“You know, and also just always raising your hand, always volunteering, always assuming you’re a new guy.”- Clint Emerson
Mark has a new book coming out in 2020 about the seven commitments of leadership. It is called “Staring Down the Wolf: 7 Leadership Commitments That Forge Elite Teams,” and is available now for pre-order. Commander Divine writes about many of the great leaders he met in SpecOps to give examples of the commitments that one has to make to the 7 key principles of Courage, Trust, Respect, Growth, Excellence, Resiliency and Alignment.
Today we have the first part of Mark’s interview with Clint Emerson, (#100deadlyskills) retired SEAL and the author of “100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation.” Clint is an expert in personal security and preparedness. He is also the author of “The Right Kind of Crazy: My Life as a Navy SEAL, Covert Operative, and Boy Scout from Hell.”
Listen to this episode to learn more about SEALs and military service as well as the current military situation going on with Iran.
As you guys know, Mark has been using Halo Sport for the last year and half and he has loved it. Halo Neuroscience revolutionized human performance when it debuted Halo Sport in 2016, the first brain stimulator that accelerates muscle memory development. Halo Sport is now trusted by teams and athletes from the U.S. military, Olympics, MLB, NBA, NFL, NCAA, and more.
Well they just launched Halo Sport 2 – a fully upgraded Halo Sport at a lower price making this revolutionary technology more accessible to all. It’s fully wireless and has excellent sound quality. It also has an upgraded app with new stimulation data and tracking.
It makes neurostimulation accessible for all with its price point in line with other headphones at $279 and available to pre-order now.
You’ve probably already heard Mark extolling the virtues of the PowerDot to help with recovery. The PowerDot is an electrical stimulation device that allows you to increase performance, speed up recovery and overall achieve a deeper mind/body connection. Many stim devices can be clumsy and hard to use. PowerDot achieves simplicity and is well-designed. They put professional level physical therapy in your hands easily and inexpensively. They now have a version 2.0.
Listeners to the podcast can save by using the code UNBEATABLE at checkout for 20% off the regular price.
Love the Unbeatable Mind Podcast? Click here to subscribe on iTunes.We’d love your feedback, please leave a rating and review.
Hey folks, welcome back. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for joining me. Gonna have a great show today with Clint Emerson.
Before I introduce Clint in a little bit more detail, let me remind you that I am putting out another book in March. It’s called “Staring Down the Wolf.” it’s about leadership and I tell some cool SEAL stories in there from other leaders who kicked ass and took names.
And then I juxtapose that with all the fuckups of my own life – particularly in business – trying to recreate some of that excellence that I saw. And how hard it is to do, actually.
And so the “staring down the wolf” reference is the idea that we’ve got to stare down our fear and overcome our shit, overcome our shadow, and get out of our own way. For truly effective and authentic leadership.
So at any rate staringdownthewolf.com is our pre-order website and we have a lot of cool stuff there that you can get that you won’t be able to get if you just order the book on amazon. And of course we’re doing that because if we get a certain number of books pre-sold, then the book could be on the New York Times bestseller list. Which would be pretty cool. We did that with “eight weeks to SEAL fit.” I’d love to do it again, because, you know what? It stokes my ego, and it gives a little bit of credibility. So now you know.
At any rate. I’ve never been anything but transparent here. So staringdownthewolf.com. Appreciate your support. Hooyah.
Clint Emerson – SEAL team 3 teammate, but I think we missed each other by a few years. The CEO of escape the wolf – there’s another cool connection point cause “staring down the wolf” and escaping the wolf obviously referring to the same wolf pack.
And you are a 20 year SEAL veteran, retired in… What year?
Mark. ’15. Okay, I retired in ’11.
Bronze star recipient, and inducted to the international spy museum. That’s different…
Clint. That’s weird, yeah.
Mark. Super cool. That’s weird. You’re a weird dude.
I loved your book “100 Deadly Skills.” In fact, I think I wanted to get you on this podcast when you produced that book, or put that book out. Super cool and what I love about your style, is you use a lot of graphics. You know, it’s like a comic book almost. But the skills are still deadly. That’s cool.
Clint. Yeah, that’s the goal.
Mark. So Clint, super cool to probably re-meet you… Like I said – I can’t imagine our paths haven’t crossed. We’ve got some mutual friends. Served in the same team at different times together. But super like your style… Your writing style is terrific. I just read your new book “The Right Kind of Crazy” yesterday.
And man, you just lay it out there don’t you?
Clint. I did, I wanted… Well, first, thanks for having me on here.
Mark. My pleasure.
Clint. Yeah, I wanted to be – just like you said at the beginning – nothing but transparent. I wanted to be human. I feel like there’s a lot of books out there that kind of… You know the saying we have in the community? When you start believing your evals, it’s probably time for you to go.
Mark. (laughing) Exactly. Those evals were such a joke, weren’t they? We’re all 4.0 sailors.
