By David Cook (Captain, USA, Ret.), Vice Chairman
Tomorrow, March 29, is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, a holiday that celebrates the contributions of the American men and women who served in uniform during the Vietnam era. I, too, responded to the call to duty, and this is my story.
My story is normal enough. A boyhood in postwar Houston, a dynamic city that has been my home for most of my life. My father was in the real estate business, so it was natural to take summer jobs with mortgage brokers and title insurance firms. I knew commercial real estate would be the right career upon college graduation.
Like many men my age, I volunteered for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) during college and benefited from the training and discipline. I completed my two years, earned the rank of Second Lieutenant and had the choice to end my military career then and there. Instead I decided to volunteer for Vietnam.
In 1966 I began my service as a United States Army, Vietnam (USARV) Advisor. I had the opportunity to travel throughout South Vietnam, visiting bases and outposts in three of the four designated Corps. My role was to assist our command structure in managing the new challenges presented by a new type of warfare. I focused on troop morale and was discharged as a Captain.
I learned many things in Vietnam – time management, courage, commitment and the value of completing your mission. I also learned about danger – to be respectful of it but to show no fear. As you may imagine, there is not a business meeting in civilian life that can intimidate me.
I am grateful that my transition from a war zone to a booming metropolis was relatively seamless. I had an opportunity to join The Horne Company in 1967, and remained with the firm until 1991 when we merged our staff into Cushman & Wakefield. I am extremely fortunate in that Howard Horne was my mentor, and I’ve tried to pay it back. In fact, our team in Houston has been the training ground for some of our most successful producers over the years – a team that has the respect of our firm and our market.
Cushman & Wakefield’s Veterans Initiative Program is another example of paying back. While I represent the “old timers” – a group that served during the ‘60s and ‘70s – this program celebrates all of our Veterans and works diligently to recruit, train and provide a career path for today’s heroes.
Our firm’s initiative is a fitting reminder of what National Vietnam War Veterans Day is all about.