This is JoCo podcast number two seventy six with Echo, Charles and me, JoCo Willink. Good evening, Echo.
Good evening. Archival publications of the Institute of National Remembrance, Poland. Corke name court of the Pomeranian Military District B.. Judge, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Sobieski.
Court file number REDACTED, prosecutor's office file number REDACTED, Security Service file number redacted, case examination date nineteen eighty one 12 14 case conclusion date nineteen eighty two twelve twenty eight.
Case description file in the criminal case against redacted name suspected of printing and distributing leaflets containing false information that is crime based on Article forty eight, Section three of the decree of December 12th.
Nineteen eighty one on martial law.
Detained temporarily on February 11th, nineteen eighty two, based on the decision of the military prosecutors office, February 12th, 1980, to. The accused acting together and in consultation with redacted name produce brochures for distribution, which could cause civil disturbances and which contained false information on activity of authorities of the People's Republic of Poland in the period of martial law and calling upon civilians to oppose the authorities and to organize an illegal underground organization that is crime. Based on Article forty eight, Section three of the decree of December 12th.
Nineteen eighty one on martial law. Based on the ruling of the court of the Pomeranian military district, redacted name is sentenced to three years of imprisonment and three years of loss of civil rights, a charge to be paid on behalf of the state treasury in the amount of forty two hundred PLN reimbursement of one third of the costs of court proceedings. So that is a document from a book.
The book is called Camp Posi, and it's written by an individual called Narval, who is a member of the Polish Grahm Special Forces.
And the document is from the case against a man. Whose name is redacted in the document, his name is Thomas Zahran. Thomas was born and raised in communist Poland. And he made a stand against the authoritarian communist regime and was sent to prison for his actions.
Sent to prison for speaking out against the evils of communism, and he ended up in prison, communist prison, and I guess I need not talk about the condition of communist prisons because we've discussed them on this podcast before.
But it goes saying goes without saying that. Those prisons are not for the faint of heart. But luckily, Thomas Zahran possessed an incredibly strong willed. And he survived prison and he made it out of prison and eventually he made it out of Poland. And eventually he made it to the United States, where he eventually joined the Navy. And became a seal. This is also where Thomas Zahran took on a new name, a nickname. Drago. And this is where I was lucky enough to serve alongside him on and off the battlefield, and this is where we became brothers.
And it is an honor to have him here tonight to share his story with us.
Drogo, welcome. Thank you. It's awesome to be here on your podcast. I follow it for a long time. And eventually I thank you for inviting me. And I'm honored to be here. Yes.
Somebody on some something reached out and said, well, why don't you have Drogo on any time Drogo wants to come on.
No, no factor, of course.
So this is like one of the craziest stories as far as back stories go, not just for joining the SEAL teams, but joining the military in general. I mean, it's pretty straightforward what happens to most American kids, right?
Oh, I want to be a soldier. They joined the Army, the Navy, the the Air Force, the Marine Corps. That's what they do, man. Your story is about as crazy as it gets for back stories.
I guess it is maybe not crazy, but it's different. And just even for a mom.
Well, let me just back out. But when I came to America, I came with a bag of clothes and 10 Phoenix, that German was like less than 10 cents in my pocket.
So everything I have, everything I own, I owe it to America, to you, to American people.
So I promised myself that I would be the best citizen that America can have. I do everything to be as good citizen as I can be.
So, yes, that's beginning to work very hard. But like now, there's not nothing unusual.
You can don't speak English. You know, I didn't come here with expectations like, hey, give me a job and make tons of money. And now I just wanted to work. I just wanted to leave a free man. And that was given to me. So that's a promise. I try to I still keep it in my heart that, yes, I am, I'm successful, I've succeeded. But there is so much more to do for America, for our country.
And that's what I that was my goal, to be the best American citizen America can have.
So let's let's take it back a little bit before you get over here with less than ten cents in your pocket. So you're born in Poland, is that right? You're born in Poland? Yes, I was born you're born in Poland. What did your parents do?
My father was communist. He was he was a professor. He was a teacher. Then became a became party member. They joined the Polish. That's not communism or socialism. Yeah, they're part of the same. We can talk about the differences later. But so my father was a party man, but my mother was was a teacher. She was an elementary school teacher. So when I was born, my father was already starting his career with political communist Polish Communist Party.
Now, is that is that something that, you know, if you're if you're living in Poland and you see the Communist Party on the rise, your dad looks around and says, hey, you know what?
I kind of got to I kind of got to go with the flow and get with this party if I'm going to advance my career in life. I think that's what it was. But, you know, he came from a very poor family, too. So the opportunities they gave it to him say, look, if you just close your eyes on some moral aspect of socialism and just follow that our doctrine and you're going to be successful. And he fell for it.
He when he became very successful, eventually he ended up in Warsaw in the much the top communist government as a one of the directors of the Ministry of Art and Culture. So he was successful.
Yeah, but it sounds like your mom wasn't quite as on board with looking away from some of those immoral aspects of communism.
Neither my mom, neither my father's mom. I remember that that was a big rift in our entire family. I remember as a little kid, maybe six, seven years old, visiting my grandmother and I mean my father's mother and my grandmother. And she always was telling me communists are evil. They are devils, socialists as evil, socialism as evil system. And I always had the image of socialist or communist as the guy with the big tail, with the big horns breathing fire.
I remember I even asked my grandma, grandmother, they breathe a fire and my grandma, yeah, they are wars and they murder people quietly on this on the sides and they are just really bad. There's evil that so in my mind was always communism and socialism as the evil system it is. And I remember my father tried to protest. Mom, look, I'm not. Evil, I'm not really I'm I'm your son. I look at. You are if you sell your soul to socialism and communism, if your dad did you part of these murders that are quietly happening in Poland.
So you are evil. And I don't want to consider you to be my son, that she was very adamant about it. So for me, I always remember before going to bed, we were my my grandmother teach me how to pray. So I was praying that one of my always close the pray to God. Please, Calbert, take all the communism and communists and socialists out of Poland.
So I just grew up with it and there's never different. And the rift between my mom and and my father, I still remember those. I think it was I don't remember what age it was, but we wanted to go to church. My mother went to go to church on Sunday and I still remember my father standing in front of the door say we cannot go because I'm going to lose my job. We cannot go to I'm going to lose my job.
We are not going to church that church that the communism and church and socialism, etc. are not compatible and we are just not going there. So my grandmother was visiting at the same time. So my mother left. They couldn't she couldn't stop had my grandmother passed me through the window to my mom. It wasn't the first floor and we still went to the church. But that was pretty much constant rate eventually that that marriage fell apart. My father went with the communists and socialists.
I stayed with my mom and my brother, my younger sister, to stay with my mom. So that's it was very difficult for us because at that time in Poland, it changed now. But at that time in Poland, if your parents divorce you as a child were stigmatized. So you were a divorcee, you know. Exactly. The parents would say, hey, you don't go play with this guy because his parents just got divorced. He's just divorcee with that.
There was a kind of derogatory name in Polish that we work out. So they actually can't toughen me out because I ended up actually beating up some of these guys and they left me along. They were not my friends, but they never bother me again.
So they worked.
So what what you're going to school every day is just like normal. Is that what's happening in Poland? In the in the this is in the late 70s or the 70s. That was 1968. I remember I'm sixty years old, so I was born fifteen years after the Second World War. So this is where I was born with less this time this stance that we have between our beginning before September 11 and and today. And there's still so fresh in our minds.
Right. The September 11 that happened yesterday. So I was born just 15 years after the Second World War. So I was still playing the ruins and the broken houses. There were some people are still finding bombs. Unexploded bombs and explosives are kind of interesting.
So. So are you going to school? Is that normal? Are they state run schools? Is they're communist? Are you being taught communism in the schools? Oh, yes, absolutely. I have actually a couple of notes I found from my from my notebook from school, those elementary school and later classes are seventh grade about communism. Socialism. Yes. You were doctrinally that from the very beginning in socialism and communism. And the things are very funny there, because the government, the socialist government, they feel like they have a total control and they have to.
But otherwise, people just people don't subscribe to slavery. So so socialism is not really that good systems and they don't want it.
So they they I remember they forced us in the fifth grade.
I was in fifth grade elementary school and we had to learn Russian. I was not there. I was never the best student. And then they turned the Russian on to me as like for their program. We like to learn the shit I don't want to learn. And I kind of open up in my in the class. I say, look, I'm Polish. I don't want to go in to learn the Russian language. I want to learn it.
I don't feel like I have to learn English or learn German. Oh, my God.
I had no idea what's going to happen. But next thing, I was pulled out of the principal's office. My mother, she was a teacher in different schools. So they they called the police. The secret police came in. They picked my mom. They drove her to the principal where I was, the waiting. They're scared shitless. And they they say, so what happened? So that teacher explained that I am antisocial is apparently I don't like socialism.
And I am also objecting to Russian language indoctrinate the Russian nation.
So my mom is all in tears, she said, all shaking. Then they dragged my brother into it. Right. My sister had no idea what's going on. So we sit up there of that and and they were very clear. I still remember that if it happens again, this case will go to orphanage. That government will make them good citizens if you cannot do that. So this is is your last warning. And so I had to wise up a little, but I'd never change my attitude that I was always outspoken, but I remember that fear that my mom left for the rest of our lives until and the rest of the the time when we were still growing up in that state could take the kids away from her.
So that's the other interesting part of it is that like today, I have an 11 year old, 12 year old daughter, 11 years old son, I'm looking over them like, OK, I don't let them go anywhere.
What I can see them, I can play, but I have to be always able to go and assist if something happens or didn't happen.
Poland, Poland. I remember I was seven, eight, I was eight years old. I was driving across the town and thinking about crossing the streets, going to somewhere else. And it's like there's no big deal. All the kids that were just ten miles away from school, when we have to commute and we've just come here, there was like no big deal. My mom just bought me a ticket. So the time I got into the bus, if I could, because it was so crowded, you just have to pull yourself in.
And sometimes the door door closes, holding yourself and your legs are sticking out, but it's just going to school.
So that was kind of yeah.
There was like I don't know, because we felt we did felt safe. My mom apparently feels safe about it. And maybe this because there was no Internet at the time. So some of the crime that happened, it was not very transparent. It was not very readily information about it was not readily available. So people didn't know something bad happened. So I remember going to kindergarten. So I was that was I think I was five and a half years old.
So we had to go from from our home. I took my younger brother, so he was around three and a half and by hand, we are getting the house using another hand in the house.
Use was house is a because in kindergarten you cannot wear those shoes that you wear outside of a sleeper cell, has to be clean everything. So we get the slippers in our hands.
We're going to around the school and on the street across the street. Actually, a friend of mine got killed on the street by the motorcycle, so but there was not a big deal. So when you go across the street, you look left, you look right and make sure nothing is there. And we just walk across the street. So just walk to a kindergarten by ourselves being six and a half, six, five years old.
So so today I think I was going to jail for letting things like that happen to my kids. But at the time was just that was pretty common in Poland. That's nothing unusual.
So you're you get this experience in fifth grade where you basically say you don't want to learn Russian. They they crack down on your mom, your brother, your sister. Yes.
Did you at any point, were you so were you. So you saw what happened between your mom and your dad? You'd been told your whole life that communism was evil. So did you just kind of suppress that a little bit to keep from getting taken away from your mom?
I did, but maybe not intentionally, really.
At that time, I was not political. I was just like I was just annoyed that I have to have the language that my grandmother tells me those people are not really good. And the good things in Poland, they they oppress Poland. So I don't have to learn their language. So there wasn't really not so much political, but the state was very political. The state was very they were very cautious with citizens they wanted to control. And they did control almost every aspect of social life.
That's what socialism is.
And so that didn't really that the political party came later when I started learning about the murders, the political mortars, the oppression of socialism, and then when I became a little bit more aware of what's going on, then reading about that, people disappearing from the street and like, never heard from them again, uh, they had become a little bit.
But then I became more aware. And so then in the late seventies in Poland, they had so much so enough of these lies, because what happened is we had the empty shelves.
There was nothing to eat. And you can buy food, you can buy clothes, you cannot buy furniture. But all you hear how great is in Poland in socialist system, if you look at America, people are sleeping on the street and they, you know, had no access to any information. They show those stains or they show those shacks where poor people sometimes or stay or they show the worst thing about America. So that was just if people knew that this lie so they got so fed up that eventually, no matter what that socialist press said, people didn't believe it.
They say that this is this is brown people saying that they're lying, even who was brown? This how if they had enough, it had to explode and that that thing was cumulating first. The people who lost the faith in the government, they lost the. Faith in that that truth is the truth, the lies that are being told, they stop paying attention to it. So at the end, don't matter what they say. People didn't believe they had enough of it.
And they explode in the solidarity trade union movement where people just raised up and say, enough is enough. We had enough of socialism and communism.
When you're when you're growing up, you talked about fifth grade, you're in eighth grade, you're in ninth grade, you're in 10th grade. And I know we're going to end up talking about this at some point. You learn how to fight, like not just what you learn, how to street fight and you learn how to fight on some level. Did you what did you train? You train taekwondo to train boxing. What did you train? I started with boxing, just regular boxing.
And I remember being just my mom growing as Bat and my younger brother and sister. So sometimes I had to fight for my brother, too, and quite often.
And so the box boxing here was a poor thing for me to kind of like codify what I already knew to just learn maybe this technical skills now.
And it were great.
I mean, I really liked it. But then again, so my brother got beat up at school, I think, because we're divorcees. So there there's people just so I always remember I was sick and I said, well, I need to go to school. Then I just packed my stuff. I went to school. I found the big guy. The guy was like, huge. So I just knock him out and knock him out so bad that this guy shows up with his mom later in the evening in my apartment.
And it's like he's like, see this? Your son did that to my son. He can lose his eye. I mean, I look at the guy from behind the curtain and I was like, holy shit, this guy is no, I like big swelling.
And so my mom just kind of come on in and said, I look at me, I'm like half of his size and this guy is huge and he's crying. So it's like, that's a bad guy. Your son. I say, yeah, yeah, I see what he did to him. So if you're that big, let him happen to that. I think he deserves that. Just why don't you just guys leave. So, yeah, they left.
Was there a boxing gym? Was there a boxing. Yeah. Those actually those little programmers was official program. Yes. Actually there was the police club. I didn't know about the time but the clubs like this were usually by the police. So. So yeah I brought the kind of Guardia so. So yeah I belong to this club but when I nail this guy I broke my hand, I didn't know it. So that put me on that. So some of my friends went on their first boxing matches and stuff.
I just they had to stay home and then we just moved to different towns. So but there was my my status with the boxing and I like it got involved in the eventually the taekwando and stuff too, because my attitude was a bit different.
And the taekwondo they practice in Poland at the time. There was there's two different type of taekwondo, IDF, WCF. So we did that. Yeah. There's like no covering or anything. You just going to get out.
So we went to the first Polish championship and I didn't know any better. They put this thing on me.
It's like I have a fight with that. But OK, so I just keep knocking these guys out and just keep progressing. So I get it. Every time I finish my fight, I say you have minus points for the being brutal, if I can do that. So so I mean it was like it was finally and the final fight. Final fight for the first place. I know the guy out and so the guy is laying there, there's a guy that comes to me and say, are you being disqualified from that program?
I mean, not quite disqualified, but he's the winner. So then, you know, they announced, okay, this is we know that sounds so right here.
The guys are playing that stuff.
So I was like, OK, well, but anyway, I guess there was no it's was not my father was not very sports like because I got a lot of whistles and booing after I went to take my second place off and then kind of ended up and then, you know, the president came in and actually helped me a lot in prison.
I'm glad that I was able to help other political prisoners. This friend of mine who actually I met again when I visited Poland recently.
So since I didn't have anything to do up there, just sit and just just you have solidarity and solidarity.
Let's go train. So we train. Thank you. Say what you did to me helped me later survive the beatings that I got from the guards and and all that stuff.
So you were going let's before we get to being in prison. So now it's the late seventies. Now, at some point you must you made a decision that you're not. You're not going to comply with communism, you're going to you're going to fight against it. Yes, I didn't even know how to.
But the first thing actually, when I when it would start changing my when when it start making me aware of what's really going on in Poland was I started listening to Radio Free Europe and The Voice of America and BBC, this station. You could go to prison for listening to it.
So I remember my mom was like, oh, my God, I can hear you get more pillows on your over your head, get those big blankets so neighbors don't hear that she was in fear.
She could she could go to prison for that. So so I was listening to BBC. How old how old are you at the time? I think I was 12, 13, 14.
So I was getting older and it was getting more interested in what's going on. This is when I learned that, you know, that the Socialists are actually killing people who are inconvenient to them or those people disappear like we don't know what this guy is. He was very outspoken about socialism and he just disappeared. So so I was learning about it. I was learning also about the murders, the extrajudicial murders committed by judges in Poland who subscribe to socialist ideology.
So that's where it started changing in me. I say this is not wrong. This is wrong. What's what's going on in Poland?
How did those murders take place? You you just I tell you how it could happen because nobody knows. But I tell you what happened to me eventually. So I was working from the gym, working out just for do some fights and I kind of got the police pulls. So he just grabbed me by the hands, put in the car to just go, that's it. And that's it. And then just they drive me. It's like that's like, where are we going?
I said, well, where are we go? Once we made that and it made up to you anything, I was like, oh fuck.
So I'm really thinking like, hey, so if we get out of this guy, I'm going to kick this guy out. I'm going to do this. I'm not going to shoot me. They're going to kill me, most likely, but they're not going to go down quietly. And but they just drove around the town. Just drop me off in the other part of the town. I had to walk back home for a few miles. So that's just like intimidation.
And you know what they can do. Yes. If they want to. Yes. Yes. How old are you in? That kind of thing starts happening. That's not happening when that's happened. After I was released from prison. That's great. But before that, this would assume that's how this people disappear. They don't like you. You are outspoken. You can either comply or we just destroy you or your family. That's that's how socialism works.
And so. I experienced that how they disappear people after I get out of prison, but before that, I was not aware, I just knew that people had just died and that they were not there any longer or they committed suicide or they followed the stars system.
It was. Just something that was waking up in me that this socialist system is very oppressive and you can leave as a free man when oppression like this, I remember actually at that time was also down. You don't mean that it's different. Countries that have different systems are free.
I learned about America. I remember in Warsaw every time I was in Warsaw, I always like to go to U.S. Embassy because they have those beautiful cars, those big cities that those images, you know, it's like I can pick through the fence.
I can see that, wow, look at this car, you know?
And then I was like that. The images that have of those, like, glass things on the fence where you can read about America, I was like, why Poland cannot be like that.
