All we control are the choices that we make right now
I wanted to spend this week writing about the awesome relationships that we have with people. Some of the closest relationships that I’ve ever had were as a result of being in the Army.
Take this last week for example.
I was fortunate enough to attend the 10th Special Forces Group Change of Responsibility (CoR), where my old teammate and friend, Command Sergeants Major Kevin Dorsch took charge of the top position in 10th Group. Kevin is the consummate leader but what makes him great is his empathy. These next two years in 10th Group will be awesome.
My buddy Kyle Lamb, from Viking Tactics, came to Colorado to support Kevin. After the CoR, Kyle and I traveled out to my property, where I’m currently building a house. We spent an hour and a half telling jokes, sharing stories, and enjoying our time on the Front Range of Colorado. While it abruptly ended because of a power outage at my build site, we had a great time, and it was great to have him out. It was cool to see my boys say hi to Kyle. The last time they saw him he was their babysitter, and they were still in diapers. I’ve known Kyle for the past twenty years and he hasn’t changed a bit. Upon reflection, Kyle has guided me on everything from rear-security to shooting, to marriage advice and life. He is the epitome of the senior NCO; someone you rely on for sage advice and guidance.
The day after I linked up with Kyle, I reconnected with Jerry, a senior Warrant Officer in the Regiment, and the reason I went Warrant Officer in the first place. Arguably, Jerry is one of the most beloved members of the 10th Special Forces Group. It has always served me well to ask myself what Jerry would do in any situation that I found myself in. Jerry’s always the guy that can outrun you, outshoot you, all the while being humble and grounded. I’m grateful for that, he’s like family to me.
Monday was my birthday and a guy (Z) that was instrumental in my development as an NCO in Special Forces reached out to wish me a happy birthday. I’ve written about him before because he means so much to me, personally and professionally. My first 18 Charlie, Z, set the standard for what an NCO is. His devotion to the soldier’s craft is without peer. A week after I was blown up in Afghanistan, I received a mysterious phone call from a mysterious location. It was Z, who had moved on from SF and was on Camp Alpha. Through his awesome wife, Z heard that I was in the hurt locker. He had his folks find and fix my position and as per SOP, he came in for the finish. I’ll always remember that and am always prepared to repay.
Later that night, I found out that an old friend from Germany had committed suicide. A super funny guy, Chuck would say things that everyone else was trying to wrap their mind around. Chuck first came to my Cell at C/1-10 in 2009. Chuck once caught me with one of my Norwegian sweaters and asked if my Canadian mother had knitted it for me, “Did memaw send that?” he would ask laughing. Chuck also found it hilarious that I still had large gaps in my Army knowledge. It was probably something minor and didn’t change the price of gas, but for Chuck, it was hilarious. Chuck leaves behind a wife and three beautiful boys. His absence leaves a gaping hole in everyone's heart.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reflecting on all the relationships that I’ve built through writing this SITREP. I legitimately consider myself fortunate to have met so many awesome SOF entrepreneurs. All of them have made their products and companies the showcase, not themselves, something easy to fall prey to in 2022.
I’m going to keep writing about SOF entrepreneurs. My takeaway from these SITREPs is that we have so many great people doing great things. Kyle asked how he could help the 18 Series Bag Company, why wouldn’t I do that for someone else? It’s paying back what I’ve received. Ben Rader sent me a text about the bump in traffic he received from my blog. Not much makes my miserable butt happy, but that sure did.
Of all the people that I thought would write about themselves, I didn’t get much of a response from the SEALs. Shocking as I thought creative writing was a part of BUDs. I did, however, have a great discussion with Eli Crane who is running for Congress in the great state of Arizona, as well as Nick Norris from Protekt Products. I will come back around and write about our SEAL brothers.
I wrote about 10th Group entrepreneurs in SITREP 15, like Ben Rader from Rader K9, Matt Devivo of the ‘Thank you now what’ Podcast, and Steve Brignoli of Beyond SOF. I’ve known all three of these gentlemen for the past fifteen years, I’m proud to help and promote them.
In SITREP 16, I wrote about Mikey from Smoked Bros and also an awesome podcast created by Matt Parker, Brief Before Impact. I regularly listen to Matt’s podcast and am still running through Mikey’s seasoning.
