Once upon a time…a brave American crew on an enemy ship

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Written by: Issa Napon

Edited by Tayllor Lillestol & Aimee Cash

Battling for the freedom of occupied countries and for the safety of the world, a secret mission was undertaken by the U.S. government to capture a German coding machine called “Enigma.” A brave American crew was sent to take over the damaged German U-571 that held the machine. It could help the Allies decode enemy communication and turn the tide of the entire war.

The sailors of that masked U.S. submarine faced tough challenges when their plan went awry. They had to battle to invade the U-boat that had already fired on the U.S. submarine, sinking it and forcing the Americans to change their ship and later be bombed by a German destroyer. This forced the submarine crew to take drastic actions under the water and on the surface in order to:

  1. Save their lives and bring back the Enigma coding machine without tipping off the Germans

  2. Avoid being captured alive by German soldiers

Every struggle in the movie, whether among enemies or among themselves, highlights what it takes to be a leader.

Viewers learn that leadership is not easy, and it certainly is not about being popular. It is about earning the trust and respect of your crew and making difficult decisions at critical moments. It’s high pressure and high risk, and it can’t be accomplished alone.

Each leader in U-571 teaches us important lessons. Lt. Andy Tyler, a primary character in the film, is forced to become the leader he wasn’t prepared to be, upon the death of the crew’s leader Lt. Cmdr. Dahlgren. He fights the entire movie to win back the confidence of his frightened and overwhelmed sailors. He works hard to become the leader his crew deserves. He learns that a leader must be able to calmly make a quick decision under pressure and to pay attention to the voices of those that he leads.

U-571 teaches us that being a leader is a multi-dimensional skill that takes time to develop. But more than anything, we learn that being a leader can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for those who are willing to take the ride.


Eleanor Roosevelt said it best:

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”