War movies are a dime a dozen. The ones that truly stay with us are ones through which we connect to the characters as if they’re members of our own unit — like they could be our own best friends or beloved commanding officers.
So, when that character is killed off, it hurts – even when the movie is based on a true story and we know it’s coming. And we never forget it.
Check out our first list (linked below) and then read on to see more military movie deaths that shocked us.
One minute, everyone aboard the Alabama is dancing to “Nowhere to Run” and the next, a Chief close to retirement is fighting a huge galley fire.
You don’t realize it, but the death of Chief Marichek is the tipping point of the whole movie. No one really cares about some faceless Russian nutjob. Hunter’s disagreement with Captain Ramsey doesn’t turn to real anger until Chief Marichek dies.
Admit it, we were all thinking the same thing Lt. Cmdr. Hunter was when Ramsey callously described Marichek’s horrible death.
2. Sgt. 1st Class Randy Shughart and Master Sgt. Gary Gordon – Black Hawk Down
You see what the Somalis do when a helicopter goes down in this movie. So when Shughart and Gordon demand to be landed to help extract pilot Mike Durant, knowing full well they probably won’t make it out alive, you really hope against the odds that they can pull of some heroics and survive.
This is all the sadder because, like most characters in Black Hawk Down, Shughart and Gordon were real men who really did ask three times to land and secure Durant — even though they knew it would be suicide.
3. Lt. Billy “A-Train” Roberts – The Tuskegee Airmen
Fresh from taking down enemy planes and a Nazi destroyer (not to mention forever tearing down an immense racial barrier), Hannibal Lee and Lt. Billy Roberts were such a good team, all the white bomber pilots couldn’t believe it. Prejudices couldn’t stop Lee and Roberts.
Lee and Roberts sing as Roberts slowly loses consciousness and altitude and, when they’re finally taken out, a small part of my youth died forever.
4. Staff Sgt. Don “War Daddy” Collier – Fury
We grew to love War Daddy as the movie Fury rolled on. And, eventually, we understand and support his determination to stand his ground in the tank that became his home.
Unlike the Fury version, however, the real War Daddy – Army Tanker Lafayette G. Pool – survived the war. His 81-day combat career saw 1,000 dead Nazis, 250 enemy POWs captured, 12 downed enemy tanks, and some 250-plus other vehicles destroyed.
5. Captain John Miller – Saving Private Ryan
Capt. Miller was in North Africa at the Kasserine Pass, then at the Italian campaign’s landing at Anzio, and then (as if that wasn’t enough), he led most of his men alive through Operation Overlord.
So, knowing he survived so much just to get stuck defending some podunk town because there’s one bridge in it only to get mortally wounded as the Army Air Forces show up and ice the Nazis… it’s just… goddammit.
This is why a chain of command exists, so privates like Ryan will do as they’re told and go home instead of arguing with a captain who’s a genuine war hero and getting everyone in a platoon killed as they try to keep his disobedient ass alive.
A senior Army modernization official said that the service needs to look to the visionaries of Hollywood for ideas on how future tech could change the Army in 20 years.
“I often tell people ‘hey, if you want look to the future … don’t look toward the people that wear this,'” said Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, principal military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, pointing to his camouflage uniform.
“Where are you going to look? Hollywood. Think about it. How many things do we have in our hands today, or just right around the corner, that you saw on the movies when you were growing up?”
But it’s up to Ostrowski, and other senior Army leaders, to carry out the service’s ambitious new modernization strategy.
The Army announced its new modernization effort in October 2017 that’s designed to replace its Cold-War era, Big Five combat platforms — the M1Abrams tank, Bradley fighting vehicle, Black Hawk helicopter, Apache attack helicopter and Patriot air defense system.
UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter
(U.S. navy photo by Clayton Weis)
Speaking at a breakfast, hosted by the Association of the United States Army, Ostrowski explained how the new Army Futures Command — to be based in Austin, Texas — will create a future force capable of operating in the unknowns of 2036.
“What is the battlefield going to look like in 2036?” Ostrowski said. “What are … the tactics, techniques and procedures that we are going to need to have to fight and win in that war, in that battle?
“Where is it going to be conducted?” He continued. “Megacities? What will be our unit of action? Right now we are organized around brigade combat teams. Is that what we are going to need to be organized in the future?”
The futures and concepts group within Army Futures Command will be working on these issues as well as figuring out how future technologies such as quantum computing, high-energy lasers, directed-energy weapon, hypersonics and artificial intelligence will play a role in the future force, Ostrowski said.
“What is going to be capable of being produced and available in 2036? The visionaries of the futures and concepts group have to get after that particular piece,” Ostrowski said.
The Army is actively recruiting talent to work on the technological challenges of the future — Hollywood may be the place to start, Ostrowski said.
“We have to get after those visionaries to help us get after that fight and what it is going to look like in 2036,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.
In 2008, HBO released Generation Kill, a highly popular military mini-series that chronicled the experiences of the Marines from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion as they led the way on the initial push into Baghdad.
The entertaining series made veteran audiences freakin’ proud that Hollywood finally got something right.
Well, we used our (fictional) WATM private investigators to locate the grunts of 1st Recon silver screen whereabouts, and here’s what they found.
After he returned home from Iraq, this outstanding recon Marine decided that a life aboard a massive battleship was the right life for him. He was commissioned as a Naval officer and assigned to USS Sampson.
Unfortunately, aliens showed up, and the former squad leader ended up getting killed-in-action — or so we thought. It turns out, something happened to his genetics, and he was turned into a freakin’ vampire.
No one saw that coming.
After this badass and buffed out sergeant left the Marines, he became a famous figure in the military community and a good friend to WATM.
He managed to even star in his own show about how to survive after an apocalypse in Apocalypse Man.
This article should probably start off with a spoiler warning. Then again, if you’re reading things about “Game of Thrones,” you are either caught up, have no intentions of watching the show, or don’t care about spoiler warnings.
If by some reason you aren’t any of those and wouldn’t want this week’s episodes spoiled, here’s an article about MREs.
The final shot of this week’s episode finished with Jon Snow, Gendry, Jorah, The Hound, Tormund, Beric, and Thoros all headed beyond the wall to capture a wight to prove that the dead are a threat.
One thing I noticed was how perfectly everyone in lined up with a modern unit composition.
