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Team Never Quit

Team Never Quit

Author: Marcus Luttrell

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Each week join Retired Navy SEAL and Lone Survivor Marcus Luttrell, Morgan Luttrell, and Producer Andrew Brockenbush as they’ll take you into the "briefing room" to chat with incredible guests who share their greatest never quit stories. This humorous, heartfelt, and entertaining podcast is changing lives and has become a beacon of hope and resilience to those who are facing the impossible. One of the best ways we can support our community is to share their stories so that we might inspire others to Never Quit.
241 Episodes
Do you believe that anything is possible? This week’s amazing guest, Shay Eskew, has proven that it is. As an 8-year old, Shay was severely burned on over 65% of his body and was told he could never be a competitive athlete. Now, several decades later, he lives life to the fullest and has a relentless “never quit” attitude. Shay is a team builder, coach, mentor, RCM authority, market disruptor, motivational speaker, best-selling author and proven sales leader. He’s a high-energy innovator, entrepreneur, and has successfully built and sold multiple companies.  He has achieved multiple world championships, and after enduring nearly 40 surgeries, Shay is a 4-time IRONMAN, 4-time member of Team USA, 25-time IRONMAN 70.3 athlete, is ranked in the top 1% of IRONMAN worldwide, and has competed in 11 triathlon World Championships in 7 countries on all 6 continents. Equally impressive, Shay is the proud father of 5 children under 13. Shay’s life is overflowing with blessings. In this episode you will hear: • I felt close to God before the race, but He was not there during the swim. • My wife will stand at the exit of the swim and tell me how many women beat me out of the water. • I was accidentally set afire by a neighbor’s kid at age 8, and burned over 65% of my body. • At the University of Tennessee, I never lost a wrestling match. • I was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. • Thank God that doctors told me I’d never play sports. That was the best thing because it pissed me off enough to prove them wrong. • Many times, pain is just a state of mind. • When I started walking in the hallway of my school – there was complete silence. • If people are gonna make fun of me, I’m gonna beat ‘em to the punch. • There’s no reason to blame society. You just gotta make the most of it. You just gotta ask yourself what else can I do that I never thought possible? • The hardest thing is watching your kid suffer knowing you can’t do anything to fix it. • The more chances I’ve taken, the more time I put myself out there, the more opportunities have presented themselves. • Everything I went through prepared me for who I am in life. • On a campus of 30,000 people, nobody looked like me. They remember who you are. • We all struggle, we all face adversity, we’ve all been tempted to quit. We’ve all said God, why me? How am I gonna get through this? • Once you know that somebody else has not only been what you’ve been through, and not only survived but thrived… That’s Impactful. • The things that we cherish are the things we bust our butt to get. • Everybody’s out there racing. It’s not to win, but to finish. To finish is to win.
 “For the greater good.” That’s the mantra of this week’s guest, Chris Cruise. It’s amazing how being delivered a setback can cause someone to step up to the plate and take on what turns out to be a patriotic endeavor. After being told that he wasn’t good enough to pursue a football career, Chris enlisted in the U.S. Army and subsequently deployed to Iraq, and learned that there truly is a brotherhood in the military. Chris sees it as the best thing he ever did as it was the path that led him to meet his wife. While re-acclimating to civilian life after his service, he didn’t know what to do with himself or how to adapt his heightened sense of awareness and constant wariness into his new life as a husband and a father. His wife Amber gave him a new mission that grew into what has become Cruise Custom Flags. He figured out that woodwork was therapeutic for him. He’d found his happy place – a place where his mind could both rest and work at the same time, in balanced concentration and clarity of purpose. Amber wanted him to make something tied to Kentucky for his next project. They both also wanted the project to honor military service, as her father is also a veteran.  There are not many things that scream “Kentucky” more than bourbon, and not many greater symbols of military service than the flag. So, the first custom flag he made from a repurposed bourbon barrel hung in their home. The next two were Christmas gifts for both of their fathers. The flags were so well received, he made more for some friends and family. Word spread, and requests began pouring in. Chris says, what’s more American than a veteran handcrafted flag made out of a bourbon barrel? Bourbon, after all, is “America Spirit by law.” In this episode you will hear: • It really started when my wife wanted something in our home that represented her Kentucky roots and my service. • I had a vision of having a shop full of veterans making American flags from bourbon barrels. • Bourbon barrels once served a good purpose aging bourbon, and veterans served a good purpose and we help them both find a new purpose. • “Never quit” is not what you do, it’s who you are. • Generosity breeds success. • With a never quit attitude, you’re unstoppable. • I wish someone would have told me that I could have done my passion right out of high school without society telling me I had to climb the corporate ladder. • I’ve got a business degree, but I could have done this right out of high school. • I only did one deployment. That was enough for me. • It’s hard to build a resume after you get out of the military. • I get tunnel vision – nothing else matters – once I get focused on something – it’s on. Instagram: Special thanks to Speakeasy Podcast Network for giving Chris a place to record his interview! 
