Kyle Cassel spent 4 years in the US Marine Corps and another 3 years as a private contractor assigned to the US Army. In that capacity, Kyle was deployed to multiple forward operating bases (FOBs) in southern and eastern Afghanistan, where he spent his days in small workshops and even smaller living quarters. In this wide ranging conversation, Kyle talks about learning cricket from soldiers of the Afghan National Army, the sensations of being under a rocket attack for the first time and how that experience became almost routine shortly after. We also discuss Kyle’s Marine Corps career and things he would’ve done differently and how he is striving to regain his purpose and find balance in civilian life. To that end, Kyle started his own podcast, 15 Minutes Prior, where he interviews fellow vets about their experiences.
You can find 15 Minutes Prior here https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/id1617189602
and on all major podcast directories and platforms.

Joe Winslow served in the US Marine Corps for 21 years. Enlisting in the late 1980s, Joe’s career took him to Germany as the Berlin Wall fell, to reserve status and then back to active duty and Officer Candidate School through multiple deployments, to the last years where he was Combat Historian in Iraq for the Corps as they battled al Qaeda and other Iraqi insurgents in the Battles of Fallujah. Joe was given carte blanche access to all levels of the fighting and time and again witnessed his fellow Marines give the last full measure, bringing terrible and overwhelming force to bear on the enemy under extreme duress and conditions. Joe is a true historian and in our conversation, he eloquently brings to life the incredible acts he witnessed and the bravery and deadly effectiveness of his fellow Marines. The heroism Joe witnessed from his fellow Marines inspired him to find a way in civilian life to honor all those who serve. That inspiration, combined with a passion for arts and crafts, led Joe to found the Tripoli Gift Company, which works with military, law enforcement, first responders and civically minded organizations of all kinds to build and maintain comprehensive award programs for their employees and supporters.

To learn more about Joe, his team and the Tripoli Gift Company, please visit:
https://tripoli-gift-co.myshopify.com

Kenneth Earl is a retired Navy Master Chief Cryptologist who spent 21 years in the Navy. Deploying around the globe multiple times throughout his career, Earl dealt with America’s most sensitive secrets and classified information, helping to keep America’s warfighters at the cutting edge of the battle space. After retiring from the Navy, Earl went on to work for multiple government agencies, combatting cyber crime of all kinds, intelligence operations, trafficking and all manner of threats to America’s interests. Earl is the author of Illegitimate Sun-How a Navy Cryptologist Cracked the Code of Life Lessons, in which he tells the story of growing up in poverty in South Carolina, to making his way to a successful Naval career and then to the highest reaches of the intelligence world. Earl writes most movingly of his mother, who raised 4 children alone and instilled toughness, resilience and character which prepared him to excel in life against long odds. Earl’s is a quintessential American story and an inspiring example of overcoming humble beginnings and creating a successful life through service, hard work, backbone and strong character.

Learn more about Kenneth Earl and order a copy of his book:
https://illegitimate-sun.com

Matthew Charette spent 5 years in the US Marine Corps. From a family of Marines and military service stretching back generations, Matthew knew early on he was going into the military, taking the ASVAB in 9th grade! Initially assigned to Fleet Anti-Terrorism/Security Forces, Matthew deployed to multiple locations in Europe. Later assigned to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines-Kilo Company, Matthew was deployed to Helmand, Afghanistan and was part of the initial assault of Operation Moshtarak, also known as the Battle of Marjah. Matthew takes us through his 8-month Afghanistan deployment in Marjah, part of a province bordering Pakistan thick with Taliban and al Qaeda. From the initial assault and daily gunfights to the more mundane aspects of establishing bases and patrolling, Matthew speaks movingly of his fellow Marines and their professionalism and dedication to duty, often under extreme conditions. Since leaving the Marine Corps, Matthew has linked up with fellow Marine and former guest Ryan Rogers (Episode #56), to create the Choices Not Chances podcast, giving a voice to former Marines, warfighters and people from all walks of life.