Bear in mind, they are undermanned compared to an actual fire team, with only seven men out in the field, one garrisoned at Eastwatch, and another in Winterfell. A full SFOD-A team consists of twelve men on mission. Normally, there would also be two communications experts, a medical doc, and an engineering sergeant on the team.
In this exercise at least, all of the key positions are at least filled. Here’s how:
Detachment Commander (18A) — King Jon Snow
Every team needs a dedicated leader. A voice everyone can rally behind. Someone with a clear vision of what the objective is and how to achieve it.
Being King of the North and the one who brought them all together definitely qualifies Jon Snow as the leader of this team.
Assistant Detachment Commander (180A) — Lord Beric Dondarrion
The second in command needs to be a skilled warfighter. If the team separates, the second would step in to lead a group. They must also be willing to assume control of the whole unit if the worst happens to the commander.
Beric lead the Brotherhood Without Banners until they reached the Wall. If anything, he’s still in charge of both Thoros and The Hound.
Operations Sergeant (18Z) — Ser Davos Seaworth
The Operations Sergeant is responsible for the overall organization and functionality of the team. They are also the senior most enlisted advisor on the team.
Although Davos didn’t join them beyond the wall, he was still pivotal in assembling the team and advising Jon Snow on how to carry out the mission.
Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant (18F) — Tormund Giantsbane
The Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant ensures the team is war-fighting capable. They also gather and analyze all the mission-critical information.
Tormund lived his life Beyond the Wall. No one knows the area and the enemy better than him.
Weapons Sergeants (18B) — Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Ser Jorah Mormont
Weapons Sergeants must be experts in a wide variety of weapon systems. Any weapon they get their hands on can and will be used.
Both Sandor and Jorah are some of the best fighters in Westeros. They have each proven to be lethal no matter what weapon they had — and in any arena.
Engineering Sergeant (18C) — Gendry
Engineering Sergeants are masters of construction and destruction. They can build a bridge just as flawlessly as they can destroy one.
Gendry trained many years under the greatest blacksmith in the series. If Valerian Steel weapons are needed to fight the dead, he’s ready. Afterall, he was trained under Mott (the guy that reforged Ned Stark’s sword into two more Valerian Steel swords.)
Medical Sergeant (18D) — Thoros of Myr
Special Operations Medical Sergeants are experts in treating battlefield trauma. They are tasked with providing life-saving aid to the team.
The Lord of Light has brought back the dead many times in the books, making Thoros a handy guy to have around in battle. It’s not perfect, with each resurrection taking a part of the person that dies, but it is invaluable to keeping his men in the fight.
Communications Sergeant (18E) — Lord Bran Stark the “Three-Eyed Raven”
The Communications Sergeant is the life blood between fire teams and command. They are required to maintain a constant flow of information between all troops.
In the show, Bran wasn’t seen joining the group. He’s still in Winterfell. But in the same episode the group was formed, he was flying around the enemy in raven form.
We may find out until next episode that he’ll be assisting Jon’s team.
All told, it was exciting to see this rag-tag group come together to go beyond the wall.
Ever wonder what it would be like if Gunny Hartman trained elves using the same foul mouth he developed in the Marine Corps?
Well, wonder no longer because the internet has mashed “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” with the audio from the famous barracks scene in “Full Metal Jacket.” The result is hilarious, so check it out below. Be warned: Very profane language (after all, it’s f-cking Gunny Hartman).
When building a fantasy world, you draw inspiration from the real world for some of the practical details. In “Game of Thrones” (or “A Song of Ice and Fire” to my fellow book readers), almost every tool of death is based off of an actual weapon.
Excluding mythical things, like the Night King’s ice spear or Daenerys’ dragons (which are totally A-10s), you can usually point to a real weapon that bares a striking resemblance to the one in the series.
Jon Snow’s sword isn’t unique… at all.
Of course, Non-Valerian steel swords like Jon Snow’s exist, and having animal designs on the pommel are nothing new, but the devil is in the details of pinpointing specifically where they originate.
Everyone from the Vikings to Filipino warriors to the Romans made cool designs on the pommel. Those are cool and all, but do they open their eyes? Probably not. And neither did Jon’s.
The Mountain’s sword is an Irish Long Sword
The Mountain, being the strongest man in Westeros and the strongest man on Earth, would need an equally powerful weapon. What stands out about Gregor Clegane’s weapon is the pommel. It’s a symbol common among Irish long swords. It’s also featured prominently in the show as well in Sansa’s necklace as well as Cersei. Just throwing that out there…
Arya’s weapon is a French Rapier
Jon had a tiny sword made for Arya long before she turned into a faceless assassin who knew how to use it. Her blade doesn’t have an edge and is best “sticking them with the pointy end.”
It’s a lot like an actual rapier used as a Main-gauche, or parrying dagger used with the off hand.
Dothraki Arakh is the Egyptian Khopesh
The weapon of choice for the Dothraki and Daario come from the Egyptian sickle-sword. The advantage of using a khopesh is that it serves several purposes. It’s great as a sword, good as an ax, and excellent as a hook.
Wildfire is Greek Fire
The Wildfire used by the Lannisters is devastating. It won the Battle of Blackwater Bay and blew up the Septum. An extremely early version of a napalm thrower was used by the Byzantines for naval combat as early as 672.
Lannister’s Scorpion is the Roman Scorpion
Give it up for my boy Bronn. Sure, there may be heroic battles and perilous combat throughout the series. But to stare down a dragon with an untested weapon after it wrecked havoc on all of your fellow soldiers… Balls of Valerian f*cking Steel.
In real life, Greeks and eventually Romans used a smaller version that was perfect for long range combat.
Benjen Stark (Cold Hands)’s weapon is a burning version of a Japanese Chain Weapon
Most depictions of flails in popular culture are actually debatable for being historically accurate. If they had a chain, it was short for close combat. If it was longer, it’d be two handed and used on horseback (like Benjen).
The closest to reality that Benjen uses is perhaps a variation of the kusarigama, a weapon synonymous with another historically debatable group: ninjas.
Tormund’s Ax is a Mesoamerican Macuahuitl
This one blows my mind for not just its similarly primitive design, but also how it was made. It’s never outright stated in the show, but it looks as if his ax is made of Dragonglass — something we know can kill White Walkers and Wights. Dragonglass is also known as obsidian in the show and lore.
In early Mesoamerica, warriors would use chipped obsidian on sticks to create a devastating sword/ax that could cut through their foes.
