in: Advice, Character, Podcast

• Last updated: September 28, 2021

Podcast #101: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War With Robert Coram

John Boyd is one of the greatest military strategists that hardly anyone knows about. Unmatched in the cockpit during the Korean War, his mind was also without rival. He was not simply a warrior of combat, but a warrior-engineer and warrior-philosopher. Boyd wrote “Aerial Attack Study,” which codified the best dogfighting tactics for the first time, helped design the legendary F-15, F-16, and A-10 aircraft, and developed the strategic tool known as the OODA Loop.

Robert Coram, who wrote Boyd’s biography, argues that the OODA Loop made Boyd “the most influential military thinker since Sun Tzu.” In today’s podcast I talk to Mr. Coram about his book Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, and about the life and career of this fascinating warrior-philosopher and what we can learn from him on how to be better men.

Show Highlights

  • How John Boyd developed the nickname “40-Second Boyd” as a fighter pilot
  • The many idiosyncrasies of John Boyd (including pushing lit cigars into the ties of generals)
  • What drove John Boyd to devote himself so tirelessly to improving fighter planes, developing military strategy, and fighting corruption within the Pentagon
  • Why John Boyd was reluctant to release his OODA Loop theory to the public
  • Why despite revolutionizing air combat, not a single person from the U.S. Air Force attended Boyd’s funeral (and why it was packed with Marines)
  • John Boyd’s Roll Call that every man must answer
  • And much more

John Boyd by Robert Coram, Book Cover.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. John Boyd is truly one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever read about and I think more people should know about him. His dedication to his ideals both inspires and gives pause. His tireless fighting to do what he believed was the right thing certainly, and left a lasting impact in how militaries around the world conduct war; yet his single-minded focus left his family in shambles. His life is a great case study in the advantages and pitfalls of thumos

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Special thanks to Keelan O’Hara for editing the podcast!


Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. Now there are a lot of great military strategist in history that come to mind when you mention military strategy. Most obvious, Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War thousands of years ago, there’s also Carl von Clausewitz, but there’s another one. One of the most greatest military thinkers and strategist since Sun Tzu.

His name is John Boyd. He started his career as a fighter pilot, during the Korean War, and then he went on to revolutionize air tactics of the design of fighter planes. He also went on to just developed these grand theories that are being used today, in branches of the military around the world on how to win wars.

We’ve heard about John Boyd on the site. He’s one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read about and written about. Today, we have his biographer on, his name is Robert Coram. He wrote this biography called Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. Today we’re going to discuss John Boyd’s contribution to military strategy, his life, his idiosyncrasies, his battles within the bureaucracies of the Pentagon, and then talk about what we can learn from Boyd on being a better man.

Also learn from his faults as well, it’s a fascinating discussion, I think you’re really going to like this, so let’s do this. Robert Coram, welcome to the show.

Robert Coram: I’m glad to be here, thank you.

Brett McKay: For our listeners who are familiar with you and your work, can you tell us a little bit a background about your career, and what ultimately led you to writing a biography about an obscure military strategist that not a lot of people know about named John Boyd?

Robert Coram: When I was in college, I work for the student newspaper, and some of my columns came to the attention of the people at the Atlanta Journal, and I was offered a job there, and was there for 4 or 5 years and left, freelance write for Atlanta Magazine. Wrote a number of magazine articles for most of the major, national publications desk bar or the New Yorker.

Then in 1980, I went back to the newspaper this time to the constitution. There were 2 separate newspapers at the town. After a couple of years, like every reporter I wanted to write the great American novel. I let the paper, and I wrote 5 novels before I ever published one, and so I have read a long learning curve in this business.

In 1988, published a first novel, and over the next 10 years published 7 novels, and 3 non-fiction books, and I got to tell you, except for one of those books, they were all somewhere South and mediocre. By 1999, I was 62 years old my career was in the toilet, my agent was about to fire me, and one of John Boyd’s friends whom I have known for 10 to 15 years, and he was been after me, for most of those 15 years to write a biography of Boyd have contacted me again.

