The Second Amendment (Part 2): Why we are having the wrong argument.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”-The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Whenever we hear about the gun statistics (see previous blog), they are inevitably followed by a call for restrictions on magazine capacity and on semi-automatic “Assault rifles”.  The fact of the matter is, these types of weapons only represent around 2% of those murdered by firearms and an exceedingly low percentage of the “gun deaths” number that is always thrown out (People prefer to commit suicide with handguns for obvious reasons).  Shotguns represent a statistically equivalent number and yet lawmakers, including the former Vice President of the United States, seem to think that it is perfectly acceptable for anyone to own a shotgun.  The other 96% of firearm murders are perpetrated with handguns and yet, we almost never hear any proposals to limit handguns.  Why is that?

I will answer that question with a question:  What is the purpose of the second amendment?  Is it about hunting? No.  Sport shooting? No. Personal protection against crime?  Also no.  Even though I am an advocate of all of those things, especially the last one, that isn’t the purpose of the second amendment.  The founding fathers did not say “Protection of individual life and property being necessary”.  Indeed, they seemed less concerned with personal protection than with that of the “Free state”, and rightly so.  The bottom line is that the second amendment exists to protect the “Free state” from tyranny. Could that be accomplished with pistols and shotguns?  Unlikely.

Let’s back up for a moment and break down the amendment word by word.

There is a great deal of contention around the words “Well regulated militia”.  Those who wish to assign a very restrictive meaning to the second amendment maintain that “Well regulated” means supervised and restricted.  This cannot be the intent, as the amendment doesn’t list any “regulation” measures i.e. licensing, registration, etc. Because it does not stipulate or further explain/define the term, it stands to reason that “Well regulated” had a common meaning in the vernacular of the time.  It did. 

 Doctor Robert Cottrol has done exhaustive study on this subject, and has determined that the term “Well regulated” is a reference to proficiency in the use of the tools of warfare.  Today, we would have said “A proficient militia” or “A militia possessing adequate marksmanship skills”.  Let me reiterate and expound upon this point: if the framers intended the word “regulated’ as a restriction, why would they point out its necessity and then fail to suggest a method of ensuring it?  If their intent was to outline restrictions, then the amendment would have read something like this: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, all militia members shall be required to conduct supervised training every other fortnight, and muskets shall remain secured in the armory when not used for official duties”.  But that isn’t what they said.  (Side note, you notice the word “musket” never appears in the amendment, nor does the word “hunting”).

What about the word “Militia”?  Second amendment opponents argue that the military and the militia are one and the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. At that time, a standing army of career soldiers was a tool of the government, while the militia was derived from the civilian populace as the defense force “Of, by, and for the people!”, typically made up of all able bodied men between the ages of 17 and 45.  When called upon to protect the people and their lands, the militia would not have time to train, nor would they be able to walk on foot to a central mobilization point.  For these reasons, and more, they would be required to keep the tools of warfare at home and have ample ammunition to maintain proficiency (Be “Well regulated”).  In simplest terms, the military is an extension of government, and a projection foreign policy, while the militia is an extension of the citizenry, and safeguards the welfare of the people. 

Remember, the United States had just come out of a conflict where the people’s militia had triumphed over the army of the legal government.  The founding fathers recognized that the people would always need a means to fight back against an unjust ruler who commanded an army.

 Even Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the harshest and most high-profile critics of the second amendment, openly admitted that the true purpose of the amendment was unmistakable when he said in an editorial in March of 2018: “Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment”.  Most alarming is the title of his editorial: “Repeal the Second Amendment”.  Personally, I find it chilling that a former Supreme Court Justice would recognize the true spirit of the Second Amendment’s anti-tyrannical roots and call for it to be repealed in the same breath.  I am thankful that Justice Stevens no longer sits on the high court.

This brings me to an argument I hear quite often: “It isn’t like a bunch of rednecks with AR’s are going to be able to stand up to the might of the U.S. military!  I’d like to see how the NRA does against a drone strike or a MOAB!”.  This is a ridiculous argument.  And, as a former Special Forces Operator who possesses the equivalent of a master’s degree in Unconventional Warfare, I can assure you this concept could not be further from the truth.  