Listen, follow and subscribe to Choices Not Chances here:
https://anchor.fm/choicesnotchancespodcast/episodes/Choices-Not-Chances-Episode-2-e15ckcf

Christopher Strom spent four years in the US Marine Corps, twenty years as a police officer in the NYPD, retiring a sergeant with the NYPD Intelligence Division. In October 2007, Chris was recruited by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), a government agency that devised top-secret strategies for combating IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the lead tactical debriefing officer, he participated in over 110 combat missions and 91 captures of high-value targets (HVTs) in southern Iraq and performed more than 200 battlefield interrogations. Chris details his career and unique experiences in the book, Brooklyn to Baghdad-An NYPD Intelligence Cop Fights Terror in Iraq.
Chris’s book is a fascinating account of the gritty details of terrorist interrogation, infighting and politics within Big Army and moving accounts of bravery of the men and women he served with both in law enforcement and the military.
Chris appears regularly as a guest and law enforcement expert on Newsmax TV and you can follow Chris on Twitter: @BklyntoBaghdad
Instagram: @brooklyntobaghdad
Order your copy of Brooklyn to Baghdad here:
https://www.amazon.com/Brooklyn-Baghdad-Intelligence-Fights-Terror-ebook/dp/B07QLG15TB

Ryan Rogers served over a decade in the US Marine Corps. Inspired to join the Corps by the 9/11 attacks, Ryan’s service saw him deployed five times, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan. Ryan also had a ten month stint on the All-Marine Boxing Team, earning a 5-1 record. It was his deployment to Afghanistan as a Squad Leader in 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines in the Battle of Marjah, that formed the basis for his book, Lions of Marjah. In this conversation, Ryan describes this 7-month deployment to Marjah in riveting detail, including landing in the middle of a flooded poppy field, immediately taking fire from the Taliban, establishing posts, patrols, gun fights and most importantly, the bravery, dedication and sacrifice of the Marines he served with. After being medically retired in 2014, Ryan retired to school and completed his degree, released his war memoir, Lions of Marjah-Combat as I Saw It. and started the Choices Not Chances podcast, with fellow Marine and co-host Matthew Charette. Ryan now speaks to young Marines and law enforcement and has dedicated himself to bettering the warfighter community and providing an outlet for his fellow Marines to succeed in their service and as they transition out of the military.

Order your copy of Lions of Marjah here:
https://www.amazon.com/Lions-Marjah-Combat-As-Saw/dp/0578891220

Shaniqua Cousins spent 8 years in the US Navy. Originally from South Carolina, Shaniqua’s Naval service took her to frozen Maine, tropical Puerto Rico, Arctic Iceland, sunny Mediterranean Sicily and finally back to the US for a stint at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Shaniqua talks movingly about the Sailors and Marines who she served with and how her Naval service opened up the world to her and still fills her with a great sense of pride. Upon retirement, she founded Shaniqua Cousins World Group LLC,  a lifestyle brand dedicated to the creation of inspirational and transformative media content and resources for use by women that lead to positive life outcomes. Shaniqua’s also an author and a chef with a monthly live show from her kitchen, where she hosts friends and creates delicious, healthy home cooked meals.
Connect with Shaniqua and learn about all she does:
https://shaniquacousins.com

JB Spisso spent 26 years in the US Army, including a decade in special operations with the 75 Ranger Regiment. In a career that began with being among the first on the ground jumping into Panama and ended with a deployment to Afghanistan, Spisso has seen the Army go from the end of the Cold War to the height of the Global War on Terror. Spisso held multiple leadership positions in the Army during his career, including a stint at West Point.  Upon retirement, Spisso entered the leadership/mentorship space as a consultant and founded JBS Leadership Consultants. In that capacity, Spisso has worked with businesses, executives and sports franchises at the highest level, including teams from the NHL, NFL and NCAA. Spisso is the author of Warrior Leadership: Steps to Success for Leaders on the Ground.
To learn more about Spisso, order your copy of Warrior Leadership and to contact him, please visit:
https://www.jbsleaders.com

 

Maury Abreu spent 4 years in the US Marine Corps, including a year-long deployment in Iceland and being selected as a Close Combat Instructor. Maury then took a job as a corrections officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Shortly after 9/11, he began working for a government agency training individuals who operate globally and independently without backup, specifically in extreme close quarters combat and counterterrorism. Maury is the CEO and founder of Omega Protective Concepts, a company which teaches individuals  comprehensive skills for self defense and success in violent encounters of all kinds. The son of immigrants, Maury speaks with passion and conviction about his family, the opportunities that America and the Marine Corps gave him, and how the Corps set him up to navigate and succeed in life.
Learn more about Maury and Omega Protective Concepts:
https://omegaprotectiveconcepts.com

