Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Special ops badass

America's special operations forces operate at the tip of the spear often behind enemy lines conducting secret missions. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps all have dedicated special operations units, including, Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Rangers, Air commandos and Marine Corps special ops personnel.

Their impact on our way of life is immeasurable. We may never read or know about most of their work and when a special operator loses their life in the line of duty, it often goes unreported. It is the price of secrecy - a by-product of their profession.

~ Special Operations Warrior Foundation

This weaponry is displayed in the living room of a friend of mine whom I met recently in my maritime safety class. I'm like, "Okay, what is the deal?" I mean this Gurkha knife didn't strike me as your run-of-the-mill bachelor pad decor. Turns out he is ex special ops. I've known two other special ops guys who were co-workers when I worked for the federal government, and their stories were mind boggling. I ask this guy about some stuff and he tells me the craziest story ever.

Back in the day, he was in a South American jungle country trying to rescue some people that were captured by guerrillas. Things didn't go as planned, and he too got captured. The guerrillas tied him to a wood chair and kept smashing him in the face with a metal gas can. He decided to really play it up and when they hit him, he made sure to dramatically crash to the floor, still tied to the chair. His purpose in doing this was to "bust up the chair real well, and it worked."

"Why did you want to break the chair?" I ask.

Get this. Still tied to the broken chair, he was able to loosen the piece of wood he was tied to, but because it had splintered when he crashed to the floor, it now had a pointy end. And, with his hands still tied to the pointy piece of wood, he used it as a weapon and stabbed his captor in the neck, killing him instantly.

My jaw drops. "You," I tell my friend, are a badass!" If he could do that with a chair, I can't imagine he could do with that crazy knife.

As badass as special ops guys are, they are still very prone to post-traumatic stress, my friend informed me. He said nobody can truly understand what they have endured except for other guys who've done and gone through the same thing. If you want to give to a great charity these holidays, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation is a four-star charity that's been around for 28 years. They provide, among other things, scholarships for the kids of fallen special ops guys. I had never heard of SOWF until I saw their full-page ad in yesterday's USA Today. What a cool organization.

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