Jocko Podcast 115 with Dakota Meyer – Into The Fire, and Beyond the Call of Duty

Jocko Podcast 115 with Dakota Meyer – Into The Fire, and Beyond the Call of Duty


This is Jocko Podcast number 115 With Echo Charles and me Jocko Willink good evening echo good evening War is different for everyone who experiences it on One end of the spectrum there are some people who deployed to a safe area and protected by Concrete and steel and barbed wire and their job, which is definitely a important part of the machine But it just doesn’t require them to be put into direct combat and then With a little luck because of that situation They can easily complete wartime deployment with little or no contact with the enemy whatsoever But they did their part, and we are thankful for that on the other end of the spectrum There are some people that end up in Anything but a safe area they end up in the belly of the beast They are called on to do more than is required and much more than could be expected And that situation also creates a spectrum Some men find it to be too much And instincts of self-preservation take over and they go into survival mode and they cower and they hide and they give up and they wait for the inevitable But others do what they can They try to do their duty They put one foot in front of the other and they reload their weapon and they try to keep firing And that’s the middle of the spectrum and then at the far end of the spectrum There are those men that step up and go forward Across the threshold Really across the threshold of life, and they go into the fire and into the flame and toward the unknown and toward death not to save themselves But they Disregard their own safety and their own life to save their friends their brothers and their comrades in arms And then beyond even that Almost off the spectrum There are those Men that take that step across the threshold of life and death over and over and over again Not because they were ordered to not for a medal not because of some manufactured set of ideals, but simply because that is who They are And I’m honored to have one of those men here with me today a Son a father an American a United States, Marine a Man by the name of mr., Dakota Meyer Dakota Welcome to the podcast And thank you for coming on No. Thank you so much for having me. I’m telling ya. I’m honored. I’m honored All right As we normally do Let’s start from where you started tell us a little bit about About Columbia, Kentucky, yeah, you know it’s uh, it’s a small town. You know I grew up in Columbia, Kentucky you know I grew up in the first half of my life with my mother and ended up going and living with my father and You know I didn’t didn’t come from money didn’t come from anything nice. You know I ended up living my father I’m adopted on my father’s side and You grew up on a farm You know it’s just just uh just um you know I’m a simple guy. It’s a simple. It’s a simple way of life You know what I mean, and that’s this is how we grew up we you know my dad You know he always instilled in me And you know I have to give you know so much credit to my father and my grandfather’s I mean, I’m like you know I mean they just they instilled so much in me of what’s right and what mattered you know you know We’re talking a lot of your childhood was and I wrote down these notes Farmwork football and females yeah, yeah, I mean that’s uh That I told you I’m simple yeah, that’s it yeah, you know there’s not much else it ain’t Columbia, Kentucky Though and you know you wrote you you wrote a book the book is called into the fire And that’s what I’m getting some of my information from Anna and I would say that in the early descriptions the way you described yourself Not exactly mr.. Sensitive. Is is what we were dealing with back then huh no not at all You know I was no. I wasn’t sensitive. I was um. I was just a hard-headed kid you know Set in my ways I dunno My dad just instilled in me my dad and still I mean you know my dad is a man who doesn’t you know he doesn’t? Care the social status. He’s not a you know He you know and I watch it from him He’s just a hard hard hard guy you know what I mean And so there’s not living in a house of two men right. You know me. It’s just my dad. Yeah There’s not very you know. There’s not very many feelings. It was it wasn’t a real nourishment to your sense It was there was not much nourishment. Yeah, there’s one part They’re talking about you’re a football game, and you jack up your elbow real bad And so the coach got you in the locker room or whatever Yeah, yeah, so I was uh sitting in the locker room, and I mean I’d carried the ball Play eighteen nineteen times the first half, and I go in there my elbows are like just jacked right I mean you know just getting pounded and I remember sitting in there and the coach like hey don’t come out next half Right you know you just so you know because it was a JV game And he’s like you know don’t come out next half And I’m gonna tell you something my dad seemed that I didn’t come off and we were warming up for second half And I mean he came in there and that was not that was not Acceptable the one thing my dad taught me is you start it you finish it check-check Now what happened to that football career, would you get you did get some like legitimate injuries right? Yeah? Yeah, I know I got a you know I banged my knee up real bad All my sophomore year between my sophomore and junior year no really recovered from it you know And so I mean I could have went and played somewhere like I’m not gonna stick I’m I was here and tell you I’d had full scholarships or anything But I could have I could have walked on somewhere. You know probably played outside linebacker, or you know a strong safety, but you Know I just I was gonna go play football, and I had planned on that I’ve been through the Clearinghouse I mean I’d done everything I needed to do to go and you know my senior year And I just I ended up going the Marine Corps route now. I’ve talked a few times down here about the effectiveness of the Marine Corps recruiting program, which they they have like the best recruiting numbers But they spend the least on recruiting of any of the military service branches It sounds like you got rolled right into that I did they got me. They got me. Let me tell you something they they got me you know but but back, but I think look I You know the products the product with them right like you know you know you’re either you’re either gonna be a marine or you’re not gonna be a marine right like you either have it in your you don’t like it’s Not you know They just they just know how to talk to their own right and I think that’s what they’re so good at is is That they know how they know what would have fired them up And so they say the same thing that would have fired them, and if you bite on it Then you’re the type of person need to be a Marine if you don’t they don’t want you anyway You know I mean yeah, that’s a perfect way to put it and this is 2006 2000 2006. Oh and again This isn’t my I always have to remind myself And I’ll remind everyone else while I’m at it is you know when I joined the Navy in 1990 There was no war going on right there was no war going on It was just you know peacetime, and you’re joining in 2006 work. We reward two different countries and 2006 things are not going well They’re a little quiet in Afghanistan at that time, but Iraq is full bore I mean that’s when I was in Ramadi It was it was a real hard fighting was taking place, and I promised the rest of Iraq was pretty bad. So you know For you, you know you’re going, and you know you’re gonna go to combat. I mean, that’s just like kind of a given Yeah, I mean I am. I don’t know that I ever really understood that though until I was in you know I mean, I think that I don’t think it ever really hit me I never really I didn’t really join I can’t sit here and give you some moto story that I joined to go you know avenge 9/11 you want to hear something That’s jacked up Yeah is I joined in 1990 and I had the opposite view for it, which is I don’t know there was no war going on Oh Seals gotta be doing things all of it they’re doing stuff You don’t even hear about that’s what my attitude is and here you were staring at war into two different zones And you’re like I don’t know for real I know it sounds dumb, but I mean like uh you know by that time. We’re five years past it Yeah, and people had already got used to it right. It was no longer like oh Shit right, you know in like the population You know in that just you know the average civilian right it wasn’t and you know cuz it they’ve been doing it for what five years and So you know I didn’t really think about it. I you know. I honestly and you know I joined up You know I wanted to go infantry I wanted to fight But I didn’t really I don’t think it ever really hit me until I got into boot camp you know and then I I really Start understanding what and when you were going boot through boot camp at that time? Basically every drill instructor must been coming back from the battlefield all of them. Yeah, I mean I’m telling you everybody especially especially in a school of infantry oh okay stay tall Everyone had been they were Saluja. Yeah, yeah, I mean everyone. I’m being the shit Yeah, you know even my recruiter my recruiter had just got back from Fallujah dang yeah, and he’d been in the shit. Yeah dang Yeah, so With that I’m gonna take it to the book right now. Cuz you know I think I was never in the Marine Corps. I’m Pretty sad about that sometimes but I have like read so much about the Marine Corps over my life and Hung around with so many Marines and work with marine so much so whenever I get to a Marine Corps boot camp It’s like strikes a romantic side of me At least get a little taste and and you did it really fast which is great But here it is and it’s just like exactly what we’re going to the book again this book is into the fire by Dakota Meyer and Here we go so it began close haircuts to strip away your old identity Exercises to prove you’re not half as strong as you figured Simple tasks to show you that you’re mentally weak drill instructors who mock your attempts to look tough It’s right out of the movies, but it never stops yeah, and there you go. You know what’s coming how many times Did you watch a full metal jacket before you win in a time? Yeah? I mean a time. You know exactly what’s gonna happen Is that even helped? No, it’s still no you you could I mean you know I like during boot camp It was the hardest thing I’d ever been through mm-hmm, but when I look at everything I did in the Marine Corps It was easy yeah That’s the same thing with buds so first of all when I went through buds, and I didn’t know anything about buds No, one knew anything about buds is 1990 when I joined the Navy didn’t know anything about it And and so I always think that the guys are coming in now you can basically watch the entire Bud you can watch the whole thing you know what it they they the students eventually captured the schedules yeah and so they actually know what’s coming and You know you know how many people it keeps from quitting none. It’s still the same attrition. Yeah Yeah, okay, so it’s gonna suck really bad, and now you know it You didn’t know it before yeah, you even know when it’s gonna end Yeah All right back to the book the second month is the turnaround when they build you back up sergeant Brady made me a squad leader Meaning he yelled at me for the mistakes and the other 10 recruits That was all right. He had his job. I had mine He busted through you get to graduation day Which was obviously awesome? And then it’s I spent the next two months at sry school of infantry only 15% of the Marine Corps And the army are in the infantry in today’s military there are more combat pilots and infantry squad leaders dang Yeah, man, that’s crazy 15% of the Marine Corps in the army our infantry troops for the ground That’s that’s a interesting figure in Vietnam, and I was talking about this with Lafe and with actually the whole National Front team the other day I Had heard this somewhere. I heard it from hackworth that in Vietnam the height of the Vietnam War There was a little over 500,000 troops on the ground And it was only 10% of those troops that were you know infantry units that were on the ground in combat yeah You know what I find so interesting about that fact and that stat when I looked at it You know like I didn’t understand it obviously when I was in but you know what I look at it is to Understand like how much it truly you know as the war fighter You know I think we take for granted so many times of what it really takes for us to be able to do our job Effectively I mean you take it you know I mean it takes you know 85% of the organization just to support that 15% to put you yes face to face with the enemy yes, there’s got to be another Yeah, I mean you look at ten to one fifteen to one or something like that crazy ten to one that’s got to put you Up there, yeah But that’s what works, and that’s well here We go breaking down and breaking down a little bit of what the Marine Corps is like a marine squad is comprised of three four-man fire teams everything you do as a rifleman revolves around that four-man team one man carries a weapon more powerful than those of the Others, but that’s a minor point in the field. You don’t do anything without those three other guys You don’t shit sleep eat or move without the other three knowing about it Yeah a marine squad with those three fire teams is like a boxer with three arms one arm jabs with bursts of fire to keep the On an off balance while the other arm loops around a left hook With the third arm ready to follow up wherever there’s an opening for one arm as wounded the other two can keep fighting Fire to pin down the enemy maneuver to finish him off fire maneuver fire maneuver fire maneuver, and I always have to point this out Extreme ownership, but you know this is cover move. This is what I was talking about the fundamental this That’s the fundamental gun fighting tactic. Yes fire maneuver. I was called a cover move so you get done with SOI and You head out to the third Marine Regiment in Hawaii yeah That’s how was that when you checking in oh? Yeah? Well we pulled in and as soon as we pulled the busts in the Seniors, you know they’re all day at all just got back from Hadeeth of the triad and I had a hard deployment a heart. They got the shit kicked out of them and and So we pull in an eight you know there’s no empathy there And so we pull in and they’re throwing beer bottles off the deck and they are all hammered it’s in the middle of the night and You know it’s like welcome You know, but it was awesome You know I was honored to be out there And then how long did it take for the sniper billet to open up and for you to get that yeah? So it was a things like around February So I got there in October so September ok no, so I got there in October November so November timeframe I think I got to why October and November timeframe And then I it opened in January February timeframe is it hardly goodest night. Isn’t it hard to get a sniper bill Did you get lucky a new guy get a sniper bill? Yeah
So I did so I was actually the youngest sniper in the Marine Corps in 2007 So what happened was is I had ran the in dock so you have to run an in dock to be part of the platoon? So you come in and then like you you’re on probation so you run a huge in dock you come in you go on probation and then you start You know usually you were going deployment, and then after deployment you go to school. Well. They had a couple school slots open up and Score, and they basically gave me the option of you can either go home on pre deployment leave because we were heading Iraq you need To go on pre deployment leave or you can go to snipers how old were you I was 18 how many Milliseconds did it take you to make that decision. I said I’ve been with my family for 18 years. I’m I’m all good That’s awesome, and then Marine Corps Sniper school That’s it. That’s a hardcore school. Yeah and 50% of trician rate, yeah seals in it with it yeah, and then you know our early SEAL snipers You know and I don’t know the four I’ll bring a sniper on here someday that knows the whole history of the SEAL sniper program But it’s deeply rooted in a Marine Corps sniper program deeply rooted Just like all of our training is rooted in the Marine Corps Scouts and Raiders. There’s a lot of crossover and those early days, but the Marine Corps sniper program Now everyone’s gonna think that’s the civilians gonna think like oh you’re sitting on a gun shooting But but that’s not really the hardest part is it that’s like 5% of the job like it’s like it’s I would say yeah I would say it’s less than that you know. It’s you know I mean you gotta I mean the communication piece of at the mission planning the I mean there’s so much. I mean you literally you literally are The you know the commanders the battalion commanders trigger finger mm-hmm You guys do a heavy stocking right? Yeah, that’s just a gut check with how much did you weigh at this point? Oh probably about 180 185 and it’s Where do you guys do your stocks since we’re in Hawaii so I went to Hawaii Sniper school, okay? Um and we do them out in the Kahuku Alton. Just dripping sweat. Oh laying in there like crawling talking is terrible It’s crawling for four hours and going 35 meters Yeah, I mean just like you know you know you start off you got a thousand-meter Lane You know and there they put an observer up, and they’re using the best glass. There is and they’re sitting on this truck and you have to you have to move up and you got to get within you know a certain distance and Whatever they tell you and then you got you know you’ll have to veg up and whatever you take shot You can do whatever you you know just you take a shot with a blank okay, and then they come over and so They better walk around you a walker on you And then they try to walk you know back and forth they try to find you if they see you or anything Then you know you lose And then you gotta take a second shot while they’re you know because that Walker gets within the vicinity of you Like it’s like 10 or 20 meters, and then you take a second shot, and if they see anything Then you you know you you fail too, so it’s you know yeah What’s a walker? So basically they bring a guy out who is like who you know has like a stick or something? And they can see him, and then they tried to say so they go okay I think I see him here, so I need you to take left three steps and then back four steps They try to walk him on you gotcha this will be interesting Wait when they get to you do they say sniper your feet to the guy huh so yeah, yeah They say it sniper at your feet, so that’s that’s the same thing that they say in the seal Sniper school They say to get there, and they go okay sniper your feet yup You’re busted you fail three three steps left two steps up sniper at your feet yo no se nope so there’s there’s the crossover that shows you that that’s that stuff is Rudy together and There’s a guy by the name of skin two who was one of your instructors you one of your instructors right yeah? And here’s a here’s a going back to the books Kinta told us about a sniper team in an overwatch and a half Constructed building in Ramadi in 2004 it was a warm Dull day and after several hours they dozed off and never awakened Insurgents sneaked up and shot all four Marines in the head they left behind a high-powered m48 a three And it’s excellent Schmidt & Bender scope over The course of the next year they allegedly killed two more Americans before a Marine sniper took them out and recovered the rifle skint Hammered home his message know every aspect of your job And never never let down your guard know if you slack off or you take things for granted you die he I had a look I was fortunate to have a lot of people around me that influenced me. I mean I’m I’m nothing special I’m the product in my environment and my um and I’m direct reflection my leadership I’m so fortunate, but I’ll tell you right now that uh what I did that day was because him was it was because of the mentality that he instilled in me of knowing your job knowing it and obsessing with it and knowing every aspect of it and knowing everybody else’s job around you and Then when you know your job, and you know what’s right you you do that. You don’t worry about what everybody else says Yeah the the the noncommissioned officer that again. They’re saying guys that raised me in the SEAL Teams Have such a huge impact and what what I also found interesting about this Was this story about these snipers when I got to Ramadi in 2006 we heard this exact story? And you know it was another thing that made us more paranoid and made my guys more paranoid being out there And we actually thought I didn’t this says 2004. We thought it happened a little bit later and closer to our deployment but Yeah, man, just just a nightmare yeah Another little commentary from you here back to the book shooting another human being was a math problem you Were either right or wrong with no subjective in between decided by someone else I liked problems that were black and white life Or death before taking a shot at a target 1000 meters away you had to calculate the effects of the light air at altitude wind humidity angle of fire Cartridge velocity and gravity you had to align the target the background and train the weather the noise and the weapon you had to work In concert with others at the same time the target enemy was figuring out how to kill you Combat was a zero-sum decision-making played for the highest stakes live or die And If 31 people started the course and 13 people graduated. Yeah, so that that should tell everyone why that sniper? Designation is so damn hard to get because it’s no joke and there’s usually at any point time There’s not there’s usually around 300 school trained snipers in the Marine Corps at any time Really Dane yeah, that’s a my task unit which is about 40 SEALs. We had 13 snipers. Yeah Got lucky you know I got lucky these stars aligned Okay, so now you’re trained up and then in 2007 you deploy you deployed to Iraq I did first deployment how pumped were You I was pumped. I’m you know. I just I just got out of school trained sniper, man You know I’m ready to go I’m ready to go turn the heat up right and and where we were going was actually a bad spot I mean we were in karma you know and it had it had been bad, but it was like we were part of Serge mm-hmm and when we got there, we took some contact once and Just like the waterfalls turned off you know you go from streets that you’re fighting down to next thing You know you mean you could walk down an old gear and so what were you guys doing just doing patrols? We were doing a lot of dwell ups Which is what we go out basically what they were the theory on this was we would go out off the fob and stay like Four or five days into the house, and you know You know we would get hit by indirect fire You know some but I mean, but I was only there for like 45 days And then you got I got hit in the hand we go what I drew got bit on the right hand my right hand by a spider and Actually suffered severe nerve damage lost the movement my last three fingers, and I think as evac’d you for this yeah Or medevac you back to Germany. Yeah, so they sent me Dallas on and tried to fix it there I did they rushed me and I had two surgeries in camp Fallujah And then they they move me to al-assad and they sent me back to Germany and I was there for like 25 days and the hospital trying to save your hand basically and then they sent me home And then I was having to occupational therapy to get you know to get my fingers back. They wouldn’t move you know When were you back in Kentucky? No I was back at Hawaii ok back to Hawaii Oh, yeah All right my unit and but you did have a little bit of Kentucky with you there in the form of bourbon yeah Yeah, a lot of it. I was drinking it How’s the drink started getting after it a little bit? I did and even a little bit too much yeah too much You know I started you know it’s hard It was hard coming home and knowing my teammates were still over there and knowing that my unit was still there And I wasn’t part of it you know and then Did you go? Did you have to go back or you came back to states like on leave? No, no after you were after your hand was hurt. Yeah Yeah, yeah