Toby Harnden spent a decade in the British Royal Navy, deploying Internationally multiple times, retiring from naval service in 1994. A graduate of Oxford, Harnden embarked on a career in journalism that has spanned three decades and sent him to 33 countries while working for The Daily Telegraph and Times of London. While posted in Belfast, Harnden covered the Irish Troubles and from those experiences, he wrote his first book, Bandit Country: The IRA and South Armagh (1999).  From 1999-2003, Harnden was the Daily Telegraph’s Washington bureau chief and was in D.C. on 9/11. He covered the Iraq War and later Afghanistan and from 2013-2019 was Washington bureau chief for The Sunday Times of London.  His second book was Dead  Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain’s War in Afghanistan (2011). Extensive research and multiple trips to Afghanistan led to his most recent book, First Casualty-The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11 (2021). This is the incredible story of the first Americans airlifted into the mountains of northern Afghanistan in October of 2001, linking up with the Northern Alliance and taking the fight to the Taliban, culminating in the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi, where America suffered its first casualty in Afghanistan, Mike Spann. Harnden takes us through the riveting story of the political machinations of Washington immediately after 9/11, the initial CIA advance teams, Green Beret ODAs and the various warlords and ethnic groups that made up the Northern Alliance.  Harnden also details his own fascinating career, from dealing with the IRA during the Troubles, to being detained by the Mahdi Army in Iraq, to being imprisoned in Zimbabwe.

You can learn more about Harnden and his books at: https://tobyharnden.com/
Follow Toby on Instagram: @tobyharnden1

Rydelle Nelson spent 6 years in the U.S. Air Force, with deployments across the globe.  Rydelle’s service ran the gamut, from 15 months in the desert in support of the Global War on Terror, to Korea (where he had to navigate a frozen hill in the middle of the night to the chow hall-not always successfully) to Key West working on drug and human trafficking interdiction in the Caribbean. Along the way, he took advantage of his leave and visited dozens of countries.

Currently completing training to obtain his pilot’s license, Rydelle plans on reenlisting in the Reserves or National Guard. Rydelle speaks movingly about what his service meant to him, the friendships he made with fellow service-members and how it expanded his view of the world, America and his place in it.

Will Jones spent 4 years (2004-2008) in the US Army, with 2 deployments to Iraq. Will’s second deployment was a 15 month hitch to Sadr City, Baghdad, where he and his fellow soldiers faced the Madhi Militia. After completing his service, Will came back home to Los Angeles, entered UCLA film school, and later took trips to Afghanistan and another film school in the Philippines. Will is an inferno of positive energy and he speaks frankly about some very dark times (as well as some very humorous ones), during his time in the Army. Will now devotes his time to helping veterans stay engaged, in shape and with a sense of purpose, with weekly beach workouts, rucking, boxing and numerous charities.

You can get your daily dose of inspiration by following Will on Instagram: @boomitsyourboywilljones

D.M. Scott spent 12 years in the Marine Corps, with deployments to Iraq twice (Ramadi, Fallujah) and Afghanistan. While in Iraq, he earned the nickname ‘Mutant’, for surviving multiple mortar and IED blasts, apparently unharmed.

But time would reveal deeper wounds in the form of traumatic brain injury, and D.M.’s road to recovery was a bumpy one that took him to some dark places. D.M. shares his road back to recovery through therapy and the restoring power of the ocean and surfing with the veteran non-profit One More Wave. This is a raw, revealing and inspirational conversation and we’re grateful to D.M. for taking a chance and sharing his story.

William Branum spent 26 years in the U.S. Navy, 23 of those as a SEAL. He deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan in the GWOT, and spent the last three years of his active duty service helping the SEAL teams acquire the funds and gear they needed to stay at the cutting edge.

William takes us through the grueling process of what it takes to become a SEAL, and the many important life lessons that he learned and skills he developed that we can all benefit from.
After retiring from the Navy, William jumped into the entrepreneurial world, starting his own consulting firm.