Are uncertainty and hardship inevitable in this life? Could you use a jump start for pursuing your goals, while living a healthy, fulfilled life? This week’s guest, Erik Korem, is the guy that can equip you to that end. His unquenchable curiosity and eagerness for knowledge made him an expert in high performance. Erik started as a walk-on football player at Texas A&M, and that's where he found two things – a never-quit attitude and curiosity for high performance. After spending over 15 years working as a sports scientist, Erik’s passion for solving the data-to-action gap in the wearable tech and mHealth space came to life. He is the founder & CEO of AIM7, teaching people how to turn data into healthy habits. In this episode you will hear: I dealt with bullying, and I just wanted to change myself. Kids can be cruel. In physical fitness events, I was always last. After watching John Jacobs and The Power Team, I was so inspired and told my dad, “I’ll never be last again.” I learned there was a science to the physical gap I was in. Playing football at Texas A&M, I learned how to suffer well. You can’t fight what you don’t see coming. I could’ve paid attention to how much it sucked, or paid attention to what I could do about it. The Olympic Games are more than winning medals; it’s more like political warfare. I learned about the synchronization of the physical, psychological, technical, & tactical. Wearable devices provide much data, but what do you do with it?  Stress is the gateway to improvement, but chronic long-term stress can be a really bad thing if you can’t get it under control. If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain is literally full of crap. In REM sleep, your body is in a state of paralysis. I don’t praise grades; I praise their effort. If you synchronize with the sun, you’ll start sleeping like a baby. There are research studies that show that if you want to reset yourself, go camping. Sports got me into the game, but curiosity launched my career.
This week, the TNQ Podcast brings you the inspiring never-quit journey of Aaron Quinonez – aka “Sgt. Q” – a Marine Corps Veteran, speaker, author, father, and PTSD ambassador. Having been raised in a rough, homeless environment surrounded by people in the drug trade, Aaron became a marine right out of high school. What he didn’t know is that his real battle would be fought in his mind. Sgt. Q suffered from depression, anger, and panic attacks and was diagnosed with PTSD. He nearly ended his own life in the parking lot of a church, where later he was redeemed by Jesus Christ, who gave him a new life. When he volunteered to build housing for a family in Mexico, Quinonez was so inspired by the experience that he founded the organization, Q Missions, to bring Veterans together to construct buildings around the world and bring mental healing through mission service. Quinonez authored the book: Healing Thru Service, The Warrior’s Guidebook to Overcoming Trauma. In this episode you will hear: I grew up with rednecks, hippies, and pot farmers. Everybody I knew growing up was involved in the drug trade. To be homeless as a kid is a trip. My work ethic came from my mom, struggling to raise four kids as a single mother. I was once on the school bus driving thru the pouring rain and saw a lady carrying two garbage bags, and as we passed I realized - it’s my mom. You gotta reposition your mindset from negative experiences to find something positive and focus on that, because what you focus on - your brain will find more of. If you have one trauma, another trauma will stick to it and eventually become PTSD. Your brain is like a weapon – if it’s malfunctioning you do a function check, and you get back in the fight. I went from the battlefield to my front door in less than 48 hours, so there wasn’t any out-processing. It wasn’t until I could overcome the victim mentality that I was able to get my life together. You may have left the battlefield in Iraq, but every day that you wake up and put your boots on the ground, you’re on another battlefield – the battlefield of the mind. You can repurpose military tactics to overcome trauma. When anxiety hits, the first thing to do is return fire – speak truth: There’s no real threat; There’s no real danger: I’m totally in a safe environment. Bring yourself out of that emotional state. 67% of men in America have admitted they’ve struggled with a mental health crisis. You didn’t fight the war alone, so don’t fight PTSD alone. Communicate with people and tell them you’re struggling.
We have an inspiring guest in this week’s Team Never Quit podcast. Brian Kilmeade shares his motivating views about reaching your personal potential, despite apparent failures along the way. Brian is a television and radio presenter and political commentator for Fox News. On weekdays, he co-hosts Fox's morning show, Fox & Friends, and he also hosts the Fox News Radio program The Brian Kilmeade Show. He has authored or co-authored non-fiction and fiction books, and is a New York Times Best-Selling Author. Brian is also a father of three. His attitude related to pursuing a dream, making things happen for a better life, and his love for this country is refreshing. In this episode you will hear: • Coming out of college, I just wanted to talk sports and news. • I played soccer through college. I wanted to be great, but I wasn’t. • If you fire me or don’t hire me, that’s your choice, but I’m not gonna quit. • It’s our job to reach our potential – whatever it is. • If things don’t work out, you can’t blame people. • Newscasters pretend they didn’t put an oar in the water or tell you who to vote for, but by a look - by the way they give one side more power that the other. When you think you’ve heard a straight newscast – no you didn’t. • If you are for an open border, you don’t care about the country. If you destroyed the oil and gas business, you don’t care about the country. If you’re gonna stand down the Army to talk about white supremacy, you don’t care about the country. • If you want to see an example of overcoming obstacles, pick up Andrew Jackson’s book. He was orphaned and he was raised by his town, his county & his country, yet he became a 2 term President. • Don’t get caught up in results. If you fail, your success is just delayed. • The only time you fail is when you quit. • The most rewarding thing to me is helping other people.