You know why this is so awesome? I remember every chance I had.
So this is like when when I look at American flags, something like taking my hat is like, this is so funny.
This is this is that this is the freedom.
And I always from then on, I always carried it. So whenever something happened in Poland, I was like, we need to change.
We need to be like America. So that's where to started. My my views are maturing.
And so how old were you when you started to actually do something about it that, you know what you eventually get arrested for? At what point and was it was it other kids or was there some kind of leadership network of people that were leading solidarity? Do you join the solidarity movement?
How did what did that look like it when it crystallized? I remember the first strikes happen. People were hungry. I so we want food and freedom. So they they organize strikes. This is what Lech Walesa came in the picture he was that the Permian eventually became the leader of Solidarity, the trade union movement in Poland. So my mom got involved and I got involved and I got involved with my friends up there on the different level. My mom was involved and school and this is how it went.
So then we start there was really not much to do at the time because the solidarity was doing everything they were. There was the first trade union, the trade union. There was the first movement in Eastern Bloc country that was independent from socialist regime, from Socialist Communist Party. So that was you.
I was just like I couldn't read enough what was being published, what really happened in nineteen when when the communism and socialism came to Poland after the Second World War on the Stalin's bayonets, that all started learning, you know, about the atrocities, about the murders and about that the freedom that we didn't know that we are not free sometimes that. But when we learn about how other countries how is this being done in America? So that's when I start actually maturing.
It's are growing when nineteen. So that was right before the it was before the Marshall late 1970s when especially when the Pope came to Poland and he like Rice.
People say, look, you can relieve on your knees, you need to rise up.
You know, basically his message, he didn't say directly, but his message was like this or was taken this way and people raised up and gave the socialist ass out so that they had seen I mean, the communists had seen this kind of thing happen in other Eastern Bloc country countries.
I mean, Hungary, it happened. So they kind of they follow that. So so they they were nervous about that. So they end up declaring martial law. They do martial law to try. And, yes, they suppress the the the solidarity. Yes, they lost control. They knew. And there is no way to put this genie back. I think something happened with Trump here. So you can you can't put it back. And Yardley's violence, so they realize that they cannot go back to what it used to be.
People won't trust them. People don't trust them. They know they are liars and they know that they were that everybody knew they were liars and thieves, too.
So they decide eventually we had enough. We are losing control. And if that continues, they will hang us there.
These people hate us really for what we hear, what the socialism done to these people they will hate.
They will prosecute us. So they impose martial law. And I remember I was on the phone with a friend of mine. He was in Austria and midnight click as we are talking quiet, I say that. What a fuck that. No, no connection.
So then people are screaming, hey, they just shut down all the TVs or the radios. There's no communication on the telephone lines. Didn't work. They shut down the communication, the entire Poland and I think fifteen after meeting. They start rolling in, so I was at that solidarity headquarters at the time at midnight when they came in, so they they just broke the door.
They round up everybody who was there. They holism there on the police station. And then they they only hold those people who who hold the prominent leadership positions. So that night they arrested I have different estimates from twenty five thousand people on the low side to sixty five thousand people arrested that night. There were no criminal arrests. They were basically the way they explain to us those people are not arrested sitting in jail, but they are in town that we can turn to for their safety because we want them to be safe.
And also, they were potentially dangerous to the state. So they were not really dangerous, that it's not like they did something. They were potentially dangerous to the state. So we didn't jail them. We just turned them to have a good living conditions. We provide them food.
Just it is so ridiculous. Now, when I'm listening to what I say and it is so sounds so weird, but that was the fact then that was that the way we perceive that reality, that was quite normal. Well, you know, martial law in jail, 60000 people one night when you do something, this is why get eventually get we and a couple of my friends start building them, say we cannot just sit idly and watch it. Whether we going to do is essentially shut down all of the communications.
We're going to create our own. So we going to create our own network and then we start printing and then just walk into those naive the way we did that. But, you know, we didn't know that I'm any better. So we just pretend what happened. We print the names of the of people arrested so the families know that these people just didn't disappear yet. They just sitting in prison now eventually. So we stop distributing that in in my city when I was at the time growing up.
And that's how it started. So we functioned for a while until we got caught after that. Then, of course, it was not very difficult for them because they were prepared for that.
And and that's how I ended up being in prison. Eventually they start publishing the lists of some of that, some of the people they they had and basically put them in prisons.
So so you get you get arrested. They come to your house, they find you at school, they find in the street. They got me out of the street.
That was working to the point where we're printing it to pick up more of our newspapers, that we print it out. And as soon as I walk, then a knock on the door, the CO that we had to leave and the doors open, these three guys ran up from the upstairs.
It was like a stairway. Like five guys jump out of that room and just put there. I had like ten guns in my head. It was like a police stand off. What was the guy from every side?
And I said, I got handcuffed in the hallway and get in prison. So in jail.
And here goes the night a story. They this is something I had no idea. I didn't know that I can have a lawyer.
You could, but they just ignored that. So they really matter. Besides, it was martial law, so there was a bit different. So I got to jail. That's OK. So did you do it? I said, nope. Did you do it? No. You did it? No. So I got beat up and that's as far as the stick by my thing. And no, I didn't. I don't know. So what are these papers?
What do you find in your house? Because they went to my house later this they searched my house. My mom later told me that they just demolished my house, my apartment, my home.
I mean, I live with my mom that so they demolished her apartment that's out of this house.
And so I said, well, I just found them on the street. It's like, oh, you found them on the street really matter because I got a three year prison sentence right off the bat.
So that's really the funny thing, is that they they got me from we're going to the from the prison to the court. So I took my boots away. So they put us in writing my boots. So I just got that a cop comes out. So yeah, this guy kicks so he can run the way he kind of kick with about finnessey with the bare feet. So they beat me up for that.
So and I went to the court, I said, look, I was beat up. I would say, like, we don't care that basically I was with you. The judge will say we don't care. It didn't happen.
So what's the what's the prison conditions and prison conditions?
For me at the time, I didn't know any better. I said I prison, I thought, always has to be bad. But again, you always hungry, right? You have no rights. You can see that. There's another funny thing, because when I went up there, they say you can't. Lay down, you cannot just sit on the stools all day long and just at the table as I calls round table and from we'll just wait there.
When the call comes in, you go to you will go to you go lay down the path.
So I'm just trying to be in and I'm still scared. I'm new to this environment. I'm sitting by. So I am going to sit here all the goddamn day long, but I'm going to wait and see what will happen.
So I just like now just came in, just kick the shit out of me outside. So I'm coming back to this house, you know, I'm beat up. I can hardly see in my eyes. So I say, if I could, I don't think they're going to beat me up again. Now they know I have a legitimate reason to lay down. I can't see it. So I to keep doing it again so that I could repeat three times.
Finally like to say that I guess they say like, fuck it, they ain't going to see it and could be like that. So just left me there. So, so I had no problems. But then there's one of those criminal gangs because we're common criminals who say, fuck that time, I'm tougher than him. So I think I can earn my way to fucking two. I don't want to sit all day the table just on the stool, no batteries or anything.
So he laid on the bed and he's banged up there across. And it was my was one, not my bed, because was there was like four bad apples like fifteen of us that so sleep on the floors. But that's fucking I tried to keep me out of this so.
So he lay down on the bed and Sam started just you can hear the screaming. The beating happens when he comes back all black and blue and doesn't get back to the table.
He seems like there was it's like, okay, well I had enough, I will sit. So it turns out he wasn't quite as tough as you well know, this type of toughness. I just he wasn't prepared for the beatings.
So so he was like, well, I don't know any other. But I was sitting on the on the stool in front at the table then then deal with these guys.
So eventually they had and I was so naive, I had no idea.
So they told me, hey, does this all prisoners like, you know, if we can make the hole in this wall to this other side, we can have a sugar and some other food because these guys give a lot of stuff. So I say I fucking do it in a crime under the bed and stuff.
So that made a whole maybe like this big but didn't go far because, of course, you know, that's like there's no tools or nothing.
What were you what were you trying to break the hole in the wall to. Using what?
Using using the rugare the from the stool that you see on the like, you take them apart and took the stool apart and the language was trying to get through a concrete wall.
It was that was not really that hard actually. There was not maybe that concrete in the beginning, but eventually I got to the concrete and when it went nowhere, so I had to pull out, somebody's pulling me by the legs and, you know, get the good cakes and stuff and put out the sound.
So so here it is. Then back this. There's not the principle with the war warden.
So you had a lot of problems with, you know, you got to go. You do it again. We're going to go and put you in isolation and they cut like a tiger cage. So it was a sound.
And then within the cell was a cage, just like in the zoo. I just put you there.
So I said, okay, well, whatever. I'm I'm not going to be punching the walls in the holes in the wall, OK? Because I was so stupid, I didn't know any better. So then every every day for like fifteen minutes we're allowed to go outside and work.
There was like a room maybe half the size of this with the high walls, with the same guards working on the top above you.
And the funny thing is that there was made of these concrete posts with the slit inside. We've seen them in Iraq and this reinforced concrete slab will slide in between the post one on the top of another.
I'm trying to take what I remember. I was just for demonstration. I was breaking those in half. So I thought that I had the voice of the guy who was in the case with me says I had to communicate with him.
Let me take a look. I didn't mean to break that shit.
I'll just go quick. Jamma just kicked that shit. Sotho just make you move some of this mud from in between those cracks, between these slabs, that fucking thing fall off.
And just as the bombs just fall down on it, you can see that a lot is going on everywhere else. Like, what the fuck? I don't know. So so I end up in the tiger cage just sitting there. And there was no there's not the one time that was the final time, but the second the other time they put me in the prison with with the broken windows, it was winter time and they gave me no blanket.
So I was just laying on those woods for I think it was a week that was on was was OK. I was freezing, but there was nothing. You, me, and, you know, like I'm looking watching some of the TVs here about the prison in the United States House, like a fucking knife at that time.
I wouldn't trade I would trade my life in Poland for prison here because I would be fed that medical attention. I had a TV, I would have a gym, maybe possible even. And and how can you live better? I mean, what else can you do you want from life? You have you have everything provided to you, you know, have to fight for anything. So that's that's how it is.
So how long how long did you end up staying in prison? There was a three year prison sentence and they released us, I think, close to a year and a half or after a year and a half when John Paul the second was coming to Poland again. So they tried to make a gesture. So we started releasing political prisoners for an amnesty. And, you know, that's what I noticed that are releasing guys. And some of the prisons are shrinking because, you know, after the case was done, in my case, I was sentenced to that.
I got my sentence. They ship us to Russian border. We are in prison. Kalachakra Bischof basically going through the window.
We can see that the reverend can see the Russian territory next next to it. So it's like unnerving because at that time there was a reality of invasion. I mean, we were afraid that the Russians will come in to take to put some order there because they think it was the communism and socialism was falling apart.
So they we knew that if the Russians come in, we're going to get killed. So we thinking, like, where we're going to get killed anyway if they come in, this is what we need to do. We had like a plan to actually know how to bridge the bridge, not the bridge, like we know as a seal's not but how to get to the wall, how to get this.
We're just making getting the equipment down. So. So, yeah. Maybe kill someone. Maybe they don't want to kill everybody, but we cannot just sit here in prison and just wait for to be slaughtered. So there was that that that thinking at the time in prison. So, so yeah. So we were in this uh that's actually a couple of other things came to my mind too. I mean think about it. So they beat us up.
I remember I had some issues with OK, so we went on the hunger strike. So OK, when you were on strike, we won the status of political prisoner. That was unheard of in socialism, I guess new. But there are no political prisoners.
There are. But just waiting for something else. They are sitting like stealing the milk from the front in front of somebody's door or just insulting the neighbor or just being mean to somebody. So they put you for something else. So they are political prisoners, not in socialism. We don't have that. Everybody until the marshal who was locked up for political activities was like that pretty much for something else for for some criminal offenses they could generate.
So, yeah, that was something that when they so they sent us to Cuba. So they kind of isolate the political prisoners there from the general criminal population. So there's pretty much Golok. And they so we decide to go on the hunger strike.
And the way they broke our strike was. In Poland, they say there is a law that after two weeks, if you don't eat, will forcefully feed you.
So what they did was like like a vacuum pipe or was so thick. I said, God damn, I think you got me to my stomach.
And so they put this thing in your throat and they just put it there. Whatever the mixture they gave you there. And I remember I didn't know was that bad. So I said, I guess I'll fight these guys. So I fight. So they finally they overpower me. They handcuffed me to the chair. But when they tried to put this pipe again, I just broke the fucking chair. So they had a fight that they broke that different chair.
This time I couldn't break out of it and they actually forced it. Later, I learned how to, you know, deal with it.
So, yeah, I was like, no big deal. And just go ahead, stick it, put it my my foot in it.
But what the way they broke it is a typical socialist way, but it's anarchy.
So they got to especially the older guy say, look, I see this big pipe and I had to shove it down your throat and your stomach again and and put it in.
Why don't you just take it yourself, just drink. That shouldn't go to your cell so that you like that. It's pretty painful. So I was like, OK, as soon as just take get one step is like, wow, all right. You just hunger strike, you just aid on your own.
So now we're going to transport you to another prison. The guy that had the chance, the most likely to go to this prison cell, you were just handcuffed, put in the transport and drove drove away somewhat so that eventually a few of us left and the car came from the church that this is pointless.
The socialist socialism will never admit they hold political prisoners and you just waste your help, you stop it. So we did eventually stop that. And I totally forgot about it until I went to Poland, met this guy. He said, hey, do you remember the hunger strike here? I have the calendar here. This is this is like Shaddai, I remember now.
But so are you on the hunger strike?
I think it was three weeks we deliver before the call came in to stop in because they were going nowhere. Yeah. And he gave me that calendar. I don't have it here, but this one's interesting, actually, because there those things to that we did in prison, I can't see all the shit. I'm not the same person at all. But that was singing like a motherfucker in prison. Just let those political songs there from Polish past, from Polish history.
They were very patriotic songs, which Sociales really hated. So we in prison at eight o'clock in the in the evening I believe it's eight o'clock in the evening, we just open the windows and the whole side and the entire prison population from the even discriminatorily join in, but they get a bit of a shut down very quick. And there was the fact that they squashed them, but not with us.
So we kept singing and they were so loud that that nearby town they could hear. And actually the priest was coming in praying in front of the prison. So guards hated it because, you know, they were they don't have to answer. They be that people have they of them and closed the windows up as soon as they leave the windows open again and people are singing on the south side. So they could do that. Yeah, that's that's funny.
Actually, I want to send I sent it to you because I have a there was so bad I guess for them. They I didn't have any family at the time, just my mom. So they sent a letter to my mom complaining, say, hey, come here and do something. Your son is not listening. And I actually I was showing to my wife Rachel say, look, look at this here, because I knew that I hate that just good.
But then I just by accident, I found it. So I had this document saying that same thing, a letter from prison just come out. How? Because that I'm not listening to socialist guards.
Was there any guards or any government officials that were like sympathetic at all? Or do they just they had to toe the party line.
They had to toe the party line, but there were some of the guards that they were not so vicious.
So they were they they just not they listen to sometimes like there was when we were able to smuggle the camera into the prison them so that some of the guards knew about it. And there there are some pictures floating. I think I've seen some of the pictures from the prison at the time. And some of them are like, you know, on the Christmas time.
So we had this nose say, like, well, can you send us some how can we can have alcohol? We have this alcohol to clean the skin.
So I said, well, let's, you know. Well, just yeah. So we just put the rope down down the throat from the first floor.
Big bottle of this skin alcohol just pulling it out, you know, the fire thing, the press can't get any better than that, right?
I remember the incoming president that was actually it was really bad if they caught you with this. So so you end up getting released.
When the pope comes back again, they do this gesture. They're going to let you out of prison. Right. And then are you going once you're out of prison, what are you doing?
Trying to find a job fast. So I said I'm going to do something. I mean, my mom cannot. She she's in the hot time. She has a hard time, too. And I cannot be sitting in the living on her from her money.
So trying to find a job and you can't because everything is controlled.
Government owns everything. They own the jobs. So if you remember, after struggling for a while, I still continue my training.
So this is what I described earlier after the training coming out from them sometimes in the evening, the best whatever to train as police pulled in. They put me in the car, drove me around, threatened me for a while and just told me on the street. So this is when I said, like, you know what, I can continue like this. This is something that I eventually end up dead. And and they did actually we find out later that not that later.
I found out around the same time that one of the my fellow prisoners was suicide.
And then another one, I was like, I'm going to wait maybe longer. And then that my images of America came in. Yeah, so this is what I went and I say I need to go get some help and I went to the American embassy, I said, this is what's happening. I need help. And I was like, sure, we need this, this, this. And within three weeks I had that.
I think within three weeks I had a visa out of Poland to Germany, to the United States permanent. The funny thing is that I also had to because I was still in the age that conscription age.
So they had to go and sign up like I'm I'm not going to go to joint Polish military. I'm I'm I'm not being sold by the military or anything. I remember I walk into this office and I say, I'm leaving Poland. I need you to sign this here. So there's a fucking sergeant. Just look at me say you look pretty strong. You know, people like this should serve Poland under this Polish fucking this Polish bald eagle. You say dirt and Polish Eagle, then, motherfucker, you and your Russian buddies stole the crown from that eagle is about that eagle doesn't have a crown on his head.
So that's your eagle. But it's not mine. I'm not serving out of this motherfucker right there. And but he wanted to sign this. I just left I remember Itemise leaving that building. Then I was still screaming and yelling you how bad we are.
The bad people are. So and I came to Germany first and their little center the United States created for us, for refugees. I learn about America.
We had the people coming teaching us about America. And eventually I remember like, so where would you have any preferences? Where do you come to America? I remember I was always called was in Poland. I was so called it Maxey. We didn't I couldn't buy the good clothes. So my mom put the newspapers in our sometimes in our jackets. So just not just don't tell people. Don't tell anybody because then I'd be bet on me but just have those newspapers inside or keep you warm.
And the day that would actually did the trick. So I was always cold in Poland. And then so when they asked me I was like, well everywhere. What is not cold? I mean, it it's hard, it's perfect, but just not what it's called, if you can.
So what do you think about Memphis'? Do you know anything about Memphis's like. No, but I know that Elvis Presley was from Memphis. I knew that. OK, so we are looking for the place in Memphis for you. And that's when I came in. That's when I learned the United States with a ten phoenix in my pocket and a bag of clothes to show you.
How long has it been since you left Poland? How long were you in Germany for?
I was in Germany maybe three months. All right. Are they teaching you in English there?
