In the shadow of heroes

For the past three days I have visited with members of the Blackhawk! staff at their headquarters in Norfolk, VA. You know about Blackhawk!, the maker of some of the finest tactical gear in the world. Stuff that is built for the field by guys who have been in the field. You heard the story of how Blackhawk! founder Mike Noell, a Navy SEAL, found himself face-to-face with a landmine after a strap on his pack broke somewhere in northern Iraq. And how he promised that if he made it out alive he would make the best backpacks in the world… yeah, that’s all legend. Well, the past three day, I have hung out with and learned from a cadre of men. None bragged. None went out of their way to tell storys, but occassionally topics would come up. We talked about breaching doors with a man who helped rescue Jessica Lynch and a sniper who helped knock down three Somalian pirates. There were guys who helped capture Bosnian war criminals and spent time in the hills of Afghanistan.

I could not help but wonder where we would be as a nation without people who risked so much, for so many while so few really knew what they were doing. All of these men said the same thing: “It was my job. I was part of a team. I could do nothing alone.”

The movie version of Navy SEAL is so far from the truth it is almost laughable. I prefer the term I have heard so many times: Quiet Professionals. They are men who work hard, trust in their training and seemingly want nothing more than a nod of approval for a job well done. I felt honored and humbled to work with such men, to be around them for even a short time was great.

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