It seems George Will is dipping into the well of Joseph Campbell ["An Officer's Duty," op-ed, Oct.21]. But obviously from his conclusion, he didn't dip deep enough.

Daniel Johnson's heroic actions aboard the USS Blue Ridge are a tale of self-sacrifice, but Will has twisted them into an advertisement for the armed forces and an ode for a mythical golden age when honor and duty reigned. Will's mutation does us all a disservice.

Daniel Johnson sacrificed himself--without hesitation or thought of his own safety--to save the life of a fellow human. He did this not because the "armed forces know a thing or two about teaching honor and responsibility," as Will writes. Seven other personnel--all of whom had undergone identical training--could have come to their mate's aid. But for whatever reason, they didn't.

Daniel Johnson stood up. Daniel Johnson had something in him. But heroes come with a thousand faces. There are Daniel Johnsons on truck docks, in hospitals, at grocery stores and on warships. Heroes have always been and will always be among us. We don't know who they are, when they will appear or if we're one of them.

If Will wants to find a lesson it is this: Only a few of us will ever be all we can be.

--Brian Rainville