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This is JoCo podcast number 241 with Echo, Charles and me, JoCo Willink, Good evening, Echo.
Good evening. I was the number one man on the door in my train, which meant I would be the first man into the room, missions often included debates as to who would get to go first.
All these guys were fearless and like to train hop to the front of the stack, the most dangerous place to be first into a room.
SEALs love to fight, we all want to be the first into the fight, and every seal is willing to accept the greater risk, especially for his buddies sake.
I had no apprehension about the possibility of my own death. My concern was for my platoon mates. While I can't speak for everyone, their actions this night proved they all felt the same way.
Clarkie and I looked at each other, he smiled back at me, we had practiced this maneuver a thousand times and had successfully done it on hundreds of missions just like this one.
There was no rush of adrenaline or anxiety, we were composed, relaxed and professional, we would simultaneously breach our respective doors and go to work clearing the rooms of enemy fighters and other potential threats.
We launched on the signal a mutual wave of our rifle barrels. I breach the door to my room, it swung open to the right. I followed Dorian as it opened look down the right wall and saw it was clear as I pivoted off my right foot to move down the left wall.
I had the sensation that my body was being slammed with a dozen sledgehammers. My entire body was now in the room and the men behind me in my room clearing train were attempting to follow me in the room with small 12 feet by 12 feet. My night vision goggles illuminated the darkness and I saw in clear view four of our targets aiming at me, all of them armed with automatic weapons and all of them firing at me. That right there is an excerpt from a book called Perfectly Wounded by a retired SEAL named Mike Day, and I knew Mike when he was a young seal, he was maybe 10 classes ahead of me going through basic SEAL training.
He started his career at SEAL Team three. I started my SEAL career next door, I don't know, 50 meters away, 100 meters away. Over at SEAL Team One, we crossed paths on what was my first deployment. We'd see each other around from time to time. He was always very cool to me, from what I could tell. Always called everyone nice guy, no ego, no attitude.
And on the day that Mike writes about in that book.
Those insurgents that were shooting at him, they hit their mark. And not just once, not just twice, not just three or four or five or 10 times, but.
Twenty seven times. Twenty seven times, Michael was shot 11 times in his body armor and 16 times in his body. And you have to keep in mind, and this is a strange thing, but one single round or one single tiny piece of fragmentation can kill you.
So to receive. That many shots. And survive is. Well, it's some kind of miracle and then to go beyond that, because the story doesn't end there, but to receive that many shots and actually fight back is beyond a miracle.
And that's exactly what Mike did. He fought back and he won. And it is an honor to have Mike here today to tell us about his experiences, his life and his lessons learned, he's got a bunch of them to Mike. Thanks for coming on, man.
I appreciate you guys having me.
Yeah. Get getting you out here. I know we're in the middle of middle covid right now. You've been driving across country. I know you just got done with Rocketry Challenge up and up in Utah. I wish I could have grabbed you there so you'd have to come all the way down here. But now you're telling me you're going to try and look to surf a little bit, which is awesome.
Well, I'm trying to do that.
Looks like the surf is going to be picking up in Virginia since I'm not there. Got a hurricane coming up.
That's the way it works, isn't it? You should have been yesterday.
Well, hey, man, I want to jump into this. Your book is first of all, it's just I mean, everyone obviously, I'm not going to read the whole book. I'm gonna read some of it. Just go and go and get the book right now. The the detail that might goes into this is a historical document about being in the SEAL teams, about being in combat and and then what's in addition to that, the life stories that you bring to the table are important for people to understand.
Understand what? How people grow up in different situations, what it does to them and how to get through those hard situations, because you definitely went through some hard situations. So I'm going to jump into it, man, jump in this book and kind of talk about your past and how you grew up.
And it starts off like this. He looked huge, like a damn monster.
She was screaming and fighting back, which only made it worse. I was frozen in terror.
He bent her arm over his knee and, like a twig, cracked it. I watched him break her arm. He yelled at me, go get me a glass of water. I ran to the kitchen, filled the glass and ran back to hand it to him. He drank it, then smashed the glass on a nearby table and held the broken shard like a knife.
He went after her again with this newly created blade, I jumped on his back to stop him. I think that's what finally snapped him out of his uncontrolled rage. I flew off him as he swung his arm and I landed on the ground on my back. He spun around to attack, is unknown, aggressor, and realized it was me.
I clearly remember seeing his expression dissolve from rage into one of guilt and shame.
This is my earliest memory and my first encounter with a terrorist, it was nineteen seventy six in New Jersey and the terrorist was my father. His victim was my mother. I was five years old. That's your earliest memory. SEAL teams are easy. He made it easy. Yeah, guess this is, I believe, pretty prevalent in our society now. A lot of us have just terrible parents. And one of the one of the best books I've ever read is The Body Keeps a score.
And he says in that book, the last medical issue, the largest medical problem we have in this country is childhood trauma, because you learn what you are in for seven years. You know, for me, luckily, it wasn't to the point where I became.
More of a victim. And worried about what things were going to happen, my response was justified. So when I get scared or angry now, I fight when I get scared.
A lot of people, when they get scared, the fight or flight is is to cower. You can see in a lot of. A lot of gun fights with people that aren't trained, one of the most prominent places to get shot, somebody that doesn't know what they're doing is in their forearms and their hands because they're cowering and are when we get triggered, like people know that you don't jump around a corner to scare me because I'm going to smack you upside the head.
That's my response. I don't I don't flinch. My response is to go forward and. You know, my father ingrained that in me, then I got in the SEAL teams and that was ingrained in me. And that night in that gunfight, it was there was no thoughts. That was all reaction. That was all muscle memory. I was terrified. I went through it, terrified.
A little bit of terror clarification. That's a new word.
And once I got past that, I was just angry and then everything was automatic.
You go on you go in here in the book. My parents divorced not long after my father broke my mother's arm. My mother would soon start dating and eventually marry Tom, a black man. A rare reunion in the 1970s. My father held racist beliefs in my mother's marriage to a black man, inflamed my father's racist sentiment. The divorce included a custody hearing. I was young, but I can distinctly recall someone in court, a lawyer, possibly the judge, asking me strange questions about Tom, like, have you ever seen Tom naked?
Have you ever seen Tom and your mother sleeping together? The focus of the custody battle, which should have been my father and his treatment of us, was instead trained on me.
An innocent bystander to interracial relationships were not the social norm in the nineteen seventies. I'm sure the court knew my father beat my mother and us kids, but they still awarded him full custody. Regardless, my hunch is that the courts were so biased at the time that they decided my younger brother and I would be better off with a wife beater, an abusive father, than be raised by an interracial couple.
All speculation. But I mean, the 70s were cut like that.
Yeah. And where was this? This was New Jersey, still New Jersey. And they still married. And I got two brothers, one one's in the Coast Guard from that marriage and he's a rescue swimmer. Not a risk, he's a crew chief on the birds that go out that carry the rescue swimmers.
So how old are you at this point? You must be six years old or something like that. Uh.
I right about them, about sex, I'm thinking, you know, when when I picture you, I don't picture of the old bastard that I see in front of me right now. I picture this young kid, really blonde, long blond hair and blue eyes is a picture of me in there. Yeah.
Yeah. No, that's that's when I opened. I was like, oh yeah, I know this guy.
Not this one. Yeah. So I'm sure you're looking at me thinking the same thing. You know, my dad was driving around is we haven't changed that much really.
I'm not sure if I save this. Yeah. Yeah. No you don't, you don't look that much different except for you used to have the freak and then the blonde locks. Bright blond locks. I do miss them. Know what I'm thinking.
You know, there you are in court, this little Aryan kid. And the judges are looking at, you know, the the interracial couple.
And like you said, I mean, you said it's a would you say it's an assumption, but to think of any other reason why they would decide to send you with a known child abuser is it's hard to come up with a different reason.
Well, that's another reason why this book's really good. I don't think anybody be able to pick that up. Nobody gets to this life without trauma. And it's a lot more prevalent than I think we understand child abuse and usually the child trafficking going on right now. I mean, they're just some really bad parents, really bad people out there. And people are going to suffer trauma.
You've got to build the resiliency. It's training. They helped us build the resiliency we required to do what we did in the SEAL teams. And it's just training.
If you sit on the couch and eat Twinkies all day and watch and watch TV any time, something other than that comes up that causes stress, you're just not going to be able to handle it. You got to train to be able to handle stress in that.
I mean, the you know, that sounds awesome, but that sounds awesome.
But the reality is, I mean, you're probably this small percentage of people that can get out of a situation like this and moving in a positive direction. I don't know what the percentage is, but obviously there's some percentage of people that go through these traumatic experiences as kids and they end up, you know, they end up in jail on drugs and whatever else. And, yeah, I mean, there's there's something along the way that made you there's not a whole lot of difference between me and eighty percent of the prisoners here in California.
I just. Had the proper opportunity at the right time. Mm hmm.
Because if I didn't join the Navy, then I might be I would be running MS 13.
I think it's going to come after me.
I the the amount of seals and this sounds freaking horrible to say, look, there are some guys that are saints and the SEAL teams for sure, but the amount of guys in the SEAL teams, just if you just took a broad cut of the SEAL mentality, there is an element like the criminal mentality in there, like, oh, if you if you want to join the Navy, we know where this is going to end up for sure.
Well, we have to deal with criminals.
I mean, a lot of people think that when we go to war, I'd venture to say that 75 percent of the people that we're dealing with are not ISIS or al-Qaida. They're just the criminal element that are profit profiteers off of off of the current.
I mean, look what we have going on in whatever mayhem is going on.
The theologically, they don't they don't care. There is like, hey, I can make some money off of that, you know, uh, looking at the religion in this country. You know, how many Christians and then what level are they practicing? You know, the same thing with Muslims. Yeah, they're Muslim, but are they really practicing and are they really going to follow what they think is right or are they going to take the path of least resistance, which is what humans will do?
You continue on here. Fast forward a little bit. My father was a sailor when the Navy issued him new orders. We moved to Pennsylvania from New Jersey. After the divorce, my father remarried. Our new stepmother soon became pregnant, giving birth to my first half sister. Two years later, she gave birth to my half brother. Trauma attracts trauma. It has its own distinct language and behaviors. We would be raised by two people who'd been severely traumatized as children.
My new stepmother was a natural fit for our family. She, too, had a history of childhood abuse, both physical and mental. I don't know much about her. The early years of her life, other than her parents, would lock her in a closet for long periods of time. She was put up for adoption and taken in by a loving couple. My stepmother would grow up to be both victim and perpetrator. She would alternate between coercing my father to beat us and slapping us around herself.
She and my father would get into their own fights, too. She would fight back even though she had no way of winning. He was six foot two and weighed two hundred and forty pounds.
One of the worst beatings I ever endured was when I was eight, my brother and I had gone out on a winter day and pelted a car with snowballs. The driver was pissed as if he'd known the price we were about to pay for our transgressions. He may have given us a pass. We ran to our house with the driver of the car chasing us. He knocked on our front door and told my parents what we had done. My father and stepmother had a friend over at the time.
They were all drinking. My parents were outraged.
Our father sent us to the basement and ad hoc torture chamber of sorts where he made us strip naked before tying our hands to a pole. So we were facing each other. He whipped us with his belt so hard. After another 15 minutes we'd worked up. He'd worked up a sweat. All the while, my stepmother and her friend sat on the basement steps, sipping their booze, urging him to beat us harder and longer. When he was done, my brother and I were both badly bloodied and bruised.
My father's violence escalated as we grew, he would smear toothpaste on the nylon belt when he whipped us so it would sting, is it cut and bruised us? I'm not sure where he picked up this technique, but it worked. His routine was to bring me into the basement and make me drop my pants so that my bare ass was available. He would wind up and rip into my bare backside with that belt holding on to my arm as I twisted in a circle trying to escape.
I recall a week that was prefaced with him telling us, I know that you will be bad kids this week. He beat us bloody and then he went back to work. This was some crazy stuff. He was so nuts, he said his lawn for four a.m. to wake us up and beat us for no reason whatsoever. Before he went to work, we got beat and we went back to bed. Hardly a typical morning routine for a first grader.
My childhood was a real life horror movie.
I couldn't escape. It was terrible about that, a lot of people have worse, I got out of it, a lot of people don't.
Yeah, where this ends up, you say finally, at the age of 12, after years of enduring a drunken rages and endless beatings, I decided to fight back. One night I found and passed out drunk on the couch. I knew that he was passed out because the crotch of his blue jeans was dark. And from having wet himself, I grabbed a baseball bat and walked back and forth for about five minutes debating my intentions until finally I mustered up my courage and with an overhead ax swing, I drilled him hard on the chest with the baseball bat.
It felt great, a totally empowering rush. I didn't kill him, but I sure surprised him because he immediately woke up from his booze induced blackout with a look of total confusion that quickly turned evil. He looked at the bat my hands and realized that I was worried that that was what just bounced off his chest. I knew by the look in his eyes he was going to kill me. He chased me upstairs to my room, where I jumped out of my second story window into a thorny rosebush.
I looked up to see my enraged father stick his head out, only to pull it back in. I could hear his pounding footsteps from outside. As he ran downstairs. He was determined to hunt me down, chasing me through the woods around our house in the dark. He couldn't get through the thick underbrush, but I was too terrified to slow down. He never caught me. I spent the night at a neighbor's house and the next day when I returned home, he had forgotten all about it.
In nineteen eighty three, my father was transferred to Miramar near San Diego, California. That's where he totally lost it.
He was drinking, causing problems at work, had been arrested several times for defeat, defecating in the aisles of stores. Some mental health professionals describe this peculiar public display as elimination disorder. It's a behavior that's been identified in several serial killers and manifests out of extreme anger at someone or something. I was 12 years old when my stepmother received word that my father would be medically discharged from the Navy and institutionalized with schizophrenia and a host of other psychiatric conditions. He would spend the rest of his life in an inpatient facility or an assisted living environment.
My father has since died. He was very sick and really broken. He did a terrible job as a parent. However, I know now that he did his best, that he did the best he could. I don't hold any harsh feelings toward him.
He really sucked as a Father Jang.
So, I mean, it's just it's beyond we had like legitimate, serious mental issues.
Well, his father was worse than him. He just wasn't the one that was able to break the cycle. I think he tried to just eat them up. I mean, his father used to chase him, his brother and his sister around with butcher knives and threatened to kill him. He never actually threatened to kill us. I mean, with that that thought, so is there and his father used to actually make that threat. I never I never met my grandfather.
And what was your grandfather already dead or was quite honest? I, I don't know. They just kept us from them or or if he was or he had passed. I met his mother. You know, looking back on that, as a kid, it was strange, she was she broke just a broken, broken woman, just strange, you know. Just not normal, I mean. Go over for Thanksgiving dinner, everybody in Kentucky Fried Chicken, which I don't complain about it, I mean, you got you got food, but I'm not going to complain with having food.
But it was just. It was not a normal atmosphere, you could just feel that it was weird. I mean, his sister grew up in a psychiatric ward.
She went in when she was really, really, really young. So I don't know what kind of what was done to her son. I mean, some serious darkness there. I mean, we've got that going on now in the world, it's it's pretty prevalent, you know, just shitty parents that abuse their kids don't know how to be parents because they were abused. Really not. Excuse me. My kids tell me. I've got old kids. I've got a 20 year old and 29 year old, and they've always told me we wish you would spank us rather than yell at us.
And I was like, because you never respect you might change your mind if you got gonadotropin.
You go on here, I was about 12 or 13 years old, and my stepmother became our legal guardian and seized her newfound freedom by dating a guy in a local in a local rock and roll band named Beechy and hosting parties at our house.
Our home quickly turned into a costume party with its own in-house band and all the characters that came with it. People, strangers would sit around my house all day getting drunk and stoned on one particular occasion. My stepmother was partying with Beechy and his band of losers. When she tried to smack me, I caught her arms, spun it behind her back, then swept the legs out from under, dumping her on her ass. That episode got me and my brother sent to Maine to live with our maternal grandparents who we hadn't seen in years for that summer.
My half siblings were still young at the time. I still remember looking over my shoulder and seeing my half brother lying in his crib and my half sister lying in her bed as I made my way out of the house.
That is a funny thing about trauma, because that's the only thing I remember those two. I mean, I talk to them now, but it's as if. They weren't even in the same house with us. I don't remember where were they getting any different treatment? I don't remember them. That's wild.
And so you were like, brother, you might I don't know, you were. What team are you up to?
I was a team to was a team one team, two team. My brother did like eight years at team two from when one.
God, sometime after 2010, Williard, I was going I got out in 2010. Yeah, I retired in 2010. The U.S. was just teams for like 10 years.
That's awesome. But just no memory of them. Of them. None at all. That's why the only thing I can remember is looking over my shoulder when I was walking out of the house. Now I can tell you this is what I think about memories. Like I don't go back to the town where I grew up very often. And so I don't because I don't like when I say very often, I mean for 10 years at a time. Right.
And I don't see all those people that I kind of grew up with. So I don't fire those that comes right. I don't fire those memories very often. So they just like fade. And I'll go back there and see someone.
They're like, oh yeah. I remember when you did this all I remember I remember that girl. I remember this and this thing over here.
And I'm always like, I feel bad because they're telling me vivid stories about my own childhood and I just don't remember. And I think it's because I just don't didn't fire those.
You can read studies on people's memories, especially in stressful situations. And like like I said, my citations not accurate. They gave me credit for saving six women and children that were supposedly in the same room that was in a gunfight with four dudes with automatic weapons. They'd all be dead. The guy that saw that look past one of our guys had been shot and killed. To see the six women and children in a totally different room, didn't even see the guy laying in the doorway, you just saw the six women children and superimposed them in the room that I was in, they'd all be dead.
Hundreds and hundreds of rounds were fired in that room in a matter of minutes.
But so now you're heading up to Maine that fall. My brother and I moved to Maine from Virginia Beach to live with our mother and her second husband, Tom. It was only after we arrived that I learned about how my stepmother and father deliberately and systematically tried to alienate me and my brother from our mother. She showed us a box filled with years worth of Christmas and birthday cards had been returned without the check she'd written for us. My father and stepmother had cash them all and kept the money for themselves.
