ManKind Podcast

155 - Honoring The Fallen: Veterans’ Stories of Sacrifice, Survival, and Remembrance

May 28, 2024 Brandon Clift Episode 155
155 - Honoring The Fallen: Veterans’ Stories of Sacrifice, Survival, and Remembrance
ManKind Podcast
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ManKind Podcast
155 - Honoring The Fallen: Veterans’ Stories of Sacrifice, Survival, and Remembrance
May 28, 2024 Episode 155
Brandon Clift

How do veterans grapple with the emotional weight of Memorial Day? Join us for a deeply moving Memorial Day episode of the Mankind Podcast, where we revisit a conversation from our Masks Off Monday series. Featuring a heartfelt panel discussion with five veterans, including Dean Ray, a former Marine Corps helicopter crew chief, who shares a poignant piece he wrote. This episode dives into their personal stories of loss, survival, and the importance of keeping the memories of their fallen comrades alive.

From the harrowing experiences of deployment to the unyielding bonds forged in the battlefield, our veterans offer an unfiltered glimpse into their lives. Hear the raw emotions tied to events such as funerals, helicopter crashes, and the impact of IEDs. Learn how communal respect and acts of kindness play crucial roles in honoring their sacrifices and providing solace to those left behind. This episode also explores how staying connected with loved ones evolves over time and the heavy burden of survivor's guilt.

This episode is a profound tribute to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to carry the scars of their service. Discover how civilians can support veterans, honor their sacrifices, and embody the admirable traits of those we've lost. Whether you're a veteran, a family member, or someone eager to understand and support those who have served, this conversation offers invaluable insights and a heartfelt tribute to our heroes.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How do veterans grapple with the emotional weight of Memorial Day? Join us for a deeply moving Memorial Day episode of the Mankind Podcast, where we revisit a conversation from our Masks Off Monday series. Featuring a heartfelt panel discussion with five veterans, including Dean Ray, a former Marine Corps helicopter crew chief, who shares a poignant piece he wrote. This episode dives into their personal stories of loss, survival, and the importance of keeping the memories of their fallen comrades alive.

From the harrowing experiences of deployment to the unyielding bonds forged in the battlefield, our veterans offer an unfiltered glimpse into their lives. Hear the raw emotions tied to events such as funerals, helicopter crashes, and the impact of IEDs. Learn how communal respect and acts of kindness play crucial roles in honoring their sacrifices and providing solace to those left behind. This episode also explores how staying connected with loved ones evolves over time and the heavy burden of survivor's guilt.

This episode is a profound tribute to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to carry the scars of their service. Discover how civilians can support veterans, honor their sacrifices, and embody the admirable traits of those we've lost. Whether you're a veteran, a family member, or someone eager to understand and support those who have served, this conversation offers invaluable insights and a heartfelt tribute to our heroes.

Text Us Your Feedback! (Likes, Dislikes, Guest/Conversation Recommendations).

Support the Show.

Additional Resources:

Magic Mind:
Get 20% Off Your Subcription

Subscribe/Rate/Review on iTunes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐: >>>HERE<<<
Stay in the loop with powerful figures in the world of Men's Work.

Find A Men's Circle Near You: https://mkpusa.org/mens-group
With over 1000+ Men's Circles (Virtual + In-Person) worldwide, men are waiting to welcome you into a kind, supportive and safe brotherhood of men. FREE Online Men's Groups are available every week.

The Men's Work: https://mkpusa.org/themenswork/ In just three short weeks we’ll give you a solid foundation for moving ahead in your life, and you won’t be going alone. Cohorts Launch Every Month

🎵Listen To Jim Donovan & The Sun King Warriors:


Speaker 2:

G'day and welcome to another episode of the Mankind Podcast. I'm your host, brandon Clift, and today we are going into the vault of episodes that we have recorded. In fact, last year, on Memorial Day, we invited a bunch of veterans onto the show to honor those that we have recorded. In fact, last year, on Memorial Day, we invited a bunch of veterans onto the show to honor those that they have loved and lost in war and in the service and this discussion the reason we wanted to pull it out of the vault is because of just how poignant it was. In fact, this was the previous show that we used to have called Masks Off Monday.

Speaker 2:

Not masks like that we wore for the pandemic, not PPE equipment. It was masks off as in. We take our metaphorical masks off to connect and be real. And that's what you're going to hear in this conversation with five incredible men that have risked their lives, risked their health for our freedoms and so internally grateful for these men to join us. They're going to give their perspectives on their friends that they've lost, on what it means to make the ultimate sacrifice and how you maybe someone who hasn't served can support those who have, and at the end, you're going to hear some really cool insights into what you can do to really honor those that you know. What may have come out of the service a little worse for wear and maybe not as good as when they went into it.

Speaker 2:

So I hope you enjoy this special commemorative episode of the Mankind Podcast, a group panel discussion for Memorial Day. Enjoy All righty G'day guys. Brandon Clifton here from from the mankind project and I'd like to welcome you to episode 37 of masks off monday, a very special episode this week coming to you as we commemorate memorial day here uh, here in the united states, and so we wanted to do something special to uh to honor those that we've uh, that we've honor those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, for our liberties, for our had with us, and just create a cool discussion to kind of chat about. Like, what does memorial day mean to uh to us here? Of course, I myself haven't served, so I'm going to be a fly on the wall and uh and be here mainly just to facilitate things going on, but to kick things off. Dean ray, um, my man, if you could uh introduce yourself service branch and share with us a little piece that you wrote up this morning.