No, there was no time for that is mostly like, you know, the legal staff. What do you need to do?
How you go about getting the English classes, how you leave, what is the what the laws are, what how how to be good a member of society and productive. So those that we try to learn on our own.
I just remember both myself, the English dictionary, and that I lost someone on the way to work in the in the flight. And but there was a really good because Koseki, finally when we came back in normal world, everything was clean, everything was bright, everything. It was nice, people were nice and like that's that's the world. I think that's what America is going to be. So I was really excited just to to, you know, to come to America at the time.
What year is it? It's nineteen eighty four, beginning of when I left 1983, like December 1983. And this is like beginning 1984. So you get on a plane, are you by yourself or is there other people with you? And there were some other people with me. There was there was a group of people, refugees from the communist socialist state. And but we're going to different locations. So some of them we I didn't even know.
And once we get on this big jumbo jet, it's like I didn't know who these people were or where they went.
So I eventually I landed in New York and I remember I just wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. I was like, so great, you know? And yeah. Yeah.
Is anyone escorting you? Is anyone. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, there was like a we didn't come on our own. I mean when we came in there was part of the people waiting for us. Everything was provided that they held us to our destination. Memphis arama is what I get my first apartment to. They helped me get the apartment, my first job and I was so excited. I remember I, I never knew what their air conditioning is.
So I was watching the movies from America in Poland when I was young and I see those boxes in the windows I. They're just a box in the milk inside polling, the so-called you just put outside the window your food, your mail, your staff. This is so cool, they are so smart. You know, we don't have we have this box behind the window with more stuff in it. But then there's that lenders actually there's not the boxes for food is just air conditioning.
So there's something that keeps your house cool and and healthy. And but I remember also when I moved to my first apartment, I couldn't contain myself to tell my mom. So I called my mom, say, mom, I'm living in the apartment and with climate ization, with air conditioning.
So like what they had conditioning. I say it blows cold a on demand. If you say, oh, my God, how much do you pay for it? Can you afford these things? I said, oh yeah, it comes with apartments.
So yeah there was. So I mean that, that, that, that, that change was so drastic. I remember going to the store first time grocery store in Portland is very simple. Just grab whatever was left on the shelf and just run with it before somebody grab it from you is like here you see the cereal. I didn't know what the cereal was. What's this? Oh, this like a cereal. This was I don't know what it is, but I take one.
But then they look at these boxes, they're also looking cool. So nice try this one. Maybe I try this one.
So I have like fifty boxes then it was so the abundance of everything, something I could not get used to it for a long time. I always end up by trying to buy maybe like five, six dollars groceries. I mean that was like thirty, forty dollars.
And at the time I spent all the money again because my first paycheck was, I think it was like forty dollars a week. So I remember.
But then of course people were, I wouldn't be able to make it without Americans helping me.
So they, I remember that's forty dollars usually by the end of the week because I had to send money to pay for an apartment that was like a hundred dollars, something for apartment electricity and everything. I had maybe like, I don't know, the money at the end of it. So I just have to wait for my paycheck. As soon as you get a paycheck, smaller, more food. You know, people are bringing me food, too.
So again, I would not survive that.
Americans helping me. Who is that? Who were the Americans that were helping you?
Was it a religious group or religious group? Some Grace Look church in Memphis. And these people are.
A Christians and they how they have so many people, and I think I feel obligated, I need to do something to maybe reciprocated now kind of late, but there are some people and they are they still there?
They still actively support people coming to America, help them settle down. I would never succeed if not their help.
I was very lucky.
The funny thing is that I didn't speak English, so they bought me a dictionary. And and so I'm just trying to learn as much as I can. I remember one day one of the families, an older couple, older couple, pick me up and say, hey, we're going to drive you here today, show you these are the main things in this SUV drive.
Actually, this is them. They gave me the dictionary.
So because they were helping us, it was just that couple, what I think it was like designated to help us.
So they gave me a dictionary and said, I'd like to show it. I'm using it. And I'm really trying to learn. And I see this black guy walking on the street smoking section looking to say this is black, right. So just looking in the dictionary, it says this is an sassing hate.
This isn't like it was like someone's crossed the car. Oh, my God.
No, no. Why do you say that? Would you learn that word in the dictionary you gave me right here? So I have the dictionary here today with this lady.
Still scratch that word and say, black man, you know, I didn't know any better.
I mean, for me, I grew up in Poland. There was no no, there was just only white people there.
So I didn't know about that in the House. And the myositis when the first black person I've seen, I was maybe like 16, 17 years old, I said, this is so freaking cool. I never seen a guy with the color of the skin. So me and my buddies were like circling around this guy. I'm sure this guy said, what the fucking weirdos? But they were like, holy shit, he's really black.
You know, I didn't know it, but there was never any sinister feelings. It was just curiosity. And I said, I want to be friends with them, you know, let's invite these guys to our club, you know, and actually, we did that. They show up. So we're giving a Polish name is when it was Yasue and one was something else. And we became friends, you know, also. But it was the first black people I've seen.
So so you do you go to any classes to learn to speak? You just weren't know at the time. I was working already. So for the church providers like sort maybe I think it was a one month class of English where we attend this one. Was it hard enough? Was it hard to learn? It was hard for me, as you can hear it now, thirty years later.
But yes, that's was it gives us some basics maybe. But I remember like pronunciation that was killing me. Thank you. There is no word in Polish, so thank you for me to say. It was like I couldn't, I couldn't just could not say that was spitting. I was just buttoning. There were probably friend of mine comes in, say, hey just now if I could just say thank you for quick say F instead of VH one.
You can hear the difference if you say it fast. So sure I did, you know, and I said I remember some meeting somewhere we are at this. I think there's a priest or somebody who brought the cookies so I could have the cookie.
And as I struggled with this, I say this guy from behind. Thank you. So it's like it's like, fuck you.
You know, it's like and it's like got quiet. That's like that's not right. There's something wrong with this guy like this behind us, like. And finally, one of the older gentleman comes in. What he is trying to say is and he looks at me and say thank you.
You say thank you.
You know, I work hard. That's so I'm better now. But I'm still I lost my wife. The awards, I'm not allowed to say in public.
So, like, sometimes I can't take my phone. Can you put the phone in your purse? It's like, don't ever say that loud in front of anybody.
That's just say say my, my, my, my back or so it's challenging for you to say purse, purse or hamburger. So so it's things like I have like a little list of words that I'm not allowed to say, especially around my wife. So I'm because I'm doing that.
So what was the first actual job that you got? Once you're on the ground, you're in Memphis, you got a you got an apartment.
It has air conditioning. Yeah. What's the first actual job? This job was in the deal. It was the church. I was basically mopping the church, cleaning the toilets. And that was something to get me through, getting me familiarized a little bit with with with America, with English, behind my belt. And so basically, I was working Part-Time as a janitor. And this is where actually I started actually picking up English more more. I had a bucket mop in one hand and they have a little cartoon cartoon in my back pocket.
So and Joey is going to the store, so.
And Joe is going to the store. Joey is going to the store. It means that he's going to go and buy some groceries, obviously in Polish. So it's translating it. And so I did more cartoons. I was picking up more and more and. And eventually, I think they decide that I'm good enough to venture to find that I get a different job. So the church helped me to get the job with Kizzie for a first time in my office.
And I was Oakley. Kizzie Ford.
Yes, in my office. That sounded like a Polish word, actually. I thought you had a relapse. We come back to it later, especially when I had to translate Polish to English and back so in Iraq.
But so I got the job up there. My job was to pick up the phone and they already knew that this is a guy who doesn't speak English, but he knows the numbers. So they say, OK, five, six, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. So I just write it down and say thank you. Click. I ran upstairs and I pick the part that was five, five, six, seven, eight, and brought it up so that the cast from different dealerships or whoever needed that part was coming in to the door and picking it up.
And I was just the guy who just take the phone call, get the number, get the parts. I was working really hard, but God them those numbers I just kept mixing up. So those guys coming up and two hours later finally just got the wrong part.
This is not the part that we wanted to the mechanic says that we just gave him a wrong path. So they come to me.
It's like, hey, you know, we are you working so hard we see that we don't want to fire you, but, you know, you just to get better. But do you know anything about cars, European cars, maybe.
I was like, yeah, like an idea, but yeah. Yeah, you know, because there is an opening in another dealership and they are looking for mechanics for Saab bought an Audi maybe.
I don't know if you would want to go and try that. Do you know that's. I see. Absolutely. Yes. Well yeah I know everything about the cars.
How many people when you were in Poland, how many people did you actually know that actually owned their own car?
I personally didn't know anybody who owns the car. I know some people who knew some people who owned the guy. And now you're OK. So your car wrecks my my father because he was a communist, he he was allowed to own the car. There you go.
So that was that that was the expertise that I had.
I know somebody who knew somebody with the car.
So I went for the interview and my English was so broke I hadn't even I didn't know what I was saying, but I remember that that so they brought that was like they needed the mechanic for Porsche, Audi, Saab. And so they brought the foreman from the airport fast. He he looked at me like and I know there's like blah blah, blah. And just like that we can have a cadence and speak English. So is the Audi mechanic.
I mean, he talked to me for a while, was like to say my best, but he's like, I can see can he heads now?
And then the side mechanic comes in, this big guy like motorcycle gangs that work seems like looks at me and I take him my life with me.
As I started my career, I become I became good.
This guy, I owe him so much. He as he was he was running without the motorcycle gangs and he.
I remember he was very proud guy and but I was able to actually talk him into, look, Jimbo, Jimbo, Jimbo, I can't speak English very well.
I need to learn this thing. I have these manuals for Saab. If you can read it aloud to me, I can record that.
I can listen at home and I can match the words with the recording. I thought he will kill me first time. Say, Motherfucker, I ain't reading shit. I don't even know how to read well.
But then then I talk him into it and he says, so we're sitting in his kitchen here, keep reading that manuals. And there was I know that was hard for him. I could see and I could tell it was hard for him, but he did it for me. So we became really good friends. And very often, you know, he came back drunk up there lying in the car. So I said, hey, Jim, what are you working?
So, yeah, he's working right here.
I'm just dropping him out there. So he's like, OK, if somebody comes in, just kick me. I'm going to sleep.
I say, OK, he's sleeping. Great guy.
Actually, this is the first time that I was exposed to America. We American way of eating, too, because so I remember saying, you know, you to come over here, we'll have a steaks and I'll just we'll just have a steak and say, OK, so I show up. And that is a big yes. I think two states now, three states with his girlfriend that so to speak, as three states are going to be eating it for a month.
I mean, so like so who who else is coming here to say now? Just three of us. I say I. What were the stakes? Yeah, you can have one. I mean, the one is for you here. You can to whatever you want.
I was like I mean the entire steak is a. Yeah. What's wrong with that.
I say, dude, he'll be slicing it and slicing here.
Just all that thing would last me for a month in Portland and I just didn't know that you can just take like that just by the slab of meat. You cook it and you eat it.
That's like, what the fuck? And I love steaks. And I think that the stakes are so.
So there was I was exposed first. And so, yeah, the steak with the steak, you just slice it like this and that, because in Poland, you know, there was I didn't mention that.
I just come back very quick to it. The socialism, what they did to Poland is that one has become very resilient to hunger because I, I was going hungry to school quite often because my mom.
You had to you cannot buy food for more than two, three, three, four days, especially bread or something. So if my mom didn't get up early enough and um, three o'clock, three thirty, four o'clock in the morning and stay in line, which is sometimes around the block to buy a loaf of bread, I think I had no breakfast. So sometimes she was in Alighieri for a couple hours, but then they sold out bread before she could get it.
I was going at the school and going to school, but my remedy for it was I just found out there was richer kids from those especially those parties, party members, since they have always food, they have really good food. So I just beat them up and they took their lunch and I, I ate their lunch and I said, like, you want to eat lunch, you bring two sandwiches next time. So there's so much supply that I actually I was like a Robin Hood because I was like the poor guys that I knew up there.
And I was like, OK, you bring the sandwich to this guy, you bring a sandwich, this guy and you to me.
And if they didn't, they just took their lunch and we just ate their lunch that they usually they brought the lunch were there.
So how long how long are you working at the boys at the Saab dealer at the Centre for quite a few years.
And I think there was to the point that the war then I became you a citizen too. So for me it was it is still it is the biggest accomplishment for me. People think you might do the SEAL training. How does it feel about it? Well, how does it feel to be an American citizen? I tell you how to be American. I'm a free man. That's the biggest accomplishment. I mean, that's not the SEAL teams I'm very proud of, of the trade and I'm very proud what I did in the SEAL teams.
But it is not my biggest accomplishment. I always look at this American flag in America. I'm not Polish American. I am not something American. There is no hyphen in front of this American. I am an American and I'm proud. And so, yeah, that's.
So you mentioned you mentioned the first Gulf War, but then you have a point because I know you got into parachuting at some point. Oh yeah, I was. How did that happen? Yeah.
Also I was at the time I said I met the guy who made the parachute jump.
She told me what it's like to cry at least once. I say, if I tried it once, that was before the war, before the thing. So I say, well, I just called the drops and I said, hey, can I make a parachute jump? So you should come on over. There was in Memphis. So I came and said, how can I make the parachute jump? Well, you have to see through classes will be tandem jump.
I see tandem jump. OK, so I sit for the class, you know that he explains what to expect, what to look when up and jump.
I was hooked. So I said, OK, can I do it again? It was pretty expensive, but, you know, being single at the time.
So, yeah, you can do it again. So I did one more time. So like, can I jump by myself. Like not right away but you have to go to the classes.
So tell me about it so that he as well.
So you got a class and I was like like on the weekend then the economy, the one job, maybe two jumps Tuesday, Wednesday, within two weeks you get enough just seven jobs because if accelerated free fall at the time and so you make enough jobs, then you can graduate the jump on your own.
I say fuck. And when can we start? The sooner we can start actually this Thursday I say not Friday.
I say, OK, so Friday I came. I had all the classes we make the three jobs, Saturday I mean, the next four jobs. And I was I think Saturday evening I was jumping on my own.
So to go through this, I was hooked. So yeah, I was skydiving.
Actually, that's funny because I'm in my office we jump from very high altitude, usually 12000 feet, sometimes from fifteen, sixteen thousand feet.
So so I had accumulated a lot of free fall at the time. So I decide to go myself for the AF jumpmaster course. I see I become the jumpers that I will be teaching skydiving and I did. And actually I did extremely well. I remember when in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time, the only issue I had again with my language because, you know, is you have to do class, you have to do class.
You have to be very thorough. If you miss something. The instructors usually there was a USB commission, people that were experienced skydivers, despicable you miss in the brief and they did that. Errors in the air.
Would you didn't believe what you say that the wrong way. You talk to the wrong way.
So we had an agreement. We would always partner up with one of the guys and we had the agreement. You know, if I ask you the question, you answer it correctly. So I don't have to because if you ask incorrectly, I have to teach you because these people are watching. If I don't catch your error or what your wrong answer, then they will go and do it to me in the air. So we are OK. So we are OK with that agreement.
And, you know, there is a point in the sky think to and we teach people eventually say like so there is an altitude that you have to make your decision either way, the malfunctioning parachute malfunction and open the reserve or you write the ground. So I think it was that time was 2000 feet by 2000 feet. And I have a good parachute. And you need to make the decision to get away as a new jumper and and end up on your reserve if you didn't do it by this time, was like you just should be writing it to the crowd.
So go through it and say, look at this guy. And this commission is listening that and say, okay, now tell me, what is your dick?
This guy looks at me like what he told. Tell me about your dick. I said, I can't tell that.
So now I'm getting mad. That's like Mother, motherfucker, don't fuck with me. What's your dick?
And he says, What do you mean, what do you mean? I said, You know, the 2004 dick. I don't have two thousand foot hard dick. I was I was about to punch this guy.
I look up there in this. How old is that laying under the table looking? So I was so focused that, you know, it's a 2000 foot half deck.
I think for me it was kind of like saying same thing.
So so so didn't say nothing about 2000 would have Dick about that eventually. Yeah. But I graduate from this course, even regardless this dick and. Yeah.
So that I was skydiving by this time.
But, but it seems like coming from Poland, coming from not having food, from being in prison, from all these things that are going on, it seems like when you get to America, you've just got this this like drive just to live and make things happen and you're going to freefall and you get it done in four days and it's going to become a jumpmaster and you're working as hard as you can.
It's like you have this open freeway in front of you. You can be whatever you are able to be. You know, I can say whatever you want to be because I want to be astronaut. I'm sixty years old.
I ain't going to be asking about that with me.
But but but you can be whatever you are able to be, there is nothing to stop. You like different countries who are what. Your background. Who is your mom. Did you do. Are you communist or do you belong to Socialist Party so we can help you. But you know, you cannot be in these positions. You cannot go to to college even if you're going to you are not part of the socialist youth organization. So so for me, I was like the entire world open.
I could be whatever I was able to be and there was nothing stopping me.
So even more, even more makes me that stick to my wall. I want to be the best citizens. I want to make this country the best I can be and country.
You to it, so that's where the first Persian War came out and I just became a U.S. citizen at the time, so I was like, OK, I can't build the jobs for these people.
I'm not rich enough. I don't have resources, but I can fight for that.
So this is my country. I'm going to go and sign up. I had no idea how to do it.
I remember in the post office, I seen those draft cards sometimes that you you fill it up. So I say, but I went up there, I fill it up, I send it out, I pack my shit. I was leaving with other skydivers at the time. So this is what was going on. What are you going to say? I'm going to war. I just sent down my papers and this is this is the first Gulf War that's going right.
So it's nineteen ninety one one. Yes. The first Gulf War kicks off. Yes. You want to go fight. I want to go down to the post office field, grab the what's that thing called the Selective Service Service.
Yeah. Yeah, you fill that out.
So they I had your bags packed your bags and. That's right. Any time now. So. Well, nothing happens to guys like Dragoo.
You know, I don't think this is the right way to do it. But you sure you want to go into war, man. There's a war going on up there. I said, yeah, yeah.
I mean, you have to have this. I came here with nothing and everything I have I owe to America, to this country. I need to do something. And the best way I can do is go and fight for my country. So, yeah, that's a I'm waiting on the simulator. Sorry about this. Selective Service doesn't apply to you. You are too old. So I was already thirty one at the time going thirty two. And so I said I find my I will find my way into the war.
So I said hey why don't you go to recruiting or recruiting office as so sure.
I went to the army in Poland. Army is everything this army. Are you talking about army. Air Force. For me that that I was everything was army. So good to army. So OK, this is me. I would like to join the military.