Despite this, I feel the same about my stepmother as I do about my father. She survived my father's violence and did the best she could. I don't hold any harsh feelings towards her either. Tom and my mother never hit us. They were patient, did their best to parent some severely abused young minds. If the courts hadn't been so biased, we could have skipped the seven years of abuse and lived in Virginia Beach all along. But as I would learn, everything happens for a reason.
Never made it through.
But I made it through 8th grade and entered green run high school where I lasted until my junior year when my wrestling coach caught me smoking pot in the school bathroom. This caused my expulsion. Is that a public school green run?
Yeah, it's hard to get kicked out at all. Actually, it was actually called gang run. It's hard to get kicked out of that one.
Shortly after being expelled. I had a run in with the police, busted me with a bag of weed. At the time, any amount over an ounce was a felony. The cop grabbed the bag and said, Is this an ounce? I said, yes. He opened the bag, grabbed a pinch and chucked it onto the street. Then said, Is this an ounce now? No, I replied, that cop saved me from a felony charge and may have even saved my life.
I like to find that guy one day and thank him. There's a good cop trying to take care of his freakin knucklehead kid.
I was like 14 or 15 years. So from so, you know, I spent almost 30 days in jail. That's where I learned how to play what pinnacle.
I learned how to play a bunch of card games. Oh, man. So then you end up AIDS. I learned to play spades. That comes in. That comes in handy on the on the ships. Once you're in the Navy, you ended up in the Job Corps, which is like, you know, you're doing vocational training. That doesn't seem to work out to great 1990 or nineteen eighty eight. You got a neighbor, retired Navy diver, diver, who tells you you're going to end up dead or in jail.
If you keep this up, you should join the SEAL teams instead. They'll pay you to do all the things you're doing to get in trouble right now.
He he was he was getting good advice and every day he he totally so his kids were crazier than me, man.
You know, there's that attraction of violence, man. And just mayhem when you're a kid. Well, it wasn't violence.
It was just, you know, tying ropes and one tree and low and another one and sliding down and on handlebars and just jumping over ridiculous jumps on our bikes, you know, smashing frames on our bikes and just stuff.
I wanted it to.
And so you you head down and you're going to join the Marines. I did. I tried to. And then you got rejected by the Marine Corps for having a GED.
And I actually met a guy that was recruiter back then that was eighty eight or eighty nine. And they had a restriction. You had to have a high school diploma. A GED wouldn't get you in which I'm.
My guardian angels new out of town for years and very quiet it. Yeah, I could have done that. There's no way I could have done that. Yeah. I mean, I like working with them, but pre 9/11. The Marine Corps was a lot different. Yeah, we didn't get along to operate on 11. Yeah, that's the Marine Corps is a completely different environment.
And and I mean, they do what they do. It's actually more it's more dangerous than what we do. Yeah. And their day to day life is freaking more Spartan life, you know, especially if you're an infantryman. Like, that's patrol contact. Yeah. It's like we tell someone to shoot you.
It's sucks. I like to wait till they're asleep. That's the goal.
You wrap up here saying, my childhood was not exactly idyllic, but it's what happened to me and I'm very grateful for all of it. The wounds of my childhood trauma served as the foundation of some truly excellent resiliency training. That's a very positive way of looking at this, Mike. Resiliency is conditioned response to physical and emotional trauma and stress. It's it's a never ending process of understanding, endurance, evaluation, acceptance and application that continues to help me get through some very difficult situations.
Childhood trauma, especially the kind perpetrated by parents, can be some of the most damaging because it can cause children to feel unlovable. Some children who feel unlovable can become unlovable adults, and some of those become unlovable parents, thus repeating the cycle. The unlovable, live, lonely, tragic lives. If my hurts, mistakes, but whippings and insights can help you overcome yours, then this book has value for both of us. And I'm not the only one with mommy and daddy issues.
Jack. Yeah, I got my I got some codependency shit going on.
You know, I tell people I mean, we all got insecurities and I got Navy SEALs, got insecurities. I guess one of the most insecure people I know are Navy SEALs. They're like trying so damn hard. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I always let everybody know I'm weak here. I always laugh in the teens. If someone says, hey, you know, Mike, Mike, this is really good at parachuting, someone will chime in the back.
Yeah. Slow runner. Yeah, exactly. But they let you down. Yeah. But running breeds cowardice against a bunch of cowards.
And so now you go to a boot camp to Buddz after signing on the dotted line. I spent the next six months working out do my best not to get in trouble until I finally boarded the bus for maps and facility in southern Virginia. That's the way station for all new military recruits there. I found myself part of an interesting blend of Americana, one that included all shapes, sizes, colors and temperatures of young men, women who were leaving for the leaving the civilian world, getting the first taste of the U.S. military.
You know what? That's inaccuracy, because I went to Great Lakes.
Oh, well, there are women. I did have a writer with me. I missed that one. That was all dudes up there. All the women were going to Orlando. What about maps? Yeah, maps wasn't even even at maps. At maps. Yeah. They were sending all the women at the time to Orlando. Everybody goes to Great Lakes. Now that place sucks. What is maps.
I heard the military military entry processing station.
So you actually enlist and you wait a period of time before you go.
They just snatch you so you don't go out and do something else. Like they don't have no kind of situation.
Well, you're not under any kind of restriction or any kind of order under that that you CMJ, yet you sign a contract. And they give you a date that you're going to leave.
So I thought I was on the own and that's for like six months I've talked to kids that then, you know, 18 months they had some kid in high school.
You know, waiting for graduate and get them young, I was 17 years old when I don't know where else to get this, I found this funny.
And this is also probably why you say that the Marine Corps wouldn't have worked out great for you over a long period of time. It's you say, I never in my life wanted to quit anything more than I did Navy boot camp. Miserable, bro. Yeah.
I mean, they're folding underwear on Great Lakes to January. Oh, get seven fourth, five feet of snow, 30 below.
Man, I hate the cold weather.
Yeah, I'd rather sweat. You have you said, I think the company commander saw some potential me and knew that I was bored because I kept volunteering to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to do what most people dreaded, they decided to give me some extra responsibility, made me a division's recruit, the division's recruit master at arms. I was like when I was going through boot camp, I got made like a squad leader or something, I got fired from that one.
I talk about it in the book, the guy with the booger on my pillow. And I right. As the company commander was walking in the door, I punched him. Yeah.
So that so I got back from graduation week of boot camp and then I get well, I got rolled out in buds out of 166 and 168 and I got rolled graduation week of 168.
Just the irony of that. Then they both made me cry for you before you went to get rolled back in a boot camp, which I didn't even know there was such a thing as getting old back.
It was only one week, though, which was cool. Oh, that's right.
Because because the Great Lakes are went to Orlando. But you still have to do that stupid pass and review all that garbage. And while nobody was coming to visit me for graduation, I got into that fight because you put Booger on my pillow.
I did knock him out. I knocked that kid out while he was not a kid. I was a kid. He was a lot older than me.
And so I didn't have to do the interview review. They just made me like a parking lot attendant. I didn't want to do it anyway.
All that practice and we were in Nazi company to lay all the flags and stupid flags for I don't even remember what they were for, bro. I actually that's marchers. You fold your underwear the best. Yeah.
This is like I have very limited memories of boot camp. I hated it. Yeah, I know that I hated it but I don't remember a lot about I remember like the highlights of it. Probably biggest. I remember just you know, remember shoveling snow. No, I definitely don't remember. I remember sweating, I remember like sweating big giant pools of sweat on Rhatigan there. I remember the space shuttle took off while we were standing out there like there was a space shuttle launch.
And that's totally cool. And I was like, oh, that's cool. But don't remember much from boot camp.
So you go from there to see school and then you get orders, get orders to go to the USS Carl Vinson.
Yeah, which is my first orders were to the Carl Vinson via Nuke C School Nuke Machinist Mate C School.
So basically for everyone that doesn't know, that means hello, regular Navy. No, no, no buds, no SEAL teams.
And I got to watch those guys go through school there. That was at the same place I was going through a school day with a bunch of zombies like twelve hours a class it's had in my class and they had a working class. I don't want a nuke. Yeah, that's that's a freakin hard job, man.
It's a freakin hard job. I got kicked out of high school.
They wanted me to be a nuke, that whoever was running your career consulting was not doing a great job. You deserve to be lied to you straight to the freakin buds. But then you did. This is kind of crazy, though.
You like requested Captain's Mast. No, I just went to his office. So you didn't even so, that's even better. You didn't even request. Captain, as you said, I'm going to go talk to the old man. Yeah.
Kind of like, you know, group to, you know, what was her name that was up there for like longer than anybody was in the SEAL teams? The secretary. Yeah. So I talked to the secretary and I was like, I got a problem. My orders have orders and I don't know how I got in there, but she let me get in there. And I think the guy was just amazed that some Itou who's come into his office, some boot.
I like real boot. That's insane, dude.
And I told him, hey, look, I passed the test for the screening test for Buddz. There was fifty of us, only like ten of us passed. I was told I was going to get this on my oh, my contract. And this is what I got. It was like, do you understand that you're not supposed to be doing it this way?
That's kind of how the common was. Like I kind of played in between. I knew it was wrong, but I didn't care because there was no way I was going nukes high school.
So whatever I had to do, I was going to I was going to do it. And then the dude was cool and just said, all right. And he took care of me. I got beat a little bit, but on beat.
Not like buds. I mean, do you ever try to count how many pushups you did in one day in Bud's NALGO and you get up to a thousand? Did you ever. I tried really. You know, I'd lose count. Yeah. I never even thought about the 22 or 72 hit in the back of the head. Forget. No, you're wrong.
I drove the child once and this guy didn't make it through. He was such a big teddy bear cruise. Just couldn't run. And we were late for chow and I had a Volkswagen Beetle, I was like, oh, we'll go get chow. So class was already on.
So, so, so now we're fast forwarding to but we're jumping into battery. This is the first phase I must do. No, it's cool, man. So this is first phase.
This was. I can't even remember, so you put the brakes went out on the thing and, you know, the cross the cross intersection at seventy five. Yeah.
So I crash into that thing because my brakes go out.
I only hit it like 25, 30 miles an hour. Both of us hit the windshield, started the windshield windshield out in the middle. Seventy five as the buds class and the instructors drive by us and like Oh God. Fifteen hundred account bodybuilder's that weekend day. That weekend, both of us, we cheated.
Now the pay for it. And sometimes you can't buy three.
Sometimes you can't do fifteen hundred.
How long did you just stand out of the first phase outside the first phase office or something and just sit there until it was very safe then. Yeah it was right by the bell.
How do you was it like did you do like seven fifty a day or something like that. No, we just when nobody was looking we, I counted.
Sometimes they sat in front of us.
We can't buy one as soon as they left we're like five hundred and five.
Do you have any idea what you were getting into when you went to. But I like what comprehension level did you had. I basically yeah.
I heard it was going to be hard and that's kind of a mindset. I've always I've always gotten out and it works. I don't know if it worked for other people, but I always think it's going to be worse than it really is. So a lot of times it's just hard to get started.
Like, how good of a week? I know you only were in high school for a couple of years, but how good of a how did you. I know you wrestled.
I played football. I wrestled when I grew up. I played all sports soccer. I boxed a little bit. Hence the knockouts. I remember almost knocking myself out, playing football, I was always ambitious, just getting after it. I played basketball, never really scored a point.
My coach, we just felt that guy was so. So but you had so you had some good athletic background. Yeah, I like playing sports. Yeah. So you won, but you had no knowledge of Buddz, like none at all. Did you do did you, did you think about like.
I was, I was talk about, you know, when I was quote getting ready for Buddz. No idea what to expect. I just knew that you ran a lot and you swam a lot. So I ran a lot. I swam a lot.
But I would do, you know, four sets of pull ups and be like, all right, you know, that was a good workout and just had no idea that you were going to get to Buddz and you were going to do hundreds of pull ups in an hour, like more than you could count what they do.
Don't expect you to be able to turn a 40 mile run when you show up. Yeah, it is progressive. Yeah. I think they're even getting smarter about it now. They're definitely getting smarter about it.
But I shut up and guys are the guys are getting smarter about it. I guess that's my point.
People abuse it to. What do you mean you can only keep me in the water for ten minutes because oh 58 degrees they know.
When do you think that chart became a thing after us?
Are you being serious? Like do you think it is after us?
Because I. It is after us. Yeah. I mean, they were just it was no freakin rules.
It seemed like they probably looked at. The student body is a curve, and if somebody were in hypothermia, they might need to take them out. I remember that part.
I remember them walking down the line and being like, you could hear them like the Good Samaritans group, and they shine the flashlight, like these guys getting high. And if but if no, if you didn't hear that, then it's like back in the water. And they would just keep doing that until someone started getting hypothermia, maybe two people started getting hypothermia. Then it'd be like onto the next evolution. There was no graph that they were following.
Not that they do now, but I think it's good. There's good and bad to it. I wish the students didn't know it.
That's part of the game not knowing. So.
And you also met your wife while you were in fourth place of the old fourth phase. Was your there basically standing by a class up? I don't know. I don't know what they call it now. Fourth place, I think it's so called fourth. So you were you were there, which is weird for you, OK? And that's when you you you met your future wife.
And then rolling into first phase drown proofing. You can't rescue swimmer lifesaving, yeah, so I did work with writers, so some of this stuff is changed a little that the whole process to go with this.
What does that award program? That you got to use when you're editing, sometimes some things just get by like, man, I can't figure this program. Yeah, it's it. Plus, when you look at something over and over again, you're just going to miss stuff. It happens well.
And when you work with a civilian stuff that they think is interesting is I'm like, you want to talk about this, Jack?
So was there was something the guy I worked with felt was interesting and I didn't get the proper terminology because to me, drown proofing was we didn't lose many people to that. Yeah, drown proofing. Drown proofing was pretty easy. You mean a lot fewer guys use a few guys and not time lose a few guys in the water, swim the underwater swim. We did lose a few guys in life saving because life saving was interesting because it was a subjective thing where they could look at a guy and be like, hey, this guy, we don't know.
They're just trying to drown you. Yeah. And then they're going to drown you and you.
They don't like you because they have that power to do the whole waste push and go down there and tug on their shit and make them comply.
It's a scrap for sure. It is. I mean, that's what they described. Are you don't let them grab on to you. You've got to get them away from you. And sometimes you've got to hurt them. But, man, they good punch to the gut. You know, they'll call them back.
They definitely they're going to live. There were some guys that they just weren't going to make it, you know, like a guy that they didn't like or whatever had a bad attitude or they thought it was a punk. He wasn't going to get out of the water.
Those people have a history, too. It's not just one evolution. It's a yeah. The repetitive or performance. Yeah, I think it seems like there are. You think they're stricter about that now where there's less subjectivity or you think it's the same.
Uh, well, I would just have to say that I know there's some things that have changed and a lot of guys were like, oh, I think Buddy's easier, but the attrition rates is the same.
Yeah. So they're not making any more seals. No. I mean, even with a class that's twice the size.
I mean, we would start with like 125 guys, 20 now they're starting with but 200 something. Yeah, well I think they start with 165 and they still get whatever whatever is. Still, only one percent of that is they're still only getting it. It's still 75, 80 percent attrition.
So it's still I don't think it's any easier than it used to be.
No, I, I, I think down I talked to friends that are down there. They're like, no, it's not not easy.
The other thing that's one of evolution might be different. That's like, for instance, when I went through, we had twins 72. So they're not as buoyant as the tornadoes. So it was a little bit harder to tread water with those damn tanks because they're steel and they weren't as buoyant. You know what else they were like lightweight boots. Now, not jungle boots, not old school jungle was that was a difference to them when I was going through as everything was in boots.
Yep. They were getting ready to transition to the shoes. So the times were different and almost didn't translate, you know, going from boots and then lowering the times because you're in sneakers. It was almost harder.
Yeah, I just know we wore boots and then when I eventually picked up what they started wearing, I was like, oh, that's way nicer.
Yeah, they were issueless. Those garbage new ballots which gave me shin splints. Just the running shoes. Yeah.
Like when you. They didn't. My legs were better off in boots than running sneakers. The sneakers hurt me more. So what a seven 10 pace. That's not bad. And boots. Yeah, but the thing that's the other thing.
That's what is it deceiving? The thing that's deceiving about buds is they go, hey, it's only a a thirty two minute Fourmile time run.
That's an eight minute mile. When you first get there you go. Oh that's like in L.A., probably just two miles from this morning. You just elsewhere in and then it's five miles, just five miles to go to jail three times a day you run five miles every day just to eat.
And not to mention that Fourmile timed run ain't for miles. I don't know what they do now, but I know it was times where I run as hard as I could. I would be able to I would be like barely passing while they do that to every class, they have that one run that's long.
So everybody fails. It's a mind game cycle.
And we were doing the five mile time run in that extra mile was so much harder, exponentially just to put out for that much longer, just one mile. And they actually had to get rid of that because it was injuring people and a lot of people were feeling it too crazy.
That's what they were paying me on trying to get me kicked out.
But I brought a watch. I was passing. Yes. So how did that happen? You so so you brought a watch because that's another thing that's hard as you don't not even allowed to have a watch. And we were running and it's so you're what is this? Do you remember this is third phase which was defaced back then.
And so you failed one run now he was failing me on the whole and everybody behind.
OK, so you had a beef with an instructor with we're not going to mention names, but he was the phase officer.
He was the phase officer. And so, you know, you know, the game that it used to be played there in a room inspections.
Yeah. I mean, you're going to fail. You're going get wet and sandy. And he was in front of me and he was like, why do you have all this stolen equipment in your locker? I don't know what you're talking about. So he's talking about like extra knives, duties and cuts garbage. Right. And I was like, I don't have any of that stuff in my locker. I was just up there and the conversation just got to the point where he was like, well, one of two things has happened in your line or online.
I was like, well, it's not me.
So it must be you did. But it wasn't like a disrespectful thing. I was answering a damn question. I was just answering his question. He said one of the one of two things is happening. What is it? I was like, well, it's not me.
