I did a guest spot on Politics and Guns with Paul Lathrop and Sticks Survival. Great guys and a lot of fun to hang out with and talk to. Go check it out.
We all get sick and when we do our self defense suffers like the rest of our lives. I’ve been sick for almost a week (some kind of throat cold, no I’m not going to the doctor). Being sick makes us more vulnerable to everything. Here’s some of the things I’m relearning about being sick.
First, I am way more irritable towards people. So if you are carrying a gun (like I always am) you need to recognize this and not let your anger take over. I’ve noticed this especially when I’ve been driving this week. At first I thought it was just holiday traffic and people where driving dumber then ever, but no, everyones’ mistakes just annoy me more.
Next, I normally get a “leave me alone” attitude and don’t want to talk or look at anyone. I’ve seen this with everyone that is sick and you do it too. You just put your head down and do your business running in and out without paying any attention to the people around you. The hard part is that you still need to look up. I did this by wearing a gun/holster/clothing combination that made me a little uncomfortable about my gun showing. That way every time I tugged at my shirt to make sure my gun was covered it gave me a little reminder to look around. Find yourself a trigger like that while you are sick to remember to look around.
Last, when we are sick we look like prey. When you are sick you look like the wounded weak animal in the pack to the monsters out there that wants your stuff. Remember that as you go out. Try not to wear sweats and a sweatshirt while carrying a tissue to your face that advertises how sick you are. Even if you feel like you are dying you can suck it up for the couple minutes that you have to walk through the parking lot and store. Hold your head up and pretend that you aren’t sick for those couple minutes so you look less like prey.
Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy time with family and friends and be safe. If you decide to venture out for the busiest weekend of the year here are a few tips when dealing with large crowds.
- I’m thankful for everyone of you that is reading this
- For all those members of the Shooter’s Club
- For all those who have taken a course from Bob Mayne and myself
- This technology
- The opportunity to speak into your life
- The opportunity to meet a bunch of you in person and over email
- I don’t like them
- Avoid them when you can
- Quick Tips
- Hands Up
- Move along walls
- Tuck in or hug your stuff when you move
- Keep your feet
- Have alternate meeting points
- Know where you are your group is going
- Get off your phone
- Pay attention to how the crowd is moving
- Pay attention to the emotions of the crowd
- Nothing there is worth your life
- Be prepared to leave
- December 7, 2013 Pistol Fighting Dynamics; Team Work in San Antonio TX
- December 8, 2013 Rifle Fighting Dynamics; Team Work in San Antonio TX
- Sign up for both days and get a discount!
- ShootersClubMembers.com Is the membership-training site that helps support this show. Members get extra audio and video content found nowhere else. The videos are all shooting how to about defending yourself with a gun. The audio has great interviews with giants in the self defense industry. All of it is stuff you will find only find here.
Thanks for checking out my Podcast. Please consider subscribing to my just my Pod cast RSS, or my entire Blog RSS by clicking the links. Get my podcast on iTunes, or Digital Podcast and now on Stitcher Radio.
This is the last post in the series (Part 1, Part 2). The last point is the most important and the one that could save your life if you ever have to defend yourself or your family. Iraq was tough and dangerous. I hope that some of the lessons learned will translate to you and your self defense. Don’t learn things the hard way when so many others have already done the bleeding for you. Here’s the last two things I learned during my first combat tour in Iraq: Sleep can be more important than life After being up almost all night preparing to move into Iraq, we finally crossed the border the next morning. For the next three days I don’t remember sleeping at all. It wasn’t until we finally stopped in the middle of nowhere to make a checkpoint that I finally sat down to sleep. I got about an hour before my Sgt was over me, yelling about me being weak and sleeping with my helmet off. There is an old joke about sleep being over-rated. Not so. As the first week wore on, I cared less and less about what was going on around me and more and more about sleep. We where moving 24 hours a day and were only getting 3-4 hours of broken sleep a day. It got to the point that we were the walking dead.
