Famous Sayings: #12 — ‘No Guts, No Glory!’

May 29, 2016

No Guts, No Glory

no guts no glory, Memorial Day, American Flag

In honor of Memorial Day, I wanted to include a famous military quote.

For those of you who don’t know, Memorial Day falls on the final Monday in May in the United States. Its origins are traced back as far as May 5, 1866, when veterans and war widows were known to lay flowers at the graves of fallen soldiers.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan called for a Decoration Day to be celebrated on May 30 of every year. The leader of an organization for Nothern Civil War Veterans wanted there to be a national holiday to honor those who died in defense of their country. General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on the first Decoration Day, when members of both of the Union and Confederacy would be honored by the laying of flowers by their graves.

Decoration Day wasn’t celebrated nationally, as many Southerners preferred to honor their fallen soldiers on various days. This would change after World War I.

Memorial Day as we know it came to form as Congress passed the Uniform Monday Act in 1968. This called for Memorial Day to be held on the final Monday each May and to honor fallen military personnel from all American wars. Additionally, Memorial Day became a Federal holiday. The changes would come into effect in 1971 (“Memorial Day”).

Who Is Credited for the Saying “No Guts No Glory”?

no guts no glory, Major General Frederick Blesse, Boots, U.S. Air ForceWhile searching for famous military quotes, I came upon this one by the name of Air Force Major General Frederick Corbin Blesse via About.com.

“No Guts, No Glory!” was the title of a manual Blesse published in 1955. It was a compilation of his lessons in air-to-air combat. The manual was used for 20 years (Wings Over Miami).

In a search for the text, I came across a forum post on Flying Squadron website. The post had a link to a PDF that contains the text of Blesse’s manual.

Who Was Maj. Gen. Blesse?

no guts no glory, Major General Frederick Blesse, Boots, U.S. Air ForceMaj. Gen. Frederick Blesse (also called “Boots”) was a well-known and highly decorated fighter pilot in Air Force circles. He flew two tours of duty during the Korean War in the 1950’s and two tours of duty during the Vietnam War.

Aircraft Blesse flew included: the F-86 Sabre, the North America P-51 Mustang (67 air-t
o-ground missions), the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star (35 missions) and the MiG-15.

During the 1955 USAF Worldwide Fighter Gunnery Meet, Blesse flew the F-86F as a member of the Air Training Command team. He won all six trophies for individual performance.

Blesse also served as Deputy Air Force Inspector General before retiring as Major General in 1975 (Wings Over Miami). He died on October 31, 2012 in Melbourne, FL at age 91 (Ruane).

What Does “No Guts, No Glory” Mean?

Put simply, the saying is a call for people to attack important tasks aggressively.

In context, Blesse was telling leaders in the United States Air Force to how to properly train newer pilots. He stressed that aggressiveness was needed for all involved.

Here is a quote from the Preface of No Guts, No Glory!

As this confidence grows, so does his enthusiasm. Enthusiasm increases interest, which in turn pays dividends in overall accomplishment. All of these qualities together add up to the one thing a training program must produce if the graduate pilots are to be successful in combat—aggressiveness. It is this pilot aggressiveness which we seek. Without it, all training is useless, for the individual pilot must have the desire to put into effect that which he has been taught. Amazing results have been achieved in combat through aggressiveness alone, but it has been proven time and again that all the training in the world is insufficient when the individual does not have it in his heart to engaged the enemy or destroy the target.

Aggressiveness was pointed out as a key element for any mission. Without aggressiveness, it wouldn’t matter how well-trained any Air Force pilot was. He would let enemy targets slip through his fingers.

How Does This Saying Apply Today?

The saying has applications for both the military and every day usage.

In the military, it helps to have accurate information so certain targets can be attacked quickly and efficiently.

As Mike Phelps pointed out, an alternative to “No guts, no glory” is “no pain, no gain.” That is still reminiscent of its military roots, but is often applied to a strict, aggressive exercise regimen.

Whether you are honoring fallen soldiers, have a stick exercise regimen, or are getting a head start to summer, have a safe Memorial Day!

Works Cited

Khurana, Simran. “Walk With Your Head Held High: Military Quotes to Inspire You.” About.com. Last Updated 14 Jan 2015. Web. Retrieved 29 May 2016. <http://quotations.about.com/cs/inspirationquotes/a/FamousMilita1.htm>.

“Major General Frederick C. ‘Boots’ Blesse, Usaf (Deceased), Director Emeritus” Wings Over Miami Air Museum. Web. Retrieved 29 May 2016. <http://www.wingsovermiami.com/about/boardofdirectors/frederick-c-boots-blesse-director-emeritus/>.

“Memorial Day.” History.com; A&E Television Networks, LLC. Web. Retrieved 29 May 29, 2016. <http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history>.

Phelps, Mike. “10 Most Famous Quotes in American Military History.” Listosaur.com. 11 Feb 2012. Web. 29 May 2016. <http://listosaur.com/history/10-most-famous-quotes-in-american-military-history/>.

Ruane, Michael E. “Funeral flyovers squeezed by sequester, but fighter ace ‘Boots’ Blesse gets a final salute.” The Washington Post. 22 March 2013. Web. Retrieved 29 May 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/funeral-flyovers-squeezed-by-sequester-but-fighter-ace-boots-blesse-gets-a-final-salute/2013/03/22/186f8252-930e-11e2-8ea1-956c94b6b5b9_story.html>.

“Vice.” “Found a PDF of ‘No Guts No Glory’ by Maj. Gen. Blesse.” Flying Squadron Forums by Baseops.net. 8 Nov 2013. Web. Retrieved 29 May 2016. <http://www.flyingsquadron.com/forums/topic/20040-found-a-pdf-of-no-guts-no-glory-by-maj-gen-blesse/>.

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