First of all, if that assumption were true, Iraq and Afghanistan would have been over in a matter of weeks.  In the aftermath, we would have rolled convoys through the smoking ruble and ground the ashes of their bones into dust while the world looked on in awe and revulsion. Annihilation and victory are not one and the same.  Even in the Vietnam conflict, where our forces had much less restrictive rules of engagement, a guerilla army utilizing mostly small arms proved to be a formidable opponent.

History is rife with examples of guerilla forces winning battles and even entire wars against highly trained and better equipped standing armies.  The Maccabees, The Berbers, The Scots, The Sikhs, The American Revolution, The Philippines, The Zulu, The Boer, The Czech and French resistance in WWII, The Mujahidin, and the list goes on.

Another aspect that people don’t understand is the difficulty that a theoretically tyrannical US government would have getting American troops to engage American citizens.  At the drop of civilian blood, there would be desertion from the active ranks, and huge segments of the civilian population quickly deciding which side they were on.  What would unfold is a bloody civil war in which the government could never regain the trust of the American people, and that a guerrilla force would could turn every small victory into a propaganda windfall. 

Now, before some idiot tries to read something that isn’t there into the previous paragraphs: I do NOT support any militia group that advocates for armed insurrection!  I am a patriot, and I support our duly elected government.  These fringe organizations members who try to act like some kind of modern freedom fighter make me sick.  My words are NOT meant to embolden anyone who thinks that armed revolution is warranted. IT IS NOT!

All I am saying, is that should a tyrannical government ever eye the reins of power in this country, a population possessing small arms capable of tipping the scales of warfare will prove to be quite a deterrent.  And, should that tyrannical government seize power anyway, an armed populace would be a formidable foe.

In short, if you like the other freedoms we enjoy, then you must recognize that the freedom to bear arms is the only thing that can guarantee them, regardless of who walks the halls of government. 

In the previous blog, I broke down the gun crime numbers and compared them to other means of death. Those numbers make for good talking points, but they ignore the real numbers: the cost of not having the second amendment.

 Firearm murders in 2017: 15,611

Compared to: 

Nazi persecution (total deaths): 17,000,000

Soviet rule under Stalin: 20,000,000

Communist China: 35,326,000

Cambodia under Pol Pot: 1,871,000

The Armenian Genocide: 1,500,000

 The list goes on and on. Those numbers represent the potential price of NOT having the right to own weapons that put the citizenry on a level playing field with those who would seek to persecute them.

Does that make it easier for a parent who lost a child to gun violence?  Of course not.  I feel deep pain for every innocent life that is loss.  But, in detaching oneself from the emotional aspect, and looking at it through the lens of logic, it is obvious that the right of the people, and of the person, to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed.  The alternative is far too costly.

And, to circle back on the point I made at the beginning, if people really cared about the “gun deaths” number they throw around, they would target handguns, not the “Scary assault rifles”.  To be honest, you could almost make a logical argument that the founding fathers never intended people to own handguns, since the militia certainly wouldn’t need them. But, you will never hear them make that argument, because they want your AR more than they want your Glock. Although, truth be told, they want them both.   







The Second Amendment (Part 1): Gun control by the numbers.

 “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”-The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.

 “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics”- Mark Twain

 Every time the subject of gun control rears its ugly head, numbers come into play.  The problem is, those who wish to frame the conversation in a certain way will invariably cherry pick which numbers they choose to highlight.  I am going to break these numbers down for you in an honest fashion.

 The first number that will always get thrown out there is “gun deaths”.  In 2017, there were 39,773 “gun deaths” in the US.  That sounds like a lot.  There are a couple of things wrong with this number when taken alone. First and foremost, it doesn’t consider the population of the US.  When total population is taken into consideration, firearms deaths account for less than 12 deaths per 100,000 population.  So, adjusted for population, the US is actually on the low end of most countries in the Western Hemisphere.  