Ordnance Cooking off in a Fire, Iraq 2003
We finally stopped and all got sleep one night when it was just too dark to travel. There was a storm and heavy cloud cover. There was no light at all, it was pitch black. We stopped and just stayed in the truck. We slept on top of each other. I slept for a couple hours and then had to go to the bathroom. I got up and fell out of the truck (literally) and walked a couple yards to pee. I almost got lost coming back to the truck (it was only about 10 feet) and had to call out to my Marines to find my way back. I was so tired that I didn’t care and just laid down next to the back of the truck and slept. It as February and about 30 degrees out. I was so tired that I didn’t care about the cold and slept anyways, with only my gear and sweater on to protect me from the cold ground. My Marines woke me up the next morning and I was frozen to the ground. I was so cold that I couldn’t move, a couple Marines helped me up and then hugged me to get my blood flowing again. It was one of the scariest times of my life. Another hour and I may not have waken up. My hands were blue and I refused to look at my feet. Hypothermia had almost got me because I was so tired that I didn’t care. I know better than to just sleep on the ground when it’s that cold out, but did it anyways. You do what you have trained yourself to do 21 Days into the war we rolled into Baghdad. After fighting a little and then moving multiple times we took the UN Building back from what was supposed to be a bunch of fighters but turned out to be a bunch of looters. We set up the mortars in the back parking lot. A wrought-iron fence surrounded the lot. While it wouldn’t stop bullets, at least it would keep people from sneaking up on us. We had been there a couple hours and had “borrowed” a UN vehicle. The Doc and I were sitting in the vehicle, listening to the BBC talk about the things we had just done a couple hours ago. It was funny to hear the things you just finished doing as breaking news. A large salvo of AK fire came into our position. The doc bailed and I rolled out and took cover behind the front tire of the vehicle. A close friend was laying only 5 yards to my right in front of the vehicle. He looked at me and yelled RPG. I rolled right as fast I could away from the vehicle (AKA RPG magnet). I stopped when I bumped into him. He rolled away from me to create space. By the muzzle flashes, it looked like there was about a squad of them and there was about a squad of us. It doesn’t get much worst than that.
They had created fire superiority and had us all pinned down. I looked to my left and right and saw all of my Marines taking cover wherever they could. Some even behind a large sheet metal street sign because it was the only thing there. My friend and I were caught in the middle with nowhere to go and just hugged the earth as rounds snapped by over our heads. Enemy fighters were only 25 to 50 yards on the other side of the fence. I almost panicked and yelled at my Marines that had cover to return fire. One looked at me and said, “I don’t see them.” “I don’t care,” I yelled back. We had all trained “one shot, one kill” and weren’t suppose to fire unless we could see the target. I was screwed. I should have plucked a grenade from my gear and throw it to give us the advantage. I have read many books and stories from WWII about how a lot of the men fighting would use grenades more than their rifles to be more effective against the enemy, but I had never practiced or done this during training. I had also learned from men in Vietnam that firing a complete magazine on full auto was a good way to turn the tide of fire, but again, I had never practiced this and didn’t think of it at the time. And my Marines wouldn’t go against their training and fire at nothing, even under my direction. It wasn’t until one of the bad guys exposed himself and we all fired at the same guy that we started winning that fight. I popped to my knees to shoot over the grass and rocks in front of me at the lone fighter I could see. I fired a couple rounds and heard a bullet zing of the fence in front of me. My friend was nice and yelled at me to stop shooting the fence (nice guy). They retreated and dragged their wounded and dead off. We pulled back to cover and found some other Marines coming to help. One had an M203 40mm Grenade Launcher and had no problem lobbing grenades into the location the enemy had run to. We went back later and that’s when I took the above picture. That bullet that zinged off the fence was an incoming round at about neck height. In the dirt, right below the bullet, I could see my imprints of where I was kneeling and laying. If I had been standing the bullet probably would have been my end. Conclusion: I’ve read tons of books and learned from lots of people about combat and how it would be. None of it totally prepared me for what happened in Iraq. It’s okay to accept that we will never be totally prepared for a life and death fight. We just keep going and doing a little more all the time. But the most important lesson I learned was that you will do exactly what you trained yourself to do. Don’t pick up bad habits and when you learn a new technique (or something out of book) go out and practice it. You will never remember what you want to do, only what you have practiced to do. Stay Safe, Ben
This is the second post of three about the top things I learned in 2003 as a Marine in Combat (Top Things I Learned in Combat Part 1). I was part of 1st Marines and on the tip of the spear. There were times that I stepped foot where no American had ever been. My Company was assigned the job of taking Baghdad and was given flatbed trucks to transport us there. I was in over 11 gun battles during my first three months there. Here’s what I learned:
We moved through multiple places with a smell of death that was unmistakable. The burned bodies were the worst. Even long after the fires had been out and the bodies cooled, it was still the worst smell I’ve ever had assail my nostrils. The smell is so bad that you feel it affect you physically and even taste it. No matter what you did, scarfs, masks, or even gas masks, the smell was still there. It got into your clothes and I could smell it for hours after leaving the area. It’s a smell that I can’t and don’t have to explain. You will know it without a doubt when you are around it. I have pictures, but won’t post them for obvious reasons.