He said, “It’s time to write the biography of Boyd.” Not having anything else to do at the time, I thought I would go to Washington and talk to a couple of Boyd’s friends, primarily to get Boyd’s friend, Chuck Spinney who was a good friend by then getting to leave me alone about this. Frankly I didn’t think it was much of a book.

Chuck was big into hero worship[ I went to Washington and talk to Tom Christie and Pierre Sprey, and it linked to Chuck, and I realized this is one of the biggest story I’ve ever come across. I wrote a proposal, and send it off.

Brett McKay: That’s how it happen, okay that’s the thing that’s amazing. John Boyd he’s one of the greatest military strategist in the history of the world, and some people called him that, like he’s up there with Sun Tzu. Not a lot of people know about him, so for our listeners who aren’t familiar with John Boyd, could outline his career, and his significant accomplishment?

Robert Coram: He was probably the greatest military theoreticians since Sun Tzu. He wrote energy maneuverability, he study developed to change the aviation forever. He wrote Aerial Attack Study that change the way every air force in the world of flights and patterns of conflict which was his final work was probably the most influential briefing ever to come from a military mind.

The thing you have to remember about Boyd, is even though what I wrote was a military biography that Boyd’s work transcends the military, his work has been embraced by academia, he’s taught in MBA programs all over the country. First responders, police officers, fire departments, I’ll read about them, Homeland security is in the process right now developing a … using boards into loop, to try to fight cyber terrorism.

Almost 20 years after Boyd’s death, there are conferences every year about his work. It’s far beyond the military, and it’s approaching universal today in any area of conflict you can use Boyd’s teaching.

Brett McKay: He also had to play a significant role in the development of new fighter jets, correct?

Robert Coram: He was the father of the F-15, and the F-16. F-15 is never been defeated in area or combat and the F-16 before the Air Force added a lot of heavy weight to it, was one of the finest fighter aircraft ever built. He was behind the scenes in building the A-10. Yeah he built, was responsible for 3 of America’s front liner aircraft back in the 70s, 80s.

Brett McKay: We’ll talk a little bit more about sort of his troubles getting, what he wanted in the plane that later. You mention OODA Loop, and we’ve written about that before on the site. OODA Loop for those who don’t know stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. I know you’re not an expert on the OODA Loop.

Can you just talk a little bit, what it is, and do you think a lot of people, you talk about how a lot of people are using it. Do you think a lot of people misunderstand what Boyd had in mind for the OODA Loop?

Robert Coram: Let me backup just a little bit, it’s either when Boyd and Chuck Spinney who was working with Boyd developing the OODA Loop. They almost did not release what they found, because the OODA Loop can be so powerful. It’s virtually omnipotent, if you truly understand the power.

They know how to put it into play. They were afraid that some bad things could happen if this were made public. The good news about all this is so free people understand it and even fewer know how to put it into practice. As you mention, just Observed, Orient, Decide, and Act, and where most people go wrong, 2 things. I underestimate the importance of the orientation phase.

That’s a nonlinear feedback system. It’s sort of a pathway to the unknown. It wants you truly know what a lot about whatever your area is. When you develop what Boyd called… It’s a German word meaning a fingertip feel for something you can skip the orientation and the decision phase and you could look at something, and make an immediate decision.

If you have the fingertip feel for the situation, what you’ll usually do is the least expected action which is always better than the most effective action, because your enemy or opponent can figure out what’s most effective just like you can. What they can’t figure out is the least expected action.

By doing that, you create confusion and ambiguity and your opponent is sort of lost in the tug of war. When you stumble I feel aside, he’s way behind where you are, in the time cycle. I don’t know if that make sense or not.

Brett McKay: No it makes sense, it makes perfect sense. I think a big part of the OODA Loop is you talk, send an e-mail. It’s not quickness, you just want to control the, that’s not fast you want to be quicker, like control the tempo.