Speaker 4:

Hey everyone, my name is Dean Ray. I was in the Marine Corps. My job in there was actually a helicopter crew chief, which is essentially just flying around on aircraft working on the door guns and then being an in-flight mechanic when the case needed. So I wrote a little something today, just kind of share with my own internal monologue. I wrote a little something today just kind of share with my own internal monologue. I know Memorial Day for a lot of veterans is kind of a interesting holiday, if you will, because a lot of us are dealing with a lot of loss and we aren't sure how to even be in these type of moments. So today I just kind of want to share my thoughts on this as I kind of mold that idea over. So today, as with every Memorial Day, it can feel a bit strange for those of us that are still here to observe the occasion. There's a lot of conflicting emotions about what you should be thinking and what you should be doing, and I think the answer to those concerns are very dependent on the experiences you've had, and there really isn't a wrong answer to those really personal questions we ask ourselves.

Speaker 4:

Something that's held true to me throughout the years is that sharing memories of the people we lost it actually ensures they're still making impression on my life and the lives of people around me. The reasons I think we mourn their losses is twofold. So first, we miss our friends. We know that their families are experiencing this same sense of loss that we are and their families are feeling with an intensity that we just can't really fathom. We can only observe and respect that burden that they're carrying for the rest of their lives and that weighs really heavy on many of us. The second part is the fact that each of these people that we met, that we respected. They brought some sort of unique perspective to the world and these perspectives changed others around them for the better in some kind of way. And now that influence is gone. So the world lost something special that can't be replaced and like that. That's pretty tragic. So how do you deal with those realities in a way that feels right and in a way that feels respectful to the memories of those people, without feeling depressed and wallowing in self pity and just putting yourself in a way that feels respectful to the memories of those people, without feeling depressed and wallowing in self-pity and just putting yourself in a bad place every single year.

Speaker 4:

What I personally do is I try to reflect on who they were, what they did that made the world a brighter place. I isolate a lot of the traits that made me actually look up to them, things like dedication to their jobs, their families, the people around them, kindness whenever you know the situation wasn't necessarily primed for kindness Optimism under really bad circumstances, intellectual curiosity and, really fundamentally, a desire to help others and just make the world a little better. I do what I can to try to keep a lot of those things alive, through a lot of the stories I tell and through a lot of the actions I take, as I'm, you know, moving forward in life. Because, as I discussed before, the most tragic thing is that they did all these things that helped make me a better person and the people around us better, but now they're missing from the lives of, you know, the people that love them and a lot of the people that never had the opportunity to meet them. So, in my opinion, the best way to honor the people we've lost is striving just to be a little bit more like them in regards to those special character traits that really change our lives.

Speaker 4:

Often, that bar is set a lot higher than we're ever going to actually reach. But if we're pushing that way and we're trying to get in that direction, then we're going to feel a lot of those echoes in society through the actions that we're taking and the people that we're starting to become as we're trying to hit those those high bars. So they may be physically gone, but they're with each of us and they're just pushing us to be better versions of ourselves if we take that approach. So, um, that's just kind of what was on my mind today. I just wanted to share it with everybody, uh, and I'll just kind of turn it over back to brandon beautiful man, beautiful, shared from the heart, shared from experience.

Speaker 2:

And now let's take this opportunity to uh to do introductions. Dean thanks for uh for introducing yourself, and so I'll call it out. We'll work our way around, and so canis take it away. Mate, tell us a little bit about yourself, and uh introduce yourself yeah, thanks, and uh, nice job there, dean.

Speaker 5:

I really appreciate those great words. Um, for myself, um, I joined the marine Corps right out of high school, went there before, between there and college, but was really just motivated out of a sense of really patriotism, like it might be one of the more altruistic things you do in your life where you just really feel committed to serve. And I think I knew since the time I was a little kid that I wanted to be in the Marine Corps. So no real surprise there. But I ended up in Marine Corps infantry. I was a infantry rifleman and then over to the third reconnaissance battalion and I was in 85 to 89.

Speaker 2:

Beautiful Thanks for being here, mate Dave.

Speaker 6:

Thanks, brandon. You know I'm just grateful and honored to be here, especially on a on Memorial Day. You know a lot of respect for, for the Mankind Project and the things that things that are happening there and, um, you know, being able to to be here, this is, uh, I was telling Brandon earlier today this, this is my absolute favorite holiday. You know, there there are a lot of other other reasons to celebrate and and experience life and and and and spend time with family and friends and whatnot, but this is this is one of the most touching and most most important things that I think we can do is to to remember, honor and respect those that have sacrificed either, you know, just just just their time serving, and especially those that have given their lives and the families that lost their loved ones to be able to make sure that freedom and opportunities are available for the rest of us. So I'm grateful to be here with the rest of these great veterans and just be able to have this conversation. So my name is Dave.

Speaker 6:

I joined the Army in 2000. So I went into the 82nd Airborne, got to jump out of airplanes for a few years. I was in a support battalion so got to support the infantry, which was again one of the most satisfying things that I got to do. You know it wasn't in the fight, but able to support the fight and work with guys to help make sure that they made it home safely was really satisfying and I'm just happy to be here. Thanks, brandon.

Speaker 2:

Beautiful day. Thanks for that, mate and Alex.

Speaker 7:

Yeah, hey, alex here. Thanks, brandon for having me and thanks for inviting us on for this Memorial day. I joined the Marine Corps a little bit after high school. I took the summer off to party and make mistakes before I ran off to join. I joined in, signed the papers in 2014, no 2004,. And then joined in 2005 as a heavy equipment operator, deployed to Iraq as a machine gunner on top of a Humvee cause they just don't need heavy equipment operators out there at the time, um. And then I moved to do reconnaissance um first reconnaissance battalion camp in California and did a deployment to Afghanistan for seven months and then got out. Yeah, so that's kind of my short little military bio.

Speaker 2:

Beautiful, alex. Thanks for checking in. Mate and Philip cross the pond.