It must be you to an E to to a narcissistic lieutenant.
Yeah. At the time, that's freaking crazy. You had like you had more balls than me going through buds.
That was on balls. I was just answering a question. I don't know man. I don't know if I would have said it hit me. I guess it depends on how you said it too.
It was not coming from a place of disrespect. I was just totally answering the damn question. You're sick. I'm not lying. I'm not lying to you.
You asked. I'm answering your question.
So he didn't like that. And so now he kind of had it out for you. And then he kicked that guy we were talking about earlier on me.
So he started just harassing me. You know, third phase was a lot of classroom, you know, did physics and all that garbage. But every break I was getting wet and sandy, doing pull ups, doing pushups.
You just beat me up. And then he started throwing me on the runs. And I talk about in the book, I think I actually named the guy named Doc Flynn. Oh, yeah. I went and told him I was like, hey, look, I brought a watch.
They're failing me. I mean, I'm passing these things by like two minutes and are failing me and everybody behind me.
It's kind of a weird move because you were breaking the rules. Well, I had to. Yeah, I know. But that's a weird move, Ben. That's a weird move to be always done it, though. Yeah. I wouldn't talk to the commanding officer. Yeah. Dude, like I said, you got more balls than I had. I just didn't know any different. Yeah.
I wasn't doing it because I thought it was having balls.
I was just I don't know how else to get out of this. Fix this.
So you're not allowed to bring a watch and you brought a watch. You timed yourself.
Yeah, I timed I tied it to the remember the the buckles on the. Yeah. I tied it to a piece of like 550 cord and hung it down there.
And so you and how did you how did you single out Doc Flynn as the guy that you would trust.
He was just one of the guys in the phase that really never beat us up for no reason. He seemed like a fair dude. Yeah. I mean, there was two kinds of instructors there. There was guys hiding out that never really did anything. And then there was guys that back in those days, too, there wasn't a whole lot going on, but guys that were operational that just needed a break. So, you know, some of them just beat us up just because they thought they were the gatekeepers, you know, kind of like going to some of these army schools.
I'm the gatekeeper. We have to have an attrition rate. And I'm going to make sure you go through something as hard as I used to or I did because their fish story is but was a lot harder when I went through.
And this this guy was a skinny little punk, but he later got administratively separated for something.
And so karma's a bitch. Yeah, so then Bardock Flynn was like, all right, cool, and then he ran the next run and he said, I will run, I'll run the place.
And if you finish in front of me, you pass Doc Flynn legit. So he ran it. And this was a five mile time run, which they got rid of. They came across the finish line. And you know what happens when you're the cutoff guy?
How many times can you be the cutoff guy? Every damn time.
Yeah, no, that's one of my elbows. Who you know. Well, you know, when I use my first LPO and I was like coming out of Buddz, I'm asking him Buddz questions like, did you ever were you ever in the goon squad? And he was I was the cut off for the squad.
He said every single Routier that unlike the goon squad and like them, you know, that was the only time I got into the goon squad two the whole time through. But what was on those time runs and what I was good at was winning that first race so you could get secured from the goon squad.
So then so then what happened? Uh, well, he came across the finish line and when you're the cut off for the goon squad, you get sent to the water and that's where you went up.
When you feel that run, he comes across a couple of minutes after we finish, we're getting hammered. And he's like, what's going on with those guys? And he was like, well, they all failed. And Flynn was like, I just did it.
I just passed it there like two minutes in front of me.
But it got hidden because I went to a a review board and still got rolled back.
I got rolled back.
That was graduation week. And I got rolled back to Dreger face.
At least I didn't have to do the open circuit garbage again. Yeah, this was when this was when defense was third phase. When I went through a year or two later died. Phase was second phase because they would still get rid of a lot of guys during defense. That's not to me. I thought it was the hardest phase defense. Yeah, yeah.
I think I think that's why they moved it to that.
But we lost more people there. We don't let people in warfare. Yeah, you got to be pretty stupid. I think we lost two guys. You can be pretty stupid. Yeah. One of the guys was a good dude. I think he did something that they didn't like and they got rid of them. He was an officer to personality. Yeah. Yeah, that'll happen. Crazy. That's a pretty critical community that self regulates though. It works indeed.
And then where do you scutti. Did you go through what you went through right at the time? Well, it was it was kind of a weird one. I wasn't as like it is now.
It was kind of thrown together at the team because you went to team three. Yeah, but they they cooperated with the other team. So I went through whatever I think it was called. It's done.
And it was just because we had training cells that each of the teams and they would run it. Yeah. So we were meshed together with team one three five and it was kind of ad hoc. And then they jemison's the politicians and the platoon's pretty much took care of us. We didn't have our trident's back then either. Guys show up at the teams now with the Tridents and we actually had a different NPC when we showed, what was it, a fifty three.
Twenty twenty. Yeah. And then it was up to your platoon to decide when you got it, when they started giving the guys tridents and execute so they'd show up to the team. Guys were taking the new guys that showed up with their tridents and making them, painting them blue and they're alert. But then they still kind of kept up the tradition. Like, you can go back in the platoon huts now and all the platoons with the new guys like you don't get your training, even though it's been put in your admin record.
We're not going to give it to you until we say it's and then they'll have, like the fish tank. Or you have seen one of those Pakman frogs. I've seen a Pacman frog with all the tridents in it and they got to keep the frog alive. That's legit.
It's a it's a fun community.
Yeah. And there's you know, you talk about some of the fun in the community college. I ever went to the some of the fun of the community, which is called hazing. Zero tolerance. It never happens.
Yeah. Yeah, I see. That's a good good thing about hazing, especially probably now also another zero tolerance and it doesn't happen. But if you don't get hazed, they don't like you, they don't trust you.
So if you get hazed, you know, like, okay, this guy's all right. So it's like a privilege.
Thank you, sir. Can I have another? There ain't enough of you to hurt me. Not enough, are you?
One of the things you said, here's your get your bird. And this all sounded good. I just this brought back memories.
The the commanding officer was the last guy to pound in my trident. He had a big grin on his face as he approached. He pulled the trident out of my body because this is after you when you get your trying it, you know. Well, we quarters to. Yeah, that quarters you get your trident.
And then the first, you know, I don't know who I that's OK. I was my platoon commander. But anyways, the whole team freaking lines up and pounds that thing into your chest, you know, and that doesn't hurt. Yeah, I mean, well, OK, maybe didn't hurt you or me.
Well, I mean I mean the punch. But you don't actually feel the prongs after this. You don't feel the prongs after the first eight.
You know, you're bleeding.
But then but then guys start pulling it out and like, oh it's a little crooked JoCo and they get you again.
But that hurts worse. But what I like yeah.
It's got like those little nubs on the end of all the little widgets attached to them.
When you pull it out, you could feel it pulling your leg up through your chest, coming out. But you say your commanding officer, he pulled the trident out of my body straight like he was fixing in a bent nail. Then he placed it on my chest and slowly pushed it back in and hurts worse. I was going to say, that's three good, good times from the old man right there.
I was back in the days where the back 40 was where attitude adjustments were made. Yeah.
Now you're going on peacetime deployment. You say this. My peacetime deployment took me around the globe. Asia, Middle East, Egypt, Kuwait, Japan, Korea, Guam points beyond in between conducting joint country country training. All my deployment to Bahrain, we patrolled the Persian Gulf enforcing oil embargoes. We would boy board oil tankers that were in violation of various infractions. Most of the time, the infraction was that they didn't identify themselves because the radio didn't work.
We were Tacitus. We would catch tankers bearing the Iranian flag filled with embargoed Iraqi oil. All sorts of shenanigans going on. Sir, would you do four deployments, eight would you do in that first run at team three, four, four.
And the first one was Southeast Asia. That was like right after the Gulf War. Did you go to the P.I.? I went to the FBI. So then I think, you know, what happened so fast we couldn't get there. Then you end up here. You look like you were going to go to Buddz and be an instructor. Yeah, but you actually had orders. You had orders to Buddz. And then what what how did you how did you hear about the leap frog trial?
I was just by chance and I only had like thirty, thirty five jumps.
That's insane. I had no idea what I was doing, but that's insane. I mean, those guys at that time had thousands of jumps.
Well, there was there were some guys on on that team that had what was that program? We used to have our own mole. We still do the original Free-Fall program that we just the military Free-Fall that was out like three something three, um, three ti. I can't remember what it was, but it was our own program out there at El Centro. Yeah. You know, so what a lot of those instructors were on the team with me, Dwights at all.
Andy Krauthammer, uh, I'm glad you said they all had a couple of thousand. Yeah. Those are the guys I'm talking about, like they were freaking thirty.
So you decided, hey, what the hell, I'll go get a bunch of jumps in.
Oh, I had no idea, right? Yeah, I was. I think I got like forty five jumps tryouts with a cool parachute and then you ended up making it.
Yeah. Well freaking crazy.
Klay told me he could teach a monkey to fall out in the airplane if he had enough bananas because I didn't think I was gonna make it.
I thought I was going to but and I really didn't want to. The jump team was. Was some of the most fun I had, probably one of the most dangerous jobs I had until combat. Yeah, the jump team at that time and they were pushing the envelope hard core and we had some injuries.
We had we had a death. When I was on on the jump team, I remember I was doing like my whatever my jumps to get my gold wings. When I first got the team like I am, I tried it, but they sent me down to the freakin brown field to go get some jumps. And the jump team was jumping and they did like a down.
I'd never seen a free fall person in my life, never seen a freefall jump. And I landed and got my chute all packed up or whatever, and then income the leapfrogs and they did a downed plane. They're going a thousand miles an hour, as far as I could tell. And they were so great at ground and I could hear them say break. And I was like, holy shit, this is insane.
We had a guy shoot himself. He broke too low and went into this stadium, which at the time was. Jack Murphy, that was a long time ago, there was and he hit like four seats and ripped them out of the ground. Those things are bolted into the ground, into concrete. And he walked away from it.
Yeah, it was Tommy Markit. Yeah. You know Tommy. Yeah. Yeah.
You could hit that dude upside the head with a bat or a beast that he's gone down to.
Couldn't hurt him. Yeah, I know. That's what I mean. He uses a monster, a nice teddy bear too.
Yeah. You got this little section here while we were falling towards the earth. Are you guys doing all kinds of crazy jumping while we fall into the earth? Another guy and I had to crawl out from underneath canopies to clear air space. So you guys were doing crew relative work. You're all freakin wrapped up.
I can't say exactly how fast we were falling as we were, as there were fully and partially inflated parachutes. But even slowly falling out of the sky can be deadly. I was still recovering from the terror of my first cut away when my second happened. A few days later, me and another guy got tangled up and caught in a helicopter spin. The deployment bag retraction system on the tops of our parachutes had somehow gotten tangled together. We will. We were twirling around opposite each other, falling.
He was looking directly at me and I hit him and we held back and forth at each other. Cutaway No, you cut away like the world's most high stakes game of rock, paper, scissors. He won and I cut away. He's a good, long time friend of mine. He's a big pussy. He should have cut away. You're scared.
I don't even know how that happened. Well, how you guys got all wrapped up.
Oh, I know how the rap happened. But the were our parachutes got connected to each other was ridiculous.
So that. Those are canopy relative work parachutes, so that usually when you open a parachute, there's a trailing pilot, you get on those because you're doing crew, you don't want that stuff trailing. It has a retraction system, a three ring retraction system that pulls it up to the top Scanadu of the parachute.
And that's what got connected on both of ours. It was a wrap. We were doing like eight Mansbach rotation's guy peels off the top and flies all the way to the bottom.
That's how it started.
And you get into a raft like five, six to some get shot out and some get wrapped up.
And we everybody broke out of that and we were just stuck. And it was on film. No, because we you know what, back then. There was no such thing as a GoPro, GoPro. I mean, guys were still taken. I think I remember going from Paul Robinson was one of our camera guys and he had this ginormous freak when he opened his parachute hold.
His head has put his head down because he had all this weight up there. He break his neck. They used to jump. It wasn't filmed. So I think we had a high eight, which is a pretty large camera. And it's not GoPro. Any clown can jump a caprock.
So they had blow tubes on the camera, you had to take a picture? Oh, that was like I had a radical.
That's how you took fire drill. Oh, no kidding. You'd have to start the camera before you went out, but the still camera because they would have a video and and still and they had a blow to you had to blow into the tube to take a picture and then you had to reticule.
I remember seeing guys jump those little reticle so they knew where to aim. Crazy. Yeah. You guys were pushing the envelope back then with the with the jump team. You did three years there and then you go back to the teams and would you go did you go to you went to the East Coast. I went to teammate. What year was that. Ninety nine.
Jack and you and I was Kosovo. Yeah. I was going to say you rolled on there.
NATO was allied with the ethnic Albanian forces and we were tasked with working with NATO to assist them in apprehending suspected war criminals and keeping an eye out on the movements of various warring Frak warring factions. Kosovo was a real world test. We would do 72 hour special reconnaissance missions in rugged terrain full of natural manmade threats. We did twenty five hour missions in six months, averaging about one a week with one day of prep, three days on a debrief.
On the other end, it was a kick in the butt deployment and conventional forces don't react to anything inside of 72 hours is better than sitting around that you'd get.
Yeah, that's that's still I mean, at that time, doing real missions was awesome.
Well, we thought that was the game for sure. For sure. Your Camp Bondsteel, we can get the restrictions that they had on the guys out there. It was ridiculous. I mean, they had to put Rigor's tape over their magazine.
Well, they had to put Rigor's tape over the magazine, who everybody that was out there were supposed to do that. We didn't do it.
I mean, it's not unusual to have when they had to do that, had an aide at the front gate with a 50 cal. But that's their clearing process. At the end, they pull the trigger. Yeah, but you have pull the trigger and clear and save a weapon when we shot it.
I hope you had to put it in the safe. He did OK. He will think you ever seen a 50 cal, 10 feet in front of you.
Pretty impressive. So that's 99. Come back from that one again. I'm skipping a bunch of stuff here. Really cool information about what those deployments were like. That's why people got to buy the book to get some of those details jumping ahead a little bit.
Reported to Naval Special Warfare Group two training detachment on September 8th, 2001. New instructor will be there for two years.
That was the week 9/11.
Yeah, I was going to say September 11. So you just check in to trade at. Nobody wanted to go there. Of course not with the model now. When did you what were you teaching?
I kind of bounced around and got over there, did all the air stuff at first. Then I did land warfare and secrecy. I just kind of bounced around all over the place. Yeah. I mean, Trada has become such a great place to develop seals. I mean, it really has. And back in the day, like when you and I first got the team, I don't no one wanted to be in training. So and I did the old guys did the old ones.
Yeah, they did the old Maserati's. That's one master. So you couldn't figure out what would imagine you did in the SEAL teams. Yeah, I'll tell you, I got some good advice from some of those old master chiefs and warn officers that would say like, hey, if you want to learn this stuff, you got to go teach it. Yeah. And I was lucky enough to go into training cell SEAL Team One spent a couple of years there and it was I did I learned I was trying to figure out the other day I had made some estimate, like 50 percent of what I learned in the in the entire teams was I was working for whatever it was, three years or two and a half years in training, solid SEAL Team one and watching ten groups do the same thing.
Ten groups do what they're teaching and teaching the junior officers that are going through how to do. And I add like how what to react in these different situation, then watching them and seeing the mistakes they make. That was 40 percent of what I learned. Another big chunk of what I learned was when I was a trade at later on, you know, same thing you're teaching guys, you're watching them do it. You're seeing the mistakes they make.
You put them through drills. You're seeing the same platoons go through the same training evolutions, what the leaders do, what mistakes they make. So, yeah, going into training cell and training attachment is a great step and it's a great system now because guys, girls, they you know, they get there in five and then they go there, they make six. And then when they are between LPO, they just got done teaching the stuff, man, they're ready.
They're most of the time. Well, they're getting there a little bit faster than we used to also. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
It's a little more, it's way more formalized the way it all works now, which is freakin good for them. I just love to read it. I was a contractor there when I left the Care Coalition. After seven years I went to teach in military. Free-Fall had an injury and then went to seek see SILC now. And it was interesting seeing guys that when I was the platoon chief are now like leaders there. Guys are Essex's when I was a for now master chiefs and some of the new guys are doing their platoon chiefs lot and was fun to watch, watch them go through.
And it's always terrified to when when I was doing my platoon chief slot, you know, like I said, we have our insecurities. I didn't want anybody to get hurt. I want to make sure I provided everything that the guys needed. They used to tell me.
And when I started to micromanage, hey, chief, get out of my back pocket because you can't manage all that crap.
Quite honestly, the there were guys that were more experienced that were junior to me when I was in charge. And you just got to know when you know you know what? You don't let the people that are more experienced, you know, take those reins.
Yeah. And you got to be got to have the confidence in your leadership that you can allow your hey, you've done this sort of thing before you run it. No. No factor. No problem. Good to go. Micromanaging hurts. Oh, yeah. It's a disaster. A lot of hours. So, um, so then you get done with trade at you go to team four.
You're your you go, you go on deployment. Would you go back that. Yeah. You go, you go into Baghdad.
I know you got some team for at the time was actually they had nine details which was huge.
There was nobody, nobody in the SEAL teams wanted to do the PSP.
Yeah. So yeah. For people that don't know, one of the major taskings that the SEAL teams got in 2005, I think it's after twenty four and five was to protect the senior leadership of the new Iraqi government.
Everyone. Well, well not everyone but a whole bunch of people wanted to kill those guys and the people that got the job to protect them was the SEAL teams. So that's what, you know, you did.
And then, of course, there's a I got out of doing that.
Well, there's a whole lot of things that that are that are wrapped up and doing that, because if you're proactive about it, that means we're going to try and capture bad guys or kill bad guys that might be trying to target our people. We're also doing intelligence gathering. We're going out and figuring out who's trying to kill these people.
That's a great set up. That's what I did. Yeah. I didn't do the actual entering of protection. I was far out ring looking for threats that were going after targets within those CDs. Yeah, yeah. And we had nine. And they all want every every one of those politicians.