Now here’s a guy with an unbelievable vision, drive, and a relentless pursuit of success. Dre Baldwin not only helps athletes get recognized for their talents; he’s a former basketball player, speaker, influencer, YouTuber, and author of The Third Day: The Decision That Separates the Pros from the Amateurs. Tre is a master at teaching discipline, mental toughness, and personal initiative. Listen in as this well-spoken motivator tells of his personal path from his high school team's bench, to the first contract of a 9-year professional basketball career, then pioneering new genres of personal branding and entrepreneurship via an ever-growing content publishing empire, publishing literally thousands of YouTube videos, viewed over 73 million times. If you could use a spark to get your life moving, this is the podcast for you. In this episode you will hear: When I realized I had no talent for baseball, I stopped that, then stumbled across basketball. I did not go pro immediately after college. After college, I attended “Exposure Camp”, a job fair for athletes. After that event and dozens of cold calls and videos to agents, I was finally signed to a contract to play basketball in Lithuania. I gained popularity, not from basketball videos on YouTube, but from the motivational things I said on them. I launched The weekly Motivation on YouTube. I had to find a way to do something I love to do, plus be a computer geek, and make money from it. I’m a very competitive person. At home, I was taught discipline, respect, honoring authority, and respecting elders. I would make up challenging stories in my mind so I’d have a target to shoot at. If I don’t have anything to aim for, I’m not gonna give my best effort. But when I do, it brings out the best in me. Our generation, ages 30-50 – we are the best generation. People are following me, not for basketball videos, but just to watch The Weekly Motivation. This is life stuff – it’s not athlete stuff. Using the challenges of your life to make yourself better for the future summarizes the entire self-help industry right there. When you have the right people around you, you can go further, faster. In life, you just have to show up.
What an incredible saga of a ten-year-old boy, from Baton Rouge, LA, who had been sexually abused by his Karate instructor, then abducted by him and taken to Los Angeles, CA, where he continued to be abused. Our guest this week, Joseph Plauche, tells of the events that led up those scenarios.  By way of a traced collect phone call, the FBI rescued “Jody” in LA and his abductor was arrested. To add to the craziness of those events, Joseph’s father waited at a bank of pay phones at the airport and then shot and killed the abductor as he walked by, all of which was captured on film by a local news crew. Plauche has worked in the field of violence prevention since 1995. He wants his story to help others in abusive situations, and he offers direction on protecting children.  In this episode you will hear: Plauche authored the book, 'Why, Jody, Why?' During the sexual abuse, there was a physical pleasure, but there was mental anguish. Despite being abused, your body still responds, like a human body responds. He took me to Disneyland. Even though I was kidnapped. It’s not like I was gagged and bound.  I can’t say I enjoyed it, but I kinda did. When I finally told the truth, I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.  I didn’t like him molesting me, but other than that, I thought he was a good guy. For him (my dad) to do what he did, he had to be in so much pain. If he could have seen who I was to become in the future, he probably wouldn’t have done what he did. My dad was the kindest, sweetest man I knew. It’s a parental instinct to eliminate someone that hurts your child. A boy saw me on Geraldo, and then told his mom about being abused by his pastor. The pastor was arrested. That’s the moment that I realized that I could use something negative and turn it into something positive. I wanna help as many as possible. I feel like I can be a role model for victims of sexual assault.
This week’s episode brings you the incredible, first-hand account from Donna Michaels, a US Navy veteran turned police officer – all the while suffering horrifically from depression, nightmares, and PTSD, yet embracing every day of her life with passion and courage. Donna went from victim to solution – she’s now on a relentless mission to stop PTSD suicides. She also authored the book, Courageously Broken - her journey to hell and back.  Donna has quite a story to tell, including the candid memoirs of her military life, her association with Navy SEALS, becoming a cop, the dark years of her life, and her unbelievable recovery.    In this episode you will hear: My career didn’t pan out anything like I thought it would as a teenager. The last thing I ever thought I’d be is a cop. I didn’t even like cops. In the Navy, I wanted to go where the action was. It was tough, but I volunteered for this shit, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna walk away from it as a quitter. Women are equally different. The teams (Navy SEALS} are elite for a reason. I love the idea of helping people. In law enforcement, I could be part of the greater good. I won’t be a bitch, unless someone really, really forces me to be one. I made up my mind that I was either gonna get my shit together or put myself out of my pain. The suicide rate among veterans and first responders is a lot higher than people realize. I want to let those who’ve been through hell understand that there are options for them. They just need to know where to look. Once you hit rock bottom, you’ve got nowhere to go but up. Everybody goes through some traumatic event in their life. I want to teach others that there’s hope. Otherwise, I went through all this shit for nothing. I want to be known for inspiring someone to get the help they needed. Never quit.