Clint. Yeah, you’re 4.0 sailor. You’re a superb leader. You are a future superstar. I mean all those flowery terms are great on paper. And that’s about it.
But I feel like there’s a lot of a lot of other military memoirs out there that kind of go down that path. They kind of drink their own Kool-Aid.
And I wanted to do something far more human, and let people know that you know we’re not knights in shining armor. In fact, we’re probably more like pirates than anything else.
Mark. (laughing) True. I was thinking that the other day… Like, the SEALs are basically pirates. We’re the modern-day equivalent. You know, a bunch of misfits and like hard-charging dudes, but probably don’t really fit in that well. And so the SEALs provide us this little container for us to be pirates.
Clint. Yeah, like I express often in the book is if you’re really looking to… If you have a criminal side, go to the SEAL teams, you know. (laughing) If you like causing trouble, be a SEAL, you know?
Mark. It’s sanctioned criminality.
Clint. Yeah, if you want to be a bad guy, you know, join the SEAL teams and be a bad guy in somebody else’s country. Just don’t do it here. That’s really the goal.
Mark. (laughing) That’s funny.
Tell us a little bit about how you got in the SEALs. You tell the story… Like “The Right Kind of Crazy,” is really like a memoir, if I’m not mistaken. It’s just like your story – you talk about your childhood and your stepdad – sounds like a pretty badass guy. Growing up in Saudi Arabia. Boy scouts and all that.
In your own words, let’s hear some of the highlights of those formative years. I’d like to kind of go there with all the guests, so people know – like you said – not the flowery polish, this is who I am today. But let’s lay it out in terms of the whole timeline.
Clint. Yeah so as a kid – I’m a Dallas kid. I was living in an apartment with my mom for a little while until she met who I called dad. And like most SEALs, I come from a broken home.
The guy who knocked her up decided to bail the day I was born.
Mark. Oh wow. Hell of a birthday present.
Clint. Yeah. And to turn around and come back like two weeks later with his dad. And then they took me from my mom. And basically took me over to the united way to try and get rid of the problem, right?
And then she spent – I think it was like a couple of days trying to find me in the system. S
Mark. You can just drop off a kid at united way?
Clint. I think back in the day it was something equivalent to that, you know? So anyway she’s a tough woman and we ended up moving up to Dallas. She met who I call dad by harassing him until he married her. It’s kind of what I joke about. (laughing)
My mom had some funny stuff going on… Like anytime he’d come over to her apartment, she would hide anything that had to do with an infant, right? So hide pictures, hide the toys, hide everything.
And then once they were serious, she’s like, “hey, I’ve got something to tell you.”
And he’s like, “uh, what?”
She goes “I have a son.”
He’s like “you didn’t think I knew that? I’ve seen you drive around town with a kid in your back seat.”
So anyway, he played it pretty well. But yeah we ended up… He was a smart guy… Worked a full-time job. Did Bachelors all the way up through his Master’s in one run. Full-time student, was a teacher for a little while in the Dallas area.
Then he got a job with Aramco. Which has made the news from time to time.
Mark. They just went public, right?
Clint. Yeah, I guess they’re planning on it.
Mark. A trillion dollars or something.
Clint. Yeah, something crazy.
So yeah Aramco hires a lot of Americans, Brits and Canadians to figure out what the Arabs can’t figure out for themselves. Which is how to pull oil out of the ground. So you know, that’s what we do.
And so we went to Saudi. And over there, more related to this world – being a SEAL – I wanted to be a ninja, right? I think most want to be ninjas. I was totally into ninjas.
I was into Ninjitsu. I was into anything that had to do with sneaking around and leveraging it to cause trouble.
But yeah, I wanted to be a ninja all the way up until I met this guy in Germany at the airport who had a tattoo on his arm. And I asked him what it was about. He said it was a trident. I was like “what’s a trident?”
He kind of took a deep breath, was like “oh god. I’m a SEAL man. Where you from kid?”
I’m like “I live in Saudi.”
He tells me some cool stories about what SEALs do. And so the story…
Mark. None of which were true, probably, right?
Clint. Right, and as we have found out… Here’s the best part of the story… This guy tells me a bunch of stories it switches me from ninja to “okay, now I want to grow up and be a SEAL.”
And then later once I get into the teams, I get to SEAL team 3 because as you know back in the day we were nothing but Middle East focused. And so if there was any team that did some of those operations that he told me about, it would have been there.
And, of course, no one had done it. No one heard of it. I talked to anybody who was kind of part of team 3 – you know, the Mike Martins of the world and all the old-school guys. The Pepper Tagels.
And they’re all like “look, we never went to Libya. We never took out any anti-aircraft guns so that the b111s could come in lower and drop bombs and reduce collateral damage.”
All of that was basically bullshit. But so a fraud set me on my path…
Mark. (laughing) You were inspired to become a SEAL by a phony… That’s awesome.