So I came back to Kentucky gotta and you hung out there for a while it actually you lost a couple friends at that time Didn’t you I did get with tragical tragic situation. Yeah, it was terrible. You know I had a guy the guy you know actually you know his name’s on my chest and he we played football together and Yeah He had called me. I was leaving the hospital and I was coming home that weekend and he had called me He had called me right before I was on the way the hospital I said hey, and we’re gonna go to this football game. You know we’re gonna watch my little brother play You know all that and I got a call as soon as I was leaving the hospital And he had he’d had a trach and got killed Yeah a close friend and I lost Another friend she got she got killed in December dang Not exactly what you want to go home on leave for man. That’s harsh no. No no, but you know It’s it’s just the way the way it goes You know yeah, and and then so you spend that time with home you go back to rejoin your Battaglia And this is when you find out that they want volunteers to go help out in Afghanistan yeah, so we built up we I was back probably a year year and a half went to Mountain Sniper school and You know I became in charge my own team Got we got married totally promoted I was you know I was the Lance Corporal leading a five man team with a sergeant on it. You know and you know I Ended up taking like I had the worst like I got like the newest guys. They gave me the newest guys and we ended up being the general support team so we moved all the way up to the platoon and ended up being you know one of the best or the best team ISM Stern and Yeah, so we’re out at 29 palms doing our final training up to go back to Iraq and this was when nothing was going on 2009 I mean they weren’t letting you leave the wire right and we had no mission, so it kind of sucked right and They came and said we need five volunteers go to Afghanistan and I said what’s the mission? They said we don’t know, but we just need five bodies. I raised my hand said yeah, I’m ready to go Again like how many milliseconds? And so what you were volunteering for you find out later is a embedded training team Advisory to explain what that’s all about So an embedded training team is where they take you know they take different ranks and different skill sets of Marines and they put them Or you know whatever you know military unit and they put them together And they embed them with you know an Afghan unit you know so we were embedded with 80 Afghans a whole not a it was a Company mm-hmm, and so that’s that’s we just lived we did everything with them. We did everything from you know teach them weapons tactics and and you know Shooting shooting we I did the changeover for the NATO weapons right so we took them from Kenobi to the NATO weapons and that’s another key that we need to bring up to talk about in that gunfight So we were teaching him on that qual, and I’m all and that you know everything from everything and we did everything with these guys because and then Did you any kind of workup before you went over yeah so with that was it with that Team yeah your actual team that you’re gonna deploy with yeah, so we did we did a workup with them You know I just left 20m palms I go back and we trained for like a month or two in Okinawa, Japan with this new team And then we head back to tween up mom’s and then we go from what we went back so he went to Bridgeport and then We came down 28 palms. We did all our mountain stuff at Ridge for All our mules and all that stuff you know packing and then we came down and did it ended in 29 palms And then we headed over and that was with that four-man team yeah with lieutenant Johnson Gunny kenefick In doc late myself. I’m gonna talk about those guys a little bit here in the book lieutenant Mike Johnson’s four-man team at Monte This is where you end up place called Monte which is ten miles worth north of another fob called Joyce lieutenant Johnson sunny and smiling with an easy laugh But completely professional with the highest standards I had climbed mountains with him in California of course, and I knew he was as strong physically as he was mentally staff sergeant Aaron kenefick Was a personnel specialist with eight years expertise in administration So his job was to bring some order to the Afghan personnel procedures and prep a Records da Clayton our Corpsman would provide some basic medical care to the Afghans and the villages But his primary job was to be ready in case any advisors or Afghan soldiers were wounded I Had a job to lieutenant Johnson put me in charge of tactics operations and weapons training before each patrol I approved of the Afghans scheme of maneuver inspected the radios and guns coordinated fire support and planned an emergency escape route This was far easier than planning the sniper missions. I had been trained for so you you were You were kind of the most tactically savvy guy in the group being a sniper already deployed to Iraq ya know I was and you know and what will prepare me was my training that I deal with my team You know my sniper team I mean look I had You know if people thought I was crazy they thought I was crazy the way that I was training in my platoon before you like We’re going Iraq. We’re not gonna do anything. I’m like I don’t give a shit right like I was still learning tax at and I was still learning you know SATCOM And I was still learning HF, and I was still learning how to lower crypt I mean I wanted to know every aspect of every part of the job I was learning every I was going over to the to the BAS and learning You know all the medical stuff that I could and I was you know I mean everything I could do like if I could get Just a little nugget of knowledge and better myself in every aspect. I was doing it and So yeah, so when I got over to this team. I mean you know I I was the only Tactical guy in there. You know and Yeah, and it was you know they were they were when it came to the tactics when it came to making sure that the weapons Were ready when it came to making sure that the vehicle is already that the that the you know that The jammers were working that you know what if anything that mattered in the patrol it was always on you Yeah, the trucks were loaded and the reason that the Marine Corps put the teams together like this is because Well that they’re trying to develop the whole Afghan army every aspect of it not just the tactical side but they want like the administration so that people can start getting paid on time and the Organization so they got the lieutenant in there and at the same time they wanted to help the villagers so they put a corpsman in There so do medical work So that’s kind of just a name if anyone’s thinking why the hell would you put together a team like that it’s because the people that are supposed to do the fighting are actually supposed to be the Afghans right and In the team is there to support them help them train them and get them ready Yeah, and that’s that’s the mind. That’s the theory right the theory is you train? You train them, and they do the fighting and you’re just there to advise them, right But it never works that way It doesn’t work that way in Iraq and and one of the things that I pointed out many times was You know what kind of you you want to develop a relationship with with a group right and and now you say okay? We’re gonna train you, but when it comes time to do something dangerous you guys just go by yourselves That’s not you’re not build a relationship. You’re you’re in fact. You’re going backwards No, it’s yeah. It’s the same way so you get there and you start doing your Kind of going on patrols going on patrols with the with the Afghan. Yeah, army company It was kind of interesting you know cuz I was kind of the high-strung went on the team You know like I was like the one that always was you know we need to be ready to fight. You know I don’t know how many arguments. I got into with some of the the the leadership in teams You know cuz we we were 21 man team, but we were broke into four main elements and spread out You know and in this area, and I don’t know how many times I got into arguments with people in the team of you know hey, this is how we need to do it We need to stay up. I mean I was I was trying to train him I was doing stuff of you know trying to train him to do IVs at night with like nods And they’re like why the hell are we doing this you know I mean like And a lot of people. You know look down on it and And I said, I’m going to prepare to fight And they said you know we’re not you know they so many times leadership got on me. We’re not going over there to fight We’re going to advise and that was the mindset of a lot of this now I’m not gonna say my team, but a lot of the team and And it showed yeah Yeah, you know for everyone out there. That’s wearing a uniform right now, man Be ready for the worst-case scenario all the time you know ready for it you know what I tell him is I said, you know lieutenant Johnson was a was a Calm guy satellite guy doc Layton was a blue side Corman and Gunny kenefick was an s-1 guy You know and I always wonder Do you think that they ever thought they’d be in one of the deadliest battles in Afghanistan? Do you think they ever thought they didn’t? You know you don’t know where you’re gonna be at but one day you’re gonna be tested. Yeah, you better be ready So you guys are rolling out on these patrols Here’s a good kind of aspect of what you see on those patrols And you call the army the Afghan army Soldiers ass cars if I say they’re called a scar a scars all right here We go back to the book when we walked into some Hamlet’s you could feel something was wrong When kids threw rocks at you you knew what the parents were telling them? Sometimes the ass cars grabbed the kids soccer balls and sliced them apart this didn’t win any hearts and minds But it did stop the rocks Whenever the elders hurried through the ceremonial tea, though I’d watch the Ass cars when any soldier senses danger He crouches down a few inch to make himself less of a target when the a scars did that I went on full alert Ha Fez am I saying that right so his name’s Fozzie also I had named him ha Fez and that to protect him got it. He’s how he’s here in America now ok well good Ha Fez was our lead interpreter And we quickly learned our best warning system at a 37 year old sergeant major retired from the Afghan army ha Fez Had served in Kunar for three years with advisor teams the Afghan soldiers distrusted him Because he refused to support their never-ending schemes to skim off the Americans, so he’s your your most trusted advisor Interesting that you point out how when when soldiers sense danger? and I was telling about JP my With the lead sniper and one of my two platoons and tu bruiser and when he came on the podcast I described him Walking through the streets, and you and I was like I told you man. I don’t think JP Was gonna live cuz JP was too brave for his own damn good yeah, but when I you know I’d be watching I’d be like like holding security and watching a patrol go and You’d see you know I see guys moving with that little Crouch because everyone’s expecting that the shootings gonna start And I’d see JP man walking with his head up in his chest out like ready to get So that’s my brother Jay and The other thing that you know When you’re in these foreign countries when we were in Iraq you’re in Afghanistan the the locals We can’t tell the difference between we really can’t tell difference We know goodbye bad guy now you learn some sense of it when you go okay that guy look shady and you’re probably pretty accurate About the a guy like of half as you gonna know. No you don’t know instantly He was the unofficial fifth member of our team inside a hamlet if he shook his head at us We knew his time to forget the tea and get out so How much good how much how often? Would you go into a hamlet and people cool and all good and drinking tea And you know most time I mean most I look I mean look uh You know the people there want that I want it to be better. I mean they live in the shift Yeah, they live there. They want to be better. You know they’re just caught in a bad situation It’s not a it’s not a it’s not a simple equation You know there’s nothing simple mm-hmm about the life that they have to live You made some friends going back to the book in the hills along the Pakistani border no Afghan military or civilian had much of anything I think practically every American soldier marine tried to help in some way we purchase candy and Trinkets in the markets to give the kids I soon had two little buddies boys about 10 or 11 They’d hang around the main gate yelling my aid I’m a dad trying to say if when they saw me at first I’d buy him cokes and then started sharing my care packages from home soap candy peanuts gun gum Maybe a decade from now some kids remember that some Americans were kind to them even when their older brothers were shooting at them Maybe not you don’t help out because you expect something in return So you’re you’re a human being man trying to try to take care of some kids a lot of there I Think this is getting into your first sort of legit We’ll call it combat yeah, and You’re taking some small arms fire I’m going to the book here Staff Sergeant kenefick was standing outside a bunker about a hundred feet from me Meyer were under attack yield Technically yes, but the shepherd there’s some Shepherd out there But the shepherd was shooting without poking his head up to aim he had one chance in a thousand of hitting us a second harmless Harmless burst followed the bullets cracking more than ten feet above our head call for RT now Staff Sergeant Ken effect yelled holding the radio I had Headset out towards me oh nice Staff Sergeant soon to be gunnery sergeant kenefick needed the lowly corporals help I trotted toward him stopped assumed parade rest postures armed locked behind my back chest pushed forward in the wide open and Pasted a respectful expression on my face What does the Staff Sergeant wish the Corporal to do? another burst from the aka This is no time to be a smartass Meyer a few more rounds still way too high unlocked at parade rest high Staff Sergeant He balanced the headset considering whether to throw it at me Meyer hurry up He had started calling in the artillery mission and when I got to him. He was asking me What do I say now left one dropped 200? I said he repeated it on the radio what now he asked fire for effect I said should be dead on okay fire for effect. He repeated over the radio And that’s it you hit the guy, but It to funny that you even in that situation you were talking about being a kind of wiseass when you’re a kid You’re still alive s. Yeah, you know the thing about kenefick was medium were butting heads real hard at that time You know we were butting heads You know how some people just take over like he took over? And tried to make up for his lack of you know nothing against him. He was in a combat I mean it wasn’t his job But what he tried to make up for in the lack of his combat knowledge was his authority right and so You know he had kind of pissed me off pretty bad about you know asking me to do you know? Can you stand prayed rest like he was all big on it right and it’s like we’re on we’re on a cop Like you know we you know you still need to know customs and courtesies right and so I got use that that situation to make A point you know he just kind of pushed me over the edge, but after that we were that’s what kind of bro Do you guys not right? Yeah broke ass, you know? That’s all okay? You had some good Afghan soldiers and under you were talking to me about them and early one guy that by the name of Dodd Ali Here you go he was fun to Talk to open friendly and fearless We’d sit around Talking and asking questions of each other like kids in middle school learning as much as we could about each other He proudly cleaned his saw five times a day and absorbed every tip I gave him about shooting He was the most disciplined a scar on base. That’s why we gave him the saw in the first place She had good relationship with that. Yeah, I mean I had a good relationship with all my Afghans. I mean I I At least two meals a day with them You know usually I didn’t eat breakfast with them. I would eat it over at the Over at the you know the chow hall But I used you know that was my that was my policy. I mean every night I eat dinner with them every single night I would eat dinner with my Afghan soldiers mm-hmm because I was no better than them yeah you know sometimes I hear I Hear people you know people that don’t understand at all. What was going on in Iraq or Afghanistan? They’ll you know we were Occupy was occupiers And how could you and it’s like I always remind them like we were fighting alongside the Iraqi soldiers fighting alongside the Afghan soldiers Yeah, I mean spilling blood Yeah I mean we weren’t I mean just cuz it was Iraq and Afghanistan war we weren’t fighting Iraq and Afghanistan we were fighting with them Mmm. We weren’t fighting against Iraq or Afghanistan Xed to them you know we were helping them Against the same enemy yeah, you know so many people missed that point manna dey’s up. It’s an important point to be missing it’s a big factor Man, I hear that and it just turns my stomach man Now I kind of joked about that that first situation being your first combat and now you had legit your first kind of trial by fire yeah You’re at combat. You’re at the outpost at cop Monti and you’re under attack you actually got some wounded some a scars are wounded and You’re here. We’re going back to the where stat we’re Staff Sergeant kenefick I yelled doc Layton pointed toward the northeast Tower get over there and stay with him I yelled suicide bombers sometimes rushed the wire trying to take and take an infidel with them as they evaporated in a red flash without hesitating doc Layton ran down the stairs across the open space and into the tower with Staff Sergeant kenefick 2 or 3 seconds later a Rocket slammed into their bunker exploding into pieces and a half grand worker Huddled there behind beside the sandbags smoke rolled out of the tower. They’re gone I yelled the Johnson not believing what I just seen I resumed firing It’s all you can do the best first aid at that point was to return fire Johnson worked the radio Fox 31 Fox 3 1 this is Fox 3 staff sergeant kennefick doc Layton come on answer up We kept firing, but it seemed unworldly now we were on automatic lieutenant Johnson got on the radio again 3 1 Fox 3 1 this is Fox 3 staff starting kennefick dot Layton come on man answer up Then finally yeah, yeah, this is three one we’re good ten minutes later our attack helicopters began strafing runs low rumbling birds like a giant Burpee incredible firepower those lovely birds enemy fire ceased attack over Johnson And I ran over to the bunker a staff sergeant kenefick and Doc late and stumbled out Four of us sat on the bloody sandbags in the growing dust talking about it their eyes were slightly glazed and wide wide open Lieutenant John Johnson Staff Sergeant Ken effect and doc Layton weren’t infantry. They had considered that by coming to Afghanistan They might die, but it hadn’t kicked in until now Now they had heard the screams and seen the blood Everybody soot-covered understood now that if we went home together it might not be alive The ass cars were cleaning up the bloody mess not six feet from us taking away the rip the body of their friend We mumbled some stuff all of us were too embarrassed to talk about our feelings But we knew what we were all thinking this shit was for real and there were only four of us We’ll be there for each other doc Layton said The surfer dude surprised me. He had said the one thing that made any sense Yeah, that was um That was the Sunday before So gang call was on a on a Tuesday. That was September 6 of 2009 It was a huge rocket attack I mean they were dialed and it was terrible like I can remember it as if I was there It was terrible coming rocks their fire. I think we had nine that hit that 107 that hit dead-on like in not just nine that hit just inside of of not the whole base But just my Afghan based. It’s it’s probably just you know where we’re at right now is probably bigger than that It was terrible mm-hmm, and that was a wake-up call oh it was for all of us I mean It was for all of us and it was for the Helmand you know I’ll never forget You know I’ll never forget talking I mean we finally sit down and talked about what do we do if we lose one of it you know? What do we want and? Gosh it was so real, and you know I’ll never forget kenefick I Had a I had medevacked out a guy a wounded soldier that day And he was put me in for a Bronze Star and I never forget he we were walking through in the end little hooch And he said and where we lived that and he was just you know kind of joking a little bit later on that day He’s like he’ll Meyer. You know the way shits going for you, and it’s unlucky as you are He goes you’ll probably be in for a Medal of Honor before this deployments over with And It’s just crazy yeah That’s two days before you guys head down to ganja Gaul we’d actually got the call that night that we were supposed to go to Gangi Gaul in the seventh and They ended up pushing it right to the 8th So we left the next day We talked about a little bit here ganja Gaul laid two miles north of Joyce and we drove right by the mouth of the valley Gangi Gaul sounded like the name of an Irish town full of smiling faces and friendly pubs I could see a few of the larger compounds far back on a hillside nestled against steep ridge lines Bad place half has muttered bad people so you’re getting right away getting told I mean we were told instantly I mean we were told like I mean we I mean yeah. There is no doubt Now one thing that I think made you feel more calm a little bit more comfortable you talked about in the book Historically the Taliban had not sprung ambushes from inside villages, so that wasn’t discussed at the briefing plus We were going in with 90 Afghans and 15 advisors with a platoon from 1/3 to deployed behind us in a Quick Reaction Force This shows us this show belongs to the to our Afghan counterparts Fabio mess in that right yeah Fabio Fabio said We advisers will stand off to the side and let them talk with the elders were not in the lead We’re assisting that made no sense. I thought considering who is doing the briefing and who was hearing it We were into the tactical lead even if we claimed otherwise That’s a little that’s a political thing Yeah, I mean, I I think it’s an ignorance thing well, I think it’s an ignorant thing too, but the reason it happened I don’t know of course I mean technically we fail under so I mean technically the way that this works as crazy as this sound I was working for like my commander was Afghan commander Whatever the Afghan commander told me was what I was supposed to do right I mean, I’m saying that’s a political thing for us to say politically look the Afghans are running this operation yes Yes, yes, I mean that you know, but that If you remember what I said a little bit earlier about you know hey, we’re not going to do the fighting I mean you know that that’s the mentality of the leadership of team yeah Yeah Not good, then as you’ve just said here that made no sense. I thought and you were a corporal 20 How old were you I was 21 21 years old and you’re looking at this going hey, man This doesn’t make any sense we’re the ones that are sitting here briefing it You know we’re the ones that know how to call for fire Yeah, I mean and I brought it well I mean first off first off the Afghans can’t even talk to anybody that calls for fire or the helicopters I Mean they don’t even have any comms with them their own HF Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean I so the three main factors that I brought up in the brief And I brought up that look We’re only everybody’s going in we have over 12 different moving elements between the Opie’s and different teams inside this Patrol all on one frequency mm-hmm I Brought that up, I brought up the fact that We didn’t have direct air supporters on 15 minutes triple er and that’s in Jalalabad So all and you know so they were taken as if the birds would be there within 15 minutes I said that’s not what 15 minutes triple our meetings They’re up that means off the ground 15 minutes And then they still got nine or probably 60 minutes to get from Jalalabad to us And so you know that was other factor than the other thing that I brought up was Why would we put our snipers 2,000 meters away from the village outside of their effective range of their weapons there you go But here’s what I was told I’m an e4 in the United States Marine Corps. What do I know about mission planning? And that’s why I was taken out of the team Chuck so When you say when you talk about getting taken out of the team explain how that went down a little bit So you got your four man team team Monty? Yeah, same money And so what they did was is you know they had? Theirs like they would put the team’s you know you would go with your Afghans in here to do their part, so Our team was supposed to go to the back of the village cover the backside of it, and then we were gonna search a couple houses up there for a machine gun and while the meeting went on and they took me out of the team because I brought up those concerns and You know they kind of took it as me going against orders questioning their authority, and they replaced me with Gunny Gunny Johnson so I’m just gonna just have to say this right now, so I talk about this all the time and If you’re in a leadership position you don’t want yes, men you don’t want yes, man You want the Corporal that says hey boss? I don’t understand why you do that right now And if your answer to your subordinate is because I said so or it’s purely for be quiet Or you’re an e5 be quiet if that’s what your answer is that? Means you don’t have a real answer that means that what you’re doing is probably wrong so Surround yourself the best people you can have on your team or the people they’re gonna question What what it is that your your plan is and if they question it you can’t don’t have a good Logical answer and your plan doesn’t stand on its own two feet Well think about it and reassess it and take some advice from down the chain of command on how what we could do to change this plan up I Mean it was look They’re complacent you Know that’s that’s the type of mentality you have when you don’t expect to go get your ass handed to you mmm That’s why you need to expect to get your ass handed to you every day and train like it Yeah You know I I used to when I was running attorney we trained for worst-case scenario all the time I was like washing me. You know what any it it was it was insane like we had great We had great financing for our training so the training was awesome. We had mayhem going on we had paintballs, and we had laser this Multi-million dollar laser tag system we had roll players, and it was awesome, and I wanted mayhem And we would put guys down and you’d have to carry him out And it was a it’d be like a baby mayhem and sometimes guys Go this is koto and realistic and what are the chances of this really happening, yeah? And I’d be like look if this doesn’t happen great You don’t ever have to worry about it happening for real, but if it happens You’ll be ready for it. At least as ready as you can be yeah, so You get pulled off the team I got pulled off the team and my job was gonna be to stay with the vehicle so like basically we were gonna drive vehicles In park the vehicles now. It was the other thing. I said I said this is dumb. Why why would we leave our up-armored guns? A couple miles away mm-hmm, and they said you mean you ready for the response here you ready oh? Well, Dakota Because we want to go into the village clandestine You have a 90 man Patrol yeah Just to paint a picture for everyone basically there’s a deep ravine Walls on either side at the top of the ravine it kind of splits into two other ravines And there’s kind of villages on both sides of that Yeah It splits in two it splits into two like it’s kind of like two valleys inside of a big valley, right and on the right-hand side was another bad Valley, but we were going in the left-hand side when that was Gangi gone and I Mean this this terrain was built to fight. It was built to fight. I mean they had trenches in it There were trenches in it that they used to fight out of It’s not and obviously you’re walking up the valley which means Automatically, you’re in the low ground which is not where we want to be ever All right now you the one of the guys you’re gonna be working with In the hummers was Staff Sergeant juan rodriguez chavez here we go back to the book I sought out Staff Sergeant juan Rodriguez Chavez our Motor Transport chief I known him for five months He didn’t stand on rank and we traded stories about growing up on farms He had grown up on a ranch in Mexico having a similar approach to life rod, and I had become friends He was in the 8th grade when his family moved to Texas were learned english played football earned. Good grades and roped cows and rodeos Our team called him hot rod. He laughed a lot bragged about how smartest two daughters were and kept all our vehicles in top condition Rob this mission is fucked up if the shit hits the fan I said we’re going in my team’s walking point and they’ll get cut off we have to go in and get them out and He looked back at you. Devil dog rod said say the word, and I’ll do the driving Yeah, that’s legit. He’s the man he’s the man and Continuing on you say having some sort of contingency plan now I walk back to the adviser headquarters and brief lieutenant Johnson by the way lieutenant Johnson didn’t want you out of the team either Right you wanted you to stay with kenefick were pissed. He knew that you Should be with the team If things get hairy I said I’m coming in rod will drive radio your coordinates and get down to the wash Fucking climate and we’ll haul ass back to the main body because they were gonna be exposed on the far end of that Wall yeah, so I I so everything that idea was planned out the night before Chuck Everything that I did was planned out the night before and it was all in our team I mean, I told him I mean I