the cadets. it is easy to think of leaders as strong and independent characters without emotion. While this may be true in some situations, the general pointed out how important it is to be caring and compassionate for those you lead. You must be able to relate to, or at least understand one another on a personal level to be able to efficiently operate on a professional level. Once an understanding is established, it is then possible to show that you care.
General Cotton demonstrated this throughout his visit. He showed how much he cares about every cadet’s future, regardless if it was a future wearing the uniform or if it was in civilian clothes. The general asked for cadet’s first names and inquired about their lives and through these compassionate actions, he showed every cadet how important they are in his Air Force. It is truly inspiring to know that such an important figure cares about each individual cadet and hopes to see them succeed.
In his closing remarks, he was proud to claim that 595 had superb training. He explained how NC State is the benchmark for excellence and how other schools should follow in its footsteps. While he noted how a lot of things changed over the years, he said that his pride for the Wolfpack has never faltered, remarking: “I had the Wolfpack pride from the day I was commissioned”.