In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with Scott Huesing, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Infantry Major with 24 years of service as an enlisted and commissioned officer.
During his career spanning ten deployments, he operated in over 60 countries worldwide. Throughout his numerous deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa, he planned, led, and conducted hundreds of combat missions under some of the most austere and challenging conditions.
Before the Marines on-the-ground could consider fighting an unconventional war, they first had to demonstrate using unconventional tactics to fight the War on Terror in Iraq — that’s exactly what retired Marine Scott Huesing did.
“When I say ‘unconventional,’ I was willing to think outside of the box to some degree,” Scott Huesing states. “If there was a Marine, soldier, sailor, airman, contractor that had a rifle, knew how to shoot it, I didn’t care. If they wanted to come out in the combat zone and fight with us, that was an enabler.”
The Marine veteran is a published author since 2005. His upcoming book, Echo in Ramadi, is a ten-month snapshot in time that changed the face of operations on the battlefield. It promises to be a captivating story of Echo Company, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines during the Second Battle of Ramadi in support of the Multi-National Forces (MNF) Surge Strategy in 2006.
His true-life account provides keen insights into what may be an unfamiliar world to readers, but very familiar to those, like Scott, who lived it and endured this historic fight.
Echo in Ramadi was written to honor the sacrifices and spirit of his Marines and the families they supported – it’s his way of honoring and paying tribute to troops he served next to.
“It was like walking onto the surface of the moon,” Graham Elwood says of his first experience walking off of a C-17 in Afghanistan.
His experience was not unlike many of our own first times deploying to a far-off edge of the world. We take a long, long C-17 (or god help you, C-130) ride for seemingly endless hours. There are no windows. The plane is packed. Forget about an in-flight movie or looking out the window. And when you walk off, it’s invariably the middle of the night and you and the hundred or so people you’re with walk off the flightline in a single file.
From there, who knows? There’s a good chance the “hurry up and wait” has just begun. For civilians visiting war zones for the first time, it’s no different – except they have no idea how to speak the acronym language.
“They said ‘When your bird hits the LZ, find your POC, they’ll take you to the MWR tent then you can go to the DFAC,'” he jokes. “It’s like… what are you saying to me right now, man?”
Elwood is a Los Angeles-based comedian with appearances in comedy clubs across America, on college campuses, and even CBS’ Late Late Show. He’s also a veteran podcaster with shows like Comedy Film Nerds, and The Political Vigilante, and he’s a co-creator of the Los Angeles Podcast Festival.
None of that prepared him for performing for U.S. troops deployed in combat zones. His first documentary, Laffghanistan: Comedy Down Range, is about his first time volunteering to go do just that. It’s amazing how fast you can go from playing the Hollywood Improv to playing Bagram Air Base.
Elwood’s film documents his personal journey from the sunny beaches of Southern California to the sun-baked moonscape of Afghanistan, where the military’s Department of Morale, Welfare and Recreation enlisted him to entertain the troops. Elwood’s psychedelic travels through a war zone are simultaneously hilarious, harrowing, and heartbreaking. His journey becomes unpredictably personal, creating a documentary that no one expected, least of all Graham.
For someone who admits he’s pretty far removed from the Global War on Terror, it all came home to him when went around the small firebases of Afghanistan. It was his first time in helicopters, driving in unarmored vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan, and seeing minefields. It got real for him for him real fast.
“What was said to me and what I’ve said to other comedians,” he says. “Well don’t go over there if you don’t want to be changed. It will change you. You have no idea. This is no joke.”
Now that Elwood has done a number of these shows and tours around deployed military bases, he looks back at his first experience in this episode of Mandatory Fun.
Nothing could adequately prepare him for performing a comedy act in Afghanistan. All the dive bars and sh*t holes he played as a young comedian is the best thing he could do to prepare. He was still freaking out but couldn’t help but put himself in the shoes of young troops.
“I’m here for two weeks,” Elwood says, “and MY family is freaking out. Imagine them and their families and how much they’re freaking out.”
But they quickly realized that they need to be the comics. They were there for a reason: to give American troops fighting overseas a few laughs, a taste of a normal night, and a show to help ease their tension, even if it was only for a short time.
Mandatory Fun guest: Graham Elwood has been a stand-up comic for over 20 years working comedy clubs, colleges, TV shows, Holiday Inn Lounges, war zones, dive bars, and one time on the top of a double-decker tour bus in Chicago (not joking) . You’ve probably seen him on the TV as the host of the socially relevant game shows “Cram” (GSN) and “Strip Poker” (USA), along with making the world a better place by appearing on shows like “Best Bodies Ever” on VH1. Don’t forget the time when he told jokes on “The Late Late Show” (CBS). He has also starred in the theatrical plays Speed the Plow, Light Sensitive, and Cash Flow, and co-wrote the one act play Brothers. Learn more about Elwood:
New York Times bestselling author Sebastian Junger dropped by We Are The Mighty to discuss his latest book “Tribe.”
Here’s what the publisher says about the book:
Through combining history, psychology, and anthropology, “Tribe” explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that—for many veterans as well as civilians—war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. “Tribe” explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.
The Gurkha warriors of Nepal are fearless soldiers who famously serve in the British and Indian militaries. Their reputation for bravery, fighting ability, and heroism dates back to the Middle Ages.
Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw of the Indian Army, once said, “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.” A fitting statement for a force who’s motto is, “better to die than to be a coward.”
NOTE: O.V. was wrong about the bull decapitation being part of a Gurkha ceremony. The animal sacrifice video he was referencing during the podcast is part of the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyapu, Nepal. But, the Kukri knife IS used during the animal beheadings.