told him I said you know you say the word and I’ll head in there I don’t care. I’m coming to get you and I mean that we had this all planned out like all they had to do was get to the road and I would be there Continuing on back to the book in the talk a report about ganja gall had come in Via Brigade internet a Special Forces team reported that 32 fighters were moving from Pakistan to reinforce ganja Gaul half an hour later the video feed from an unmanned aerial Vehicle showed a man with a mortar tube on his back entering a known safehouse two kilometers north of ganja Golf village ten minutes later four more men and in the same house, so you’re watching this well hit so here’s the crazy part nobody told us oh So you didn’t even get that report nobody told us Jack um And I got a point out to everyone. I’m obviously skipping giant chunks of this book and there’s a awesome amount of detail that that Dakota goes into in how this is going down, and I’m kind of hitting the wave tops to get to get the story there but Okay You don’t even get that Intel but doesn’t matter because the next day. I guess where you’re going into the valley you Got a guy with you named Swenson. He’s in charge of some border police some Afghan border police is that right yeah? so Swensons border police turned to Hafez when the lights went out Dishman he said am I saying that right Dutchman dushman dushman dushman, which is another term for enemy for enemy dushman They said we must turn back so they’re already freaking out. Yeah. Yeah, so they I think I I think that they were Right some of the police had already knew they had tipped it off. Yep. They they had information Leaked when we were coming in they leaked a plan Yes, I think that that’s why they were trying to bail out in my opinion. It was because they knew what was already there, yeah got it and Um just before 5:00 in the morning rod and I heard gravel country crunching on the tress so now you’re actually in position you dropped off the guys and now the the Afghan team with some of the advisors including team Monty are heading up the valley and you’re waiting at the bottom and I’m sitting back at the you know back the trucks, and they’re going you know they’re going into the valley and At this point now. Everybody’s leaving the valley yeah this this part Just before 5:00 in the morning rod And I heard gravel crunching on the trail men women children sheep and goats suddenly hurried by our trucks. Heading out of the valley Pre-dawn always brought the first singsong called to prayer followed by people scurrying about and And this is just you knew right then right 100%. Oh, it’s on no 110 percent Oh, yeah, no doubt so this you know just for anyone that’s listening that is important to and two together here There’s a village with a bunch of civilians in it and the civilians all leave and they take their animals with them They take all their they take everything that’s worth worth anything with him, so they know that there’s it’s on Going back to the book as lieutenant Johnson approached the first row of houses a radio back to Garza That he and Lieutenant ruler were heading toward the house of an imam one of the village elders Seconds later an RPG streaked in from the east followed by a burst of PKM a russian-made machine gun that shoots a hefty 7.62 millimeter cartridge it started tearing up the ground in the adobe walls as the men took cover among the terrace walls more PKM fire came in from the north-east joined by aks at a closer range enemy fighters were crouched inside the houses and below the windows of the schoolhouse on the Southern Ridge they were hiding in the alleyways and Dug in behind the stone terrace walls to the east they had a dozen fixed positions and were shooting downhill With the Sun behind them Yeah, they know what they’re doing yeah, this is again Deuce any kind of anybody with any kind of military knowledge whatsoever when you read that paragraph for that that does two paragraphs right there You see that you are in a horrible horrible scenario multiple enemy machine-gun positions in elevated Coordinated attack Horrible And here’s your thoughts back to the book I waited for the firing to die down But it didn’t the chaos of the RPG explosions PKM machine guns aks and m16s increased I heard the report of a recoilless rifle basically a hundred pound shoulder or Tripod-mounted cannon at a sure sign of a planned ambush as the dushman don’t lug that over the hills for an exercise Then I heard the clump clump of their mortar shells there was a wide babble of voices on the command radio Advisors yelling at each other to clear the net no one was taking charge there was no central command I was pacing around Frustrated being out of the fight and not being able to help So You’ve seen enough of like little firefights. That would be a little bursts of fire and then people are gonna run Yeah, I mean you know like they’re gonna. Just they blow their load like right in the beginning You know they don’t have enough that like they’re not able to like us resupply no they don’t sustain anything This was endless and Then you you mentioned this earlier and again Just to kind of point out to people so they so they understand what you were talking about you said hey there’s gonna be 14 different manoeuvre elements 12 12 different maneuver elements And they’re all on the same net now what that means is they’re all in the same radio frequency so picture this You you’re trying to have a conversation on the phone But so are 12 other people 11 other people all trying to have a conversation on the phone at the same time yeah with their with their nerves With their nerves while they’re while chaos is happening. Yeah, and So this is what you end up doing is Actually on a phone you have a better chance because a phone will kind of kind of let some of that traffic through But when you start stepping on each other on the radio it just cut each other off, and you can’t hear anything And that’s exactly what happened and the other piece of it was it’s not just that it was all that one frequency Everything had to be relayed through those snipers Getting the elevated high ground to get back to the could you did you have direct coms with the guys in the ground yes? I do, but I’m saying like to get to the command so they talk like you know and the big thing I brought up was was you know what happens if you’re calling in a medevac and you’re calling in a call for fire mm-hm Yeah, that’s that’s like trying to call the fire department and the ambulance and you’re trying to call them at the same time like you Got it. You got to separate them. Yeah, actually that’s not a good example It’s trying to call the ambulance and an active shooter and trying to maneuver all that stuff happen at the same time yeah Back to the book soon both ridge lines were sparkling with fire as the a scars and dushman Engaged each other with rocket-propelled grenades smoke and shrapnel filled the air Swensen he’s on this is Highlander six. He yelled over the den for the forward line of troops pinned down at x-ray Delta And heavy enemy fire request immediate suppression Fire kilo echo will adjust so he’s trying to call fire your back and You and rod says What do you think rod said if the Dishman caught around the rear I said and closed the backdoor They’ll catch our people in a fire sack. This is deep shit They got to get out of there The way to break up an ambush is to hammer it with heavy fire the Humvee gave us armored Mobility and a heavy gun we would roll in and bring team Monty back to the location of the command group I grabbed the radio and called Fox through Fox 3 lieutenant Fabio No, reply, I tried Fox 6 Williams, and then Fox 9 first sergeant Garza. No one replied I was calling for permission to enter the valley asking for it from anyone who would answer finally Fox 7 Valdez up on the northern Ridge answered on the net Fox 3 3 your request to enter the valley are denied Fox 9 says you are to stay at your present location And again, I’m throwing out a bunch of different names here These are all the different leaders that are out there on these different 12 elements and when you read the book for yourself you can Kind of catch and understand exactly. What was happening there? but the Basically, what was going on was your call and who would ever would answer to get permission to drive up the valley and go give a hand yeah a shine and get permission I Put down the handset and sat there Listening as the does as a dozen advisers try to talk over a single radio channel. It was sheer bedlam. This is bullshit rod I rechecked the ammo belt in the mark-19 Rod sat in the driver’s seat you ready rod give it a few more minutes Meier you’ll fry for this He said he was right I’d get sent home for disobeying a direct order there was no question in my mind about that I was already on thin ice with Garza Fabio and Williams so I sat there Frustrated listening to the shooting flexing my hands on the grips of the mark-19 and breathing hard I tried to calm down Maybe the battle sounded worse on the radio than it really was son of a bitch inside the Tactical Operations Center at Joyce Oh Joyce is a couple miles away in the Tactical Operations Center is where they’re running this they were they’re supposed to have Kind of a situational awareness of everything that’s happening, and they’re supposed to be able to supply fire support So that’s when we’re talking about the Tactical Operations Center at Joyce That’s what it is Captain Aaron Harding was the senior officer on duty from midnight to 8:00 in the morning The battle captain he had been in Afghanistan for eight months, but had rarely controlled fires and certainly not and certainly none like this as artillery stood by at Joyce a Few miles away ended Asadabad a few miles away Harding asked for more and more information from the men on the long table Who was requesting the fire missions was at shadow for Highlander five for Fox three? What had they heard from Fox six who is presently in charge the Marine advisors or the Afghan army? Did the ground commander know where all his troops were had they double-checked the grids of the caiis? He asked question after question That Joyce 120-millimeter was millimeter mortars were fired for Fired 15 minutes after Fabio requested the first shell though struck within 50 metres of the enemy position the next flurry of shells was on target That would be the only effective fire mission of the entire day And this is a one of the things that you’re gonna get more into we actually recently talked about the battle in the I drank valley and Those guys would absolutely 100% have been overrun and what saved their ass over and over again was artillery and fire support now That’s the biggest advantage that we have on the battlefield as Americans 5% And you’re caught and your team is calling for it the advisors are calling for it, and they’re not getting it Yeah, we’re not getting it. I mean they shut it down and To try to give the benefit of doubt here right of why they shut it down I totally understand it But it goes back to the one thing I said right I mean, they couldn’t probably couldn’t figure out who the hell was calling what and where? What was where I mean I don’t know that I could have confidently fired around and but part of it was because of the layout of everybody on one frequency you know It goes back to the initial problem like I don’t know if I could have fired around now am I pissed that they didn’t fire rounds absolutely like it was wrong. It was wrong for what the reasons they did it but you Know I the confusion was so chaotic in the beginning especially But I can tell you this that they had got the round It a broke the enemy mm-hmm and you know again to Advance your point of giving the benefit of the doubt if they have no idea where friendlies are they could have fired rounds on friendly forces as well well exactly and and then you know they’d have been accountable for that and I’ll tell you that’s That’s a hard decision to make to to possibly you know fratricide blue-on-blue is in my opinion That’s the worst thing that can happen to war and so what? These guys are being asked to possibly do is risk a fratricide. Yes, which in their minds and most probably a lot of military Minds, I think mine included well. It’s hard to say What’s better? You know risk fratricide or risk? Getting overrun now if we know for a fact people are getting overrun then you’re like okay Well risk fratricide, and that’s why that happens sometimes where people so I dropped that bomb no matter what? But to say I’m not a hundred percent sure people are gonna. Go overrun But I’m still gonna take the risk of fratricide at this point. That’s probably why they’re holding off. It is in the beginning Yeah, yeah, and they get to a point where they call the danger-close rounds and try and take responsibility and what will get there Back to the book the enemy above the enemy above Worked their way around the edges of the valley shooting downhill the Taliban machine gunners tracked in on one a scar then another then another It was a killing ground They’re all over the place Swenson was thinking to himself. I may not make it out of here If you hunker down and don’t shoot back You will surely die The other side gains confidence and rushes forward in the frenzy of combat soldiers act like sharks They sense weakness and circle in picking off the wounded and the defenseless Slowly the dushman were closing in from both sides of the wash So they were ready let me tell you something they were good they Were good. They were trained that gear You know they had they had plate carriers. They’re taking the uniforms off our dead guys You know they put Kevlar zon should they’re good Still trying to get fire support here Swenson an identified enemy position two four grid positions There are two basic ways of calling in artillery you can give the grid coordinates of the target or the kilo echo number for a grid and adjust after the initial round or you can give your own location and A compass bearing to the end distant to the target the second technique is called a polar mission Provides the guns with the locations of both the friendly observer and the target Tell the talk I’ll send it polar Swenson radioed to Kaplan it’s on me give them my initials. I’m making the decision not them Assuming accurate fire the u.s.. Mortars were less than two miles away The only target endangered by the polar plot was the enemy by sending his initial Swenson was taking full responsibility If anything went wrong if a friendly soldier or civilian were hit the burden rested squarely on Swenson not with the talk in the rear The talk responded to the polar request by asking again for information that was impossible to provide where were all the friendly troops What was the forward line of trace of the friendly units was everyone accounted for were any civilians endangered? Kaplan told shadow the relay team above the him tell the talk that’s that it’s critical. I repeat critical we have advisors pinned down the talk denied shadows fire mission Furious sergeant summers at shadow 4 pressed back against the talk the main element is being hit from the north east and south all Elements are engaged. I repeat all elements are heavily engaged we need fire missions now The NCOs inside the talk were doing their job And the artillery and mortar crews wanted to oblige yet it seemed to sergeant Somers that every time he related a fire mission the talk asked him 20 questions a Second string was running the show here and not well in firefights It’s not unusual for 200 to 2,000 artillery shells to be fired over the course of the first hour of the Battle of Ganjgal When men lay trapped and dying the taça Joyce allowed only 21 artillery shells to be fired Since World War two forward observers had received artillery fire under the rule of silence is consent When an observer called for fire the mission went by radio to the Operations Center and to the guns? silenced by the ops center constituted consent for the guns to fire in The 21st century with computers making instant firing calculations within two minutes shells could be hitting the target But beginning about 2006 sergeants and lieutenants on the front lines were trusted less The High Command believed the grunts were too quick to call and fires that endangered civilians resulting in an embittered population that supported the insurgency the Solution was to apply a strict new rule Two months before ganja gaulle General Stanley McChrystal the senior commander in Afghanistan issued a directive that forbade the use of artillery against or near any structure likely to contain civilians unless the higher the next higher headquarters commander had approved That ended silences consent The High Command had shifted decision-making from the battlefield to the staff Swenson was not trusted to make the hard decisions instead Officers in the talk with a confused idea of the battlefield had to decide whether to honor his requests for fire Yeah in it, so that’s where my problem comes in right You know if the doctrine is that you I give my initials. I take the responsibility Well then follow the doctrine Yeah, you know that’s there’s there’s where they went wrong in and I’ll tell you something else that you know you talked about how confusing it was over the net and Clearly it was obviously very confusing How long would it take to verbally explain the layout of this whole situation? It would take a very long time oh It would take an extremely eloquent person Who had the time to kind of compose himself and and and sit there and try and explain it? That’s why you make K kilo echoes That’s why you have these pre-planned fire positions so that you don’t have to think anymore if we can direct fire and and what instead of having to communicate what the situation on the ground is what you communicate is this is what we need and This is where you need to put it Yeah, I mean that’s 100% innit. I mean that’s 100%. It is you know? You could never first off you could never relay All the information there and guess what and at the end of day, it was irrelevant to what they were needing yeah And also by the time you if you could relay it by the time you laid it It would be different cuz what are you gonna? Tell everyone to sit still for a minute while I explain where you are that doesn’t work That’s why that’s why decentralized command is so important on the battlefield This is the exact reason why decentralized command is so important on the battlefield when you centralize command people people that actually Are there that need to be able to make decisions make things happen can’t do it. Yeah? And by the way how do you overcome a situation like this how do you overcome a situation where Okay, you’re my subordinate. Yeah, you work for me And I don’t I don’t want you to be able to have the ability to fire because I’m afraid you’re gonna hurt civilians How do I solve that the way to solve it is not to say no? I don’t get that you that Authority the way. I solve it as they say okay, Dakota Let me explain some things to you we need to protect the civilian populace We need to make sure we don’t damage any infrastructure to the best of our ability I want you to understand how strategically important that is do you understand let me put you through some scenarios What if you were here and this happened? What would you do what if you’re here and this happened? What would you do I? Trained you and I build trust so that I can decentralize the command that’s how you overcome it. You don’t overcome it It’s a shortcut to try and centralize and it ends up getting people killed All right Going back to the book Fox 31 lieutenant Johnson finally came up on the radio Were pinned down in a house Receiving accurate fire from the next house. We have to get out of here He was cut off by others pushing to use the same frequency Three or four advisers were trying to talk stepping on each other I could hear the strain and their voices the lack of crisp orders The frantic yelling of men who were pinned down after a few minutes Fox 3 to staff sergeant kenefick tried to pass his location on the grid to Fabio I Can’t shoot back Aaron said because I’m pinned down. They’re shooting at me from the house. It’s so close grid 3 2 This is 3 3 radio staff sergeant kenefick repeat your grid repeat your grid or you you radioed to Kenefick repeat your grid repeat your grid so he faded as he was trying to tell you his grid Nothing after that but static and garbled voices That broke it from me. I had promised my team. I would be there as far as I was concerned My command element wasn’t in command Twice I had heard shadow say that air would be on station in 15 minutes. Nothing happened How long do you do nothing while your friends are fighting for their lives? Fox 7. This is 3/3 sitting here as stupid. We’re going in rod and I were on the net with Valdes there was no dispute among us it was about zero 600 time to move I Was the vehicle commander so the fault lay with me for disobeying? Orders if I arrived in the valley and discovered that the command group had had the situation under control I knew there was a good chance I’d be sent back to the States and disgrace When I shouted the ass cars to follow us they look confused up on the north outpost Valdez grabbed a senior Afghan Sergeant the sergeant radio to the Afghan drivers clustered around our truck urging them and pash to to follow me Mortar shells were falling a football field away to our West the enemy knew our trucks were somewhere on the path But uncertain just where the explosions made my made the ass cars jumpy Just the same some of them jumped into two Humvees and roared in the position behind us rod. Let’s go I said He put it in gear Now by that time you start actually going into the valley and as you’re going in By that time several ass cars were stumbling out of the battlefield some bleeding a few without their rifles all exhausted We’re americani I yelled dose dosed the ass cars pointed up toward the village so as you’re driving in you’re seeing guys fleeing the battlefield I Mean it was like it was terrible like as we go in you you’re just seeing these guys come out It’s in Ramadan, so they won’t eat or they won’t drink any water, and they’re coming out this battle And they’re just like you’re not even close to the valley yet, and they’re coming honest battle. They don’t have any weapons on them They’re just broken. They’re bloodied. They’re they’re been shot They’ve just I mean you’re carrying each other and you’re just like What are we going into Somewhere behind us was a US army platoon It seemed to me to be a time for them to make a move they were the Quick Reaction Force our insurance policy Valdez was on the radio arguing with dog three six the quick-reaction army platoon commander dog three six This is Fox 7 Valdez radio radioed You need to get in there man Fox 3 threes to your front and a Humvee drive east until you link up with them Fox 7 this is dog 3 6 at the lieutenant our vehicles are too big for the mission We were driving on a footpath I was barely wide enough for our Humvee Valdez came up with an alternative dog 3 6. This is Fox 7. I Understand drive forward until you reach the Afghan vehicles use them to get into the fight. There are people out there dying The platoon leader said he had to wait for clearance from the talk at Joyce Yeah What kind of vehicles did the QRF a Iranian Maps, okay? God I mean Excuse yeah, how awesome would it be to have an MRAP roll under this situation Yeah, I don’t think they could have the road wouldn’t children too small yeah Because they ended up coming in in one of those it looks like a tank But it’s on wheels mm-hmm, and it ended up flipping over often off the bank, but They look at the end of the day we had a ton of Humvees I mean we just brought in 90 people mmm sitting right there. They could have jumped in on these and came The helicopter ops center called back Saying the retasking of the birds had been cancelled because Lance had not called his own brigade headquarters to ask permission and because another mission from north of Ganjgal was of higher priority, so One of the guys in the in the ops center had actually said you know what screw it. I’m calling for Carlos and But he hadn’t called the brigade and run through the proper chain of command and they they shut him down Yeah So here we go more than an hour into the fight the situation was as follows Team Monty was trapped in a house in the US and Afghan commanders were pinned down by shooters closing in on them from three sides the North and south observation posts were under fire the ass cars were caught in the open with nowhere to hide rod And I hadn’t reached the wash the 1 3 2 Quick Reaction platoon was not quick reacting the talk at Joyce was paralyzed Preventing artillery support and the helicopter gunships had not arrived It was the perfect storm That’s just um There’s absolutely there’s nothing else go wrong right now. It’s a perfect storm. It is the absolute perfect storm Swenson wanted a massive artillery barrage Because the douche men didn’t have overhead cover artillery air bursts would send millions of lancets raining down toward them Hundreds of shells had to shake the mountains and roll thunder down the valley the dushman were zealots But they weren’t crazy once artillery began exploding overhead gunmo, if a Ches wouldn’t get up and run forward in the open Yet the talk refused to fire Ganjgal only a few miles from camp joyce Unleashing a barrage in your own backyard wouldn’t win the applause at higher Headquarters the directive from the high command was so clear do not employ air-to-ground or indirect fires against residential compounds defined as any structure or building known or likely to contain civilians unless the Ground Force Commander has verified that no civilians are present Terrible And I mean you know and there’s that you know that rule right there is written so impossible You know what do you do you mean you the village you’re getting shot So you run through there you civilian or you shoot at me you? Know um I Have to look do like a full review of the RO ease or the specific tour directive But you know normally the self-defense thing trumps everything well usually and that’s what I always say, right I always talk about ro ease and you know ro ease will say you know blah blah blah blah blah living at the end of it it always ends it says or Hostile act hostile intent mhm But it’s all by interpretation. I mean that it goes back to the commanders I mean You know I don’t blame the ro way that Stanley McChrystal put in place for What happened that day I blame the people the leadership who was incompetent to make a decision? You know I mean like like it’s like Nobody wants to just own it and take accountability and take responsibility So you know what I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do They want to be able to say well. I didn’t do it because well This is the order mmm come on come on. You know if you’re in a leadership position Take take responsibility, yeah You got to do the right thing That’s the bottom line and that’s what makes leadership hard and sometimes the right thing is to break rules sometimes the right thing is to not follow orders sometimes orders are wrong, and you shouldn’t follow them and