“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
It’s strange how some people you meet come and go without a second thought, while others stay in your mind forever, even if you never see them again. Somehow in that brief period of time you were together they touched you deeply in a way that formed a permanent connection of spirit to spirit. One of those special connections was a classmate I met during my senior year at Arroyo Grande high school. During that year it was evident he was a young leader, and what I have subsequently learned makes me even more certain that Pete Segundo was special.
I changed high schools my senior year, going from a very small town in Northern California with a total of 200 in my school to a much larger community along the central California coast with close to 200 hundred kids in my senior class alone! It was a big and scary change for me, but I dove into sports (football and baseball) as well as music (high school band and jazz band), as well as academics, making new friends, and of course surfing (it was the Beach Boys era, 1965-66 in California).
Anyway, on the first day of varsity football practice I was paired up with another linebacker who lived his whole life in the area and played varsity for the past two years. He was a latino kid from a moderate family. My father was the school administrator and on the surface we didn’t have much in common. But Pete had a competitive fire and infectious laugh that I couldn’t resist and together we made a very effective defensive team. And Pete was one of the team captains, not only leading the defence but also the team, especially when we were getting beaten, which happened quite a lot that year.
To tell you what kind of spirit resided inside of Pete, he broke his arm during the middle of the season, but played the rest of the football games with a cast on, and I never once heard him complain or wince. Pete and I also wound up on the varsity baseball team that spring, where as a team we did much better.
At the end of the baseball season came graduation and I was headed off to the University of California on an academic scholarship and Pete was headed for the US Marines and Vietnam. I never saw Pete again, but I never forgot him either. Even today, some 45 years later, when things get a little down for me I often say to myself, I need to be more like Pete, and pick myself up again.
Sargent Peter S. Segundo was in the Dog Handler unit in Vietnam where a marine would work with a dog on forward patrols. The dogs were specially trained and it was not unusual for the dog and handler to detect mines and booby traps, or an enemy ambush before it happened. Pete won several bronze stars for saving the lives of his teams while on patrol. He also lost two dogs during the process.
Pete Segundo was killed on September 5th, 1969 during his third tour of duty in South Vietnam. He was on perimeter check at night with his dog Jocko and was accidentally shot by a fellow marine. Nighttime in South Vietnam was a scary place where stupid things happened. Pete’s death was a senseless tragedy.
Pete loved the Marines and loved his dogs and led his teams on patrols with courage and confidence into hostile places. His role was to protect his team, and he did an outstanding job. He did the same on our football and baseball teams.
In the short time period of one school year Pete showed me what real leadership was about and I will alway be thankful, and I will never forget.
Tight Lines . . .
E | email@example.com T | +44 207 584 3774 M | +44 7833 493 999