In SITREP 17 I wrote about a couple of 3rd Groupers crushing the North Carolina market. Cape Verde Contracting and DOL creations are doing great. A fun relationship created over the last year has been with Eric Graves, who created my favorite gear website, Soldier Systems Daily.
I wrote about KRG, MODTAC, and Baer Solutions in SITREP 18. It only seems right that the three entrepreneurs that I wrote about from the 5th Special Forces Group all deal with firearms.
I had fun with SITREP 19, I got to know Chris at Bald Bros, Doc from Forward Observation Group, and Mario Volpe from American Oath Initiative. I’d like to design a Bald Bros bag, and every time the fella’s at FOG take a picture of my Fanny my website traffic and sales spike. These awesome entrepreneurs are doing everything right.
SITREP 20 turned out to be the most read SITREP of them all. Former members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) came out of the woodwork to support their entrepreneurial brothers. I’ve spoken with Jimmy Gruenewald from Orion Medical Consulting about possible mutually beneficial business, recently did Daniel Bell’s new podcast ‘After SOF’, and David Burnett of Blackbridge Defense and I are always scheming our next opportunity. All three of these guys are movers and shakers and I’m glad to have built a relationship with each of them.
My boy Kain Holland from Darley Defense started SITREP 21. If Kain was in Special Forces, he would have been the single greatest 18 Charlie because he knows how to get what you need, when you need it. I also enjoyed speaking with Ron Holmes from Ryker Grip. His innovative design for a forward hand grip on an AR platform is awesome. Rounding out the awesome list of Marines is Jameson Sharp, the most interesting man in America. Jameson volunteers at SOFPAC, a political action committee that supports SOF members running for political office.
I focused SITREP 22 on AFSOC. I’ve gotten to know Paul Koester over the last year and I’m a better person for it. Paul founded PK Gunsmithing and I’ll throw as much work at him as he can handle because it’s just that good. I also got to meet Tyler Mace of Guardian Fitness, a startup focused on nutrition and supplements. Lastly, I reconnected with Brian Wadtke, our CCT in 2007 in Afghanistan. Brian is a part of Triple Feed, an awesome training company in California doing awesome things.
I wrote about Mike Durant’s campaign for SITREP 23. While I focused mostly on Mike’s campaign, he has still created a $100 million company from scratch. Although Mike did not make the Republican runoff for the primary election in Alabama, I immediately texted Mike and quoted Teddy Rosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’.
In SITREP 24 I wrote about the best light infantry in the world, entrepreneurs from the US Army Rangers. Our Ranger entrepreneurs assaulted small businesses as they did their career, with speed, surprise, and violence of action. Frank Eaton from Gunformz creates awesome foam inserts, a must-have for any firearm enthusiast. Three Rangers Whiskey is a great spirit, created by great dudes, who also support the Three Ranger Foundation. Honorable mention to Steve Tyliszczak from Mad Pig Customs. His lever-action creations are awesome. I’m glad that I hunted these three guys down, what they’re doing is simply inspiring.
These entrepreneurs are living proof that humans are more important than hardware.
I’m lining up follow-on SITREPs that cover our SEAL brothers, my brother from another mother Edgar Mills (Osprey Shooting Solutions), and Erin Cook (Venger Tactical), a highly respected MARSOC brother, Hafeez Hussein, and still on the search for anyone else that would like to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
By the way, Daniel Bell and Patrick Brennan started a podcast, After SOF, and they interviewed me. I ran my mouth for an hour and had a great time. They could use your support so head over to their channel, hit the subscribe button and support our brother’s new endeavor. I suggested that they contact the entrepreneurs I’ve written about so that we can carry the supporting momentum forward.
As for the 18 Series Bag Company, I’m currently working on building an Amazon page, submitted my Fanny to the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), and am continuing to build our brand. I spoke with an amazing lawyer who is going to help me finalize the 18 Series Foundation. Everything is growing, and gaining momentum, all because of the leaders who gave me the tools to succeed.
In a week full of reflection on all the great relationships that I’ve had in Special Forces, I realized that you just don’t have enough time to focus, but when you see each other it’s like you were never apart. Time is free, but it is also priceless. You never get it back. Spending quality time with quality people makes it inevitable that you become what you surround yourself with.
Always forward – Matt
Cover photo was stolen from my brothers at TF_383