Dusty Lee Cook

Ok – I’m back…sorta

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. The fam, role at Red Hat, move back to Texas, Katie’s transition has kept me super busy. Good news is coming though. Another website is being stood up, which I will mention soon, and Katie just got one of the most awesome career opportunities of all time. I won’t spoil that fun. More to follow.

“A man fights and fights, and then fights some more. Because surrender is death, and death is….” – Kenny Powers on the origin of Kenny Powers

After only a few short months, I had to reprioritize things and return back to my old duty station where Katie is still serving…and 36 weeks pregnant.  Today was my last day at Amazon.  Our initial plan looked pretty solid but things can change, and nobody needs to fall in love with their plan so much to blindly continue to follow it when you know the outcome can no longer be reached.

While leaving an amazing company like Amazon, who has such high hiring standards, was a hard decision, it’s not a complete loss.  This was our first real adventure into corporate America and I learned quite a bit including:

1)  Amazon is full of awesome people and has a great culture.  This should put all other service members at ease when making the big leap.  The comradery you seek, you’ll find it there.

2) Big data, technology, processes that I have never seen before.  The way that Amazon conducts its business with relentless focus on the customer – it’d blow your mind.  I learned a great deal about how data driven analytics are used, how technology is used….it was an eye-opening event.  This was probably the greatest lesson I learned.  All my time in the Corps was at the operational level and we never used tools like this.  I wish we did now.

So, what’s next? Another baby any day now.  After that, it’s back to the drawing board factoring in Katie’s great career options, new locations for us to move to, and another search for me.  Never a dull moment.

To the building and team I left at BWI4 in Clear Brook, VA, good luck with Prime day just a few days away and eventually peak ’18.  I know y’all will be successful.

What’s the difference between leadership in the military and corporate America?

I guess it’s a trick question.  At it’s core level, there isn’t a difference.  Care of subordinates, peers, and superiors and mission focus remains the same.

Tomorrow begins the fourth week of training in my (still) new position at Amazon.  After completing a week focused just on leadership alone, I was pleasantly surprised at how Amazon taught the subject.  The other veterans that were in the class thought the same.  There is still much to learn, but thanks to the military way of life (delegating decisions and responsibilities to the lowest levels) we have a great foundation to work with.

At first glance, I can see the college graduates placed into front-line supervisor/management positions looked just like me when I was a Second Lieutenant.  I don’t think the leadership learning curve will be as steep as it still is for service members but eventually, we’ll all be at the same point.  In the end, it all comes down to treating people with respect, finding out “what makes them tick”, and driving everyone toward the common goal.  It sounds pretty simple right?

Take a look at the Marine Corps Leadership Traits:


Now take a look at Amazon’s Leadership Principles:

While they don’t perfectly match, they are very much executed the same.  Practice what you preach.  Take a look at this article from Task & Purpose on applying Marine Leadership Traits into your business.

One additional concern every service member mentions before they depart the military – what about camaraderie?  I can’t speak for other career paths, but at least at Amazon, it isn’t an issue.  Camaraderie is the same here as it is in the Corps, just a different “day job”.

Dusty 2.0…Hello Corporate ‘Merica

Friends, family, readers – finally, it’s national Dusty’s New Career Signing Day…I have selected a job at an amazing company that I feel is exactly what I’ve been looking for.


I was fortunate to receive a phone call from a recruiter who found my resume on Linked In.  After an informal call, a screening, and on-site visit to San Bernardino, they provided me with an offer to be an Operations Manager.  Pretty sweet and exciting gig.

You read that right.  It’s not a flying job.  Make no mistake, I still love flying.  I decided to explore other options and leave with the awesome memories I had while supporting those in uniform from the air.  Besides, with the current trajectory of Amazon, maybe I’ll just buy my own plane and let Katie (@gearupflapsup) fly me around.

My situation however is probably different than a lot of other Marines/service members when they get out.  The transition back to civilian life is stressful, even for a kicked back type of guy like me.  Now that it’s all said and done, I can reflect on a few things:

1) The military directed transition training (TRS) – yeah, no help at all.  Mandatory time suck.

2) Organizations like American Corporate Partners, Onward-2-Opportunity, tons of other non-profit organizations (sorry I didn’t name all that have helped me) and every person who volunteers their time to support transitioning service members THANK YOU.  The support from the civilian side is overwhelming and well worth the engagement for both sides.

3) Networking, especially through Linked In, is clutch.