Beric has these guys beat by using magic to light their swords on fire, but it’s been a common tactic used in lighting arrows on fire. A burning sword is cool, but impractical for actual fighting because it would need a constant supply of fuel.
This is why it’s just used by circus performers.
But then again. A fan recreated the Shishkebab from Fallout 4, giving it a constant source of fire. So this guy beat him to it.
For more insight into the practicality of the “Game of Thrones” weapons, check out the link below:
Look, it is easy, and deeply enjoyable, to give Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis boatloads of crap for the shenanigans and mannerisms (shenannerisms?) he regularly deploys in the line of duty. It’s easy because he’s a good sport. It’s enjoyable because, well:
But credit where credit is due, it is no easy thing to drop in on a recording studio unprepared, be played a brand new beat, compose a non-wack verse and then get into the booth and spit your best whiteboy flow in front of a hot producer and a rapper at the top of his game.
TMR served 10 years in the Middle East as a Marine Corps combat correspondent, ala Joker from Full Metal Jacket. Though he started rapping young, he found he had to put his passion on ice during active duty — no time to think, let alone rhyme.
When he finally left the service, the transition was rough.
“It was a reality shock. I didn’t know where to go. You’re like, ‘I have all this time on my hands,’ and you get to thinking… ‘I was such a super hero in the military, but now I’m just a regular civilian. Nobody cares about me. I’m nothing now. Why should I even live?'”
Finding himself in a dark headspace familiar to many vets exiting the military, TMR did a hard thing: he asked for help.
With the assistance of the VA, he was able to reorient, finding an outlet in his long-dormant passion for rap. He now lives in Hollywood, CA, cutting tracks and shooting music videos to support his budding career as a musician.
And, no joke, in a single day of working together, TMR, producer Louden and the Artist Formerly Known as Ryan Curtis may just have succeeded in dropping the U.S. military’s first ever chart-topping hip hop track:
It’s a lock for New Oscar Mike Theme Song at the very least.
Watch as Curtis looks for lyrics in a Magic 8 Ball and TMR proves there’s no room in his game for shame, in the video embedded at the top.
Hanson at the GI Film Festival San Diego. Photo credit BH.
Brian Hanson has lived a few lives and succeeded in some of the harder endeavors known to man: earning a Ranger tab and making a movie. He grew up in Southern California, worked in Hollywood for awhile and then felt called to serve in the U.S. Army. He left Hollywood and became a Ranger serving on multiple deployments to Afghanistan. Upon returning from his service he fulfilled his dream by writing, directing and producing his first film, The Black String, starring Frankie Muniz.
WATM: Can you share about your family and your life growing up?
I was born in Detroit then my parents moved to San Diego. They were tired of the snow and wanted a new lifestyle on the West Coast. My father has always been a huge TV, film and history buff. I grew up in Escondido which is a suburb of San Diego. I had a sister that unfortunately was killed in a car accident when she was sixteen so that was a life changing moment in our lives. It was a paradigm shifter. My parents worked hard, and my youth was in many ways the normal SoCal life — riding bikes with friends, enjoying summers and playing sports. I had a real fascination toward movies and telling stories. It was always in me. I played football and baseball in high school. I also did student government. We did a field trip when I was a senior in high school to see a talk show at Paramount Studios to see The Kathy Lee Gifford Show. Seeing the stage, PAs and cameramen showed me that showbiz was a real industry and that I could do it. Even though I did (short) films with my friends it made me aware that I could direct myself toward the industry. It is a real thing.
I graduated that summer and my sister died, so all bets were off on going into the industry at that time. I did one year at San Diego State and then decided to travel abroad with a friend. We worked as bartenders and lived in the United Kingdom. It is what 18 year olds should do— go see the world. I started reading Syd Field books and Robert Rodriguez books like Rebel Without a Crew, watching El Mariachi, Swingers, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Blair Witch, The Following…I was really into the big studio movies (Saving Private Ryan, Back to the Future, The Matrix) and the independents. It was like you can do this, get a camcorder and you can do it. I knew I wanted to join the military, but not at that moment in my life so I came back from Europe and transferred up to Cal State Northridge. I graduated and got my proper film school bachelor’s degree. I knew I wanted to be a Writer/Director. My parents were very supportive of my endeavor in making it in Hollywood and telling stories.
Once US Forces entered Iraq in 2003, I had read voraciously about 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan. I knew I was going to join the military at some point, but when? I would be pouring drinks for young, good looking Hollywood people at a bar making hundreds of dollars a night where over their shoulder would be a TV on reporting the Battle of Fallujah. I started to not feel right about that, and I wanted to be an honest storyteller. I would like to be a storyteller that speaks truthfully and authentically and didn’t want to be the person that imitates. I didn’t want to be an imitator of Goodfellas or Full Metal Jacket. I knew I needed that life experience to be an authentic storyteller. I did a TV Pilot with some friends that we raised money for, and Brandon Routh was in it. This was right before he was cast as Superman in Superman Returns. Brandon and I bartended together at that time. He was a great guy to work with. I was also bartending at the Playboy mansion during the end of the glory days for Hefner and the Mansion. It’s tough to just walk away from all of that and you are making decent money in Hollywood. You are just one step or script away from “it” happening.
After not much happened with the TV Pilot I started to realize that Hollywood and LA are still going to be here. I wrestled a year or two of how to leave it behind after I had started a life. As I approached 30, I looked in the mirror and decided to join the Army because if I waited longer, the military wouldn’t let me join – I’d be too old. I would have regretted to my dying day if I did not serve. There were no questions in life. I knew joining as an older guy would be different when compared to most recruits. But I wanted to volunteer my time and some of the years of my life to serve my country, but I had to step up and go do it. I gotta do this and gotta do it now. I knew my goal was to come back to LA with this accomplishment and service to my country being complete.
Hanson at Fort Benning. Photo credit BH.
WATM: What made you want to become a Ranger and what was your experience like?
I didn’t know all the details when I enlisted as an 11Bravo (infantry), but I knew that Rangers and Green Berets were the high-speed special-operations units. One day in Basic Training at Fort Benning, the Ranger recruiters came out to ask for volunteers and my Drill Sergeant SFC Metcalfe looked at me and said, “Hanson, you better f’n volunteer.” So, I volunteered on the spot and a few months later I was reporting to Ranger Assessment Selection Program. Unfortunately, SFC Metcalfe was killed in action a year later when he deployed to Afghanistan with the 173rd. I thank SFC Metcalfe for pushing me to go Ranger.
