He sat at the table outside the cafe smoking his second cigarette and sipping his coffee. He had only been there for ten minutes but it seemed like an eternity. The question he kept trying to push out of his head continued to echo through his whole being. “Will she show up?”

She was just a baby the last time he saw her. Getting on that plane to go to Vietnam was the hardest thing he had ever done. But he was a Marine and Marines went where they were ordered – duty always came first. His wife cried – their one year old marriage was so fragile. She couldn’t understand why he had to go. He held her – she held their daughter – their hearts breaking as the final boarding call was announced.

It was not long before he was in the thick of things. He was losing his men so often that writing to their loved ones to tell them of their bravery was beginning to take it’s toll. But it was his duty – and duty always came first.

Then it happened. He was captured and suddenly faced the horrors of being a prisoner of war. He wondered what the letter would say when his wife received the news. Funny the things that come to mind when you don’t know what to think.

Four years later, he came home and learned the horrible truth. His wife had divorced him and moved away with his daughter. Broken both physically and emotionally, he was medically discharged, moved in with his parents, and got a position as a janitor at the high school. This once brave leader of men was now in charge of mops, brooms, and toilet brushes – duty always came first.

The years slipped by. His parents passed and he now lived alone. So, the call surprised him. She seemed hesitant at first and he was about to hang up when she said, “I’m your daughter.”

Now he sits lighting his third cigarette. Suddenly, he feels eyes staring – almost screaming for him to look. Those eyes – he would never forget those eyes – it is her. Slowly, he forced himself to his feet. Unsure of what to do, he extended his hand. But she ran and threw her arms around him. Tears rolled down his cheeks when she spoke.



Len Bernat
Len Bernat
LEN is a leader groomed by 20 years of molding and shaping by some of the finest leaders in the United States Marine Corps. Their guidance helped Len realize his full potential as he moved from an enlisted Marine to becoming an Officer of Marines. Len became known for being the leader who could turn any lackluster organization into a strong, functional unit. Upon his retirement, Len worked in several positions before finally starting a second career in governmental procurement. His experience and leadership skills enabled him to be recognized as the 2011 Governmental Procurement Officer of the Year for the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and opened doors for him to teach at many of the association’s conferences. Len was also called to the ministry and was ordained at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in November of 1999. Today, Len is the Pastor of Maxeys Christian Church in Maxeys, Georgia. Len has been married to his wife, Hazel, for 36 years and they have three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Grab your copy of Len's new Book – Leadership Matters | Advice From A Career USMC Officer. Using his life experiences as examples, Len takes the eleven principles of leadership and the fourteen traits every leader should possess—which he learned during twenty years in the Marine Corps—and teaches the reader how he was molded and shaped by some of the best leaders the Corps had to offer.

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