Winner Of The Losers

One man's life experiences and lessons

Archive for the ‘Personal Experience’ Category


admin On June - 13 - 2013ADD COMMENTS



Life is NOT fair.  The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can enjoy life. 

   – Raymond Edgar Dourlet LaBenne


That is pretty close to what my Dad would tell me growing up (and more then once).  Now I actually love this line.  It is an absolute classic.  And frankly, it is true!  Funny how we end up like our parents.  LOL.  I tell my kids the say line from time to time.  Sure in a perfect world everything is fair.  But the reality is, it is a tough world that we live in and you need to adapt yourself for the times when you feel cheated, let down, or unappreciated.


So when you get frustrated, is look in the mirror and ask:

“Did I do my best?”

“Am I happy with how I handled myself?”

“Would I have done it differently?”


Chances are you did the best you could.  Things just did not work out as you planned or hoped.  Accept it and move on, being positive about life.


Inside I laugh when I see others getting upset and bent out of shape over something they cannot control and complaining “life is NOT fair” or “that is NOT fair”.  Had they only been in my house growing up, they would have already known:  Life is NOT fair.  The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can enjoy life. 


Thanks Dad!  I miss you!  Happy Father’s Day!  Love, Ed



A photo with my Dad, Raymond Edgar LaBenne outside our house in Mount Vernon, Ohio.  At my side are my kids, Joshua Raymond (named after my Dad) and Mary Louise (named after my Mom).  NOTE TO SELF – notice the exceptional clothing combination on my Dad, Notre Dame hat and Ohio State sweatshirt (a proud Ohio Catholic).  Hmmmm, I could match that same style today!!! LOL  Like father, like son.

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My Dad Was A 5 Star General

admin On June - 11 - 2013ADD COMMENTS




generalGrowing up, my best friend was Bill Harnesberger.  He lived next door and we did everything together.  One day I found my Dad’s Army Air Corps uniforms from World War II in the attic.  Bill’s Dad had served in the Air Force as well in the 1950’s.  Notice we were even wearing the neck ties.  This photo was taken in my house, Bill to the left and me on the right.

There was no PSP, 360, iPad, or computers; we played outside for hours everyday and there was no cell phone to text to come home.  Dinner time was 6PM and you better be inside the house by 6PM.

It was common in my neighborship to play “war” games in the woods and fields near our houses.  My Dad from time to time would tell me growing up he was a 5 star General!  Wow. My Dad was a 5 star general!  Well shortly after I found my Dad’s military uniforms, I was out and about wearing his old uniform. I was with a bunch of other kids and someone called my Dad a liar!  They said my Dad was NOT a 5 star General and he and I were both liars.  Now family honor was at stake and I ended up in a fist fight.  A little scraped up, but my pride intact.  When my Dad got home from work, I was questioned on my daily activities and what in the world happened?  I explained I got in a fight because one of the kids did not believe me when I told them you were a 5 star General.  My Dad’s face dropped, and I knew something was not right.  It was then, he had to tell me that he was not a 5 star General.  Opps.

Sometimes parents may tell kids things in good nature fun.  I did with my kids too!  When American Idol was only a few years old, we watched it as a family, cheering for our respective contestant.  I often would tell my kids, Joshua and Mary, I was going to be the next American Idol after I retired from the Air Force.  They proudly would tell their friends and anyone coming over to the house.  One evening in Belgium, Capt Ken Main was visiting from Brunssum, Netherlands, another NATO HQ, and we had him to the house for dinner and watch American Idol.  Sure enough, Joshua and Mary starting telling Ken that I was going to be the next American Idol after I retired from the Air Force.  Now Ken knew the competition age limit was 29 years old and I was well past that age.  Ken was about to tell my kids, and I quickly kicked him under the table and gave him “the look”.  My secret was safe for another year.

Well maybe in it just wishful thinking, to be a General or the next American Idol.  I need to think of another storyline to come up with for youngest two kids, Kevin, 8 and Gigi, 6, before they are too old too know Dad is pulling a fast one … hope Kevin does not get into a fist fight to save my honor.  LOL




General is the the top rank in most any army of the world and almost always represents a high-ranking official who has dedicated his career to the military. The United States military maintains several ranks within the general rank and this position can go as high as a “5 star general” when the situation warrants it.


Brigadier General (BG) – 1 star

Major General (MG) – 2 stars

Lieutenant General (LTG) – 3 stars

General (GEN) – 4 stars

ARMY – General of the Army – 5 stars (Reserved for wartime only)

NAVY – Fleet Admiral – 5 stars

AIR FORCE – General of the Air Force – 5 stars

MARINES – Have no designation as they fall under the Navy.


Note that the Army rank of 5 Star General is only specifically handed out at wartime during the most extreme of circumstances as it was to the men listed below during both World War 2 and the Korean War (their awarding date follows their name). As such, you’d be hard pressed to find a living, breathing 5 star general serving in today’s military.