I was stationed at Fort Benning with 3rd Ranger Battalion where it is a high-speed training cycle. You train for six months and then deploy for about 3 to 4 months. There is always a Ranger Battalion deployed. Just operating at that tempo, at all times, is exciting and inspiring to see your NCOs, squad leaders and platoon sergeants are on their sixth or tenth deployment. It was very inspiring to see their commitment to the unit at the cost of their family and personal time. When you are a single young, enlisted person it is very inspiring to see that level of motivation. Rangers hold themselves up to the highest standard of leading the way. You are always being tested. It is uncomfortable and you never have a chance to relax. It is a great way to stay sharp. It is a tough head space to always be in. You are always being watched. The young (new) guys compete like professional athletes to deploy, like trying to make the starting roster. Once you deploy you want to be on that mission every time. I deployed to FOB Salerno in Afghanistan on the border real close to Pakistan. My second deployment was at Camp Leatherneck/Camp Bastion and then my last deployment I was at FOB Shank aka “Rocket City”. That place was hit like all day with nonstop rockets. It’s funny how used to it you get.
The Taliban used a lot of ingenious guerrilla tactics like setting ice on the mortars to eventually melt and then go off at some point during the day. Apaches would launch to try and find the culprits however they were not there. We ran the night shift out there for High Value Targets (HVT) where we went on night raids. To see how targets were acquired and track and intel was gathering where the strike force commander was the CO. From top to bottom the whole thing was a collection of assets. We worked with the Air Force, Navy, Marines, big Army, DIA and had civilians running the drones. It is amazing to see people come together for these task forces where all of these people work together on the fly. Being 30 and seeing this strike force run by young soldiers/civilians is amazing because in Hollywood most 23-year olds close to me are up and coming bartenders/actors/writers/directors. In Afghanistan we had 23-year-old Forward Observers bringing in Chinook helicopters into dangerous LZs to pick us up for a night raid. 24-year-old squad leaders are ensuring that everyone is accounted for and that no one is left behind on the side of a mountain in Afghanistan. It is amazing to see what young people can do where they have been trained at such a high level and have high expectations. They achieve and are motivated. I think Hollywood is an amazing place where things get done, but I think a lot of it is a 10-year delay. It is a bit of an arrested development sometimes.
In a training incident I was a towed jumper. We were doing our yearly training for airfield seizures which is an entire battalion operation to seize an airfield. I was the last guy to jump out of a C-17 at night with a full combat load and got hung up on the plane which made me a towed jumper. I was hanging outside of a C-17 at 1000 to 1500 feet circling Fort Benning banging against the side of the plane and fully conscious. Thinking that I might die at any moment and this is not a normal thing to happen to people. My static line wrapped around my weapons case where when you are jumping your weapons case is attached to your thigh and your harness. Somehow there was too much slack in the static line to where it wrapped around the weapons case so it wouldn’t release me. The static line stays clipped inside the plane and it is supposed to pull the back of the pack tray. You jump and it pulls it out, but it got wrapped around and it pulled me.
I was okay with a tight body position and covered my reserve chute, so it didn’t release. I was out there for six minutes. I thought they were going to cut me loose to where all I have left is my reserve chute to land on some trees at night next to the Chattahoochee River. Then I started looking at my boots flying through the air and thought this is what parasailing must be like. Then I thought, did they forget about me and is the C-17 going to try to land? Do they not know I am out here, and I am going to do some high-speed combat roll on a tarmac as the C-17 lands? You are trained to keep a tight body position out there, so they know you are not unconscious. I kept slamming against the side of the C-17 behind a gigantic turbine engine. I hit the plane and stayed there where I started to get dragged across the skin of the plane. I felt hands underneath my arms and they pulled me in. Everybody was so glad to see I was alive and in one piece. I was just relieved as I was out there so long, I went beyond any initial shock, concern to just cut me loose guys so I can land on a tree with my reserve shoot.
They pulled me in and did a great job making sure I was okay. I had to retell the story for weeks to a lot of soldiers, especially Sgt Majors at the DFAC wanted to hear the story of a towed jumper. It was a very bizarre story because no one wants to be a towed jumper. It is a total nightmare scenario short of both chutes failing. It all ended well and twelve stitches in my chin was it. After all of that my 1stSgt checked on me and made sure I was alright. He then told me, “Get ready you are jumping tomorrow.” We had another jump the next day. The 3rd Ranger Battalion was like you are jumping tomorrow to get over any fear of jumping again. Just get out there and do it. I jumped not 24 hours later and believe me I was concerned. I said, “There is no way that can happen twice.” I got out the door and was fine. There is not a lot of pity or sympathy it is like get back up and do it again unless you are truly hurt, alright get up and do it as there is no time to think about. That is something I take with me to this day.
All of the pre-jump training you do these repetitive and boring things you already know, and I did one of those things without even thinking about it. It dawned on me why I do this training every single time. When that one time does happen, you are ready and have gone over the worst-case scenario. You will be that much quicker to save your own life or someone else. It seems so mundane and so repetitive and a waste of time until you need it. That repetitive action like weapons malfunctions….but when you need that instantaneous second nature habit it is the most important thing you could have known at that point.
Hanson at Camp Leatherneck. Photo credit BH.
Hanson on his last mission at FOB Shank. Photo credit BH.
Paratroopers jumping from C-17 Globemasters.
View of Camp Salerno. Photo credit wikipedia.com.
WATM: What are you most proud of from your service in the Army?
I am proud I stepped up to the challenge of 75th Ranger Regiment (thank you SFC Metcalfe) and made the team. Severing with my Ranger buddies was like the saying goes: “I was no hero, but I walked amongst a few.” I did my part and I know guys that are still out there doing it. I know squad leaders that are now getting their own platoons. Some guys have gone into elite units like Delta Force and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. I still think about them often and stay in touch. I want to make them proud because of the work they are still doing…I try to keep pushing myself in a way that would do right by the effort they are putting on…I am proud to have been on a team with those guys and seen what leadership means…and at such a young age and for so many people. I am proud to have seen it and been associated with that level of person.
Frankie and Paige Muniz, Kayli, Chelsea and Brian at Dances with Films. Photo credit BH.
WATM: What values have you carried over from the Army into Hollywood?