I want my Navy SEALs. I don't want to work with you people.
Yeah, that was a harsh, harsh, one harsh pill to swallow for a lot of guys. I got lucky. I was. It started right after I left and it ended before I came back, when I think it all got turned over. There's actually military units that that's what they do. Yeah.
And they got turned over to them. Yeah. You did have some good times on that. And here we go. We are speeding down the road and slid to a left turn as soon as we made the corner and nearly smashed into a makeshift roadblock. We must have been moving too fast, as we call it. The road construction crew off guard.
We still out there who still have their AK strapped to their backs, their friends at all, taking up positions on the right side of the road, had their weapons trained on us, ready to shoot. As we sprinted around the corner and split second, the construction crew found themselves in a very awkward position pinned between us, their friends and their friends who wanted to shoot us. In the confusion, we managed to get the jump on them.
The lead Humvee was equipped with a mini gun because things are off and we never got.
I know I have to use a certain level of reverence when I say that because it is so awesome to have him. And he got on the armor and the gunner had the reflexes of a mongoose 40 feet away, the targets and their rifle wielding friends. I had a front row seat to the action when the gunner opened up on all of them. I had not seen a mini gun in live combat before, so I was a little surprised by what happened next.
By the way, there's nothing mini about a mini gun. It's a pedestal mounted six barrel rotary machine gun that shoots as many as 6000 rounds of seven by fifty one every minute.
And the bullet is about the size of a battery. Bullet split so fast, fast out of the Gatling style rotating barrels that look like a red laser beam and sounded like the mating call of some bizarre prehistoric bird. The first volley of bullets hit one guy in the chest as he practically vaporized in a burst of red mist. As this was going on about fifty yards up the road, another enemy fighter popped up and fired an RPG directly at the lead Humvee, the one that was firing the mini gun.
I couldn't see the RPG, but I saw the Humvee ten feet in front of me. Lift up, drop back down with a crash and catch on fire. The gunner didn't even flinch. He just kept on shooting in thirty seconds. The twenty five or so ambushers, including the RPG triggermen, had all been killed and were all red piles of flesh spread over the street. When it was over, we secured the area, salvaged what we could from the still burning Humvee and then destroyed it with a thermite grenade.
The minigun turned twenty five human beings into shredded flesh and less than a minute. That was quick, I thought. And then I felt weird because the next thought I had was that was awesome.
Awesome because we did not get killed and because the power of the minigun was. This was the first time I had seen people in the process of dying. But it was not the first time seeing dead people, my life and training and prepare me for these situations. My constant inoculation of violence and stress made what would have been grotesque and unbearable to many an acceptable situation. To me, my trauma had conditioned me to accept the unacceptable. That's what war does.
It changes the way you view the world. I found no pleasure whatsoever in killing the enemy. However, this was an outcome of war. Everyone at some point was someone's child. But that thought is lost in war. The most profane aspects of war is that it depletes the humanity from humans. He pretty much forget about it, everything you believe, you know. You know, I'm thinking about that one when you're in a gunfight, you know, theology, religion, political, whatever, politics, dude's trying to kill me and I can go work on him.
You get home from that deployment and then then you did that.
When you get rolled into doing a platoon chief, you do your work up, the work up. Well, the work up prior is pretty interesting because I interfaced with all the guys that were going to be in the platoon.
I was a platoon chief and I remember breaking one of the guys nod's right before ANOP. He didn't know I was going to be his platoon chief.
You kind of treat me like they don't put your stuff on the ground. I would step on it.
I did feel stupid about that though. But the workup is, you know, pretty, pretty standard. We were on an 18 month cycle. I think on that one. I think it was 18 months cycle. So it's a yearlong workup, you know, broken up into three into three parts, you know, to have everybody going to schools and ulti just doing all the standard secrecy. SILC er did you guys know that you would go into Iraq when you performed up.
We were kind of the bastard children too. Everybody was looking for the shiny object, not the time. That was some task force.
And uh, we got what was thought to be the least of the shiny best deployments which was Fallujah.
And they the guys that were there weren't doing anything. But we we worked different. We worked intel different than they did. And we were really busy.
I did 140 days on that deployment, which is and talk to guys in the SEAL teams to do 100 days on a deployment is unheard of.
And then on top of that, teaching medical classes to the to the military units that they're the second and fourth Iraqi army brigade and teaching tactics and how to patrol and try to work with the med teams. It's you know, when you run a target for your regular job, it's kind of hard to come and be a team in Fallujah proper and run a military unit, especially when I don't speak English.
Their standard of work is not what you know, it is not. And I was one of the hardest things for us to get to was we when we first got there, we had these expectations that they were going to get to the level that we were at least close. And that's just not going to happen. You got to see, OK, this right here, this is what we want them to be. But right here you got to be acceptable.
And this is kind of the way what's over there. Yeah.
You got to definitely adjust your standards in a real big way, you know, but it's kind of cool because I'm thinking about, you know, your last your previous deployment where you were kind of gathering a lot of intel and stuff like that. And then you roll out because, as you know, we drive our own operations that if you can make sure you can find Intel and you can put it together, you can put up a target package. Let's go hit it.
You know, that's you know, to get that to get a bunch of days down like that, it's it's not a sexy thing to do. The hard part is getting the target packages put together, the fun parts going out and hitting them. And most team guys, I just show me what door. I don't even care. They showed me what door.
It's a lot harder to get the information. So you're on this deployment you're doing all these days. And now we're going to get into.
April twenty seven northeast of Fallujah, when the shooting stopped, I was still on the floor lying on my left side. So this is picking up where we started this whole this whole podcast out. When the shooting stopped, I was still on the floor lying on my left side, I pushed myself up to my knees. I don't remember hearing any of the gunfire, but now the sounds began to register in my ears. The two men who had stacked up directly behind me in my room clearing train were our Iraqi scouts.
The second man in our train took a round to his chest plate and it knocked him clear out of the foyer. Ironically, that round may have saved his life. He'd originally been within an arm's length behind me as we'd entered the room, the third man in my stack and had been shot as he entered the room, an AK 47 round smashed through his bulletproof chest plate. He'd fallen dead in the doorway. The chance factor was insane once fired, a bullet can be unpredictable.
The internal killing of a gun barrel causes bullets to spin in flight. Some bullets will begin to tumble through the air at low speeds, while others are designed to tumble and cartwheel after hitting a target which can cause some brutal damage.
It's likely that we were all hit by the same type of bullets at nearly the same time, shot from the same gun. But the damage to each of us was significantly different. A balance of my room clearing train. Five or six other guys hadn't been able to get in the room because of all the volume of fire.
I move for my knees and stood to my feet. Felt like there were two hundred pounds on my back, I took off my helmet, use the white light on my damage pistol to survey the room, one of our other Iraqi scouts entered the room. He had been behind Clarkie and followed him into his room. The bullet that hit Clark bypassed all three of the Iraqi scouts stacked up behind him. These three made it into khakis room and had gotten trapped in the back of the house.
When the shooting started, the scout had been part of the original group of ten recruits who had been with us since the first day. He spoke decent English and gave me a report. Once you are killed in action. One Iraqi scout killed in action, two detainees and six women and children. At this point, I actually didn't even realize that they had left. It didn't register yet. Yeah, this is, you know, when we started getting reports about what had happened during this, you know, and and I just remember thinking this is just this is just pure insanity, you know?
And a lot of guys felt guilty for leaving me in there. But I can I mean, I had to talk to a lot of guys like, hey, we didn't do anything wrong that night. Nobody saw me go in there. You guys followed protocol that we would always follow. Uh, you didn't blow up the house. You didn't have a full head count. You did that. Right. You know, so everybody did everything right and. I don't know, NSW sometimes with a knee jerk reactions that we would have to try to make everything as safe as possible, which we're good at, but even if you do something.
Everything's right. Bad things can happen and you just can't you can't minimize all the threats to the point where there's no more threat, you just can't do it, and you can also do really dumb things and make big mistakes and everything turns out perfect, you know, and you can do everything perfectly and things go wrong.
Perfect plan goes to shit in the first 30 seconds.
Rewind it a little bit. This is what you said. It was surreal. Like something out of a movie. Time slowed down almost to a stop and everything happened in super slow motion, almost as if I were watching a scene unfold frame by frame seconds seem like minutes. A slow motion torrent of bullets flew at me. I could clearly see all the bullets coming at me. I had total auditory exclusion. There were no sounds. I had never been shot before, so I had no idea how it felt.
In this strange, slow motion scene, I had a mental conversation with myself, Hey, am I actually getting shot right now? It occurred to me that those sledgehammer smashing all over my body with bullets hitting me one after another. It was in this moment that I said my first real prayer, God, please get me home to my girls. My wife and two young daughters were halfway around the world in that instant. I felt them and they felt me.
I felt like a bullet dodging character in the movie The Matrix, only it wasn't dodging any of the bullets. They were hitting me. My rifle shot out of my hands. Bullets whizzing past my head, hammered into the men entering the room behind me. Even as I continue to penetrate down the left wall, nobody else in my train would be able to make entry as all four of the enemy continued to fire directly into what is known as the fatal funnel.
The dimly lit doorway in which I was standing. The enemy bullets triggered my rage and drove me to act, it was then that my body became became my mind and took over. I suppose that's what habit is when somebody when the body overrides the mind and acts without specific instructions from the brain. My right hand instinctively reached down for my secondary weapon, a pistol. My hand was on autopilot as it unhooked the rubber strap. I had fashioned to keep my pistol secure and with a fluid push, fluid forward, push and pull.
Very same motion I'd done a hundred thousand times in training my weapon released from my holster. I aim my pistol, engage the enemy fighter directly opposite me down the left while he was glaring at me with his weapon throwing rounds directly at me, I returned fire four or five rounds from my weapon and caught him in the face and chest. As he stared at me, his head jolted back. I saw the life leave his eyes like a light going off.
I knew he was dead as he melted into a pile in front of me. I landed next to the dead man on my left years of training and muscle memory without any direct orders from my brain, lifted my arm, arched it and aimed my pistol at a young male figure, maybe in his early twenties, as he stood up and moved toward the doorway. I was still on the floor when I watched him pull a hand grenade from the front of his vest and pull the pin.
My right hand pointed at him, my index finger squeeze the trigger, I saw the bullets exit my pistol and spin clockwise as they flew toward him, leaving a green vapor trail in their wake and watch my bullets plunging to one side of his head and exhausted blood and brain matter instantly exiting out the other side. I shot him dead as he attempted a suicide mission to run out in the year with a live grenade where my fellow SEALs and Iraqi scouted, stacked up, attempting to enter the room.
My rounds dropped him in his tracks as he fell forward. I saw the grenade release from his hand and roll toward me. Then it detonated.
This is crazy, one of our newly arrived seals from Team 10, so these are the guys that just showed up, this probably this kid's first op. Yeah, but he was he was the platoon chief.
OK, so he was good to go.
One of the newly arrived first night, the first night, one of the newly arrived SEALs from Team 10 was outside under the carport looking into the room's only window when he saw my bullets enter the enemy's head. He watched as the enemy fell. The ensuing grenade blast shattered the window, spraying shards of glass into my teammates face. This was his first mission in Iraq. A new way to greatness, a way to start a new job. Grenade blast knocked me unconscious.
When I woke a few minutes later, I was fully lucid and lying on my left side, looking across the room at two men. Both were firing the weapons over my head, out the window directly above me. The grenade blasted, twisted my helmet, rendering my night vision goggles unusable, the light from their muzzle flashes and the dim glow of the gas lamp in the foyer, where enough to clearly illuminate the men standing no more than ten feet away from me.
I heard no sounds. It was totally silent. I was in a very bad place in the middle of a gunfight. If the enemy caught a glimpse of me glaring up at them all, it would take for them to finish me off with both of them to point down, pulled their triggers and unload high velocity bullets into me. If I could clearly see them, then they could see me too. For an instant, I thought about playing dead, but in that same millisecond before the thought could be fully evaluated, my anger rejected it outright.
I had never been so angry, a feeling of determined, ruthless rage. It seemed to be stored up somewhere deep inside me, and something just snapped. In that moment, my rage consumed me, my world closed in, and nothing else mattered to me. But destroying the two men standing still in front of me, I would fight back and kill them before they killed me. Now, the crazy thing about this is there were some holes in me that don't line up like I get two holes in my back.
Uh, you think they shot you and you're unconscious? That's the only thing I can come up with. I had two rounds in my back that shattered my right scapula, and there's no holes in the body armor. So I think I they took the pistol and shoved it in there and then they shot me twice in the butt. The only way I'm going to get shot in the butt is a someone stood over top of me.
I don't know why they didn't put one on my head. Should look at the helmet more. Maybe they tried to shoot me in the head in the helmet, just got in the way, but. This round right here. Four months after the incident, this is around you're wearing around your neck. It's a nine mill round that I got shot in the butt with and I didn't know about it, that it was still in me until I went to a procedure to get a stent pulled out of my bladder for four and a half months later.
And they took an X-ray of it and came back in X-ray. Tech was like, hey, you know, there's a bullet in your head.
That's how I found this bullet. But the way the hip is, you know that that arch right there.
So it was right there.
And it. From 2007 to like two years ago, I was at a chiropractor and he took some X-rays and they had moved and he took a side profile and it was literally at the surface in my stomach.
And then we had had some medics cut it out we thought was going to take like five minutes. I'll show you the pictures.
We got video of them cutting it out in the back of a suburban.
There you go. Proper dinner break for surgery.
Going back to this. I didn't know it at the time, but I was lying unconscious on the floor while I was lying unconscious on the floor. My SEAL teammates were outside the door of the room trying to get a shot at the enemy. Two of our Iraqi counterparts were the only eyes that saw me enter the room in the chaos that ensued. They were unable to communicate my location to anyone. The volume of fire coming from the room through the door and out of the window was so excessive that there was no way anyone else was getting into the room.
The team decided to pull everyone back and call an airstrike to neutralize the target and me with it. As the team pulled back from the house corner, my other school teammate was shot and wounded by one of the two remaining enemy fighters firing over my head and out the window while I lay on the floor. My teammates work their radios calling for the status of each other and what was going on in the house. I heard nothing. As the remaining elements of my assault team departed the house and moved to a safe dropping distance from the target, I was lying on my left side with my pistol still in my right hand, just like before my arm reached up and aimed at one of the men standing in front of me and my finger pulled the trigger.
I couldn't hear the gunfire, but I felt my hand jump rounds exit my weapon, and I watched the projectiles fly in slow motion. As they punched into his body, small holes burst open in the fabric of his shirt, where my bullets entered his face, contorted into a bizarre combination of surprise and pain, more surprised than pain in less than five seconds. I ran a magazine dry, completed a magazine change before the two enemy fighters figured out I was still alive and I was shooting back at them.
My bullets drew their gun fire away from my departing teammates. Their full attention and bullets were then directed back at me.
The enemy fighters were now both so close to me, I remember the stunned look on their faces as they pointed their weapons back at me and fired around from one of their AK 47, struck the bottom of my pistol and dislodged my guns magazine. My pistol jammed and I felt the guns grip crumble in my hand. Another enemy, bullets, sailed clear through the foot of my magazine. I opened my hand slightly to release the shards of broken plastic that were once my pistol grips.
The grip seemed to absorb the shock, shattering like an armor plate. I was fortunate to have this type of weapon. Any other model would have been smashed to bits or been shot out of my hands. My palm was now pressed against the guns Internal Springs. The bullets that struck my pistol caused my weapon to malfunction, I squeeze the trigger, but nothing happened. I quickly cleared the malfunction with a tap of a on the bottom of the magazine to firmly reinserted into the pistol track of the slide, then squeeze the trigger.
I had done this tap rack Baim malfunction drill so many times that it happened automatically. All the while I was still being shot at from no more than 10 feet away an instant later, well before the human brain could process what and how it had happened. My hand aimed the pistol at the other man standing across from me. My fingers squeeze the trigger. I saw the rounds twisting as they exited my pistol, flying toward him and entering his body, then around tunneled into his face.
I empty the magazine to both men as they crumbled on the floor in front of me, I loaded my last magazine into my damaged pistol. I was lying on my left side leaning against the man who I had first shot. When I entered the room, I pushed myself up with one hand and reached behind with the other, placing my pistol against my dead enemies, motionless body, and fired several more rounds. Seconds later, all four enemy fighters were silent, their dead bodies lay in pools of their own blood and piles of spent bullet casings, a metallic odor felt flooded the room, blood and urine leaked from their bodies onto the floor.
I knew I had been shot, I felt heavy, like there was a few hundred pounds sitting on my back, it was difficult to breathe. The fight was not over and the worst battles were yet to come. Crazy gun fight, my left arm was shot off to get my head around, go through this this joint right here. Well, I I didn't figure it out until later after I got up and walked around, tried to take my gloves off, but I put that pistol in this left hand and reached over and shot somebody like this.
My thumb is. Like almost hanging off, the only thing that was holding on was my glove. I mean, look how lucky I am, though. It just won't bend crazy.
Yeah, the the the weapon functioning.
I mean, you still have the magazine that I did go back after about five months and I was like, hey, I want that pistol. You know, we already cleaned it up and put it back in circulation. So somebody else was using it. And I was like, I want that pistol. Did you ever get it?
No, no. Yeah, I was thinking about this. You know, we started off when I started off on talking about how, you know, you can get shot, one person get shot, one person catch a little tiny piece of frag like the size of a freaking the size of a pebble and kill you pop the femoral artery or you pop up here and that's what happened.
Clark, we had one around, basically just go right through his neck right here. It was just hit that already. It was quick.
I mean, when I found him, you start to smile on his face. You sit in an upright position.
He was 27 years old with a shirt on. It was a second deployment. I need to secure the building myself, so I moved to the FOIR with its glowing lamp and then to the room directly beside where my gunfight had happened, there were six women and children all sitting in the far corner screaming and crying. I pointed my white light at them and yelled, Shut up.
None of them spoke English, but they all became silent. That's also the room where I found Clarkie. He was just inside the doorway, sitting down with both legs spread out in front of him, resting upright and leaning back slightly on his rucksack.