Clint. In retrospect, think about it – he’s sitting in an airport telling a 10 year-old kid these war stories, so yeah it kind of makes sense…
Mark. It’s really interesting, because I had a similar experience… But I don’t think the guy was intending to be a phony, I think there was possibly some kind of mis-comm… But my brother worked for a guy who my brother said was a SEAL. And it was the first time I had really heard anything about it, and I was curious, because I had just been thinking about this change. I was actually a lot older than you were. I think I was like 22 at the time.
And it turns out he was EOD, and so I you know for a long time I thought I had had that wool pulled over my eyes by a phony.
But I think back in the day EOD and UDT and SEALs had had a lot of crossover, actually. You know I mean? It all kind of blurred in the ’70s.
At any rate, so back to your dad. You allude to in the book that he had some other skills, and that you weren’t sure if he was with Aramco to be a geologist or a security officer. Did you ever crack the code on that one? Just kind of curious about that.
Clint. No, I remember when I got done with BUD/S, and went home for my first holiday… Whatever it was… I think it was Thanksgiving or Christmas and that’s when he finally was like “I got some stories to tell you.”
And I had noticed certain habits about my dad early on, you know? And I talked about them in the book. This guy carrying his 1911 everywhere he went… And this was before concealed-carry was cool in Texas.
He checked his mirror… You know when you’re a kid and sitting in the backseat and iPads didn’t exist… So you observe what’s going on around you back then. And I remember sitting in that back seat and that guy’s eyes constantly… It was like, his driver’s side mirror, his rear mirror, passenger side mirror… Scanning his environment. I mean, at the time it seemed normal.
But as I got older and I started getting into my own little world of clandestine stuff, it started dawning on me that “man, this guy is actually…” he was pretty locked on, you know? And did some things that most people don’t do. People on long road trips don’t usually scan their mirrors. They usually get into a daze, and just drive down the road.
And when we were over in the Middle East… I mean, one of the stories that’s not in the book is we were diving out on the red sea, on the western province of Saudi Arabia. And it was a scouting trip and so one night the religious police pulled up and my dad could get really tan and he grew this really big beard.
They pulled up and they saw him and they’re like, basically “come with us.” and he disappeared for several hours that night. And then he came back – and I remember being worried about it, because I was getting in my tent about to go to sleep for the night. But couldn’t because he wasn’t back yet. And eventually those headlights pulled back up and he kind of was like, “Aah. I just wanted to hang out.”
I was kind of like “what?”
Mark. (laughing) Yeah, hang out with the religious police.
Clint. Yeah and they’re the ones that enforce everything over there, you know? They’re like the guys with the big sticks, and so you never know what they’re going to do. Because they kind of have free rein to do whatever they want. Because it’s all inshallah right? It’s all god’s will.
But anyway, yeah, he blended in with that environment. He did really well over there. And it’s really still kind of unsure what the real background was to it. Other than the things he told me and the stuff I put in the book.
But I do parallel some of his life into my current life as well. Just to kind of paint that picture.
Mark. Yeah, sounds like it. So you went to BUD/S. Anything noteworthy about your BUD/S experience? What class were you in?
Clint. I was in 203. A new guy, compared to you, right?
Mark. (laughing) That was 33 classes after me. Yeah, youngster.
Clint. Yeah 203. I started with my class, finished with my class. Only you and I and other SEALs really understand what the hell that means, but right yeah I mean I had a lot of great guys in that class. I remember once I got out to Dam Neck, there was eight of us that were all from 203 – still roam in those hallways. It was kind of cool.
But yeah, I mean one of the unique things was that was the day… The marketing guys for this book like to put things I say right? “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.” and “if you don’t get caught then it’s not illegal.”
And they kind of leverage those quotes as mine, but you and I both know they’re not. And I find it interesting that you’re not allowed to say ”If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,” anymore over at BUD/S, right? It’s a big no-no.
Mark. Right. They stripped that out. Sending the wrong message, I guess.
To me, it was always the spirit of that was basically “be creative.” get creative in combat you gotta MacGyver your way to success, and sometimes you might break a local law. But as long as you get the job done, it’s okay.
Clint. Yeah, exactly… Do whatever it takes to win over your adversaries. And somehow that got I think twisted into what moral, ethical issues with guys and what they do in their personal time. And the trouble that they like to get into…
And anyway, my BUD/S class one interesting thing that kind of went on that you got to read about was a certain guy – that looked exactly like Richard Gere – and you probably know who I’m talking about. And he’s wired a little tight because he came straight from Dan Neck to be an instructor.
And my real last name is very common, and so there was about 18 of us in my class. So first phase – you know this just as well as I do – they hand out deficiency chips. At the end of each day. Based on your swims, your runs, for PTS… You could get a deficiency chit for anything, really. Especially back then.
And so I was racking up these piles of deficiency chits – for pull-ups, push-ups… I mean you name it… There was a deficiency chit. I’m looking at it. I’m getting called up…
Mark. Were they all coming from this one guy?
