The Contrails: Quotes

  • Published
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

(Editor's note: The exact text contained on pages 172-174 and part of page 175 of this year's edition of The Contrails is seen here.)

Integrity First

“He who permits himself to tell a lie once finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells a lie without attending to it, and truths without the world believing it.” 

President Thomas Jefferson

"Integrity is the fundamental premise for military service in a free society. Without integrity, the moral pillars of our military strength, public trust, and self-respect are lost.”

General Charles A. Gabriel, Chief of Staff, USAF

“A man has integrity if his interest in the good of the service is at all times greater than his personal pride, and when he holds himself to the same line of duty when unobserved as he would follow if his superiors were present.”

General S.L.A. Marshall, British Army, Great Britain

“In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current. Give up money, give up fame, give up science, give up earth itself and all it contains, rather than do an immoral act. And never suppose that in any situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing.

Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly.”

President Thomas Jefferson

“When a man has strong qualities of leadership, but is of low moral character, there is always the danger that his subordinates will be influenced by his bad characteristics, to the detriment of the leader and of the group. But if the leader is a man of strong qualities of leadership and high moral character, he will endure and he will achieve better results.”

Edgar F. Puryear Jr

"Duty, honor, country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn."

General Douglas MacArthur, USA


Service Before Self

“There is no limit to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

General George C. Marshall, USA

“War makes extremely heavy demands on the soldier’s strength and nerves. For this reason, make heavy demands on your men in peacetime exercises.”

German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

“Duty, then, is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more. You should never wish to do less.”

Attributed to General Robert E. Lee

“An officer’s ultimate commanding loyalty at all times is to his country, and not to his service or to his superiors.”

General of the Army George C. Marshall

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

President John F. Kennedy (Inaugural Address, 20 Jan 1961)

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

John Stuart Mill

“If I do my full duty, the rest will take care of itself.”

General George S. Patton Jr., USA


Excellence in All We Do

“The power of excellence is overwhelming. It is always in demand and nobody cares about its color.”

General Daniel S. “Chappie” James, USAF

“A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.”

General George S. Patton Jr., USA

“Victory smiles upon those who anticipate the changes in the character of war, not upon those who wait to adapt themselves after the changes occur.”

Italian Air Marshall Giulio Douhet

“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

President George Washington

“If you can’t get them to salute when they should salute and wear the clothes you tell them to wear, how are you going to get them to die for their country?”

General George S. Patton Jr., USA