Speaker 3:

Hey ho, everybody, it's a little bit about me. I know Brandon through the Mankind Project and so I'm grateful for the invitation here today. Dean, some beautiful words and a really interesting perspective, and I guess I've done that, but not with that kind of consciousness, so I'm going to invite some of that into my life and probably spread it that way. Beautiful, thank you for that. Um, I say grateful to brandon and the invitation here today. Uh, I joined the army in june of 88 and uh got out in um on the leaked day of 2004, so 29 February. I was infantry for the majority of that time and loved the physicality and the camaraderie of the job, embraced that part. I ended up getting out basically because I couldn't see any more progress for me just because of a knee injury that I got, and so I went from being a physical training instructor through to a physical health and education teacher outside of the army. When I got out I served on operations in Somalia in 93 and East Timor in 2001.

Speaker 2:

Beautiful Philip. Thanks for checking in, mate Alex. First things first, mate, I want to start with you. What does this day mean to you? For you personally, is this, is this something is, and are there any particular like rituals or things that you like to to do during a day like today?

Speaker 7:

uh. So this day, you know a lot of it is about the family of the people who've passed um. So there are a lot of people, there's a handful of people that I know um, that I follow their, their parents' Facebooks, right, or there are pages that they started for these people to honor them Um, and for me, you know, I I just think about them. I've been through um. You know, one of the worst experience I had in the military was just going to a funeral and hearing just the wails and the cries of the family.

Speaker 7:

So for me, like, I think about those people and I think about the loss of the family, of the people that are still here that are continuing to suffer something that happened a decade or more ago, you know, I think about the girlfriends they would have had, the children they could have had, I think of all those things and I'm just really grateful and lucky that, you know, it wasn't my vehicle that ran over that IED, right, or it wasn't me that was shot.

Speaker 7:

You know it wasn't me in the Humvee that rolled over. You know I'm grateful that wasn't me in the Humvee that rolled over. You know I'm grateful that I wasn't the one to happen to have that experience. But I know people who have, I know people who've survived that as well. So, you know, for me Memorial Day is also for the people that are disfigured, the people who you know have difficulty holding a job, who can't sleep, who need to take medication every single day just to function in society. So for me, Memorial Day is just really remembering um, a lot of the suffering that's been happening and uh, and I typically uh go shopping cause there are lots of really good sales on Memorial Day.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, I'll end it on that note and uh, and so you bring up, really really you know, the thing that stuck out the most for me was remembering. You know, and it's an opportunity to remember, and so, canis, and I'm curious, how do you choose to remember those that that we've lost, and what? What are your thoughts on, on some ways that we can focus on, perhaps the the positive side side to the lives of those people that we had with us?

Speaker 5:

Yeah, I don't know that I have a particularly great answer to that, but I guess what I find myself doing is a lot like Alex talked about. There was a moment where I got on a helicopter and I stepped off because we got transferred over to another helicopter last second and we took off and Alex or Dean would tell you and Alex anybody, or I guess everybody in this group, but anybody who's been in helicopters knows they're really loud. Like you can't really hear much and usually you get on the thing and you're not too stressed. Like you know, they're given a life vest or you've got I don't know, dean, what's the proper word for the headphones we're given with a little helmet. But you know, you kind of slap that stuff on. You don't really strap it up, you kind of have a seatbelt near you but you don't really put that thing on. And all of a sudden, like you could just hear, the crew chief is clear as day go, oh fuck, and our helicopter just spun and we just dropped and we didn't know what was going on. But we knew we were loaded down with a ton of gear, a lot of rope, rescue gear and stuff, and started chucked it off. But um, very quickly our helicopter regained control and then what we could see was the helicopter that we had just been on, that we just got transferred out of it, just crashed into the ocean.

Speaker 5:

And so I think about this moment a lot. I think about some other things, but in particular, you know, I ended up losing 15 friends that night. We managed to save eight, but it was a. You know, I'm even getting kind of choked up now, but it's a crazy moment. And in particular, I was chatting with this. I think it was probably a second or first lieutenant from the state platoon that was with us who happened to be sitting on that helicopter where I sat and he didn't make it out, and but what I often think about is that conversation we're having. We're actually had come out of Hong Kong and we've been drinking a lot of really good wine and, you know, running around over there, and that's kind of what we were chatting about. So I often think that like those moments like if I never had a chance to um talk to his family, but like there was anything I could tell him was just sort of this moment of happiness that we were actually having, like right before this like crazy, tragic thing happened. So I find that I'm quite often usually on a trail someplace, I'm uh, doing some sort of running usually, or mountain biking or whatever it is, and quite often I'm alone and you know, I think about this moment in particular and feel how lucky and grateful I feel to have escaped that, you know.

Speaker 5:

And then later in life you start to realize not to get too off topic, but just so by chance, there's a video that's out there and it's of a helicopter crashing off the back of the fantail of a ship and it's with First Force reconnaissance, and someone had reached out to me, I think I'm trying to remember now. It was the father of one of the guys Starling anyways, who was on the crash and I probably have seen this video, I don't know, maybe half a dozen times that just floats around the internet and of course I feel this point of connection to it, given my experience. But then what really rocked me was, literally just two years ago I found out one of my buddies was on that and didn't survive and Ski didn't make it, and I had no idea, like I probably watched that video, just like, oh my God, look at this. And then to find that out, you know, kind of rocked me a little bit. And I think as you go through time, like you, you learn about different friends of yours and people you were stationed with that feel like brothers, that you know you go off to different units and people are doing different things. Then you hear these stories.

Speaker 5:

You know, I think about a buddy of mine, jt, that I was roommates with and luckily for him he survives this experience and it's almost kind of a funny moment because he essentially got shot in the ass and he's got a ton of photos of him laying on the ground with his friends, you know, like patching them up and them goofing around, but uh, so it's a long, convoluted answer, but I think about all of these things. For me personally I don't really ever talk about them, but like it's usually what's in my head, um, and then you know there's this kind of weird uh experience of pre 9-11 service to post 9-11 service and the way people treat you for like the entire time after I got out, maybe somebody would say tell me about the brainwashing when you're in the military. They think the entire military is bootcamp. You know, they kind of yeah, that was sort of what they pictured. And then you get to this post 9-11 reality where people now say thank you for your service and like that kind of stuff didn't happen.

