Real combat stories from the military's elite.
This podcast highlights the courageous, outrageous, crazy, and surreal experiences veterans recall from their toughest days in the foxhole, cockpit, and front lines. We interview JTACs, Special Operators (Delta), Special Forces, Jet Pilots, Combat Aviators, Infrantrymen, Marines, and vets from over 50 years of combat experience.
Interviews touch on the toughest missions these vets faced, how they handled them, their first combat experiences, how they found their way to the military, and how they managed after leaving the combat behind.
Combat Story (Ep 24): Terry Buckler | Green Beret | The Story of the Son Tay POW Raid | Silver Star
Today, we hear the combat story of Terry Buckler, the youngest of 56 Green Berets on one of the most dangerous and daring missions in U.S. military history, when they went 300 miles behind enemy lines into North Vietnam to rescue American POWs at the Son Tay POW camp.
Terry is part of a rare group known today as the Son Tay Raiders. The mission does not have the intended outcome (as you’ll hear in this interview), but changes the lives and morale for hundreds of American POWs for years to come.
This is a story of true sacrifice, amazing bravery and selflessness, and some of the most impressive planning and execution you’ll ever hear. I know this sounds like hyperbole but I promise you, it is not.
The stories you’re about to hear from Terry are detailed beautifully in the book Who Will Go: Into the Son Tay POW Camp. Terry wrote this book with Cliff Westbrook, who is also part of this interview and whose father was the Air Mission Commander for one of the aircraft involved in this incredible story.
I sincerely hope you enjoy this front row seat to one of the most impressive, selfless, and expertly planned and executed operations in our military’s storied history.
Book - Who Will Go - https://www.amazon.com/Who-Will-Go-Into-Camp/dp/164990150X
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/sontayraid/
Website - https://thesontayraid.com/
#Special Forces #Son Tay #Veterans #combatstory
1:23 - Introduction of Terry and Cliff
6:36 - Terry’s childhood
15:25 - Aviation training and resourcing for the Son Tay Raid, including the new technology that made the mission possible: aerial refueling.
17:27 - Being selected for the raid.
25:46 - The situation and plight for POWs in North Vietnam at the time and the decision for a rescue.
31:45 - The Mission Statement, which is phenomenal, and the reaction of the 56 Green Berets will make your hair stand up.
45:45 - Captain Dan Turner and the relationship with Terry on the raid.
50:45 - Combat Story Planning and Son Tay Raid task organization and resources.
55:50 - Why choose 1,000 feet above ground level (AGL) for the flight route.
57:50 - What’s it like being 20 years old going into one of the most dangerous missions you can imagine for your first combat experience.
1:02:35 - Combat Story as the plan was drawn up (but did not go as planned, like any mission).
1:07:35 - Combat Story and what actually happened.
1:18:31 - This is why this mission was a success despite not finding any POWs.
1:36:43 - How do you find purpose in your life after such a significant event in your 20s.
1:40:25 - What did they carry with them in combat?
1:43:14 - Would you do it all again?
Combat Story (Ep 23): Robin Horsfall UK Special Air Service (SAS) | Paratrooper | Mercenary | Author
Robin Horsfall is a former British Special Air Service (SAS) Tier 1 operator, paratrooper in 2Paras, mercenary, entrepreneur, and author.
During his time in service, he deployed five times to Northern Ireland in brutal “Peace Keeping” operations, was part of one of the most storied and successful hostage rescue operations in the heart of London, and was part of a “one way” or “suicide” mission during the Falklands War.
His combat is well documented in his first book, Fighting Scared, in which we describes his evolution from victim to Tier 1 operator to Warrior Poet (the title of his most recent book). Robin’s lessons can be applied to soldiers, leaders, parents, and children, including how to overcome a difficult childhood of abuse and a lack of male role models to become a role model to others.
His stories are brutally honest (being bullied for years) and lighthearted (such as SAS training with Delta Force or how he and the SAS helped Princess Diana with her hair) in a way that only Brits can manage.