Khakis, trademark smirk was frozen on his face with his lips curled in a smile. He looks so peaceful he'd been killed instantly by around that he'd come out of my room. I tried to move him from the view of the front door, but he was too heavy. Clark Schwedler was twenty seven years old, he would take over a decade for the magnitude of Clark's death to penetrate me. My tears now are often spontaneous, triggered by a fleeting memory, a mixture of accumulated losses or just a random thought.
At that moment, though, I couldn't stop and grieve over Clarkie, I needed to secure the building and protect my teammates. In another room in the back of the compound, I found two enemy detainees are Iraqi scouts, had made entry into this room, discovered the men and cuffed them. I checked their flex cuffs and put one of our Iraqi scouts in place to guard them. I positioned our other Iraqi scout at the front entry with specific orders to shoot anyone who tried to come into the house.
I knew that I was shot up. I walked around and cleared the house with my damaged pistol. Each time I turned my head, I could feel my radio earpiece snagged on my body armor. I plugged my earbuds in and keyed the radio to ask for a status in the house. But no, but my radio had been shot. It's still out of tune, but no signal. My radio was smashed. I needed to contact the team. I tried to swap out my radio with klatches, but my gloves were slippery from all the blood.
I just started to pull off my left hand glove. When I saw that my thumb was barely attached to my hand, it flopped into my palm. It was a bullet hole through the glove. I must have been shot in the thumb when the enemy shot at my pistol, destroying my gun's grips. I decided to leave my gloves on. Eventually, I managed to switch out my Radio four car. I moved back into the room where my gunfight had happened.
I felt safer there as I knew everyone in it was dead.
It was there that I made radio contact with the rest of the team, hey, this is Mike. I'm still in the house. It's secure. We've got four enemy killed in action. One Iraqi scout killed in action, one seal killed in action, two detainees.
Six women and children. Oh, man. They call the cure after that night, took them hour and 15 minutes to go like five miles. Five miles. When did they activate the QR off? When they arrived, when they started backing out of the house, as we always initiated the cure. As soon as a gunfight started, as soon as there was a attack, we would initiate CUROSURF. So they would get ready and then we could launch them.
But back then, I mean, that that area was so we went after this target one other time, we got Aidid on the way in. Yeah, and those are some of the cool details that you put in the book, which, like I said, that's why people have to buy the book if they want to want to get the rest of it, because the background behind it, you know, you explain the efforts that you guys had made to hit this target.
And it was a terrible area and pretty much one way in, one way out, unless you wanted to do like an extra seventy five kilometers to get.
And that if you didn't get lost back there because I mean, the maps were inaccurate and. I mean, your greatest threat over there wasn't getting into a gunfight, it was going to and from that was your biggest threat. We got it. I you're six times on that deployment.
And, you know, when that when that happens over and over again, they start looking who's here every time.
And I was one of the guys, OK, Mike's possible one of the two possible IED magnets, because every time we get ID, one of you two is there or both of you there actually were both there for all of them.
So how big how many seals did you have with you? How many seals were on this op?
Our of force? We could take a little bit more if we had birds, but a normal four and a half of it had to be Iraqis. Right. And we don't give them IEDs and radios. So you have to make corrections for that, like we have to drive the vehicles. So it would be like 22 guys, but that would include a terp. You know, have Iraqi forces occasionally brought this Marine had a dog that never found anything but a pistol holster.
He did say that dog might have got baked in the car. I mean, it gets warm out there like 22. But we go out with six Humvees. There's only four seats. Well, five you got the gunner. But the way we work know six people in a vehicle and you're only getting four people that are actually going to work, maybe three inside. Yeah. So I have worked with other units where they leave.
Everybody gets out of the vehicle and the country stays.
I don't like that. Now, that's the plan. I say he does that, but we don't like that plan.
The man for you to like just go back into a full on team guy mode of, OK, here's what's going on. I'm shot up. I got to finish clearing this house by myself, get the house cleared, do an assessment, set security, and then contact the team and say, hey, it's Mike Target secure.
Damn, I was there, I don't believe it. Legit and I was definitely in shock. I did miss a room. I missed the stairs upstairs to the prayer room upstairs. So they had to clear that I missed it. But I did conflict at the front door. They came in, they cleared the house because I pulled the guy off the front door that I told, shoot anybody that came through because they were taking fire from the outside.
You know, when when the neighbors know that you're there, some people like to shoot at the window at you, which was a lesson that we learned early on because who doesn't like to blow up a door with?
Sometimes you don't have to blow it up. Sometimes you just turn the doorknob. Sometimes that door knob works and when you blow up a door to the whole neighborhood knows you're there.
People take pop shots out of you.
Freaking awesome man, awesome work. Also got an AK round, that's where I got the idea for this necklace the guys found when they took my body armor and AK round fell out of it. And it's slightly flat on one side and it's got rifling on it. So that's how, you know, that it actually came through a a rifle barrel. But that one hit me inside of 10 feet and it's completely intact. I mean, it's like barely flat on one side.
I can't explain that one either. But I did get shot in the right places like. I know guys who got shot in the femur, you hit you hit bone, that changes everything. And I we had two bones in my left arm and my right scapula. I did have a round up the inside of my right thigh, which is probably the one the doctors are the most amazed about, because if you know about the kinetic energy, it's not the energy that's being pushed in front of the bullets, what's being pulled and all the cavitation and how it ruptures organs and ruptures, blood vessels and arteries that should have popped my femoral artery because that ran from my knee right above my knee all the way up to my inner thigh.
And that was definitely neck around because the hole in my leg, it looked like someone took a cookie cutter of an AK round and cut it out. And the gunshot wounds healed weird, they started off small and then they got bigger as they healed and then they shrunk. I didn't have any bad exit wounds. Everything went through me, got bad exit wound out of my right armpit that blew out. But it's kind of actually hard, you know, I'm claiming twenty seven and it's the best of my knowledge, but, you know, the one that went through my left thigh might have been the same one that went through my scrotum.
I don't know. But I'm not going to ruin a good story. Hey, bro, I say we round up and quite honestly, those ones I hid the body armor.
I was more aware of the ones that the body armor. I had no idea where I had been shot until I pulled my glove off. I knew I'd been shot in the chest and back. I could feel it. I mean, I had I had a bunch of broken ribs and I had a contingent on my right lung. So when I when I called those guys, I was like, you guys got to hurry up. I can't breathe. I think I got a sucking chest wound.
You know, they put my body armor off and there's two holes in my back and they tried to get occlusive dressing on it, an old one that we used to use and they couldn't get it stick. So luckily, it wasn't a sucking chest. Yeah, and you got shot with green tape, too, right? Yeah, and they took my body armor after that, whatever company does the investigation and they took it apart layer by layer. So the other layer of body armor.
Spolin it's that black stuff. It kind of looks I don't even know how it's the stuff that holds everything together. So it's a ceramic plate. There's multiple layers. And plus I had to carry her on. And at the time we were doing the soft armor, hard armor, the four alpha with the soft. I can't imagine getting shot in the chest with standalone for alpha armor piercing protection without that soft armor. It's going to break every one of your damn ribs, every damn one.
I only had I think four broken ribs. And you just so you papa about every one.
So it sucks. It's friggin horrible man.
You get that, that top of your breath and you can't someone stabbing me. No.
You don't want anyone to make you laugh or cough or anything like that.
But yeah, the weird thing about green tip is that if you don't know anything about it, I've been penetrated more through the body armor than the AK did.
Oh, I totally believe that. It's a green tip is American and and five, five, six, five, five, six.
What kind of the standard round for America? We got a bunch of other ones. I know, but green tip is kind of the standard round for, let's say, an army infantry unit. And so you might wonder how does Mike end up with green tip in his body or in his body armor? And the answer is they recovered the weapon.
And yeah, there was this all this guy's equipment to include his name is Elby is a load bearing equipment with his magazines, and it still had his name on it. They had his night vision goggles that his pistol, they had a bunch of this guy stuff. And it was, from what we figured out, an ambush out in Ramadi, an army unit in Ramadi.
So an army unit in Ramadi got ambushed. They captured this guy's equipment and then they put it to use and they put it to use on you, man.
And the green tip was the only one that penetrated through the plate.
And made entry into the soft armor, it got about halfway through all the players on the soft armor, you mentioned the green tip like that.
It's standard, but what's special about green tip as opposed to it's five, five, six.
It's the standard ammunition that we use.
It's we had a lot of problems with it and different different places like Somalia. Um, what a terrible place to they were young women and children as shields.
But the green tip was such a hot round, meaning hot moves so fast that sometimes it just goes right through people and it doesn't doesn't get the a lot of damage from what happens after it passes through. And it's the cavitation and the cavity it creates behind it. It's really not what it does in front of it.
But the green tips so fast, it doesn't create that cavitation. It just cuts through stuff. But it's also armor piercing, right? Yeah, it's fast and it's small. So if it is made, it is. Yeah. It punches through armor a lot. As you know, this it's not it's not supposed to punch through for a while. Who knows when I got hit with a green tip because I had three rounds in the chest. And if you look at the body armor, it's already a dagger gates with each one.
They think they're only going to say, yeah, this will save you from one round. Yeah, that's what they'll tell you after that.
We don't know what the hell it's going to do because of it.
I mean, if you get if you take one and the ten ring. Yeah. And that damages everything else, maybe that does more damage equally all the way around. But I got hit like here, here and here. And maybe the green tip wasn't the first one. Well, maybe it was the first one before they hit it, before it was so decorated that it was useless.
I told one of those plates in front of my face that you should not do it all. That doesn't make it. That doesn't even make a dent. You can barely find the dent from an old mill and that stuff. Yeah, I mean, those are just a lot weaker than rifles are. And then you have that argument to what round or shot placement placement.
You're all shot placement.
Then if you're not good at shot placement, then just put a lot there, you know, can't I not still got to when in doubt overload. Going back to the book 15 minutes after I called the team to let them know I'd been shot, the medevac landed. I had to say that because that's freaking awesome. Jack asked if I need any help as we walk together to the bird, about 150 yards and all. I felt heavy and slow as we walked together over the freshly plowed field.
I put my left arm over his shoulder to steady myself. As I moved, Jack instinctively reached up and grabbed my hand, which almost ripped off my dangling thumb. Jack like, oh, my thumb. Connor, my school teammate who was wounded in the arm exiting the house, jumped on the bird for the short flight to the hospital in Baghdad. He was another one of our team's medics and I thought that's why he was with me. I didn't know that he had been shot until we were in the hospital together in Bethesda, Maryland.
I was a new guy on his first deployment.
The flight medic was very efficient, crawling all over me to cut off my clothes and gear to get my wounds, inserting his needed to every bullet hole in the process. In his defense, there wasn't much he could touch that didn't have a bullet hole punched out of it. MyCelx teammate Chris Hill had been assigned as my casualty assistance officer and would accompany me all the way back home, Chris was standing next to me with a satellite phone. You have to call your wife, he said.
I refused at first, but then I remembered that my next of kin must be notified. Within 24 hours of an incident, Brennan was back in Virginia Beach shopping with the girls when she answered. Hey, I said, I don't have a lot of time, I'm coming home early. I got shot, but I'm fine. I've got all my limbs, my face is fine. And the doctor said, I'm going to make one hundred percent recovery.
I'll see you soon. I had phone back to Chris and the medical team stacked me on the plane. I must have passed out because my next memory is waking up in the United States at Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Talk to a good 50 people that talk to me and Longido. Don't remember, I don't remember. Yeah, I mean, one of those people is was was Admiral McRaven. Yes. So that's cool. And and you guys knew each other.
You guys knew each other from team three?
Yeah, I was in my first three commanding officers were McTighe, McNally and McCraven from three mics.
Yeah, you do that. And and you you talk about that visit from from the admiral again.
Well, that was from I think I did some plagiarise plagiarizing from his book. Yeah. You progressor. He's got a book out called Sea Stories and it's one of the stories in his book is, you know, visiting a guy that just been shot twenty seven times. So, yeah, you put it in this book as well as a good deed.
I mean, yeah, some people might think he's got some sway political views right now.
But, you know, I watched him take care of people and that's kind of how I judge people. Like if you care about people and you take care of them. Yeah. And you're not doing shit to feed your own ego or your own agenda. I mean, you got to have your own agenda. I got mine. Now, it's part of the reason why I sold the book. I want to go surfing all the time.
That's all I want to do.
Yeah, it's a pretty interesting story, I guess, from your perspective, blessed to have the story and be able to talk about it, you know, then it's very few people be able to pick this up and not find something in it that they're going to be able to relate to in their own life, bro.
You got shot twenty seven times, you know, and you did your job. I mean, it's free. And that's the least interesting thing, I think. But but just. Yeah, you put the whole story together and that man is powerful. And like you said, there's all kinds of stuff for everybody. And and and you all get into some of it.
But a lot of it is is you trying to explain how you got through this stuff and you know, how you got through your childhood trauma and what that trauma turns into. And and we'll get into some of it. But that's just a whole nother reasonable UniFi. Even if you're a hippie that doesn't want to read a single thing about war. OK, skip those parts because you're still going to get something out of the rest of it. Well, my publisher, we were working through this or like like there's this a Navy SEAL book or a self-help book.
And I was like, leave it ambiguous.
I don't care what you call it, what you call it, you know?
And I'm doing pretty good in the way that the PTSD section on after trailing after you for the pumpkin at your door on. I have a PTSD. There's a six years that your books are number one and war biographies and OK, your books do awesome.
I don't in the PTSD section on the PTSD and the PTSD section, Vandar Colque body keeps the score, which is one that's the book that you talk about. Yeah, that's one of the everybody should read that book. A couple of things in there.
And if you understand your trauma, your childhood trauma, then your behaviors are predictable, you know.
So if you understand that you become the person that you're taught to be invert inside of the first seven years and you know what your reaction is going to be to it, then it's predictable. And then you work on it like my trigger is. I don't think anybody poked me in the chest and when I get scared, I don't cower. Sometimes I might over push back.
I don't like to be called names. And I got cursed out by a little 20 year old kid and Starbucks a couple of weeks ago.
And I had to ask my boy, how old are you? He's like, I'm 22 and this kid's flipping me off because I want to put on a mask.
I was like, you wouldn't be talking to me like this if we were outside. But, you know, I think that's a problem with a lot of people in this world right now. You know, the keyboard that the keyboard bullies and they get behind the wheels of their car and act like a bunch of assholes.
You know, a lot of people just don't know that if you could get punched in the face for being as rude as you are, you wouldn't do it.
Yeah, we get a society. It's just so rude. Now, every time you get in your car to the NASCAR race, people cut you off.
And I mean, I've I've kind of slowed down.
I was that type of driver in a rush to get everywhere, even though I didn't have a schedule.
You. Well, sir, you talk about like I said, you talk about some of this trauma and whatnot.
And here's like here's here's a little sample of sort of how you start looking at this stuff. I would spend the next 18 months training guys, shuffling papers and administrative duty at my new command. So this is this is now your I think you're back at trade traded again, right? Yeah.
I went back to work inside of five months, about four and a half, five months.
And I was in that course that we talked about earlier, that communications course, my physical good way to call my physical therapy team became an important part of my recovery in life. My team was made up of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, chiropractors and clinicians who specialize in all types of care. Most importantly, this group understood SEAL culture seals tend toward the extreme. We think if one repetition is good, then 500 must be great. I was blinded by my own bias and it wasn't the first time or the last.
One day long into my recovery, I confided to my nurse that I may have been experiencing symptoms related to PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. I had been sitting in my truck listening to a radio talk show when the when the expert being interviewed began describing the common symptoms of PTSD. The Voice spoke in a calm matter of fact tone, talking about the autumn autonomic nervous system and how sleeplessness constant irrational fears.
And hyper vigilance are often normal and predictable responses to trauma. I listen to a stranger's voice, describe me to me, and I was both relieved and confused when I told the nurse, who is a friend and someone I trusted. She smiled and chuckled. Good to hear, Mike. We all thought you actually enjoyed what happened to you in that room. She seemed to understand that being profoundly affected by my experience of war was normal and not being altered was abnormal.
This is the first time that I considered the concept of emotional, invisible wounds and that I had them.
I have come to understand that if the experience of war does not profoundly alter you in some way, then you may actually have a problem. When the doctor said that I had been perfectly wounded. It seemed like a metaphor for my life. I've been beat up just enough not to kill me. And through the process I earned the perfect scars of wisdom to survive my next thrashing. I still had no idea how the events of my childhood influenced my thoughts and behavior.
I'd become very good at compartmentalization. My self-awareness grew as I uncovered layers of trauma. I later found that my childhood wounds had prepared me for a career in the SEAL teams, but they also became my most haunting ones. Ironically, it took being shot twenty seven times to uncover my original wounds, the ones that I never considered or knew I had.
Yeah, so, you know, you start looking at what's going on, and this is this is cool, it's got to read this, bro, because it's a one one page chapter called The Enemy Within. I fully accepted all the hazards of my chosen occupation. Being wounded was no big deal to me. At no time during or after I was shot did I ever think I was going to die. I was provided the best medical care available and was sure that my physical wounds would eventually heal.
The real battle began when I returned home. The war in Iraq was straightforward. I was expertly trained and had the unconditional support of a community of like minded, highly motivated professionals, professionals. As a seal, I'd been institutionalized in a sense. I knew the culture, the people, the rules and the objective.
After leaving the military and returning home, my life became a confusing, frustrating and stressful mess. I was a prisoner who had been released from the institution into a strange new world. There was a distrustful, distrustful cynic slowly working his way inside me. His voice sounded like my own, and each day he became more convincing. I was surrounded, isolated and desperate. This enemy knew all my weaknesses. He was relentless and he eventually overpowered me. This enemy was me.
So a couple of things I want to say on the PTSD at that point, it really wasn't PTSD, at least clinical, because I haven't had any dreams about it. I don't mind talking about it. It doesn't bother me. It bothered more the people around me more than it bothered me. It was more of a hindrance. You know, that I had to live in a recliner for three months. It bothered my kids because they'd never seen me get her sick.