Speaker 5:

So there's a greater awareness of Memorial Day, I think in the States, than there was prior, and probably appropriately and like people understanding it more and respecting it more. But then I sometimes find people that are starting to feel guilty about enjoying their barbecue or something, and I guess my other sort of thought is like it's okay to enjoy that moment. It's, it's just that's why people join the service and why these people make the sacrifice. And it's not that's okay to enjoy that moment. It's, it's just that's why people join the service and why these people make the sacrifice. And it's not that they wanted to, but it just happened. And sometimes you know you're you're not expecting it and all of a sudden it's there and that's your reality. But uh, it's okay to celebrate and enjoy that day and and that's I find some balance in that is what I look for I think that wound your buddy got in the butt talks is what they call a million dollar wound.

Speaker 5:

No, maybe only for bragging rights for JT. I think you know JT had gone out and got an SF and like and I'm not sure what happened. But he's taken a ton of grief from getting shot in that particular position, as did a buddy of his at the time, but I'm glad he he, you know really is okay.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, that's, yeah, thank goodness, good to hear, and you know, that seems to be a common sentiment. Now, which, which is really great to hear, is about. You know, let's enjoy these liberties, let's enjoy these, these things that we have, these moments that we can share with our families, that you know, who knows how history could turn out without the sacrifice of those that have, you know, sacrificed their lives and so anyone else, have anything on their heart that they want to share in relation to any stories I just want to touch base from a an australian perspective to when I uh, last couple years I've done a bit of travel through the US.

Speaker 3:

I'm going to say just that difference that you speak about, cass, about the gratitude post, pre and post 9-11.

Speaker 3:

My travel in the States, and just especially through airports in particular, and the announcements that come over about thank you for military people in our service and then escalating their travel to try and get home to family and wherever they're travelling a bit faster or make it a little bit more pleasant for military people.

Speaker 3:

I found that really catholic as travelling through the States, that there was some kind of gratitude in the uh, in the open, um, as compared to australia, we just uh, it seems to be we only remember our fallen on our memorial day and um, and maybe remembrance day, so twice a year, and other than that it's not really paid attention to. So I found that really helpful to appreciate my service, because for a long time there I felt and still do it's that really weird thing about Memorial Days of both being grateful that I'm alive and survived my time but also guilty for having survived it when I know so many others haven't. So yeah, it's a really weird duality that I think Dean mentioned before. Yeah, it can be a tough day at times, but I look forward to sharing a beer with my fellow soldiers, peers that are still around, and having these kinds of chats and connecting, remembering the stories, the funny stories, and and remembering the names, the names of the people that, uh, are no longer with us.

Speaker 5:

and yeah, add in um, you know, not sure because you were in. Uh, you know you got in right when I was in too, and there's also like this difference of, uh, social media. Um. So, like you know, when I first got in and I was over there like you didn't have a cell phone, there were no computers, there was no social media and a lot of my guys I was in with actually talked about that like great times because there was no other way to have an interaction with someone like you were just with the guys who were stationed with. But it's interesting, I here we have this a group called National Ability Center.

Speaker 5:

The National Ability Center in Park City, utah, does incredible work for all kinds of people with all kinds of different disabilities. There can be physical and mental challenges. They've really started to tap into helping veterans now, obviously with PTSD and other issues. But you can be a small child or an adult or somebody that maybe you're a para or're a paraquad or you know an amputee or something. And this is a place you would go to and I got invited down to. I think they called like Salute Our Heroes and it was this thing where they were basically doing a giant fundraiser, but I actually went until just a couple years ago. I haven't really been hanging out with anybody anybody that I was in the military with because we all kind of lost contact until Facebook came around. And now I've regrouped with a lot of them, which has been incredible, and even like being here with you guys right now.

Speaker 5:

This is probably one of the more I don't know focused or dedicated times of being around other you know, vets or military people that I've had, like you know, you know the, the lingo that we can use, like, uh, that other people wouldn't know what we're talking about.

Speaker 5:

But so I had that experience.

Speaker 5:

I went down to this Saluter Heroes, this fundraising event, and and the Marines in the group will like laugh, so I've been away from this thing for a long time and I could feel like, hey, I'm back home, I'm with you know, my, my brothers and sisters here.

Speaker 5:

But so they said all the people in the Air Force stand up, put all the people in the Army. And then, when they said the Marine Corps, like, without, like knowing where anybody else was or who was there, of course, you let out this loud hurrah, you know, and I was very happy to find out that every single other one did the same thing and I wasn't like some jackass who did it by myself. But I find this is a unique experience, this idea of being around other people that have been in the military, because I I really feel like I got out and spent all my time not on purpose, but just away from it, um, so it's kind of nice to actually reconnect with other people that have been in yeah, you remind me of actually a funny story too when you talk about the difference between social media connection back to civilization too.

Speaker 3:

Whilst on deployment, I know that when I first deployed to Somalia in 93, I was a young, single bloke and the only way we could get contact back well, we had mail, but that took so long for stuff to get back and forth. We had once a week we'd have a 10-minute radio call that would go halfway around the world to be able to then talk to someone through a phone at home. It was so much hassle because I was single and I didn't really care about it. I used to trade my 10 minutes for the married guys so they'd have extra time to talk to their families and stuff which was quite profitable, stuff which was quite profitable, but it used to and been hard and green as I was back then. These the married guys would come back and they'd be all in tears and going I miss my family, I miss my kids and all this stuff. And I was like, yeah, harden up, get over it.

