No guts, no glory. – Maj. Gen. Frederick “Boots” Blesse


Major General Frederick C. Blesse is known for being one of the best fighter pilots of all time. This is because of his experiences with what it is like to be a soldier and how to face numerous challenges on the battlefield. Major Blesse brought tremendous honor to himself, the Far East Air Forces, and the United States Air Force via his bravery, astute flying ability, and dedication to duty. Because of his expertise, he wrote his book entitled “No Guts, No Glory”. This simple and timeless quote has inspired and motivated countless people to act and do difficult things to experience the “glory” of the outcomes.

Frederick C. Blesse

Who was Major General Frederick “Boots” Blesse?

In the Air Force, Maj. Gen. Frederick Blesse, better known as “Boots”, was a renowned and highly decorated fighter pilot. In a 1997 interview with Blesse, he revealed that no one calls him by his name Frederick. He flew two combat tours in the 1950s Korean War and two combat tours in the Vietnam War. Blesse participated in the Air Training Command team and flew the F-86F during the USAF Worldwide Fighter Gunnery Meet in 1955. He was the individual performance winner of all six awards. Before his retirement as a Major General in 1975, Blesse also held the position of Deputy Air Force Inspector General (Wings over Miami). At the age of 91, he passed away in Melbourne, Florida, on October 31, 2012.

Boots Blesse in his aircraft

Origin of the Quote

No guts, no glory is an expression that has a clear origin. One man is credited for the statement: American Air Force Major General Frederick Corbin Blesse. Blesse took up the role of operations officer for the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in the spring of 1952. Under his exemplary guidance, the squadron’s win total gradually increased. After winning his fifth aerial battle before the end of September, Blesse became the 19th ace of the Korean War. The next month, he increased his score to 10, which included nine MiG-15s and a La-9, making him the top jet ace in America at the time.

By 1955 he returned to the US and wrote a book about air-to-air warfare with the working title “No Guts, No Glory.” The handbook gives a detailed explanation of the flying technique and cognitive process that a fighter pilot needs to survive and prevail in air-to-air combat. The book is composed of 3 sections: The Offensive, The Defensive, and Related Subjects. The Offensive Section provides information about the objectives of tactical information, high-altitude formation flying, combat tactics, and the basic principles of offense. On the other hand, The Defensive Section provides learning on the defensive tactics, calling breaks, scissor maneuvers, minimum fuel returns, and the basic principles of defense. Lastly, the Related Subjects Section provides information about the employment of fighters, selection of flight and element leaders in combat, speed brake utilization, guns and gun sights, and binoculars in combat. An opponent must be engaged in combat if a fighter is going to shoot him down. Mixing up, a term coined by Blesse, entails picking up on the activity on the radio, locating it via the controllers or other pilots involved, directing your flight there, and engaging in combat.

The handbook was regarded as a foundation for air combat, for Blesse is one of the outstanding fighter pilots of all time and thus qualifies to discuss air-to-air combat. The Royal Air Force, Marines, Chinese Nationalists, Korean Air Force, and Americans have all used this book as the foundation for their fighter combat operations since 1955. A total of 3,000 copies were made and sent to tactical units in the field until 1973. 

Meaning of the Quote

This quote can be used to mean a variety of things, especially in the military and in our everyday lives. Here are some of the few themes we can relate to from this quote.

Taking Risks

Concept of balancing Reward versus Risk in business and life

Being able to stand and speak for themselves requires courage and strength. Likewise in defending your rights despite your fear. The glory comes when you overcome your fear, triumph over your detractors, and take your stand. That is why when given a chance, take it, and try to risk it all. We could not reap anything without taking the risks. Alternatively, we could say “No pain, no gain”.

Into the Unknown

Aside from stressing over the chances we didn’t take, Maj. Gen. Frederick “Boots” Blesse believes that one should step up the game. We do not know what the future holds. Just like Bill Gates took the risk of dropping out of Harvard in 1975 to start his own company, Microsoft. Now, he is the second richest person in the world, with a net income of $96.5 billion.


light bulb, yellow light bulb icon

Whether the gamble paid off or not, you can still learn a lot from it. Every failure and every achievement can teach us something. One of the things that taking a risk will teach you is how to get back up if you don’t fall because else, you’ll never learn. The lessons you acquire will eventually mold you and have a significant impact on your success. 


Success doesn’t just happen to those who desire it. To obtain something, you must work hard and earn it. People frequently lose motivation along the way, which is what leads to stagnation. To establish that risk was worthwhile, one must take one. In other words, it’s among the best methods to inspire oneself to do more and be more.


Question mark icon, confused, uncertain

To face the fear of uncertainty when taking a risk to achieve a goal requires courage. Regardless of the result, we grow through the process and become more robust and confident. But as Maj. Gen. Frederick “Boots” Blesse said, “No guts, no glory!”. It denotes that success requires a great deal of effort and struggle. Instead of thinking ahead of the results, you should work hard for it first and then reap the rewards of your efforts.


Famous Sayings: #12 — ‘No Guts, No Glory!’. (2016). Shmaltz and Menudo. Retrieved from [Accessed August 24, 2022]

Frederick C. ‘Boots’ Blesse. (n.d). Ace Pilots. Retrieved from [Accessed August 24, 2022]

No guts, no glory! (n.d). No guts, no glory! Manual. Retrieved from / [Accessed August 24, 2022]

No guts, no glory. (n.d). Grammarist. Retrieved from [Accessed August 24, 2022]

Popomaronis, T. (2019). Bill Gates has a brilliant method for making decisions—and he says it’s ‘similar to Warren Buffett’s’. Retrieved from,The%20Bill%20%26%20Melinda%20Gates%20Foundation./ [Accessed August 24, 2022]


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