Napoleon said if you if you’re in charge and you get tasked with something, that’s wrong And you execute it you’re culpable doesn’t matter if you get ordered or not Sometimes you break the rules going right back to the yes-man thing right and I guarantee I guarantee the intent of Stan McChrystal putting this are we in place wasn’t to deny guys that were pinned down by enemy fire, but Again how are we communicating it? You know we put in so we put in the For our priorities in place correctly so that everybody knows yeah, I mean you know When it’s put out in an email it’s kind of like it’s as dangerous as you interpreting me a text mm-hmm I Mean everybody looks at different yep And you know what that’s why things like commander’s intent are so important If I know what it is like your I know if I know what it is that you want done and my job is to Get it done, and you give me parameters to do it within I’ll stay within those parameters And I’ll get the job done, and I’ll come back to you know say hey boss I had to I had to bend the rules a little bit here But I got the mission done or I might call you back and say hey I’m getting ready to break the rules to get the mission done. Do you want me to break him or not? Yeah All right Back to the book shadow the Army outpost on the Southern Ridge replied that the talk at Joyce said that fire mission was too close To the village too close to the village lieutenant Johnson said if you don’t give me these rounds right now. I’m gonna die Try your best Shadow replied knowing the talk wouldn’t fire Try your best Try your best From the tone of shadows voice I knew he was on the verge of complete rage He wanted to strangle the officers in the talk and Joyce I felt the same way this couldn’t be happening We were on the same side We weren’t Marines or soldiers we weren’t Americans or ass cars We were one lone group fighting desperately to stay alive the villages with villagers weren’t our friends This was a war and my team was on the verge of dying whose side was the talk on radio call after radio call Swenson kept requesting smoke Finally around 0 6:30 the talk at Joyce permitted for white phosphorus Phosphorus rounds to be fired into the southeast back side of the village too far away to conceal my team Those were the last rounds fired during the battle At about zero 640 the talk at Joyce forbade any more artillery support sighting garbled communications incomplete calls for fire procedures and a lack of situational awareness on the part of those trapped in the valley So, there’s the there’s the reasons from their perspective Garbled communications incomplete calls for fire procedures and a lack of situational awareness on the part of those trapped in the valley Meanwhile during this time. You’ve been moving up grabbing bodies coming back And here we go again as we move forward for a third time the talk had finally ordered the army platoon dog 3/2 to move forward they pulled him behind us with the platoon leader and a Humvee with an Anti-tank tow missile on the roof the tow made no sense to me But the truck was equipped with a 240 machine gun behind them were 20 US soldiers and for hemily heavily armoured vehicles you rollin with Me lieutenant. I was confirming what I took for granted I’ll scout the route first before I bring my platoon in the terrain may be too tough He refused to put his soldiers into the Afghan vehicles. I could understand that okay, I go first I said you cover our six the Afghans will be behind you As we bounced forward, I heard team Monti again come up on the radio. We’re under fire lieutenant Johnson said we’re surrounded Somehow you’re heading back in yeah, yeah, and I am And my whole goal is just to get them you know was to get them to the road and Yeah, I mean that that was their goal I Could get to the road. They could give me the vehicles. We’re good so I was trying to push I thought that they had took over a house, right I thought they had pushed into the village and took over a stone 42 house, and that’s what I thought they had done and I lost I lost communications with them So I thought they had done, you know when kenefick was trying to give that grid I? Was trying to write it down Because I knew if I could get that grid I’d know where they were had I could plot it I could be there and go get them and You know the one part I don’t talk about in there is probably the hardest parts the whole deal is is that? the first trip that I made in I Was probably 70 60 to 70 meters from there still alive So you’re in the valley now You’re with a group of guys going back to the book here a bullet had entered Westbrook’s neck near the shoulder blade and ricocheted downward a day got dangerous, but not fatal wound Swenson applied quick claw powder and a bandage to seal off the bleeding the fight had been raging for over 90 minutes in the chain Of command throughout Kunar province was on alert procedures for releasing helicopters had been installed in two Oh-58 kiowa x’ were in route to the valley at zero 7:15. They’d contacted Swenson Highlander This is pale horse the PC pilot command radioed. What do you need pale horse Swenson replied? I am under heavy fire from the village and the hills to the east and on both sides request immediate suppression while we pulled back the Kiowa squadron had been in Kunar for ten months The pilots knew the terrain and the enemy habits They intended to swoop in low and criss-crossing strafing room runs. Deliberately swerving and cutting back in odd angles They didn’t care whether they hit the dushman They wanted to force them to crouch down and cease firing The aerial tactics would allow the command group to pull back westward to draw down under under reduced enemy pressure as Swenson moved he called for a medevac Shadow radioed back to that the TOC wanted questions answered before calling for one is he army or marine shadow said Swenson cursed Maj Williams was more diplomatic This is Fox 6 Williams radioed. It doesn’t matter his service. He’s us There was a pause then shadow reluctantly radioed repeat. Talk needs to know if he’s army or marine. It’s in the regulations Yeah, it was You get a guy calling for medevac and You’re getting a house today is the person that needs to ease the casualty army or Marine Corps Yeah, and it really didn’t matter to him It really did matter to them oh you’re saying it mattered, I’m saying it to who was asking they really Their decisions were based off of who it was All right At this point You’re you’re you you I think You’re you going back and forth going back in the valley getting bodies helping wounded coming back out you’re under fire the whole time rod Is getting after it with you sometimes you have some us people with you sometimes you don’t and again these are things You have to buy this book and to get these details out of it And read it so you understand the full magnitude of what we’re talking about here Going back to the book huh Fez left the command group to sort itself out helping a wounded a scar Was headed back west to the operational release point when I had stopped them. I need you to come back in with me I can’t find them without you I said hah Fez was married recently. He was wounded and exhausted He could now go home than have a life If today is my time to die Then I die So he’s rolling with you he had he rolled with me the whole time Again to all those people out there that Well I guess I should just say for the people out there that have a hard time understanding what’s going on overseas? You know here’s an Afghan soldier. That is now gonna risk his life to help an American Marine go and find his friends Yeah, because we were brothers Going back to the book shortly after we had again down the valley we bumped into another group of rent wounded ass cars rod Recognized the first sergeant who was dripping blood down the right side of his trousers He was waving his arms begging us to stop for a scars hobbled over and threw themselves in the backseat Splashing blood all over the place we drove them back to the collection point the first sergeant was blubbering Beg begging us not to go back in I was a little rough shoving him out of the truck I was running out of time and patience once we dropped them off. We gunned it back down the track We were getting to a place Where we couldn’t turn around and couldn’t dodge and weave the arm as the RPG smoke trails came out us We could get pretty stuck in here rod yelled the truck had very little traction and absolutely no cover Then I guess we’ll die with them. I yelled back What else could I say so we weren’t going back rod shifted into low gear and we bounced forward You I Noticed this throughout the book you have a hard time like any time you saw wounded guys you were like all right Well, we got to make another trip now We got to make another trip even with those wounded Afghan guys like you want to go help you guys But at the same time you see these guys here car get in the truck, and we’ll take these guys back Got a big heart, bro Got a big heart. I mean look. You know I didn’t just lose I didn’t just lose four guys that day I lost 10 guys cuz I lost six Afghans I lost 10 brothers You don’t I mean I mean those guys were just as close to me my Afghans Were just as close to me as any Marines. I reserved with And that’s why they’re joining you to go back in there and fight, that’s why I’m live today I Mean that’s that’s the relationships that I had with them and the Brotherhood that I had for them With them is why I’m alive today. I mean they they are incredible human beings So you’re driving around in here Back to the book only rods skill at the wheel was preventing me from being hit again and again Bullets make different sounds when they pass by you the cracks of bullets breaking the sound barrier meaning They’re high Maybe five or ten feet over your head the bullets that snap close by your ears are the real killers a few Losing power and slowing down made a low buzzing sound Strange though it may seem. I wasn’t scared or angry. I was beyond that I didn’t think I was going to die I knew I was dead there wasn’t anything I could do about it I wasn’t a thinking human being I had gone elsewhere. I wasn’t firing the machine gun I was the machine gun Rod wasn’t driving the truck rod was the truck I? Had melded with my weapon I was no more human than a five-foot machine gun I was embracing we were locked together metal and flesh without that 50 Cal. I would have quivered like The a scars helpless in the storm, but with that weapon I felt transported. I had something to do until the blackness came Yeah, I just kept I kept like the bullets were hitting inside the turret they had elevation on us and so they were hitting inside the turret and Man you could hear them coming by and I just I remember sitting there You know cuz if you get down. I mean, you know you know your your instinct is to duck down the turret But you do that they’ll overrun you I mean they were running at the truck So yep You duck down there full sprint, and you’re never gonna come back up. You know what I mean and I Just kept waiting for a bullet. I just knew it was gonna. Hit me in the face I just kept waiting for a bullet to hit me lights out like I just I just There was no doubt in my mind that I was gonna die zero zero to help But I was gonna make this son of a bitches earn it They had it to do Check I Wasn’t paying attention to the Afghan soldiers rod And I plan to keep driving east until we obliterated until we were obliterated or we found my team suddenly with no warning five or six ass cars who were lying in a terrorist’s about a 100 meters away left up and raced towards our truck when was one was shot back and pitched forward Wham a second man went down screaming Wham a third Then a fourth and a fifth I’d never seen anything like it five men down in five seconds There was so much screeching and shooting that I could Couldn’t pick out the location of the weapon that had shot them to deliver such lethal Grazing fire the machine gunner must have been hidden only a few hundred meters away With a clear line of sight in his bipod firmly anchored yet whoever shot those men didn’t raise his gun Sights and stitch me. I knew he was looking at me, but I couldn’t see him There was nothing I could do he let me live Not one of his rounds even struck our truck. I can’t explain it We used to call the trucks bullet magnets they are I mean it’s like the rapists target and a freaking you’re the turret gunner You’re like the icing on the cake. You’re the check the cherry on the icing on the cake Yeah, cuz that truck gets over if they take the gun out that truck doesn’t come out of there no silver ring Oh, hell. Yeah, yeah, but you know even though. It’s a bullet magnet. I mean you know just like right there I think that kind of paints the picture. I mean it’s the it’s the only chance you have right I mean you you’re out. I mean that’s how dialed in they are It’s it’s I Mean I was literally watching guys people throw the term miracle around all the time like the fact that you right here there’s five guys within you know the spitting distance from you, and they all go down and you’re the the most prime target And you don’t get job in you want to talk about helpless the most helpless feeling you got is watching guys trying to get to you and just getting mowed down I mean you want to talk about helpless, and you don’t even know where it’s coming from I Mean you want talk about helpless is watching another human being Run directly at you to get help, and you’re just watching them just Go down one after the other after the other Can you imagine that dude yeah, it’s just a you know it’s it They were good that day You get this call from Valdez they’re coming at you I can see them closing from both sides. They’re swarming you know In front of our truck I saw a few guys sprinting across the wasps from left to right heads low I don’t think they saw us coming up behind them Or if they heard the truck engine over the din of the gunfire they scurried too quickly for me to get off a burst Glancing to my right I’d looked smack into the eyes of five or six men in Dirty man dresses crouched alongside a drainage ditch not ten meters away when I gate with them they ducked down like they were playing hide-and-seek it took me a few seconds to realize that they were spreading out to seal off the Open end of the horseshoe valley zip locking the frozen ass cars inside a fire sack Rod and I had blundered into their rear So they were about to they’re about to surround every Sunday That’s what they were doing there was a trench, and they were closing it They’re closing the gate, and and we that truck you happen to be there to be right in it No fire sac is a is a doctrinal term actually which means you’re surrounded and they’re going to shoot Into the sack and kill everyone no We were bouncing over the rocks no faster than a man can run when a bearded dushman clutching an ache a left out of a Ditch and sprinted after us like a man trying to catch his catch a bus My gun almost wouldn’t swivel low enough to shoot him the barrel was tilted down as far as it could go I fired into his chest and he went down like he’d hit a glass wall The bullet doesn’t blow a man back like in the movies either. He stumbles or on or he falls dead this man Fault fell dead rod was yelling at me. Maybe I was hypnotized for a second by the Deaf there was a guy trying to open the right door I Couldn’t depress the 50 Cal that low I can’t get him. I yelled the gun won’t go down low enough It takes the brain 12 thousands of a second to react to danger my mind was a complete blank I had fired so many thousands of rounds that I didn’t think What I was doing once you’ve practiced emotion long enough it becomes second nature some Reacher’s researchers call it expertise induced amnesia Athletes call it being in the zone. I call it self-preservation I grabbed my m4 leaned out and shot the guy four or five times in the shoulder and neck it was like shooting a zombie There was no shock power in the little five five six millimeter bullets. He fell to the ground I Pivoted back to the 50 Cal and grabbed the Spade handle the weapon my hands And my eyes were working as a trained unit independent of my brain man sight picture shoot Man sight picture shoot, you don’t really look at the target the enemy remains out of focus you concentrate on the sight picture man Sight picture shoot, I hit one or two guys next to the truck and the others duck back into the ditch Valdez came back on the radio rod watch her front rod was focused on keeping traction in the loose gravel If the truck got stuck even for a moment we’d be toast He looked ahead to see a bearded hatless man in his mid 30s dressed in a brick red man jams with a green chest rig Full of ammo running toward the truck and firing an 8k at us from the hip Hold on homey rod yelled he hit the accelerator The truck hit the man squarely in the chest there was a bump and then another bump under the tires Holy shit rot rod yelled. I just ran over a guy back up and do it again I’d been shot in the elbow a bleeder that did no real damage The bone was fine in a fight adrenaline deadens the pain I did a little rapping and got back to shooting the more fucked up things got the more rod, and I started laughing He was steering away from RPG streaming at us and laughing and I was shooting the big gun and laughing definitely crazy But your emotions have to go somewhere The enemy fire slacking Donna says the Chi was darted around They were like a steel umbrella over us a few minutes later. Pale horse came back on my net Three three were Winchester, we’ll be back in 15 Mike’s Winchester meant they had expended all their ammunition They were too late to carry much, and they’ve been shooting at targets wherever they looked the firing picked up we were again the pinata I Climbed down from the turret and talked to talk to Rodman Hafez We had started with six ammo cans we are now down to one I had fired more than 2,000 rounds Guys we need a new gun I said it was three steps forward two steps back as we turned I saw a NASCAR free crawling feebly toward the road we stopped and I hopped out a PKM machine gun was tailing the ground around me so I dodged back and forth until I reached him one Kiowa out of ammo hovered above me and distracted the enemy ignoring the RPG shells exploding in the air I Turned the ass car onto his back hit by three rounds in his upper chest and neck he was gurgling and drowning in his own blood I Rolled him onto his side And he died before I could pick him up Yeah like You can see I kind of circle things that are gonna read yeah, and I just was like circling giant chunks Yeah, – so people can understand what I mean I know that people aren’t gonna understand really the the kind of chronological evolution and maybe the mechanics of what was happening But I want people at least to understand until they read this book themselves the freaking situation that you were in Which was beyond mayhem? Yeah, you know you talk about training like to the worst case scenario. I always had done the same thing And this was worse than any worst-case scenario that I could have ever ever dreamed up of I’ve ever been in it was the worst of any situation I Could have never sit here And you said give me the worst thing you could just come up with and I could have never done it I could have never I could have never done it of just I Mean you just I mean it’s just like I mean. I just felt like everybody was dying like I mean it was just I mean there were like literally there were bodies everywhere I Mean it you couldn’t turn around and look and there not be a body somewhere And you just pretty much figured you were gonna be joining them soon enough No, I did I mean there was no doubt there was no doubt in my mind. I wasn’t making it out there And you know I walked in that day This just shows you how ignorant I was like when you talk about Your buddy who was kind of like puffs the chest up right? I had that was me mm-hmm I literally I’m I’m gonna tell you I’m gonna just tell you how ignorant I was I walked in that day and I And I there was not a situation that I was ever gonna see That I couldn’t get us out of There wasn’t one there wasn’t one and It was like You know it was like God showing me just how small it was You know you got take I mean these these Afghan soldiers, I mean they’re my buddies You know and part of the problem was how long in the deployment was this Supposed to been nine months And how all this when did this happen? about they got there in July August September Yeah, so this is like three months of deployment yeah, and part of the problem was we just done the NATO transition And they were using weapon systems that they weren’t used to That shoot too small around Yeah, yeah a lot But they weren’t used to these weapons they weren’t even used to enforce em hmm. I mean An m4 is are so much more fickle m16s Ever six things are said well even more so than m4 him some scenes are so much more fickle than an 8k They must have been cursing them damn it 16 oh they they were I mean they were oh yeah I mean they you know that they would have something go wrong, and they would just drop the magazine I mean I mean they were just Yeah So they’re so like like I’m telling you if you say everything Like we had just so we just hit Ramadan so none of them were drinking water None of them were eating we had just I mean you look at every factor of this. It was the perfect storm We just transitioned. This is the first mission first or second mission that we’d ever went on with all NATO weapons I mean you look at all these factors, and it was it was perfect had you ever worked with the QRF before No, not that one. I was used to the ones you know up near where we were at but you got it done no interoperability with those guys before no and They got shut down so after the talk learned that it was Marines They got shut down all support stopped All sports soft All right Sometimes I got nothing to say and that’s one of them I didn’t even comprehend that yeah All right, we’re going back to the book We turned left out of the wash onto the narrow track back to the casualty collection point I looked around for major Williams He was sitting off to one side Wounded in in shock there were four or five vehicles in at least 20 ass cars milling around these were our Afghans We had come down from Monte together. I glanced hopefully from the group from group to group Hafez was asking if they’d seen lieutenant Johnson They say lieutenant is back in ganja God said if I said the team didn’t make it out shit Somewhere Farther up the wash my team was fighting to stay alive. I’d promised to get them and rod and I had the only gun truck willing to enable to go in I Climbed down from the turret and ran over to the ass car he’d taken a bullet in the fine He was slowly bleeding out I kept a stack of tourniquets in my med pack and knew how to apply them I wrapped the tourniquet around his thigh in my frustration I twisted it extra tight and he screamed how fast tell him to shut up. I said hurting is better than dying If you’re a grunt you’ll come face to face with horrendous gore you have to steel yourself to seeing mangled bodies and smelling blood Doctors and nurses cope with screaming and suffering every day I had dressed out dozens of deer you learned to disassociate from the task when you’re pulling out warm guts are cutting off slabs of Dripping meat with the blood sticking to your hands He went through something like 15 tourniquets at least Quite a few files is morphine a couple need needle decompression MPA is quite a few amperes nasals The quiet nakaya’s had rearmed and come back on station directing us toward another wounded like it or not we had been pressed into ambulance business the Kiowa commanded by Chief Warrant Officer Yossarian Solano a good name for a guy in a crazy war had been a Marine grunt before becoming an army pilot his bird was easy to talk to and he directed me where to go sometimes hovering so low I could just about reach up and touch his skids He was covering my rear area when I got out of the truck The pilots were fearless knowing my team was lost they were running search patterns 20 feet off the ground so they could identify each body Damn, yeah, I mean and he did that like you know they were so his commander. He was having problems with his commander and the guy who was leading those birds you know because they fly into birds and so the But when I told him that it was Marines missing He dropped down and covered me the whole time you ever meet him. Yeah, yeah He’s incredible, I just seen him Seen him like around Thanksgiving mm-hmm he is an incredible human being Just so everyone knows like just cuz you’re in a helicopter does not make you safe at all especially a Kiowa like maybe you’re a little bit safer in Apache cuz you got some armor no how much how much armors in a Kiowa zero right they play little and I don’t know how many His bird was shot to shit. No kidding. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it was shot to pieces I Climbed up a terrace wall and followed the contours of the field around the corner to find a body lying face down on the man’s Hands were green gloves with the fingers Cut I knew before I even rolled him over that it was da dolly my closest afghan friend He was due to take leave in a few weeks He had left on Brad terms with his mother who was sure he would be killed Finally after two years. She had relented and invited him back to the farm for a visit. He’d been hit in the face When I looked at his dull eyes, I lost my concentration and knelt there for a moment oblivious He was a little guy too small for his body armor he and I had rigged up two tourniquets to hold the body armor in place close to his chest I Knelt down to untie the tourniquets. I needed them for other guys, and I needed to get the heavy armor off him So I could carry him to the truck If I felt a tap as something hit my left shoulder it didn’t register at first It was like I’d been hit with a light stone I glanced up to see a tough-looking Afghan with a long black beard Glac glaring down at me He was wearing a dirty gray man dressed a flak jacket and an Afghan army helmet He was pointing a k’ at my head gesturing for me to stand up in broken English. He was telling me to drop my rifle come he said waving the barrel of his a k in my face I Couldn’t believe that I’d screwed up so badly All I could think of was that my head would be sawed off and held up on TV No way I Died right where I was right now. I had been dead for a few hours. Anyways the borrowed time was up. That’s all my rifle was resting on my left thigh pointing in his direction the stubby grenade launcher was attached to the underside of the barrel I Raised one arm like I was going to surrender and pulled the trigger of the launcher with my free thumb the 40 millimeter grenade Shop for two feet – his armored vest. It didn’t explode instead. It knocked him back stunned him with the with the breath Slammed out of him he staggered back and fell on his side for a few seconds I thought the blow had killed him no such luck I Pushed myself erect as I push myself erect. He drew in a big breath and stirred I kicked at his face losing my balance and falling on top of him we were both on the ground Wrestling Afghan tribesmen will have legs like steel from climbing mountains all day all their lives So I had to keep his legs off me. I pinned his elbows and blocked his reach for his a.k I was pushing my helmeted head into his chest so he couldn’t gouge in my eyes Any second I figured that grenade would explode and both of us could stop worrying about any of this that? Pawed the ground with my right hand and found a rock the size of a baseball I clutched it and swung by blindly at his face. The blow stunned him before he could recover I pushed off off of his chest Lifted the rock high in my right fist and smashed it down like a hammer breaking his front teeth He looked me in the eyes the fight knocked out of him his head not moving we both knew it was over I Drew back my arm and drove the stone down crushing his left cheekbone He went limp I pushed up on my knees And I hit him with more force the blow caved in the left side of his forehead. I smashed his face again and again driven by pure animal rage That’s close combat obviously when you’re killing another human being with a rock yeah Yeah, it’s real You know I just I just remember his face, you know and I Mean look God let me just state this up front first off. I feel no remorse at all But I think it was it. It was at that at that point to wear a humanized it that makes sense I get humanized The fact of taking another person’s life like I’ll remember the look in his eyes when he knew he was gonna die and At that point like you know I obviously I didn’t think of it then But you know when I still see that face. I still think about you know He was the father there was somebody at home that wanted him to come home. Just as bad as somebody wanted me to come home You know whether you agree with his beliefs or not people don’t agree with their beliefs and you know But the end of the day he believed in his beliefs. Just as much as I did We’re both human beings We’re both fighting for a cause that neither one of us can see That we both just believe in And it had to be one of us And my guess is and you can maybe I’m wrong but my guess is the reason he didn’t just straight kill you is because He had you had the drop on you yeah, and and and having you as a trophy in an orange jumpsuit Would have would have been much more Impactful for him and their cause yeah, I mean he could have easily It would have took him no time to get me across the border. We were right on the border That’s what he would have done. He woulda took me across the border you sold me And he would have been a hero he had probably been promoted whatever you know network He was in I mean he would have been the man, and I was worth a lot more to him alive than I was dead You know but but then on the backside I mean I’ve questioned it so many times like you know was it that or was it maybe him Maybe he was trying to bluff me didn’t have bullets me. I don’t know I don’t I don’t know like and you know there’s so many times in this whole battle that I just wonder like Like why? Why not me? You know I mean war and I guess you could apply us all life, but it becomes very clear at war it’s like inches millimeters You know what what you sure you could say you got missed by by around by a foot a couple inches But when you take that back to a person’s weapon you got missed by a millimeter millimeter of aim That’s what it is you could have got you you could have got missed by a gust of wind Mm-hmm literally you could have you could have been missed by the wind picking up So while all that’s going on Back to the book Highlander was the radio call sign for captain swenson he was trying to gather Reinforcements he pulled aside the lieutenant in charge of the Quick Reaction Platoon mount up Swensons and told him you’re no help back here we need your firepower I can’t lieutenant said the TOC says were to cover the vehicles Swenson grabbed the glue tenets 50 watt radio called the Joyce the talk told the platoon to move into the valley Swenson Fabio rod and Hafez then hopped into an undamaged Humvee to drive back in But the platoon did not follow Instead the platoon leader again called back to Joyce and somehow received permission to remain in the rear out of the fight Yeah, it was frustrating it was frustrating. It was frustrating that You know I I met that guy a few years ago we ran into that we were in the same meeting It was frustrating Every bit of it was frustrating it was so I mean every single bit of it was unnecessary and frustrating Back to the book I started the day with 14 or 16 tourniquets I used them all I put four on one guy Who’d lost his left arm and his left leg below the knee he survived One a scar shot in the neck sounded like he was slurping through a straw There was nothing I could do except listen to him strangled to death At one point 2 ft f-15s roared low through the valley opening their afterburners to create a hell of a lion’s roar The pilots wouldn’t drop any bombs Yeah, I mean you know usually But but at this point you know the only show of force ever works is I mean they had so much momentum at this time I mean it was like momentum right so it started out as fighters like his fighters that came across the border and Then what it turned into was when they seen that we weren’t getting the support and when we they seemed that we weren’t getting control Of the situation and fires weren’t coming they escalated in they gained momentum What everybody else joined in you take so you had the guys that showed up to fight? And then you have the opportunist of the villagers that turn into fighters instantly Because they have the upper hand and so they start gaining momentum of more people Fighting you every single minute because I was like I do is pick up the gun off the dead person you know Literally, I mean there were literally women running through the village with like these bowls and You know you look at him. You know well all right that you know she’s just a woman with the ball running Rocket comes in she drops a bowl and it’s full of grenades and ammunition the women were up and resupplying all these guys The kyuh kyuh was were still supporting you back to the book inside the villages the army pilots ran Astonishing risks to find my team Aquatic iowa would swoop down toward the compound flare back at rooftop Level and putter down the alleyways at 20 miles an hour allowing the pilots to peer into every backyard and into every window as The day grew hotter we gradually cleared the valley of casualties over 30 wounded, or dead were evacuated We watched a Solano the lead pilot brought his Chi went down to a few feet above a trench and hovered there Highlander we spotted five bodies I’d heard all I needed I? jumped out the door and sprinted across the field to the right opening some distance but before Swensen yelled at me I Ignored him knowing he’d be right behind me a PKM shifted me shifted to me when I was halfway across the terrace I hopped over a terrace wall and fell into a deep well-constructed trench I Landed next to Gunny Johnson and my heart stopped He was lying on his back with his arms outspread his eyes open but never to see anything again on this earth a few feet further on I came across the body of a half grand interpreter who had traveled with our team I Felt sick to my stomach. I knew what I would see next Lieutenant Johnson lay on his back with his eyes closed He looked peaceful despite the entry wounds in his right shoulder Da Clayton lay on top of them with medical supplies scattered around I Rolled him over Doc had taken a three-round burst in the right cheek Off to the right Staff sergeant kenefick was lying face-down his GPS with a busted screen clenched in his left hand his mouth was open and full of dirt I Think he was yelling out his grid location the numbers I heard over the radio four hours earlier when he was shot in the back of his head The team was wiped out Their bodies were stiff and cold most of their gear was gone weapons helmets radios The 240 machine gun was missing, but lieutenant Johnson’s pack was filled with linked ammo No one had fired the gun I was supposed to be carrying I had never believed it would end like this My mind refused to accept what I was seeing hour after hour I had imagined them holed up inside a stone house shielded from RPG blasts exchanging gunfire with the douche men who were who knew better than to rush them Swanson was standing above the trench. We were taking random incoming, and he was watching for movement among the houses He talked into his radio for a few seconds, then bent down and picked up some of the team’s gear. He didn’t say a word He left me alone with them I Hosted the staff sergeant over my rolled right shoulder he was heavy, and I fell once he landed on top of me I got up and carried him to an Afghan truck carefully tucking him into the open bed I Stood there for a minute. Suddenly beat as I turned away from the truck half fez put his hand on my shoulder The a scars say you carried out they’re dead now They want to help you five or six of us returned to the trench while the damned PKM kept shooting at us I Carried Donnie Johnson back the ass cars took lieutenant Johnson and DA Clayton Swenson loved back the rest of the equipment After six hours, it was over, then I felt empty as a balloon without air Hafez took me aside They’ve gone to a better place. He said don’t cry the ass cars will take it as weakness No way I was going to cry, but at that moment I didn’t feel like killing them with anyone either That wasn’t angry or bitter just deflated and exhausted as though I had run a marathon and couldn’t remember why I wanted to do it I Was too damn tired to stand Still taking fire we left the valley in a convoy of about four trucks rods stopped near the casualty collection point where we talked with? captain Kaplan and captain and corporal Norman who had walked down from there observation posts Staff Sergeant Valdez and Miller Radio that they were coming down from their perch to everyone accounted for We had shuttled in and out of the valley five six or seven times that morning depending on which one of us you asked It was all a fog No senior American officer or pursuit force had come forward from Camp choice Captain Swenson said he would try to wrap things up half as and I climbed into the back of an Afghan truck carrying my dead brothers I Held Staff Sergeant Kent effect with my left hand and lieutenant Johnson rested on my right arm As we bounced down the track we passed villagers returning to ganja golf Some started to laugh pointing out my dad friends I reached for my rifle Don’t FS said holding my arm not worth it When we arrived back at camp Joyce I Walked into the battalion aid station to get body bags Maj Williams rushed up and clutched at my body armor. Tell me they’re not all dead not all of them They’re all dead I said removing his hand I Walked outside where my friend Sergeant Charles Bachus was waiting Lucas said I’ll give you a hand We walked back to the bodies Sergeant major Jimmy Carr bellow The top enlisted men a Joyce hastened up and put his hands firmly on my shoulders trying to steer me away You don’t have to do this devil dog My guys will make sure it’s done, right That wasn’t how to end it If I had died I’d want lieutenant Johnson and Staff Sergeant Kent effect to put me in the back. I’ll finish it I said Focus and I carried the bodies Back next to the freezers take off their battle gear and dig through their pockets marking items for shipment to their families I Take a chevron from Staff Sergeant kenefick and attach it to my dog tags Funny we had started out not liking each other a thousand years ago We clean them up as best we can Wiping the blood and dirt off their faces taking off their field gear straightening out their camouflage uniforms and placing each In a black body bag We marked the name at the head drape an American flag over each bag bow our heads in prayer And drive them out to the helo pad Ganjgal was one of the deadliest small arms battles of the Afghanistan war We lost five advisors in addition to team Monty Army sergeant first class Westbrook had died of his wounds Eight a scars were killed in 13 seriously wounded by rifle machine gun and RPG fire The enemy losses to small arms were probably of a similar number there were no IDs no bombs and very few artillery shells bullets caused most of the casualties ganja gall was a mountain fight from an earlier century And It’s a fight from an earlier century but uh But some things don’t change. It’s a fact Yeah, it was a Josh You know I say it, and I don’t think people understand it but you Know I might not physically died that day But I died right There next to him I mean you talk about you know I Mean it’s one thing to lose one person But everybody I mean, it’s I mean I Mean that’s the worst-case scenario You’re living it you know I mean you’re literally you don’t even have anybody from your own team to put your dead on the bird You know and you know how Old do you at this point 21 the only one years old 21? 21 You know and I I don’t know if it talks about in the book you know after I did that with my teammates I Went straight from there, and I went to So are the Afghan side? and I did it with all their guys too and Usually what they do with their guys is they just Call the families And they got so many days to come get him And I wasn’t allowing that I went back and I took body bags up there And we gave him the exact same respect that we gave my guys and we put him in the freezers until their families came and got him and You know I didn’t go I didn’t go start worrying about my stuff until we’d taken care of all the All the guys you know and it just is His long day Here’s a long day And I Mean You didn’t you you’re just like okay you Still have a job to do Yeah, I so. I don’t know if it talks about it in there But that you know they tried to put me on the helicopter with them to go back to Bagram And then wanted me to fly home to do the ramp ceremonies and wanted me to fly home with them and I actually Put him on there And I told him I would be right back and I knew those birds had to take off saying where it’s the PJs weren’t gonna Sit on the flight line very long and I just made sure that I knew that they took off before I got around anybody else because I Mean they were dead. I mean I still had guys that still needed me and they didn’t need me anymore mm-hmm, and so I you know I Just you know I knew my Afghan soldiers needed me they need to see that that they weren’t alone They needed to see that that we’re in this together You know and that was what that was what mattered to me, but what the guys I still had left How did the Afghan your Afghan soldiers respond To this whole situation you know sometimes in Iraq there’d be a mass casualty like this And we’d lose a whole there was actually in Ramadi. We lost a whole battalion. They all they all left yeah, they quit Yeah, what were your guys? Did how did it affect him I? Mean they stuck it out you know they stuck it out They did I mean I’m telling you they they’re some of the most incredible human beings ever seen you know we come in and deploy We’re there for a certain amount of time. They live it forever and They responded. I mean they You know they got their shit together, and I mean we were back in the fight three days later you Know and they don’t get they don’t get to respond get to support we do you know they don’t get I mean they don’t get anything we get you know what I mean, and and it’s just You know, but we but we stuck together. You know they help me. They help me get through it And I hope I help them, but I think the most incredible thing was it was at that point that That they brought me into there. I was accepted as one of them you were one of them And that was probably the most rewarding piece of it to me. You know Was that I I had finally proven myself to them that That I was one of them In deployment wasn’t over yet, and you know there was more fighting to be done Going back to the book Army an army convoy had been ambushed north of Monte Lieutenant current captain Bryant the company commander Were on their way to assist I looked at colonel you who nodded in agreement minutes later you Bachus staff sergeant Richards and some of the Colonel’s guys that came with him a dozen a scars and I were headed out the gate and Basically what you run into is there’s a huge kind of What did somebody hit an ie D. Is that what had happened? It wasn’t all day Ambush beside this and they what they done that they blew the jingo trucks up and blocked the road so that you know they intertwined those jingo trucks in Between the u.s.. Convoy, and it’s so stupid and So the jingo truck is blown up and it’s blocking the road, so guess what happens the rest of them They’re all certain and you can’t go around it because it’s about a 250 foot drop off into the Kunar river on the side So they’re stuck on the side of this and I’ve been listening to it on the radio for a long time And I knew they were gonna get slaughtered. I knew that you weren’t just gonna sit there, and they had buttoned up Mmm, so that’s what you were talking about earlier you button up, and you wait well now they’re gonna maneuver yep, and that’s what they were and that’s what they were doing so the guys and the jingo trucks had jumped out and I kept I kept asking over the radio You know I cuz I could monitor And I kept asking over the raid and I could see the smoke from where I was headed And I kept asking over the radio as a clip platoon And I kept combat logistics platoon and I kept asking over the radio How many rounds have you fired because I was afraid they were gonna get low on ammo zero damn So that’s when you rolled out You get out there, and this is three days after Gangi go damn Pkms and aks were hammering down on this mess with little returned fire would be crazy to drive into that tangle of vehicles is it Focus or bacchus focus yeah focus focus was on the mark-19 on our truck He couldn’t shoot because the angles of fire Richard stayed in the driver’s seat Why advanced on foot by bounds into the wreckage our ass cars were on ran forward with us? But their light m16s didn’t impress the Taliban machine gun crew I was quickly pinned behind a disabled truck looking up I could see the PKM was shooting from a thick stone house 200 meters upslope I Accident argit’s excited to have his target So close I fired about five shells from my grenade launcher before my common sense kicked in what am I doing? I thought I’m out bad out matched by a machine gun But he there’s an army Humvee sitting next to me with no one in the 50 Cal turret you Run over there, man, you’re 50 Cal. I yelled we’re logistics came to muffled reply We don’t fight some supply guys can’t wait to get into the action, but not this gang I wasn’t worried though Wildman Kerr would soon have air on station Bodies were scattered all over the road all civilians lying face down next to me Alongside the army truck was a skinny teenager and a t-shirt bleeding from shrapnel in his chest and his left arm he was a pathetic sight sprawled on his back in his filthy brown shorts an Orange tip needle protruding from above his heart and a plastic stopper shoved above his left nostril He didn’t weigh as much as I ate in a day his hands and feet were uglier than the dirt From his efforts to crawl out of the line of fire He wasn’t old enough to grow a beard, but he had a full shock of black hair. Not a bad-looking kid once He was cleaned up at the aid station and had some ice cream. He’d be okay. I Felt good in fact. I was pumped I had applied dozens of tourniquets But this is the first time I had smelled death hiss out and that’s because he needled him down And I didn’t cover that part. He has a sucking chest wound and you you gave him a decompression I Had saved a human being a poor scrawny kid Eking out a living by driving a banged up truck past known ambush sites Would he even would he eventually joined the Taliban and betray an American convoy? I had no idea sure some of the villagers had gone to Gaul had been real pricks But why should I hold it against this kid I ran back down the road hoisting up another wounded truck driver and carried him back Then I stopped to check on the skinny kid I wanted to pat him on the shoulder to make myself feel good for my supposedly wonderful deed Only he was dead he had bled to death from the wound to his left arm the Crew in the army truck had let him bleed out not five feet away because he was an Afghan and they were afraid Damn it The Afghan drivers were all hunted together in a ditch by the river The ambush had been sprung about 90 minutes earlier by now. They had pissed themselves dry and had nowhere to go I banged my rifle on I don’t bang my rifle But on an army truck yelling to the soldiers to open up at least give me some water for those poor bastards. I shouted a Sheepish medic got out of the truck with several bottles of water and his med pack and ran over the ditch I knelt there looking at the blood-stained stains from the kid right beside the truck door I Banged on the steel door again it opened a crack Fuck you. I said to the captain inside As the traffic jam was sorted out colonel you and I walked back to our Humvee the dead key Kid lay on the hood and rather than ride to base with a corpse between us we wedged the body in the trunk Sometimes you laugh sometimes You want to cry? Before dropping a shell down a mortar tube The gunner levels the bubbles on his sight if he loses the bubbles then the tube is pointed at a crazy angle After ganja gall. I was losing the bubble So Investigations take place. There’s actually a guy you know accusations and excuses and One of the terms that that was in there that was that there was it was being said that there was poor battle management, yeah and You’re talking to a psychologist on site at this time And you know that’s some of the support you were talking about that we might have that An Afghan kid in the Afghan army might not have and it was a feat was it a female yeah captain Katie cop and she was making some assessments Back to the book it’s true I didn’t feel connected with others The ass cars were smoking hash jabbering on their cell phones and wandering around in flip-flops the American soldiers were playing video games stuffing themselves at dinner laughing too loudly at Nothing, we weren’t fighting a war we were holding a few acres of dirt while the war swirled all around outside our barbed wire There were dushman in every Valley Drink tea with the villagers pay $40 for a chicken we were in Kumar to fight. Let’s get it on That was my attitude the psychologist insisted that I go back to the States for treatment. No. Thanks as a captain She had the rank to make a recommendation stick But she wanted my agreement so she challenged me we would play a game of ping pong if I won I could stay I lost by one point She was very good, and she really was worried about me and cared about me. I knew that It was my time to go home a Ping-pong game was she like a legit ping-pong player. No. I thought I had her You know I was the only you know it was either. You know I It was probably best I went home I Would say if it wasn’t if I didn’t go home, I I would have never came home You know I was just getting well and tighter and tighter I mean I was you Couldn’t tell me You couldn’t tell me I was not I wasn’t I wasn’t command like you couldn’t you couldn’t tell me what to do you were out of control? I was I was not a control. Yeah, I Mean, you know I wasn’t doing anything any nothing. You know it morally unethical right like nothing I was doing my job, but as far as like commanding me. You couldn’t You you were gonna do what you were gonna do yeah absolutely I mean I was you know I was at the point to where I had no I had no I Didn’t trust my command I didn’t trust anybody. I didn’t trust anybody was gonna mean It was I was one you know not a one man I was a three-man operation right I mean I was but I was a one-man I was a one-man wrecking crew right like I was I mean I was gonna do Yeah, you weren’t gonna. Tell me anything. I mean there was it was pretty bad. I mean I was fighting now You know the fist fighting You know how much more how much longer was it that you actually lost the ping-pong match and got sent home I lost it right a couple days before Thanksgiving Okay, so I was like you were there for another what’s Thanksgiving though, and yes And we fought our ass off the whole time the whole time. It was it was we fought her ass is off almost Every single day and sometimes three and four times a day Well that momentum that you talked about in the valley They built it it keeps coming right it keeps coming because right after that they overrun Keating right after I mean It’s all that all of it. You know they just built so much momentum, and they were hammering us I mean we’re hammering us every day and You know it was it was pretty bad So you get sent home here, we go back to the book when I got home in December I felt like I landed on the moon Everyone around me was excited about football Christmas and other normal things. I was looking at the clapboard houses and the cars thinking man That’s so flimsy. They wouldn’t give cover worth shit in the firefight It was an exposed feeling and where were my machine guns I found my old pistol and kept it around like a rabbit’s foot but I missed my two 40s and my 50 cals something awful It seems weird. I’m sure but I really just wasn’t buying that there wasn’t some enemy about to come over the green hills and I felt so unprepared I wouldn’t be any good to protect anybody I Was soon sent off to Fort Thomas, Kentucky for PTSD therapy, maybe that would settle me down Let me get some sleep and stop feeling so depressed and angry at every little thing Some guys really go nuts when they come back, and I wasn’t in danger of that But I could feel the kind of crazy things that maybe got the better of them You’re over there long enough and under such constant battle stress that it resets all your settings the way Way into the red And they’re very hard to set back the main thing knowing was that I didn’t get my friends out as I had promised I’d spent a good part of my 21 years being pretty caracal of other people who failed at their Responsibilities and now it was all coming back on me in a big dump truck Every day the psychologist urged us to step back and identify why we were experiencing negative Emotions in other words take a minute to really be conscious of the emotion instead of just letting it seep in Don’t let your mind stay in neutral watch your thoughts and by the way I’m hitting this stuff pretty hard because a lot of people that listen to this podcast Are thinking these things right here? But I think that’s an important part. Don’t let your mind stay in neutral watch your thoughts Refusing to get out of bed Or go to work Or smile at others are all decisions find the reasons those decisions and turn negative feelings into positive actions It’s not enough to identify why you’re feeling bad It’s about having the character to do something positive to take up that space don’t wallow in your misery Which is just selfish childish self absorption It was all good stuff all I ever need is a good operating manual so you’re getting some good instructions. Yeah Not with you. No. I can’t say that the the PTSD Center helped me, but what it did is it educated me