Speaker 3:

And when I went to Timor and I had and at that time I had a wife and kids as well and we just started to get essentially a mobile phone that we could use to a satellite phone that we could use to call back to Australia. So it was a direct call, still about 10-15 minutes we had, and we had access to some email if we wanted to. I remember coming to those calls and coming back from there I'd be coming back to my tent and I'd be all in tears and going I miss my wife, I miss my kids. Jeez, I just need to give myself an uppercut. Like you can't believe who is this guy, that marriage and children can change a man's perspective on life. And why is there two? How about you guys?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I have to agree with you there. I think that's kind of what I think makes things like this particular day real right, because I think we've all experienced a lot of interesting activities and it's a lot different whenever it's just you and your own world, experiencing your own good and high and low points, versus if you have a family to share it with or a family that's gonna either reap the rewards of the good things that have happened or deal with the fallout of the bad things that have happened, and it really is an interesting experience. I was kind of thinking back to what you were talking about earlier with the respect in the airports and the like, and I think that stuff does matter in a way that maybe not in like the hero worship kind of way, like that. I think that it's often portrayed which is I don't really like personally, but more in a way where I think it's therapeutic for a lot of families who they're trying to find purpose in like the loss of a loved one or, you know, the loss of who that person was, if they come back kind of a shell of themselves and I it kind of brings to mind a couple of a couple of people that I there's a lot of people I, you know, I've lost, friends, I've lost, but there's this two in particular, kind of stand out, um, just cause I was so close to the kind of the fallout and the family at that. Um, so one was, uh, lance Corporal Little. So, in in February of 2012, there was a helicopter crash and we lost several Marines, um, and one of them was Lance Corporal Little, who actually took my place on the flight that night.

Speaker 4:

So, to the survivor's guilt, like, completely understand, like that thing eats, that stuff eats away at you. Um, but I was really tight with him and, uh, his family requested that I escorted, you know, his, his remains back to Georgia, where he was from. Um, and so, going through that experience, it, uh, it changed me a lot because you know you go in you, you, just you. It changed me a lot because you know you go in. You just, you're just kind of this dumb kid who's just trying to, you know, go into the military cause it's cool, or, you know, they're patriotic, whatever your motivations are. And now, all of a sudden, you're in this world where, like you know, a family has had a loved one pulled away from them, a husband or, you know a wife no longer has a husband, a child no longer has a dad. You know family like fathers, mothers they don't have a son, brothers, sisters no longer had their brother like it's a very, it's a very difficult situation.

Speaker 4:

And being there firsthand and kind of dealing with that myself, I remember whenever we went to go, you know, pick up his remains from where he was and get to that airport in San Diego on the way to Georgia it was, it was kind of a different thing. Like you said, I was walking through the airport in the dress blues and I think a lot of people understood what was happening. There was a lot of somber respect going on. Whenever we were loading the caskets up and down the different airplanes we were on, everybody was kind of standing up very somber saluting type stuff. They had people on the flight decks, they had full escorts for the remains. As we left the airport and we were going down motorcades and there was just people surrounding the streets just to show up in town. And then, once we got in town, we did this whole experience. We ended up having the actual funeral itself and then going to take him to where he's actually going, to his final resting place there in Georgia, in the military cemetery, and I would say for a good 20, 30 miles, there were just cars lining the sides of the freeway, people just kind of paying their respects, pulled over in the middle of rush hour traffic in, like the Atlanta area which would be, like you know, full on LA, just pulled over, completely shut down. It was very interesting and while, like I said before, like I don't really like that you know, hero worship dynamic, I think that happens with living veterans but like letting their family see that and kind of seeing, like how much people actually cared and like gave a shit about their loss, like I wanted to be supportive, I noticed it was very therapeutic for the loved ones and it meant a lot, um, so, uh, I had done that particular experience with Eric Siemen, so me and him were, um, we were part of the escorts who came back.

Speaker 4:

And then in 2015, after I got out of the military, uh, I was in in class one day and I got a text from a friend saying that there was a incident in Nepal after the earthquake happened.

Speaker 4:

So Eric Siemen was there with a group of other friends who I know, um, and they, they ended up crashing a helicopter providing humanitarian relief for the people in Nepal, you know, trying to save lives out there for people who really didn't have anywhere else to turn.

Speaker 4:

And so since I was close with his wife, or now his widow because of that initial experience with Corey Little, she asked me to kind of come over and just be there with the family through everything that was happening.

Speaker 4:

And I basically just watched a repeat of that exact scenario where all of Southern California shut down from the San Diego airport for about a two hour drive into Temecula, like there was completely freeway shut down, people lining every single like on the sides, people over the overpasses, and while you know you can't bring people back and you can't replace what they were to, you know the lives of the people who lost them. I do think displays like that do mean a lot to give purpose to that loss and it creates a little bit more of a, of a meaning instead of just you know why? Why did this happen? This, you know there's there's, no, there's no point. None of this like it changes it into a dynamic where people are actually like proud of what they did, the sacrifices they put in, because they know it matters to the world, not just to them. So, um, I don't know, I just kind of wanted to get that out there and just see what you guys thought about that.

Speaker 6:

Yeah, I think that's some, some fantastic points. And, you know, while you're, while you're talking about that, I was thinking too that, uh, those displays are, are fantastic. You know, it used to kind of bug me sometimes when I'd see like those, uh, those yellow ribbon bumper stickers that people had, like that's, that's really nice, but I mean, what, what is that doing for somebody? Um so so when people actually take the time to, you know those experiences where somebody buys somebody a meal in a restaurant or you know, like Phil was saying, about upgrading somebody on their flight, those little things make a big difference. Well, I think another thing that we get from that too, is we have those kinds of things going on, that I think that's really good for us as a society as well. You know, it's really therapeutic and good for the families and the individual veterans to get that kind of recognition.

Speaker 6:

But, you know, as we see those kind of things, we're often so disconnected from the suffering that's in the world or the hardships or the sacrifices that are made.

