Active members of the U.S. military and veterans alike rejoiced with the announcement of James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis’ appointment as Defense Secretary.

They know firsthand how Mad Dog handles business and know his extraordinary leadership skills are second to none. Business Insider originally spoke to numerous people who served under Mattis to give an insight to what the four-star general is really like once all the cameras and the spotlight around him fade.


In short, it is no secret the Mad Dog is opinionated. He has been referred to by his underlings as a history buff with a strategic mind.

Did you know that The Pentagon has acknowledged the later? They have gone on record by saying that Mattis is a strategic thinker with an encyclopedia knowledge of history with strong leadership skills.


His reputation is the reason why he has risen through the ranks to Four-star General during his 44-year career. The then Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates said all you need to know about Mattis in one short sentence. “General Mattis is one of our military’s foremost strategic thinkers and combat leaders.”


Okay, enough about what government officials think about the General. What was Mattis really like when the bullets were flying and a battle was ensuing?

Well, Nate Fick, a former Marine Captain who served as 2nd Lieutenant under Mattis has a few war stories to share. In the end, Fick realizing “this guy was an incredible leader.”


In 2001 during a cold Afghanistan night at Kandahar Marine patrol base, Fick recalled a memory he remembers fondly.

Fick has been ordered to have two of his Marines to stay awake and patrol while everyone else slept. “I was out walking the line one night at 2, maybe 3 a.m., Fick said, adding that he was approaching a fighting hole his Marines were manning. “As I got closer, I saw the third head.”


Fick’s initial response was anger that one of his Marines was not sleeping, or was away from the hole they were supposed to be manning. As he was about to chew into the Marine, he quickly realized that would not be smart, as the third soldier “was General Mattis.”

Mattis was doing the same thing that Fick was doing: Checking on the junior marines. “Nobody would’ve criticized Mattis if he had a lieutenant like me heating up his MREs and if he stayed inside to sleep on a cot,” Fick said. That’s not the man Mattis is, though. He truly cares about his soldiers and loves America.


One of Mattis previous troops stated he is a player-coach. “You can have all the staff meetings you want, but there’s no substitute for walking around and talking to people who do the work.”

Fick transcribed a conversation between Mattis and himself in his book, “One Bullet Away” where the Genreral wanted to know if he had any complaints against him? Fick had always been direct with his superiors and he wasn’t going to change that now. Fick calmly replied, ” just one, sir. We haven’t been north to kill anything yet.”


Mattis patted the 2nd Lieutenant on the shoulder and told him: “You will, young man. You will. The first time these bastards run into United States Marines, I want it to be the most traumatic experience of their miserable lives.”

Shane Hafner, a medically retired infantry Staff Sgt. was wounded by an I.E.D in 2010, and had only met Mattis one time but it left an impression on him.


Hafner was just waking up after surgery when a hospital attendant informed him that General Mattis was coming for a visit. When he heard the news, he immediately felt he needed a haircut.

Mattis walked in and said “at ease” and started to talk to him man to man. Hafner told him that he hoped Mattis would one day become Commandant of the Marine Corps. Mattis calmly explained that wasn’t likely, he said, “I don’t have the best track record with quotes.”


The General wanted to make sure that Hafner was being taken care of and if he needed anything else? Hafner said he would like his Kevlar helmet back bloodied and all.

Hafner told Business Insider that the next time he got out of surgery, “There was my helmet sitting there at the foot of my bed.”


This man will be protecting the country he loves with full authority. The enemy should be trembling wherever they’re hiding because the Mad Dog is about to get released.

H/T Business Insider