Robert Coram: Yeah, quick is more important than fast. You get inside the tempo and act quicker than your opponent is. He’s always behind, and if it does matter whether you’re playing tennis, or you’re in a combat situation. It doesn’t matter where this corporate takeover or any area of tennis match, any area of conflict you can use this principle.

Brett McKay: Fascinating and I think, why is that more people don’t know about John Boyd that he was behind a lot of this really amazing theories about strategy, and how to deal with ambiguity. He was a very prolific. He put out a lot of presentations, but it seems like there’s not a lot out there that he wrote specifically. I mean there’s like just a few papers, or that he wrote.

Robert Coram: Yeah the military culture is an oral culture, and most of his work came in briefings and he only wrote a couple of things in his life and therefore there’s nothing for academics to pour over, and therefore he’s been ignored by academics, his greatest legacy is a couple of briefings.

There’s a website called Slightly East of New. It’s run by Dr. Chad Richards who was one of boards close friends. It’s got a lot of articles in there about Boyd, and all of Boyd work is on their including the patterns of conflict briefing.

Brett McKay: Excellent, John Boyd to say the least was an interesting character. Very brilliant but he also had a lot of these idiosyncrasies about them. When I was reading your biography, I laugh out loud, some of these confrontations you had, or just some of these glitches you had that was part of his personality. Can you talk about what some of these idiosyncrasies were, and are there any stories in particular that stuck out in his life where his personality, clash with others?

Robert Coram: Let me list some hiss of better known characteristics. He was ill mannered, he was uncamped, loud, opinionated, intolerant of anybody who disagrees with him. He had a table manners of a 5 year old. He was profaned, one of the most profaned man you’ll ever meet. Abrasive, he’s a terrible father, and the worst husband, he had a habit of chewing on the quick of his fingers. When he started working with Whites the calluses on his hand, he would chew on those and spit them out during meetings which was so disconcerting to other people in the room.

He smoke cigars and several times we get so in gross in the conversation, he would stick his cigar into the tie of the shirt, of the person he was talking with. After he retired he was 48 years old, and he looked like a homeless person after that, he kept his glasses, and old sock. He drove a rattletrap of a car.

He said only 2 kinds of people can be truly independent, that was, you have an unlimited resources, and those who have no resources. Because if you have no resources, people can’t oppress you or do anything to bid you to their will, and you’re as independent in someone who’s quite wealthy. Boyd was … When he work in his later years as a unpaid Pentagon consultant, he wore his old Babylon flare bottom pants, and a shirt that was plaid.

Really he looks like a homeless person, but he was one of those man who wanted to get as close to the truth as possible and that was the only thing in his life that mattered there is no absolute truth. He came close to the most people to finding it. He saw himself as an outsider, he’s a man of virtue who was babbling superiors who were devoid of virtue and going back to having a cause, it’s something I think every man, especially a young man want is a cause and those others who can, can find the cause are fortunate indeed and Boyd found a cause and didn’t care about all the other stuff.

He was with definition genius as the ability to concentrate on one thing to the exclusion of all others, and Boyd concentrated about a 100% on his work, he ignored his family. It was … He was terrible, he was embarrassing to his friends the way he ignored his family. Not everybody can make that sort of trade off. Boyd did, and his work lives on.

Brett McKay: As I read your biography, I was wondering “What was driving Boyd?” It was just, like he wanted the truth, it wasn’t for country, was it for … I mean it wasn’t for money obviously, he could have made a lot of money being a consultant and doing lectures and the sort. Was it patriot? He just wanted to figure this thing out, that was it.

Robert Coram: Yeah started out, he went into the military to be a fighter pilot. All of his work, everything flow to what he learn as a fighter pilot, in Korea in the early 50s. He’s flying F-86 Sabre Jet which had a 10 to 1 victory ratio over the Mig. The Mig in many ways was a superior aircraft.

When you work for uncle Sam, especially the military you got virtually unlimited resources and Boyd could not have done several of the things that he did, the energy maneuverability study, the fighter aviation survey, heading up into the military. I mean I can strap a computer in the back of a fighter jet to test the principles of the energy maneuverability theory, civilians simply couldn’t do that.