 But, let’s look at those 39,773 “gun deaths” a little closer. Out of that number, 22,938 were suicides (From the CDC website).  According to the world health organization, the United States ranks 34th in suicide, and many of the countries that are higher on the list have draconian gun laws.  Hanging, poison, drowning, and jumping from height are some of the more popular methods of suicide in countries where access to firearms is limited.  This illustrates that access to firearms does not necessary impact rates of suicides.  Therefore, it is intellectually dishonest to include the 22,938 in those numbers.  So, now we are down to 16,835 firearms deaths, those that would be termed “homicides”.

 Side note: If I really wanted to be as intellectually dishonest and deceptive as the opposition, I could point out that firearms only account for 6% of attempted suicides in the US, and overdose/poison represents 71%.  The reason that would be dishonest in the terms of debate, even though it is accurate, is because firearms account for 54% of successful suicide attempts in the US. (Data from the CDC)

 Back to firearms homicides.

 At this point, it is important that we define the term “Homicide”.  Contrary to popular belief, “Homicide” is not synonymous with murder. “Homicide” means the death of one human being at the hands of another.  If a woman kills her attempted rapist in self-defense, this is technically a homicide (A justifiable homicide by the legal definition), as is the death of a violent criminal at the hands of a police officer protecting the public.

 So, out of 16,835 firearm “Homicides”, how many are “Murders”?  According to the Department of Justice, police officers shot and killed 987 suspects in 2017.  Now, I know that certain people will question how many of those shootings were “justified”. According to CNN, about three police shootings a year end up being determined as unjustified and with the police officer being charged (Important note: that doesn’t necessarily mean that those three individuals weren’t criminals who deserved to die, it just means that some district attorney has made a case to charge the officer).  So, for the purposes of statistics we will say that 984 criminals were justly and deservedly shot and killed by law enforcement in 2017.  So, the number of firearms homicides that could possibly be considered murder now stands at 15,851.

 Now, the question is, how many of those 15,851 firearms homicides were actually the perpetrators of violent crimes justifiably killed in self-defense by their intended victims? Although I could not find the data from 2017, I was able to find the FBI data from 2012 to 2016.  If we assume that 2017 was an average year, then the number would be 249.  Let’s say it was below average and call it 240.  Now, the number is down to 15,611.  I could also subtract accidental firearms deaths, but I won’t as I consider irresponsible firearm use to be criminal.

So, the number of people murdered by firearms in the US in 2017 is 15,611.  A far cry from the 39,773 number that anti-gun groups will throw out as click bait.  

 Another important note: Multiple small-scale studies in major cities have determined that between 60%-90% of “Murder victims” have a documented history of violent crime. That also corresponds to the number of murders that are typically attributed to “Gang violence” or bad guys killing other bad guys.  Since I cannot find reliable data to really pin down the numbers on a national level, I am going to give this aspect a pass.  For now, let’s just say that the number one risk factor for being a “victim” of firearm homicide is being a violent criminal.  Period.  So, although we know that the majority were not handing out bibles or delivering meals on wheels, the number will stand at 15,611 people murdered, although we cannot say that is the number of “innocent” people murdered.  The number or “innocent” people murdered is probably half of that, if not less.

 But Doc, that is still a lot of people!  Yes, it is, and I would like to see that number a lot lower.  And I will concede the point that firearms are the murder method of choice 72.5% of the time according to the FBI. But, as America leads the world in per-capita guns by an extremely wide margin, you would think that we would also lead in murders, but that is not the case.  According to the World Bank, the US ranks 34thglobally in murders per capita (Same rank as suicides).  So, no direct correlation with the number of guns and the murder rate.  The lesson here, is that bad people will find a way to do bad things, even in the absence of available firearms.

More food for thought: Australia is often held up as a model for gun control, and certainly their murder rate has steadily dropped (It was not that high before gun control and was dropping).  However, violent crime against women (Those who would benefit most from the protection of a personally owned firearm) has risen sharply over the last five years according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.  

Speaking of statistics, how does that 15,611 number stack up against other preventable causes of death?