Find Robin online:
Northern Ireland Vet Campaign
Wise Old Paratrooper
0:00 - Intro
1:00 - Robin bio and introduction.
1:51 - Robin
5:01 - Difficult childhoods and the challenge of authority later in life.
8:12 - Recognizing issues with authority in other people, particularly children, when building a Karate empire.
18:58 - Why the military at age 15?
22:37 - Who were the British military vets in the early 1970s?
26:36 - The British “Paras” and what it means within the UK military.
28:24 - First combat experience was Northern Ireland.
31:57 - What was it like to do “Peace Keeping” after paratrooper training for years?
33:09 - Combat Story #1: Northern Ireland.
35:51 - Combat Story #2: “Encounter” with an IED.
42:04 - Difference between SAS (Special Ops) and conventional military.
44:55 - Team vs. Individual in SAS and the SAS process.
47:21 - Death during SAS selection.
53:48 - Combat Story #3(A): Setting the scene for an amazing hostage rescue operation. (Jump to next time stamp if you don’t want to hear the lead up to this operation).
55:53 - Combat Story #3(B): Incredibly detailed account of an SAS high visibility hostage rescue in downtown London.
1:14:09 - Combat-lite Story #3.5: Princess Diana supporting an SAS training operation. You have to hear the bit about her hair!
1:16:04 - Combat Story #4: A ‘one way” or “suicide” mission during the Falklands War. There’s some great comedy in this and lessons about what not to do.
1:25:49 - Delta training with SAS and some of the hilarity that ensues.
1:31:06 - Why title the book “Fighting Scared”?
1:32:19 - What Robin’s doing now: Veterans campaign and the Wise Old Paratrooper trilogy, plus a new book on poetry called “Warrior Poet.” 1:36:29 - What did Robin carry with him into combat.
1:37:32 - Would you do it all again?
Combat Story (Ep 22): Beau Wise (Marine) | Jeremy (SEAL & CIA) | Ben (Green Beret) | Three Wise Men
Today we hear a heartbreaking yet inspiring set of combat stories of three brothers, told by the only one to survive the post-9/11 battlefield: former Marine Beau Wise.
While serving in Afghanistan, SEAL veteran and CIA contractor Jeremy Wise was killed in an al Qaeda suicide bombing that devastated the US intelligence community (as you’ll hear in this interview and as depicted in this scene from Zero Dark Thirty and also in the book Triple Agent).
Less than three years later, Green Beret Ben Wise was fatally wounded after volunteering for a dangerous assignment during a firefight with the Taliban.
Ben was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, while Jeremy received the Intelligence Star AND a star on the CIA’s Memorial Wall, which I can attest to.
Our guest, Beau, is the only known American service member to be pulled from the battlefield after losing two brothers in Afghanistan. This was a challenging interview but one that I’m eternally grateful that I was allowed to do. The account you’re about to hear is detailed in the incredible book, Three Wise Men: A Navy SEAL, a Green Beret, and How Their Marine Brother Became a War's Sole Survivor, written by Beau Wise and Tom Sileo.
0:00 - Intro
0:47 - Beau bio.
1:50 - Interview begins.
3:05 - “My mom was a walking encyclopedia of American conflicts.”
5:25 - Introducing Ben and Jeremy as kids.
10:12 - Life shaping event for Beau and his brothers.
12:25 - How on Earth do three brothers choose three different branches of service and become a SEAL, a Green Beret, and a Marine?
18:30 - How your mom might react after signing up for the Marine Corps.
22:10 - Beau’s description as an 0331 Marine.
27:57 - The loss of the first Wise brother, Jeremy, who was one of the seven CIA personnel killed at FOB Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan on Dec 30th, 2009.
33:28 - Mindset after a devastating loss and being sent back into the breach.
35:55 - Advice on how to handle the loss of someone close in combat.
40:18 - Beau’s experience identifying an IED emplacement in Marjah.