I would like to go to war. It's like, OK, what do you want to do? I say I fight this like no, no, no. Like a jobs or something.
Given the skills I say, no, not really, but I will do whatever you tell me to do and I just want to go to war. I will. When the war is over, I will go back to my normal life. But I think just for the duration of the war, I would like to join the military. They say, OK, well, let me see your look at my documents and tell me what to bring.
So I bring all the stuff they did, all the or the war say so.
OK, so we put you as a infantrymen. I think it was infantry man. And so and I say, absolutely, thank you so much. I'm ready to go any time. And then as CEOs show up in our dropzone, they were doing demonstration jump leapfrogs in in my office. So we start talking about it. We jump a few times together. I say that that's so cool, guys, you know? And so they yeah.
It's like know, before they join the army, why don't you try the Navy? Just go ask recruiters about SEALs as like SEALs was the SEALs. Yeah, but the Navy just cool guys. No, I'm jumping. They call themselves SEALs. So I'm just going to say I went the next door and said, I'm applying here for Army and they have all my paperwork. But I met some friends who told me to ask about the Navy and the I'm just asking about the Navy, who those friends are.
So that kind of seals.
Oh, yeah. Yeah. You know, you can be a seal. It's like putting together this paperwork from these guys.
We put you in the Navy and the UK and then then we'll just put you in the Navy. You will be a SEAL. Then I say, OK, so I went the next door service and I'm going there. So can I have it? They were pissed. They did not like it. But so anyway, I got my paperwork to show up up there. They looked at my papers and they're like, well, you know what, we can guarantee you the seal.
There was a diver program at the time and we cannot guarantee to you because you are way too old, you are even too old to qualify for the SEALs. But if you signed this paper here, John, you go to boot camp, they will make you seal. That's not no doubt about it. Oh, yeah.
So I said, sure, that's right. I say, OK, but they saved them. But now before you become a seal, you need to get the job. You select the job in the Navy at the time there was no seal writing. You remember that there was a you go to boot camp, you get the aid, go to a school, get the job in the Navy, and then you go to, if you like, you are assigned to go to seal training.
So I said, well, I didn't know much what I want to do. I'm parachuting something with how about being parachute rigger? Because it sounds good to me. I have no idea what it was. It stuck me in this field for like five, four years later. But I see like OK. So yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Make me see what make me if I was dating a girl two.
So they say, OK, but if you want to go to that school. Your school, you will have to leave this week, you will have to leave on a Thursday with pushing that delayed entry program and I think you'll be sworn in Thursday will leave on Friday.
I think was short notice.
Might give them pay when to get married right now. Because I'm going to the Navy. I'm going to stay where I'm leaving to the Navy. I'm leaving this for this weekend so we can do the jobs we got, like when we got married very quick. And then I threw up on that. I've got a sworn in and after Thursday I left the boot camp and didn't become that.
There's no intention to make me a CEO for the time. I didn't really care.
I just wanted to join the military. I want to contribute to the effort. I am American. I want to fight for my country.
So whether being the parachute rigger or whatever, I just made the best out of it by the sense, the opportunity it shows up. I say, why not to be a SEAL? I want to try it.
And I did. I pass all the tests.
So that was in boot camp and I do that they do that day where they go, OK, if you want to try for SEALs, you need to go take the test, right?
Yeah, there is a there is a good day that actually there are different jobs out there. Those people are coming to tell about their jobs. So there are seals you demotivate will show up and talk about this. I just couldn't sit in this fucking chair.
Just get out. Just hey.
Yeah, yeah, I want to go. So and now you're are you thirty two years old at this point. At this point. Thirty two years old I think.
What the what the hell kind of physical conditioning did you do throughout your life to get to get there and be a good enough shape. Because I don't even like guys go to Buddz when they're twenty seven or twenty eight or something.
I don't know. I guess I got beat up a lot and I just got conditioned.
But did you, did you work, were you working out this whole time. Not really.
I didn't know how, I didn't know that the physical demands of the teams at the time. I just like just like. Well what about just in life?
Like like when you were when you were working for freakin kickboxing taekwondo.
Yeah. That's that's I was just basically what. You're a mutant. You're freaking me. You.
Well, I just got consider myself lucky that, you know, I was able to you know, the test is really not that difficult to pass. Yeah. Is it still it's still something but yeah. Pretty bad but. Yeah.
So, so, so just so people know what you're talking about, you say the test isn't that hard to pass, that the seal test that we used to get to get a chance to go to seal training. Yeah. Was like I think it was you had to do.
It's so minuscule. It's like fifty pushups in two minutes. Fifty sit ups in two minutes. Yeah. Eleven hold ups, ten pull ups, eleven, eleven pull ups and then a mile and a half run and then eleven thirty and a mile and a 500 yard swim and. Yeah. Yeah something like that.
I struggle with the swim because I couldn't swim very well so uh.
But I took it. I got it. You know I passed it so I'm so happy. I'm like oh yeah. This is so cool.
And then a fucking kidney stone. A kidney stone. Yeah well that's right. Because you're freaking old man.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So the kidney stone in there and I remember they that was so pretty painful.
I mean I never I wasn't, I was never beat up so hard that was so painful like this, but that was so painful that I remember they gave me that medicine, I think it was Demerol and I didn't work at all.
I say that something stronger because I just I'm I'm about to go crazy. I'm at that point, it's so, so hot. So they give me morphine that just went away. But that is a funny thing because the first time with the strep, I had no idea what it was. I was laying in the bunk in the boot camp and that's just a sprain comin. I just fell off the bed and so they turned the lights on and within like three minutes I had this pool of sweat right under my nose all dripping.
I'm on my force. This medic comes in.
Hey, are you OK? It's like, fuck, do I look like to you never came over. So they got me to the hospital.
I passed it. But that was not the worst thing. The worst thing is they told me, well, you know, you're going through this medical we are about to give you the medical examination for SEALs, but you can just get the kidney stone.
You have to wait a year. I was like, fuck. But, you know, my mindset was I want to fight the war in any capacity.
You know, I'm I'm honored that I have that privilege to go and fight for America. So for me, that's that's OK.
And so then I went to a school and the school I met rest in peace.
Les Borias, I don't know if you knew him, but so let's be serious. He was a motivator in Millington. When I was going through the my parachuting school, I said, look, I passed the test. I think I can easily pass it again. But I had this kidney stone and I cannot I just want to be a seal. So it's any way. Maybe there are some. Paperwork can be done, he just looks at paperwork.
Yeah, I think you can just go get your medical record from your from your medical office, bring it here, take a look at it.
So I ran up there to see what magic you'll come up with. I'm sure there are some paragraphs of some regulation that will allow the bypass, the stupid kidney stone.
So I brought this record right there, right there. And like, I just I want you to leave the room here. I'll be I'll just call you in a second.
And I could hear Rip. So he comes back.
So the kidney stone, where is that? I was like, Brett. Oh. So I don't see any I don't see any either.
You should have the kidney stones like, you know, maybe not.
Maybe I didn't.
OK, well, he didn't show. And a graduate from a school in. Mm. And I think one second top and everything from bootcamps. I graduate the top recruit in this whole batch. I was there, I got military excellence. I was, I was like a fast, very fast recruit actually to the top recruit from that batch, graduating high school graduates I believe the second the second highest score.
So I had things going on for me and then I was waiting for my orders. He said, OK, I send it out for it. Hopefully it gets approved. And sure, three months later I got my orders to.
But so that's the rest of the rest of it is history.
You show up at Buddz and what was what was there any major challenges for you was like you said, you were not that not a great swimmer. How were you on the rest of the water stuff?
Well, the the problem was that I could swim only on one side and I never swim with the mask on. So although they jump in the pool as they go, I want you to swim here. This is my stroke. Stroke. That's how you do it. And body will be swimming all the styles that will tell you to do it. And I was kind of okay with it. But when they put them put the mask on after the first couple of laps, I thought, I'll pass out.
I mean, I was like hyperventilating. I was blacking out. I see the black spots in front of my eyes. I'm about to die here, but if I stop, they kick me out so I ain't stopping. I see. I know that if I pass out, they will rescue me, that those guys everywhere, they tell us that we are safe. So we are safe.
So I was blacking out, I felt like to the blackout hitting these black spots, but it became easier and easier by I think by the time like the next hour, I was like, shit ain't that bad. So what is it?
Just like some weird, like, claustrophobic thing on your face or something like that?
No, I couldn't breathe through my nose and I couldn't breathe, know how to breathe through my every time I took a breath of water with it. So I think I was breathing water and air at the time and I was coughing. I was suffocating. I was I was basically drowning. I felt like I'm drowning. And it's just I said, I'm going to quit. I, I just I passed out and see what will happen if I have to, but I didn't pass out and I got better actually.
By the time there was a fourth phase there was a pre phase one before you Clatsop for the for the SEAL training. So by the time we graduate from the fourth phase, moving to our senior class, they asked me to demonstrate the new guys how to swim the site's rock.
So I became really good.
I was never faced. Remember, that was strong swimmer. I could swim forever.
And you didn't you didn't come up with any injuries or anything being a thirty three year old guy going through.
But not at the time though. The worst thing I was always tired. I was looking at these young guys like, hey, let's go to the bar. It's like, dude, I can hardly move. I can't go to the bar. I still make it out to the bar here and there. But there was just like a really painful for me because again, I was not the intensity of it.
It's not just the one time because like one time, like seal training, I think most of the people that one day he may survive, but it over and over and over just wears your body, wears you down and eventually some people quit.
So that was the most difficult for me because I did not recover as far as being thirty two years old. So as other guys.
So what was your first or your first orders. What team did you get.
I get to SEAL Team two and actually they, they, I wanted to go to SEAL Team four because I don't want to be called. I know SEAL team to attempt at the time operate the north part of the European in Europe in general. So I see. I just want to get the right team for that friend of mine.
Now how do you with your language, with your Polish. Russian and I speak Japanese too. So with with your languages, you be a good asset in this European team and staff.
So I kind of like put the I switched it from there, I think for the team to put in for second and just like haplessness. That would mean that I just for some reason, I didn't know I was I was not maybe the technical person at the time. And the challenge is to be, as the operator is twice as twice, you get to be a SEAL, but you have to have that expertise with as many sops and with the operation of it, that for me, I was overwhelmed by that.
What you need to know to be a good operator in this teams.
So so I chose to and I got my orders to seal team two, went to book, went to jump school. Did you did you go to Fort Benning?
Yes, I for me it was kind of a fun time because, you know, like when I was growing up, I was poor. I would never had the chance to go to, like Disneyland or this type of thing. I could watch over the fence how children were playing around it, but I couldn't afford it. So when I got into this town, I was like, holy shit, this is like a Disneyland. So I didn't care what the position they wanted me to just like running out of L.A. and yeah, that's the kind of thing like it.
But they but they are very rigid. So I remember had a lot of fun too, because that was what I think he went through the same thing. Yeah. So that is the Fort Benning. So you stand next to each other shoulder to shoulder, so close that basically you cannot even move. And then he just got your line, you crossed the line. They drag you just to the place. If I could never do that. PLF right.
I was always scared of feelings, so I don't know. Anyway, I found out that if you like, tip one of them from one end, just like a domino effect. I just totally felt safe.
And it was actually I thought it was it was amusing like this. You tip one a little better than the last guy blows down.
But my issue was that I don't like beer.
Laughs So I might so just so everyone knows, PLF is a parachute landing fall and it's a technique that you get taught for static line jumping where it's supposed to minimize your injuries because you keep your feet and knees together and you hit like you kind of like roll. You sort of roll when you hit and you keep your arms kind of tucked in. And it's supposed to prevent you from getting injured because when you're on a roll, when you're on one of those parachutes, you're still coming down really fast.
It's not like what you see in the movies when guys can kind of come down on a free fall parachute and they flare and they just kind of kind of tiptoe away from it. You hit pretty hard, especially if you're a heavier guy. The heavier you are, the harder you're going to hit. So they try and teach. And plus the army's working with hundreds and hundreds of people getting thrown out of that thing, getting thrown out of an aircraft every day.
So they try and teach the most simple way that they can teach hundreds and hundreds of people how to fall without getting hurt. Now, I also was not good at the PLF.
Yes, get the shit out of me. So I try one time and just put my shoulder like anything in them. Or so everytime I jump, I just stood up.
I just it was not a big deal because I in the hundreds of jobs at the time, so I just jump out just a little and it just didn't happen.
So they had those, those black black hats, they had those tubes.
PLF probably what I feel I to see it was like my parachute and just a lot of those people, they don't have that kind of soul. So they they knew from me from not listening to good.
Uh, yeah. Those planes, they were killing me so I didn't do them way to them.
So you get the team to and what what do you put in a platoon right. Where you go through? You know, I had to wait for rescue. I had to wait for a city.
The time there was still see your tactical training. But when I show up in the teams, you know, like you are the new you say, I was there and you say to everyone, I won the bootcamp to a school or, you know, the pilots, everyone so formal. So so, you know, by the book and everything. So I should have been by like I don't even know, like five minutes late that I'm hanging on the pull up body, my blue eyes and the fucking doing pull ups run three miles fucking party in my thing.
And it's like, what the fuck? By the time I even realized what's going on, I had completed the whole party in my blues and stuff. So I was just like with the new guys I just threw out.
So I said, What are you talking about? There is he shows up at in his dress uniform. When you check into a new command, you're in your dress uniform. It's the nicest uniform you've got. And you don't you know, normally you'd wear it for like a ceremony. So he shows up with that uniform on and they're like, cool, we're going to do a physical physical what is it, VRT or whatever. Does the R stand for physical?
Something less physical readiness test. Yeah, so they've got to take a physical readiness test. They haven't told me that. They say get on the pull up.
The pull ups could go for a run of pushups, sit ups, the seat that was in my dress blues and everything was so shiny. You know, I spent all night just making sure that I know no wrinkles, no nothing. And here I am.
This all this arrived arabidopsis. So anyway, I finished that.
That's the welcome to welcome to the team's new guy.
Yeah, but, you know, I just said, that's OK. I guess this is the way it goes. So I roll with it. And the bit another surprise for me was I had a match.
So we come in and there's a couple other new guys at the same time. So when we show up in the team and that's OK. Hey, you guys, at that time in the in the team's on every Friday, we had a kicker in the high bar. So it's a case of beer and the guys were drinking beer.
So, hey, when you guys we just invite you for the Kager, you know, I was just trying to come and join us for the kids.
So I remember I was so taken like these old guys, this old Navy SEALs, they are so cool, you know, take these new guys, they put the beer and stuff and. Well, I didn't know that. Were there just for the amusement of these all new guys. That's not soon. And we just closed the door of the bay.
We just got beat up, taped up, hang up in there on those fucking trays up, hanging like a bass while these guys guys are drinking beer and just throwing the insults and acid. And hey, and I was like once, but I have to be fair, once in a while, then lower us down. They stick this tube in our mouth from the drag. Just pull the trigger into the beer and drag it back and just squeeze it as fast as you can stop the words.
So by the time you know you're getting so much beer that you didn't care if you're hanging upside down. Not as long as they don't leave you overnight hanging. And it didn't happen. So so now I realized that we are not there to just fraternities that have to say to fraternize, fraternize with the all seals. We are just there for their amusement. And you guys meet, you know, fucking new guy.
Yeah. So that's yeah. That was the work of the team Sabbatino. That's how I look at it figured out. That's the way it goes. So I don't have a problem with that. And I was waiting for him. I started getting beat up here and there and then, and then that was fine. And then we got to a city. It actually pretty much pretty straightforward, pretty straightforward, but with me there was actually there was me and another guy, Scatty, went on.
Great guy, I love this guy. He was the team's lighter. So those two of us there will be different. I remember. So we went through everything. Everything went through that problem with my English because I still have to translate everything, all the commands.
Well, you shouldn't move. And, you know, you communicate so far that's going to translate in my head in Polish land and be fast enough to do it and react to it.
So I was OK. So when they eventually came to the krypto and the radio communication equipment, the communication class and went to Krypto and we are sitting there, by the time we were about to take a test from this, I was like like two more days. So.
So today was the last class, you know, how to use the cryptographic equipment, how to use all that stuff, and so that the next day supposed to be a, I think, final exam and then there's a like that then move to the next section of city. So this guy comes in and one of the instructors comes in.
It's like, hey, do you have a clearance? It's like I didn't know what it is, so most likely they'll have it. Do you have it? Clemins and kind like.
Well, I'm not even a U.S. citizen. Wow. Come on with me, you know so well up there and say I like them, so like look at us like ever, say, anybody you went to this class, you just don't say nothing.
Don't say anything. You never sit in that class. It's like, OK, you guys get your classes, then go, we will do it.
And so so yeah, we just see that. So next day we see our guys watching ran through the field, you know, with the equipment setting it up, you know, the krypto starving and I was watching tornadoes. I shit.
I mean there's not that difficult. I could pass the test now. Sansonetti out of the went through all this class I don't know was a big deal but I guess they don't want us, they don't want anybody to know that we sat through that class not getting the secret clearance. And, and so, you know, I eventually got my clearance. So I went to the RadioShack upstairs in the ceiling to and passed the test and eventually got his citizenship.
So we all went home and went up there. And because he was in the platoon by this time and he got his crypto stuff there and I will move down so that my first platoon, as I was. I remember. But you Bixler. Good God, I think if this guy didn't have a heart attack yet, I think he might he will have it because of me, because, you know, my English skills. So it's not really that good.
So they do reflect on everything. I mean, we you know, whatever you do, you know, who get to communicate. You get to communicate fast and very effectively.
And I just was lacking that English skills at the time. The funny things are funny. I made it to this platoon so I was not any more fucking new guy. I was not anymore meat. And we I remember.
So when you come back from First Platoon or get back from the platoon from deployment, you're like, Hey, I got this school, I'm going to sniper school, I'm going to this school, I'm going to that school. So say, hey, what's called jugaad?
You know, just what are you going. It's like I do. I'm going to English one one.
I think the next door up that is fucking the regular Navy thing. And so I spent the next three months doing actually English classes. There was not bad because actually it helped me in my career in the future. So basically. Well, so they legit sent you to English school? Yes. Yes.
And if I did save my career, you know, these guys were apparently they see something in me that say, well, you know, he bottrell English language.
Were you having a hard time like communicate like in that going through the house and stuff, like trying to communicate with computers. Yeah. Especially the communication going through the house and trying to communicate. Yeah. So at that time I was still had to, I still had to try. I didn't tell them that, but I had to translate from what I hear to my Polish thing. Then I had to think of the solution, translate back to English Incyte.
So I, I managed that.