There are worse things than death
Lack of sleep, losing someone that trusted you to protect them, fear of letting down your team, fear of how the world will treat you, having your head chopped off on YouTube. It hit home for me when we did a raid looking for Saddam’s Fighters and found none. We set up an impromptu checkpoint and caught 15 fighters trying to escape. They were all in an 18-wheeler cab with a local driver. The driver helped us and then we helped him. We got to know him and he even gave us intel of enemy troop movements and areas to stay away from.
The next day I was tasked with a couple other Marines to go to the detention center to do paperwork (yes, even in combat there was paperwork) on the soldiers we captured. On the way, we saw that 18-wheeler parked empty by the side of the road. It hadn’t even been 12 hours since he left us. On the way back, I insisted (to my 1stSgt and Captain, I was only a Corporal) that we stop and check it out. They weren’t happy about risking the stop when there were only a handful of us, but I can be quite insistent. The driver was gone. It looked like he had been kidnapped while trying to add oil to the engine of his truck. I knew he wasn’t taken by any U.S. units because he wasn’t at the detention center. The enemy took him. The Iraqis taken by Iraqi fighters were lucky to only be executed. We found bodies mutilated by the enemy before being killed. All that guy talked about was getting home to his family. He had been caught up north when the war started and wanted to get back home. He helped us; trusted us; and hopefully it only cost him his life. It’s one, among others, that still haunt me.
The people you are with are worth more than your life
I never thought about dying. The truth was that it was a real possibility. The odds were against us. We were invading a country that had ample time to prepare, they had biological weapons, and we were out numbered about 7-1. Not good odds. But we went anyways. I knew that I was with some of the best Marines in the business and that if I died it would be because someone else got lucky or I screwed up. It wasn’t that my mistake could kill me, it’s that 20 Marines depended on me not to make a mistake and lead them into combat and bring them back. To be able to tell them what to do, how to do it, and make the right decision when it came to winning a fight.
On top of being responsible for the Marines in my section, we were the mortars section. The entire company depended on us to protect them with close in fire support. I was the FDC (Fire Direction Control), which means I directed the section on how and where to fire their mortars. If I messed up and missed when the Company was depending on me, lots of Marines could have died or worse, I could have miscalculated the other way and dropped rounds on my own Marines. That would have been a fate worse than death. We luckily lost no one during my first tour. But I would have gladly stepped in front of a bullet for any one of my Marines. I couldn’t face the possibility of making it back without them.
No matter how hard you are, there will be a time when you break down
The day we got to the outskirts of Baghdad, we found a traffic jam going over the river and into the city. It looked like the 405 Freeway just outside LAX on Friday night, only it was all armored vehicles waiting to get across the one bridge still standing. With nothing for us to do but wait our turn, we were tasked to head east and set up a blocking position to keep the enemy from attacking units as they crossed the river. Easy job. Only the best position for us to be in was already occupied by a destroyed Iraqi mounted unit. We took positions right next to what had been theirs. It looked like the Air Force had completely destroyed this unit. I set up my mortars next to three or four destroyed enemy vehicles.
We took turns sleeping next to the burned out vehicles for cover. The things that drove us all nuts was that the vehicles had burned to the ground, most with the enemy soldiers still in them. When we got there, the bodies and vehicles were still smoking. We held that position all night. I had the last sleep shift and slept next to a vehicle that smelled like death. It didn’t matter, I was so tired that I didn’t think about it. While I was sleeping, I got bit on the face by a spider or something. My helmet wouldn’t fit. I was brought to the doc who tried a Benadryl shot that failed. My world was in despair as we loaded up. It was a horrible night turning into a horrible day and the doc was worried that this could be my demise. A stupid bug bight! I got into the truck with all hope gone and just fell back asleep. My Marines were there to pick me up and took a picture to laugh about (the one above). When we moved away from the burned out vehicles, my fellow Marines were able to bring me back and the doc gave me another shot that actually worked. It was one of many times that I was just done and didn’t care what happened. I wasn’t going any further. It happens to all of us and I talked to many of my Marines during their down times. Some of those conversations still haunt me and I remember them like yesterday.
To be continued…