47:25 - A phenomenal training and then combat story from Jeremy Wise in his time as a SEAL.
49:55 - A combat story from Ben Wise during his time as a Green Beret medic and sniper.
54:15 - What happens after Beau learns of Ben’s passing.
56:48 - What did Beau, Ben, and Jeremy carry into combat for good luck.
1:01:30 - Would you do it all again, after all the pain and suffering?
Combat Story (Ep 21): Eddie Penney - SEAL Team Six (DEVGRU) | SEAL Team 2 | Marine | Entrepreneur
Eddie Penney is an elite Tier 1 operator and entrepreneur. Eddie was a Marine, Navy SEAL (in SEAL Team 2), and member of the storied Seal Team Six or Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).
This is an incredible inside look at the mind, perseverance, experience, and journey of those who serve at the very tip of the spear, including the moments that seemingly broke Eddie and made him who is today. Eddie shares insights that many would not, including the loss and courage that those of us who were never part of the Tier 1 community can only imagine.
Since retiring from the military, Eddie founded and runs The Contingent Group, which provides risk mitigation services and executive protection to clients. He also created the UNAFRAID mindset and has an app called The Den where people can gather to share inspirational stories and seek motivation from others. You’ll be excited to learn that Eddie is releasing a book with Keith Wood about Eddie’s experiences that’s sure to be an incredible read.
Unafraid and The Den
The Contingent Group
0:00 - Intro
0:43 - Eddie Bio
1:55 - Interview begins
2:17 - Where did Eddie’s ambition come from?
5:02 - Hard to believe that Eddie ever quit anything. It’s a great lesson though.
16:52 - A key loss in Eddie’s life: his swimming coach Larry Lyons (who still has an award given out each year to the best coaches in Ohio).
19:25 - Marine Corps “boot camp was awesome.”
21:28 - A life changing event (“a switch” from boy to man) at boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina.
30:18 - Decision to move from the Marines to the SEAL teams.
31:57 - An experience that almost pushed Eddie out of the military trying to get to Marine Sniper school.
36:34 - Another great story of how one man can leave a lasting impact on you by just believing in you.
44:18 - A scary gang attack in Chicago that could have been much worse.
52:40 - Combat Story #1 with SEAL Team 2 going into a house on an operation.
56:03 - How do you find your way to Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) aka SEAL Team Six? A description of assessing into the Tier 1 world.
59:58 - Intangible quality unique to SEAL Team Six that operators from other SEAL teams might not have.
1:01:23 - Combat Story #2 and how combat became like “crack.”
1:06:20 - Combat Story #3 when moving to assault a building.
1:08:06 - Combat Story #4 when a mortar landed nearby in Mosul, Iraq.
1:10:33 - Combat Story #5 where Eddie is in the stack and he felt a need to move while on an operation in Iraq. This is a tremendous story for those who also battle with “survivor’s guilt.”
1:20:19 - Eddie describes “dark seasons” when he dealt with the emotional and psychological challenges that come from the Tier 1 community.
1:25:18 - “Unafraid” motivational mindset with a reference to the Skillet song “Lions,” the idea behind it and how to take on big plans beginning with Step One.
1:30:52 - Contingent Group’s origins and focus now (spoiler...it sounds awesome).
1:35:32 - What Eddie carried on missions that had significant meaning to him.
1:37:11 - Would you do it again?
Combat Story (Ep 19): John Stryker Meyer MACV-SOG Operator | Green Beret | Author
John Stryker Meyer was a pioneer in the special operations community who served two tours as a MACV-SOG operator and team leader in Vietnam. John led small covert Spike Teams “across the fence” on clandestine operations into Laos and Cambodia in what many now refer to as the secret war in the Vietnam conflict.