Speaker 6:

You know, having these things, having these things displayed and having Memorial Day, where you have you know big events where you have, you know the cemeteries that are just lined with flags and all the different parades and displays and all those kinds of things, to be able to bring all the sacrifices back to the remembrance of people.

Speaker 6:

You's so many good tributes that are made all the time. It just helps us to remember and recognize that we have so much to be grateful for. There are so many people that have given so much that we need to live our lives in such a way that the sacrifices that have been made mean something. So we can we can, we can carry the the memory of those, those people, forward and living the best of the lives that we have. So, you know, I think that's the best tribute that we can, we can do for those, those that have made that sacrifice. You know, memorial day, like I said, it's a one of my favorite holidays and I I think that the best way to celebrate that is that you have somber moments amidst a celebration.

Speaker 6:

You know I think it's great and kind of meaningful that Memorial Day in America is the beginning of summertime. You know, it's the beginning of all the growth and all the great things that happen through summer and there's kind of that rebirth that we go through every single year and we can look at that in the same way with Memorial Day that there are so many sacrifices, so many people have died, so many people have given so much to make all the freedoms and all the possibilities available for the rest of us yeah, yeah, absolutely yeah.

Speaker 7:

I wanted to add I really like that point that memorial day really, for a lot of people is the start of summer. It's the start of, like, um, really good things about to happen, good things happening. Um, and you know, that's what a lot of people join the service for is because they want their families to continue to be able to have those those good times. Right, like, I know, when I was deployed, I missed, you know, 4th of July. I missed Halloween's. I missed, you know, years of pop culture. You know, I came back I didn't know what the good best songs were, I didn't know what movies people were watching. You know, it's like, it's like I was in a coma for two years. Um, you know, and I come back and, uh, everyone's different. You know, your, your siblings are older, your parents are older, they're driving new cars, they live in new houses. Uh, the world moved on without you and, uh, that's kind of a a difficult reality sometimes for some people. Um and uh, you know I'm I'm grateful for a lot of the benefits that we get as veterans, like the GI bill and, um, you know, the VA loan and things like that.

Speaker 7:

But that's not why I joined. You know I, I I thought I was going to join and I was going to be eating, you know, bread, water, potatoes maybe, and you know my life was going to suck for four years and I was going to get out and have to figure things out on my own. I was pleasantly surprised at all the benefits that a lot of us veterans are getting, but there's still so much more that we can do. There are a lot of veterans who are still suffering. There are a lot of families that are still suffering. There are a lot of families that are still suffering too.

Speaker 7:

You know, we honor the veterans and, like Philip, like you were saying, it was really difficult for you and a lot of your fellow service members when they miss their families. But you know we have families that were. They were crying just as much as we were, or even more. I feel like they deserve a lot of the benefits that we're getting. They deserve the discounts and the free meals, all that stuff, because we're putting them through a world of crap. I joined 18 years old, just wanted to get out of the house, no-transcript, and that's ingrained in some people's minds. That's a permanent memory for a lot of families. So yeah, that hits me in the jewels when I say that.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and anyone have anything else sad about that? Yeah, I would say to the the discussion earlier about, you know, going out and trying to make something of your life after and kind of living in honor of their memories. I actually I actually kind of had a breakthrough in the last couple of years about that, because I was dealing with a lot of that survivor's guilt and a lot of that weight that you kind of realized, like you were saying, alex, that you know we put our families through a lot and the families of all the people we care about, those who you know who made it through their enlistments and those who didn't, they also went through a lot and I think that starts to weigh on us a lot of the time. Enlistments and those who didn't, they also went through a lot, and I think that starts to weigh on us a lot of the time and you kind of again start to wonder what the point of it all is, especially if you're in a really bad place and you feel like you know it could have been me, you know what am I doing, you know where's my head at. They could have, you know, been with their families and I realized like in that moment I was, I was finally living a life that was, you know, worth, worth a sacrifice it was.

Speaker 4:

It was something they would look down and say like, wow, I'm actually happy that they're there living this life, that I'm proud of them being able to move forward and be, you know, a person they're proud of me, a person they want to be, and and up until that point, I don't think that ever happened for me, and it started when I started aligning a lot of what I was saying earlier.

Speaker 4:

You know the values and the character traits they put out there and I realized what it is that they put out in the world and I started to try to embody that and become more of the person I thought they wanted me to be and that I thought I should be.

Speaker 4:

And after doing that and putting through that effort, I was able to move past a lot of those issues that I had before. And I would love for more and more veterans and families of veterans to be able to deter people who have lost their loved ones be able to do that, to be able to start looking at what it is that they want to get out of life, to kind of restore their dreams again and feel like they can move on. In a way they can live their lives and be happy and be proud of the things they're doing, while not dishonoring the memory of the people that are there because are not there anymore, because those people actually want that for you. You know, if they could talk to you, they'd tell you to go out and live a life that you're proud of.

Speaker 4:

Live a life that you're proud of live a life that you know kind of that they would, that they would want to live if they were here. So I don't know if you guys have any thoughts on that in relation to kind of survivor's guilt finding purpose after and maybe any relation to their families. But that's something that's definitely on my mind pretty heavily very often.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, I'll just, I always have this sort of distinct memory of of when you know that, uh, the story of that helicopter crash I was talking about, but, um, I really kind of get brought back to the next morning, uh, quite often, when we had to go pack up all the gear, so we were on a ship and then there was a really surreal moment of, uh, you know, these guys that we lost, uh disappeared in the ocean. So there were no bodies. You know, there was the stories of the eight that made it out. And then, you know, we sat with them. So, you know, after we got down on the well deck and I remember watching I guess I don't know if it was a pilot, but it looked like it was a pilot's helmet or one of the crew members' helmets floating in the water, you know, just off the fantail. You know, as we were out there trying to get the Zodiacs out, to go out and see what we could do, and we sat with the guys that evening, you know, that were on the helicopter that had just survived the crash and kind of just listened, you know, heard their stories. They managed to get like some soup and water and stuff for those guys, just so they could decompress.