To say that Dr. Billy Alsbrooks is a driven motivator with a ton of positivity is a gross understatement. Billy gets real about his life’s path from martial arts at the age of 5, achieving his Black Belt at the age of 9, becoming a songwriter and Billboard recording artist, producer, and dealing with the struggles of his dad’s alcoholism, and yet becoming an influencer, author of the book Blessed and Unstoppable, and motivational speaker, with a goal of improving the lives of 1 billion people. If you’re searching for direction, inspiration, hope, and something to believe in, this episode is for you. In this episode you will hear: Alcoholism is not going to happen to me. People go one of two ways and I want nothing to do with it. When I was doing music, I was a huge promoter of that lifestyle, even though I couldn’t stand it. My goal is to reach and positively Impact 1 Billion People in my lifetime. At school, I’d wear a smile, but I was broken inside because we had been up all night, trying to sober daddy up. To make progress, you gotta deal with the hard stuff. I witnessed his father’s death when a blood clot hit his lungs. My motivational career started at the funeral home. When seeing my family’s cemetery plots, I was told “Here’s where you’re gonna lay”. Those words hit me like a ball bat inside my head. How do you sum up a man’s whole life in 2 or 3 sentences for a tombstone? If I was to die right now, what would they put on my tombstone? I had to ask myself that question. Our only purpose for being here is to leave this place better than we found it. God’s not against us having nice things, but He is against those things owning us. The moment my dad died, the mic got ripped away from me. When I say God, I don’t mean religion, I mean relationship. There’s a difference. God is all-powerful, but He needs our invitation to come in. To get to the next level, you gotta get in the ring with those things that scare you the most. I was born a champion. Raised a champion. I have champion in my bloodline. All I’ll ever be is a champion.
What do you get when you serve as a firefighter for 21 years, and get exposed to the toxins during the 9/11 World Trade Center rescue and recovery operations? If you’re retired FDNY firefighter Niels Jorgensen, you come away with an advanced form of Leukemia ten years later, due to those exposures. Even so, Niels is thankful and blessed to be staying ahead of cancer and enjoying full remission. He is the host of the 20 for 20 Podcast, sharing the stories of 20 heroes, keeping their stories alive for future generations. Niels tells about his horrific experiences from that scenario and his fight with cancer that led to his forced medical retirement. In this episode you will hear: When you have a bunch of significant emotional events, you get saturated, and being in a quiet place is best for the mind and soul. I miss the good of New York, but it’s not the city I was born in, unfortunately. Tennessee is family, country, and I know it still exists in Texas. I was in the firehouse at five years old. Those giants with mustaches are laughing and loving life. I want to be like that. I want to go to work and be happy. I loved being a cop, but I realized quickly that people don’t like cops. In 1994 the fire department had a manual with a target on the World Trade Center that said It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when – Be Ready. We were en route to the World Trade Center when the second tower went down. We were overcome with guilt because we were late for the battle. I felt like I failed my men – my best buddies. 20 years after that horrific attack, two families finally have DNA evidence of their loved ones. They finally have closure. In firefighting, we were used to finding whole bodies, but we weren’t gonna find any in the aftermath of the World Trade Center collapse. I’m American, you’re American. And we need to support each other. Politicians are like dirty diapers. They’re full of shit and they stink. I want to bring back the unity of 9/12. The 20 for 20 Podcast is one of the highest honors of my life - to speak about my brave friends because they were the best that this country has to offer. We’re not hearing the stories of the good guys. We’re worshipping the knuckleheads. I say to my kids, look up from your phone. Look at people’s eyes.  Look up to your creator above, and be thankful. Come back to faith. Come back to family. Most of all, be grateful for every day. Just be a good person.
Have you ever heard of anyone who was not a United States citizen become one and enlist in the U.S. Military the same day they received their citizenship? In this week’s episode, you will meet and hear from Hernán Luis y Prado – born in Argentina, grew up in France, and became a U.S. citizen, only to join the U.S. Navy on the same day. Hernan is a 15 year Navy veteran, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and CEO of Workshops for Warriors, a nonprofit for transitioning and struggling service members, offering them advanced manufacturing training certification and job placements. His attraction to America is that it is the only nation governed by an idea, which is expressed in the Constitution and not a person or bloodline. That’s what this patriot chooses to support. Listen to this incredible man’s story of aspiration and success in the country he loves so dearly.  In this episode you will hear: I sold everything we had to start Workshops for Warriors. We train America's veterans to rebuild America's advanced manufacturing and economic backbone. We harness discipline, an ethical mindset, tenacity, and focus on our skills. You're a badass, you can do anything, improvise, adapt, overcome. It never rains, it only liquid sunshine. When you get out of the military, you go from a suit of armor to the civilian world & are cast adrift in free fall. America needs welders, machinists, and fabricators. You need a skillset. Our school is a velvet funnel. You come from a really tight straw & now you gotta give more liberty until you get to the civilian world. There are 2.3 million unfilled jobs due to unskilled labor in America. Our goal is to rebuild America one veteran at a time. We do the hard things every day. It's the easy things that kick our butts. People come in - shoulders hunched down. By the end of the first week you see them coming back. The most important thing that Americans like and right now is vision. [Marcus Luttrell] “One team, one fight.” Together we can do this, alone we can't.