That pretty much was my first injury ever, other than broken fingers and toes. I did mention from oral nerve that put me down for about two, three months at one point doing it. But that was really my only my first injury because the fingers and toes don't count. I don't.
OK, but what had happened to me at this point? Well, I want to talk about what I call false anxiety first.
Just bad, healthy and terrible dehydration, drinking too much. Your physiology when you're in that kind, in that state of health feels like anxiety, the increased heart rate, the sweaty palms, the whole physiology that goes along with anxiety because of bad health.
It's your physiology reacting to what your people are dumping in their bodies.
My particular issue and what I think health care should be is individual evaluation of each person to adjust their medical care for for that. Because I watch for years, people take medication for for migraine and then the migraines go away, but they get another symptom. So here's another medication for the symptom. Eight medications later, the guy is telling me I still got a migraine. I can't remember what I did 15 minutes ago. I'm taking eight meds for it.
I had in your stomach you have four bacteria that breaks up the food so your intestines can take the vitamins and nutrients. And I had no good floor in my stomach, so my body physiologically couldn't even break down the food. So when I got tested, my my urine, my store, my blood, and they also used epigenetics which says your epigenetics, your genetics say that your body will consume and utilize certain types of food because of your genetics and where you're from.
When we see a lot of guys in the SEAL teams, everybody is Ankita.
Well, how do you know Quito's good for you?
You might be hurting yourself or the Greeks live for a long time to see the Greek diet might not be the one for you because your genetics don't work, but it might not be the optimum.
So I went on to fix mine.
All I had to do was take antibiotics for a week and then I rebuilt it with diet, you know, just probiotics.
And this is to repair your gut flora. After you did the tests. They study everything that's coming out of you. They go, oh, yeah, this is what you need. So my body couldn't even give me those nutrients because it wasn't physiologically working and I was completely be deficient d deficient.
I had all kinds of spikes and heavy metals. Where was this while you were still in or is this after you retired and you started working for the Care Coalition?
It was when I was working for the Care Coalition, so I've been there for probably six little over six years. So you you retired in 2010? Yeah. And where did you spend your last?
So this incident happened in 2000 when you spent 11 years at that little creek and you were so I taught that course. Got it. And then I was the operations officer, which was the worst job I ever had.
And so then you retire out of there and you get this job at the Care Coalition, which is working in Special Operations Care Coalition. Yeah. Where where are you located when you're doing that job?
Oh, I'm still living in Virginia Beach, but I'll miss the job changed when I was initially hired for that job. I had all the NSW Marzak guys and that is wherever they were. So MARSOC is on both coasts. So I'd go to Légion once, once a month. I fly out to San Diego once a month to meet the guys out there, NSWRL, MARSOC, and we were putting guys in. If we could find a quality care that was sufficient, we would put them somewhere, you know, where they were from so they can hang out with the family.
And so you're when you're in that job, you're an advocate for all these wounded guys, correct? Nonmedical case manager, nonmedical case manager going, OK, and this guy is this kid will tell you, hey, you know, I'm having problems with my ex-girlfriend and I've got I need help with that. Or I mean, I need I want to get back home to my family or whatever issues that they're facing. Is that is that right? Was I ran guys through there.
They were going through a medical retirement board. I was the advocate for that. And I was the interface between them and and the Pablos the. Physical evaluation board liaison officers, which weren't really good at what they did.
I did VA disability, I did wellness trips, there was a lot of care that, you know, you know, paraplegic doesn't care that it's a test, a test medication or a test treatment.
They just want to walk again. And, you know, sometimes our medical system is not going to facilitate that. So others will. So we would facilitate treatments outside of network. So it was my job, as I described it, was to improve somebody's situation.
And I did everything from babysitters, people to, you know, medical retirement boards.
I mean, I was a better social worker than I was a SEAL.
You talk about some of the cases, you talk about, you know, you go through this, you talk about some of the people that you helped out. Holly was one of my first clients when I met her.
She was only able to lie in bed and scream at the top of her lungs. It was scary. Holly was raised in Port Angeles. Washington enlisted in the Navy. After high school, she joined the military to create a future for herself and her family. When I met her, she was still the breadwinner for most of her family. She had become an independent duty corpsman, which is the highest enlisted medical care provider in the Navy. She graduated the program and become an Arabic linguist.
Hospital corpsman Chief Petty Officer Holly Crabtree was assigned to work with the SEAL team as they conducted various operations in Iraq. It was April 15th, 2010.
I just joined the Care Coalition and Holly was nearing the end of her deployment. She was out doing a medical civilian affairs operation when she was shot. The bullet pierced her helmet, fractured her skull and settled behind her eye. She was not expected to live. Her crew realized that she was expectant and coated Holly's condition as hope trauma.
She proved everybody wrong, Hollywood not give up or stop working. She would have to relearn how to talk, walk, even swallow. I watched her do it all. It was both sad and humbling, but most of all, it made me very proud to know her. Holly since made an impressive recovery and is medically retired after 13 years of service. I had another guy, he's in there, Sam, same thing, shot in the same place.
Both, both. Did he have to relearn everything as well? Yeah, and they both stroked. Paralyzed on the right side of their body, he's a he's working in a program right now where he goes after child pornographers and traffickers, which is a huge problem in the country right now. Like 500000 children go missing every year in this country.
I mean, I'll show you real slavery that's happening right now as you're doing this stuff with other people. This is when you're starting to realize that, you know, you should get checked out yourself. If I get in that right, like in the timeline, like this is when you start going, hey, man, I should get these tests.
Well, the only reason I did these tests was because I was having issues and people around me like, you got to go, go get help, go talk to somebody.
And I refused to. And the reason why I went with this doctor was because it was the least invasive. And all I have to do is talk to him on. Skype, he wasn't even in the same state, and quite honestly, I kind of half assed it and it worked. Uh. I've seen other people go to this to include people in my own family and. Everybody's issues could be different. Mine was bad, but for I've seen people, I've had floury, which is a parasite, which is pretty prominent.
Which would the symptoms really look like you're having issues with the thyroid, so your initial reaction would be while you're having these issues, I'm going to take you to a neurologist and then we're going to make you take these medications so that that we fry your thyroid when the whole time it was just a parasite that you could just stop eating sugar and kill it and fix it.
And that's what health care should be. Health care right now is completely reactive. They don't treat the source of the illness or disease. They just treat symptoms.
Uh. Was like two hundred fifty thousand people die every year because of medical mistake. We were listening to these people. They almost killed me, too, with potassium, almost had a heart attack because I had an overdose of potassium when another seal had been shot in the eye right next door to me was almost overdosed. Ryan Jobe was overdosed when he went in to get surgery, just plastic surgery.
And then and then they tried to lie about it.
Yeah. And those were that was a civilian hospital. It was it wasn't that wasn't the military. I was a civilian hospital. Medicine is not an exact science. Everybody's body's different.
And that's why it should be evaluated individually, because I'm pretty narcotic resistant. I wake up in the middle of surgery. You've got to give me more narcotics to knock me out. And if you want to do a surgery on me, I will wake up and fight.
Good luck getting somebody to do surgery after that. After you make these statements. I'm not going to get hurt anymore. I don't think so.
So you're learning a lot about that. You're also doing all like you said, you're doing awesome stuff with with some of the people setting them up. You know, you're doing hunting trips. You end up climbing Mount Mount Rainier and Joe Klein.
That blind? Yeah, the year before I did. Yeah. Yeah. You say this about that. You say our climb had been on a Ryan job. Another Navy SEAL had been wounded in Iraq by a sniper, an injury that had left him totally blind. I had met Ryan once at MIT Monsters Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House, which I think we were saying today. That was the last time I saw the last time we saw each other before.
Right now, it's a good party.
Yeah, it was good times.
In 2008, Ryan Jobe climbed to the summit of Mount Rainier blind. A year later, in 2009, he died as a result of hospital error. Most people know Ryan from the books American Sniper and a Warrior's Faith. He was the character Biggles in the film American Sniper. On my way down, I closed my eyes once and gained a new, profound respect for Ryan job. I couldn't take ten steps without opening my eyes.
There's some bad parts of that mountain tied to a dam rope to that when we do that in the SEAL teams, cold weather training.
Yeah, I actually never did cold weather training. I hate it.
I mean, I was in some cold spots, but I never you know, I got snowed on plenty. I froze plenty of times out in the sleet and snow, but I never I never did.
The cold weather, the actual cold weather training between two guys, the old team, two guys used to love that stuff.
Oh, yeah, for sure. When I got there when I got the team to, you know, I was hoping that I would get to be able to do that. But it was already that program was it was no longer like SEAL Team two. With that, it's all different.
You end up going to you end up checking out some kind of, I guess, what's it called alternative medicine treatment. Alternative options.
I went full hippie and I went to a place that was I mean, I like those things. I, I like the mindfulness practices. I should get back to meditating regularly. It does help.
But I was introduced at this place to, you know, shooting with the recurve, you know, walking those paths, you know, that made with rocks like Indians used to do. So they teach a bunch of mindfulness practices and they were teaching transcendental meditation. And I think that's the part you're getting to where I.
Yeah, it sounds like it was like I mean, the first thing that happens you're doing this is some acid trip or something, but there's no drugs involved.
You're looking at a chair and all of a sudden the chair turns into human bones. And then you guys are going down to do some some some therapy with horses. And then we go to the book here. While the other participants went to the pen with the instructor, I stood outside the corral. When I turned and looked at instructor's face, it was like some type of Hollywood special effects scene. I was staring at him with his damn face when his damn face morphed into an evil demon.
I froze, terrified and trembling. It felt like every cell in my body was vibrating violently. I just stood there, close my eyes and prayed, God, please help me.
I was sure these people were going to hurt me when I open my eyes. Everyone was gone. I needed to get out of there. I saw the group standing in front of the corral and I said as calmly as I could. Hey, guys, thanks for everything. This has been really good, but I need to leave right now. The instructors tried to talk me out of leaving, saying that it wasn't safe for me to go. And I stood there thinking, well, it's definitely not safe for me to stay here with the demon dude.
I tried to hide it, but I think one of the instructors may have known that I was freaked out. One of the female instructors gave me a ride back to my cabin. I made her use her GPS so I knew she was where she was taking me when I arrived back at the cabin. I grab my bag, checked it, my truck, and immediately started driving back to Virginia Beach.
That was his life was like fully real in your head. And I did a bunch of research after that happened to me, that's when I started I had trouble sleeping after that and started doing research. And it's an event quite a few people have.
Well, I thought it was you immediately went got a drug test, a full drug test because you thought maybe you had been drugged. I thought I was drugged.
I actually had to stop at a car accident on the way. That's right, yeah, you stop at a car accident. And so you kind of knew that you could you weren't on drugs because you were doing normal things.
Uh. Well, I get to know you, you said you knew you weren't insane.
Yeah, because that's why you thought it was drugs. That's what it was, because I was able to still be objective. That's when you know you're crazy, when you can't be objective, like, am I crazy, like, if you're if you're just completely denying the fact that you might be crazy, then, you know, maybe you are actually investigate it. That's a scary test, dude.
I don't know if I passed that old dog, but I mean, this all the research I did on it, it happens to a lot of people, prominent people, educated people. And I say in the book, you know, I either saw it happen because I have some people that like, hey, you just have the ability to see evil. It was a temporary psychotic break, which hasn't happened since, which I've tried to like.
I don't think that's happening again with meditation because I think it was the meditation that did it that popped open different parts of my brain that I never used.
But I cover my ass in there. Yeah. So people don't think, oh, my God, the lunatic, the kundalini awakening.
Yeah, that's I had to go check that out. I watch them YouTube. I watched some YouTube videos to figure out what a coup Delina Awakening look like. And it's like a yoga like you just it's just a weird, like spiritual trip, I guess.
Oh yeah. And I would say my confused people I where I wear this ring, but I would say I'm a recovering Christian, don't like religion. I'm a spiritual person. I know there's a God. And I just he hasn't she hasn't whatever it is. Hasn't talked to me yet. So I don't know, I don't know who's right. Was really ten religions on this rock.
I do more than that I guess because that bad trip you decided you were going to still keep getting after it. There was Elliott Miller, another awesome seal. He'd been through some some TBI like treatments.
Know he was he was wheelchair bound for a long time, really overweight. So he went to that program. I did a fundraiser for. Yeah, yeah. So you so you do this, you end up doing this end. I'm trying to figure out how you can raise money and and the way you figure out you can raise money, as is by doing a triathlon. I did a half Ironman, half Ironman.
So I tried to do a full that's that's when I was training for that. That's when everything came down. Yes. So you end up doing the the the short one, I'll call it short. I mean, it's pretty long I guess 30 miles and it is short, it's short for triathlete. Doing two in a row is exponentially, so much harder that I induced diabetes because I didn't know enough about nutrition.
Would you induce diabetes before the first one while you were training for the second one for the full Ironman? So you do the you do the first one and everyone's all happy. You raise one hundred thirty five thousand dollars folks at Ironman contact you and say, hey, you're great. You got us a bunch of publicity and it's all small, just money. Chris Pratt did it with me to Chris Pratt did it with you. I'm sure they wanted to get some of that.
I it was like Guardians of the Galaxy.
Oh, that one stupid movie with a wreck talking wreck. Good movies. Now, I like them. I'm a I'm a fan of Chris. Yeah.
No, he seems like a great guy. I met him. But then this happens, so they tell you, hey, you can do another sponsor, you or whatever, you can do it, and so you start now training for this and here you go. I was totally exhausted and burned out before the half Ironman. Now, I was training for double the distance after the race, the first race, the word spread about what I was doing.
A new donors came to my crowd rise page to support me doing the full Ironman. But I was at a point where I just could not do my job anymore. I was totally burned out and the Ironman fundraising and training did nothing but add to my stress. Everything started to escalate. In my mind, I could feel something was on the verge of breaking.
The stress of work, training and financial obligations were all becoming too much. I couldn't sleep becoming edgy and difficult to get along with on the best of days. Forty five days before the canoe race, I emailed the Ironman folks to thank them for the opportunity and backed out of the race. I contacted every donor and offered them to return all their money. I was a mess at work. I couldn't. I would get urgent calls from shrinks who would say stuff like Come get your guy.
Some of my clients would scare the medical staff and the doctors knew if they called the police, all hell will break loose. So they called me instead. I would have to go diffuse the situation. These evolutions were exhausting and looking back, they were all well beyond my area of expertise. I would do the minimum reporting at work, then try to sleep or play video games and attempt to distract myself from the constant fear of something bad happening. I was trapped without an escape route.
Stress accumulates and it was all piling up inside of me. I had no financial help and I'm not one to ask for any. I was sure that I was going to get fired from my job. This was only the second real job I'd ever had in my life. Other than being in the Navy, I felt embarrassed and ashamed and emasculated. I would not leave my home for days on end. I avoided talking to people, even turned off my phone.
Brenda was troubled. She knows me so well. She was gentle at first, asking me if I wanted to talk to someone. As I became more isolated and combative, she reached out to my friends and coworkers. They joined with her and together they all hounded me to get help.
In a year, I'd gone from training to do an Ironman triathlon to not being able to get off my couch. I was in a dark, dangerous place. My life had become unbearable. There was guilt. But I think the real culprit was shame. Guilt and shame are very different and controlled my thoughts and behaviors in distinct ways. Guilt was about what I had done or in my case, what I hadn't done. Shame was about who I was or at least who, least who I thought I was.
I felt like a prisoner being brainwashed every day. My mind seemed to be stuck on a one track narrative that became darker with each episode, every minute of every day. There was this weird repeating internal monologue monologue that opened with guilt, which created a feeling of shame. I would fixate on things that supported this monologue, like bailing out of the Iron Man, which I was, which I was sure disappointed. The donors, the treatment facility, my clients and my family, my anemic efforts at work reinforced my shame.
That's when all the what ifs began chiming in. What if I get fired from my job? Will we lose the new house and all my money? What if the people who donated to my fundraiser think I'm a fraud because I didn't do the full Ironman? These thoughts would lead to embarrassment, which deepened my feelings of shame. I was trapped in this desperate, repeating, irrational monologue that sounded all rational to me.
I personally knew people like Dan, Mark, Holly and Tyler, who had far worse injuries than me and far more stressful lives and who were all managing themselves well, but for some reason I just couldn't put things in perspective. I was locked in an irrational, disproportionate, escalating mental prison. I sat in my truck.
I had researched how to do it, exactly where to place the barrel and how to angle the gun. I had practiced it with a cleared weapon and pulled the trigger. I didn't want to leave a mess for someone else to clean up. I would not do it in my truck so someone else could use it, the bullet would go through my heart, there would be an instant of pain, and then I would be gone.
I would do to myself with one bullet, what for enemy fighters failed to accomplish with twenty seven, I stared at the black gun in my hand. I'd use one like this to kill before I was numb and sad, confused and tired and cried alone. So many times my downward spiral would come to its final resting place.
At the bottom was hopelessness, the built up stress, the lingering effects of trauma, my psychological deficits all colluded to create a condition of hopelessness. My mind work trying to come up with an explanation to justify my final act to my two beautiful daughters. Years ago, in that room at that compound, the thought of not being able to see their faces again terrified me. Images flashed in my mind, holding my daughter's little hand in her own as we sat together, the way the girls would wrap their arms around my neck and hug me, their soft little voice is called out.
Their smiling faces repeatedly flashed in my mind. There was the disproportionate feeling of guilt and shame that relentlessly stalked me, I felt trapped in a life layered with overwhelming stress, endless responsibilities, meaningless tasks and toxic people of whom I felt I was the most toxic.
It was all my fault. I felt I was my own worst enemy this time, there was a bullet in the chamber, I was beyond contemplation. My mind was made up. I mentally paced back and forth, working up the courage the same way I had when I hit my father with the bat. I was getting out of my truck when my phone rang, I looked down at the number. It was Scott Heintz, my boss, I picked up the phone in one hand and held a gun in the other.
I let it ring, not wanting to answer, I couldn't do it with Scott calling, so I put down the gun. I answered, Hey, Scott, what's up?