Clint. They’re all coming from these other guys with the same last names, but my first name is Clint, right? So they would just put… It must have been “Clint” cause he’s at the top of the alphabet. So first page is very interesting to me, because I was getting just extra hammered every day, once the day was done.
So me and another guy who’d racked up a bunch of deficiency chits. And of course, you don’t argue with SEAL instructors. People always ask me like “why didn’t you just tell them?”
I was like, “you don’t tell them,” you know? What are you gonna do?
So you just take it right? And eventually all those guys with the same last name quit. And then before you know it, I wasn’t getting any more deficiency chits. But I had to wait for all of them to quit, so it wouldn’t happen anymore, you know?
So yeah, I got my ass handed to me every night. After every day of first phase, I would have to muster on the grinder with this other guy. And we would get hammered for an additional three hours each night after dinner…
Mark. Bonus round.
Clint. Oh yeah, it was fun. So yeah, that was the highlight of BUD/S for me.
SEALs and the Middle East
Mark. So after BUD/S you went to team 3.
Clint. Well, I went to a short course – 18 delta short course out in San Antonio
Mark. Which is the medical training, right?
Clint. Right. Then jump school. Then team 3. Yeah.
Mark. This is back… They hadn’t started SQT then, did they? So you did your SQT at team 3 Clint. Right, it was all STT.
Mark. Right, Mike Martin and the whole… (laughing) Oh my god. It was Kirby Hurell, and who else was there?
Clint. Yeah. They had a training cell of the last Vietnam frogmen, which was awesome, I mean… And then the guys that were in training cell at the time running STT were all like just studs right? I’d love to say their names, but you’d know them if you heard them. And they’re all just badasses to this day.
Mark. Yeah, so when you I recognized you did a… When I got the team 3 we were actually still focused on East Asia. And we were still doing ARGs. And then it was McRaven who came in and pivoted us to Bahrain instead. Actually he stood up the unit over there and SEAL team 3 staffed the Det in Bahrain, and then it became a naval special warfare unit.
So it was team 3 that basically set up the entire posture in the Middle East. And that all happened on my watch in ’93 like ’95 or something like that.
Clint. Oh wow. Yeah.
Mark. But I ended up doing one of those ARG deployments on the Dubuque. And I think you were on the Duluth. I think I read a story about you on the Duluth…
Clint. And yeah.
Mark. And those deployments, you know, basically you worked out until you were tired, and then slept till you were hungry. Just bored shitless most of the time. While you’re on the two-week underway periods two different ports.
But you got to see some action didn’t you over there? You were doing some go plat work? Or what happened?
USS Cole? Something happened in that formative kind of deployment.
Clint. Yeah, so pre-9/11, I always considered myself lucky. As you know, everything is timing, right?
Mark. It really is, yeah. I was in the most boring period of all – in the early ’90s. The only thing that happened was Somalia, and I didn’t get to go play that. And I missed the gulf war, cause it ended literally the day before we were supposed to deploy.
Clint. Yeah, it’s unfortunate. A lot of guys that do an entire career… And so I definitely consider myself lucky in the timing of it all.
And also just you’re always raising the hand, right? Always volunteering always assuming you’re a new guy, even when I was at the 15-year mark in my career I still… I think that’s one thing our community does well, you always feel like a new guy. And it makes you humble, it keeps you humble, it keeps you in check it keeps you safe. There’s a lot to be said for just being the new guy.
But, yeah, pre-9/11 there wasn’t much going on other than ship boarding, we had a lot of sanctions against Iraq at the time, so there was a lot of vessels coming out of the KA and cruising the international water line between Iran and the Persian Gulf. And so they would come out – these ships all blacked out, no lights – and we’d be loitering out there waiting. And then, as you know, you’re all of a sudden up next to the skin of a ship going 20 knots. And your hook, and climbing, and getting on board and taking the thing down. And scaring the shit out of the captain, because he’s wondering how the hell you got there in the first place.
And so we did a lot of that. And that was cool.
And then USS Cole kicked off. And we were there within days….
Mark. Where was that? I forget. Where did that ship get hit? What port was it in?
Clint. Gulf of Aden in Yemen. It was that a dolphin pier, getting fuel and kind of resetting on consumables when there was some… You know, it’s armchair quarterbacking a little bit, but since I showed up afterwards I can say that there were some telltale signs that no one really paid attention to.
Number one – when a US Navy vessel pulls into a port, it’s tradition to invite the harbormaster on board for dinner with the captain. And harbormaster’s always say yes, right? It’s a good meal. It’s good for them, it’s good for everyone. It’s kind of a very honorable thing, right? To be invited onto a US Navy war vessel and have dinner with the captain.
And in Aden that day, he respectfully declined.
There wasn’t one other vessel in the water like cruising around. Nothing active. The harbor was completely silent. And as you know – when a ship pulls into any harbor, usually you have thousands of people looking for free handouts. Whether it’s about you know cases of bottled water, boxes of MREs, I mean…
Mark. So everyone knew this was going down is what you’re suggesting.