Motor vehicle accidents, 2017: 37,133 (10,874 by drunk drivers)

Drug overdoses, 2017: 70,200

Non-smokers killed annually by second hand smoke: 41,280

Smokers killed by smoking annually: 439,000

Killed by complications of alcoholism annually: 88,000

Killed by complications of obesity annually: 300,000

Killed by medical errors annually: 250,000

I submit to you, that statistics alone (especially crime statistics) do a very poor job of illustrating the issue.  In fact, crime statistics are a red herring.  More on that topic in my next blog.  For now, when you debate this issue, be quick to correct someone who throws out “Guns kill almost 40 thousand people a year” with the actual number of 15,611 which is less than half of that number.  And, feel free to point out that the majority of those killed could just as easily have been the perpetrator instead of the victim had they been a little quicker on the draw.



Stop referring to politicians as “Leaders”!!

Spoiler alert: this blog will not be partisan!

I wince every time I hear someone say, “Your leaders in Washington”.  Governance is not leadership, in any way, shape, or form. I don’t care which branch of government we are talking about, our elected representatives are not our “Leaders”.

Bottom line up front: Leaders earn that title by inspiring action in those that they lead toward a specific set of goals.  Even though someone can inspire you without being a leader (such as a sports icon), the inverse is not true.

Now, I will concede that politicians can be leaders of their particular political party, undoubtedly. However; that means that they are inspiring action towards the goals of only 50 percent of the population.  So, although they may be a leader in that respect, they are not leading the nation.

I hear you saying, “But Doc, the President of the United States is the leader of the armed forces!!”. Incorrect.  POTUS is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces.  Command does not necessarily equal leadership.  Command is a designation of responsibility only. Throughout my 32-year military career, I encountered several commanders who were incapable of leading ants to a picnic with a bag of sugar under each arm 

The biggest problem with addressing politicians with the title of “Leader” is that it gives the illusion of authority and elevates them over their constituents.  That is not what the founding fathers wanted. Remember, they fought for independence from a system governed by a monarch and managed by a house of “nobles”. Indeed, the framers saw political office much the same as jury duty or serving in the fire brigade.  It was a public service, nothing more or less.

When you are waiting in line at the post office, or at the DMV, do you see the person behind the counter as your “Leader”? Of course not.  DMV employees are public servants doing a job and drawing a paycheck from the taxpayers. Politicians are no different, and we need to stop placing them on a pedestal. 

I have met several politicians, including a sitting President of The United States.  What I have learned is that they aren’t any smarter or more insightful than the average person.  The problem is, that most people refuse to believe that, because it scares them to death to think that the people governing our country are in no way exceptional.  It’s true.

There are multiple examples of modern-day leadership, in industry, in technology, in academia, in the military, and in sports.  And, occasionally, we do see it in politics as well.  But it is a mistake to link political office with leadership out of hand.

The take away point: don’t diminish what actual leaders do by bestowing that title on those who do not deserve it.  


Addendum:  I was done with this blog and was going to post it, when a news story came out that grabbed my attention and illustrates my point perfectly.  Right now, in the state of North Carolina, a group of politicians have introduced a bill that would lower grading standards in public schools, granting students higher grades for less performance, and would allow students to continue to the next grade level with scores in the 40% range as a passing “D”, instead of the current 60%.  So basically, we would be telling kids that it is perfectly acceptable to be wrong 6 out of 10 times.

Leaders are supposed to inspire their followers to achieve more than they think is possible,  not encourage followers to perform at the bare minimum and then lower the standard on what that minimum is.

Is this politics?  Absolutely it is!  Is it leadership? Not by any stretch of the imagination!  This is the exact opposite of leadership.  Here is a link to the article that describes this asinine political stunt aimed at appealing to the lowest common denominator.

If you have a “Bucket list” you are failing at life.

I remember a few years back, a friend of mine posted a video of one of our unit Military Free Fall jumps on his social media.  One of his friends commented, saying “Oh yeah, skydiving is totally on my bucket list!”. For some reason, my first thought was: “And? So, what? Do you expect some kind of praise for WANTING to do something without actually doing it?”.  I know, that was an asshole thing to think, but let’s look at this.