One thing that you see among some twenty something bartenders or Hollywood newbies that is unacceptable in the Ranger Regiment and also unacceptable in the Army are excuses. It is the same on production, there are no excuses. There are just no excuses. I don’t want to hear it other than a solution. Maybe an, “I’m sorry,” and that is it where I don’t even want to hear an excuse. Unless there is something disastrous you need to untangle. No excuses, just solutions. The high-level professional types of productions have that mentality where I really appreciate it. I do see the correlation between military units and productions. You have one mission where everyone comes together to accomplish it.
Also, you see this in the military and it is a career everything, keep moving forward just like a twenty-mile ruck march. You worry about the next step, then the next phone pole, then the next quarter mile where they will all add up. You can be overwhelmed by all of it if you look at it all at once where if you do it one step at a time you see that you can do it. Those are two crucial lessons I learned in the Army.
Hanson, Frankie and crew at Dances With Films. Photo credit BH.
WATM: What was one of the toughest lessons to learn coming from the service to Hollywood?
Even though I had worked in Hollywood before leaving, I came back a veteran, and still had to learn that there is a system in Hollywood. The system is not as rigid perhaps as the military. It isn’t just this artistic endeavor where you get to be a genius and be Quentin Tarantino or you are Steven Spielberg because you say you are. There is a hierarchy and there is a smart way to navigate. There is a way to get oriented and to a very real map of how this town works and have very realistic expectations. I think that veterans and others think of their prior accomplishments, whether a lawyer or a company commander of an infantry company, where you are not going to be a 1st AD. That is a ten-year path that is very regimented. The biggest challenge is understanding what the path to success is and how to realistically pursue those things. Know that they all take time and embrace that.
***Since leaving the Army I have learned so much by working as a Production Assistant on HBO’s Barry, Silicon Valley, Room 104 and worked as Assistant to Matthew Rhys on Perry Mason. Being on set and working for top level professionals has been an incredible learning experience and given me insight to become a better filmmaker on my own projects. I also greatly appreciate the film/tv mentorships, education and opportunities I was given through Veterans in Media Entertainment (VME), USVAA and WGF. It has been very important to find mentors and work for professionals.
Hanson with members of the cast and production staff at the Austin Film Festival. Photo credit BH.
WATM: What was it like writing, producing and directing your own feature film, The Black String?
The story was percolating for a long time before making the film such as Donnie Darko, Repulsion, Jacobs Ladder, which does a great job of blending horror and military, and Rosemary’s Baby. It was conceived with my bartending buddy Andy Warrener before I joined the Army. We wanted to explore in that story what it is like to be on that edge where you are experiencing something and no one else believes. It is you against the world. How do you convince someone of something that crazy of a witch conspiracy or a coven of witches? Or some really wild, evil cabal? The moment you say those words you already sound like you are having mental problems. Doctors will definitely not be going to believe.
The challenge we wanted was for a character to have to convince his family, his friends and his doctors of something that is inconceivable where no one in the real world is going to believe that. We put that in a genre we enjoyed which was horror. Now we thought maybe we would make that movie, but I joined the Army and Andy got married and moved to Florida. The wild thing is that you never know what you write today may be a movie in five or ten years. I lived a whole crazy life in between thinking of the story while tending bar with my buddy and then going into the Army. The difference in the time gap was about seven years. I could not have guessed that would have happened, especially with Frankie Muniz.
The creative part I was very comfortable with in the directing and writing having made many short films. I got an MFA from Mt. Saint Mary’s University with the GI Bill, which is a beautiful thing, loves the GI Bill. I owe so much to the GI Bill. So, I got very comfortable with the directing portion where you get very creative to bring this vision and feeling and this emotion you have to life in a very technical way. It is running the business, the producing part of things, to where you are starting a business, you are an entrepreneur. My producing partner Richard Handley, he is a Navy veteran and was an officer and Physician’s Assistant, he runs a contracting business with the DoD. We ran a business together where many purely creative types don’t understand what that level of dedication and commitment is.
To this day I have had probably had equal amounts of discussions about corporate taxes, LLCs, investor shares and running a business as I have about storyboarding shots. When you are doing an independent film like this, truly a passion project, you are building a team that is not a whole lot different…then opening a small company. You and your business partner are shouldering the burden if not for months, but for years. You have to love it and I do where it has been a great journey to where we had such great crew members and other producers that have helped us along the way. It is a multiple year endeavor when you do something like that in the independent world. You really are from the very beginning of raising money all the way to negotiating with distributors and foreign distributors and how you cut checks to your investors. It’s a true business education and kind of feels like I got this mini MBA education.
That was unexpected but the directing part was just amazing. Working with such talented people and friends that I had before joining the Army…we really were able to bring a lot of relationships such as Ravi Patel I bartended with as well. Cullen Douglas and Ravi and I did a TV pilot in like 2008. It was amazing to be able to reach back to my pre-Army friends that are so talented and my post Army, new team of filmmaking friends and bring everybody together. We called on so many favors. We had such great support from Mt. Saint Mary’s, VME and Vega Baby. We called in every favor where it is such a positive experience. When we landed in Frankie Muniz where he is a champ.
He brought his “A game” even for the tiny movie it was. He loved the character and the chance to do something different. He gave everything to our tiny project as he would have to our multi-million-dollar project. He treated us with respect, and he treated the script with respect. He came to set daily with a big folder of his personal notes. He was meticulous like a pro and his level of preparation and how he kept track of everything and what he brought was just amazing. He took that movie and made it really something different than perhaps something we thought. Frankie made it his Breaking Bad character. Like his Malcolm in the Middle dad, Bryan Cranston did on Breaking Bad. He was still kind of that funny person but had a much darker take on it. It is a dark twist on that guy you already know. Frankie imbued the role in the film with his Malcolm in the Middle persona, but whoa that is the dark side of it. What happened? Like Breaking Bad, what went wrong? To work with a pro, I learned.
To be able to work with actors like Ravi, Frankie, Cullen, Oded and Chelsea where they are people that do this for a living to be able to work with people like that and be creative partners with them for my first feature was inspiring. To see how a team can really work with everybody really contributing some high-level creativity. Everyone on the team had so much to add. You have to shepherd the project to where everyone stays on track, but still allow personal creative contributions from cast members. A director is like a manager of a company. You have to work with the talent, resources and the money of your company. You still have to get to the goal, but you can’t be resistant to some things that are great new ideas.