John shares what it was like signing up for this covert world, signing a 20 year secrecy agreement, and how the aircraft that brought him to his first FOB then loaded a small special ops team that was never heard from again. It was an ominous start, to say the least. In one unbelievable battle, John describes the enemy stacking dead bodies in an effort to get an elevated firing position on John’s team and in another, the enemy uses a tactic where they get so close to the U.S. positions that aircrews won’t be able to drop napalm rounds.
John has three books that chronicle both his stories and those of his fellow SOG operators (listed below) and he’s been featured in various interviews, including several with Jocko Willink, and is currently building his own podcast with Jocko to tell the stories of other members of the SOG community. John and Jocko are also collaborating on a video game based on SOG missions.
It’s amazing John lived through the experiences he shares with us and he’s a living testament to the courage so many showed in Vietnam.
Across the Fence
On the Ground
3:53 - “Pushing things a little bit” as a kid. The book, The Green Berets influenced John’s decision to join Special Forces.
6:21 - How an eye doctor changed John’s life trajectory and sent him from being a pilot to being a SOG operator.
9:51 - Glad he missed the Korean War because it was so hard. Referenced Pork Chop Hill.
12:45 - John’s path from enlisting straight to Special Forces.
14:57 - An “offer” to join the elite.
16:55 - “We go to the safe house that night…” (Reference to MIKE Force and Project DELTA https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_DELTA)
27:11 - Description and composition of a “Spike Team” and the “One-Zero” call sign.
44:11 - First contact in Vietnam at “Echo 4”
55:55 - First confirmed kill.
58:10 - What is a “Covey” in this war?
1:07:55 - Blacking out while attached to a rope attached to a helicopter in flight.
1:13:47 - The relationship with the indigenous forces.
1:23:44 - A Thanksgiving mission to find THREE NVA Divisions.
1:42:57 - What did John carry for good luck?
1:43:56 - Would you do it all again?
1:46:34 - Exciting news for what John is working on now, including a new podcast hosted by John to interview other SOG members that Jocko will then share on his social media. Also a video game coming out based on SOG.
Combat Story (Ep 20): Jeff Depatie Tier 1 | Canadian JTF2 | Sniper | Special Forces Experience
Jeff Depatie is a retired Canadian Special Operations Forces JTF2 sniper and assaulter. For those who aren’t familiar, JTF2 is Canada’s Tier 1 military force. Jeff deployed multiple times, both as an infantryman in the regular Canadian forces and again as a member of the elite JTF2.
After leaving the military, Jeff created a company called The Special Forces Experience, which is a highly tailored process designed for men who have achieved their own version of excellence but want to know how far they can really push their limits. Jeff shared that this is such a demanding course that one of the recent courses didn’t successfully graduate any of the candidates!
In this episode, we dive into some of Jeff’s combat experiences and also spend time hearing Jeff draw on his lessons learned from the Tier 1 military community and all the research that’s gone into creating the Special Forces Experience surrounding human performance.
The Special Forces Experience
Instagram @jeffdepatie_ and @specialforcesexperience
0:00 - Intro kick-off story.
0:20 - Jeff Depatie bio and introduction.
1:31 - Welcome to the show.
4:34 - Family military background included a Scotsman from WWII fighting from North Africa through Europe.
11:11 - JTF2 (Joint Task Force 2) description which is the Canadian military Tier 1 element (https://tinyurl.com/ac48x7c5).
14:27 - Description of Canadian military basic and advanced training (like US Basic and AIT).
18:48 - True cold weather training for the Canadian military.
27:51 - Using visualization techniques to improve your capabilities.
36:42 - Combat mission #1 - Jeff’s first combat experience moving from Kandahar.
49:38 - Combat mission #2 - Jeff describes a more difficult combat experience.
56:02 - Canadian Special Operations organization and units.
1:06:15 - Ailments and injuries from years in the Tier 1 community.
1:10:04 - What Jeff carried for good luck in combat.
1:11:13 - Would you do it all again?
1:13:58 - Jeff describes the Special Forces Experience (thespecialforcesexperience.com) and his life after transitioning out of the military.