Speaker 5:

But the next day was the one that really kind of I don't, I don't wouldn't say it haunts me, but it's the uh, a memory I can't shake ever, because we just went over and we're just pulled out the bags and we're just starting to pack up everybody's gear and you know, starting that process of we got to get the eight guys off the ship, they're really freaked out about how to take off again. Um, you know just that kind of stuff. So I don't know if it's survivor's guilt, but I find that kind of moment hard and I often think back to the fact that I had just been on that helicopter. You know moments before and like where I was physically sitting and who was sitting there when they reloaded it and, um, see, that kind of stuff, I don't know, I never I don't talk about it much, but it always is in the back of my mind and uh, it's definitely more of a survivor's guilt kind of thing. But you know it gets kind of hard to. I'm not sure for everybody.

Speaker 5:

But you get out right Like you've had this intense focus the entire time you're in and you know, know, like service and what you're doing and you're thinking about global politics and you know everything else that's going on. And then you get out and everybody's thinking about where they're gonna go out to eat that night or I don't know. Just the whole like shift of priorities, like it's. That's all part of what makes that transition out so hard is like you know you have to do it and, um, you know you find your way through it hopefully.

Speaker 5:

But I would say would say off the topic of survivor's guilt, but I'm immensely empathetic to anybody else who's getting out to try to help them out in any way I can if it's just finding their path once they get out, because you've got all this stuff in your head and nobody in your family is really able to relate to it in the way that your friends can, and then you've got to get out and just sort of jump back into civilian life and start figuring that out, so that I don't feel like it's guilt, I just feel like it's constant thoughts that I just never lose.

Speaker 3:

That last bit's a really good point, I think, and I've done a lot of. I've been doing a bit of work with one of our veterans returns, return veterans support services here in Oz around it. We spend here in the Australian Army. We spend about six months going from off the street. We take usually an 18-year-old off the streets, young man, still impressionable and then we try to spend six months training and then whatever time they do in service as well and then when the decision's made to get out, it's usually a couple of weeks before they get out and then they're out suddenly and all of a sudden they've got to unlearn that X amount of years of for us it's a minimum of four years service. You've got to unlearn that and then relearn how to operate as a 24, 25-year-old, how all their mates that they used to go to high school with, because it's kind of and they're just on such a different, they're on such a different level to where I was at when I got out or even when I'd come back home for holidays and leave.

Speaker 3:

It was just. I found that hard to actually maintain those friendships at all. It was always then about military people. And then when you get out and you're still trying to work out. Well, how do I go and work for someone who doesn't isn't military or doesn't get that, or be around other people that don't get military humor as well? Because we kind of have a sometimes a bit of a perverse sense of humor at times beautiful, beautiful sharing man.

Speaker 2:

I, I have to say I've, if I'm so honored and grateful to have had a front row seat to this conversation. You know experiences that that you're giving, allowing me an insight into. I feel very grateful, and I'm sure many others who have joined us this evening very much feel the same. So thank you to all of you. As we wrap up, I just wanted to create an opportunity for each of you to share. You know what is just a short message you would love to share to anyone that's being impacted by just this day. You know whoever, whether it's extended, you know whether it's family members, whether it's you know people that have come out of the service.

Speaker 4:

Something that you just want to leave with them, uh, on this day, and then we'll uh, we'll close things up so anyone can start. Dan, uh, yeah, I just like to say you're not alone. Um, you know, if you're, if you're transitioning out and you're confused, like so is everybody else, uh, if you're, you know a family member, you've lost a loved one and you're still devastated. Thousands of people out there, just like you. They're, they're making it through. They're making it through each day.

Speaker 4:

You know, if you're, if you're dealing with, uh, whatever kind of issues you're dealing with, from you know losing friends, losing a family members, like, talk to somebody. Nobody's going to look down on you, but you know, if you share what you're feeling, what you're thinking and maybe what you would aspire to be or what you would aspire to start thinking, you're not the first person to go through it. You won't be the last person to go through it, and if you ask for help in hand, you'd be surprised at how many people would be more than happy to be there and be the helping hand. So reach out if you need it.

Speaker 2:

Thank you Dane, thank you Dane and Dave.

Speaker 6:

Yeah, that's excellent. I know that's a big thing and I know there's a lot of resources out there and I know that people struggle getting out. So, yeah, I echo that first of all that please know that. Yeah, if you are a service member, you know thank you for your service. If you're getting out, again, thank you for your service. And there's a lot of life to live post-military and you have an awful lot to offer. So, you know, develop those skills and keep on going. And I don't know where I heard it first, but I'm trying to paraphrase it the best way that we can honor those that have died is to be the kind of people that are worth dying for. So you know, as we all live our lives, if we keep that in mind, then you know that this world be a whole lot better place if we all express a little bit more gratitude.

Speaker 2:

If we're all striving to be better people and knowing that somebody has given their life so that we can live.

Speaker 7:

Beautiful, beautiful sentiment, dave. Thank you Alex. Yeah, dave, dave and Dean, really well said. I mean just to echo the things that you've mentioned. Like you know, if I had died and I came back as a ghost and I saw someone crying over me, I'd say stop being a little bitch. This is why I died, so you can go out and party and have fun and have kids and live your life. I'm just going to leave it at that.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, Alex Philip.

Speaker 3:

I would for me, I think for anyone to. I guess the most soothing words for me that I've experienced and for any serviceman is that recognition that your service mattered. So thank you for your service is just. It's massive and, like I said, when I was traveling through the States to hear that as often as I do, it's just like wow. When I was travelling through the States to hear that as often as I do, it was just like wow. I really felt that. I really felt like, even though I wasn't part of the American Army or anything but had served with alongside of, I found that really a powerful message for the community to go. Yeah, it's honour, it's not hero worship but just honouring that.