A lot of Boyd’s engineering kind of work if you will was done well, he was in the military. He had a fiduciary responsibility as a rather senior officer in the Pentagon and he was … Did not like the culture of the Pentagon, and created a lot of confusion and [discourt 17:40] among defense contractors.

His greatest legacy is ineluctable, working after he retired, he was in his 50s when he developed patterns of conflict in OODA Loop.

Brett McKay: Yes, you’re talking about the culture of the Pentagon, when Boyd eventually ended up working in the Pentagon. Can you describe what the culture was at the time. It seems like it was … He’s kind of talking about there’s sort of lot of butt kissing and back stabbing, in fighting, and Boyd really wanted to change that.

Robert Coram: Well, he tried to change it but it’s even worst today, than it was when Boyd was their people outside the military think of the Pentagon is a place where the … All these patriots are building weapons to defend America. There are great patriots and principle of men and women who work in the Pentagon, but the fundamental purpose of the military, industrial political complex is not about protecting America.

It’s about funneling money to defense contractors. The Pentagon books had not been audited in decades, as for simple reasons I made deliberate, it made the book so complicated, and no one can figure them up. There’s so much money involved in so many congra … F-35 for instance the joint strike fighter has been developed now has hundreds of subcontractors and they’re in most congressional district in every state in the union and the constituent of the congressman and the senators there want to keep those jobs.

This horribly expensive airplane for which there is no threat in the … They’re trying to kill the A-10 to make room in the budget for the F-35. It’s a corrupt, venal terrible institution, and most people think of it as … They’re to help us and protect us, and they’re not.

Many of the 2 and 3 star generals who retire something like 70% go to work with defense contractors when they retire, they’re going to work with the same people that they have regulated, whose projects they have controlled as 2 and 3 star general. It’s a venal corrupt system.

Brett McKay: You describe on the book that one of the things that Boyd would do. He kind of used the OODA Loop within the Pentagon, I feel like some of the things that he was theorizing at the time, to sort of great discord and confusion and you called it like he would, you called it a Cape Job , right? Whenever he pulled the wool over someone’s eyes within the Pentagon?

Robert Coram: Cape job was when he … For instance when he was delivering the briefings on the energy maneuverability study, he was confronted during the briefing, and someone tried to diminish his work, and this all have been done, and he would say, “Okay, tell me your source. He used other people’s word, and information against them which is devastating if he can do it.”

He would ask the person to tell me the source, “Where did you get this information? You tell me who did this work before, and if you’re correct, I’ll step aside.” Of course nobody done the work before. Boyd said that by asking leading questions like that, he was holding out a cape and the bull charge, and went ahead long over the cliff and he was the master of that technique.

Brett McKay: I guess the question is why … Boyd seem like someone who didn’t really fit in with hierarchy. I guess it’s that whole fighter pilot mentality seems like that was for the culture with amongst fighter pilots of the time, and I guess still today. Military is very hierarchical, very structured. Why did he stick around instead of pursuing civilian work?

Did he ever think about pursuing, I mean did he ever have those moments, “I’m just done with this, I want to go do something else.”

Robert Coram: Yeah, he made a couple of fancy retiring. What he was doing was too important for the country, and he knew that, and he stayed and he knew he would never be promoted beyond colonel. If you look at the awards he won, and the thing his contributions to the military. Few people in military history has contributed as much as he did. He worked outside the system, he stood up and was recognize as an opponent to a lot of senior officers.

His career came to an end. The irony here, and I’ve discussed this with the Air Force academy people. They said that, and all of the service academy do this. They teach their cadets their students to be principle people and people with honor to always do the right thing. What they don’t teach them, is that when they stand up, and be like Boyd that there’s a price to pay. When you do the right thing, there’s always a price to pay.

Many of these young officers who graduated and were fans of Boyd found out to their other dismay that their careers have gotten side track by doing what they thought was the right thing.

