On September 8, 2001, I joined a diverse group of young hopefuls as I bounced around in the back of a military cargo truck on the way to the cradle of the Army Special Forces: Camp MacKall, North Carolina. I didn’t know it then, and would not know it for many years to come, but those upcoming 21 days would be the most pivotal in my life.
As history has so poignantly recorded, just three days later, thousands of Americans were killed in attacks that propelled us towards a path of unrelenting war; a war which has tested our modern Army Special Forces like no other period in history. After an arduous assessment and selection process, as well as continuous training and vetting, I took command of a Special Forces team in 2003. From that moment on, my life was undergirded by an unending quest to be worthy of the high standards of the special operations profession. Through some great times and some bad ones, losses as well as victories, I fulfilled nearly every childhood dream of becoming the quintessential soldier; I was finally an experienced and battle-tested Green Beret.
Today, after retiring and having made a successful transition into the private sector, I can’t help but look back at that uncomfortable yet fateful cargo truck ride on my way to Camp MacKall many years back. I think about how the dusty landscape disappeared behind us as I stared back over the truck’s drop-down gate while I held on to a green duffle bag and a large rucksack. “This view will never look the same after today“, I remember thinking as I headed for the unforgiving crucible of Special Forces Assessment and Selection. I was right, I never did look the same after that day.
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