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An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

Federal Law Enforcement and Protective Security Professional with over two decades of experience serving as a Special Agent and Senior Executive in the U.S. Secret Service.

My father was a career U.S. Secret Service Agent (USSS) who went on to lead the Federal Air Marshal Service post 9-11. Many of his close friends and associates were in law enforcement or specialized military units. Growing up in that sort of environment, one might think I would have followed in his footsteps. However, I did not, at least not at first…I wanted to be a builder and set out along that path. What I didn’t realize was that my childhood exposure to a particular group of professionals would eventually lead me to pursue a service-oriented career. Not through pressure or obvious example but rather by actions and an attitude of gratitude consistently demonstrated by those around me.  

Through my father’s involvement in the creation of the USSS Counter Assault Team, the development of the USSS Counter Sniper Unit, and his close ties to the founding members of Delta Force and the British 22SAS, I was surrounded by incredible people all the time. Many Delta Force plank holders were my childhood heroes, not because of what they did, but rather who they were and their infectious attributes of service and positive attitude. In the late 1970s and into the 80s, I had no idea that men I knew simply as Bucky, Charlie, Ish, Ian, Maurice, and David – were intimately involved in global operations, including the daring rescue mission (Operation Eagle Claw) to save 52 Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Iran. I just knew there was something different about them. Their attitude toward self, towards others, towards leading, and towards service - was unforgettable. 

Operation Eagle Claw was ultimately unsuccessful and led to the tragic loss of eight service members, who left behind 17 children. Through that tragedy, many positives emerged. It led to the creation of the JSOC and later SOCOM. It also led to the creation of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF); an organization built on an enduring promise to care for the children of our nation’s fallen Special Operations Warriors - from cradle to career.

My exposure to great people as a child ultimately led me to pursue a career with the USSS. I was fortunate to lead our Special Operations Division, where I was again reminded of the great history, connection, and commitment the SOWF has to support the children of our nation’s fallen Special Operations Forces. One example of the SOWF commitment is USSS Special Agent and Medal of Honor Recipient Ronald J. Shurer. Ron was a USSS Counter Assault Team Agent when he passed away on May 14, 2020, leaving behind his wife Miranda and their two young sons. Ron reminded me of those I grew up around – he had an attitude of gratitude – despite a terminal cancer diagnosis. Ron’s actions and service as a medic and member of SF ODA 3336 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom led to his receipt of the Medal of Honor. The SOWF’s recognition of Ron’s commitment to service led to a unanimous decision by the Board of Directors to include not just Ron’s children but the children of all Medal of Honor Recipients in the SOWF support network.  

I’ve since retired from the USSS and take great pride in now serving as a SOWF Ambassador helping to communicate the significance and importance of the Foundation’s mission. Since joining the SOWF team, I have realized there are many ways to serve that don’t involve a gun and badge or wearing a uniform. Serving with an attitude of gratitude can take on many forms, and supporting the SOWF is one of them. Since 1980, more than 1,200 Special Operations Warriors have lost their lives, leaving behind more than 1,600 children. The SOWF enduring promise requires our support to ensure these children have the same opportunities that many of us take for granted. I encourage us all to help each other be the type of person I was so fortunate to grow up around and serve with an Attitude of Gratitude. You never know what impact your service and support may have.