Brett McKay: We haven’t talk about is Boyd’s career as a fighter pilot. Before he got into all the energy maneuverability theory and the OODA Loop. He was actually one of the best fighter pilots in the history of the Air Force, they called them 42nd Boyd, or 22nd Boyd?

Robert Coram: Yeah, that was in the 60s after he came back from Korea. When you look at his career, you can’t connect the dots until you look back. When you look back, his career you will see the stepping stones, and how he developed and evolved always in an upward fashion. When he came back from Korea, he just had a passion about trying to figure out why the F-86 had such a high victory ratio, when it was inferior aircraft.

He would put all that to play as an instructor. What was in a fighter weapon skill, now its Air Force base here in Las Vegas. He had a standing offer to let any student, and these are the best fighter pilots in the Air Force and come after the fighter weapon skill. He would put them on his tail in a 6:00 position and guaranteed that in 40 seconds he could reverse their positions and be on their tail.

He did it by whether drastic maneuver that nobody else had the courage to emulate, and he won every one of those engagements.

Brett McKay: Whenever you get up behind someone you’d say, “Guns, guns, guns.” That’s like …

Robert Coram: Yeah, it’s what you need, I did something like 3 seconds, saying guns, guns, guns, is equivalent to 16 films of gun camera film which is consider enough for a kill. Just as the student was getting ready to host him, he would reverse position and he would be on their 6s, screaming guns, guns, guns.

Brett McKay: Yeah these are few instance where he did that too like planes, who weren’t even in like involved in training. This is like sneak up behind them, and just scare the crap out of them.

Robert Coram: One was a B-52 landing at Eglin and those back in the days the B-52s has flew this long 10, 12, 14 hour mission and this guy was coming into land and he was in the landing pad, and these guys were exhausted, they wanted to just go through the debriefing and go home and sleep for 2 days, and Boyd makes a head on pass at the B-52 and rolls in and boarded right in front of him, goes 100, he was so close they could count the rivets on his belly.

He was screaming, guns, guns, guns. The pilot, the aircraft commander, got really upset and was just raising Cain over the radio. Boyd decided he needed another lesson of that. What amazing people fighter pilot were also he made an attack from the side the deflection attack and he came right across the cockpit and he got grounded because of that.

The B-52 pilot learned probably more about fighter pilots.

Brett McKay: I thought this is amazing to you. Despite his contributions to military strategy, and particularly to designing new generations of warplanes and like just basically revolutionizing air combat. When Boyd died there was no member of the Air Force that attended his funeral. Do they claim … In fact it was filled with Marines.

Can you explain why were Marines went there to honor, pay respects to Boyd and the Air Force didn’t?

Robert Coram: Let me back up again, when the book came out. The Venom toward me and toward the book from the Air Force was just startling. I never expected that. Chuck Spinney one of Boyd’s friend still work in the Pentagon at the time, and he called and said, “You better standby for some incoming fire they’re after you.”

He said 2 full colonels, in the Air Force had been assigned the job of debunking the book, and they didn’t have much luck with that. There was also a professor over at the Air War College in Montgomery Alabama. Who is the only person to write a really mean nasty critical review about the Boyd book.

Even today they hide board material at the Air War College because they think these young majors and lieutenant colonels will have their minds poisoned by reading Boyd. At the Air Force Academy, they have what they call a class exemplar, for each class and this is to pick someone who is a role model to what these young cadets want to be, in their careers, and 4 or 5 times, the senior classes, tried to pick Boyd as the exemplar.

In every instance, senior officers have stopped them from doing that. Even today, and here’s a story that I wrote another military biography about a col. Bud Day who’s most highly decorated officer in our great story by he’s being a POW in Vietnam. I was at a reunion of pilots and the chief of staff of the Air Force was there and he came over and he said, “Thank you for writing the Bud Day book. The Air Force needs to recognize it’s heroes.” I said, “Why don’t you recognize John Boyd?”