A second chance at life. That’s the true story of this week’s guest, Kushal Choksi, Investment Analyst for Goldman Sachs turned entrepreneur, 9/11 survivor and author of On a Wing and a Prayer, which chronicles Kushal’s narrow escape from the World Trade Center’s North Tower on that fateful day. It was truly a life-changing event, revealing that there was more to life than pursuing his career. Life became much more spiritual for Kushal as he learned the Sky Bridge meditation techniques, freeing him from impressions and emotional impacts in his sub-conscience. Listen in on Kushal’s compelling recollections from one of the most horrific days in American history, and his path to interpersonal freedom. In this episode you will hear: In my mind, America was that land of freedom where I could become whatever I wanted. 9/11 started out as just another workday for me. There was a huge bang that shook me up. Within a few seconds, the pandemonium started. I’m not programmed to see things like this. It was raining cement, like something out of a movie. When I came out of the building, I looked up and saw a huge, gaping hole in the side of the building. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another aircraft crashing into the other tower, spewing out a huge ball of fire on the other side. I couldn’t conceive that someone could fly a plane into the building. I saw it go into the building like a slab of butter. The smoke cloud was engulfing everything in its way. As I ran as fast as I could, there was a commuter boat leaving the slip, and I leaped onto it as it pulled away. I was perhaps the last person to leave on the last boat. I had become a statistic – A survivor. It was a dream I could not wake up from. On one hand, I was feeling lucky, while on the other I felt I had to go after whatever I was chasing with more gusto. I had a second chance at life. Whenever you go through a life event, it leaves an impression on our sub-conscience. It creates a lesion on our nervous system. This Sky Breath meditation technique that I learned cleanses the nervous system of these impressions. I am more in control of my thoughts, my emotions, and how I respond to situations. 3 rules for meditation:  1) I do nothing for 10 minutes. Let the world around me collapse. 2) I want nothing. 3) I am nothing – no labels on ourselves.
A black leather helmet. Not just any helmet. A circa 1914 FDNY helmet found in Naples, Florida, originating from Ladder 42 in The Bronx, New York. In this week’s episode, Jerry Stanford, FDNY veteran, details his adventure in returning that incredible helmet – and presenting it back to Ladder 42 in The Bronx on September 10, 2001 - the day before the attacks of 9/11. Jerry returned to service as a volunteer after the attacks on the World Trade center and authored the book: It Started with a Helmet. You’ll appreciate Jerry’s compelling story, and his straightforward personality as he details the path of the helmet from Naples to The Bronx. In this episode you will hear: • We flew out from La Guardia Airport 2 hours before the attacks. I could’ve been on one of those hijacked planes. • Everyone’s running out of the buildings while we were running into the building. • We lost 343 Firefighters from all ranks. With all those years of experience gone, it was difficult to fill those voids. • After 10-12 days, it changed from a rescue mission to a recovery mission. • The jet fuel kept the fires burning. • On September 12, 2001, we were all New Yorkers. • You couldn’t buy a flag. • The government officials told us that it was fine to be in the area with no masks or breathing gear. 6 years later, I was diagnosed with lung cancer, as were many others. • Back then, I could go to the World Trade Center site, and any hour of the day or night. People were cheering us on. • Now they want to cut back funding for police, while they have private security. That’s crazy. • Life is so different now. We have to adapt to it. • We were taken aback at the difference in two or three years in New York City. • In Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken over in three short weeks. What the hell is going on there? • We let the fox back into the hen house. • What happened to our leadership? • If you need to talk to somebody, please do it. Don’t do anything drastic. A lot of departments have mental health people that are there to help you. • It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to people. Support Jerry
Are you looking to accomplish some goals in your life? Take a listen to John Chambliss, our guest in this week’s episode. John is a career firefighter, personal trainer, owner of 48 Str8 Fitness and 48 Str8 Supplements, nutritionally designed for First Responders, Veterans, and health-conscious gym-goers. This is what hard work and a “get-it-done” attitude look like. John conveys the seemingly impossible obstacles he has overcome to become a successful entrepreneur and servant to the community, without anyone’s help. Truly a self-made man with a positive outlook on everything he pursues. In this episode you will hear: • You gotta figure out which way you wanna go – find your own path.  • Quit worrying about money & bills. Chase your dream. • Success in the gym is having a connection/relationship with your trainer. • If I’m gonna put you on a program, I’m gonna do it with you. • Mediocracy is what kills us. • If you ever find yourself on a crotch rocket, a tank top, and shorts - that’s a set up. • The doctor told me I’d never walk again and never work out again. I have 6 plates and 32 screws in my left hip. • I need to do something better for my community as a first responder, fire, police, military and the general public. • The name48 Str8 comes from my work shifts. • When is my shit gonna come pick me up to take me to the success lane? You gotta build that shit. • When you make a mistake, learn from it, and move on. • When you hit rock bottom – good – now you know what it feels like, and you don’t wanna be back there again. • Why do something that not gonna propel you in the direction you wanna be going? • There is no option to give up.
