Mattis Showcases Softer Side in Note to U.S. Olympian

James Mattis / Getty Images
March 14, 2018

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, often recognized for his memorable quips and being a tough-talking military leader, showcased a softer side in a note sent recently to U.S. Olympian Maddie Rooney.

NBC Sports first reported on Tuesday that Rooney, who served as goalie for the women's U.S. hockey team at the 2018 Winter Olympics, returned home from Pyeongchang, South Korea to a surprise from America's second highest-ranking military official.

Writing to Rooney as "one Secretary of Defense to another," Mattis expressed his pride at Olympian's ability to successfully stop 29 out of 31 shots delivered by the Canadian team, resulting in Team USA taking home the gold. In his congratulatory note, Mattis exalted Rooney's efforts, exclaiming his pride in her and the entire USA team.

"Dear Madam Secretary Maddie, I want to add my congratulations to you and your teammates for your magnificent performance in the Gold Medal Game," Mattis wrote in the note dated Feb. 28. "You proved yourself in a hard-fought competition and I salute you — one Secretary of Defense to another! We are all very proud of you."

A native of Minnesota, the 20-year-old Rooney is a collegiate ice hockey player at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her efforts, along with those of her teammates, lead Team USA to clinch its first gold-medal victory in hockey since 1998.