Poster for The Black String. Photo credit IMDB.com.
Screen capture of The Black String. Photo credit BH.
Rich and Mari Handley with Yani and Brian. Photo credit BH.
Screen capture of The Black String. Photo credit BH.
Hanson and Handley on stage at the GI Film Festival. Photo credit BH.
WATM: What leadership lessons in life and from the Army have helped you most in your career?
“No excuses” and intense preparation for a project. It is preparing like you are the best and spending hours a day preparing. Don’t assume, always do pre-combat inspections. It is having everything truly ready to go. Because once you arrive on set and once you arrive at that location it needs to be ready and needs to be operational. If not you, need to have a back-up plan. Research and having contingency plans. Checking your equipment and your team. It can be seen as micromanaging, but it doesn’t have to be that bad. In the military everybody checks their troops. It’s just how it is to make sure your guys and your buddies are ready to go. I think that can be transferred to the civilian world and film production.
Frankie Muniz and Richard Handley in The Black String. Photo credit IMDB.com.
More of Muniz in The Black String. Photo credit BH.
Screen capture of The Black String. Photo credit BH.
Screen capture of The Black String. Photo credit BH.
WATM: As a service, how do we get more veteran stories told in the Hollywood arena?
We need support from great organizations to promote veteran voices and veteran creators. Such organizations as We Are The Mighty, Veterans in Media and Entertainment (VME), of which I volunteer heavily with, the USVAA, United States Veteran Artistic Alliance, and the WGA Writer’s Guild Foundation do support veterans. We need the support from industry professionals and organizations. They are out there, and they are growing. I think that with the people in the position in power right now, the producers and executives that can green light things, I do think they do a really good job where there is always a presence of the military and law enforcement. There are always more and different perspectives. To keep in mind and do the rote, stereotypical type of story lines. There are a lot of really nuanced, interesting and unexpected perspectives that veterans can bring to the time-honored tradition of military inspired entertainment. The producers, executives and showrunners should be open to finding those unexpected angles to veteran stories.
Hanson with Steve Fiorina and Handley at the GI Film Festival. Photo credit BH.
WATM: What would you like to do next in your career?
I plan on directing my second film in 2021. My first one was the horror genre where my next one is likely going to be a thriller with a military character. I always want to do things that are thought provoking. I definitely want to challenge viewers and explore philosophies. …Christopher Nolan makes great entertainment and with challenging ideas and philosophies. He is an independent filmmaker making giant movies, which is something to strive for. Since I have completed my first film…I have been working to get on great television shows as a writer. There are so many stories to tell and I joined the Army and lived this life to help tell authentic stories. I would love to be in day in and day out be in a room with other story tellers creating an amazing show. Creating stories with a team. I will continue directing but would love to be in that writer’s room doing innovative television.
Brian Matthew Rhys on “Perry Mason”. Photo credit BH.
WATM: What are you most proud of in life and your career?
I am most proud of serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment. In a sense in my career I may never do anything as meaningful as that even if I make ten more movies or even if nominated for an Academy Award. I don’t think that I’ll ever be prouder than spending those days with my Ranger buddies in Afghanistan or sweating in Fort Benning. I am also proud of making that first movie and everyone that contributed to that colossal effort from nothing. Rich Handley and I being these recent film graduates decided to make a movie where we built that coalition from the ground up. It is an effort we are very proud of and what we did and everybody that was able to help us achieve that.
On the back end we got distribution through Grindstone and Lionsgate to where we had to find everything from scratch. The studio didn’t fund this. Movie making is a risky endeavor and long commitment over many years. The movie has been out now over a year and we are still making producer phone calls and receiving emails four years later. When you divide the money, you might make on the back end of an indie film and divide the hours by what you put in it, there might not be much money so that passion that drives you to keep working. There is a bond between people that have that level of passion to work 15-hour days. You are not really thinking about the paycheck where you are there to get the job done because you believe it is similar to the military mindset.
My wife Yani Navas-Hanson is from Venezuelan; she left the country and I met her in Atlanta when I was at Fort Benning and she was studying at Georgia Tech. She was the accountant by trade and then was our accountant on the movie. She left her country, learned English here in the US and transitioned from corporate accounting to entertainment accounting and from taking on the challenges of an independent film. What someone like her can accomplish if they are driven and keep pushing forward and to be able to accomplish that in a few years is amazing. People do have to surround themselves with the right people. If you are in a relationship with someone who is not supportive with this career path or your family is not supportive, then you might have a tough time during the ups and downs. Family and friend support is crucial. I have fantastic and supportive friends and family.
Brian and Yani at Sitges Film Festival. Photo credit BH.
Ron Meyer with Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President, Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast and Jared Lyon National President and CEO of Student Veterans of America (SVA) at an SVA Event. (Photo courtesy of: NBCUniversal)
From the U.S. Marine Corps to the Hollywood mailroom, becoming one of the founders of CAA to being vice chairman at NBCUniversal, Ron Meyer has experienced a lot since growing up in West L.A.
Annenberg Media: Tell me about your family and your life growing up?
Meyer: My mother and father escaped Nazi Germany in 1939. They both immigrated and met in Los Angeles. They were German Jews; my father was a lady’s dress salesman and my mother worked with him until she had me and my sister. We had a very simple life here in west Los Angeles.
Annenberg Media: What is the most distinct memory of your mother and your father?
Meyer: They were loving and supportive parents. My father traveled four out of six weeks so he was gone a lot of the time. My mother raised us on a full-time basis. They were great parents and we loved each other unconditionally.
NBCUNIVERSAL EXECUTIVES — Pictured: Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal — (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Annenberg Media: What challenges did you face at school and in the community?
Meyer: I created challenges for myself. We didn’t have money so that wasn’t really an issue as none of us in that neighborhood had money. I worked from the age of about 12-years-old where I delivered and sold newspapers. If I saw a shirt that I liked, I had to work to pay for it. I washed cars at every job you could imagine. I did what I had to do. I was in trouble as a kid but I created most of it, so that definitely made it more challenging for my parents to deal with me. I went to three different junior high and high schools. I spent very little time going to school and I was suspended a lot. I don’t think I ever spent a full day in high school. When I was 16, I legally dropped out. That is what led me to the Marine Corps.
Annenberg Media: What made you want to join the Marines and what was your military occupational specialty (MOS)?
