A nickname is a revealing indication of a man or woman’s character. Whether it’s bad or badass, it’s usually determined by peer evaluation — unless there’s something so obvious about a person’s appearance that a nickname is impossible to avoid.
In this episode of the WATM podcast, we discuss our favorite military leader nicknames and how they earned their labels. Some leaders wear them with pride, while others resent their given monikers.
Just imagine the shocking scenario where the U.S. angered China, Russia, Iran, and its traditional allies like the UK and France. Now imagine if these countries formed a unified coalition to attack the U.S. How long would the U.S. be able to hold them off? Which tactics would it deploy? What role will its citizens play?
In this debut episode of the WATM podcast, the boys of the editorial team discuss how this idea might play out.
The podcast is hosted by bunch of vets who live and breathe all things weapons, tactics, and mil-tech. Here’s who they are:
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.
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.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with poet, activist, filmmaker, actor, and Navy SEAL veteran of 22 years, Mikal Vega.
Vega joined the Navy at 17, entered the EOD profession for roughly nine-years, and deployed multiple times around the world in support of SEAL teams. After working with SEALs, he decided that’s what he wanted to do with the rest of his career.
At 28, Vega earned a spot on SEAL teams and added a few more tours of duty to his already impressive resume.
After being honorable discharged in 2012, Vega started a non-profit called Vital Warrior, providing Kundalini Yoga for veterans, first responders, and active duty service members.
But, this wasn’t enough for the motivated sailor.
Vega went on to express his creative side by entering the world of film and television and now serves as a military advisor on the hit NBC military-drama, The Brave.
The Brave — “Stealth” Episode 108 —Pictured: (l-r) Noah Mills as Sergeant Joseph “McG” McGuire, Natacha Karam as Sergeant Jasmine “Jaz” Khan, Mike Vogel as Captain Adam Dalton, Hadi Tabbal as Agent Amir Al-Raisani, Demetrius Grosse as CPO Ezekiel “Preach” Carter (Photo by Lewis Jacobs via NBC)
As veterans, we have a surplus of talent and creativity that we can draw from stemming from our unique military service and experiences.
Like many combat vets who are fans of narrative filmmaking, Vega uses his in-depth training to bring the realism of combat tactics to the screen.
The Brave cast — Pictured: (l-r) Tate Ellington, Demetrius Grosse, Anne Heche, Dean Georgaris, Executive Producer/Co-Showrunner/Creator; Mike Vogel, Sophia Pernas, Hadi Tabbal, Natacha Karam, Noah Mills, Mikal Vega, Technical Advisor. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater via NBC)
NBC’s The Brave focuses on a group of elite Special Operatives who embark on the most challenging and dangerous missions around the world to save the innocent lives behind enemy lines.
During his service, Vega held many positions, such as a SEAL Platoon Leading Chief Petty Officer, Personal Security Detail Shift Leader, U.S. Navy SEAL Combatives Instructor, U.S. Navy SEAL Demolitions Instructor, and Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician.
He’s earned many awards, including the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during Operation Iraqi Freedom, two Bronze Stars with combat valor, the Army Achievement Medal for Operation Joint Guardian Kosovo, and the Navy Achievement Medal.
Vega’s qualifications include, but are not limited to, Navy SEAL, Senior EOD Technician (Bomb Squad), Breacher RSO, HRST Master, free-fall parachutist, U.S. Secret Service, Presidential Security Detail Operations, combat leadership, precision driver, dynamic firearms, SCUBA and closed-circuit diving supervisor, Cold Weather Environment Survival, demolitions instructor, and martial artist.
Following his lifelong passion for acting, he used his career successes to fund Vital Warrior, a system that increases performance and resiliency through non-pharmaceutical stress mitigation techniques that can help veterans and their families recover from wartime trauma.
He was recently elected as president of AK Waters Productions and has acted in film and television productions that include Transformers 3 and Hawaii Five-O among others. Vega lives in Los Angeles with his wife, daughter, and son.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with U.S. Navy SEAL veteran turned entrepreneur, Eli Crane. You may have seen Eli pitch his business, Bottle Breacher, on the hit TV show Shark Tank. Eli’s appearance landed him partnerships with celebrity businessmen Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary.
Eli stopped by our show to talk about what military strategies he uses to run his multi-million dollar business.
A lot of the tactics that we use on the SEAL teams actually work really well in business,” Eli Crane states. “When you make some of the correlations — in battle, you have the enemy, in business, you also have an enemy, but we usually call them the competition.
Bottle Breacher is one of the fastest growing veteran-owned and operated businesses in Arizona.
Eli and his wife Jen dove into the Shark Tank with their sole product. A recycled, authentic, decommissioned .50 caliber Bottle Breacher, manufactured in a one-car garage.
Having enticed sharks Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary to invest, today they feature an ever-expanding product line, serving customers both domestically and internationally.
Bottle Breachers aims to provide the best handcrafted, personalized gifts and promotional products on the market.
Through their success, Crane’s company has donated to over 200 non-profits in the last year alone. Shopping with Bottle Breacher means supporting military veterans, active military personnel, first responders, children’s foundations, and various other non-profits.
At the end of the day, we do a lot more than bottle openers. What we really specialize in is mens gifts
Eli and his wife on the sandy training grounds of the Navy SEALs. (Source: Bottle Breachers)
As a kid, Eli always looked up to those who served in the military and decided to join a week after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. On his second attempt, Crane graduated BUD/s with class 256 and was later assigned to SEAL Team 3 under legendary American Sniper Chris Kyle.
