STAMPS, Ark.—Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee addressed graduates from his alma mater Thursday, telling them to always be competent, committed and of high character.
Piggee graduated from Lafayette County High School 40 years ago and is also one of only 50 lieutenant generals serving in the Army today. He told the 49 members of the Class of 2017 that of the three C's—competence, commitment and character— that there was nothing more important than character.
"I've seen too many people fail, and it's not because they are incompetent or not committed. It is because they have a character flaw," he said. "As Dr. Martin Luther King liked to say, 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.' These are the times in your life that will define your character. The decisions you make and how you react to these controversial and trying times and stressful situations will determine your future."
Piggee also asked the graduates to give a standing ovation to honor their parents, grandparents, family and friends for all the support they had given, to tell them thank you. He then told them, "Always do the right thing. Even when no one is looking."
He recalled joining the Army following graduation from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in biology. He said he has always felt a sense of family and of purpose during his 36 years in the armed services and that he was part of something bigger than himself.
"The bottom line was I was having fun," he said. "I was lucky to find my calling, my passion, at a young age and I hope that you find that soon. It makes life a little easier when you find that passion early in your life."
Piggee went on to give them one more life lesson. "You will learn much more from your mistakes than you do from your successes, so be careful," he said. "Don't do anything illegal or unethical that will ruin your reputation or your new careers you are about to embark upon. Life is a journey. Challenges and trials and setbacks in your journey and life experiences will develop your character."
He also encouraged them to continue their education beyond high school, and reminded them that former President Bill Clinton and award-winning poet Maya Angelou were both raised within a 30-mile radius of Stamps.
"We may come from a small community," he said, "but the only limit to our success is the size of our dreams."
On Wednesday, Piggee visited Red River Army Depot. While at Red River, he toured the Rubber Products facility, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle production facility, as well as the depot's newest building, the Maneuver Systems Sustainment Center, where various maintenance activities are under way for a variety of the Army's top vehicle programs. In addition to discussions with depot officials, Piggee also met with Commissioner Dennis Lewis, of the Texas Military Preparedness Commission, and Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Jerry Sparks. He spoke with personnel on the post and emphasized that Army Logistics (G-4) recognizes their efforts in Army maintenance and the vital role in making sure the Army can accomplish its mission.