Speaker 3:

Men are making men and women service. People across the country and across the world are going out and doing their best to make sure that you can, other people who aren't part of that have their best life or the opportunity to have their best life, have their best life or the opportunity to have their best life For other servicemen. I would say we'll look at this call here. Military service can cross nations and cross boundaries and we all have been through similar turmoil, hardships, great times found. Humour in the weirdest of predicaments found sadness in ultimate grief, and these things that we share make us united as brothers and sisters, and that's powerful. So it's hard when you're in the foxhole or the pit we call it a pit here. When you're in that hole, to hold your hand out and ask for help, it's not weakness, it's actually true courage, in my judgment, to reach out and ask for that help. So please do connect with the people that you served with and they'll understand, because they've served with you. And even if they haven't, if they've served they'll understand with that amount.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, philip, thank you.

Speaker 5:

And Canis with that amount. Thank you, philip, thank you and uh, canis. Um, well, I don't really know what to say other than I think what everyone else here said uh is spot on, you know it's. It's incredible, I. I guess you know, while we're on that, that sort of topic or that uh note of for anyone who is in or who needs help, or anyone who's just gotten out, and even if it's just like I said, just finding your way in civilian life or if you're dealing with some things, that you just need someone who can relate to you to absolutely reach out to another person, probably anybody that was in the military.

Speaker 5:

As much as we love to give each other shit, for you know, one branch over the other branch and stuff, like we're thick as thieves, though when it comes down to it, you don't let anybody from the outside mess with anybody and um, so it really doesn't matter what branch somebody was in, like anybody who served I'm sure would be there and have your back and help you out and um, you know that's uh, I've worked in the outdoor industry for a long time and so I sell shoes and clothes and stuff, but, like, every once in a while I'll be around some fellow military people and when everybody else is losing their minds and like the workload is so hard or they're up so late, everybody else who was served is just like, ah, it's no big deal, you know, like this has not been really no one shooting at me and like I'm not helping, but a rock and uh, everything's actually pretty easy.

Speaker 5:

So there's a different perspective that one has and I I kind of rambling a bit, but I would just say to anyone who is not served to not worry about uh, understanding all the details of what someone had.

Speaker 5:

I think the things that guys here mentioned where when you say thank you for your service as awkward as that feels to me, when someone says it, I never know what to say back the pattern of it means the world and it really does make a difference over time and you really should enjoy memorial day. You should just find that moment of peace or to reflection, to think about whether it's someone in your family and which, depending on which generation or so, maybe a friend down the street or you know there's. There's, you're probably not, but like one person removed from knowing somebody that has been in the military and served or, you know, made that sacrifice and you know, I think, if you just have that moment of reflection and think about that and try to carry that forward in your life, but then go enjoy life and enjoy the holiday and enjoy the summer that's.

Speaker 2:

Carry that forward in your life, but then go, enjoy life and enjoy the holiday and enjoy the summer. That's probably what most would want. Beautiful, great, great perspective there. For those who haven't served, to give them an insight into it as well, thank you. I want to take a moment to acknowledge Kalani Krutzberg from Cammies and Canines, or one of the co-founders of Cammies and Canines down in San Diego, where they help homeless veterans find their feet by sponsoring them for six months through the VA, you know, helping them get their confidence back, helping them train a service animal. While they're there, they work on the property and help them find their purpose and alignment again.

Speaker 2:

And Kleine unfortunately couldn't join us this evening, but I just wanted to speak to his name and let him know that he he is loved, he's. He's been on the show a couple of times. He always brings a lot of fire and energy, so he was missed this episode. But, man, thank you so much for being here on this very special episode of Masked Off Monday.

Speaker 2:

And for those of you out there you know, especially, uh, especially those that are particularly, you know, wondering how they can, how they can support others that have been experienced or touched by those that have served is to, yeah, just remember, as kind of said, just, you never know the impact you can have by just, whether it's just spotting a meal or just going up to someone and just, uh, you know, expressing your gratitude to to them and remember. The best way we can honor those that you know gave their lives for us, as dave said, was to uh live a life worth, uh, live a life worth dying for. Sound the awesome cannons, pin medals to each breast. Attention on a guard. Give them a hero's rest. Recite their names to the heavens till the stars acknowledge their kin. Then let the land they defended gather them in again ¶¶, ¶¶.

Speaker 1:

©. Bf-watch TV 2021.

Speaker 2:

This has been the Mankind Podcast, produced in association with the mankind project usa. I have been your host, brandon clift, and I personally want to thank our guests for joining us today and imparting their wisdom from their experiences in this amazing journey called life. And, of course, I want to thank you, the listener, because through your attention and your support, you make it a heck of a lot easier for us to let men out there in the world know that they are not alone and that there is more than one way to be a man. Special thanks, of course, goes to my incredible team, marketing and communications director boyson hodgson, producer and editor of this episode, michael russo, who makes me sound so much more intelligent than I actually am. So, of course, special kudos goes there.

Speaker 2:

And if you've been enjoying the music throughout this episode and all of our episodes, check out Jim Donovan and the Sun King Warriors. I have links to them in the show notes. Now, the fee for this episode is simple. If you found gold and insights that you believe could benefit your loved ones and those you care about, be sure to share it with them. And, of course, remember that life doesn't happen to us. It happens for us, so long as we rip the pen out of fate's hand and become the author of our own story. So, my friend, pick up the pen and we'll see you next week. Lots of love.

Memorial Day Veterans Panel Discussion
Reflections on Memorial Day Sacrifices
Impact of Family on Military Deployment
Honoring Sacrifices
Honoring Veterans and Memorial Day
Survivor's Guilt and Finding Purpose
Unity and Support for Veterans