• George C. Marshall (16 Dec 1944)

• Douglas MacArthur (18 Dec 1944)

• Dwight D. Eisenhower (20 Dec 1944)

• Henry H. Arnold (21 Dec 1944)

• Omar Bradley (20 Sep 1950)


Additionally, the US Navy maintains their own “Five Star” status in the form of the rank “Fleet Admiral”. This rank was awarded to the men as follows (their awarding date follows their name):


• William D. Leahy (15 Dec 1944)

• Ernest J. King (17 Dec 1944)

• Chester W. Nimitz (19 Dec 1944)

• William F. Halsey, Jr. (11 Dec 1945)


Only one member of the United States Air Force (then as the “United States Army Air Force”) has ever held the rank of 5-star general as “General of the Air Force”. Henry H. Arnold also holds the distinction as the only person to ever achieve the 5-star rank in two branches of the US Armed Forces:


• Henry H. Arnold (21 Dec 1944)


Of note is the grade of “General of the Armies of the United States”, a position held by only two persons in American history – George Washington and John J. Pershing. Of the two, only General Pershing held the title while still alive, Washington being posthumously bestowed the honor by President Gerald Ford in 1976. Pershing earned the title in 1919 after his service in World War 1 and held it until his death on July 15th, 1948.


It also bears mention that, on March 24th, 1903, Admiral George Dewey (1837-1917) was honored with the special grade of “Admiral of the Navy” (retroactive to March 2nd, 1899) which was intended to be senior to the four-star admiral rank. Dewey remains the only US naval service member ever awarded this title. In 1944 (during World War 2), Admiral of the Navy was formally recognized as senior to the 5 star rank of Fleet Admiral.









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ND vs Navy 1950

admin On January - 9 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

Growing up, I remember my Dad telling me stories about my Uncle Nelson Coyle and him going to the Notre Dame games. His favorite story was when they went by train from Toledo to Cleveland to see Notre Dame play. Notre Dame won a thrilling game and my Uncle Nelson had his own bottle of whisky. But the time the game was over, he was happy and drunk. So he was hitting the heads of people on the way to the train station and of passengers with his umbrella in his post-game celebration. My Dad had to apologize and try to appease the unknown victims to avoid a fight. LOL.

Nearly 30 years passed hearing this story over and over through the years. I actually tried a few times to find out what game it was (the opponent and score), but I did not even know the year. After my Uncle died, my Aunt Marge (sister of my Dad) moved to my hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio. Several years later after my Aunt died and my Dad was in the nursing home with Alzheimer’s, I found a cigar box with small momentous. Inside, I found the ticket stub, NOTRE DAME vs NAVY, 4 Nov 1950, Cleveland Stadium. Notre Dame won, 19-10. I miss hearing my Dad telling me that story, but seeing the ticket stub brings back happy memories. GO IRISH!

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Winner of the Losers!

admin On May - 31 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

This BLOG got it’s name from the following true story!

Winner of the Losers!

By Maj Edgar LaBenne, Commander, 97th Contracting Squadron


As a 1Lt in 1990, I played my one and only racquetball tournament at Eaker AFB Arkansas.  SSgt Donny Johnson, an avid racquetball player in my flight talked me into entering in the “C” division or novice category, while he was in the “A” division or expert category.  Saturday morning I arrived just as my 0800 hrs match was to start.  I lost soundly to the eventual “C” division champion.  Even though it was double elimination, I contemplated “throwing in the towel” and heading home for some sleep, but I stuck it out and played another match, then another and another in the losers bracket.  Finally I was done and had to dart back home before the rest of the various matches were done.


First thing the following Monday morning, SSgt Johnson summoned the majority of the office together into our area.  He showed everyone his large multi-level trophy and pronounced himself as the base champion (winner of the “A” division).   Next to his trophy was a simple trophy with the word “Consolation”.  It was the 3rd place trophy for the “C” division.  Unbeknownst to me of my good fortune since I was not present for the awards ceremony on Saturday.  SSgt Johnson proceeded to make the presentation and declared “Lt LaBenne is the Winner of the Losers!”


That phrase, “Winner of the Losers” has stuck in my mind for 11 years now.  In fact, throughout my career, it has reminded me to never give up.  All of us face challenges in our careers, both professional and personal – family separation, long hours, tough supervisors (or commanders), missed promotions, endless studying for our job or degrees, divorce, financial hardship, ups and downs of raising children.  Some folks give up under the pressure.  Others buckle down for the ride.


Everyday, each of us needs to be attentive to our co-workers for indicators of stress or problems.  Sometimes people just need someone to listen.  As members of the AF family we do not have to go the road alone.  For those situations more complex, we have other avenues.  There are always folks to help, our base Chaplains, Family Support or Life Skills.   If you are not sure of who can help or what to do, a great starting point is your First Sergeant or Commander.


Even to this day, I have kept that trophy to remind me that I am the “Winner of the Losers”, but more importantly it reminds me to never give up, even when I fall short.  I know I can regroup and continue to pursue my goal – nearly always with success.  So if you are even in or near Contracting, Bldg 318, Altus AFB Oklahoma, stop by my office and catch a glimpse of my trophy and ask to meet the “Winner of the Losers”.  END


NOTE BY AUTHOR:  Today, I still have my trophy in my office at the Medgar Executive Apartelle, Angeles City, Philippines.


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