Clint. Yeah, it was complete silence. Everybody knew something was gonna happen. And so no one was out there that morning.
And then as we all know how the story goes – a very latent little boat made its way to USS Cole. Got skin-to-skin with it, two guys on board, pushed the trigger and blew a hole in the side of that thing.
And they got lucky, they hit the right spot, because it was where the galley was. And it was at the same time as when everybody was probably eating an early lunch right, because it was late morning when this happened.
Mark. It was a suicide attack, they were saying. I don’t remember the details.
Clint. Right. They blew themselves up, they blew a hole in the side of… At the time, the USS Cole was one of the Navy’s most advanced destroyers.
So blew that hole, killing 17 sailors and injuring a whole bunch of others. And so we were tasked with well you know the deal… Naval special warfare sometimes doesn’t know what they want to do with you. They just send you, and you figure it out when you show up, right?
Mark. Exactly. You gotta make it up as you go along for a number of those ops.
Clint. “Okay, yeah, we’ll just do this. Does this look good? Do we look good doing this? Let’s take a picture, all right.” (laughing)
Anyway, we quickly realized that this is a latent us Navy vessel… When you see something like that listing, right, and it’s sitting on its side in the water… It was definitely humbling. At that moment – when you’re looking at – you’re like “wow. Terrorism is now very much real.”
And so anyway we sat on that thing, and it was kind of a lot of different responsibilities. We were basically pulling a security watch all day, all night. The Yemenis like turn their guns towards the USS Cole, so there was a lot of tension going on.
We had a boat that basically started motoring very quickly and bound towards the Cole. We jumped on our ribs. We intercepted, boarded it. It had Yemeni soldiers like drawing their weapons…
So we’re on there, we’re pointing our guns at them, they’re pointing their guns at us. I mean there was a lot of interesting interactions going on through the whole thing.
But then when an entire fleet shows up in support of the downed vessel…
That’s when Yemen guns decided to point in the right direction. Because it was awesome to see seven, eight us Navy vessels pull up and surround the area in support of their fellow… We’re talking – I think there was an aircraft carrier, other destroyers I mean it was like a true show of force.
And Yemen decided “okay, we’re gonna not point our guns anymore at the boat that’s got a big hole in the side of it.”
So very interesting times, but for me personally it woke me up “like, alright. Yeah, terrorism is real. And this is just the beginning.”
Mark. Yeah, did that spark your interest in getting into you know the tier one side of things and special mission unit type work? Or did that happened before or after?
Clint. It all kind of… The interest was there I think after that. Cause if you remember – you know what’s funny is I was still so naive. When you hear about certain commands, and you think they’re truly disbanded, and they’ve been you know…
I actually believed it. And then I hear about my buddies screening for things or this or that. That’s when I was like “wait, what’s that?”
And some of those mentors from training cell were the guys that definitely piqued my interest. When they would run certain evolutions, and you’d see them out like training harder than ever. Running and doing everything they were doing, I was always asking like “what is all this for?” and then they’d tell me, and I was like “oh, I didn’t think that shit existed anymore.”
Mark. Right. I’ve got a chapter in my book – it’s about excellence, but so I talked about Marcinko and I saw that you kind of dive into that a little bit later on in your book.
But just about how the mindset that he created at team 2 and then spinning out into creating SEAL team six.
And how he foresaw a lot of the stuff… Like, what happened with the USS Cole – he was trying to prevent. With his mob six, and with his red cell. And trying to like wake people up to the fact that everyone’s at risk if you’re in a US uniform. Even on our own soil.
And anyways, I think that people really ditched him after he had his little fuck-up and went to jail. And that he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves in our community. And that’s just my two cents. You know, I think he created something extraordinary. And that the fucking Navy – excuse my language – should go back and call at SEAL team six, you know what I mean? Like who are we kidding? It’s kind of silly.
Clint. Yeah, I think just before I left they’d unclassified all that stuff.
Mark. Have they?
Clint yeah. They unclassified and supposedly now you can say that out loud. I still feel weird, saying it. I try not to. But the publicist and all those people they loved it… You know man, they love you know… They love to use SEAL team six and all that stuff to get clicks.
But, yeah, I think he did a great job with his goals and everything… And his vision and actually bringing it to fruition. I mean, that’s pretty cool to build something from scratch like that. And to have that vision and… You know, it takes a certain kind of guy, as we know, I think most people don’t know that SEALs also have to be salesmen. We don’t just get handed missions. You’ve got to show up and you’ve got to sell it.
Mark. And now here’s a guy who sold the concept for an entirely new SEAL team. That was not funded, it was not on anyone else’s radar.
McRaven is the only other one I know that McRaven and Marcinko butted heads – and actually Marcinko fired McRaven – but I have to admit that McRaven was a really good salesperson.
Like he did a lot of selling. He sold the whole community on setting up shop over in Bahrain, for our efforts over there, and that was really prescient, because we had a footprint when 9/11 went down. If we had had to go set up shop, and figure that all out, it would have taken a lot longer.