The “Bucket list” has become this pie-in-the-sky wish list of regrets.  It is a checklist of how to make a wasted life seem somehow less wasted. Dying with a “Bucket list” is like dying with money in the bank, it is a waste.  You shouldn’t have a “Bucket list”, you should be living it.  Granted, climbing Kilimanjaro might not be feasible from either a time or money perspective, but for the most part you should be DOING things, not making a list. 

I am about to turn 53 years old, and if I died today (I plan on living to 104, so not an issue) I would have ZERO regrets on having missed out on anything.  Are there still places I would like to travel to? Absolutely! Which is why I have concrete plans on travelling to those places and doing the activities I think would be enjoyable.

If you are sitting in a cubicle, writing down the things that would give you joy and praying for either a lottery win or a terminal disease to make them happen, you are wasting your life away!!

I hear some of you saying “But Mike, some of us have responsibilities, we can’t just take off to go scuba diving with great white sharks!  My kids need braces! The balloon payment on the mortgage is coming up!  I used all of my vacation days when my mother had her hip replacement!”  Hey, I hear you, and I am not callous to those types of things.

All I am saying, is that you need to either be happy in the life you have, or be taking active measures to manifest the life you want. It IS that simple. 

Honestly, if you are miserable in life, hate your job and barely tolerate your spouse, would riding a bull really make all that go away?  Far too many people count the hours during the work week and then cherish every second of chasing a little white ball around a golf course, only to feel dread return to their gut every Sunday afternoon as the specter of Monday looms ahead. This is no way to live.  

Bottom line, you should surround yourself with people who make you feel good and do things that make you happy.  Of course, paying the bills is important, but could you be doing it in a way that makes you happier and less stressed?

I have noticed a lot of people have a “bucket list” that involves travel.  If you are miserable in Cleveland Ohio, will standing at the base of the Eiffel tower really change anything?  You will still be the same you, just geographically removed from your current location.  Adding a green screen to misery won’t fix it.

And, as far as the “bucket list” is concerned, what is stopping you?  Get out there and LIVE!  Climb a mountain, enter an amateur boxing match, take a motorcycle trip to the Grand Canyon.  Or, just do what you can to squeeze every ounce of joy out of every day life.  Make love to your spouse.  Plant a garden.  Get up before the sun comes up and run five miles.  Tell your kids you love them every single day and give them the wisdom that took you a lifetime to acquire.  

The most disgusting phrase in the English language is “Someday, I’m going to (fill in the blank)”.

 Leave nothing undone, nothing unsaid, and die with no regrets.


Are anti-vaxxers terrorists?

By the technical definition, the answer is “No” because they do not specifically use violence in the traditional sense.  However, some of them do utilize propaganda, misinformation, threats (to physicians, educators, etc.) in an effort to instill fear in the population and destabilize society.  Terrorism? not really.  Subversive? Possibly.

As someone who believes very strongly in individual liberties, you may think that my stance on mandatory vaccination runs contrary to that core belief.  It does not.  There is an old saying which I quote quite often: “Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” Put plainly, you are free to do as you wish as long as it will not negatively impact others.  If you choose to live in society and interact with others, then vaccines are not an option. 

 You aren’t free to drive 150mph swerving in and out of traffic, nor are you permitted to allow your dog to run the neighborhood off leash.  Why, because of the potential for harm to others.  Don’t want to vaccinate? Fine, then live in a secluded enclave away from others and do your thing.

 Let me cut to the chase. Here are the most common arguments I have encountered against vaccines, and why they are wrong.

