1. What was your first gunfight like?
I was 17 and still in training. I spent most of the time under a log. The CTC, or Combat Team Commander, kept telling me to look up at the situation, but then a few rounds would strike the log we were behind and I was down behind it again. It was a training mission, so I wasn’t participating as part of the Team.
2. What was your toughest mission?
Working against human traffickers and drug distributors, I was blown out of a building. It happened when a guy I was chasing threw a satchel charge into the room I was entering, and it went off as I was attempting to jump out of a broken window, throwing me thirty feet out on to the front lawn, breaking L5 and S1. My legs didn’t work for two weeks, and then they slowly recovered, but I also had to recover from secondary effects where one’s immune system attacks the organs that are healing. That part took six months! I was kind of walking after two weeks, and then it was back to work again – no back repairs until years later when I had a five-and-a-half hour back operation to remove the broken bones and complete repairs.
3. Why the 1911 (.45) with all the new guns available?
The book has the best explanation under the chapter, Backscatter. Its lockworks are the most precise in any firearm still today. Precision becomes important after one gets past a certain level of gunfighting experience and training. It isn’t possible to recognize the value of precision in lockworks until then. But suddenly it becomes really important because one can see, feel, and control what happens within those small time windows. The 1911 and 45ACP caliber are the best combination in pistols today and for the foreseeable future.
4. How is it you can write about your background?
More than twenty five years have passed since the cases in my book were active. The cases have been declassified, and there is no identifying information in the stories. But gunfights are universal. They are just as real as if they happened today!
5. How do first person shooter video games differ from the real thing?
They are different in four main areas. Speed, where game players move hyper-fast compared to reality, Game Scope, meaning that you can know more in the videogame environment than if you are standing on the terrain in person, Auto-Aim Capabilities, where weapons lock on to targets, and, of course, the number of Lives! Some games have a switch that turns off the target acquisition scope and disables Auto-Aim. Then, most players slow down. Also, some games allow only one life – and then players slow down some more, but most of the time gamers still move much faster than combat teams in hostile territory.
6. Is that your real hair in the older photo?
Yes! So is the beard. In fact, I wore a beard for my entire career. (Yes, you can use a gas mask if you put Vaseline in your beard – messy and it stays put after many washings!) If you have to walk out of a hostile zone or country, you don’t want to be cut high and tight. Also, in the photo, the camo is mismatched as on that assignment we had to use what was available locally – almost all of our gear (except weapons) was surplus from that country’s shops and military sales, and it was all US black-market stuff!
7. How do you shoot that fast?
I’m not that fast compared to competitive shooters today. But the answer is in thousands of repetitions – literally – of the fundamentals. Note that I had to jerk the pistol to get the mag to drop. The G17 I used was an early issue, SN under 100, and the mags didn’t drop free as they do now.
8. Were you in the Delta Force?
No. Delta Force was still forming up in the mid to late 70’s as I was nearing the end of my career. The RDF, or Rapid Deployment Force was the first evolution of our Unit.
9. How do missions today differ from the missions in the past?
Missions today are more difficult to accomplish, I think, then when I worked. With electronic surveillance and other electronic discovery techniques, it’s much harder to “James Bond-it” than it was before cell phones. If you get 45% success today, it’s considered excellent, vs 70%+ when I was taking fire on a routine basis.
10. How did you get the nickname “underarm”?
My usual load was a knife, most of the time one of my Randall knives, my 1911 A1 custom by Jim Hoag or early Wilson, or a few others, and a Remington 870 pump shotgun. Most of the guys selected rifles of various types in 7.62NATO whenever possible. I seemed to end up most of the time fighting in tight quarters and the shotgun is the most versatile small arm even today. Look up the variety of rounds that can be used with a 12 ga. Shotgun. It’s as impressive today as it was back then. Ammo? Well, usually, 125 shotgun rounds split between #4 Buck and 1/5-oz. slugs, 36 45ACP rounds, and a Randall #1. Wow! With my back injuries, I can’t carry that requirement anymore!