It educated me on why I was feeling the way I was and what it was and then therefore that helped me Deal with it, right It kind of like you know You know you know you know kind of like how you know your diet that works for you You know like you can look in the mirror you how you feel after you eat it right though It’s kind of the same thing like it educates you on Why your body is doing this or why you’re having this reaction you know and and that it’s normal And it’s just you know and this is why it’s doing it And this is how you help counter it right and that was kind of that was kind of what it did for me It didn’t I? Don’t think it really it didn’t it didn’t fix anything it Just educated me on what the problem was so you could start to identify the problem Yes, so I could identify the problem I could identify why I was feeling this way And then you know I could make decisions based of how I could was that when you look at the root of that problem Was it that feeling of like hey the promise that you made was I’ll get you guys out No I mean no I mean the facts of the facts are like here’s I Get so frustrated with people who want it like like I’m a factual guy like you know I mean I I’m everything to me is black and white and I’m a back face like I I went in that day to go get my teammates out I failed I Failed there’s no you can’t jump around you can’t you can’t ignore the facts of what happened. I failed I failed miserably And So you know? You if you tell you if I tell myself. I didn’t fell I’ll I’m lying to myself So for me. You know I Failed I was tested and I failed and Now I have to figure out what to do with that and that’s part of it You know and that and that’s why I get so upset about like you know the counselors or whatever right no Well, you didn’t fail no no no like as soon as they say that to me Yeah, I’m done. I’m done cuz no that’s I’m not gonna lie to myself I failed and now I need to deal with it I Need to deal with it You know I can’t lie And that’s and I mean look I mean it’s it mmm. I always say the equivalent to try to make people understand like how To how I feel about it and the situation is it would be like You inside of a house and your family’s there and the house catches on fire and You end up getting out thinking that maybe they’re all out and You can’t get back in there, and they all burn to death That’s kind of the equivalent of it and you know so I just have to deal with it, and and you know I Deal with it the best I can every day. I learn from it. I try to turn it into something good but at the end of the day I still failed and You know that’s that’s the way it goes Going back to the book man After my two months at the clinic Mike my enlistment term was in fact coming to an end It didn’t take a genius to see it. I’d be B End I’d end up behind a desk so I chose not to re-enlist. I love the core so it hurt Before joining the core I had three concussions Mononucleosis and an operation on my right knee when I mustered out four years later I’d added to operations on my right hand a right road rotator cuff operation a fourth concussion from an RPG a Dislocated shoulder and two herniated discs from clumsily lifting the dead and wounded one vertebrae given Wayne Gonzaga when I picked up a NASCAR and slipped in the bloody mud under him I have no idea when the second vertebrae went out during the battle I had that nick in my arm from a bullet or shrapnel But that hadn’t been anything I was in deep a decent shape for construction work. I figured After the PTSD clinic I returned to Kentucky it was the winter of 2010 and I warm myself up by slipping back into hard-drinking each night I Hadn’t seen an active-duty grunt in months Fabio and Rodriguez Chavez were due to receive the Navy Navy crosses at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico but I couldn’t get enough time off to fly back east where you work in construction at this point and Your boys are getting Navy crosses. You can’t get time off from work Swanson, and I had been recommended for the Medal of Honor We knew that no we knew though that the award was usually downgraded upon review When I drank which was too much. I’d laugh at the absurdity I’d screwed up big time my achievement Was losing my brothers The Marine Corps would come to its senses, and I’d never hear another word from another devil dog I Had no idea. What was in front of me, and I didn’t care I Couldn’t take a walk Turn on the TV or read a book to distract my mind the emptiness of my life was the dark all around me with Nothing to see in any direction Four years ago. I’d left the farm for an adventure in a new beginning the cord shaped me and I had arrived in Afghanistan Confident I do well in combat Sure enough up at Monte. I had emerged as the young gun Everyday brought fun danger against the backdrop of spectacular mountains it was fun stuff Shooting thousands of rounds not losing many people and seeing the damage you inflicted There was no weapon I couldn’t handle and my team trusted me to get them out of any hot spot my cockiness put us in But when it counted most I wasn’t with them They weren’t trained to do my job Gunny Johnson didn’t spend every day behind a 240 Stash Staff Sergeant kenefick wasn’t comfortable with weapons her ankles a fire doc Layton wasn’t a fighter and lieutenant Johnson didn’t adjust fire missions We aren’t worried. We know you’ll get us out if anything goes bad Meyer Well I didn’t lieutenant that was a load of worthless shit not there when you needed me Around 3:00 in the morning I pulled my truck into the driveway of a shop owned by my high school friend Derek Yates and cut the engine I Turned on the cab light and fished out my cell phone it wasn’t right to burn my dad, but I wanted to connect one last time with someone I Packed out a text message to my friends and in tobe They had known me since I was a toddler, but they didn’t know me that well did they? Hear I was back where I had started with an aluminum bracelet with two names on each wrist That’s what I had done with my life lost four brothers I Can’t do it anymore I Typed I Reached into the glove compartment where I kept my Glock If I always kept a full magazine with a round chambered in the pistol a Glock doesn’t have a safety You pulled the trigger And the weapon fires I Stuck the gun to my head then squeeze the trigger Click Nothing nada No round in the chamber as you can imagine I sat there quite sobered up and in double shock Suicide is terminal self revulsion I Was mixed up, but I knew my team would be disappointed in me Staff Sergeant Ken effect would give me. Hell, which is where I would be bad ending That was not going to happen But who downloaded my pistol Right on the spot, I knew who had done it Have I ever talked to that person about it no I Put away the pistol and drove home that Night I experienced no Sudden change of direction in my life. I didn’t know where I was headed in the future, but I knew I knew quitting wasn’t right Not that night Not ever You know I had never told I Had never told anybody about that night until it was published in a book and I just You know I just felt like it was important to the story because I didn’t want people to read the story And then just think that it was all okay when I came home I Didn’t want to give them that perspective and there’s so many guys out there that write these books of the crazy shit that they do But they never talk about what? What that crazy shit does to them yeah, they never talked about that and so what happens is is People read that and they’re like holy shit, that’s That’s crazy. I Could never do that because I deal with problems and it’s like Yeah, we all do and you know I had to put it in to I Wanted people to know that I’m just a human. I’m no different than them and I felt like that. I couldn’t put in the If you want to call it good stuff And not put in the bad stuff It’s I’m sure there’s some psychologists that could figure something out about this But you got to the point right and you made the decision clearly And you came out the other side By the grace of God and who ever knew you well enough to figure out that they needed to make sure you didn’t have a loaded gun but That’s a message for anybody That feels like they’re in the same situation you felt like you were in which is that there’s not not going to get any better is like okay Come out the other side man. Come out the other side And it was like I mean like you said it’s not a sudden change in direction, but you but you knew No, I couldn’t quit. I always like to say that you know sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and Sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself and you know I I’m I had no idea what my life is going I made a deal with myself. You know I Had set there, and I had said If I’m gonna keep living this life. This way rock rock it back and get over with But I said if I ever put the car and drive I’ll never look back And I sit there. I’m not gonna lie to you. I probably sit there for 5-10 minutes and I done it it at my buddy’s shot because I knew he’d be there at 8 o’clock in the morning and he could just find me and I Put in Drive, and I just I never looked back. You know I You know and it’s I’m lucky. I’m fortunate that The gun didn’t go off right? But You know I think that you know you always got to hit that rock bottom you know They think that and that was for me that was it that was the rock bottom And it you know it changed it And I mean again. I just want to stress this as much as I can too cuz me I hear from people especially from veterans that are that are walking this line, man, and they’re walking this line and If you’re walking that line Hold it listen It’s not worth it. I mean it’s not like you know I had to change honestly I had to change the way that I looked at life The only problem there was is me You know instead of just facing it and saying hey look. I want to fix this problem. I was blaming everybody else for my problems And what I had to do was I had to say you know Okay If you know if the things that I seen were so bad I’ve seen what freedom cost Firsthand that’s what’s got me there So if anything I have more reason than anybody else in the face this planet To go out and make the most of my life because I’ve seen it firsthand of what it costs So instead of walking around it feels like you know I’m not feeling sorry for my teammates because they’re in a better place They don’t feel anymore I’m really just feeling sorry for myself, and then by doing that I’m sack. I’m wasting the sacrifices that they made on my behalf And I had to change the way I looked at it instead of using it as my excuse I Had to use it as my fuel and that’s a choice that Is a conscious choice? You wake up every day and you decide How you look at the? Situation you decide what you do with that you decide whether you use it as your excuse to hold you back Or you use it as your easy a you know valve of of hiding who you are or you use it as Your fuel to go out and be the best that you can be you decide that nobody does nobody else does you do every day And it is a conscious choice. I mean I still deal with it, but I still make the choice That’s awesome That’s awesome Anybody that’s listening Like I said anybody that’s listening and that’s that’s walking that line there you go Make the right choice make the right choice make the choice make the right choice And you know what the right choice is Yeah, I mean you’re talking about how much and and and I feel this to like every day how much am I letting down my? Friends that didn’t come home. If I’m not doing everything I can to take advantage of the gift They gave me if to be sitting here right now right I mean I mean I any day that I don’t want to go on and push on for myself. I can look down I’ll bet you anything I got four reasons right here. That would switch me one day They would switch me my worst day to Have one more day You know and and and I just You know I’m not okay with letting their sacrifices be wasted I’m not okay with watching anybody else waste them, so why would I be okay with what letting myself waste them? Well Another thing I want to say is like walking that line I Want to say this and get it out there, it’s normal It’s normal. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It doesn’t I want to get that that stigma out there You know I want to get that off. The books is it’s it is a normal like I don’t understand why Why it’s okay in our society or in the military a guy breaks his leg? Okay, do you go get make him run tomorrow? He puts a cast on it. He rehabs it It’s the same thing with the mind. It’s the same thing. It’s the same thing you go in and you watch The people you have to worry about are the ones that go watch their close friends and they watch human beings and they watch this evil and people die and suffer and Don’t have a reaction. Those are the ones you have to worry about It is a normal reaction to a not normal situation, and it’s okay It’s okay It is 110 percent, okay? Absolutely man absolutely As you We mentioned quickly, you know there was some buzz possibly about about you getting marijuana Yeah, and but you know how it goes like it was all I didn’t believe it. I never I never had any idea You know you hear talk about it Silver Star Medal of Honor Navy Cross whatever right? I? Didn’t care. I didn’t I I? Promised the last thing that I ever thought about was an award An award that’s the last thing Well it gets approved And going back to the book when the president hung that medal around my neck I felt glum I couldn’t smile and I said nothing I gave no Remarks and avoided the press as a Marine you either bring your team home alive, or you die trying My country was recognizing me for being a failure and for the worst day of my life The marine commandant General Jim Amos and General Joe Joseph Dunford attended the ceremony throughout the years after ganja golf the Marine Corps leadership has provided Consistent support not just to me but to all who fought there The top enlisted man in the Marine Corps sergeant major Mike Barrett Twice came to our farm to meet my dad and granddad and to encourage me There’s no such thing as a former Marine Fifty years after they have left active duty marine still sign emails to each other with SF Semper Fidelis always faithful Of course we have among us those who fail themselves their family in society the fact remains though that the Corps expects Every marine to live by a set of core values in turn the Corps keeps its side of the bargain You cannot ask anything more of an organization than that the Medal of Honor? Given in the name of the Congress of the United States of America symbolizes the courage and determination of our entire country And speaking of the country you were in New York I was in New York City At the twin towers site Ground Zero with Gunny, Joshua Peterson someone I knew from my first days in the Corps We were greeted by hundreds of police firemen construction workers Wall Street guys in suits city officials and the families of the Fallen Meir I can’t believe this scene Donnie Peterson said make sure your ribbons are squared away We stood side-by-side – grunts and sharply ironed khakis waving like we had won an election I Thought of my sad fumbling meetings with the family of team Monti the families of team Monti when I couldn’t think of much to say I Was alive and their loved ones were not Now here I was standing before a monument for 3,000 dead I Saw some big iron workers and hard hats standing off to one side When the ceremony ended they sneaked me in onto a work elevator Up we went to the top of the ride where we then climbed wooden ladders until we couldn’t go any further and there weren’t any guardrails I Stood there looking out at the most beautiful country in the world trying to make sense of my feelings This was where it had all started So many good people lost the people had been working here and the people I had known who had not gone blindly into uniform they had reasoned why Americans do that but they had gone ahead to do and to die An ironworker handed me a silver marker Then I wrote on a girder For those who gave all For those who gave all And that wraps up the book and You know you’re talking about Awards and what you hear and what happens and all that and then I wanted to say this as well on the battlefield On that battlefield and on every battle there are acts of extreme valor that no one will ever know about I’m talking about an infinite number No one’s ever gonna know about them And it’s important to know this that our military men and women don’t do what they do for medals or Ribbons they do what they do because they love freedom because they love America because they love their comrades in arms And that right there is why our country thrives in battle Not because of technological advances not because of superior weaponry not even the size of our military It’s because of the bond that is shared between warriors. That is a real strength Then Dakota, that’s something that you represent in spades Then they don’t want to thank you for coming on the podcast and Sharing this incredible story, and I know it’s not only a story of you, but it’s a story of all the men American and Afghan as well that rode into battle with you that day and showed once again What it is that makes America a place of? of hope and of freedom It’s because of It’s because of men it’s because of individual men that in their heart and even in the face of death Actually live actually live the ideals of this great nation Not only in their words, but in their actions in the way that they live and in the way that They died Got boys all Incredible You know I mean you’re exactly right like I mean, there’s so many stories that are I mean people have done So many stories of people doing such incredible stuff and You know it’s it’s it’s literally out of the love of another human being It’s literally I the love of making the world a better place, that’s really That’s really all we do it’s all we do I mean we join Nobody joins it okay to go just shoot people or fight They literally join to to try to make the world around them a better place whether it’s passing out a whether it’s rendering aid to a civilian or to You know a fellow American or Whether it’s taken out the bully that’s inflicting fear in That place every thing that we do Is to try to make the world just a little bit better That’s it You know as I was reading about when you got back to your team You could see I mean just from the way that guys were laid out you know staff sergeant was trying to get coms and trying to pass grids and doc was working on the boss I Mean everyone was trying to make things happen and who knows what those moments were like you know But there’s moments if there’s there’s heroism there that we’re never gonna know about No, I mean. I mean a hundred percent I mean doc Layton was rendering aid you know what stopped him was because Fazio was with him? What stopped him of getting to the road? was lieutenant Johnson got hit and Gunny kenefick and Gunny Johnson were on either side providing security while da Clayton worked on him And that was the medevac we heard call from Gunny kenefick was trying to call that medivac in for lieutenant Johnson prayer and You know, but they weren’t gonna they weren’t gonna leave him behind Even more even more of not leaving him behind they weren’t gonna just throw him over his shoulder and get him out they were gonna try to fix him I Mean what do you say? Well, what do you say I mean, you know that right there, I mean that right there’s Everything I mean you take that you take I mean there’s so many actions. I mean I’ve watched people do such incredible things Such incredible things that just make what I do I mean No, you know No makes me look like I you know I’ve done nothing. I haven’t seen it. You know people are incredible Well Again man, I can’t thank you enough for coming on now. Thank you on on the podcast and hanging out and being Out there and kicking ass and talking smack to people I like that too Yeah, I miss anything anything else no no I mean yeah, thank you, thank you cover it all Yeah, I think you covered it you know echo Yes, you got any questions for the man over there. No usually I come up with some light-hearted question but man I’m out of words to be honest. We took that little Break yeah, and that goes like man Is that guy just keeps the sec I’m sitting there thinking to myself this really happened man, and I’m like yeah I told I gave I give echo heads-up sometimes You know I say hey, man. It’s gonna be heavy one or whatever and I was like told him this afternoon. I’m like Amen It’s gonna be a heavy one. You know stand by and You know we’re downstairs when we were taking that break. He’s like man oh All this really happened. I said yeah, and you know who it happened to the guy We’re sitting in a room with and his friends like that’s what happened so uh You know I early on when I started this podcast I’d be reading a book from night from World War one Yeah, or I’d be reading the book from World War two or Vietnam or whatever and I died like after? But I don’t know how many podcasts, but like seven or eight podcasts. I was like hey I just want to stop for a second and remind everybody that the the characters That I’m talking about in these books these characters. They’re not characters in a movie there. They’re people. They’re they’re humans and This stuff that we’re talking about really happened to these people so Again it’s obviously haven’t you sitting here, and I was talking to you about when when Colonel William reader was in here And you know you’re like you’re reading stuff that happened to him. He was tortured. He was mock executions. He had he had he Was locked in a bamboo two-foot tall bamboo cage in the jungles in Vietnam And he’s got his legs and shackles and the he’s trying to sleep And he’s getting woken up by the rats that are eating the wounds and his legs And it’s like that. That’s just inconceivable I Mean it had happened yeah, I mean, that’s you know I hear stories like that and just You know that’s real people these are real people just like us Yeah in in in honestly, man, I mean, I’m sure you saw me like sometimes you know I’m yeah I’m getting I get emotional when I read your story But why do I get emotional when I read your stories because I’m thinking of everything I’ve been thinking about my friends and I’m just like it’s Man you know it’s uh It’s real and and for those of you people that are listening to this and I talked to I dressed like the veterans out there a bunch today but You know to those of you that Didn’t have the opportunity to serve for whatever reason you know If I could relate something to you, it’s like yeah these these people These lieutenants these sergeants these staff sergeants And they’re people man They’re people yeah, they’re just they’re just people yep. They’re just people I mean, that’s They’re just people They’re just and and you know and I think that that’s kind of what makes it hard for Society of Is that they see so many of these movies? And they read these books and you Know they read it, but what they don’t understand is that somebody lived it you Know and I think that that’s a perspective that you always have to remind yourself of is that? Yeah, you’re reading it and but somebody lived it you know yeah Then you kind of see you know on the news like oh, yeah the Medal of Honor ceremony, and the pictures you know of you honey and you know you see the president putting it on wow that’s so great or whatever and What you don’t what we don’t see you know people who haven’t served Is like what really happened to talk to arrived at that one? Quote-unquote glorious moment Matt. Oh my gosh. Thank you Let’s go party or so I don’t know something you know like it says yes a Danko Did yeah people think it’s just so great you know and I? Got I despised everything that metal stands for for me. You know me not anybody else but I You know when I put that medal around my neck To me it’s literally here’s the stamp to show the world how bad I failed Here’s the you know That’s why I don’t I don’t wear it, I don’t I don’t wear it because You know it’s the worst day of my life And I lost everything that day. I lost not just my team. I lost my career in the Marine Corps. I Mean everything that I wanted to be Was gone within one day And you know and then I get recognized for it You know so not only do you have to live with it? But now you have to live with it in the face of the nation Well from that perspective from from my perspective looking at that For one thing the medal yeah, I mean it was put around your neck but I believe that medal represents everyone that was with your team yeah, and You might have gotten the the metal put around your neck, but it’s it represents. That story’s gonna be told over and over again and your name might be at the top of the list, but every name is gonna be on that list everyone’s gonna know and I Mean obviously I can’t imagine the burden that comes with that metal that you live with but at the same time Being able to have that you have your brothers remembered I Think that it makes it worthwhile, and and you know in that and that’s the piece of it you’re right I mean so on the selfish you know when I what I just said was on the selfish side of it Right that that that is for me that that is the only reason I did accept the medal was because I Want my teammates to live on forever I? want people to know who they were because the day that I stop speaking their name is the day they truly die and I have an obligation that as long as I can still breathe that their names are still need to be told and So that’s what that metal allows me to do, and it is their metal I mean, it’s it’s for them But yeah, I mean You know you don’t It’s just it goes against you know and I think the one thing you know that is so hard for us to wrap around is How many times in your training? Did you how many times did you sit like when you were training guys and this and that how many times Did you ever set them up for when they did everything that they could? They failed Hate to be honest with you when I was running training I did that all the time yeah, I’m not kidding I mean you can talk to anybody that went through training when I ran it It was it was just mayhem, and it was you were gonna You know you were gonna carry out bodies you you had 16 guys in a platoon you were gonna be carrying Six bodies yeah out and you’re gonna be carrying them for four kilometers to a helicopter extract Which wasn’t gonna show up and you’re gonna have to go another six It would it was brutal yeah, and there was times there was times where I’d kill every single you know training I’d kill every single seal Because they were not doing what they were supposed to do and they were making mistakes so the leadership wasn’t stepping up I did that all the time. Yeah, I did it all the time I Mean I can’t I I came back from Ramadi where my guys were some really bad situations and I wanted everyone to be ready for that man and like that was it was I mean. I was not I Mean I I came back from deployment got put in charge of training. It was awesome It was the best thing that I ever could have done for me And and I I thought it was the best thing I could do for my teammates was to be like okay we’re gonna