Now that the conventions are over and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the official presidential nominees for their respective parties, how will the incoming Commander-in-Chief handle the turmoil around the world? Will America be led down the path of imminent war, or will the new president avoid these chaotic scenarios?
Join us for part two of the potential wars that could break out in the next four years.
Green on blue attacks — used to describe attacks by Afghan soldiers on Coalition forces — are one of the many dangers our troops in the Middle East face every day.
These deadly morale-sapping attacks are difficult to predict and leave lasting negative trust issues between the locals — and American forces. As many as 91 incidents resulted in 148 Coalition troops killed and as many 186 wounded between 2008 and 2015.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Marine infantry officer turned Army Green Beret Chase Millsap, and our Navy corpsman smartass Tim Kirkpatrick share their experiences working with the locals. Millsap with the Iraqi Police and Kirkpatrick with the Afghan National Army. As you’ll listen, their experiences differ.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we once again speak to General Merrill A. McPeak, who served as former Air Force Chief of Staff, National Security Council, a military adviser to the Secretary of Defense, and to the President.
The General currently has three books out,Below The Zone, Roles and Missions, and Hangar Flying, about his time being ringside during one of the most tumultuous moments in recent history: the Vietnam War, where Gen. McPeak was an attack pilot and high-speed forward air controller.
During his impressive career as a fighter pilot, the general logged in more than 6,000 hours of flight time, including a period where he was a solo pilot with the elite Thunderbirds.
When Doc Todd left the Navy after spending three years as a corpsman, he didn’t have any transition assistance or training. He lost friends. He lost Marines. After separating from the military, he saw even more of his Marines take their own lives through substance abuse and suicide. It’s wasn’t the ending he had expected when he joined.
He joined the Navy in 2007 after spending four years in sales and restaurant jobs. He wanted to experience some meaningful growth in his life and be part of something bigger than himself. That – to him – meant joining the U.S. Navy. Doc ended up spending the bulk of his time with Marines in “America’s Battalion,” 2nd Battalion 8th Marines. In 2009, he and his Marines were in Afghanistan in Operation Khanjar, the largest aerial insertion of Marine troops since the Vietnam War.
Though he experienced his own struggles upon leaving the military, he didn’t turn to music as a means of coping. He actually waited until he had the strength to better express himself instead.
“Honestly, from an artistic perspective, I didn’t know who I was yet. Or who I was becoming,” Doc says. “I found it very difficult to make a statement musically when I didn’t know what to say.”
When Doc picked himself up was when he was finally able to realize his purpose was helping others. Like a true corpsman, he never wanted to stop looking out for others. He saw too many overdoses, too many suicides. He decides to enter the veteran’s space, but to do it in his own way.
In June 2017, his album Combat Medicine dropped to widespread acclaim and national praise, not to mention a flood of personal stories from those who listened to it and felt the message.
Doc is currently working on a release titled “The Shadow Game EP,” on Runaway Train Records.
Mandatory Fun guest: Doc Todd is combat veteran who proudly served our country as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman (combat medic) in the United States Navy. Since Doc’s honorable discharge in 2009, Doc moved to Atlanta and worked at restaurants and a premier hospital, while he pursed his college education on the G.I. Bill. Doc graduated from Georgia State University magna cum laude with an undergraduate degree in studying Economics and Public Policy in 2014. He then joined Northwestern Mutual where he began to build a financial management practice, before pursuing his music.
Doc resides in Atlanta with his wife Abby, two young daughters Savannah and Audrey, and dog Memphis, who Doc rescued shortly after coming home from war.
McEwen teamed with Zinke — a former SEAL Team Six Commander and the only US Navy SEAL in Congress — to write a book about the now-politician’s life.
Zinke is also Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Interior.
Zinke’s military career began in 1985 when he graduated from Officer Candidate School and attended SEAL training (BUDS class 136). He was first assigned to SEAL Team One in Coronado, California, then was later selected for SEAL Team Six where he was a Team Leader and a commander.
As McEwen tells it, after a decade of service, Zinke was assigned as Deputy and Acting Commander of Combined Joint Special Operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom where he led a force of over 3,500 Special Operations personnel. In 2006 he was awarded two Bronze Stars.
An author experienced in telling the stories of high-level special operators, McEwen goes on to explain how Zinke retired from active duty 2008 after serving 23 years as a Navy SEAL. Zinke later ran for Congress and was sworn into the House of Representatives on January 6, 2015, and became the first Navy SEAL in the House.
Army medics and Navy corpsmen are a perfect example of service branch cooperation. When they work together, they save lives.
For this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we invited former Army medic Ruty Rutenberg to chat with our resident Corpsman about deployment responsibilities. Tune in to learn the differences between their jobs on the field and in garrison.
Disclaimer: Let’s be honest — we only work so well together because we’re secretly trying to outdo the other side.
The thin line between brilliant and crazy cliché couldn’t be truer than for the military leaders in this entertaining episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast. While they accomplished incredible feats and heroics on the battlefield, they have another side the history books leave out.
Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock is a Marine Corps legend and one of the most lethal snipers in history. His incredible true-life war stories are the stuff Hollywood movies are made of. In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast we talk about his sniper duels, that time he crawled two miles to kill a Vietnamese general, and more. Don’t miss this episode of a real American badass.
America’s relationship with Russia wasn’t always as bad as it is now (or was during the Cold War).
Thanks to help from Czarist Russia, for example, England had a tough time controlling the colonial rebellion during the Revolutionary War. And who can forget the alliance with Stalin during World War II?
In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast, our hosts explore the on-again, off-again relationship with the Ruskies.