In this week’s episode, we bring you Part 2 of Dr. Donnely Wilkes’ personal and amazing story of his experiences on the battlefield of Fallujah. With 2 combat tours in Iraq under his belt, Dr. Donnely Wilkes shares his first-hand experiences with refreshing transparency. While one would think someone with that kind of experience would be tough as nails, Wilkes describes his true feelings and fears of being in a real-life battle with people wanting to kill him, all the while serving as a medic in battlefield conditions. Wilkes is the founder, president, and medical director of Summit Health Group in Thousand Oaks, CA, and authored Code Red Fallujah, his first-hand narrative of his role in the Battle of Fallujah. He served seven years on active duty and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Valor for his actions in the battle of Fallujah in April of 2004. Upon completion of his naval service, Dr. Wilkes was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant. He is a devoted husband, father, and Christian. In this episode you will hear: I hadn’t fully accepted my fate, and I wasn’t quite all the way in. And I said to myself, “you gotta be all the way in right now, or you’re gonna do something stupid or emotionally not make it.” I finally came to terms with “If this is my fate, so be it.” As a regular occurrence, I would take cover in the corner of the building when rockets were landing around us, but that was life in Iraq. One night when I pushed the button on my laptop to end a movie, it was like the hiss of a thousand snakes descending upon me and rockets shook our entire building. When rockets would blow through our buildings and tents, I would get pissed since I couldn’t fight back in the dark of night. I tried to do what I could to be a good human. Everybody, in some capacity, should serve. It will help everyone understand and appreciate the benefits of providing service. Writing the book was really therapeutic for me. In the time of your greatest fears, God will meet you there, and you will persevere. Beware of what you pray for – you may get it. 
With 2 combat tours in Iraq under his belt, Dr. Donnely Wilkes shares his first-hand experiences with refreshing transparency. While one would think someone with that kind of experience would be tough as nails, Wilkes describes his true feelings and fears of being in a real-life battle with people wanting to kill him while serving as a medic in battlefield conditions. Wilkes is the founder, president, and medical director of Summit Health Group in Thousand Oaks, CA, and authored Code Red Fallujah, his first-hand narrative of his role in the Battle of Fallujah. He served seven years on active duty and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Valor for his actions in the battle of Fallujah in April of 2004. Upon completion of his naval service, Dr. Wilkes was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant. He is a devoted husband, father, and Christian. Part 1 of 2.  In this episode you will hear: I never thought I would join the military, much less do two tours in Iraq. My grandfather was a P-38 pilot in WWII and was shot down over North Africa, and survived. My dad always pushed me to seek higher levels. I wasn’t the smartest kid in the class. I would just outwork. A key question for a battlefield medic: Can you operate under pressure, be sleep-deprived, and yet do procedures well? Going on simulated night raids was like being in a movie- but I didn’t know I wasn’t quite ready for this movie. As much as I trained, I thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t. When the “S” hits the fan, you have a file drawer of skills, and you have to access it. Fallujah was like the Wild West. It was unbelievable what the United States military could mobilize and put on wheels. The Marine Corps motto is to do more with less. I came to the point where I realized I just needed to finish the mission so I could go home. When mortar attacks began, that’s when I knew there was somebody out there wanting to kill me. I couldn’t accept being there and being in harm’s way. I really struggled to keep it together.  When I experienced my first surgical casualty, it was a horrible moment, but after the team gathered around and prayed, it was a beautiful moment. 
It’s hard to imagine living life without hearing, especially if you lost your hearing forever at the age of 18. But in the case of this week’s guest, Mandy Harvey drove her stake into the ground and pursued her endeavor to sing, write music, and “hear” with her feet – to the point that Simon Cowell was moved to press the Golden Buzzer after Mandy’s original song performance on America’s Got Talent. Since that time, Mandy has earned a degree in Vocal Music Education and has become an ambassador to No Barriers USA with a mission to encourage, inspire and assist others to break through their personal barriers. In this episode you will hear: The mindset of abilities vs disabilities is just a lack of education, because everyone has barriers they have to deal with. I didn’t overcome anything, it just took me a little bit of time to figure it out. The mother of all invention is being innovative. I write a lot of music based on how it feels, instead of what I think it sounds like. I’ll write specific notes that tickle behind my eye or bother my face, so that I know that I’m right. I’m feeling the floor, and then just opening my mouth and letting go. The most precious gift you can have is communication. I can’t seem to explain how joyful I am now vs how broken I was before. I’m living my life and this part of my story – part of who I am. I’m thrilled to be who I am. The phrase “some people struggle and some people don’t” - Everybody struggles. It just looks different. Not every single person gets the opportunity to understand joy, or feel love. Be compassionate to people – we have no idea what’s going on in their life. With every struggle you have, you have two choices – you can either let it beat you, or you can learn from it. I really don’t believe that there was one eureka moment that made me feel not depressed anymore. It was collection of moments – a collection of people being there. I got up once. I’ll get up again. Let’s go… The getting up and starting over is the hardest part. This is a messy broken world, full of messy broken people. That’s just life.