But it is so much easier later on when actually I my it was good. So that's just flow, you know. But I still have to be very fast because of that.
First, what was your what was your position in that particular year. 60. I was the guy, I was six to go I think for the next three platoons. And it's just I like that, you know, I think it's a big, big thank you.
Is it loud? Because you don't have to worry about just jamming this little peashooter magazines. Just put the taping in and say I'm good to go to the show.
Where is your first deployment to Europe? Yeah, it was in Europe. There was at the time actually we deployed to San Vito in Italy and that was when the O'Grady got shut down. Actually, we were looking at him. And, you know, this guy brings to my mind to in seal teams do every day you do something, they can kill you. I didn't think about it, but it does. I remember flying over the Adriatic Sea where we're like and look out for this for for this pilot.
Uh, Scottie went on.
He was sitting in there and there was a sniper.
So he's sitting up there and the fucking with his gun.
And we look at it and I think it was Bill White, like at say Park say nothing.
He's whole ball just dropped off.
So he was sitting on the ledge of. I think that was who? Scottie. Yeah, Scottie. I saw the ramp is open. He's sitting on the ramp with his gun.
He's whole about is gun.
So he just I think it was a I think it was Bill White. He just like sneak up on him, just grab his ass, just fucking put him inside.
What it's like, dude, you almost fell out of the chair because, you know, those clips were like, easy to come on down.
I mean, it's not really something that would say safe that they will stay close on you. So. Yeah, so so that was the thing that comes to my mind. That's always there is something that in some situations that you can get cute. And if you look at the statistics, I think from the before the war, I think working like two guys in training every year as the average.
I think it was like when I and I'm looking out at this guy died, this guy was killed in training. This why I was given training was like one or two guys every year.
Yeah, for sure. No, there's definitely you're doing stuff every day. Whether it's parachuting, diving, shooting, you're always doing something to that that can give you a bad day or make you fall out of a helicopter because your belt came off, you know. So did you guys. Did you ever do any work down in Bosnia? Yes, winter.
There was nobody in another platoon. We went to Bosnia, to Yugoslavia. We spent time. That was a good time. She was like it was just good. There wasn't much to do at the time, but just work out with them would be.
So that was a really good platoon, actually. This is what I meant, the strongest guy.
And I think the team I, I think I can think of Chris as I don't know if I can bring his name Adam permission. I didn't ask him. So just to be on the safe side, but he knows who he is, where he went to France, France. I mean, this guy was lifting, what, five plates, the bench bench press. So when I went to France, we just got this French equipment. He just bent that shit out of the hell out of the primaries when he picked up this bribe.
Tribal. I mean, the bar band and those weights are falling off.
So all these French guys, they stop working with us. They just like whenever we rolled into their gym, they just sit down like that.
So we had to do so that day. That was actually funny. But yeah, there was a big brother, I remember. So there was entire platoon, I think over 220 pounds.
I think there's one guy maybe he was not, but all of us were over 220 pounds. And of course Chris was way much more.
And yeah, that's I remember for me, I wanted to say I need to join this 220 pounds. So I'm working so hard and I'm just like I have a pound below, have a pound block to 19 to 18, say, fuck, give me that loaf of bread right there. So I was just like I weigh myself. I had these few grams to get to this 220 pounds. I just try and push myself into that bread myself, like get them to scale it to twenty and a half or like I have to 220 pounds glub, you know, I wish I could get to the 220 pounds from the other side.
So then what was it when I showed up at team two.
What was that, your fourth platoon. Yeah, I don't remember. I think so. Or your third platoon maybe. I think it was your.
Yeah, I remember you showed up and it's like I remember I had to swim with you this before even we platoon up so we just dive that the swim. And I said, well you had I'm kind of big guy so I don't think you'd be swimming that fast. So I think I'm safe with you. I'll be all right. And you look at you look at me as your boy, you swim with the bully.
And I was like, OK.
And so we get in the water, fuck you drag that boy, you drag me and the boy with you. I just could not keep up.
I mean, that was like, what is taking that strength from I you shouldn't be you so big you shouldn't be swimming that fast.
What were you doing like a recall dive or something. Yeah, I think it was a good equal dive. Yeah. That was just like swimming from one place to another, just couple of legs here and that I think it was a record dive. So I remember you dragged me and that beat the fucking water so bad like I think I will just over breathe that goddamn I can tell I we made it so that I'm good at it and so that we get put in the platoon and we had a freakin really good work up out there.
Oh yeah. That was good work. That was really good platoon. Good deployment too. I mean I really enjoyed the Stigwood went to Spain, we hijacked the Russian tanker to that.
That was a you know, now when I look back at it after my experience in combat, I'm sure you too.
It's like it's not really that big deal. Yeah.
But at that time there was like, holy shit, we'd not only hijack the Russian tanker Volga, it was left.
We we passed on that thing.
I tried to finally think Stewie's you remember, with ships like that because it was a Russian tanker. So they're regular. And just to clarify everyone for for the English translation, when when when Drogo says we hijacked a Russian tanker, we actually didn't hijack a Russian tanker. There was a there was a tanker, a Russian tanker that was smuggling oil out of the Gulf. And one of the missions that we had while we were over there were stop people from smuggling stuff out of the Gulf.
Most of the time we were taken down little little towns, little tiny boats, and we would take those things down. We took down a bunch of them, too. But then this was the biggest catch that we got was this big oil tanker that we that we fly. Yeah. Yeah. With a Russian flagged tanker that we took down, we got control of. We turned it over to the the authorities, but so we didn't hijack it.
But we did take the visits and sent this report and said, I can't there's a name for it. But, you know, bottom line, hijack the tanker. So we got it. And I remember the funny thing is you remember we did the ships later, right, because it was uncomfortable. So let's keep seals on it. So just bobbing on this boat, bobbing on this. But I remember when we took it down, we came back and and the next shift came back the next day, the other squad, when they came back to do it, he just left a bunch of weapons with them.
There is so much fire. We took all the weapons that you guys. I was looking for the weapons. Did we leave up that? I mean, we searched the boat.
What turned out to be as when they went up there, they see those little butter patties, the butter knife, butter knife.
They just fucking took it away from this guy. So when we went back, these guys are coming in, I spoke Russian. So, yeah, they say, hey, mister, please help us. We have no teeth and we can't eat because these guys stole our forks and our knives. So we can I cannot chew. And this is really maybe two or three feet sticking out of the mouth. And that's all they had. So I remember.
Yeah, yeah. We take care.
So we actually bring those butter knives or butter, whether you call it specialist and forks back to them so they can actually eat. Yeah.
I also remember those guys. They were telling us that we didn't do a good job clearing or whatever they were saying because they still because we were like, oh yeah, they have they have butter knives and stuff like that.
And they're like, don't worry. We secured it. Yeah. And we were sailing.
We were on a Navy ship looking at the ship that we took down. And I'm looking at I was like, yeah, you did a good job.
And I looked over and there's like a fire and they were like, good job, you idiot. So they stole their fucking butter knives and forks to leave the big box. And I say, hey, you guys left this all these weapons here, look at this as butter knife.
Yeah, that was crazy, too, because just by sheer luck, our platoon commander went to the Naval Academy and studied Russian. And so he spoke Russian. Yeah, we had another guy that was like went to Berkeley and and he studied Russian. And then you saw in a platoon we had three Russian speakers. Yeah. We took down a Russian vessel. Yeah. That's freaking lucky right there. That was awesome.
I remember just at the very beginning we passed the bridge and I remember this captain say, hey, don't cooperate with Americans. He's in Russian. Don't don't say nothing. Don't operate. Resist as much as you can understand it. Hales, I would like to take care of it. Just grab the guy by the scruff. You have opened it. I was going to be extremely with the door. I said open the door just like a little tiny space.
So I think the Russians like you, motherfucker. You just say another word. I'm going to squash you right here like you are for the rest of the journey. You just look at this little tiny space here. I forget, but don't fuck with these guys are OK. No problem. We never had a problem with this guy again. So, yeah, that was a good guy. And I tell you, I have to say one more thing here.
I don't know. Do you remember when he was in our platoon of my really good party and at the time we were best friends. And I remember he was a sniper on this op and he said, you are going to happen, I think, to you, I'm looking over you. And I remember as we move through the ship, as we search, I said I, I know what I was up there.
And I think shit is going to happen to me.
I know he'd take down anybody who's on our way.
So it makes me very comfortable there. That was we had a bunch of we had a tight group. A good platoon. Yes. And also you were talking about being big. We were also. Oh yeah. We also we we tried to get a platoon average of two hundred pounds and we had to make up for some slack.
So we had some fun with it. And we I remember we got to we the first place we went was Spain. Oh yeah.
And I was trying to get to two fifty and I could do the same thing. I was like trying. I'm eating, I'm lifting, I'm squatting, I'm eating.
And I was, I couldn't get above like two, I don't know, two forty five or something like that. And then where we stayed in Spain was they had an all you can eat buffet for all three meals of the day.
Yeah. And I was like oh I got this like three days later I was two fifty.
I weighed in and I was like yeah two fifty. And then I went on a four mile run and I was like, OK, I need to lose weight.
Yeah. And they said, you remember, we're leaving like our doors were open right on the beach.
So yeah, I was just walking on the side sidewalk was like, I'm on the beach right there. That was awesome. I mean this was awesome deployment. I didn't like that.
And then the parade and that was the the Christmas party. I mean, the Christmas time came, the new year came and kind of got us tighter and close together, too. There was the two thousand year. So that was really, really good time. And I have very fond memories of it. It's almost like a very nostalgic to me right now. It's just so. So, yeah.
So we get done with that platoon. I know. I got back, I went to college.
You carried on where you said. Seem to go a different team. No, because I think you remember when we came, we came out as a 2000 as a as a platoon from SEAL Team two.
We came back as a SEAL team for at least some of us. So they remember the Division 2000 that went blank.
Oh, that's right. Right. They made some adjustments to the way they were structuring the teams. Yes. And so when we got back, you hosting for you went to team four. OK, got it.
So after all these upheavals and all that stuff, eventually I ended up in one of the platoons that were we deployed to South America. We were in Puerto Rico and we're like three miles into deployment.
When they go, they call me, my chief calls me and say, hey, Drago, we you go to Baghdad, just don't you, to pack your schedule and to facilitate the Polish chrom with our guys.
Where were you where were you when September 11th happened to go on SEAL team two quarters like I was actually watching it as it happens. And I remember I was working I was in the gym and I see the airplane hit the tower. So it's like, what a fucking idiot just flew into the thing.
But then, as you know, the news progressed and I said there was not there was a jetliner. There was not the small airplane. I just put my attention. I say, that's that's something that's something wrong here. And then the second plane hit the tower.
I remember and I still have a hard time thinking about it, it brings me all these memories and that I was watching the towers collapse. So it just brings tears to my eyes so I can I can't think about it. I just at the time, I just want to go and kill the savages. So.
So as you're now now fast forward a little bit because you're back on deployment. You're at team four, you're in Puerto Rico. You're probably going completely insane because you're in Puerto Rico instead of being either in Afghanistan or Iraq. Yep. And then you get a call.
Yes. And I tell you, make jealous everybody in the platinum's.
How the fuck Dragoo got this? You know, SEALs, we are aggressive. There's a war.
We want to be in the war. And yeah.
So as fuckin a this is just incredible. I am I'm so damn lucky I can possibly achieve. I can pack my shit right now. I can just go package register. You'd think, Stiv, all of us here. So let's see what will happen is that we are I think you have a deployment at the time, so you'll just go for another half, another three months, just help settle down this thing, settle on the ground and come back and join the other platoon and the other work up.
And so I say, yes, I was so excited. I love the Baghdad service.
So just so everyone understands. So there's a there's a Polish Special Forces unit there called Grahm.
What does Graham mean, Funder? Or is that the callsign? It is a concern. But, you know, you can translate Graham actually as a tender. It is time. It's under this acronym for actually roupas vaccine Rakove. I don't know.
I can say this. So it does it does stand for something in production, something, but it also means thunder means thunder.
It's someone you see on sale right. Right now, the Marcio. But it's not really what it is. Yeah.
So so the Graham the polished Graham had deployed to Baghdad, they were actually co-located with the SEALs that were also in Baghdad. And they needed someone to be liaison between the Polish Grahm and the the SEALs that were there. And of course, everybody kind of knows or had run into or someone knew that there was a Polish guy or an American, an American guy that could speak Polish that grew up in Poland, that was in the SEAL teams. They track you down, they give they they contact through your chain of command and boom, you get the call.
How long did it take from the call to you fly over there?
I think it was a week or a few days because, you know, I had to pack my stuff, but I still have to process my orders and yeah, pack my stuff and stuff from civilian aircraft to it was fine because I have all the guns, everything that flying civilian aircraft to the Middle East. And eventually I landed in Baghdad. Yeah, that was 2003. Oh, wow. The heat was incredible. When I unpacked my stuff, I just stood up as like that.
That wind blew was like, fuck, what is the aircraft?
Know, I thought, I'm like the jet blast of some, you know, what month did you arrive?
I think it was may show they to do was hot.
It's not even hot yet. Yeah, it's not even hot. Yeah. I mean like June it's going to calm. Oh yeah. And then July and August it's on. So but even May you're like getting there like oh why it's so hot here. The engine blast. And they look around and it's like there's no and just, just the wind.
So you, so you show up you get to camp. Jenny Pozzi. Yes. So they get Jenny Pawsey and to pursue happiness.
So, you know, I'm getting briefed and they say, OK, so that's what we expect from you. This is what needs to happen. So this is what I raised my first alarm. I say I'm going to sit in the fucking Humvee and watch shit happens. I'm here.
I'm going with these guys. I if they go so you know that for the command, our safety is priority. So they were like, you know, well, we don't know these guys really.
We know they're good. But, you know, we don't train with them. We didn't train with them that much. So we set you loose with these guys.
I mean, you taking it, we are taking your chances that you can get hurt.
But I said I had no other way. I'm I'm going with these guys. I mean, I. I wouldn't get any respect even from that. I wouldn't respect myself just sitting in the Humvee doing nothing.
So after the debate, they say, OK, you can go with these guys. So for me it was good because I was double dipping. I was going with the gram guys and they don't just switch my gear and just go back with our guys.
By switching gears, you mean change your clothes. Did you wear the uniform?
No, no, no, no, no. I would wear our uniform, but it changed my Life magazine, so.
Yeah, yeah, it's Marello philosophy and go with I sometimes on the fly on the fly because like we're at the time was within five.
So the growing the target then we move to another target, just switch the cars and go with our guy. So I got some of those missions, I think it's pretty good. I think we can live in the dream. No kidding. I mean, this is like so that's why, you know, like Christmas came in, what are supposed to return?
It's like I hear nothing from my so, like, fucking seen yet either. So I keep going. Actually they ask who wants to stay longer here because we have this change, but we could appreciate any change.
I guess I am here.
So yeah, I stayed and like for months past like nobody says anything. Five months that nobody says anything. I was like fucking happy as I can be a snake saying shit to these guys.
And so like in the eight months, so this was like 11 months deployment, almost a year, my Enviga broke and I said, look, guys, I need some.
How can you guys loan me your Convergys? They said, well, yeah, we can. And, you know, as a platoon, when we deploy, our gear is limited and we have something that can support the platoon s but not too long, some other guys. So, you know, it went on for a while when I was trying to call my team, I said, Hey, guys. So I finally I got kind of my team.
I said, I didn't. Fijis in Baghdad. So this guy is like, listen to this. Like what I see, I can you send me any evidence to back that?
Who is this? And some drago.
So you want me to send equipment to you somewhere in Baghdad? I say to campus you have company so and who you are to say who who the drugs you are.
Who it's like I'm just going I'm SEAL team guy and team guy.
It's like you don't even speak English. Do you want me to send the suicide bomb vest where they do just like basically they thought I'm just Iraqi trying so fucking gear to send someone to Baghdad. I think the Surakarta really pissed like the motherfucker.
If I can kill you when I get when I come back in there and by the way, give me my cell phone line. So they put my cell phone lines. It must achieve something to get some juice. I'm here.
My Brogan say, wait, wait, wait, wait. Are you it? I say I'm going back to the master chief. It's like second hand how long you have been there.
I see I'm like almost a year on deployment and do you need to come back here, you know, SEAL team, such and such? I do want to bring the number is about to deploy and we are next.
You need to come back. And there was no way to go out. I mean, when they go maybe so much by the time you get to come back. So they they send me I come back to a little creek and so that then the next team is coming out.
So I say, hey guys, I can go at the time you get addicted to that stuff. I mean, you just you can't leave in normal society just like that. I just left that. I don't like this place here. So to leave like this, I want to be there.
And so I see where I go with you guys. How can these, you know, just help us settle down with this? You ought to have been there for so long time and you're with Graham. So we have you will help us settle down with that stuff with Graham.
And so I went that. So we take you for a couple of weeks, and that's for me. It's like, yeah, that's also that a couple of weeks it as much as I can get. So we flew up there and it's like four months later it's like, hey driver, you need to come back.
We are deploying to us something like this and you need to be back to join your platoon.
So I say, oh shit, OK, so I'm as much my out along the way.
So I came back and turned around and came back again with the with, with, with my, with the whole team for the funny thing is that I'm or my on this last tour and I was that army guy comes up to me like I don't know him from Adam. I was like the producer, even the guy, he can actually do it.
Have you been here in 2003? I say, yeah.
Have you been here in 2004?
When did did you ever go home you like. Well, for a little time. But do I remember seeing you all three fucking years. And I said, well if you see me there, you have been here for quite some time too.
You know, these guys are doing awesome jobs. So the army guys, you know, that's a pleasure to work with them.
But yeah, was like, yeah.
And that was that was my my Iraq time.
Yeah. It was interesting, like when we were there together and just to give everyone an idea of what was going on. So the Grahm there were there would be intelligence from various sources coming down and we would kind of go out and capture or kill bad guys. And sometimes sometimes we were basically rotating back and forth between Grahm and the put the SEAL platoon. Graham's the opportunity and sometimes it would be two targets and we just go out together and or if it was a really big target, we'd go out together and maybe Graham would be external security and the SEALs would do the assault or maybe SEALs would be external security and Graham would do the assault.
And I don't remember.
You're going to have to correct me, but.
I don't remember many of them speaking English and not many at the time. Now everybody everyone speaks in speak, speaks very well. But at that time, yeah, that was certainly me. And this is why for me it was great because I was going on the missions with them. I was doing assaults and the and the stones that the hideouts with them and with our guys all over the thing. But yeah, they they did not speak English at the time.