Meyer: I used to box and I was told there was a boxing program in the Marines. There was an active draft back then, so I had a draft card at 17. I thought I was a tough guy and the Marine Corps seemed like a good idea. I found out that there was no boxing program after joining. It was a different kind of Corps; corporal punishment was allowed, and you could fight bare knuckles. They could put hands on you, and you could put hands on them. It was a different kind of world back then.
I was a rifleman, which was my main MOS. I worked in the motor pool and as a radio man. I was a driver as well.
Annenberg Media: What values were stressed at home?
Meyer: My parents were good, honest and hardworking people. I was taught an early lesson when we went to someone’s house for a visit. When I came back home, I had four or five quarters in my pocket. When I told my mother and made up some story, she was not having it. She made me go back down, return the quarters and apologize. My parents never tolerated stealing. They taught me my values that never changed throughout my life.
Annenberg Media: What drew you to film and media while growing up?
Meyer: When I was in the Marine Corps, I got the measles and I was quarantined. I had never read a book in my life at that point. My mother sent me two books: “Amboy Dukes” which was about kids in trouble and a book called, “The Flesh Peddlers” by Steven Longstreet about a young guy in the agency business. I thought when I got out, I didn’t want to be this jerk anymore so I went looking for a job in the agency business. I didn’t have any friends or connections in the business, I just knew about it as a viewer. When a movie came out on a Friday, I thought it was finished on Thursday. I had no concept of the process. It seemed like a good way to make a living. Agents were salesmen and my father was a salesman. I was going to be a salesman of some kind so selling talent seemed like a thing to look into, so I went after it.
Annenberg Media: What was it like starting at the Kohner Agency?
Meyer: It was a great experience and I was lucky to get the job. I was a messenger there for six years. It was a fun time to live in L.A. back then. It was hard work and I worked five days-a-week and then was on call on the weekends for Mr. Kohner. It really was the best time of my life. Hollywood was a lot of fun on the Sunset Strip with all the restaurants and bars. It was just great and looking back on the time it was very Andy Hardy-ish.
Ron Meyer with reporter, Joel Searls at NBCUniversal. (Photo courtesy of: Joel Searls)
Annenberg Media: What leadership lessons in life and from the service have helped you most in your career?
Meyer: The most lasting value comes from what the Marine Corps taught me, teamwork is everything. At CAA it was about teamwork and certainly here at NBCUniversal it is about teamwork. I felt that way at CAA, you were either for us or against us.
We are all in it together. If we succeed, we all succeed and if we fail, we all fail together. You can’t be pointing your finger as a leader. If you trusted the wrong people to do the job, then you must be responsible for it. As a leader you are in it more than anyone else. It is pretty basic: you treat people the way you want to be treated, you tell the best truth you can, you do what you say you are going to do. Once you are a team those are all the fundamentals. You do the best that you can.
Annenberg Media: What are the keywords that you live by?
Meyer: I wish I could say I invented it, but when I was very young, I saw a sign that said, “Assumption is the mother of all f***! ups.” If you assume something you are at risk, I have lived by that forever and I believe that. Don’t assume anyone else is going to take care of the problem or assume you know what someone else is thinking.
Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Tom Hanks and Ron Meyer at the APOLLO 13 premiere. (Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal/Alex Berliner)
Annenberg Media: What are your top three films while you have been at NBCUniversal?
Meyer: The films that I am most proud of being a part of are “Brokeback Mountain,” “United 93” and “Apollo 13.” I am proud of these films and they had a very important significance for me. “Apollo 13” was a perfect movie since we knew how it ended, but you were on the edge of your seat until the very ending. It entertained you and it made you care. “Brokeback Mountain” broke barriers that no one ever imagined before. It was two men falling in love with each other and the beauty of it. I was proud to be part of the studio that made it. “United 93” made you proud to be an American and it told a story of what people are capable of in the worst of circumstances. It was an extraordinary movie and it was the first post 9/11 film. There were no stars in it, and it was what really happened. I saw it with the families of the victims of Flight 93. It deserves to be a classic film and it is important for America. These are the three films that really stand out for me.
The Walt Disney Company announced another — and very exciting — streaming series for Disney+. Straight from Black Panther director Ryan Coogler himself, we are getting a series all about the kingdom of Wakanda.
With the devastating death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, the fate of the Black Panther sequel is currently unknown. Disney has promised not to recast the role of T’Challa, but as we learned in the first installment, the Black Panther is a title and legacy that can be passed along to other people. All we know is the Coogler is currently writing the sequel, which has a release date of July 8, 2022.
And now, as part of a five-year deal with Disney, Coogler will begin to explore other stories.
Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, and Florence Kasumba in a scene from Black Panther. (Matt Kennedy / Disney / Marvel Studios)
“It’s an honor to be partnering with The Walt Disney Company. Working with them on Black Panther was a dream come true. We look forward to learning, growing, and building a relationship with audiences all over the world through the Disney platforms,” stated Coogler.
In his statement, he also mentioned the possibility of multiple shows. “We are especially excited that we will be taking our first leap with Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, and their partners at Marvel Studios where we will be working closely with them on select MCU shows for Disney+. We’re already in the mix on some projects that we can’t wait to share,” he shared.
Black Panther grossed $1.34 billion and earned a best picture nomination at the Academy Awards. Not only that, it inspired millions around the world with its celebration of African talent, music, languages and culture. As of this publishing date, WandaVision is more than delivering a compelling story for fans, with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier hot on its heels. Signs are promising that Coogler’s Wakanda series won’t be one to miss!
There’s an old military adage that goes “if it’s stupid and it works, then it isn’t stupid.” This idea clearly dates all the way back to the Classical Era, because the stupidest thing ever done to protect a fighting force was perpetrated in 480 BC. By a King.
Say what you want about Persian King Xerxes I, he knew how to fight a battle. That is to say, he always brought enough men and material to get the job done. Yes, this is the same Xerxes seen in the movie 300, but before the Persian Army could get to Thermopylae, they had to cross the Hellespont, what we call the Dardanelles today. It did not go exactly as planned.
Like a lot of things the Persian Army tried.
Xerxes was coming right off of victories over uprisings against Persian rule in Egypt and Babylon and had acquired a massive army, as-then-unheard-of in ancient times. Some 300,000 troops were ready to pour into Greece to avenge the ass-kicking the Greeks perpetrated on Xerxes’ father, Darius. Xerxes was not one to overthink things. The simplest way to get a massive army from one land mass to another was to simply build a bridge and roads to it. Xerxes even had the bridges built in advance so his army wouldn’t have to wait to get to Greece.