And Scott says, Mike, I want you to take the next three months to chill out, I'm going to pay you, relax, take your time and find a new job. I'll help you out however I can. You're beyond burned out. You did amazing work. But there's a time limit for how long you can do this job and you maxed it out. My boss and good friend just give me the hope I needed to climb out of the very deep hole I'd found myself in, and that instant I could not have answered my phone for anyone other than Scott.
Scott had seen it all before. He knew that I was surrounded by wounded, sick and injured people all day. Scott also knew that many of the people who I had been meeting with every day for years, including patients, their family members, veterans, service members and hospital staff, were struggling with depression. It's like an alcoholic tending a bar. You can only hold out for so long. If you're around depressed people all the time, you become depressed to.
I suspect that some of you reading this may now think that I'm crazy and write me off. Thank you for coming this far with me. For the rest of you who have ever been depressed or suicidal, I can tell you that while I fully believed at the time that I was thinking rationally, I know now that I was not.
My irrational thoughts had started repeating themselves, the world will be better off without me, I don't care anymore. I just want out of here. I'm a horrible person. My future will just be filled with more of the same stress. These thoughts seem totally rational and true in my compromised state, but I had no idea that my thinking was compromised. What scared me the most about these thoughts and the entire experience is what happened to me just a few months later, Brenda, in her desperation to help, convinced me to visit a physician who had a protocol to treat depression and other conditions.
I resisted at first, of course, but finally agreed to work with the guy, if only to get Brenda and everyone else off my back. That's why I did it. Man. You get it, it's interesting, you know, you talk about the like now you can look back and see that you weren't rational. Oh yeah. But at the time, there's just, you know, the chemical imbalance, I mean. It's because more people are coming aware of it now, that that the gut brain axis, I mean.
The gut is probably a smarter brain than the one in our skull.
It can't operate properly unless unless you put the proper nutrients and and vitamins. And this doctor is also really big into the EMF electromagnetic fields. You know you know how we're affected. I mean, we had radio antennas over in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You put popcorn kernels in. It would pop popcorn. What do you think that does to your what do you think that does to your skull and your organs and your cells?
We already use resonance as a weapon, use microwaves, make people sick. I was a radioman, unfortunately. I loved the job.
But I mean that all those antennas, man, I was constantly the young guy get we took the what was that thing called the battery. Yeah. The vehicle antenna for the satellite.
And we figured out, well, one of our new guys put it on, on the radio with a switch.
So this voice, he's running around like Inspector Gadget, you know, with the helicopter, he had that Batman hanging out over top of his head.
I don't I don't think that transmissions are very healthy, but frequencies, you know, resonance.
I mean, we can use as a weapon. They could be used for the heel. Microwaves have been used a lot to make people sick, so so you go through all that, you kind of get this doctor, Dr. Beck sort of puts you on a path like a new mission of you're going to clean up your diet, you're going to stay away from these situations, the Bluetooth limit your limit, your exposure to Wi-Fi and all this stuff, which is hard.
Oh, yeah, for sure. The IMF is hard, so I pretty much blew that off. So what did you mostly what you mostly fixed your diet.
Mostly it was diet. Got my gut back. Right. So that it is the way that works. Your gut prepares the food for the intestines, for the intestines to do what they do. And if the stomach doesn't work, then just it's going to pass through and the intestines are not going to be able to pull the nutrients and vitamins. And I don't take any medication. Now, I, I am taking Mitch's smashing greenson. I started off with this doctor, put me on a stuff called green juice from organic high.
So it's got all the you can have in one shake all the nutrients, you know, one scoop of protein and one scoop grains. That's all you need. Pretty I mean, we could live on algae and you look at all these school lunches that these kids were getting, not now because of covid, but I mean, they were feeding them crap.
They're actually making them sick. They're not helping them. Yeah, I mean I mean, like Doritos with, like, crappy hamburger meat on it. Yeah. If it's even hamburger meat.
If it's hamburger meat, it's not high grade. I can tell you that. So so you get your you on this protocol and you say this, it took about two months and even then I, I would shop for all the foods, meticulous, repair the meat, measure all the meals, keep the detailed food log. I'm sure the process was gradual, but one day I woke up and felt like the black cloud that I had been there, had been hovering over me for years, was gone.
I was able to function, to move and think clearly. The fog had lifted and the constant negative internal monologue inside my head stopped. I felt strong, clear and confident enough to get up and start moving forward. Grabbed my phone, opened up my contact list and started sending text text messages and making calls, I needed a new job.
And that's when you ended up going to trade it back to it as a contractor? I went back to teaching military Free-Fall where prior injury I had three events where I couldn't open my main parachute because my right scapula would seize up my whole back and my hand wouldn't work.
So I had three high fat, high speed malfunctions with the reserve in the last one. Ripped my pack off my connects between your arm.
Did you get surgery? Yeah, they reconnected it, but it was a slap there. The whole pack came out of right here doing so. Then I went to secrecy and so. Yeah, which is which is awesome because the TTP changed because of me. Yeah. That's that's a perfect place for you to go and teach me. What better person be teaching about how to handle close quarters. Combat that someone don't do what I did.
I mean we still teach that, but there's there's better ways to do things and different tactics you can use in different situations. You can't just do the same thing every time.
And then how long did you stay there for? Uh. Because you're retired now from that job as well, right? So what is it, twenty, twenty, eighteen?
I was I was probably at trade at between those two jobs for about three years.
OK. Awesome. Yeah, that's I just let that like last October.
I think it's a cool thing that the teams do bring in older guys back that have experience at some of the younger guys might not have, especially someone with experience like you and bring them in there to teach and pass on those words. Man, that's freaking awesome that we do that in the teams. I learned a lot there being an instructor when you were talking about earlier, you know, watching 20 different groups come through. People do different things, different ways.
I'm like, man, that was really stupid.
Or, man, I wish I would have thought of that.
You ended up getting some tattoos and this was cool. You know, Mike Martin, who's a master chief team guy that was in Vietnam who had gotten out and gotten out, gotten out for like a long time while he was at training.
So it team three when I got there.
Yeah, he had gotten out for a long time. Then he gon join the region in the Navy and went back to.
But I don't think they made him do real Buddz.
Yeah. He's like one of a few people that went through like a gentlemen's course of Buddz. You know, we had a retread in my class that didn't make it.
Was he a retired Vietnam vet? I believe so. Really. He was terrible tank.
That's kind of like well, he passed away last year on the motorcycle.
And I'll tell you what, he was only 62, bro. We were I was he was going to come on the podcast and and like I was lining up with, you know, one of our mutual friends and and we're just, you know, just trying to find the date and boom.
You know, I was freaking so bummed out. That was the first Navy SEAL book. I haven't read many, but Navy SEALs don't read Navy SEAL books.
You know, there's so many of them, so many jokes. I was just hanging out with black rifle and I was like, hey, you guys want to sell books in here? You know, all the military books. I was like, that's a good idea. But what the reinforce the shelf for all the Navy SEAL books like you're an asshole.
Well, I would sit down with the black rifle guys up in Montana, and it was me and Dudly, the archery guy. And and then.
And then Jack Car was, what's his name, the other owner, small or it was Evan. It was Evan that was who was there. It's just so often because the other guy who got hurt, I thought he got hurt. That got hurt. Yeah. So he couldn't come. But anyways, we sit down and and you know, Evan makes a joke about SEALs writing books and did it to me too.
And then of course I looked at him and I was like, because because I mean, it's a funny joke. Yes.
But then we actually sit with two seals that have written books. I was like, oh, this is really embarrassing.
I go real funny, Evan. They're a great group of guys. They're definitely doing their job, paying it forward for sure, man. For sure. I mean, I was really bummed out when I said, well, first of all, when I found out that you went to the Troll Archer challenge there and I just did. I don't know why I didn't put two and two together. I didn't find out until after you left Montana. Yeah.
So I was like it all.
But then the other thing I didn't know is I knew I knew that they were doing something with with wounded warriors, but I didn't know what they were doing.
I didn't really grasp it again. I just didn't pay enough attention. But I think I should have gone down there for that look. Freaking awesome.
Oh, that rolled into a huge archery event afterwards. So we there was twenty five of us. I was one of two guys that wasn't an amputee. There was a dude there that didn't have a right arm. Yeah. I saw videos of him.
You fight that thing. Yeah. It's that to freeze to. Yeah. I didn't shoot at like one hundred eight yards. Yeah. There's something real cool about archery that, that has a lot of similarities, you know, to the old job, you know. And I like shooting the ball better. Yeah I do too.
I like shooting the ball better. The main reason is because it's quiet. It's like there's no like little shock. It's just nice and quiet. You can do it in your yard and it's harder actually. Yeah, it is harder. Well it's definitely harder at range. I mean they pick up a recurve. I haven't done the recurve thing.
Yeah, that's cool. Is that what you're like.
Primarily shooting is areca this workout bounce. But I've got a couple of recurse and it's all instinctive. Yeah. Yeah. You just aim and well you can't aim. There's no sights. I'll rephrase that.
You Kentucky windage. It is totally fucking with all guys, a couple of guys that were trying to do some long shots up in Montana with the Rickers Man. Yeah. Looks fun. Looks fun. I don't know if I got I got a lot of work to do on the compound before I decide I'm going to make it even harder. Just turn up the juice on my back, man. Yeah.
So that our guys hit and stuff at one hundred eight yards. How hard can it be. That's freaking awesome. I only got one arm in Austin, just freaking Lopez. Um.
Get close here, but, you know, you say this, it may seem strange, but being shot twenty seven times, then having a hand grenade blow up next to me was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It was the start of a personal revolution that continues today and hopefully will go on until I take my last breath. I say revolution rather than evolution. As a result of my experience, I have tossed out and or abandoned every biased relationship, belief and dogma that has blocked my self-awareness and joy.
You said, again, I'm reading this stuff because I know that there's people I mean, people talk to me all the time about what they're going through. And, you know, what you say here I think is really important. I burned through a number of therapists. Some were good. Most didn't have what I needed to help me understand how the traumas of my childhood shaped me as a person and how those same traumas make some of my behaviors predictable.
At times, I had to be pushed into seeing therapists and doctors by people who loved and cared about me. I don't know if I can ever think these people enough for not giving up on me when I was so rude and resistant toward them. I say all of this so you know that at least for me, there has been no magic pill, quick fix or one size fits all solution to finding peace and joy in my life. These things have come to me slowly over the past decade as I grew in self-awareness and courage.
I suspect your personal piece, if that's what you're searching for, maybe gained much the same way.
Yeah, you know, I think that that just letting people know, like somebody thinks, oh, I'm going to go see a therapist and it doesn't work out because that therapist doesn't have what that particular person needs.
And then they go, oh, see, I can't be helped. Instead of saying, oh, you know what? I got to try some different people multisided to.
People think that they could take you years to get into a terrible mindset, training, telling yourself, doing all the things that make you believe the things that that you're telling yourself and then you hit rock bottom or what you think is rock bottom and you're like, I'm going to get this fixed.
I'm going to go to this one week program. You know, it took me two years to turn into this disaster area.
And I think I'm going to go to a one week program that's going to fix it. And a lot of these programs that I watch when I was at the Care Coalition, it does help, but there's no follow up. So there is an improvement while they're there because everybody's, you know, feeding them good food, teaching them the things that that they can use to, you know, relieve stress. And they do that while they're there. And then they go home and then just fall back into the same routine, training themselves to get further into that hole.
I mean, that's what medicine is right now. And people get sick. They think that they can take a medication that's going to make the sickness go away. You're not even addressing why you're sick.
You're just. Hiding the symptoms, they say, hiding the symptoms, um, I mean, like earlier I said, I actually induced diabetes and it was because I didn't know enough about nutrition. And the only thing I knew about nutrition is if I was hungry or not. And my favorite restaurants were the ones they gave me the most food.
I didn't care what it was.
I mean, you know, extra large piece of myself going ice cream and 12 pack of beer.
You know, it's that's the winning path. But maybe not. Definitely not.
It's funny, too, because we all know, uh.
Even since we were little kids, you are what you eat, but we know it, but we don't practice it. And I mean, then you got the FDA with that stupid food pyramid. You know, you've got people now.
Oh, my stuff's FDA approved. I'm like, so what a corrupt organization. Go eat five loaves of bread like they told you to.
No wonder everybody's fat. Yeah. Can you say prediabetic? Oh, then they take medication. I mean, type two diabetes.
All you got to do is change your diet goes away.
And I did it and I enlisted with Clif bars and Gatorade. I wasn't eating Twinkies.
I was just thinking what seemed like it's cool. Yeah. And I was also being trained by an ultra honor and. They're dumber than we are who goes and runs out of money?
Yeah, she kicked my ass, man, and I just didn't know enough about nutrition. And I was just dumping carbs and sugars in me. And every time I stood up, I was almost passing out diabetes, freaking crazy as I fixed it and went away.
Here's another little section that I think people should hear.
I have a way I have way more stress and uncertainty in my life today than I ever did in the SEAL teams or when I was suicidal. The difference is that I now have a new resiliency portfolio of people, tools and skills that allows me to effectively manage stress almost effortlessly. While I do have bad days and very bad days, they don't control me or impact my outlook on life.
I'm also keenly aware that most of my troubles are self-inflicted. If you are honest with yourself, you may find the same is true in your own life. Adversity is either a privilege or a tragedy, depending on how you respond to it. Choosing to be a victim of the events and circumstances in my life would have been the real tragedy. What if we all viewed adverse adversity as an opportunity for personal growth to define our life's purpose and to help others?
The reality is that we can.
But we can't do any of these things as victims, if I am to evolve, which is my life's mission, I can't be a victim even if my problems are the result of someone else's actions.
I found it easier to find myself than to rely on the perpetrator to repair the damage.
Well, that's what a lot of victims do, their victim, because you're blaming somebody else and you're expecting them to fix it and they're just nobody's coming, you know, they're not going to fix it. Yeah. So you might as well just take the blame, take, take take the ownership and solve the problem.
After everything that I've come through, I'm grateful. I think that the gratitude and service are I think that gratitude and service are on separable. The more I serve, the more grateful I feel that I can still serve and care for my family, my warrior brothers and sisters, and continue to be of service to all of you. These days, I spend my free time hunting for perfect serve and spending time with great friends. I set up a nonprofit to help shorten the distance to recovery from trauma and depression.
We join with people who truly want to help themselves.
We offer these adventurous souls a community of the right relationships and a portfolio of resiliency skills and tools. And what's the name of that, it's a little bit of forward thinking, I'm just on a roll right now putting in the paperwork.
It's called Warrior Tribe and the focus is going to be for trauma, mental illness and what I want to get into at risk youth.
Yeah, yeah. Freaking awesome.
The kids that were like me that are one decision away from. Winding up in the in the federal prison system or yeah, or winding up on a great career in the military or some other path, it only takes one decision.
I got lucky, you know. You know what? I just want to close it out. With what? You close this book out with Joseph Clark Schwedler. It comes in waves now and again. There's an overwhelming feeling of disbelief that gives way to frustration than my eyes usually well up. It's been going on for years now. I've lost so many people. It takes a toll.
Clark was the kind of man you want your son to grow up to be. He was smart, driven, had a great sense of humor, was tough, but thoughtful and responsible.
He was a born leader and he made us all better people after missions, we'd be tired, but Clarkie would be working out, so we'd work out to. He was like a Swiss Army knife. He was our navigator, our intel, our Intel collections guy, a team leader, sensitive site exploitation officer and one of our Iraqi Army combat advisors. He picked up everything fast and became great at whatever he did. Clarke's dream was to be a Navy SEAL.
He was a Midwestern kid from Crystal Falls, a northern Michigan town of one thousand four hundred and sixty nine people. He was a senior class president, played high school football and basketball and ran track. He did two years at Michigan State and joined the rowing team, knowing Clarkie, he did it because the workouts were grueling and he wanted to stay in shape.
He followed his heart, abandoned college.
And enlisted in the Navy to fulfill his dream of becoming a seal. Karki got to live his dream and did what he loved to do every time I saw him, he had a smile on his face. What gives me peace is knowing that if I died doing my job as a SEAL, I would have no regrets and I know Clarkie felt the same way. For those of us who have lost friends and family members in this war, the losses connect us.
While we may be strangers, we know each other well. There is a surprising comfort in being together in this painful club, we don't have words to describe the depth of our grief, but we don't need them because we can feel each other's sorrow. There's a saying time heals all wounds. It doesn't. It only makes them slightly less painful. I may again meet up with you on the other side of this life. And I'm looking forward to it.
You know, a lot, no, yeah, a lot. They just put some new stars and paws on their naked warrior in Virginia Beach. I don't even know about the dogs at past. I think one of them was a suicide died by suicide at. Terrible place to be, but since I've been there and I can't get there again, and I was one phone call from one person that stopped me, so I almost didn't answer that phone.
Yeah, and I think obviously the lesson there is what messes a lot of people up, the secondary tertiary effects.
I told our nutritionist about who helped me out with the guys that I was assigned to, told her what I'd almost done.
And she was like, Dean, how many people that would have hurt? I never considered that. I thought I was doing people a favor. That's how rational I was. But I've been around families where there has been a death by suicide.
And it it's terrible what it does to the people that are left behind. It's a. They don't recover from it. Well, you know you know, this kind of tribute that you wrote there in the end. Clark. Is awesome, but, you know, from my perspective, there's there's no more powerful tribute than you can make than than doing what you're doing right now, you know, trying to help other people out, trying to live a good life, take care of your family and and really.
Sharing all the things that you've been through and how you made it through them with other people, and I think there's nothing better that you could do to truly honor Clark's.
His sacrifice and I do want to make it clear to that I am still seeking a continuum of care. Recently, looking at a program called Save a Warrior, which a handful guys have gone to the last three years of my life, probably be a lot better book. The stuff that I've been dealing with these last three years and the fact that I'm able to manage it is is pretty incredible to me, but. I don't know, I think some people think, oh, I've had my ass handed to me up until this point, nothing else is going to happen.
I mean, it's still going to happen.