So what I remember is like we would give our brief and you would stay in there and translate the brief for them and then they would explain what they were doing on their target and you would explain what they were doing to us. And then any time that we were, you know, if we were if we were kind of doing something together, you were really critical for making the the connection between what the two elements were doing. Is Friedgen a pretty big job?
You know what there was? It was I think it was important at the time, but eventually we meshed so well that I remember sometimes it was kind of, hey, hey, is that guy is the Grahm guy was our guy. So I would say that's our guy. You got to tell who is who because we're working so well together.
Yeah, but, you know, talking about this English thing, translation and stuff, I am also I think the besides being breccia and breeching in Iraq, known for my English skills, actually for my I actually I'm going to patent it. I'm thinking about patenting it.
I became known for being the fastest English language instructor teacher to terrorists, actually, because I developed that course, I counted Drago's accelerated English language course for terrorists, basically.
Give me five minutes with the terrorist because they always say, remember, I don't speak no English, no English mastered the English master.
So I teach you five minutes later the guy who actually could speak with better accent that I could ever say things.
So that's that's I think that I'm very proud of my skills and that so that's that that that I'm thinking about patenting it eventually because that's, you know, it worked so well.
Yeah, it was it was awesome, too. Like when I when I said that the translating between us and the Grahm, you're right. Like we'd be out on the target and we wouldn't they would be very little that you would have to translate because we all knew what the missioners knew what we were doing. We would interact very well together and just like just like seals. I mean, when you're out in the SEAL operation, you're not talking to a bunch of bracingly, especially on those types of missions.
You're barely saying anything. So it was it was not like you were all the time having to translate. But there was a couple of times or there would be times where it's like, oh, we need to know what they're doing. What are they doing? Right. I drongo where they go right now, it's like, oh, they saw a guy, they saw squirter. They're going to get my cool. Roger that. Yeah.
Just, just taking care and, and bringing those two units together. And man it was an awesome working relationship that we had with the Grahm. It was freaking awesome. They were great guys.
I really enjoyed that work because especially there, you know, that we have it all the same approaches. But the interpretation of this arrow is, well, maybe a bit more loose or not so strict.
So I don't think they were they apply everything that needs to be applied to arrows, but they were also realistic about that stuff. So there was pressure to work with them. The finer things was that if I mix it up, you know, I had that sweet the earphones that Peltier's with one connect to the Polish Chrome, one to us.
So if I switch the wrong the wrong way and it's like, oh God damn, speak English my themselves with the other one draggled. We don't understand shit. You just say speak Polish.
So I have to be very careful. You can do things very fast in combat and then you have to just switch this thing the right way because we just away it's like we don't understand you. We don't speak Polish. So you're there for O3.
You got there in May, you're there for you're there. My whole deployment, which was from 03 like to like October 03 or something like that, fall of 03 to to spring of four or five. And then you you went back for a little bit.
Did you go back. I go back with my platoon then I came back to SEAL Team four and we are just looking for those deploying back again.
I came back again for another six months. So now that was pretty cool. The thing is, you know what?
What it does to me is I remember it becomes almost unreal, this world here. I remember I was talking to my girlfriend at the time and say, hey, I need to go and to go home. I'm tired now.
So, like, that's just how stupid this is. Your home. Your home is not there. Your home is here and blah, blah, blah.
It's like, oh. OK, well, whatever, you know, but the reality is that that place becomes your home when you think about this this world, about people walking the streets, making groceries, it become a dream, almost like a state that's just like, yeah, it is there, you know, but like now here the when you think about the fairy tales, some, you know, Snow White or something, that sounds really great, but it's just like a fairy tale.
So for me, this war became a fairy tale. It was just like that. Now is there is awesome. But I'm here and this is my reality. And then one that almost like a dream, you know, sometimes a little sleep. I was dreaming of being in a normal world. And yeah. So that's that became that world here became very distant to me, become almost unreal because they're my reality was the war and I liked it.
I mean, that was at the time I thought I liked it.
But I have to tell you, because, you know, my job I was I'm breacher.
So I remember at the end of deployment, the first deployment, I start having problems reading. I couldn't read. So I remember trying to read the sentence and my eyes were jumping. So I had to read it over and over. And then when I finished reading it, I don't remember what I started that sentence with. So it took me sometimes to five, six minutes to get through a paragraph. And I think this is because of the concussion.
I mean, we are exposed to these to this stuff. And I did a couple of times that I, you know, like we were supposed we are going explosive breach through the door that we look at the internal pictures. And that was not exactly OK. So this is how we plan. You know, we prepare all the briefs.
This is what we write. This is what the assault element is going to be. There's a breach. There's we're going to go blow the door to this guy. We go, well, some of those pictures were not very accurate. And I remember around the situation that we had that I had the assault team stats that I went into breach with a guy came back in that I had no place to hide.
I was like, fuck. And you remember most of these most of these buildings or these hideouts were fenced over there, the fences and stuff.
So once we climb inside, there's no place to hide. And I had to blow that shit pretty much on myself. I was like, oh, fuck, I hide. I'm not going to. My group was running for looking for some place to hide. So I just took and he put the gun in front of my face and fucking blow the shit out. I remember I didn't remember much after that. I mean, I got my force for my for my legs and I was bleeding from my nose in it then was kind of like always puzzled me.
So what the fuck is my side? I mean, I have like the bruise, like fucking broke my ribs that fucking came from. So the ground was like, you are on your force. We just have to kick you out of the way because there's no way the way you know, you are just you are just there on your force.
And we so basically they kicked me out of the way that he was so strong, it almost broke my ribs. But, you know, it's not it's not that's something that you accept because that's.
Yeah, yeah. As as a breacher man, those are those operations like those breaches that you guys were doing. And I would usually position myself where I would be kind of with there'd be a wall. I would sort of put myself on top of the wall on top of the ladder so I could see the breach, I could see the building, I could see if there's any enemy movement. And then right as you guys would say, turning steel.
I would duck down.
And I'm not sure that I'm actually talking I'm actually ducking down behind the wall because there could be frag and stuff like that. Oh, yeah, absolutely. But you guys were inside those compound walls and you're probably, whatever, eight feet, ten feet, twelve feet away from the blast.
And so, like I said, I get a little little bit of protection and I don't feel as much concussion, the concussions going up.
And then as soon as the breach goes, I jump over, the longer we go do our thing.
But, you know, you guys are just taking that breach on a nightly basis, taking that hammer to the brain. And and look, I know there's some of them where, you know, it would be really bad. It it might knock you out. But even the ones that don't knock you out, even the ones that you just go, oh, you just you just suck up that thing and it doesn't knock you out. And then you go, yep, that thing is not good for you.
Like those breaches are not good for you. And who knows how many hundreds, hundreds of times you just took that took that took that minor concussion.
And over time it's definitely going to it's going to and leave a mark accumulates. Yes. But we were you know, we're not aware so acutely of the right then as we know now what it does to you. And you're right. You let you had no. You get sugar. Shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it. You get like you get thrown out of the sometimes the ground is your feet go up and they ride the blast.
But then you just go in. You move on.
You are on autopilot. Basically, you know what to do. You train for years to do it. So this is what I like. I said, I was so effective. I enjoyed that skills I could apply as a Navy SEAL. So that's that was that was a great feeling.
But yeah, it does not feel, you know, when you get the bleed from your ears and those, but but they're just the tactics and techniques that how effective they are and how well they work.
Yeah. When you said good feeling, I was just thinking about like when I got to Baghdad.
So you'd already been there for a long four, I don't know, eight, eight months.
But I remember just being so freakin happy to see you. And I was like oh was a year ago because we already did a platoon together.
We already had all some times together. Yeah. I just was like so for that's another thing to go with your platoon.
I think this is for some reason I talk to other guys, we feel fucking safe. It's like shit, it's not going to happen to us.
Nothing is going to happen to us. I think. I think because that that's the way your platoon was fired up, the way you were fired up, the way it was. I mean, I think the leadership has a lot to do with it. How you feel about this that they've given up. And for us, it was just like fucking that can operate like this forever.
Yeah. All right.
So let's talk about when you when you get back home, after you spend all these months and months over there.
And you were talking about how the the concussion, like you're you're trying to read and you see the freaking words are moving around. Did you get done with a sentence you can't remember? What did you when when that when that first started happening to you, what were you thinking? I was thinking keep it quiet, because they will move me out of the platoon that they will they won't let me go to war. So I just keep my mouth shut and say nothing.
Did you go back into another platoon at this point?
Yeah, there was no it was after the first the first deployment. So I did toward more tours with that. But coming back, talking about the returning from this, there was like almost a year being deployed.
I remember I landed in Norfolk and the guy said like, OK, go ahead and want me to help you something. I had all my gear and all that stuff from Puerto Rico because I just came back from I went from you basically from Puerto Rico to Iraq.
So I had to get my own gear. So I stuck my gear in the car by those those called. And I was so tired. I remember I they say, no, there were these guys are coming to pick me up, so I'm good. So he left shut the door. There was like nobody there, you know, the Norfolk Military Airport.
And I fucking fell asleep just like fucking getting dark and freezing my ass off. So what the fuck. I don't know. What am I. So I'm not what's motherfuckers didn't show up. So like, my phone is dead. So I was like, fuck, I couldn't even call them getting fucking night and call. There's nobody there. So I tried to knock on the door, hey, hey, I need the phone so nobody shows up.
I was like, I'm so fucking cold at the time. I'm just trying to get inside because I'll get hypothermia. I grab this fucking garbage thing.
I was about to swing to the window and this guy opens the door. I say, dude, I make a call that these guys didn't show up.
So so I.
I kind of I called my phone is dead. I can I don't even have a phone. I don't remember because my brain is so messed up. Don't remember the number two group called the team. There's a weekend so that team is not there kind of kind of the group. So I say hey somebody's supposed to pick me up today a few hours ago and I'm still in the parking lot. So who you are, who to assume, Drago, where they're coming from?
I said from Baghdad, if I said fuck up, we don't have anybody in Baghdad yet.
We know we are not even there, you fucking idiot. And just fucking hang up. They thought they I'm just I don't know what they think I said. So, you know, group two, there's no not necessarily seals in the quarter that anybody who the logistic people. So I called back again, I say, hey motherfucker, give me the officer of the deck. I need officer because I need to. I just came back from Baghdad. I need to get back to the teams.
So say they Collodi. And they said, hey, this program just came here for a few hours ago. You guys supposed to pick me up? You have to pick anybody up today.
He's just like, oh, hey, drugger, we are so sorry.
I'll just send defrag right now. So they were on the we are on the way. So, yeah, they sent the guy that tech came in and. Guy, I really liked him, so he he come in, they load my gear and we got the team for they took my guns away, they put it away way they all my gear.
I just unloaded my cage and I said something just picked me up. Something came to my mind. I fucking I haven't by this time the girlfriend left me. She just said, like you are down. She called me on Christmas, say that she needs to move on and I'm she'll have a time for this shit. So. So I'm like, she had my car in my stuff, but I've had so I have no car. The car is parked somewhere in her place.
My, my my clothes are there.
And everything I had was crucibles worth of things but was in her place.
So said I just could not take this key. I stole the key from the one of those pickup trucks outside of that stuff. I just borrowed it. And I'm glad I did that because the guy will go out, we will go outside, he shuts the door and I say, hey, what's the code I need to get inside? So you guys are still sleeping in their fucking teams in the cages. You can't do that anymore. There's new regulations.
You are not allowed to go sleep in. The teams have no place to go. He said, well, tough shit, man. He life. He just I'm the kind of life that's like, what the fuck? So I try to remember the code. I don't remember. I can't, I can't remember it. So punching things because they stop the of like do this some time ago and so I can remember it as fuck.
But I'm so angry now I just need to do something, I just need to grab something to eat.
So I had no money but I put my credit cards not credit card by the credit card but my ATM card. It's like maybe fifteen dollars. So I just need to do something. I got ten dollars out of it, so what can I say?
I hope so. I drove to it in Virginia Beach. I hope that's why that I think there was at the time Borders bookstore.
And I came up to this thing and that's what got me those cheese plates I love. She's been so the from the from the. I hope so. I got Neches Blane's got me a coffee.
So now I got so sleepy, so tired I just fucking fell asleep up there.
And then next thing is the guy the security officers says, hey, what are you doing here. I mean you are sleeping here. I'm watching.
You are here for like five hours or so. And this are like like I think 2:00 in the morning. Hey, I mean, what's the problem? I'm looking at him. I'm still trying to get that my wits together. He looks at me. It's like, yeah, the bitch kicked you out.
Then she was like, yeah, the bitch kicked me out. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So I said, Do you mind if I just go relax tomorrow morning? I'm not today morning at 7:00. I'll just go and you know, I'll just buy some more food if I need to say no, no, no, you fine.
Just go relax and you know, just don't cause any problems. I'm not a problem. So in the morning I woke up and slept and I hope so. I woke up and went to group to get some phone calls. And most of the guys were, I think for the time they were doing something because they were deployed. We were ready to deploy again. So if I got hold of somebody and then I got the code back to the team and then I realized that it's not only me, it's bad enough that team gets this, but there's always something like sleeping in the cage because gets kicked out from the house.
His girlfriend kicked him out because of this problem, because that's no place to leave for sure.
So something that's like I moved into the the cage and that's pretty cool because the platoon had have all the cable TV.
You have a shower, you have a gym. Twenty four hours, seven. And so it was only me. It was like a bunch of guys. You should just bang on the door. Somebody would come out and just open the doors for us. I didn't know anybody was here. We were told that we cannot do that.
There's nobody in the teams anymore that he's gone out there. So we just have playing cards and all kinds of skills and then, you know, just we deploy again, but then I deploy again. But that was the first to my first comeback was not only that, but then I find out that my checks are bouncing. I look at the banks have no money at all. I said, what the fuck? So I go to them and they said, Oh, you didn't feel the travel claims.
So travel claims I was in Iraq.
We told them I was not moving anywhere. I was there for like eight miles, nine miles. And you were told not to worry about the travel claims?
Well, we just got your money.
So you aren't getting any paycheck, just getting maybe like three, whatever that proportion was that they allowed to leave.
So I say, dude, I'm so fucking sick and passed away about it.
And I tell you this, I'm just going to make me assign Iraqi writer and I work for food and I'm going in front of the fucking gate up there and get some money because I need to eat.
So I go that far, you know, he says we need the money and actually the chief mass actually to loan me the money so I can buy some food and buy some bills.
I of course, I paid it back, but I was so mad that this that those civilians that worked the travel claims in group two and just laid it to them, they show up, I yell at them. I see.
So next thing the Chiefs calls me, hey, Drago, you're not allowed the group to you take out provosts.
And I think we have a problem. So we just told them that if you show up in group two, you'll be always chief assistant you and you go with cheap up there because you really scared these people out that I was like, OK, chief, that's no problem.
And and, you know, just work my way, work my way out of this and pay my sandpile those travel claims, you know, feel the travel claims.
They did return some of the money and it was all good. You know, that's that's not deploy again and again. And that this with the eyes first.
I was I was coming with all kinds of theories, like maybe my eyes are bad, maybe the time is dark. So I use the flashlight ideas and I can't fucking read.
So it just I just gave up.
I say maybe I'm just not smart enough and I just like, move on. It was busy with other stuff, so it came back later that.
How many more deployments did you do. Three to two more to Iraq. So what year was your last one. 2005, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
And then what did you do when you got home from from that deployment? From that deployment? You know, at that time. I also know before you even jump into that, I like there's a certain transition period and there's a there's like a you know, when you're.
Overseas and especially for you, you have one basically one purpose in life when you're over there like you get it, you get your mission tasking you you figure out what the what the plan is. You get your gear together, you brief the guys, you go out, you do your hit, you come back.
It's the simplest life. Yeah.
Is it like a customer service, the government customer service?
I don't get it, but my customers were always bad and I got to kill them and then you but you come home and all of a sudden there's all these other things right. There's the freaking travel claims and there's like apartments and there's all these other things that you got to try and like deal with again.
And and sometimes just that is just not it takes a little bit of time to get used to what you were saying. You were saying that the normal world.
Doesn't really exist anymore, and then when you come back and you get injected back into it, sometimes it takes a little time to get used to. OK, there's just this is what this is what I've got to deal with. I got to go stand in line at the DMV like a normal freaking human being, which I have.
You know, let's face it, if you if there was someone in the way when you know, it's like when we were when we were doing operations, when we were driving, if there was a vehicle in the way, you freaking just knock the vehicle off the road like you go out out of the way and then you drive on. If there's a person that's in the way as you're moving towards a target, you just freaking clear them out of the way.
It's just no factor. Yes. And so you get in that mindset of, OK, I'm going to make happen whatever I need to make happen to get the mission done. That's the mindset that you get in and you get back in and you realize, OK, it takes a little time to realize that you can't just go you can't stay in that mode because that mode. Is not that mode is actually considered to be criminal and destructive and destructive in America in the normal civilian populace.
Yeah, I remember my first feeling was even when I was sleeping in the IHOP when I came back, it's kind of a relief to when I'm just look around, see these people eating or walking around. So I see that's that's that's the normal life.
But that was I forgot about it almost because we so immersed into that combat, into that the time that that, again, this became like a dream. Then you come back, it's like, well, that's actually real. You know, that's but also a big relief. I never realized that that that thing over your head all goes well.
I can get shot. We don't think about it. Never bother me.
But then when I came back, it's like I'm going to get shot. It's just like, well, the first thing you said, I'm I'm good.
I'm a gay, you know. But then come the reflection to think about the guys that did not come back. And that's it still bothers me and. That's I think they will always stay with us forever, that I don't know, it's kind of like the survival survivor guilt. That's what they call I mean, why him?
Not me. And that's why I am trying to cherish the memories of the guys that I knew.
They are not here anymore because, you know, it fades and I think they are alive and they still leaving our minds. So what we can do for them is just remember them, because if we forget who we remember, so they are still alive.
They are alive in our minds that we see them, we remember them, and we need to cherish days. So it is so important to write the books about these guys who are not here anymore because who.
Right they can write their own book to engage parents that was lost. Her parents of our guys look up. They might not seem like a lot, but they are. You wake up and you know, the pain doesn't go away. Just leave it alone with it as a parent, as a spouse.
But what you can do is just write little things that you remember that you wake up a second. Yeah, I remember he was doing this and that when he was a little kid. Write this down because those memories are fleeting. You might not remember that ten years down the road, but eventually if you keep doing this, you will write the full picture, the image of your child, of your spouse who is no longer with us, but helps all of us remember it.
