A few weeks back, I was at my best friend’s bachelor party. My best friend and I do not always see eye to eye politically, which I can accept. Thankfully, we have never found something so significant to disagree on that we come to blows. His whole family is on that path for the King of the Turd Reich.
A few intoxicating moments into the gathering, one brother of his came up to me and asked if me I ever listen to the Jocko Podcast (Jocko Willink)? I emphatically got excited like an idiot, indicating my answer to be affirmative. Jocko Willink for those of you who do not know is an Ex-Navy Seal who has come to the more public eye through being an author and speaker on topics such as leadership, er go, motivation to succeed.
Jocko’s podcast will typically have on guests that are more of the patriotic resemblance in the military designation. Celebrities like Gary Sinise will go on and talk about their involvement in military supporting programs, or books or whatever the instance may be. Otherwise, it is mainly veterans of the military or current soldiers discussing things all around war time experiences and tales of the fraternities that boot camps and trainings became leading to the relationships and honor carried throughout life. I have never had the privilege of serving my country. Frankly, I am not brave enough to serve, nor physically fit enough, but I support our military a great deal.
During the basic questioning of my interest in the Jocko Podcast, my best friend immediately interjected with, “Oh my God, Ronnie, did you ever hear him and John Stryker Meyer?” Admittedly, I recognized the name and pondered if I had specifically heard that one knowing many guests are old war heroes. As Sharpie dictated some of the details, I knew I had not heard this particular guest with Jocko. I left the next morning and promptly found two episodes of the Jocko Podcast that featured discussions with John Stryker Meyer (episodes 180-181) and listened to them on my 6-hour drive home. The conversation was so captivating, the drive felt like minutes.
John Stryker Meyer, also known as Tilt, is the author of a book called “Across the Fence: The Secret War in Vietnam.” The memoir’s title has it’s own sense of curiousness tied to it itself. Now throw in the shockingly soothing deep baritone of a voice from Jocko Willink opening the interview by reading excerpts from the book and you have this sense of mystification associated with progressing through the conversation. It was easy to mystify when the opening passage to the show was the description of how US Army Special Forces veteran John Stryker Meyer painted the literary image of being in the Study and Observations Group doing a briefing of top-secret clearance with a non-disclosure tied to it should they choose to accept their assignments.
While we are wondering what that top secret assignment could be, Jocko’s tone delivered the words expressing the concept that Tilt’s company was being brought in to do special covert operations that would need to be performed while eliminating any and all forms of identification including dog tags. They were told they were not allowed to keep journals, send mail, talk about what goes on in that room with anyone for 20 years. The most emphasis of intrigue came to the points of wearing simple fatigues, no Green Berets, and more dyer, the description of what happens if caught across enemy lines.
The bottom line was this was a top-secret covert mission during the Vietnam War. The United States wanted plausible deniability of involvement while attacking the Viet Cong through neutral nations. If caught, they would be treated like spies, without protection of being a prisoner of war covered in the Geneva Agreement. Speak a different language and basically avoid any and all possible connection between this group of soldiers and the United States.
I was hooked. I bought the book on Audible to start listening to. I am only about a quarter of the way done, however, from what I have heard so far, I can already recommend the book. Once I complete the memoir, I will provide the overall summary and discuss key concepts of the passages. What strikes me the hardest is listening to this tale of events focusing on a special forces group in the Vietnam War and hearing the voice of Tilt as he converses about excerpts from the book with Jocko. The mental imagery you have of a special forces soldier is the Rambo or Commando type image. The complete and utter bad ass m-f-er taking down entire nations by themselves. Tilt is a very soft spoken and humble gentlemen, very mild mannered. The things he went through will have you walking away thinking the man is a Lethal Weapon, but you wouldn’t know by first sound or first sight.
I urge all to take a listen to the podcast and the book (or read if not listen). The stories between both are captivating and powerful. You should leave in a state of awe and thankfulness wrapped inside of relief and anger.