Clint. Yeah, yeah. That’s definitely two big names in the community. And I think the best – one of the quotes that still makes me laugh out loud is Marcinko – his quote about McRaven – he says when McRaven was in his office, and McRaven was a young officer and Marcinko was his boss kind of thing out at Dam Neck and says “you know Bill, you take the ‘special’ out of special operations. I don’t think the place is gonna work out for you.”
Mark. (laughing) That’s awesome. I never heard that one.
Clint. (laughing) Yeah, you take the ‘special’ out of special operations. And McRaven went on to obviously be our highest-ranking guy in special operations ever.
Mark. Right. Ever. Yeah, I was gonna talk about this later, because your last chapter you talk about how you got screwed over. And I had an experience that was similar and the bureaucracy can be utterly brutal, right? If you get on the wrong side of it, for whatever reason.
And I got on the wrong side of it at SEAL team 3, and I got fired from my platoon by McRaven, and it was all a big mistake. Kind of like what happened to you. It was just like a misunderstanding. That got just literally ripped up the flagpole, right to the top – the admiral., and then McRaven was kind of left without any – in his mind – any option but to fire me, because he was a new co… Didn’t know me from Adam. I went from number one ranked lieutenant to like persona non grata. Sitting on my ass for three months in the off shot that’s feeling like what the fuck is going on here?
And then McRaven basically says “you know what? I screwed up. And the whole thing was a mistake. And here’s a platoon. And I’ll doctor your career to fix it, whatever I did or whatever we can do.”
By then I was pretty jaded. And so I took orders to go to STV Team one… And it also influenced my decision to get off active duty and stay in the reserves, you know?
It’s really interesting how heartless the bureaucracy can be, actually.
Clint. Right, I tell people all the time – when you’re in a fence line full of sharks, you’re gonna get bitten, you know? And sometimes it’s not on purpose, and sometimes it is… And it’s a dog-eat-dog world and a bunch of alpha males, full of testosterone, it’s very competitive and sometimes you find yourself on the receiving end of something that you’re just like completely baffled by. Like, what the hell just happened?
And it was in my case. And it really was just knee-jerk reaction and straight-up immaturity on the part of the leadership. And it was all because of… As you know, the book “No Easy Day,” when it came out I mean anybody inside that fence line that had any perception of extracurricular activities going on… You know, they were immediately investigated…
Mark. I remember that. I was visiting some friends down in Virginia Beach who were at DEVGRU or SEAL Team six – did I say those two together? I guess I did – and they’re talking all about the whole thing and about how the whole command was on pins and needles and if you were in the crosshairs you’re kind of screwed, and that was a pretty interesting time.
Clint. It was.
SEALs and Business
Mark. So how come you didn’t use the guy’s real name in the book?
Clint. Because I don’t have anything against “Mark.” And when you write a memoir you write… I wrote based on my feelings at that point in time, right? Any section, you want to add the emotion that you felt during those moments. And so when you read it now, it probably sounds like I don’t like the guy. But the reality is… As you know, and I know and anybody who’s gotten into the publication world – it wasn’t like some mandatory thing to get your book reviewed. The CIA and the FBI, yes, they enforce it they make you sign a bunch of papers that are specific about if you want to publish anything, it has to be revered.
And as we know, the naval special warfare sucks at the administrative side of the house – paperwork. We don’t like to do it, no one likes to do it, no one’s good at it. And he’s a smart guy though.
Mark. He was an opportunist.
Mark. That’s the only issue – the only issue I had was like that was a serious team effort and it wasn’t really his story to take the credit for. Maybe that’s why he did it under a pseudonym.
Clint. Yeah, yeah.
Mark. But between you and me, and the fencepost – someone was gonna write the story and someone was gonna be the first one. So he just got the jump on everyone, right?
Clint. Yeah, which is just the logic we all use for most of the shit we do, right?
Mark. Dude, I registered NavySEALs.com in 1997 and that was the logic I had. “Dude, someone’s gonna do this. And it probably should be a Navy SEAL that’s owning this domain. Or the Navy SEALs themselves.”
And I offered to sell it to them. They wouldn’t have it. They tried to take it from me. That was another one of those weird things.
And you talk about in the beginning of your book how team guys who write books and who run programs named things like “SEALfit” get a lot of judgment from the community. And I’ve definitely had that share heaped on me.
But I’ve done nothing but like honestly try to train future frogmen, future leaders and I’ve done a shit-ton of basically free recruiting for the SEALs through NavySEAL.com, so I feel pretty good about what I’ve done.
But it doesn’t matter. Guys are always gonna shit on you because they think you’re kind of you know swimming with a trident on your chest, and using that for public benefit.
Clint. Yeah, yeah. No. I gotta admit, I was one of those guys who’s sat in the squadron spaces and would you know see certain people on fox news or CNN or guys profiting. And that moment in time it’s like “what the fuck?”