After a seven-year battle with a rare form of cancer, Richie McPeak, Cancer amputee warrior, is living life to the fullest while inspiring others towards their goals and dreams. In this week’s episode, this incredible man shares details about his Cancer fight, with over 400 hours of chemo that resulted in an above-the-knee amputation. Despite that, he co-founded McPeak – maker of the world’s first non-GMO vegan gummy supplements and ready-to-drink plant-based powders for adults and children. Listen in and be inspired by Richie’s never-quit mentality.  In this episode you will hear: From our darkest moments can rise our brightest hours. I’ve been through some fires, but I’ve truly come to believe that every step is a finish line. When you make it to the next moment, you have finish line, after finish line, after finish line. Then you can stay in the game. We have too many options in life. Make success and making it to the end your only goal. You can be exhausted physically and mentally, but you’re never out. There are people that stepped up like brothers and uplifted me. When you lose someone, there’s only one question to ask yourself – did you love them? It took 4 guys 15-20 minutes to take my brother out, as he fought with every breath he had. They’re gonna have to cut my heart out before I quit. Never quit, no matter what you’re up against. I feel I have a duty to inspire others as best I can. No matter how dark it gets, you’re never out of the fight. Every step is a finish line. You don’t have to make it to the end of the day – just make it to your next moment with everything you’ve got.
What does an Army squad leader do in a battlefield situation when his platoon encounters three floors of insurgents and is pinned with rooftop snipers firing away? If you're Davis Bellavia, you lead your team into action. David single-handedly saved his entire squad, risking his own life to allow his fellow soldiers to break contact and reorganize when trapped by overwhelming insurgent fire. He then voluntarily entered and cleared an insurgent strong point, killing four and seriously wounding another. His actions stand as a testament to those who put everything on the line as they do the grim work required to keep each other safe and alive on the battlefield. David Bellavia is the only living recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah, Iraq. Bellavia has also received the Bronze Star Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross.   In this episode you will hear: We not only have to live for ourselves and our families, but we have to remind people who our lost soldiers are, because they didn't drop dead of a heart attack, or were killed by some misfortune or bad luck; they voluntarily chose to stand up when the bullets were coming and they voluntarily said “I'll do this for you”. You're not a man until you acknowledge that you don't have a father. Peer pressure makes you smoke cigarettes when you're 11. Peer pressure ca also make you charge a machine gun nest at Normandy beach. It all depends who your peers are. When the voices in your head say quit, don't. You really can't appreciate life until you've gone through combat. There's no education like the United States military. Never bring a hairdryer to basic training. You can't mourn on the battlefield. In the case of fallen soldiers, we should exchange the word “memorialize” for the word “celebrate”. America is still the shining city on the hill.
There are people in this world who experience and endure almost unbelievable events in their lifetime. This week’s amazing guest, Sebastian Junger, is one of them. Sebastian shares graphic details of his undiagnosed, life-threatening aneurism that burst, causing a 90% blood loss – all internally. He is an award-winning journalist covering major international news stories as well as a documentary film-maker. He has been nominated for an Academy Award. He also has an amazing grasp of human and military-related psychology. In addition, Sebastian is the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Perfect Storm, Fire, A Death in Belmont, War, Tribe, and Freedom.     Sebastian Junger is the founder and director of Vets Town Hall, with the purpose of increasing communication and understanding between veterans and civilians in their communities.  In this episode you will hear: If you can’t out run ‘em and you can’t out fight ‘em, you’re gonna have to out think ‘em. When things get physically hard, you gotta figure out how to turn off your mind – don’t let your mind negotiate with you. I was a lackluster student in college, but writing a thesis is the most exciting thing I’d ever done. I made a mistake and hit my leg with a chainsaw. There are really dangerous jobs out there with a mortality rate of combat soldiers. The majority of veteran suicides are primarily Vietnam-era veterans. It may not be caused by a combat issue as much as it could be life issues. While working as a journalist In Liberia, I was accused of being a spy. They came to get me and I hid on the roof of my hotel, with the embassy 300 yards away. In combat, you’re proactive. You have urgency. You can affect the outcome. There is a moral burden in killing the enemy. I had an undiagnosed aneurism – a deformity - in my Pancreatic Artery. It ballooned out & it burst, causing me to bleed out into my own abdomen. I lost 90% of my blood, and as I was dying, and my dead father showed up above me – trying to comfort me. If you can’t defend yourself and your community, you’re not going to be free for very long. The trick for human freedom is to be militaristic enough and organized enough to defend yourself against an enemy, but also create an equitable society at home. Humans don’t survive in nature by themselves – they need other people. How do you return a warrior to society? You can leave the front lines, but eventually, it’s gonna find you. We walked almost 400 miles and most nights we were the only people in the world who knew where we were. There are many definitions of freedom but surely that is one of them. If you can separate your body & your mind, you can do almost anything. My daughter once said: “Daddy, I’m small, but I’m huge when I stand in the light.” Public accounting of what it felt like to serve your country overseas can be very cathartic. 
Comments (73)