For the WATM audience, Eli and team outstanding team have decided to give us a 20% discount on all items! Simply use the code WATM20 at checkout.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks with Kelvin Garvanne about his life as an Arabic/Iraqi role player who took training U.S. ground troops to a whole new level — even conducting mock kidnapping scenarios.
During these training drills, Marines are “killed” (taken out of play for a period of time) or held hostage by the role players if they’re caught off on their own.
“We kidnapped Marines,” Mr. Garvanne explains. “One of the things we wanted to do in real time was capture a Marine.”
Before U.S. forces deploy to a foreign region like Afghanistan, pre-deployment training is conducted in environments similar to the terrain in which they’ll be exposed.
Since the landscape and elevation of 29 Palms almost mirrors that of Afghanistan, Marines are sent there to partake in Mohave Viper — an intense, five-week long training course. The Marines live there for the scenarios and receive cultural training from experts — immersing themselves in war games against native speaking role players for an all-out showdown.
These highly supervised training scenarios are considered the best exercises troops can receive as they live in enormous MOUT (military operation urban terrain) areas built to reflect life in Afghanistan.
Kelvin Garvanne attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He is an Emmy award-winning creative artist who is fascinated by the world and enjoys investigating the context of national and world events.
Garvanne is a native New Yorker who has lived in Washington, D.C., Bogota, Colombia, Madrid, Spain, and Los Angeles, California. He has traveled through several countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Panama, Mexico, and Haiti.
For the last nine years, he provided Islamic culture and Iraqi and Pashto language training to military and civilian personnel deploying overseas.
Garvanne continues to develop opportunities to advise and train military and civilians positioned in careers involving global service. He also develops creative projects to expose the human condition.
“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:
The attack on the Alamo in 1836 was not a 13-day siege and slaughter as often portrayed in film and television. Don’t get me wrong – the defenders of the mission-turned-fortress were killed en masse as Mexican troops stormed the structure. It’s just that not everyone inside the Alamo died that day.
That’s how we came to know of Joe — just Joe, any other names he had are lost to history now. Joe was the slave of William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo during Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s siege of the Texian fort. But no one knows exactly how Joe got there. No matter how he ended up there, he was one of many slaves and free blacks who fought or died at the Alamo.
Joe was a stalwart defender alongside Travis and other Texians. When the din of the fighting died down and the Mexicans firmly controlled the fort, Joe was shot and bayoneted, only to be saved by a Mexican field officer. Because Joe could speak Spanish, he was able to be interrogated afterward.
That’s where attorney-turned-author Lewis Cook picked up the story. His first book, called
Joe’s Alamo: Unsung, is a fiction-based-on-history account of what came next, after the Alamo, and after Joe escaped.
Cook was waiting to go to medical school when he discovered Joe’s story and was compelled to write about the Alamo. Cook discovered the Alamo was more than a bunch of white, male landowners fighting for Texas. The fort was full of women, minorities of many color, and followers of many religions. So, he set out to tell the story of the Alamo, a story that, he believes, belongs to all of us through the diversity of its defenders.
In his book, Cook tells a different story from what is commonly told in textbooks, film, and TV shows. It includes recently discovered facts about William Travis, Susana Dickinson, Davy Crockett, and Joe himself.
Audible: For you, the listeners of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out some of the books and authors featured on Mandatory Fun. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/MandatoryFun.
Whether they inspired you to join the military or remind you of your time in service, one thing is for sure: In the history of film, there’s a movie character that resembles a buddy or you. Just like in real life, some are lovable, some are righteous, and some are up to no good.
In this episode of the WATM podcast, the boys of the editorial team talk about their favorite characters from iconic military movies.
The incoming Commander-in-Chief has a full plate of foreign and domestic issues come January 20th. His or her first term is filled with potential flare-ups around the world. Some include the usual suspects, like Iran and Russia but also some newcomers.
In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast, our veteran hosts discuss the potential wars our next Commander-in-Chief will have to avoid or engage.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and O.V. speak with Army veteran and fitness expert Jennifer Campbell on what veterans can do during their busy day to stay in shape — especially when going to morning PT isn’t an option.
“Veterans have a 70 percent higher chance of developing obesity than the general public,” Jennifer Campbell says.
The reason for this statistic is due to the dramatic change in a veteran’s daily habit. The majority of the veteran community have been known to cease fire on their work out plans, which creates a negativity jolt the body’s system.
In this episode, we talk on a wide-range of topics including:
[2:00] The daily regiment of a fitness instructor to maintain a healthy lifestyle while still staying “loose.”
[2:40] Information about “Merging Vets & Players,” the growing fitness organization that connects troops and professional athletes.
[4:50] Some positive traits of working out versus taking certain medications.
[6:20] What “Overtraining Syndrome” consists of and how to avoid it.
[10:00] How structured dieting and workouts are necessary for those looking to get into the fitness industry.
[11:40] How to properly test your genetic makeup.
[13:25] If you want to cheat on your diet — a.k.a. cheat days — here’s how to do it the right way.
[18:20] What you can learn about yourself from your genetic markers.
[19:20] Important tips how to stay in shape while working in an office space setting.
[23:20] Some dietary buzz words that freak everyone out.
[30:25] How we can stay looking young using our new health and fitness tools.
[34:45] What type of alcohol we should be drinking if you’re trying to stay in shape.