But once you get out, and you start to look around, there’s a lot of people in la, a lot of people in New York that make a ton of money off the trident that never served. And if anyone should make money off the trident, it’s guys who earned it, wore it. And so I tell dudes all the time… My buddies, we’re all honest with one another and they’ll think “oh, you know, those books – ‘100 Deadly Skills.’ I mean, don’t you think that’s kind of whatever…?”
And I’ll tell them like “look, dude. I’m telling you, when you get out you’ll see more people make more money off of you, than you ever will. And so you either take advantage of what you have to offer, or don’t.”
You can go and work in other career paths. And you know books is not my primary… My primary is my crisis management company. So this is just… Books is fun. I have fun with them like you said I like building their projects, I love building them, I love putting in the illustrations, and making them a little unique and different than anything else out there. And that’s what nothing that I enjoy.
Mark. It’s a creative process. If you’re not a writer or creative person you shouldn’t write a book just for publicity or whatever… But that’s why I liked your approach. I love the artwork, I love the storytelling, I love the frankness and I try to be this – I don’t have any artwork in my book – although, it’s kind of a cool idea.
But try to help people and train people and generally do good things with it. But you can’t discard 20 years of your life, and it’s a big formative experience that we both had. And there was a lot of learning and a lot of insights to be gained from the SEALs, but it’s not all of who we are, you know I mean?
Most of my experience is actually in business. I was 10 years active, ten years reserve… I wasn’t sitting on my ass in those 10 years I was a reserve SEAL. I was building businesses, and so… I don’t know. That went down a little rabbit hole.
Clint. I think generally speaking though – going back to the… Anchoring back to the beginning – is SEALs will… We judge each other and stuff, but once they get out and they’re on their own, the majority go “oh, okay, now I get it.” because I was one of those guys.
Mark. Right. One of my good friends, and who worked with us at SEALfit and also us CrossFit. He was one of our coaches down there – was Glen Doherty.
So you were good friends with Glen and he shows up a few times in your book. How did you guys meet?
Clint. Glen and I ended up in a platoon together. He was a he had just shown up to team 3, he was a new guy… I can’t remember… It was like my second or third platoon was his first… And I was the primary… I was the IDC – the primary medic – and he was the secondary.
And through medicine and training we just obviously became pretty good friends. And as you know, anyone who knew Glen… Everyone calls him their best friend. He was everybody’s best friend. I’ve never met anyone else, dead or alive, where so many people go “he was my best friend.”
I mean people love to claim him, you know what I mean? Because he was just that great a guy, very genuine, straight up… I mean, I’ve tried to think of bad things about that guy and I can’t think of anything.
Mark. You can’t. He was an all-around great guy. He’s a true American hero…
And let’s tell the audience, since not everyone knows Glen’s story…
My version of it I don’t think was accurate, because I obviously wasn’t there and I wasn’t as connected to the community, or maybe some of his friends.
But I saw Glen – kind of like you – literally right before his final deployment over to Libya. And it sounds like we almost had a similar conversation, because he came in to SEAL fit headquarters and we chatted a little bit, and did a workout. And afterwards he told me he’s going on this thing. And it was gonna be his last deployment with the agency.
And I said “listen, when you get back and when you get done, I know you’re not looking for this to be full-time, but I’d love to supplement your income, and to continue to be part of the SEAL fit team. So you got this. I’m here for you, when you come back. That kind of conversation.
And then I got a text from someone you know on… I think it was September 10th or September 11th of that year that he was killed in Benghazi. What was your perspective?
Clint. He was the last guy I thought anything like that was… He was out… You figure “okay, he’s out. Yeah, I know what he’s doing, but it doesn’t seem like…
Mark. And he’s so sharp, you know what I mean? But that’s the craziness of those regions in the world. Shit happens and it goes down fast.
Clint. Right. And to think that he was showing up to relieve Ty. Ty was about to come home.
Mark. Ty was in my platoon at Team three. His first platoon. That was my last.
Clint. Yeah. And that’s another great guy. Another medic. I went through paramedic school with him, and just great.
I mean so that moment… I think at that point we’d lost some guys, but he was the last one I was gonna think was gonna be on that list. For people who didn’t know Glen – I mean, I always try to keep his memory alive – this is a guy who had lived a full life before ever joining the Navy. I mean this guy was on the front of Powder Magazine, he was like semi-pro, pro skiing in Utah – he was a total ski bum.
He had hitchhiked around America following the grateful dead. He ended up in Alaska. He worked on one of those damn fishing boats up there. Made his way down the coastline to a campfire here in la where there was some SEALs sitting around it. And at that point they said “hey man, you should join the Navy and be a SEAL.”
And he’s like “okay.” and he went and became a SEAL. I mean, so this is Glen. Glen had been there, done that. He’s the only guy who could talk about bullets, wine, cheese – I mean, I would always ask him, “where the hell’d you learn all this stuff?”
He just said “live life early,” you know? Just an overall amazing guy.