Brad Thomas spent 20 years in the U.S. Army, first as a Ranger and later as an operator in Delta Force, the Army’s Tier 1 special missions unit. Brad was deployed to Somalia and was on the ground in Mogadishu for the incident which became known as “Black Hawk Down.” Brad would later earn his way into ‘The Unit’-Delta Force, and go on to participate in some of the most consequential missions in the Global War on Terror.  

A lifelong musician, Brad continued to play guitar  throughout his military career and as he was getting close to retirement,  linked up with former Nirvana and Soundgarden guitarist Jason Everman, who had become a Ranger and a Green Beret.  Along with Tyson Stahl,  Fred Cowell, and Brandon Lundeen (also veterans), they formed the band Silence and Light.

Brian Andrews and Jeffery Wilson join the show. Both veterans of the U.S. Navy, Andrews was  a nuclear submarine officer and Wilson a combat surgeon who deployed multiple times over his fourteen year career with an East-coast based SEAL team. Together they form the writing duo of Andrews and Wilson, best selling authors of the Tier One Series, Sons of Valor and their latest release, Dark Intercept.

We cover what it’s like patrolling the depths of the ocean in a nuclear submarine, the mindset and leadership culture of the Navy SEALs, how Andrews and Wilson decided to team up as co-authors and some great details of their various stories and characters.

Colonel Dean Rondeau (Ret.-U.S. Army) joins the show. Rondeau’s Army career spanned 38 years (17 active duty, 21 Reserve/National guard), and included multiple international deployments to Panama, the Balkans and 2 deployments to Iraq (OIF). Rondeau’s unique career saw him enter the Army as it was transitioning from the Vietnam era, and retire well into the Global War on Terror.

Multilingual, Rondeau served as an Intelligence Officer, Civil Affairs, Airborne, Infantry and more. This was a fascinating, wide ranging discussion and Rondeau’s insights on leadership, the lessons of history, granular details of Iraqi society and culture, warfare and much more are thought-provoking and refreshingly direct.

Adam Martin joins the show. Adam spent 6 years in the US Army as an MP, including a 15 month deployment to Iraq. Adam’s unit was responsible for escorting and guarding convoys on the road from Kuwait to Baghdad was under constant attack from IEDs, RPGs and small arms fire. Adam gives a riveting account of his deployment, including a split-second decision, narrowly avoiding a massive IED.

In his civilian career, Adam has done virtually every job in law enforcement has to offer, including  corrections officer, patrol, narcotics, firearms instructor, to name a few. Adam is also the founder and frontman for the southern rock band, Blackbird Anthem. Blackbird Anthem is based in Florida and Texas and plays across the country at festivals, veteran events, traditional venues, and more. Their new album is out now, Whiskey Confessions.

LT. Arabia Shanklin (active duty-US Navy), joins the show. A graduate of the US Naval Academy, Arabia’s first tour was as a Surface Warfare Officer on the USS Simpson, where she deployed twice to the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf.  After the Simpson was decommissioned, Arabia was assigned to the USS Whidbey Island, where she served as the Command Training Officer and Legal Officer. She later served as Flag Aide to the Commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3.  Arabia’s naval career has taken her on deployments to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf.  In addition to her Naval career, Arabia is an actress and model, having appeared in films, TV shows and commercials and in Vogue magazine. She is also one of the twelve servicewomen selected to be painted as part of Proudly She Served, which highlights women military veterans and their service and raises awareness of the challenges many women face when transitioning to life outside of the military.

Learn more about Arabia and Proudly She Served: https://www.proudlysheserved.com

We diverge a bit on this show from the military to the intelligence world. J.T. Patten has spent a career working for various government intelligence agencies. He was a counterterrorism intelligence advisor and worked with the military special operations community in support of national defense and policy. J.T.’s areas of expertise include Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, cyber insider threat detection, transcontinental financial crime, and for Irregular and Unconventional Warfare strategies in counterterrorism, intelligence collection, and social network disruption.  On top of it all, J.T. is also the author of multiple military/espionage thrillers, including the Task Force Orange series  and Sean Havens Black Ops novels. His latest book is Shadow Masters.

You can learn more about J.T. at:
https://jtpattenbooks.com