He spun on his heels and walk away. Even today the Air Force refuses to give him the institutional recognition he deserves, and I get e-mails from young officers 2 or 3 times a week. They read the book. They said when we get to be senior officers we’re going to change that, we’re going to recognize Boyd. What they don’t understand is that they will never be really senior officer until they drink the Kool-Aid and that means they’re not going to recognize Boyd.

I’m not sure the Air Force will ever honor and recognize Boyd. That’s okay, the Army has recognized him, the Marine Corps most of all, because the Marine Corps is always fighting for his very existence and they’re always looking for something new, and something innovative and they really latched on to Boyd’s idea and because of him, the Marine Corps change their whole way too went to war because of Boyd.

Today he’s one of the iconic figures in the Marine Corps and the Air Force pilot who’s recognize as a great military theorist by the Marine Corps which is you know military culture, that’s impossible to grasp.

Brett McKay: I think you said at his funeral there was actually like as burial the … The Marines did something that they don’t … They only do for Marines that they did it for John Boyd.

Robert Coram: One of the Marine colonel highly decorated a combat officer, took the ego globe and anchor which is the insignia of the Marine Corps and put it on the earn that Boyd’s funeral, that’s unprecedented. It’s rarely done at the funerals of Marines and to do it for a retired Air Force colonel is no precedent for that. But the Marines love John Boyd.

Brett McKay: I guess they went on in the first Desert Storm in the 90s, they used a lot of Boyd strategies to basically take down Kuwait like in few days, right? Or take back Kuwait.

Robert Coram: Boyd had retired by then, the big change he was secretary of defense. Then a young congressman when Boyd first started working on his ideas as a congressman, had been to a number of Boyd’s briefing and a new board didn’t like him, and had a pretty good understanding of his work. The secretary of defense and short cough, was beating his chest, and pounding and jumping up and down.

Cheney called Boyd out of retirement and brought him to Washington, and they talk about how to conduct a warfare, and that Left Hook and the [Faint 31:05] by the Marines. The whole battle plan came from John Boyd. When Cheney was Vice President, I was working on the book I made arrangements.

To my surprise, he took about 15 or 20 minutes to talk to me about Boyd and he was open, and he was acknowledge when Boyd’s contributions to him as secretary of defense.

Brett McKay: Boyd would famously tell the young men he mentored something all the time, it’s a phrase that sticks out to me, stuck out to me from the book. It was that, you can either be somebody or you can do something. What did John Boyd mean by that?

Robert Coram: You could pick up that one part of the book, that probably has drawn the single greatest response. I would say most of the e-mail I get from then, and 95% of my e-mail is about the book are from men. The thing that most of them glam on to is the to be or to do speech. In essence he would take a young officer, and he would say that in life his role call, and you have to decide what you want to do.

He would point of to one side, and say if you want to be somebody, you can go that way. Your friends will like you, and you’ll get good assignment and promoted faster. Your career will be good. At the end of the day, end of your career, the end of your life, you might wonder what the hell that was all about?

Then it would point the other way, and say if you want to do something you can go this way, and you will not be popular, and you may not get promoted, and you won’t get good assignments but you will done something for yourself, for your branch of the service and for the country. He said, “Every man comes to fork in the road, and you have to decide if you want to be somebody or to do something. Which way do you want to go.”

When I was writing, I didn’t realized the impact of that, but again you picked up the single part of the book that most people respond there.

Brett McKay: Yeah it’s a really powerful speech. It’s convicting it’s what it is. What did you personally learn about being a man, whatever that means to you, from studying Boyd’s life and writing about it.

Robert Coram: Let me respond on 2 level. Professionally Boyd changed my life, as I said my career was sort of bottomed out when I wrote that book. When a publisher got the book, he sent me the contract for 2 more book, 2 book contract and stipulated that each book the a military biography. I never planned on this, I didn’t see myself writing military biographies, and I went back and re-read Boyd to try to figure out what was it about him, that made the publisher want 2 more books about military people.