And we had some good experiences together. There was a one… I didn’t put it in the book… But we were in Thailand, right? And he wakes up one morning and there’s three naked women sitting there.
Mark. (laughing) Imagine that.
Clint. And he comes to me, and he’s like “man, I gotta get my blood tested. I don’t even remember what happened last night.”
And so we’re trying to figure out… I think we can do like the expedient HIV test through the embassy. So we’re like going off into covert operations to figure out how to get an HIV test.
Anyway, he didn’t do anything. He just had a rough night of drinking and having fun. But the funny part was us trying to explain like “well, there was a car accident. There was blood everywhere…”
And of course people were looking at us like “yeah, right. There was no car.”
But yeah, I mean we definitely had some pretty fun experiences all over the globe. And we did a couple of platoons together. Obviously stayed in touch through his agency days. And my last meal with him was halfway between San Diego and I happened to be out here in la – and we met halfway, had lunch – just before he left on that last trip.
And I’m a big supporter now through Katie his sister, all your listeners the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation – GDMF.
But yeah, I go out there, they do a run there in Boston every year. She does a great job supporting the community through education, so anybody – whether you’re law enforcement or if you’re military special operations – the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation basically will put you through school and make sure you’re set up for success. In a lot of variety of ways so anyway.
Good, good, good guy. Great family.
Mark. Yeah, Shaun Lake is the buddy of mine who runs that or didn’t run it, but helped start it with his sister… I don’t know Shaun that much, but I know he’s involved in that. He was one of Glen’s friends.
Clint. Oh, yeah. They were best friends for a long time.
Mark. Yeah, man. God bless him. It’s interesting, like there were two guys like but I don’t know if you remember that guy Helvenston?
Clint. Yeah, I remember that guy.
Mark. He was what you’d call a Hollywood SEAL. I felt bad for him, he was at BUD/S when I went through BUD/S class 170. He was one of the instructors of first phase and I remember this there’s this Navy SEAL calendar out there. There were actually two calendars done and there was one that was done in ’90, and then one that was done later on.
And I’m on the cover of that. I’m not like profiled, but my BUD/S class is on the cover and you can clearly see me in the front row running you know in my UDT shorts and green shirt with Helvenston and his just ripped body out in front. And he had literally ran our class – had the camera all set up in a camera position in front of the Hotel Del… This is completely unsanctioned, he ran the class basically in front of the camera. They clicked their pictures and next thing you know we’re all on the cover of this freakin’ calendar. It was insane.
Anyways, and then he went to the jump team, then he went to SYSM, then he went back to BUD/S and then like back to the jump team – so like 10 years this guy was basically just you know tanning himself and staying in shape. And finally the Navy said “you know what dude? You got to get back, and operational.”
And they assigned him to SEAL team one. And the skipper there said “ok, Scott. Welcome back. You haven’t operated in ten years, and you need to go back through STT.”
And Scott was a little bit of a hothead. I don’t know if you remember that.
Clint. I remember hearing about it. Yeah.
Mark. Yeah. So he got all pissy and said “I’m a frickin’ Navy SEAL operator.” blah-blah-blah. “I’m not going back through SEAL tactical training. That’s for new guys and he took his trident and threw it across the desk. And it was Burt Kalyn who was the SEAL… And Kalyn sent him home, and next day Scotty comes back and says “I made a mistake.”
And Burt says “No, you didn’t. I think you’re done here.”
And that was the end of his career. He literally threw his own trident away.
Clint. I don’t think I knew that part. I knew that he was tempered, I knew that he was a stud, I remember seeing him on some TV shows…
Mark. Yeah, he did like “man versus beast,” where he ran an obstacle course against like a cheetah or something?
Clint. Yeah, I think well he did the obstacle course against the monkey. And then he did like a run against like… Yeah, he was just a stud. I mean, he’s Goggins 1.0.
Mark. Right, pretty much.
Well, the reason I brought it up is it was 2004 and I finally got mobilized to go to Iraq. And I got the news in March, and in April – no, I got the news in like February – I’m gonna go over there at some point. And then I can’t remember exactly the date in March that all of a sudden, we’re seeing images of Scotty and his teammates basically hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
Clint. Right, yeah.
Mark. And that was the canary in the coal mine, that maybe mission wasn’t accomplished after our invasion of Iraq, and that there was some unrest there and this is going to turn into something nasty.
And then I deployed over there. But something similar happened, Scotty came to me like a week before he was leaving – because I used to sell some videos of his through NavySEALs.com – and he was like “hey mark. Here’s a stack of videos you know what you hang on to them. Sell what you can. Give whatever money you can to my wife, Trisha. And then I’ll see you when I get back.”
Mark. You know and it reminded me… The same thing happened with Glen. Like, here’s the guy saying “see you when I get back.”
And man this war – that is going on for a long time – has taken a heavy toll on friends, you know?
Clint. Yeah, yeah. Without a doubt man. It’s surreal when those moments happen too. You’re kind of like “hmmm, is this really happening right now?”