André Gudger, CEO of Eccalon, was the guest of honor at the 244th United States Marine Corps Ball for Company B. 4th Reconnaissance Battalion on Saturday, Nov. 16th, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mr. Gudger, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy and the Director of Small Business Programs at the Department of Defense, spoke to a captivated audience of young Marines. Drawing upon his dedicated service improving the lives of veterans, Mr. Gudger extolled the virtues of brotherhood and perseverance.
Speaking on his proudest moments working for American Veterans, Mr. Gudger first focused on brotherhood: "Brotherhood isn't just who you're kin to, related to, or share blood with; it's who is going to have your back and who is going to be your keeper." Mr. Gudger continually relied upon his "brothers" at the Pentagon to implement the first Veterans Entrepreneur Portal and a new curriculum on entrepreneurship for veterans who want to start their own business. The Veteran Community praised both innovations for their leadership and practical assistance.
Addressing the importance of perseverance next, Mr. Gudger related how his grandfather would wake him up at 4 am every morning before school to work on the family farm feeding animals, harvesting crops, and preparing products for market. It was grueling work but work that instilled a strong work ethic: "While my friends complained how they hated school and how much homework sucked, I was just glad to be off that farm. Whatever was asked of me at school, I gratefully did because there was no way I was working on a farm when I got older." For many in the room, military service is the vehicle by which they will receive an education, so Mr. Gudger's remarks on hard work and perseverance resonated with them.
Concluding his remarks with humor about how his mother still blames him for political events on Capitol Hill, Mr. Gudger thanked the Marines: "From my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you for your service and unwavering commitment to defend the freedoms of this great nation. Happy Birthday and Semper Fi!"