make this training hard really hard and and so Probably not you probably thought doesn’t say never look man when I was running training and an ant Donets That’s awesome, and I had God I mean I had many guys that came back from Iraq and Afghanistan and and would say like yeah a man we got We got hammered hard in this situation, and we were ready Nothing as bad as your situation, but yeah, but the mentality of it is you know there are some situations you’re not gonna win There are some situations where you show up, and you’re not gonna win and That’s against everything that we believe and everything that we’re taught You you know I mean that that if we do our job, and we do it, right And you still lose It doesn’t make sense Well, that’s not something I’ve told many guises Man you you can do everything right? You can make no mistakes and you can still get killed you can still loot You can still think you know there’s decisions that you make on the battlefield you say if you say okay go left You can go left and everyone could be great and it’s the best decision evident You could say go left and everyone could dine it’s the worst decision ever there’s there’s things that you can’t control inside of combat so you prepare and train as hard as you can and And the other thing you do is you get the leadership in the city? That they’re not gonna put themselves this is like if my guys plan something that was stupid. I’d let a Mexico This is in training if they did they came up with a dumb plan They were gonna execute that plan I wasn’t gonna stop them, and they were gonna get slaughtered so they’d learn some lessons But that’s why that training is so important, and it’s important in everything 9 percent 9 percent I Appreciate you having me on Yeah, thanks for coming on brother. I think some money man is awesome man Yeah, right I do not accept that from you You are the man all right echo yes, talk about something good sure chill a Little bit get what you mean ok? Shift gears kind of a rough transition don’t let me know that we’re like three hours plus right now So you could talk quickly if you want if I want please mm-hmm See how I kind of recommend well I feel like me and Dakota that we have some catching up to do you guys been talking so you know I might drag this a little bit No, okay, so or you mean this is where you get Jocko supplements krill oil joint warfare It’s free two joints free joints this important supplement. Yes important supplement. Yeah, also He has one called discipline for cognitive and physical enhancement Supplement pre-workout pre-mission, so what’s called it’s a good one Also at origin may its origin main comm main the state not like the mean one. Yeah, yeah, and I like it yeah Yeah, it’s good um You got keys on there for jujitsu you trained you jittery I do yeah, so if you get the origin key Those are all made in America everything in origin o me. Let me get you an Origin Giessen see our main American you gotta represent From threads from the cotton by the way you grow the continent America not the kind they import the the fabric and we assemble them That everything from see what is it from seeds tips from seat from dirt to shirt – shirt there – sure – sure I’m pretty good right yeah, it was good. I liked it. They got some rash guards on their spats Yeah, do that see bats. Are yeah? Yeah, you know what’s bad sir. No. Yeah, we didn’t really either We had to County we had to research it Arrived. It’s Beth. Here’s the bottom line spend expand their spandex their tights basically. I’m a freshman gear. Where’d you trip? Do you train a 10th planet? Yeah, some some times have you seen dudes down there as plain? Planets all about them. Oh yeah, they’re all about they’re all about the spy was worried about impression I wasn’t worried about using the word spats cuz I didn’t sounded like maybe it was some kind of like yeah, let’s just say we sounded kind of girlish like some girl with like like a girl would be like oh man works like I’m Not there were Spanx. What are those? Thanks real tight like like it’s it’s kind of it’s essentially compression. It is it’s compression You’re like yeah, like so like I compress. Yeah. Yeah, okay to compress. They should be they should be illegal I figured out somebody. I should be illegal because it’s like selling I Was on we were on like some kind of live broadcast and someone with spats is comes from what soldiers Cavalry soldiers in world war one war like leggings, and they were called spats, and I was like okay. It’s cool well We’ll say it now. Yeah, I like it. We’re relieved in legging they’re just it’s like this lower You know that lower part that covers the boot. Yeah, it’s that. Yeah wait up That is not spats. That’s something else one of those things called Do you ever do honor guard you had to wear those things. No. I think they were actually called leggings wait So we’re unclear about what no I know what’s bad, sir. I mean I am I’m a very unclear because in football you tape your shoe and your ya Ankle oh, yeah, that’s fat, so I just you know I like it. Hey you know what it’s worth. It works. It does right yeah Nonetheless Origin has some spats Some compression gear rash guard added said it’s all made America good stuff Where do you mean calm go on there check out all their stuff if you like something get something also for the kettlebells that I have Trained it on it planet yeah on it. You know the kettlebells primal bells. Yeah got the little set yeah He’s very proud of that whatever you seems like yeah You know primal soldier no oh yeah, what’s that primal what swell swell smolder, yeah? Yeah Like he’s a big kettlebell guys Boom so he’d yeah, so anyway on it calm taco, that’s where you get into kettlebells you want to get the whole set like me or you know Or other stuff like I said, um if you actually I said this before yeah You want to vary up your workout make it more interesting? Chocolate like sport workouts, that’s cool, too But if you want to make more interesting get the Mase get you know these some more What do you call it like more creative? Yeah the Mase fitness equipment, yeah? On a.com slash juncos good spot. Also when you buy the book into the fire Dakota Meyer don’t worry I got it listed on our website podcast calm by episode by the way Along with all the books that we go over on this podcast Boom, just click through there take it Amazon shop continue doing shopping if you want good way to support Also Subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already Stitcher iTunes Google Play Spotify I Just I just learned what Spotify wasn’t they me – I’m not even on that today. I know what it is. Yes Good thing, but we’re on it. Yeah, that’s all Alexa you have a LexA. I’ve never heard of her, okay Go oh Well, you can ask it to play jockle podcasts way out. No way yeah. Yeah, I’m gonna buy one Just be like Alexa play Taco podcast, and then it says playing the latest episode of chuckle podcast So cool and you always say do you have Alexa that’s like saying hey Do you have or you should go buy a Siri you can’t buy Siri Siri comes with no your phone? No, no, no you can buy Alexa. No yes, not by an Alexa by an Amazon No one calls it that though no one talks about that Maybe they should because that’s the correct thing we don’t want to confuse people no the only one that’s you wanna go to you know You doing economic people? talking about Alexa alright know that I’m Alright, if you’re gonna dip in on this Believe me. I know it’s a tube an intelligent – why does it have to do about you? Get that Amazon echo, yeah And then you ask Alexa, so essentially alex is in that basket What if I wanted to ask echo it won’t it won’t respond you can call me out whenever I’ll Respond will not respond to the name Alexa lives in Amazon echo, just like Siri lives in your iPhone There’s nothing living in my iPhone. It’s a machine. It’s it’s artificial like girl a chance nonetheless subscribe If you haven’t already also so Christ subscribe to YouTube. We’ll have the video version of this podcast and excerpts on there as well an Enhanced excerpts as well if you’re into that subscribe YouTube your friend to youtube also Jaco as a store Jaakko store, mmm just like it’s called jaakko podcast jaco store cuz it’s a store. I like it’s called Jaco I’m not back If I had a badass name Jaakko your name is Dakota come on. I know everybody thinks it’s like a girl though Oh really, is that girl’s name Dakota yeah, Dakota Fanning? Oh? Yeah, I got like I pick up the phone and are like ma’am, and I’m like no I Didn’t even know there was a girl’s name in Dakota. Yeah, well yeah, man That’s do you like a girl named Sue is that why you turned out so badass There you go I kind of feel like when it came down to Jocko to name his own store and stuff you it was all cool But when Amazon names their thing echo, it’s like you know yeah a little bit C messed up. No I was on your team No, no, yeah Yeah, at that moment nonetheless. Hey, man. I dig it either way Jocko store.com This is where you can get shirts discipline equals freedom. Good. Shirt is a good shirt, then when I say the good shirt It’s the shirt was chocolate hit on it says good backwards so when you look in the mirror. He’s telling you good You know I like that pretty good. I get one That’s you went to you too nice, I thought you to Alexa will take care of you Nonetheless junkstock, I knew some rash guards on there some hoodies some hats patches. I gotta restock the patches Are we stuck to everything on there, but the patches yeah? Hey look? I’m Trying over here There’s a system in place now to restock automatically am I correct well. Okay. I’m not correct It depends on what you mean by automatically. I just mean things will be in stock from now on that’s our food this immoral bro Yeah He’s got two jobs make videos and keep the store stock yeah, how’s he do it one or two? Chuckles door commnets room that’s that’s the website anyway. Not saying goodbye something else look check it out if you want something Get something good way to support also Good way to support psychological warfare support yourself ruining your campaign We call it a campaign against weakness make sense yeah, like it. Yeah, we liked it to some you suggested to us Um you know those days where you kind of don’t feel like it right and who better to ask for a little assist On those days than jockle right in theory Right I mean, I agree so boom now. We have this album with tracks chocolate tracks telling you to get how to get past Moments of weakness that may come up waking up early skipping work out. You know diet stuff on that um works pretty good That’s badass ten for ten results. You’ll never skip work on the program. It’s okay. Echo is like ask me They asked me a question one time like Why do you not stick, but how do you not skip workouts, and I was like wha just buh buh, buh Yeah, well you don’t feel like yeah. He’s act dude I need to record that and then he just like asked me a bunch of random questions And then we made it into a Rhett recording, and we put it on iTunes for sale. It was the number one Spoken word on iTunes for I think I think until your left 11 months It finally got knocked out of number one spoken word by when I released this book discipline equals freedom Field Manual on ITunes as a spoken word album So I’m just saying is I so rarely effective. Yeah, yeah, it’s not do this It’s no no I just talk like I’m not a handler. You don’t seem like you don’t have to you know Yeah, you don’t have to tell the guys hey I mean obviously you gotta yell on the battlefield and you gotta yell people so they can hear you that’s one thing But yeah, I mean I was just talking as if you have to yell at someone and you’ve really screwed something up as a leader If I gotta yell at you Yeah, nonetheless, it’s yeah very fact like if you he’ll be like There’s this one called sugar-coated lies right and it’s about like you know how like when you’re at work you Were talking about the good video yeah, right? Yeah, so this is the same thing But it’s like a track you can get you can get actually this the discipline goes Freedom Field Manual album has good on There’s a track just a track boom there you go. You can put it in your whatever Yeah You can say so and because I had people come you should make an alarm clock you should make one crack so when you did The album with tracks and when you could use that thing as an alarm clock so when people ask me for unlocking like go get The album’s there’s three albums now yeah, by the way three albums yeah psychological warfare And this one is in two different albums. You really only need the first album of discipline comes freedom Field Manual Fully for the audio yeah, you can get well, there’s there’s well if you want the knowledge parts Yes, that’s the second vid the second Yeah, yeah, you didn’t know I was over here So this is where this is where echo started hammer hammer me because you know when they list you they list like psychological warfare, and then they have to list who made it and it was artist Jaco was like no no no I’m not artist. I just well. I’m just speaking. I’m saying works. That’s not art no, no no no you’re an artist I Never looked at you and said well, I don’t come across with the artist it’s somewhere in this artsy guy Very effective very effective good way to support you by the way check also on Amazon through Alexa if you want you can order Jaco white tea Amazon a can and and by the way, I don’t know if I’ll give you some chocolate white tea and the reason I’ll give it to you isn’t I don’t care if you like tea you might Not you might hate tea, but what this tea does is is a guaranteed? It’s guaranteed to give you an eight thousand pound deadlift It’s scientifically proven over and over again the old-line double-blind Placebo tested right there jock whitey eight thousand pound deadlift Yeah, so you got that yeah, also hair books for the books Yes, get into the fire by Dakota Meyer and Bing West Get it through our website. It’s it’s an awesome read man a week week I covered less than ten percent of the book today You only understand ten percent of what the whole situation was by listening to this podcast get the book support the podcast at support Dakota learn about What these brave Americans and Afghans went through? Way the warrior kid There’s a book I wrote for kids. Why cuz who’s what kind of kids? What kind of books were kids reading I know cuz I got four kids my kids were reading books about Lame people that were being encouraged to be weak Yeah instead of like hey you know what it’s okay to actually get after it and try and be smarter and try and be stronger so if you want your kid to be smarter and stronger and eat healthier and Work harder if that’s what you want. You’d get the kid way the warrior kid if you want to make your child weak and Undisciplined that’s cool. You can buy any other book for a kid, and that’s what you get and that book did good with people and I wrote another one it’s called way the war your kid – it’s called Mark’s mission and It’s got a whole new genre Of issues that mark has to face with his uncle Jake uncle Jake comes to help out young mark Would you call him more advanced issues? They are slightly more advanced Let me tell you which one of them one of the one of the issues that Young marks of marks in sixth grade now in book two. He loses his temper sometimes and He gets in trouble at school for Hocking a paper mache Pumpkin at another kid’s head, and it deflects off his head and hits the teacher in the face Oh man, gets he gets sent home from school last day of school. Anyways yeah, so learn to control his temper Just like all kids do and I know this because I got kids and I know this because I was a kid and you remember When you were a little kid, and you’d lose your temper, and you’d get them stuff even and when I say little kid I’m talking like 23 years old Get you copy his uncle in the book is is a seal, or was a seal and He comes to stay with them for the summer and help some squared away these little promises I get yeah Yeah, so that’s what that one’s about he also learns about working hard. He gets a job starts a business he’s 11 years old has his own business mowing lawns and pulling weeds that’s way the warrior kid and Way the warrior kid to Mark’s mission you can also get speaking of which warrior kids From Irish Oaks ranch there’s a young warrior kid 12 years old business owner He makes soap from goat milk right here in California on his farm Yeah, that’s cool Wow. Yeah, well. It seems like well. How are you – how did you even? Why are you talking about this? He got in touch with me and said I want to make good soap Taco soap, and I was like well. Who are you he’s a comma 12 year-old kid named Aiden I live on a farm – I’m starting a business I figure you might want in on the action Jocko, and I was like hey, what dude I’m in Mac Z offer me a piece of the action. I was like oh god Yes, I’m in man Warren Your kid getting after it and so yeah You can order that soap at Irish Oaks ranch he’s bit calm It’s you know no big deal soap Empire, right? What is like Johnson and Johnson probably started off making soap ivory soap? Do you think Irish soap doesn’t have some good profitability? Yeah? There’s no a difference is the only difference is this kids starting at 12 guarantee Johnson Johnson didn’t start 12 No, no started 12, yeah Oh, yeah, yeah get on there or something you’ll have the kinks worked out before you do the drive Yeah, yeah, he’s all over it. I mean I’m he’s manufacturing fuck soap You know think about when you were two um. I mean let’s just let’s just get all of our own no matter Our own lose ourselves out of the table here, what were you doing with your 12? Yeah, right? I was like smearing boogers on my sisters I was Dirt we’re just talking to Lucy I was eating dirt. I didn’t know it’s so poor like dirt yeah, I I made up the slogan to Simple slogan simple yeah, and it’s it’s actually great slogan. You know what it is Jaco Stolp stay clean You got it. I gotta tell you God, it would be this good salami. The good song. It’s like. I don’t know I Don’t know how you came up with that Jacko’s soap stay clean right man you came out with Junko store. Yeah, Joe’s daughter. Uh real I’m real creative when it comes to them them names also. Hey another book this clinical freedom Field Manual If you need to get on the path stay on the path be on the path move further down the path if you’re having trouble getting after it in life get the book this one equals freedom Field Manual and Then don’t just get the book and read it you have to actually do something. That’s in it, but it’s pretty clear It’s a field manual Eko claims to know all about field manuals my favorite kind of manual yeah, you actually know about field manuals Go ahead to Field Manual that tells you how to get after it so you can do that The audio version of that is not on audible you can’t find it there Why because you couldn’t cut it up into tracts which is what you all asked for it is on Amazon music Google Play iTunes as an mp3 also extreme ownership the book that Lafe babban and I wrote it’s about combat leadership some of the actually every topic that we talked about today when it came to leadership and Organizational issues it’s all is all things that are inside extreme ownership. Get that and it’s not just about war, but it’s about life It’s about business and on top of that we have a leadership and management consulting company It’s called echelon front we solve problems through leadership every problem that any organization has Can be solved through one thing in one thing only leadership That’s it so if you got problems. Call us a chillon front me Lafe babban JP. Jenelle Dave Burke Ashlin front comm of course also we have the muster. It’s a leadership Gathering to leadership gathering seminar conference gathering and That’s what we do we get together. We have all kinds of leaders come we present we talk about issues we give pragmatic actual tactics and techniques on how to lead people If you want to like come to a conference and get all happy and clappy and make Hugging promises to the guy that sitting next to you don’t come to this conference. That’s not what this conference is We’re not singing and dancing at all no we talked about we talked about how to lead That’s what it is so if you want to learn how to lead come to the to the monster There’s only two of them in 2018 only two of them one of them, Washington DC May 17th and 18th one of them San Francisco October 17 18th, that’s it. We’re not going to What’s name your hometown, Columbia, Kentucky? We’re not going to Columbia, Kentucky for the muster, but We couldn’t find. We couldn’t we couldn’t your barn wasn’t big enough to hold the dish We can we expand it. Yeah, I’ll work on it for next year work on it We actually did one in Austin if I’d known you at the time you would have been there Yeah, awesome and let me know if you want to come to one of these We’re not doing it in, Columbia, Kentucky We’re not doing it in What’s another random place oh? My coley we’re not doing it in Hawaii if you want to come you got to come to one of those to? Register by the way, they’ve all sold out. We’ve done four of them They’ve all sold out this one’s gonna sell out to register extreme ownership. Calm and we Okay, we raise the prices Once we hit a certain date. Why do we do that? Why do we raise the prices once we hit a certain date to make more money? No. No, I’m just kidding No, we actually don’t want people to do that because what the would reason we do is we want to incentivize people to register early So that we can block enough room order enough food plan plan correctly get the venue set up the right way so We’re trying to make people come early so we it’s actually a penalty we’re penalizing you for being slow and prefer Procrastinating yes procrastination you’re gonna pay. That’s right. Oh. It’s a procrastination penalty I like where you’re coming from good if you wait you pay, I’ll take credit for that. We like people that get up Don’t put that as one of Jacko’s okay? You running off my lead and I get a little cut I like it Alright, so that is that and until the muster if you have questions or feedback for us We are we are ready to receive on the interwebs on Twitter on Instagram and on – Echo is at Echo Charles And I am at Jocko willing and Dakota is on the interwebs in a big way in a big way on Twitter at Dakota underscore Meijer, that’s how we linked up by the way via Twitter I Can’t believe you responded to me. It’s so good, and I’m like I can’t believe you said something to me couple of little kids on Instagram Dakota Meyer Oh 317 sniper No, just oh three seventeen Dakota Meyer. That’s that’s Instagram on Facebook Sergeant Dakota Meyer you can just look at the co2 Meyer and it pops right up because you’re kind of the man You have a podcast I do you have your own podcast It’s called owning it owning it with Dakota Meyer now you you kind of took that from my book extreme ownership, no big deal I did take a little slice of that. That’s cool You have Dakota Meyer calm is another place So I guess that’s why I said you’re all over the interwebs because clearly you are all over the interwebs You got a YouTube channel. Yeah, I got a YouTube chance that called It’s it’s just Dakota Meyer, so I’ve got the YouTube channel just Dakota Meyer where my podcast goes up. It’s on on the – On the – what does that mean so you know on the – comes from a point Linda Ellison wrote called the – and You know I I felt like I felt like people in America just needed something to hold on to and You know so I always look at what is success and how do I want to be remembered and that’s kind of like a big? thing for me and I So Linda Ellis wrote an appointment talked about how like at a Funeral you know a man stood to speak and he referred to dates You know on the tombstone from the beginning you know with the date the person was born in the day. He died and Really, those are the two only two days in your life that you don’t make any decisions, or have any control of And everything else what matters that – in-between and so how are you gonna own your – what is your – gonna look like because? You can control that you can control with that – looks like how you know? How fulfilling it is how selfish it is how giving it is? I mean you control it by your decisions every single day, and what do you want your – to look like? How do you want to be remembered because it doesn’t matter how much money you have it doesn’t matter how? Whatever you did the empire’s you built what matters is how you change people’s lives? And that’s how you remembered and where your true successful in my mind is you’ll be defined will be what people say about you at your funeral and so that’s where it comes to me is is on the – That’s where the idea of it came from so own your – you know and you do public speaking as well I do I do public speaking Get in there and talk to businesses and teams yeah You know I come in talk to businesses teams give my leadership principles of you know what I believe to make success you know Listen I’m simple though But you know what what I feel like you know my life I talk about my story and kind of what happen to me And then I come around and I what does that mean to me right? What does that mean like you know every story without? every story or experience that you go through that doesn’t have a meaning afterwards is a waste experience and So I talk about that and I just you know Did a lot – a lot of public speaking trying to I just want to inspire people I’m like I just you know I just wanna honestly. I just want to change the world No, big deal. Just want to change the world. That’s it no I just want change the world awesome, and it’s it an awesome anything you did I did I miss anything else no I don’t think so. I think that’s I think that’s everything yeah anything any other projects anything else everybody needs to know about No, no listen. I can’t I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you having me on I’m honored to have you on echo you got anything else. No. Thank you very much for coming up. Thank you closing thoughts Dakota You know listen. It’s uh? I Got a lot of this podcast. I got a lot of You know just hearing your perspective and you know I Just I just want people out there to know that you know. I’m no different than anybody else the only difference is opportunities that’s been put in front of me and You know I appreciate you having me on Wellness it’s obviously an honor to have you on Thank you for your thank you for your service both in the Marine Corps and what you continue to do now to try and help people and and just change the world which is what you’re trying to do now which is awesome and It’s been a true honor to have you on again, you know to be sitting across the table from you and Knowing what you’ve been through and to see where you are now is Is awesome and it’s it’s my honor to be sitting here And of course to all the servicemen and women on the battlefields around the world Doing what? Must be done to protect us Thanks to all of you And finally To those service members That made the ultimate sacrifice Who gave the last full measure for us Thank you May you rest in peace and know without question that We will never forget And until next time this is Dakota Meyer and echo and Jocko Out