This did not go exactly as the Persian Army planned. Before he and his troops could arrive, the seas swelled up and swallowed the bridges, completely destroying them. When the King arrived, it was just debris. Infuriated with the seas, Xerxes marched out to the sea and whipped it with a chain 300 times as his soldiers watched and shouted curses at the water.
He also beheaded the engineers who built the bridge, which may have been a contributing factor to his eventual success.
The bridges were then rebuilt to the exact specifications required to hold 300,000 Persian troops bent on destruction, along with their pack animals, cavalry, and whatever else they could carry. This time, the bridges held and the Persians marched out to meet the Greeks – who would kick the Persian Army right back out of Europe by the following spring.
When the Persians arrived at the bridges in full retreat, they had been destroyed again.
Dune is a legendary sci-fi/fantasy novel that has just been waiting for the right filmmaker to bring it to life (much like The Lord of the Rings). Many have tried. All have failed (sorry, David Lynch). Frank Herbert’s novel built a rich world with fascinating characters but — for modern readers who have honed their tastes on Patrick Rothfuss and even Orson Scott Card — Dune is boring dense, yo.
And I’ll just say it. The Lord of the Rings was dense, too. The pacing of these novels do not hold up for readers — but, as Peter Jackson proved, they can still make for epic films.
Enter Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049). The Oscar nominee will direct the latest adaptation of the iconic film — and I gotta say, based on the trailer, I’m feeling hopeful:
Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides (played by Little Women’s Timothée Chalamet), a young man destined to rule the most dangerous planet in the universe, where forces battle over a substance with the ability to unlock humanity’s greatest potential. When betrayal leaves him and his gifted mother exiled in the unforgiving sands of Arrakis, only their unique powers — and their mastery over the mind-killer — can save them.
Villaneuve set himself up for success with an absolutely killer cast: obviously, Chalamet is super hot right now, as are Zendaya (Euphoria, Spider-Man: Homecoming), Oscar Isaac (Star Wars Episodes VII-IX), Marvel alumni Josh Brolin and Stellan Skarsgård, and Rebecca Ferguson (Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, Mission: Impossible – Fallout).
Hebert’s book is so detailed that the film will be told in two parts, with the first set to release December 18, 2020 (if humans can survive that long). Villaneuve’s adaptation has been a massive undertaking — he spent a year on the design of the iconic sandworms alone.
“We talked about every little detail that would make such a beast possible, from the texture of the skin, to the way the mouth opens, to the system to eat its food in the sand,” the director told Empire magazine for the publication’s Summer 2020 issue. “It was a year of work to design and to find the perfect shape that looked prehistoric enough.”
Check out the trailer above to see one in action and to behold the glory of Arrakis.
After he parked and got out of his car, he didn’t introduce himself or offer any welcome. The unnamed instructor just said, “okay everybody get over here and sign your death waivers.”
This was my first introduction to a GoRuck Challenge, a team endurance event run by former U.S. military special operators. It was the 83rd challenge to take place in Dec. 2011 — running around Tampa, Fla. with 24 people. Since then, it’s grown to more than 2,500 events that now comprise various skill levels.
GoRuck Challenges usually attract a certain demographic of people: Former military personnel, law enforcement, and fitness enthusiasts. Especially with the ominous intro from our instructor, a former Green Beret, anyone taking part in a GoRuck event knows it will be rough, to say the least.
“We want to promote the sport of rucking,” Kit Klein, partnership manager for GoRuck based in Jacksonville, Fla., told The Tampa Bay Times. “We’re trying to put it on the map.”
The “sport of rucking” that GoRuck promotes now consists of “GoRuck Light,” a four to five hour challenge that covers seven to 10 miles, “GoRuck Tough,” a 10 to 12-hour challenge covering 15 to 20 miles, and “GoRuck Heavy,” a much more demanding 24-hour-plus challenge that can cover more than 40 miles.
But those times and distances can vary, as one of the company’s mottos is to “under-promise, over-deliver.” (For the GoRuck Tough challenge I was on in Tampa, we did roughly 23 miles over 15 hours).
“Your class is led from start to finish by a Special Operations Cadre whose job is to build a team by pushing you to overcome, together,” reads the description of the challenges on the GoRuck website. “You stay with your class the entire time aka a true team event, never in any way confused with a road race or a mud run. And no, your Cadre is not a drill sergeant and no, this is not bootcamp. That stuff belongs to the military, this is simply an event about your team.”
All of the challenges require participants to carry around weights or bricks in a backpack, which is why these events exist in the first place.
In 2008, GoRuck was a new company making rugged backpacks designed to withstand the rigors of military combat. Founded by former Special Forces soldier Jason McCarthy, he sent his bags to friends in the field to test out and he quickly realized selling backpacks may not be his only business.
McCarthy spent two years developing the bags that make up most of GoRuck’s product line (four styles, starting at $195). Early on, he battle-tested his prototypes, literally – sending them to Green Beret buddies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Then he grew concerned about sending unproven gear to men in danger, so he established another proving ground: the GoRuck Challenge. In these team-oriented endurance runs, which are led by combat veterans and incorporate Special Forces training, participants carry a GoRuck sack loaded with rocks or bricks.
“The original intent was very nearsighted,” McCarthy told The Cincinnatti Enquirer of starting his first challenges. “I had a bunch of inventory and wanted people to know about our bags.”
People did learn of GoRuck, and more: “People kept describing this as a life-changing event,” McCarthy told the Enquirer. “I got more and more and more requests to host events.”
An Iraq war veteran, McCarthy began the events in 2010 while attending business school at Georgetown University, according to The Washington Post. Beyond marketing his bags, he told The Post, his goal is “to build better Americans” with his challenges. He does this by promoting leadership, teamwork, and honoring the sacrifices of military service members.
“It’s spiritual, emotional experience they take away,” Derek Zahler, a GoRuck cadre and former Special Forces soldier, told News4Jax. “They get to learn a lot more about themselves. Especially their goals and what they perceive their ability to achieve those goals are.”
The company has moved beyond backpacks and challenging events, however. It now sells apparel, fitness items, and even firearms gear, which it developed in 2014. In that year, the company had $10.8 million in revenue — nearly 30 percent more than the previous year’s figures.