So it is important that you do that. And hopefully people are doing it because, you know, that eventually became a book and maybe you want to share the parent or the spouse want to share with us the other person that we don't know, because most of us know they got the guy like fucking Warry or, you know, he goes up that he kills the bad guys. He does what needs to be done. But there is also another side to each of us.
And we don't know that side of these people who didn't come back. So it is important that we help maintain that memory of these guys.
Yeah, there's no doubt about that and even, you know, with with the opportunity I have here, talking to guys, talking to veterans from other wars as well and just just hearing their stories. And they still carry on the memories, guys, the guys from the Korean War, guys from Vietnam, that what you're saying is absolutely true. And they're like I read a lot of books that guys have written and that's that's the memory. That's what they left behind.
And they they remember and they account for the friends and brothers that they lost in combat. And it's it's priceless. It's priceless for us.
This is how we keep them alive. You know, that's how we keep their memory by keeping their memory alive because they are leaving our minds soon.
So you end up doing another your next two deployments. Were those back to Iraq again? Yeah. Yeah. And then when I came back, I realized that, you know, I'm forty five. I haven't at the time my girlfriend dumped me because my career was not to you. That wasn't making enough money. Obviously she's actually say that the email that that really not there's not the place she wants to be in. So I say fuck I mean I'm, I'm like can you if I'm getting old guy and I don't have don't know even girls, you know, I don't have anybody.
So I'm going to go and find somebody. How do I find somebody.
I think these guys would just go online and look for somebody. So I remember there was this there is a site, American singles.
And I say, fuck, yeah, I'm American, I'm going to go and get me a wife, so so we're American and I'm saying this is it's for me. So so I can write for a while.
Right. So I remember. So we are going trying to find have fun the. She's so beautiful. I'm going to go into let me see if I can wink to her, but just not to tweak my age a little bit because she's so young. So she's like maybe she's 13 years younger so I just tweak my butt so wink to her just to write something. She's going to look at it and she's suing because, you know, she wrote back and she wrote so nicely.
So I say if I write to her, she just too just fired me right from the get go.
She won't even talk to me. So.
So I told the team, guys, hey, can you help me write the letters?
What life is like. A lot of letters. So so we're going on. We had a guy, the guys writing the love letters to my present wife, but just helping me out, you know, because when I write when I write is like I is what I is, you know, I be what I be. Your love letter was I like you. You like me. Yeah. Yeah. Me love you very much. And so that wouldn't go well.
And so the guys kept doing it and I'm looking at this, I'm bringing get letters and this is so fucking awesome. She writes, wow. She's, she's so poorly, she's so educated. Then I find out, you know, she's Air Force Academy graduate. So I was like, oh damn this make it.
How many how many years did you chop off your age when you initiated this relationship?
I think five because and I'm glad I did, because we're not talking can later say that I kind of limit somebody's contact kind of about that limit. Yeah. She just like disappear. So you were forty five. She was.
How old was she after seven. She was thirty seven. Thirty six or thirty six. So you brought yourself down to a clean forty. Yes. Like maybe thirty nine for the baby.
So I was strong. I was, I was still, I still look younger and so she can tell by the way she sees me she will like me.
So I saw the guys keep writing me but eventually I say, look Drago we wrote you like I think hundreds of these letters.
So I think you can what you can do right now is kind of paste and post.
You can just make any letter you want just in order to copy and paste. So like a bit worried about it, but say, OK, yeah, I have like every letter.
So she wrote me an email and I've tried to make some things out and I guess it didn't go well because I sent a letter and she disappeared from the course.
What I found out later is that she read the the letter and the see her friends and had to come to the conclusion that they're on drugs or drunk so that they were well, better safe than sorry. So she left. I was like, fuck, I think I fucked up. So I like that guy is looking. See how you did for that. Just put the shit backwards so I like them.
OK, and to start over again and then she shows up again. Well she shows up because I find out later that they offer her thirty three, thirty more free days like a freebie. So somebody else so she say after OK they said we're sorry about that last drop.
OK, we apologize. Here's your money back and you get thirty more days to find a normal human being. Yeah. OK, yeah. I guess you know something. And she shows up. I was pretty desperate at the time. I really like her.
I knew I loved him. Even know we talked for a while a lot of letters. I mean my team guys wrote a lot of letters to me so. So then and she didn't respond.
So I was like, just just count me. Just just wait. You never had you talked before and. No, just she was she's very proper. I'm going to talk to you. I don't know you even I don't want to give you my phone number or anything, but eventually, of course, her into calling me.
Had you told her your life story? Had you told her that you would come from Poland or were you telling her that you were a freaking hedge fund manager in New York or something?
I no, no. I just told him that I'm in the Navy doing well. And, you know, just just try to just be very, very vague about it. I think that maybe she didn't like it either, but I just try not to talk you. I'm sorry. I just came back from Iraq, so I might be crazy or something like this. So I try to stay out of it.
But anyway, the guys did the really good job. You know, if they stay with me, they could continue. I think I would have no problems whatsoever. But anyway, I created a letter that came out as a druggy or some drunk person. She just like I don't mess with that, so I finally get her to call me and say, look, this is me, this is blah, blah. So I told her about myself and she's like, quiet, please.
I can say, oh, you just don't speak English very well. It's not.
You are drinking drugs, right? It's like, oh, yeah, I don't do any drugs, you know, I don't drink alcohol on occasions and maybe wine sometimes. So we start talking about that. And then finally she agreed to come and visit me. I was totally in love and yep, we are married now.
But yeah, that was, that was a big thing that yeah. She thought that maybe I'm not not quite right in my head.
I was not but yeah we got married, we have two children now and they're together, their little girl, 12 years old and the year 11 year old boy.
So how do you wrap up your your Navy career? I ran my career.
So when I met her, I went to master chief and I was SEAL instructor at the time I was in. But I say, look, I don't have any family. I have this guy right here. If I go to war deployer, I'm just scared to lose her. I've been there so many times, so long time. Maybe you can find me some post that I can just get married.
I just wanted to get married and to secure this girl.
And so first they said, OK, we'll try to help you drag out. But the letter from commander came in. Well, for that position, when somebody who is really polished and who speaks English very well and Drago's neither one, I seen this email that was shown to me.
So I say, fuck, I'm letting this go anyway. But eventually I was able to when they go that they send me to Ohio, Canada, and we got married, of course, and I retired from there. And it was kind of I'm glad it happened this way because the transition kind of brought me back to reality. You know, there's not about just killing people and beating them up. It is more also about the leaving society being productive member of society.
So so that was a good transition period for me, that I could actually relax and join the society back again and not be a villain, but be a good person.
And, uh, and yeah, I got domesticated now, so I mean, the nice nice there I go. And and the life is good. My wife, she's, uh, she has a masters degree in bioengineering. She's about to do her PGD and, uh, I'm here to support her.
So we're doing well and I just miss the teams definitely.
Well, you're always going to miss the teams. And by the way, you were you were you you may have felt like a villain in some way, but I can tell you, bro, you were you were never available to me. You're always, always freaking.
They're always there every single time on the good guys side.
So when you retired, what did you do? What did you do once you retired?
What year did you retire?
2011. OK, so before retirement.
I was told I need to the design, to the design, to that, you know, when you come back from war, I think there's some issues linger with you. And it's like, well, I didn't really care about doing that type meetings about that. I just wanted to go retire and move on with my life. I didn't know that one, didn't really know what I'm going to do, but that was good in the programming and the software development.
And my wife said, what you need to do is put your resume here and start looking for the job.
So finally I said, OK, I don't have the formal education. I'm a CEO. I don't write software. I kill people.
So I've, I, I need to do something.
So say no, no, no, no. You do have experience. You pay a lot. And she wrote that she had me write the resume at the time. So I put the resume and say my good luck. Yeah. Somebody called me back then five days later to say, hey, we have a position here. Would you like to come and talk to us? So I was like, sure, absolutely, yes. So I ran up up there and got the job before I retired.
I oh, do they have a job like I think in two weeks before retirement I got the job, so I started yet until my but my on my leave I was working so my, my retirement and and that's a real day.
And I know that just I'm getting more and more experience and learn more and more from the guys, from the software engineers working with me. And so my life is what it is right now. I'm actually I, I end up developing quite a few programs. One of them is connecting what this is.
As you know, my views, my I'm very open about the socialism and how dangerous the socialism is, that when any time you are posted on Facebook, something about socialism, they banned me that was just basically stopped my account, people calling me names.
And I couldn't even respond to it because Facebook Facebook was blocking it. So I say, fuck these guys, fucking communists. I'm going to go and create my own Facebook. So I create connecting. And we have thousands of people right now on the site posting. There's no censorship, everybody's welcome. It's not the the right the left side says, you know, if you have if you like to say something and not be worried about being banned or ostracized by Zucconi Fucker or whatever his name is and or this other twerp from Twitter come to connect Zynga.
And you are welcome to to say whatever you like to say. Now, just please keep the violence down and the not the nothing violent, but just you're welcome to speak be open.
So, so it's it's connect tsing, xieng connect zing and what I'm I'm now a member of Connect Zing. I'm on there.
One thing that I was thinking about as you were telling, talking about everything today, I mean, it couldn't there couldn't be any better parallel between what you experienced in life and and starting this.
So at one point in your life, the communist government shut down all communications inside of your country and completely suppressed the populace. And what you did back then as a freaking, whatever, 19, 18, 20 year old was, you said, OK, they're trying to stop us from communicating. So what we're going to do is we're going to start a freaking newspaper and we're going to go and we're gonna run around in the background.
We're going to print it and we're going to distribute it out there to people.
So even as a kid, you realized the importance of free speech, free speech rights.
And so now you're in a situation where you got banned from the the the social media platforms. And so you did you're doing the same thing. OK, look, you don't want me to you don't want me to speak. You don't want me to have free speech. OK, here I go.
And so you created this website and this platform that people can now communicate and they don't have to have any fear of being suppressed, being suppressed.
Yes. And it is important for me, I, I see that I think we are going the wrong direction.
That suppression of free voice eventually will destroy can destroy our country. The socialism has seven things in common, whether this is Adolf Hitler, socialism, Adolf Hitler, National Socialism, whether it is Bernie Sanders socialism or Pelosi socialism, they all have one thing in common. It's intimidation, violence, poverty, having a villain like Stalin, Joseph Stalin, Hitler, Kulaks, those wealthy peasants that were villains, they were always vilified. Adolf Hitler had Jewish people.
He. Vilified that entire group, and Pelosi seems to me like veterans in the middle class. So that's the view on this very important element of socialism, but also political prisoners and political murders.
And the biggest hallmark of a totalitarian socialist state is what state entities are attacking and intimidating political opponents.
We had IRS, you remember, I'm sure you remember that attacking and vilifying the opponents and other state entities.
So this is where I think we are in a very dangerous spot and we need to act on it. Political prisoners, you know, and socialism, they always say we don't have political prisoners because nobody sees for political reasons. He sees for stealing a milk. This guy states just maybe driving on the curb with his car. This guy seats for something else, but there is no political prisoners. But they all see for political reasons. And, you know, we have here General Flynn.
I mean, what happened to him?
You always find something that you can show me, Emma, and I will think the paragraph to him.
So they will find something to intimidate political opponents. And I think it's starting to turn around our country. We can have the things that are happening right now are very disturbing to me. They are too much like that socialism that I experienced.
And I just like I said earlier, if people only took time to ask refugees from the former socialist countries in Eastern Europe and stood against evil, who wouldn't have any Democratic left in office tell you that it is so it is so bad.
I mean, I'm really concerned. Mm hmm.
Yeah, we had some we had some Vietnamese Vietnam War veterans on, and they certainly expressed very similar concerns. They lived through communism. They escaped communist countries.
And they hate seeing and they're they're they're sickened when they see similar similar things occurring here. And they you know, it's a warning. It's a warning.
If there's a warning, you better hate it before it's too late, if not too late already, because, yeah, that's we already have.
We had socialist elections and seems like the rules that being implemented. I was when I was talking to people about it in 2008, that was laughed off.
I was like, that's not going to happen here.
We have we have we are having that now right now implement the rules are being implemented, allowing for socialist elections, socialist elections, I mean, elections where communists, Marxists and socialists always win. Now, on top of that, and I know that you've got that going on, you also have you also have a foundation to help.
Guys that were in the SEAL teams, guys that are in the SEAL teams, if they if they run into hard times, for whatever reason, you have a fund that people can donate to. What's that all about? There's Navy SEALs found there's five of 193 Navy SEALs found that or not. Foundation is Navy SEALs found a few.
And the and this is to help our guys because there is a lot of team guys that like leave the teams before their time, before the retirement. And they have pretty much no help, no support or very little support.
So and I've seen so many guys going with broken lives because they missed the payment here. They missed the payment. They're there, the war. They lost the job that some of them that whole life was collapsing in front of them. So what we create is like no red tape charity that look, if you had any time at any time. Fifty three. Twenty six, we will help you. We don't let you fall down.
And it's just know nobody gets paid.
So if you can look at our website as a bunch of team guys with the same attitude, with the same ideals that we need to help each other.
And again, they don't want to get paid, they don't want the money. It is not about the money. This is something that we can give back to those less fortunate because there is a big problem.
Look, I was lucky. I came back. I met my wife. She was able to domesticate me and create a human being out of me again. But there's a lot of guys that come back or or do they?
They got caught up in this in this violent cycle that, you know, the skills from the Navy SEAL teams don't translate well on civilian in civilian life. Not many things that many some people have a hard time with the transition. So what is happening with these guys is, well, you know what? I can't get the job, but what I'm going to do, I'm going to go get contracting. I'm going to go overseas again, you know, should should some, you know, to the much the same job.
But when I come back with a lot of money, I can get a regular job. I can get with my bag, with my family. The guy comes back after six months with tons of money trying to find the job. Six months later, he has no job and has no money. What the. Well, fuck, I'm tired. They're tired that they just have no choice. I say I need to get back.
I need to go back into that world again. So and the cycle repeats itself. We have it guys caught up in the cycle. You know, everybody there are some people who like this lifestyle and they can continue on, but there's many guys that can get out of it. So this is where we step in. We want to go and help those guys. You want to get out of this? We are here to help you. And we we stay watch over you.
Awesome, awesome, man. Look, we've been going for a while now.
Probably a good place to probably a good place to wrap up.
I know you know you know what we missed, you know, we didn't talk about was one of my funnest things in life was was introducing you to jujitsu. Oh, yeah.
That was a great thing.
And how excited you were. You were so excited when you learned that you could choke people and you could arm lock people. And I remember you got to a scrap somewhere. We were out somewhere and you got into a scrap and and I wasn't there. You came back to me the next day and you had the you had a look of just joy on your face and you said, JoCo Jarkko.
And I was like, what's going on, man? You said, I got in a fight last night and I was like, OK, did you get in trouble? I said, No, no, no, no, no, no. I choked the guy. I choked him. You were so happy and so proud. And I and I was quite proud as well. I actually did I have to do in order to add something to because this is what gets me sometimes get out and misunderstand even within our community, without our guys.
So, you know, when I used to fight, when I was the way I grew up is you fight until you decide the guy that the fight is over, not when they get those. OK, I got it. You know, is over. You are better. And then as soon as it turned out, he lunged at you, so you just beat the guy.
And if he doesn't move and then that's what you need to be careful with is it actually happened to me before that he didn't choke on his own tongue. If you rolled the wrong way now, he had to go because the police are about to come in. So just if live in that, he dies or not. So that the technique that I learned in that pinup type. So you just pin up they make a pin up out of the guy.
You put the pin through his lip and we start and he stuck to his lip.
So that way, whenever he rolls in, once you leave, he's not going to suffocate on his own tongue. And people like what's also what's what's what is it the.
Yeah, it is real because then you can leave and safely guy in the in that position and when he wakes up he just because of safety tightening up and he stung from his lip and go home versus being dead, you know, and then you get in trouble. So so, yeah, that's that's actually good technique that a lot of people I think adopted, I think because I thought that you guys that there was also a good one where we were going through some kind of combatives training.
And the instructors, they had like these boxes, like taped on the floor. And the purpose of these boxes was that if you had to handle a situation, you know, in a hand-to-hand situation, those boxes represented the area that you needed to stay in, because if you got out of that area, you're actually interfering with other guys field of fire.
So it was almost a way for them to prove that, look, you just need to stay still and whatever. If you can't do it inside of this little box here, then it's probably not going to work. And so they they did some things with me, with with grappling. And it was kind of funny. But then they take you and they go, all right, you know, you stand in this box and they put another like one of the instructors in the box and they said, you know, if you're in this little space like this, you know, these kick these kicks that you're talking about, they wouldn't work because you're too close demonstrated.
Yeah. And then so then they go. They go, OK, Drogo, you know, you're standing in this box, you're not allowed to leave the box, but try and kick him, try and kick him in the head.
And apparently they didn't know that you had very flexible legs and why you would get kicked off this box was definitely out of the box. It was very good. Awesome.
But, you know, I remember, too, I'm so glad that you mention about this, because when you show up in the platoon, you I remember just to ask the guys, I'm going to check out the entire platoon in five minutes.
OK, so you started it and I said progress within about 30 seconds. You are tapping out or out next next thing, like a couple of guys quietly just inching their way out of the room.
So, you know, you check out whoever was left up there, including myself. But that was actually good experience. And then we started learning. And I remember I remember that I was not that technically I was pretty strong, but not technically, but a while. And I was wrestling with one of the officers. And I remember I was trying almost everything. I was I had to pin him down. I was but almost ripped his hand off.
And then the war and then what he was laying there and I was trying everything to find like 30 minutes later, he finally tapped out and give up. Then you woke up, said, well, you know what, I didn't want to go interfere with this. You are doing OK. But if you take his hands just way down, he would be tapping out right away. So I just I tried and I say, fuck, I wish I knew that I would spend 30 minutes over.
And he has a simple technique to do it. So. So, yeah, that's that's pretty funny. Pull Scotty. When he was that's actually scared of me because I didn't know it. We're wrestling. You were over watching us and then that's it sounds like I'm doing pretty good, you know, but he's not tapping out, so I'm just wrapping him up. And then I see you and the other team got other other guys from the platoon.
Just break me out of the sky. That's like, hey, hey, stop, stop, stop, stop for fucking a while. He's stepping out. I was like, no, he's not. He's stepping out. No, he's not.
And then he say, Wait, do you hear did you hear this?
I say, Yeah, but what does that mean? I said, well, he couldn't breathe and he couldn't stop. There was no way to tap out this dude.
Oh, God, I couldn't breathe. I couldn't tap out. So I could say, well, I couldn't have a breath to even say stop. All I could do is do it.
