Thursday, August 13, 2009

My kind of hero: Bernard Loeffke, Major General, USA (retired)

Bernard Loeffke

General Loeffke is on the left in the photo

A Vietnam veteran, Bernard (“Burn”) Loeffke commanded Special Forces and finished his Army career as the Commanding General of Army South. A graduate of West Point, he has an MA in Russian and a Ph.D. in Political Science. When retired from the U.S. Army in 1992, he did something that didn’t surprise anyone who knew him: he studied to be a Physician’s Assistant, receiving his degree in 1997. After graduation, he participated in several medical missions in combat zones in southern Sudan.

A professional soldier, Burn Loeffke is also a man of peace and compassion, the sort of man who commands respect because he gives respect to everyone he meets. In that, he’s like my old Naval Reserve Commander, Commander Roy Heffelfinger. I met General Loeffke at a conference at the Pacific Institute in Seattle in 1998, where he was speaking. I had just written my first book, “Things I’ve Learned From the Old”, and gave a copy to him. The next day he came up to me and said he’d read the book and liked it. Then he turned to those who were standing around waiting to speak with him, and, holding up the book, said: “This is a fine book. You ought to read it. And here is the author.” Out of the blue, unasked for, unexpected. That’s Burn Loeffke, and that’s what makes him my kind of hero: He has a heart for other people.

Here’s a quote from his book And the Least Beastly of Us Should Be Doing It: “Acting like brothers is the key to keeping hope alive in our Americas”. And by “brothers”, he means that every human being living anywhere from the North Pole to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, is a brother and sister and must be treated as such, and not left, marginalized and unwanted, to live in poverty and despair. That’s the way he treated the people under his command, and that’s the way he treats everyone. And that, more than anything, makes him my kind of hero. We need a lot more like him.

General Loeffke is the author of several books, including And the Least Beastly of Us Should Be Doing It; Our America, Our China (Dr Bernard Loeffke, Dr Renliang Xu, and Marc Loeffke); How These ... Can Make Us Healthier (with Carmen Queral) ;and From Warrior to Healer: 99 True Stories from a General to His Children, which I have read.

His website is Helping Others Today, a not-for-profit initiative with his son Mark and daughter Kristin that supports a variety of projects, including:

  • An orphanage in Guatemala
  • A reconciliation camp in Ireland
  • An AIDS clinic in Kenya
  • A free clinic in Haiti
  • A school in a refugee camp in Sudan
  • A day care center in Kosovo
  • Aiding low income children in the Third World
  • Educating nurses in Niger
  • Their website is at:

    All for this post,


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