100 thoughts on “Jocko Podcast 115 with Dakota Meyer – Into The Fire, and Beyond the Call of Duty

  1. Well CNN's 60minutes version of this story had me more then impressed with Dakota's story but that was like many of things news reports was a fluffy cotton candy version of Dakotas story . Listen to this has me utterly speechless people think they know this story they have no fucking clue . And presidents get monuments and get their faces on American currency !!!!! We are out of touch

  2. Gentlemen, THANK YOU for your service and sacrifice. This podcast was very humbling and gives me even more appreciation for the career you both chose. Thank you for being raw and open. Very inspiring to a 27-year cop!

  3. CORPORAL DAKOTA L. MEYER

    UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

    For service as set forth in the following:

    For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009. Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner's position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Meyer's daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy's attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

  4. This pod cast was a good one. Good people these men are. You could tell they both were dealing with their own demons while doing this. Thanks so much for this type of thing because it helps those of us without a platform to "vent" on. Yes we have our own guys but the bigger the group the better the help, ya know.

  5. I'm picking up a tinge of envy coming from jocko as they talk about the battle. It's hard not to admire this man's courage, but understanding the burden is something most never will, I cant comprehend. Much respect 🇺🇸

  6. Dakota i love you Brother … ill nvr forget your sacrifice or the sacrifice of those who never made it back … God Bless you Brother

  7. ……..Jocko dude, not making lite of you or your guest, a true hero, but diggin the lighting effect. Ur givin off vibe like those inter-planetary weapons buyers in movie "The Fifth Element". That's a good thing. Psyops nds to utilize that. L8r.

  8. Echo reminds me a lot of mike Tyson. Listening to him with headphones, sounds like a whimp, then you see the video, holy shitttt

  9. The major reason why I listen to these stories or read books about war is because people lived it. We should all feel the same. It’s the least we can do to honor their sacrifices and to never forget. God, I hope they are wrong near the end when they say that most people don’t realize these war stories are about real people. Maybe that’s why telling these stories is so important because we can not forget.

  10. I respect both of these guys but the US was and is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. I worked with some good Afghans and was tasked with mentoring the Afghan Border Police so I could also say that I was working WITH the Afghans. This doesn't mean that we aren't an occupying force. The US has absolutely no business over there. Neither Iraq or Afghanistan had anything to do with 911 and if you've honestly looked into this, you know it's true. Osama Bin Laden had nothing to do with 911 either. Maybe he was a bad dude but he didn't execute 911, AND he was a creation of the US government. Our government LIED to all of us and is continuing to lie to us to get the people to support all of these UNENDING and UNCONSTITUTIONAL wars. No soldiers or Marines in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Syria, or anywhere else is fighting for our freedom. They are fighting and dying for a lying, corrupt, and criminal government. No one in Afghanistan is trying to compromise or take my rights, or liberty, or property, such as my guns, or my bible, or speech, etc… That threat is coming straight from our own corrupt criminal government. If you take your oath seriously, then you should be resisting every one of these domestic enemies. I'm talking about all of these traitorous politicians, judges, attorneys, and many law enforcement entities. Jocko has a good message and his advice applies to almost all aspects of life, not just military, but we all need to be honest about what happened and who our true enemy is. Also, just because Trump is president doesn't mean that anything has changed with our government. Just look at how both parties hate him and are trying everything they can (legal and illegal) to get rid of him. We all need to wake up.

  11. As a American patriot I don't blame Dakota Meyer for what he did in Afghanistan as a Marine sniper, if I was a Marine sniper, I would had done the same time saving lives and destroying the enemy I salute Dakota for surviving that gunfight

  12. This episode shows the darkest side of extreme ownership, and how to own your worst failures. Dakota is the man for exposing what he has gone through with such honestly, I feel we all need to hear stories like this, it will help save modern society.

  13. I thought all the afgan civilians, including children and animals had left. Did anyone relate that vital info.

  14. This was a hard podcast to listen to… This should be required listening for everyone on the planet. I regret that I only have one thumbs up to give this podcast!

  15. This should be required listening for anyone training to be an officer. "Listen to it, research with happened and write at 3000 word essay on what you think went wrong and what you will do in that situation."

  16. "Make those son of a bitches earn it" that statement hit me all the way to my soul. This was a heavy deep podcast. Thank God we have Americans like this in this day and age.

  17. Greatest podcast I have ever heard . I do not consider Dakota a failure any more than I would think that of the firemen that ran up the stairs of the twin towers and failed to save everyone inside the buildings. Very thankful that he is still here to share his message with us all.

  18. If anything, this solidifies that the brass was doing an AWFUL job.

    And I disagree with Dakota blaming himself. He did all he could given the position he was put in by the command.

  19. Dakota! YOU DID NOT FAIL!!!!!!! THE MARINE CORP FAILED YOU ON THAT DAY! THEY FAILED YOUR FRIENDS! THEY FAIL TO PROVIDE THE LEADERSHIP , TO ALL OF THE MARINES! THEY DON'T CARE!!!!

  20. 1:45:16 Rod driving over the Taliban fighter running at the truck is the funniest thing I’ve heard all day

  21. Most intense pod I've seen the way jo reads with his deep voice man it hits home. Could never imagine the day he lived through the range of emotions. Man I wish I could take the pain for him and give him the rest of his life without the thoughts and pain, he done his job that day like a warrior. Peace to you brother and thoughts to everyone involved on that day. x

  22. You can see the sadness in his eyes. Damn this was a tough fucking one. A lot of Viking love from Norway <3

  23. I seriously hope some fucking asshat lost their stars or birds because of the stupid ass planning. But knowing the military they probably didn't.

  24. You can literally see the pain and trauma all over his face. He's truly virtuous, and he found out that war doesn't give a shit about anything of any value. Poor guy.

  25. Am i the only one that is barking at the screen ,what happend to battlefield commissions. He should have been instant Lt col

  26. Here is a write up on the dirty General, and how he set up the Marines at Ganjgal,
    http://salem-news.com/articles/september282012/aaron-kenefick-tk.php

  27. New listener and 3rd Jocko podcast. Thanks for YT suggestions because this one was a privilege to listen to. Thanks for all you've done, Dakota, and for sharing it with us who were not there. Bought the book and going to read it with my son.

    Also, thanks for all you do, Jocko. I have made your content part of my son's daily routine and, as he is growing up without his father, you've set the bar for manhood pretty high. GOOD.

  28. Everyone needs to listen to this specific podcast at least once.

    Pop culture world overshadows this man. He is a good dude and that is an understatement.

  29. I can attest to that. Our ability to get timely and accurate fire support at least in the US Army is a fucking Joke. Its like we forgot since Vietnam we even have artillery and especially Mortars.

  30. They died defending their home during Ramadan.

    The so called Isis fuck sticks were fasting to and killed their own during Ramadan.

    In Islam the ones defending are in good hands.

    Those who committed wrongs during Ramadan are royally fudged beyond imagination.

    I don’t think we realize how important Ramadan is. If I was in Iraq and had my sat, then I would say let’s let Ramadan pass becusse isis will be throwing bodies at death. Becusse they are so ignorant they think they will die during Ramadan and therefore be accepted into heaven.

    Yah evil shit.

  31. nothing pisses me off more than my brothers in the soup calling for backup and no help comes. and we have pred drones, spec gunships, etc,

  32. B awsome to here jocko and mike tyson have a discussion.to diff. People.but dang they have will and greatness in them

  33. 1:37:40 to 1:39:20 I had to listen to this part a few times. That is some heavy stuff. Respect and honor to Dakota Meyer.

  34. “War is brutish, inglorious, and a terrible waste… The only redeeming factors were my comrades' incredible bravery and their devotion to each other. Marine Corps training taught us to kill efficiently and to try to survive. But it also taught us loyalty to each other – and love. That esprit de corps sustained us.”

    ― Eugene B. Sledge, With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

  35. Jocko it ment the world to me for you to speak to those of us who didn't get the chance to serve for whatever reason..as for me I enlisted on the delayed entry program had ending having a injury before I was to report to basic training. When I got to Knoxville on my way to great lakes they told me I was a no go because of that injury. I'm 51 years old now and still feel like I missed out on something great in my life because I didn't get to serve my country!

  36. Watching this coincidently on the 4th of July. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Words cannot begin to describe how this American feels about your sacrifice. I will remember your story forever. How we adequately honor you and what you've done for us? I Don't Know.

  37. Army or Marine? Whoever it was that was demanding that answer should be tested. Obviously, this individual was and is somewhere on the spectrum..

  38. lol I checked out the Irish Oaks Ranch. He said the Jocko soap was developed just for you.
    I think he is trying to tell you something. 🙂 lol It's sold out at the moment but I will eventually order some from this kid. You gotta support a kid that's getting on it.
    I am a 50 (something) year old lesbian. I am a forensic psychologist and I gotta say, we, as a society, are losing that masculinity that is critical to a healthy society.
    There is a lot of truth to "Strong men bring easy times and weak men bring hard times".
    I have been seeing lots of young men, young men that could be real go getters, getting in legal trouble simply because they are trying to be young men but there are few healthy outlets for them to do that. Not to mention, many don't have fathers to teach them how to harness that male energy and do something productive with it.
    I am a girl, I don't fully "get it" in that I don't relate on a personnel level but I see it and I have been studying human behavior for over 30 years.
    Young boys compete at EVERYTHING! They love to build things, they love to knock things over. They are constantly measuring themselves against the other boys.
    The current feminists are trying to stomp this behavior out but they can't. This is genetic & if you try to suppress it, you don't end up with a kinder, gentler young man, you end up with frustrated, anxious, stressed, depressed young men.
    This competitive play is critical. These young boys are learning what they are good at, what they aren't so good at & they are building an identity. They are learning that hard work pays off and they are finding their place in the world. They boy that builds a building out of blocks and then shakes the foundation or throws things at it until it collapses is the man that will design a building that will survive an earthquake. The boy that gets his butt kicked in gym class and then goes home to build his new model rocket is the man that will help get us to Mars, or make the next generation of guided missiles.
    Men & women are different, it's stupid to deny that. Society needs to accept that and embrace it. Young men have drive and ambition. If we don't allow that to come out, we injure these young men. If they are taught right and they can unleash that drive and ambition in appropriate ways, they make everyone's lives better. They do all kinds of crazy things like feed the world and build western civilization.
    I think men like Jocko & Dakota have helped lots of younger men find their direction in life. I haven't read Warrior Kid yet, but I suspect it has great examples of how young men can struggle and find their way in the world and become successful men.
    This is great but, we, as a society, can't afford to continue this misguided attempt to stomp out masculinity. It doesn't help women if we punish young men. Actually, if we continue this madness, everyone will eventually suffer. We need to accept that men & women are different.
    We need to celebrate those differences and allow the boys to be boys and instead of fighting their nature, we need to teach them to harness that energy to become the best men they can be when they grow up.
    Yes, I have been noticing the exact same thing Dr. Peterson has been seeing and yes, I agree with him 100%. I am saying the same thing, I am just not as articulate as he is.

  39. If the politicians would shut up and stay invisible, there would be less loss of life. The military needs to do their job and leave Political Correctness out of the equation.

  40. From what I remember about my time in the Corps, most officers couldn't think on their own. The only officers that were worth a crap were the mustangs ( enlisted that were chosen for officer candidate school ). When I was in, ( 78 – 82 ) most guys that had any rank as enlisted were Vietnam vets and they were treated with the utmost respect for their knowledge and courage.

  41. Is Jocko’s pauses in this podcast not the scariest thing in the world? It’s like he has ptsd for chain of command knuckleheads!

  42. This was powerful! I had read the book some time ago and had listened to the podcast but didn’t finish. I wanted to get back to it and decided to watch the broadcast. Seeing their expressions as Jocko read from the book was gripping. I’ve seen Dakota tell his story a few times but this was intense!

  43. This makes me want to go marines so bad but at the same time it just doesn’t seem like a smart decision.
    I say that based on the issues Mr.Meyer was stating about command.
    Seals and spec ops in general just don’t have the same level of issues in that aspect.
    But man it’s tempting as a man to just go fight.

  44. "it would be like…. you inside of a house and your family is there and the house catches on fire… and you end up gettin' out… thinking that maybe they're all out… and you cant get back in there and they all burn to death." That is one of the most horrific things anybody can even fathom. Eternally grateful for Dakota and all of our service members. 2:35:00

  45. I've never winced so much in a podcast and just the heart-felt struggle and pain in Dakota's stories. Wow. Jocko's heavy sighing practically had tears welling. Fuck!

  46. Sgt. Bokis or Staff Sergeant Bokis was a Hat of mine in bootcamp. Told us all about what happened… so fucked. no wonder he always told us that just because someone has rank doesnt mean they are right.

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