And then. And then. And then you stopped. So that's pretty cool. Actually, that's that's like, wow, that's fucking jujitsu. That works, man.
Yeah. That particular individual was kind of claustrophobic. And I remember I would train with him and when someone super claustrophobic like that, sometimes I like to sort of give them some exposure therapy and try and make them more used to it. But I remember him just he's gone. He's just like, get off me. And he was so bad to get off me. I'm not down with this anymore. So he was freaking out.
There was nothing unusual to see that's happening. Guys were shaking their legs all shake. He's like, OK, know, like what happened. It's like what happened to you guys that check that out is OK. Yeah. Good times.
Good times. Awesome. Right on Echo Charles. Yeah.
Speaking of. Getting after you're speaking of jujitsu, speaking of, you know, maintaining the good physical condition, which I'm really when you're telling me that you didn't like workout or anything, bro, you're a freakin mutant because you were strongish. You're like pretty strong, like your strongish wrestle with man.
That's just how when I was making it being strong.
Yeah. Now that now that I'm speaking that so when we were lifting we were all trying to get jacked.
So, so whatever. If I guess there's nothing I don't know if you necessarily brought this from the Eastern Bloc, but.
But Drogo told us this thing or it would do this thing where we would lift when you're getting where you're getting your lift on. He had this primal this primal noise that's so so whatever.
Like the platoon was in a gym somewhere overseas. You just hear guys going, Gottstein, you know, you're guess every patrol came in who came through because I was staying there. Platoons are all straight to Baghdad.
So everybody was leaving with us.
And so but every every single platoon was kind of OK dragging. We are screaming the ads for the fucking months here. What the fuck, man?
It's like I don't know. I everything, you know, is it good out of the school of the arts? It doesn't suck. Suck. So everything I was talking to my my kids and I was like, oh yeah.
My boyfriend's coming on the podcast today and they're like, oh, whatever, they don't care. But then I was like, this is the guy that originally said out because when my kids were to work out, I'd be like, hey, look, when you're going to go for that big Gleen, you got to get fired up. What you've got to do is give yourself a little.
So speaking of jobs that there's in powerlifting, there's that or some version of that and there's always that.
And there maybe there's like a physiological technique for that tightens up when you if you're going to do it, it tightens up kind of your your your posterior chain. Right. Like, you got to make your whole your whole like, ribcage.
Kind of. Yeah. Like if you do it hard, everything's going to get tight, straighten up that spinal area. Yeah.
It's kind of like, you know, OK, so there's a method that's that has a name for it when you called it, you know, but also when you are beating somebody up and you are, this actually gets them even more. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. Fully.
But that there is a technique, that technique has a name like to tighten up everything.
It's almost like there's a breath hold like a Mario brace for it or something.
It's like it. Thieriot It's an odd word. I forget what it is. But when you say that's that's like a it's like you're not totally holding your breath, you're giving a little air. It's kind of like, you know, when you get into those what we call the blood pressure veins, you know, you pump it, pump it and then you let out a little bit. It's kind of like that kind of thing. Anyway, I think it's a Ferral technique doesn't block completely.
Your breathing is just. Yeah, it's kind of gives you that extra pressure, but you still have that, like, pressure valve.
Yeah, it's true. Yeah. So maybe maybe just that's just how you kind of grew up, you know, in your mind. It came very natural.
It's probably what happened to her and worked for it for I think for all of us because all the guys in the team five, seven or whatever didn't show up that they all end up with at what makes you a little bit strong.
I got the call into a long time ago. I struggled with the fact that I had the means that people are always asking me and I don't know what to tell them. I mean, everything just oh hell yeah. When I was means nothing, but it means everything.
Just yeah. Yeah. I like a little deeper.
When I was in college I got knee surgery because it blew me so and before I got surgery I was like, OK, what's the recovery time and all this. And they're like, you know, it's, it depends. And they ask me, are you Polish or you do you have any Polish blood? And I said, no. Why it? Because Polish people tend to heal faster.
So this is what the literally what the doctor told me, Polish and someone.
So I know they didn't ask if you were Samoan. They did. OK, that's both. Yeah, but Drogo doesn't have someone less relevant.
We'll just say I'm just saying his durability may be attributed to his genetic, you know, senario blood.
I look get about Steinman's and maybe hopefully that will help me get got through. But also I think attitude I was never, like I remember, said before, the how during the hell are we going to see. So why you are here? Why would you come to bonds and stuff? Well, I want to try to be a best seller. The best guy. I try to be a seal. I tried this. I tried that. So they came to me.
I said, I'm not fucking trying anything. I'm here to be a CEO. I just I will be a seal unless I get injured or kick me out. So I'm not trying.
I'm just on my way to be a seal, just kind of like. But I got beat up for that. You definitely got to beat down for that one. Make sense or do we got man. Oh look, either way we yes we are on the path.
So on this path. Not all of us are quite as durable or maybe we are out of note, but we got supplementation, joco fuel. So we got stuff for your joints, joint warfare.
We have a review. We have an automatic review. Drogo has been drinking the dark, savage drink.
And what do you think?
I'm addicted to it. I don't know for this for many reasons. One is that the taste of it? Because I was telling you earlier about those candies in Poland, they'll say this this specific taste of candies. And they were so wrong that you can actually trade this candy between the kids. And that was like a caramel white candy within the. So this is it. This is this is the candy, which I was always I think this like Dr.
Pepper when I had the first Dr Pepper, I say, holy shit, this is America. And I was like, this is who we are. So grab the one candy like this in here. You can just go to the machine and get your.
Well, there you go. So I love the taste.
So so it tastes like America. What tastes like America where you go.
It's odd because on the way down here thinking about it, you know, like a regular will call it for lack of a better term, a traditional energy drink. Oh, an old poisonous old. Exactly right. So poisonous. Right. And here's the weird thing. Everyone knows that it's so weird how everyone knows that. Like, if they say, OK, so let's say you just did some jujitsu, you just worked out or something. You're like, man, I'm thirsty or whatever, you know, let me go.
Whatever I need drinks. Yeah. You like you're not going to the soda machine.
You're not getting some soda pop. You're not getting it. Energy like an energy drink. Traditional one. That sounds like the last thing you want to drink.
You need me.
Yeah, but meanwhile meanwhile, you can get America that this like not only are you kind of in the mood for it sometimes, like right after like a hard workout, it's actually good for you.
Yeah, but isn't it weird how everyone just knows that, that an energy drink, they know it's like no one like it's a known fact. Mainstream variety. Yeah. It's crazy.
Like well if you want to get those, if you want to get some joint warfare for your joints, if you want to get krill oil for your joints, if you want to get some what.
Vitamin D three. Yeah. Which is all kinds of other. Also very good for you for many reasons Molk.
Which is protein disguised as dessert. It's true.
Anyways, you can get all the stuff at JoCo Fuel Dotcom or you can get you can get the drinks at Walwa out on the East Coast or you can get the stuff at the vitamin shop. Yep.
All available there and consider getting a subscription. So Origin USA Dotcom, you want a subscription to the stuff you can save some money. Free shipping, by the way.
Well, that's kind of a big deal. It's not even a by the way, it's almost the primary reason. OK, maybe the primary reason is we don't want to not have what we want when we need it.
Yes, but another good reason is it's expensive to ship stuff.
Yeah, but if you subscribe shipping free and that's cool, boom and you get it every month when you need, you don't run out.
Big thing does seem like a big thing, but try to run out. Are you going to know it's going to be a big thing anyway. Or USA Dotcom. That's where you can sign up. Right.
That's pretty much the main spot.
Now, what does a subscription origin or USA? So that's your spot right there.
Also at Origin USA dot com is jujitsu stuff. So we talked about it too briefly. We could to talk more. Yeah.
But, you know, very effective. But yeah. You want some ghys American made ghys rascal's other gadgets and stuff. Other athletic stuff too you know. Origin USA. Yeah.
Made in America by the way. So Drogo I haven't really delve into this with you, but we are, we now have a company where we are making products in America. We're making digital guys, we're making rash guards, we're making boots, we're making jeans, we're making everything in America.
I know that because I was I was following you. All right. On. Yeah, well, the freaking crazy thing is like.
Like, for instance, jeans, everyone gets a pair or whatever name brand jeans, and they think that they're getting an iconic American gene, but they're not.
They're actually getting genes that are made in communist countries. That's where they're made.
So we don't like that. We like our genes to come from America by heart, made by hard working people. So Origin USA, dotcom ites.
Also, on that same sort of tip, let me direct your attention to JoCo store, Dukkha. This is where you can get, you know, more apparel, more representative directly of the path. So discipline equals freedom. Good. All these things so we can get it. We have a subscription situation going on as well. It's a good one.
A little bit different designs, but still applicable.
It's just so you can get this thing. It's called the shirt locker if you want to get one of these cool t shirts. Here's the thing, because this is a reason to bring this up. As someone went online and was like that, you posted something and they're like, hey, none of these T-shirts are on the store on Jaquiss Dot.com and yes and no, but.
Right. Explain. So people do understand, yes, they are on JoCo store, but they're only through the subscriptions and the shirt locker.
So that's the only place you can get them again. Like if you do, I mean if you even care about like the difference or whatever is just the designs a little bit, we'll just say they're a little bit more creative from time to time.
Nonetheless, you know, they're a little bit different.
They're cool, they're fun. You will get a new one every month. There it is. There you go, you can subscribe to this podcast, you can subscribe to some other podcasts. We got the The Unravelling podcast with Darrell Cooper. We got the Grounded podcast. We got the Warrior Kid podcast.
There's new episodes out, by the way. Yes, sir. I was really slow in getting those out, but they're out.
You can get your warrior kids listen to those. You can also you can also join the underground JOCO underground dotcom. Where we go into a little bit more detail, a little bit of behind the scenes research, also some that a lot of because some people ask like, hey, do you guys do Q&A? Well, you know, I'm wondering about this. And there are some good questions. But yes, the answer is yes, we do do the Q&A, but it's on the underground exclusively to the underground, maybe.
But currently, I don't know who they are. We did. Well, here's the deal. We had people that signed up to be on the underground that subscribe to the underground, that ask questions. So we answered their questions on one of the first underground. So anyways, go to JoCo underground dot com if you want to subscribe to that. If you can't afford it, cost eight dollars and 18 cents a month. By the way, if you can't afford that, look, we still want you to get the information.
You can email assistance at JOCO Underground Dotcom. We'll take care of you.
We got a YouTube channel where Echo puts videos up that he creates, that he put more to Pinoy or some new conceptual ideas.
OK, so if you're waiting for EKOS conceptual ideas, they should be produced within the next twenty four months because his work ethic is.
Well, it's solid. It's not, it's not. He doesn't create videos and varying levels of the hype.
I mean maybe you should, maybe you should go home, get in front of your editing suite and just go past and maybe we'll get some more freakin videos done.
I guess so maybe that's what that's what he's doing. Yeah. Yeah.
If you got that legit, you know, that odd's actually is part of the Drago's accelerated English class with those. That's the that's the main that's the main motivator people here that one time there are times where their first born child is very good English.
After that psychological warfare, you can get that on any MPRI three platform. We got flip side canvas, flip side canvas dotcom. My brother, Dakota Meyer, Marine Corps, he's got a company where he's making things to hang on your wall. We got a bunch of books. OK, the first book that I want to talk to you about is the book that I started off this podcast today. I took one little section. The book is called And You're Going To Have to help me with all this.
Drogo So the book is called Camp Posi, the writer.
His name is How Do I Say novel? Novel. So Novel was a guy in the Grahm in the Polish Grahm Special Operations guy. I don't know too much about him because I can't read Polish, but the book is available and I ordered it, but I haven't gotten it yet. It's available on Amazon. So if you want to get this book, look up Camp Posi and it's I did look through it. There's pictures of us too.
I mean, just because he was deployed with us when you were there and I was there. So our pictures on the.
Yep. There's pictures of where we were. There's pictures of Camp Jenny Pozzi, which is freaking brings back all kinds of memories for us.
Girl Scouts. We're doing so much good work out of their bunch of pictures in it and you can get an English version. So check that out. Posi, have you read it? Oh, I have read it, yes.
I read both and I didn't publish in English. And it's very accurate, I think.
Is it it gives you the perspective from the other other guys who are not part of the SEALs, but they are really good that day and how they perceive SEAL teams.
Right. How would they see us? How what do we do in Iraq and how they work? So it's pretty good insight and the perspective on seals from the different vantage point.
And then what about this other book that you brought today, which I haven't seen? So what's this called?
This is the title of the translation is My Thirteen Years in the Grahm.
OK, so this is it is not my thirteen years. This, this is I say thirteen. Right this thirteen. That's exactly the starting point. So I shouldn't assume I should have you know, the going grown. So that's what he used to do that.
I used to do that over the radio. So we switch that dial, he'd be like McGeady right. Brodo Drogo please broke his ass. You had on the English Channel Drago's. You could switch that.
So this guy was with us to actually the Hame and the novel now while they were together in the same time there.
So this is he wrote this book much earlier and the same thing changes his view on the Iraq war, on the our working together with SEALs and that how this thing you know, I think this is very interesting, especially if you want to look about us, about SEALs and how others perceive us and other forces.
Do you know if this is this book available on Amazon is also available on Amazon? It is also I will send you the links. It is also available in English. Amazon and the and the English title is also 13 years, my 13 year, like 13 years at home grown. Yeah, yeah. I'm just flipping through this one. This one's got a bunch of pictures very that look very familiar as well. Yeah.
I mean, those are pictures taken when we were there, so that's freaking awesome.
All right. So we got these books, check these books out. We Drogo and I already talked about hopefully getting one of those guys or both those guys on the podcast at some point, if they can come over here from Poland or maybe, you know what?
Might we make an exception to do A not live like not face to face? We have never done that before. We never done a a virtual podcast. Maybe we would do it for for Poland like Skype or something.
Yeah, we haven't actually one of them. I think it would be traveling here too. So that's all we need to know. Just don't be awesome. If actually he could show up and tell his perspective on the Iraq war, why Poland got involved in it, and why Poland was standing by our side in the war and why it's Poland standing by our side.
So be good to hear from.
Yeah, that'd be awesome. Bunch of other books, too. I got a new book coming out called Final Spin. You can preorder right now if you want the first a dish. I don't think we've talked about that yet on final, but if you want the first heavyweight, you want that first dish.
You mentioned it last, I would think, but yeah, you didn't go.
Look, don't be coming up to me in whatever when the book comes out, two months after it comes out and you roll up to me, hey, I got your book and I look at it, I'm going to know. You're going to know.
We're all going to know where you got the second dish. Preorder that one right now, leadership strategy and Tactics Field Manual, The Cold Evaluation Protocol, Discipline Press Freedom Field Manual, where the Warrior Kid one, two, three and four.
Check those out making in the Dragons, which is which is apparently the best kid's book ever. That's what I've heard. And then about Face by David Hackworth, I wrote a forward on a new version on how to do that. Extreme ownership, the dichotomy of leadership. That's the oggi of books that I wrote with my brother, Leif Babin. We got a consulting company, HaShalom Front. Go to Ashlawn Front Dotcom. We got Heff online. If you want online virtual training, go to online dotcom.
If you want to come see us live, go to extreme ownership dotcom. We got three events this year. Because we're having three events this year, so if you want to come go to extreme ownership, dotcom leadership, a leadership seminar, live in person, we also have an event coming up called F Battlefield, where we walk the Battle of Gettysburg. We walk the battlefield there and talk about the lessons that were learned. This is an unbelievable event we sold.
We we were only going to do one. We sold it out. We're doing two now, hopefully. So if we can get things scheduled, we're going to make that happen. Go to ashlawn front dot com slash events if you want to come to that. And if you want to help service members active and retired, if you want to help their families, if you want to have a Gold Star Families, check out Mark Lee's mom.
She has her own organization. And if you want to help, you want to donate, you want to get involved, go to America's Mighty Warriors dot org. And if you want to hear more from us, which is highly unlikely at this point, but if you want to, you can find us on the website, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook. Echo is at Echo. Charles, I am out. Djoko Willink. Now, if you want to talk to Drogo, he's not on those platforms about his his free speech has been suppressed.
But don't worry, he's on the underground. He's making things happen. You can check him out at Connect Tsing Dotcom. I'm also on there now too, because, well, if Drog was there and he's hanging out there and I'm going to be hanging out to Ecker, you got any final thoughts?
No, that's it.
And good to see you again.
We met briefly downtown in my nightclub days with my good friend Jeremy, and he introduced me to you long time ago is like almost 20 years, like a long time ago to say hi to him.
Just great guy. Uh, and yeah, I met him.
I remember Draga was like, OK, all right. He seems very nice, but he could probably get not so good to see again.
Thank you. It was nice to see you again and it was great to be here.
Drogo, any any other closing thoughts, man. I say maybe make a small prayer in our mind for those guys who are no longer with us and maybe a few seconds of silence to honor them. Yeah, and I don't know when this podcast is is actually coming out, but today is is March 20th. Today is is Mark Lee's birthday and. I mean, just an incredible, incredible man, incredible Celal, incredible husband, incredible son. And I miss him and the rest of the boys every day, so.
Happy birthday to Mark and Drogo, and thanks for your service, thanks for your service to the teams. Thanks for your service to the Navy. Thanks for having my back countless times. And thank you for your service to America.
And beyond that, thanks for your service to the ultimate cause of freedom in the world. You can't repay freedom that people are asking me. Thank you. This is the other way around. Actually, I have. There's me who's supposed to say thank you to you, to you, to every American for my freedom. What I did in the teams in the Navy is just a token support for you cannot repay freedom. The freedom is not for sale, is not.
There is nothing you can do to reciprocate that freedom that that that I got from America.
I'm a free man.
And that's awesome feeling is something that I will never be able to repay.
And I just I believe that just keep serving in any capacity I can to our great America is important. So I'm not done yet. I finished my military career, but I'm still serving. I want to make America a better, a safer place.
Well, amen to that. And I know I will always be proud to call you brother and to all the other people out there, especially those that are out there wearing the cloth of the nation.
Thank you for protecting the most precious thing that we have, and that is our freedom. And the same goes for our police and law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, dispatchers, correctional officers, Border Patrol, Secret Service and all the other first responders out there. Thank you for protecting us here at home and everyone else.
Just remember that freedom is not free and we cannot take it for granted, there is evil in the world, there is oppression in the world. And we must be on guard for authoritarian and tyrannical leaders and like Drogo, we must be willing to stand up and fight for our freedom. And until next time, this is Drogo, Adecco and JoCo. Out.