Was Mike McQueary a hero or a coward?
Former Penn State Assistant Coach Mike McQueary is faulted by some for his failure to pull former defense coach Jerry Sandusky away from the boy Sandusky allegedly was sodomizing in the field house shower.
The subject came up recently in a conversation the Watchdog had with a much decorated officer.
The retired officer gave a moving example of courage from the Viet Nam Era:
A master sergeant in a helicopter circling over a village noted soldiers shooting at civilians. He had the helicopter land and rushed over to the lieutenant in charge and urged that the killing cease. His request was denied and he was even threatened.
The sergeant returned to the helicopter and it took off, just to land a few minutes later, long enough for him to get off. The sergeant then told the officer that the gunner in the helicopter circling above was instructed to machine gun the soldiers if they did not cease firing immediately. He put his life on the line. And he prevailed.
This indeed was admirable courage.
Then the Watchdog observed that even the bravest among us often fail to act courageously on the first challenge. It is the psychic pain from disappointment with ourselves that often spurs unhesitant courageous action in the future.
The retired officer excitedly agreed.
We don’t fault McQueary. It would have taken quick thinking and considerable courage to have overcome his shock and to have intervened that Friday. By the following Monday morning McQueary had found the courage when he reported the matter to Head Coach Joe Paterno.
Nevertheless, McQueary described the matter in vague generalities rather than with graphic specifics, as he later testified. This must be understood in the context of the times (a decade ago) and out of the deference he felt towards Paterno as head coach, a national icon, and old enough to have been McQueary’s great-grandfather.