And I've just been able to get to the point where no matter how bad I get my ass handed to me, I somehow fixed it or somebody help me fixed it. And I just had that mindset. Now, I don't care of the rest of you. Turn into zombies. I'll figure it out when it happens. But your point your point in saying that you're still you still are on the path of you still know you need help now. I think everybody does.
There was a point in my life where I would have said I'm fine, but there's always room for improvement. That's an easy way for someone to say he don't have to say, you need help. There's room for improvement. Yeah, that's that's a that's a better team guy way of saying it, because a team guy never wants to say, I need some help. But if you say to a team guy, don't you want to get. No, don't you want to improve 99 percent of team guys say, hell yeah, I want to improve.
And another thing with that, too, it takes me a while to get to a bad state. You know that one week programs program's not going to do it. A continuum of care and that's working out good diet, you know, taking care of the things that that lower the stress hormones. It's not just one thing. It's a lifestyle change.
You can't expect to be well, if you're taking that a fifth every day and I'm not going to be a hypocrite, I probably drink too much beer.
But but I also taken all the nutrients and vitamins that I need to before I drink too much beer.
Well, hey, man, look, we've been going at it over three hours right now. Where can people people can find you? Instagram. Yeah, my Instagram handle is McNay. Fifty three. Twenty six. My social media is a train wreck until I hire somebody. I don't know what I'm doing. And my website, I have a website.
My daughter who used my GI Bill to get a graphic design degree, did my website perfectly wounded dotcom. OK, so that's where people can find you. Any other any other closing thoughts? Um, no, I just there is no easy button. Nobody's coming.
Nobody's going to take care of you better than you can take care of yourself. It's there. I can't say enough, there's not an easy button, you trained yourself to get yourself to a certain point. That's your mindset, that's training. And you just look at it like that. If you can train into a bad mindset, you can turn out. And and if you are hanging out with a bunch of depressed people or people that are like minded that that are negative, you're going to catch it.
When we used to kill that stuff in the SEAL teams, there's always want that one guy that bitched and complained about everything.
And if he didn't stop it, then his buddy started bitching and complaining and then it was like a damn disease.
The negative thoughts and negative actions are not going to fix, and a fifth of Jack Daniels every day doesn't fix it eventually.
Got to still deal with it, right?
Man, those are those are frickin good, good guidance right there. And, man, thanks for sitting down here. Thanks for talking with us. Thanks for coming all the way out here. Thanks. Thanks for everything you did for the teams and for the Navy and for America. And man, the example you set for, you know, for people, not not just for what you did in the teams, but like the example you're setting right now, being put yourself out there explaining how to overcome things.
It's freaking awesome, man. I appreciate it.
I don't like giving advice. Try to live by example. You know, we just came back from Black Reifel.
Those people, you know, amputee's still going through surgeries and their lives are so much harder just to get up out of bed, you know, a paraplegic. What a pain in the butt that is.
But they they still fight through it. And they were living by example. And when I was at the Care Coalition and it did kind of help me for a long time. How can I complain when, you know, Dan can? Austin's at about double above the knee. Amputee Taylor Morris is a quarter help, and I've never seen the guy be upset. So it is it is inspiring to see people that we assume have a worse deal, which is a hard thing for people to get across to.
Like, I don't have the right to feel this way because that guy is worse or that girl's worse, which is not true.
You know, everybody's issues are their issues and they have to be addressed even though, you know, what the worst deal, you know, be happy to on the worst deal. You don't have to fix that one. Yeah, you might not have the worst deal, but it's your deal and you got to deal with it.
Awesome man. Appreciate it, brother. Thanks, guys.
And with that. Mike Day has left the building awesome scene, and that ends up being yet another excuse removal podcast. What does that mean?
Meaning? It's kind of hard to make excuses when you get done talking about like Day, who's been through a lot, and he's now making excuses so.
Well, Echo Charles. Yeah.
Yeah, that's. It's almost like you can kind of just refer to that every single time, you know, something's going wrong for you and probably others to be like, well, at least I didn't get shot twenty seven times, you know, true statement and my film almost ripped off.
Yeah, it's weird.
You can keep that. He can keep his head straight when he looks down and be like, oh yeah, my thumbs almost off as well, you know. Yeah.
I said this, I said team guy mode. Yeah. And I don't use that term lightly, but just from reading it and talking to him about it, using full team guy mode, which is when you're just like, all right, I'm going to make things happen right now, just know.
So yeah, he did.
Well, speaking of excuse removal, what do you think we can do to help?
Ourselves and each other remove some excuses and stay on the path, stay capable, I think, stay capable. Of course, you're not going to. Well, we all have our challenges, right? Like how you guys were seen.
Like people's challenges are more or less or whatever, but there are ways we have work, that's what you're saying? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But they're my challenges are our challenges anyway. So we're all going to have our challenges, but we want to stay capable. Yeah, I think so. For sure.
With capability comes exercise I think.
Well you heard, you heard Mike mentioned about a thousand times working out, staying in shape, eating good food, eating good food.
Supplementation supplementation is a thing. Very helpful thing anyway. So yes, supplementation JOCO has fuel but with supplementation joco fuel.
So what kind of supplementation for your joints is a big one?
Keep your joints in the game. My kids saw a guy do a back flip. It was a big muscle guy and he was doing a bunch of other stuff and there was a kid involved in the video and he was doing so. And my daughter, you know, she's curious. She's seven. So everything that I did, she was like, Hey, Dad, can you do that? Mm hmm. And the answer was yes, every single time.
And she would be like, hey, prove it. So I'd have to, like, prove it, you know? And there was like a rope in it, too, so we didn't have to prove that part of it.
And she was like she was talking like a bunch of stuff. And I was like, it was the list was going on and on. And I was like, I was doing good at first. But after a while I started to get nervous.
Like, Bro, this guy is pretty started getting outside of your realm of capability.
It looked like he was about to, you know, because he just kept doing stuff. And I looked at him. I was like, he was in good shape. One of those athletic shapes to muscle guy. I'm like, OK, all right. All right. And then finally, the last thing he did was this back flip, sort of the finale of the video, like saying thanks for watching. And he does a backflip.
And I remember back in the day I could do a backflip straight up. What do you call it? A tuck? I think it's called the flaps.
Yeah. Yeah. So but I'm like home. And if I were to bust out a back flip right now, because, of course you want to see right now, I'd probably hurt myself. But if I warmed up a little bit, I think I could do it right now, and I'm surprised you didn't go for it at the pool's edge and say, hey, listen, I can do it, but I'm going to do it over here by the pool just because I'm cold right now.
See, this guy warms up a lot.
Yeah, that's actually what I said. I was like, yeah, he's warming. Of course, you know, she's like, OK. So now every once in a while she'll be like, hey, just warm up, do it before your workout, you know, like I got a bossart excuse. It's been about ten years since I did it.
And you can get hurt if you don't do it correctly.
So the last thing I need is for me to double down and get injured in front of my daughter, you know, kind of blow her whole image of me. But she knows I can do it in the pool. She already knows. It's like I don't think I could get away from the pool thing nonetheless.
If I practice when she's not looking like in the pool or whatever, I'll pull it off. But here's the thing. I'm a little bit older now. So my joints. Could take a beating if I wasn't on the supplementation.
That's one of the things I was thinking about as I'm explain it to her like I could pull it off just to up your joint warfare just versus I might have to, you know, just for, you know, for safety's sake, as it wish nonetheless.
Yeah. So take the joint warfare just in case somebody asks you to do a backflip for sure. Tuck whatever. You're not into the pool or other things.
Let's face it, you try to climb a rope or something like this. Shoulder's getting hurt. But if your joints are good, you're good.
Also, krill oil, supercool oil. And also that vitamin D. Yeah, get on that vitamin D makes a little vitamin D with your Cold War, you know, immunity system strong. Yeah.
Boost the immune system. So, Molk.
Yeah, I was gonna say don't forget about discipline, discipline, go discipline Poutre. We've got all kinds of discipline. Yeah, a little bit of that. When you need that little. Accelerant. Yeah, to kind of ignite things, try it out, you might like it. Yeah. And the and the the JoCo Parmer, both powder and the cans, I think is sort of the leading flavor. It was the tropica one. But I think, you know, I think I think that kind of it's set in stone.
I think in my sour apple. Apple sniper. Yeah. I'm out right now. By the way, Jane Annells, custom and signature Jean-Noel signature line, actually. What does a good deal.
It's good to I've you know, I try obviously I tried the the sour Apple sniper and it's really good. It's going to it's really good. It's really good. And yes. Dave BRK. Good deal. Yes. He also has a flavor coming. A signature flavor. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah. Those are interesting too because you get like this really orange.
Yeah. Afterburner orange. Yeah. Um, these energy drinks, the rted cans you kind of and I kind of forget this from time to time too. I'm like, OK, I need an energy drink. But it's not just the energy drink. You get the discipline and you don't get like four real chemicals.
Yeah. Yeah you don't. That's so yeah. There's no sugar in it.
It's sweet with Monck fruit still tastes good and but what's even next level is that it's pasteurized so there's no chemicals that keep things stable which we had to go through a long period of, of.
Testing and to find the place and to make the drink the way it is, so, yeah, check that out.
Yeah, it's like it'd be a disservice to call it a health drink, even though it essentially is a health drink.
You know, what I'm starting to feel over here is that when we do a podcast like this where you don't say much during the podcast portion, maybe that sort of builds some pent up conversation in your head where we're where you want to converse with you about stuff that.
Yeah, because it seemed like you had plotted out a whole kind of topic here that we were going to go into or that you are going to. You know, I feel it, too.
But in that, you know, now that you mention that you're right, you're actually in real life. You're right.
And here's what's crazy. That's a long podcast. That's pretty hours. So I'm thinking, OK, Cool, which is a three hour podcast. And I'm like, Echo, you know, we'll just kind of burn through. People kind of know what's up. They want to support the podcast. They're going to get in the game. They know to go to org and main dot com. We can just kind of let them know. But then we're talking about back flips.
That's what we're talking about, really.
You know how like, see, what I do is I screw up and then I bring it up. I should just keep my mouth shut and be like, yep. Back flips. Cool. Yup, yup. Good warrior kid. Molk, get it. Yup. Yup. But I don't know, I, I take the bait, I take the bait.
It's kind of bait because one hundred percent bait.
Well OK, so we're all at home. You know a lot of us I mean, you know, some, some of us are going out a little bit more than others, but like, I'm one of the people I'm at home a lot. So I, I talk to the same for people in my family, varying levels of age, you know, maturity levels.
So after a while it gets repetitive. So when I see you, you know, once a week I'm like, hey, man, let's let's talk let's face it. And that's that's a common thing.
Like because sometimes we can go straight up two hours before we even press record because we're, you know, whatever, whatever. And when you think about it, I'm just realizing this just now, like we kind of rolled in. We're kind of all business. So you're correct.
You don't like that.
You've got a whole sort of like excessive conversations floating through your head that I'd done all in the over here to Serial.
I'd be just as soon, like, read off the stuff. You tell them where to go and we leave. I'd be down with that.
I understand. OK, all right. Well, hey, let's speed it up. But, you know, bear with me, if you will. So, yes, discipline can powder all that good for your brain, good for your body. Keep it keep and keep yourself on the path and capable. By the way, Molk, extra protein in the form of a dessert. Eating dessert. Like what?
Ice cream or snickers bars for dessert.
I guess that's not really a dessert. That's more of a candy bar, but like a cake, a bundt cake. But don't do that. That'll take you off the path.
Yeah, Jacobite. Don't forget about that organic. And you can get all this stuff at Origin Main Dotcom or you can go to the vitamin shop right around the corner. If you got one around the corner from you, you can go check it out there. And then we also at Origin Main Dotcom, we make all kinds of stuff for you to wear on your body.
Things that you can wear when you are doing jujitsu, like jujitsu, guys like rash guards, t shirts.
If you're not doing jujitsu, you you still need to wear something on your body, wear a t shirt. You probably need some on your legs, sometimes wear some origin jeans where some origin boots if you need something on your foot.
They got your whole body covered, your whole body covered.
Beanies do. And here's the thing. This is you kind of throw it in there in the end like it's no big deal. Everything that I just said is one hundred percent made in America without compromise. You're supporting America. You're supporting local people that are making things happen.
Are people bringing back this industry? Being bring back manufacturing to America, so go toward your main dotcom, get yourself some of that stuff if you need to cover up your foot or other places.
Also, speaking of clothing, let's just say clothes, apparel, if you were actually apparel seems more like a like a like a bit much dacula.
Yeah, we'll stay close of this, OK. Speaking of which, JoCo has a store called JoCo store some new things on there, but this is the place where you can get disciplined equals freedom.
Get after, you know, representing while on the path with clothing from JoCo store. So. Chuckles Store dotcom dizzily classroom shirts, hats, jackets.
You know, a lot of times I say like, oh, this is ours. But let me ask you a question.
Is my new t shirt up yet?
Yes. All right. Good t shirt is up.
Some people have noticed it, too, and they know that they text me, you know, Jack Daniel Hill. Yeah. So he texted me. He was like, I hope you're doing good.
That shirt is awesome. And it's not like he text me every day, too. So it was like a thing.
So after many years of planning, because I've been wanting to do this for you, how many years if we have been playing that t shirt? Three, three years. I've been playing in this t shirt. So it's a t shirt on the front of the t shirt. It says two words, hardcore Riccardo's. You all know where that comes from. If you don't don't worry about it, you'll figure it out at some point. And on the back, it's got the it's got phonetic letters.
The phonetic letters it has on the back are November Foxtrot Sierra.
And if you don't know what those mean, don't worry about it, or if you do know what those things mean, then you'll probably be when you see me, you'll be seeing me wearing that T-shirt, get something or a car goes.
That one is there JoCo store and and see anything else on there. Hey, man, get it.
Good way to represent while on the path while supporting.
Also if you want to get the book perfectly wounded by my day we've got it on the website, joco podcast Dotcom and the sections where the books are. You see it books from the episode. We got you there. Just click through there. We'll take you to Amazon. You can buy Boom straight from Amazon. Also subscribe to the podcast if you haven't already on your.
iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, you know, where we listen to two podcasts, you know, subscribe and use one click boom, easy money, and there's not just this podcast we also have.
The Unraveling podcast, which going to have its own, what's it called, its own feed at some point right now we're kind of dual broadcasting. Get people in the game a little bit, make sure they that, you know, it's out there, but eventually we'll break that off. So look for the JoCo Unravelling podcast. We got the ground podcast. We get the Warrior Kid podcast. We got Warrior Kids Soap from Irish Oaks Ranch Dotcom. You can get soap so that you and everyone you know can.
Stay clean. We've got a YouTube channel, that's where Echo puts tons of special effects into two minute videos and then puts no special effects in a three hour video.
A lot of people a lot of people don't agree with that, but that's what Echo's doing. And according to him, that's the way it should be. So whatever. Also have an album called Psychological Warfare, where I will tell you some little things to do to get through moments of weakness, which we've all got little moments of weakness. Attack them. That's what I'm saying. If you need some support attacking, you support my fire position.
Pressplay, listen to some psychological warfare if you need a visual signal for overcoming in a moment of weakness, go to flip side canvas dotcom, Dakota Meyer. He's making all kinds of cool stuff also made in America to hang on your wall and remind you that you need to stay on the path. Got a bunch of books, obviously. Mike Days book Perfectly Wounded. We got the code. We got leadership strategy and tactics, fieldman and we got way, the Warrior Kid, one, two and three, we got way, we got Mikey and Dragons, we got discipline equals Freedom Field Manual.
We got the dichotomy of leadership. And then the Oji book, Extreme Ownership, written by me and my brother, Leif Babin.
We also have a leadership consultancy called Echelon Front where we solve problems through leadership. Go National Front Dotcom for details. And also we have.
An online training program, and I'll tell you what I'm going to do, I'm going to do some some JoCo live events on AEF Online, JoCo live event. So if you missed the world tour that I did, if you missed a world tour that I did where I went around America, talking to everyone, meeting everyone, I'm going to do some of those on the Internet so you'll be able to tune in live, ask questions. I'm going to do those through F online.
No dates scheduled yet, but it's coming. And by the way, you have to wait because if you want to talk to me, go to Yaffe online dot com and I'm there answering questions.
The whole team is there. You can interact with me right there.
So check that out. Also, if you want to see us in person, go to you can go to extreme ownership dotcom and come to our muster, which is a leadership conference. Next one in Phoenix, Arizona, September 16th and 17th, December 3rd and 4th is going to be in Dallas, Texas. They've all sold out. These are going to sell out to if you want to come get there early.
And of course, we also have f overwatch if you need leadership inside your organization, we have connections from the military that understand the principles we talk about. Go f overwatched dotcom if you want to support. If you want to support service members around the world, go to America's Mighty Warriors, dawg, it is Mark Lee's mom, Mama Lee, and she is doing her best to provide for people in the military, their families, gold star families all over the world.
You can go there and either donate or you can get involved. And if you're a glutton for punishment.
And you want to hear more of my Cairenes contentions or per chance, for some strange reason, you'd like to hear more of echoes, risible reflections than you can find us on the interweb, on Twitter, on Instagram and on Facebook.
EKOS adequate. Charles and I am at JoCo Willink. And of course, Mike Day is at Mike day fifty three.
And speaking of Mike, thanks once again to Mike for setting such an awesome example, not only for his deeds on the battlefield, but for the example he sets in life, putting the word out there, explaining what he's been through and how he has gotten through it and to all of our other military members of the past, present and future.
Thanks to all of you as well for also setting an example of service and sacrifice and for allowing us to live in freedom and.
To police and law enforcement and to firefighters and paramedics and EMTs and the dispatchers and the correctional officers and the Border Patrol. BORTAC. Secret Service and all the other first responders. Thanks to each of you for your service as well, and thanks for keeping us safe in our times of need and to everyone else out there, we know life is rough and we know there will be pain. And whether that pain is at the hands of an abuser at the hands of an enemy or at the hands of nature or time or disease, there will be pain.
But with a man like Mike Day as an example. You can overcome you can get through it. You can drive on and you do that by getting up every day and getting after it. And until next time, this is Echo and JoCo.