God Bless

Sep 10th


Love the way you guys encourage her!

Mar 3rd


This was a beautiful episode. Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful heart-warming stories. From the jokes that Taya likes to play on others, to the tears that you two shared during the talks. 💗

Sep 15th


sorry Marcus. Love your show but cant stand jj watts views and what he promotes. Your too great a dude to have a AntiAmerican lefty like him on your show. Trump 2020

Aug 19th

Clancy Ortmann

this is one off very few podcasts I've actively gone back and listened to again.

Jul 17th

sakib tanvir


Jul 3rd


Mike Day... cause even Chuck Norris needs someone to fear.

Jun 30th


Just listened to the mamma. Great great interview. She is the bad ass in that family but as sweet as apple pie. Get well Mamma. Loved the stories and look forward to hearing more from you.

Apr 26th

Adrianne Kuch

Thank you for this episode! She is definitely a badass and such a great message of "I Can and I Will!" I needed this today, thanks!

Apr 9th

Casey J

Ever wonder where the baddest men on the planet come from? The baddest women on the planet.✌

Feb 11th

Travis Tripp

What a moving story!!!!

Nov 25th
Reply (1)

Travis Tripp

One of the best shows

Nov 23rd
Reply (1)

Brian Fish

just lost some respect for this show after seeing a mike pence intvw. fuck that war mongering Israeli cuck

Nov 13th
Reply (2)


God bless

Nov 13th
Reply (1)


Love ya brother Gary

Oct 17th


amazing leadership and heroism

Oct 11th

Estevan Cavazos

One of the most motivating and amazing interviews! i couldn't stop listening!!

Oct 8th


Asian pussies

Sep 20th

Johnathan Pitcock

The legitimate American Badass!! Goggiiinnnsss, Goggggiinnnssss!!!

Sep 17th



Sep 1st
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