MMA’s Lasting Influence by Lieutenant Colonel Ian Wolfe (USAF, Ret) ’91

I was invited to write a small excerpt of my experience at MMA and how it shaped my life for success. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and hope sharing my post-MMA life story encourages cadets to always “choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”

Very few of my life experiences in the last 28 years are comparable to the MMA experience! Few organizations or places provide a testing ground to prepare a young man for the challenges of this world. MMA was and still is the training ground for developing the tools of character applied in a selfless manner toward others in this world. In the past 28 years, I’ve applied those tools relentlessly across the globe …

After graduating from MMA, I earned my degree in engineering from Texas A&M University in College Station and received my commission as a naval officer from the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. I served 14 years as a naval aviator flying jets and rotary-wing aircraft. I was hand-selected for an interservice transfer into the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)/1st Special Operations Wing (SOW) due to my aviation prowess. I served seven years as a special operations pilot (air commando) flying at the tip of the spear supporting coalition Special Operations Forces (SOF).

MMA was the perfect environment preparing me for the unexpected crucible of war I experienced during the majority of my life and service to our great country! Here are some examples of the “fields of battle” MMA offered me:

  1. Academic Battlefield: As a student at MMA, I was mentored, guided and pushed hard by the MMA faculty to strive for perfection in my studies. MMA’s academic rigor prepared me well for the engineering curriculum at Texas A&M University. During my senior year, through an MMA-sponsored scholarship, I had the opportunity to learn to fly, culminating in my first solo flight. The combined classroom and flying experiences at MMA set me apart from my fellow naval aviation students during my initial military aviation training. These were tremendous opportunities for me and I am forever grateful to MMA!

  2. Playing Field: As an athlete at MMA, I was taught to work together as a team, to be exceptional, energetic and devoted to our teammates (whether we won or lost). It was a pride thing for all of us to not let each other down and ensure we came out on top. As an aircraft commander in a combat environment, I was responsible for coordinating my crew in being the most feared and lethal team in delivering death to the enemy from above (aka winning).

  3. Marching Field: As a platoon leader, I was constantly leading my platoon to perform well at academics, room inspections and during Sunday Review when we would march for competition. I bet just about every alumnus reading this can call a platoon to attention and march them around the field: “Platoon, Ten-hut!” and “Dress, Right, Dress!” and “Ready, Front!” There is a lot to be learned from marching around the football field or inside the field house. Teamwork was not the only takeaway from this experience. Another significant takeaway was honing our discipline (as a team) in vying for perfection, as we stood at attention during early fall/late spring hot sweltering Sundays in heavy wool dress uniform. “Don’t lock your knees! Bend them slightly, but don’t move!” as I would remind my platoon just prior to stepping-off for passing in review. This shared experience brought us closer together. It is a life lesson that not all events in your life are meant to be pleasant or comfortable. Whether you are in a corporate or combat environment, MMA conditioned us for this.

  4. Spiritual Battlefield: Most importantly, as a Christian, I believed it was important to remember God put us on this earth to serve others and be kind to our neighbors. Every Sunday at MMA, rain, shine or snow, I would march with the rest of my fellow Lutheran cadets two miles to St. John’s Lutheran Church. During these cold Sunday mornings, I would reflect on how I could reach my fullest potential as a young Christian man. MMA influenced me in so many ways, but spiritually, MMA stressed service to others above oneself.

MMA’s 360 Degree Education isn’t a new philosophy of the school; it’s an old philosophy with a different name. This approach to education existed when I was there from 1985 to 1991 and it was there 100 years before when MMA was founded in 1889. Developing mind, body and spirit has always been in MMA’s DNA or their “program of study” and is the very reason why the Academy is one of the few all-male military boarding schools left in the United States. As alums and cadets, it is our responsibility to keep the tradition of MMA alive and never forget those who went before us who supported the Academy financially and through volunteerism. We need to continue to do the same in order to keep our alma mater strong and available for our grandsons.

MMA will always be a cornerstone of my life and I am honored to share my experience.


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