Former Speechwriter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, TOPGUN Instructor Glorifies God Through Service

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Retired U.S. Navy Commander Guy Snodgrass, who directed combat jets over some of the world’s most formidable war zones is also a former TOPGUN instructor and former Chief Speechwriter to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Snodgrass’ released his second book,  TOPGUN’S TOP 10: Leadership Lessons from the Cockpitauthored the 2018 National Defense Strategy for the United States, which he chronicled in his first book, Holding the Line: Inside Trump’s Pentagon with Secretary Mattis.

Intriguing, no doubt….but it’s serving God and His people that shaped Snodgrass over the years.

Topgun's Top 10 : Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit (Hardcover)

It all started from a Christian upbringing in Northern Texas and the quality of people that influenced him, “my dad and my mom were adamant that you put service above self. We would work at food banks; we would work at soup kitchens and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and other groups supporting the local community,” said Snodgrass, who credited that people of character molded him as a boy. “That carried forward into my military career and it served as that strong foundation.”

Snodgrass wrote speeches for the head of the U.S. Navy and a four-star Navy Admiral and then was hired by Mattis. Being in a more political climate did not sway the Commander to betray his faith or to do “things against my character or to do things that I knew were ethically wrong.”

In Washington, you either sink or swim, and the author pointed out the lessons learned. One was sticking to Christian values. Whether serving in President Donald Trump’s administration or working for Mattis — retaining values through the storms of life will carry a person through.

If it worked for people in the cabinet — it can work for anyone. He advised that people need a wingman, someone who has your best interests at heart. His favorite lesson of the book is the subject of never waiting to make a difference. 

“There are so many things we can do on a daily basis that will make things around us better, contributing to more positivity and less negatively.”

This includes mentorship, serving others, generosity or making opportunities for others.

“That’s how we make a positive impression on the world,” he added.

Most people are still grappling with the coronavirus pandemic — many feel unsettled and shaken. Snodgrass presented insight on how to navigate tumultuous times as we are facing division in the nation due to varying political perspectives, political positions.

“As a fire pilot, I learned to stay calm under pressure. Your emotions can be the enemy of your judgment. Focus on what you can control, don’t let all the external factors drive you off course. Focus on the best person you can be — doing the right thing for yourself, your family and your community.

Snodgrass is aware that serving others, sticking to Christian principles, has been the biggest blessing of all, despite all the achievements as a fighter pilot and success at the Pentagon.

With his experience and faith, sounds like a future political candidate, right?

Snodgrass laughed and said he’s enjoying writing and spending more time with his family in Texas.

But maybe this TOPGUN will appear on a ballot one day — don’t be surprised.

-Corine Gatti-Santillo

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