4) When asked to provide three strengths, don’t use – “hard working, alpha male, jackhammer, merciless, insatiable”

If anyone desires to hear one man’s opinion on how to land their next career on the “outside”, I’m not an expert, but I’ll share my tale (dustyleecook(at)

So this is it huh?

Tomorrow marks the last day I put on the ol’ USMC camouflage in the line of duty….that is, until North Korea does some really silly stuff and we’re “lucky” enough to have the draft come back.  Hopefully that’ll never happen though.  While tomorrow is bittersweet, I plan on enjoying every minute.  I have a feeling I’ll go out with more of a whimper than a bang, but that’s just fine.  The ride’s been so memorable, no need to throw a ticker tape parade.

More details and thoughts to follow once it’s all over.  Thank you to all that have shared the memories.

Of note, the job search took an unexpected turn tonight so maybe it’s time to start a podcast for fun instead of looking for real work.


Kneeling. It has everyone up in arms on both sides of the political spectrum (keeping it simple at two sides). Just listen to the news and the rhetoric from NFL GAMES last Sunday. Some players actions have been called “disgraceful” and “disrespectful to veterans”. (1) Well, ok, let’s ease up a bit. I underlined games because they are just that. Games.

What is kneeling? Just like everything else we do, Google it. Wikipedia comes to the rescue again. “Kneeling is a basic human position where one or both knees touch the ground. It is used as a resting position, during childbirth and as an expression of reverence and submission. Also often tied with the phrase “taking a knee” which is a sign of compassion as well as honoring the fallen or injured.” (2) Wait?! CHILDBIRTH!? I’m no doctor, but that seems…difficult. So, kneeling is not a disrespectful action. It’s something you would do at church, listening to coach talk, or show support towards an injured player.

Now, to me, a soon to be veteran in a few months, I find no issue with taking a knee as a sign of protest. Burn a flag during the anthem? Ok, I’m bothered but it’s still allowed. I won’t speak for other Marines or vets and their views, mine are my own. Do I think that I fought for the player’s ability to do this? No. Hell, if anything, I fought for Afghans abilities to do this exact thing in their country. We just have more work to do. Have I fought for liberty, freedom, mom’s apple pie, rock n’ roll, and Corvettes here in America? Maybe. Hopefully, we’ve found a way to cut funding to the Taliban, which in the long run could prevent another 9/11. I subscribe to the “take the fight to the enemy on their turf, so we don’t have to fight on ours” mindset. Will our actions defeat the radicalized lone wolf already established in society? I don’t think so. That’s another discussion for another day.

So, kneeling players…you asked for the spotlight and now you have it. What are you going to do with it? Better strike while the iron is hot. The American attention span and new cycle will soon shift to something else if you’re too slow. Have someone step up and give a message. Also, establish some goals before you start talking. You think you’re going to end racism by kneeling before a football game? Lofty goal my friend. There are some short-term goals that need to be set in support of long-term ones before we live in harmony like other countries.

To all of the fans booing during the anthem, if you’re doing it to protest, it’s annoying but it’s your right. If you’re booing because you see players kneeling…just stand quietly, enjoy the anthem, sweet ass flyover, and sip your beer. Enjoy what you are there to watch. A GAME. Honestly, the thing that makes me scratch my head is how we encourage/pay these players to bash each other’s heads in the name of competition knowing full well there is a chance they will have CTE later in life. And this is coming from a Texan, where football is a rite of passage. Why aren’t we taking a harder look at that problem?

1) Trump calls NFL kneeling ‘disgraceful’, disrespectful to veterans,, Retrieved from

2) Kneeling, Wikipedia, Retrieved from

How hot can it be?

Well, here’s my last exercise as a United States Marine.  And it looks like it’s going to be a “good” one.

WELCOME TO 29 PALMS!  Today’s forecast – 101 deg.  Nobody is allowed to make the statement “but at least it’s a dry heat.”  I’ll miss the days of sleeping in tents, on cots, without air conditioning.

Loss for words

To our brothers and sisters of the Yankees and Raider Bn, there are no words for us to express to ease your loss.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.  VMGRs have had a long run of success without a loss of this type for some time now. You never think it’ll happen on your watch, in your community, in your squadron or unit.  We lost some amazing Marines from the aircrew side and CSO community.  It’s important that we remember those that we lost, support their families, and continue the mission that still needs to be done for our nation.  Answers will come later.

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