Written by Cop Keating #REDFriday
Remembering Those Who WERE Deployed and who ARE Deployed
The Battle of Kamdesh
It was 2011 and he had just arrived at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and was buying a home. He was quiet and reserved as we discussed the terms of the VA loan. Jonathan Hill was sitting across the desk from me in my office in downtown Leesville when his eyes were drawn to the bookcase and credenza behind me lined with hundreds of books of from all wars. “There’s a book being written about a battle I was in……”, he quietly spoke. “Can you talk about it?” I asked with hesitancy, knowing that some can and some can’t. He nodded affirmatively and the conversation then quickly turned as he and I spent the next hour – not talking loans – but talking about the 2009 Battle of Kamdesh at COP (Command Outpost) Keating, now remembered as one of the deadliest battles in Afghanistan, 53 American soldiers fought in that battle – 8 gave their lives.
Jon Hill shared with me that Jake Tapper of CNN was writing a book – The Outpost – that book would be published the next year in 2012. That book is now a movie that came out on Amazon Prime this past week-end – The Outpost. I was reminded of Jon Hill and this now famous battle yesterday morning when I listened to one of Jon Gordon’s latest podcast and his interview with one of the soldiers who was in this battle, Daniel Rodriguez. Yes, I watched the movie last night. Yes, I cried. Yes, you will too.
It is amazing that sometimes we get to hear the battle stories before the books are published, the Medals of Honor given, the movies are made. In 2011, Jon Hill consented to give me a video interview on the day after his loan application. However upon arrival, I will never forget his words “I thought I could do this – but I can’t – it’s just too fresh – I realized that yesterday after we talked.” Since I had already lined out a videographer, I asked if he would instead just give a word of advice to America on what our troops go through – that portion of Jon’s interview with me was included in the 5 minutes “Get Your Boots On” video I shared at Sales Mastery a few months later in October of 2011 (minute 3:24 if you want to jump to it). BUT if you want to watch it through – you will see some very familiar (and famous!) faces of people who got their “Boots On” to give back – plus some of my much younger grandchildren at the end.
For those of you who are new to Fairway, for several years Fairway partnered with the amazing non-profit, the Boot Campaign, to give back millions of dollars to disabled veterans. It’s a very long story that I won’t recount now, but it was the presentation at Sales Mastery in October of 2011 (thank you, Todd Duncan!) that ultimately lead to the creation of Fairway’s own non-profit, the American Warrior Initiative which resulted in millions of dollars in donations from YOU –the Fairway Family – to fund hundreds of initiatives for deserving veterans. Lives have been changed – and SAVED – because of your generosity.
American Warrior Initiative (AWI)
Medal of Honor
In 2013, for the first time in 50 years, there were two Medal of Honor recipients for the same battle, SSG Ty Carter and SSG Clinton L. Romesha. Just a couple of years ago, we were honored to have Ty Carter speak at an AWI event in Houston. When I introduced myself to him, I said “I met one of your buddies a few years back, Jon Hill, and helped him buy a home”. Ty’s words were emotionally charged and he was almost in tears when he grabbed my hand to shake it and said “JON HILL SAVED MY LIFE.” You see, I didn’t know until much later that Jon Hill had actually been presented the Silver Star for his heroism in that battle. In fact, if you watch the movie, be sure to continue past the credits, you will see that there were dozens who received awards for heroism afterwards.
Also, it was a Facebook post in 2014 that introduced me to Cynthia Woodard, the mother of Michael Scusa, one of the 8 heroes who died that day in October of 2009. She added me in the Facebook group “Remembering the Fallen of COP Keating” which includes the soldiers who survived and their families. I learned from Cynthia that Michael had left behind a young son – only 2 years old. She said to me “when I can save enough money, I want to buy him some of those boots from the Boot Campaign.” Well, needless to say, Michael’s son AND Cynthia received boots the next week. FB Post HERE I have to say, I paid particular attention to Michael’s role when I watched the movie last night – and wondered how Cynthia felt when she watched her son’s heroism played out on the screen.
In closing (if you have read this far ) – watch the movie – and if you believe in prayer – pray for all those deployed and in harm’s way. And be sure to listen to Jon Gordon’s podcast where he interviews Daniel Rodrigues – who plays himself in the movie! While in Afghanistan, Daniel made a promise to his best friend: “When I get out of this sh**hole, I’m going to play college football.” Wounded at the Battle of Kamdesh, Daniel received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He was lucky enough to make it out alive; his friend was not. Remembering the promise to his friend, he resolved he would do everything he could to make good on it and posted a video online of his grueling training efforts – it went viral overnight. Through a mixture of hope, determination, and the power of the Internet, Daniel earned a spot on the Clemson University football team as a wide receiver. His book, Rise, Rodriguez tells his amazing story.
And DON’T FORGET TO WEAR RED TODAY TO – REMEMBER EVERYONE DEPLOYED ……. those who have – and those who are.
We are truly blessed to live in such an amazing, great nation.
So you’re finally a homeowner – congratulations! This is an important step in anyone’s life, and it’s absolutely normal to feel somewhat (or wildly) unprepared for the realities of owning a place of your own. What if there’s an emergency, or what if something breaks? Do you know what to do?
It is amazing that sometimes we get to hear the battle stories before the books are published, the Medals of Honor given, the movies are made.
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