 1.    “Vaccines are rushed into public use without testing and we just don’t know enough about what harm they might do!”  False: Vaccines undergo rigorous trials before they are used on a large scale. Have there been problems over the last 70 years? Certainly.  But they have been addressed, and there is no denying that more lives have been saved than harm has been done.  As far as data, consider this: The measles vaccine in its various forms has been in use on a national level since 1968, that’s just over 50 years.  3,520,959 children were born that year and vaccinated. Even if that number was constant (It has gone up each year) and only 90% of kids got vaccinated, that would mean 158,443,155 kids have been vaccinated over that time. Not to mention that adults, including those who immigrated from other countries, have also been vaccinated at a rate of just over 90% of the US population, which means the vaccine has been proven on around 293,400,000 people give or take, and that is just in the U.S.A. That is a lot of data!!! So, we actually know a TON about what vaccines do!

 2.    “Vaccines contain mercury and other dangerous chemicals in lethal amounts!” False:  vaccines contain(ed) Thimerosal, which is metabolized into ethyl mercury, which is virtually harmless to us (As opposed to methyl mercury, which some antivaxxers have alleged is in vaccines. It isn’t and never has been.).  Because of concerns and process improvement, it was removed from all vaccines except the flu shot in 2001.  And, the amount is so negligible that you would have to get three flu shots just to equal the amount of ethyl mercury in one can of tuna fish. Formaldehyde is in some vaccines in trace amounts.  It is also naturally occurring in most fruits and vegetables, and we have it circulating harmlessly in our bodies.  Finally, you breath in more aluminum salts in one day than you receive in 20 vaccines. 

 3.    “Vaccines are just a money-making machine for doctors and big pharma.” False: Pediatricians actually lose money when it comes to vaccine visits (The economics aren’t complicated, but more detailed than I care to explain).  Pharmaceutical companies make far more money on psych meds, and the “new” stuff than on vaccines.  If it were about money, it would be far more profitable to let people get sick!  A full course of vaccination for whooping cough costs just under $100, while a patient admitted with whooping cough would cost $10,000 for treatment or more.

 4.    “Vaccines cause autism/SIDS.” False: Multiple studies have completely debunked this myth.  This myth stems from a flawed 1997 study by a discredited former physician (License revoked) named Wakefield, who lied to patients and their parents not only about what he was injecting into them, but also enrolled them in his study without consent.  He has since admitted to his lies and lives in disgrace.  “What about the increase Autism rates?” Oh, you mean the 16% increase that occurred with no relation to any change in vaccination rates or modality?  Quite simply, we are doing a far better job of diagnosing autism, especially in poor, minority, and underserved populations. Simple logic: now that we have better tools to detect and diagnose autism, it is diagnosed more often. As far as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it has been documented for thousands of years before vaccines were invented. In the Bible it is referred to as “Overlaying” as they thought mothers were accidentally laying on their infant children and smothering them. SIDS has steadily declined in the developed world over the last 30 years, while vaccination use has increased. A negative/inverse correlation. Links to vaccinations for either condition? No evidence, none.

 5.    “If everyone else’s children are vaccinated, mine don’t need to be because that doesn’t pose a threat to vaccinated children.” False (and dangerous): Some children cannot be vaccinated because of autoimmune disorders or severe allergies. Those children depend on “herd immunity” to protect them.  Also, for as good as vaccines are, even if they were 99.9999% effective, some would still contract the disease.  When you vaccinate your child, you aren’t just doing it for their health, but also the health of their classmates and playmates.

Those are the five that I hear most often, and as you can see they are easily debunked.  

 This issue is particularly sticky with me, not only because I am a parent, and because I am old enough to remember seeing people with long term disability because of these diseases, but also because I have travelled to 24 different countries around the world and have seen the grim reality in countries that are not developed to the point that vaccination rates are high.  

 Some say: “But Mike, we have a right to question this and nobody should follow blindly!”.  I agree, you shouldn’t follow the government, the CDC, or your doctor blindly.  But, you also shouldn’t blindly follow someone with an 8th grade education blogging from their parent’s basement about the evils of vaccines and the virtues of yogurt enemas either.  You must question the questioners!!!!  When all you have is conspiracy theories, the whole world looks like a conspiracy.

 To summarize: questioning vaccine safety and efficacy is not a terrorist act.  But, to spread disinformation and strike fear into others to “recruit” to your cause is, at worst, subversive and, at best, irresponsible. 