I think we’ve talked about how Boyd love the truth, he was a man of commitment and passion and principle. He was somebody who wanted to do something, The irony is it my heroes have always been a man of conviction a man of belief, a man who sacrifice for their beliefs who suffered, Sir Thomas Moore has always been a great hero of mine, so as St. Gregor who spent years in jail for his beliefs, and the German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was jailed and later killed by the Nazis, these are my heroes.

Then I want to write a books about people who manifest those same characteristics. Col. Bud Day who was a topic of my subject of my second book, was a POW in Vietnam. There’s a chapter in that book I still can’t read without weeping, and it’s the chapter when Bud was being tortured and they were going to kill him, and he would have died for his beliefs.

What gets me, is it would have been so easy for him to stop torture. All he have to do is to sign up a per se he thought the war in Vietnam was unfair, or unjust. Everybody in America was saying that, the Attorney General of the United States that it was an unjust war, half of the members of congress will say that.

That great example of all things good and noble Jane Fonda was saying the same. Everybody was saying that. Col. Day was a serving officer, in the hands of the enemy in the time of war, and he did not have that luxury, and he would have died before he had broken his oath, and then the next defining a subject is always the hardest part of what I do.

The next book was about Lt. Gen Victor H. Krulak. Brute Krulak in the essence of his life, he was a 3 star general about to be receive his 4th star in the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Of his own volition, and that’s a crucial thing. He went to the White House with his own volition.

He was the only senior officer in the military doing that long war in Vietnam who went to the White House and confronted president Johnson over the prosecution of the war. He said, “You’re doing this wrong, and unless you change everything you’re doing, you’re going to lose the war and you’re going to lose the next election.”

Johnson was so annoyed he stood up and put his hand in the small of Krulak’s back and physically pushed him out of the Oval Office. Brute Krulak because of being a man of principle, did not get his 4 star, he did not become commandant of the Marine Corps. His life’s dream was gone because he acted on principle.

That’s how he’s remembered today, and I don’t think Lyndon Johnson is remembered by history in the same light. We were known a personal, what Boyd taught me about being a man, I saw in this in first in Boyd, and then Col. Day, and then Gen. Krulak the same attributes, devotion that Judy commitment never making an excuse doing the job no matter the cost.

My dad spent 31 years in the Army. He and I didn’t get along, for most of my life I was running from everything he represented. When I started 50 years after my dad died, writing about military people. I realized my dad had the same virtues, qualities, attributes, that these people that I was writing down. I was writing about my dad. Late in life, I realized I had rejected with a priceless gift from my father, and I got away with him on then.

I visit him in the cemetery every time I go home and we have a talk. I have learned both Boyd turned my life around professionally, and enabled me to much higher level of understanding, not only about my dad, but about military people in general. Boyd changed my life.

Brett McKay: Robert Coram, thank you so much for your time, this has been an absolute pleasure.

Robert Coram: You’re welcome.

Brett McKay: Our guest there is Robert Coram, he’s the author of the book Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. It’s also written a whole bunch of other books as well, you can find all of those on Highly recommend you pick of the Boyd biographies, super interesting. You also find out more about Robert’s work at That’s Coram with the C.

Well that wraps up another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out the Art of Manliness website at Again I really appreciate your feedback on the podcast, you can give it a rating on iTunes or Stitcher whatever it is you used to listen to the podcast.

We listen to that, I’ve been trying to improve the sound quality on that some of the balance had a lot of complaints about that. I think we’re getting there, also let you know what I’m doing I bought some equipment that will make recording telephone interviews much better and sound better, because I know there’s been a few complaints about that as well.

Hopefully we’ll get that fix, we’re always trying to improve the podcast so your feedback is welcome. Also I’d love for you to go to the post that we published the podcast on, Art of Manliness and leave a comment about the podcast. Also suggestions for future podcast episodes. Who you like me to interview?

I like to interview people, not just have me blabber. If you have anybody liked me to talk to and reach out, let me know. I’d really appreciate that. Until next time, this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.

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