 A final note on something that really gets under my skin: when someone argues with me on this topic they are telling me one of two things.  Either, “Mike, you are incredibly stupid and naïve and are the worst doctor in the world for not figuring out what I was able to google in five minutes!” or, “Mike, you are an evil extension of the pharmaceutical-industrial complex and you place more value on money than on the lives of babies!”.  I am deeply offended by either.

 I took an oath to “Do no harm” and I live by it.  I am vaccinated, my children are vaccinated, and I know as a scientist and in my heart that it is the right thing to do.




Hunting Hitler

I am probably best known for my work as part of the investigative team on History Channel’s “Hunting Hitler”.  Ironically, I was almost never on the show, and then was supposed to be in only three episodes.

My friend Tim Kennedy reached out on social media (on his personal page, not private) saying that the production company was looking for someone with a special operations background who met certain qualifications (Spanish or German language, combat experience, anti-terrorism training, as well as some very specialized intelligence and counter-intelligence training).  Meeting all the qualifications, I texted Tim and he made the appropriate introductions.  I was still on active duty at the time and asked my chain of command if they would let me take leave to film the show.  They agreed. 

Initially, I thought it would all be for naught, as the History Channel chose a former Navy SEAL over me for the role.  Then, only three weeks before shooting began in Spain, I was contacted and asked if I could still do the show, for three episodes.  I rushed through my paperwork for overseas leave (which was particularly complicated as both Spain and Morocco were considered intermediate threat countries and required approval from the embassies’ Military Groups) and packed my bags.

After the first week of shooting 16 hour days, we got an evening off in Cadiz Spain.  The crew sat around a beachside patio, enjoying the rest. I was drinking a glass of Spanish port and smoking a Cuban cigar, determined to enjoy every moment of the experience that I knew was to be short lived.  It was at that moment that the director asked me if I would be willing to go to South America to shoot more episodes with Tim: “I would love to get you and TK on screen working together”, he said.  Of course, I agreed, as long as he could convince the production company and the network.  

It wasn’t until almost a month after I returned home from Morocco that I got the news that I would be traveling to South America to do two more episodes, including the season finale!

Still thinking that those five episodes would be my only television experience, Tim and I had a huge viewing party for the finale, renting a theater at the Alamo Drafthouse and inviting 150 of our closest friends and family.  Little did I know that, not only would the show get a third season, but that I would have an expanded role and get more episodes.  Not bad for the guy they initially passed over because he was too short, too old, and not good looking enough.

 Some people have criticized the show as being sensationalistic and stretching the narrative to gain more viewers.  Ultimately, I am extremely proud of what we did on the show.  Whether Hitler escaped, or died in the bunker, the fact remains that the lid on the case was closed prematurely in 1945 because the public needed closure.  We illustrated that.  More importantly, we shone a light on the global network that, even if it didn’t allow Hitler himself to escape, it most certainly transported his ideology around the world, where it took root in places like Pinochet’s Chile.  

We exposed Nazi atrocities that took place as late as the 1970’s and showed our audience that many monsters of Hitler’s Third Reich escaped justice for decades.  For every definitive clue that we failed to find proving Hitler escaped, we found hundreds or even thousands that proved others close to him did, and that many lived out their years unmolested, while spending the spoils stolen from those they persecuted and murdered.  

In 1945, good people wanted to believe that the war was over, and that good had triumphed over evil. In their haste to put that ugliness behind them, they convinced themselves that it was truly over.  That haste, combined with other factors, contributed to an environment that allowed Nazis and their ideology to find safe haven in other parts of the world and to share their message of hate with others.

This is a lesson we cannot forget, for even now we have a generation reaching adulthood that doesn’t remember 9/11.  To think that the war on terror is over because UBL is dead, and we have reduced troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, is foolish.  A cockroach only needs a narrow crack to escape, and they reproduce rapidly once they find a new home.  Nazism, Marxism, radical Islam, or whatever other label the ideology of hate attaches itself to, as long as ONE individual remains to carry their vile message, there will be more.