On Saturday, I stood on a stage, in the sun, with 4 people I didn't deserve to be on the stage with.
At least, that's how I felt as I climbed up on to it at the Swim with a Mission Event on Newfound Lake.
It was the third time I had done a Q&A with Navy Seals, and it wasn't that I couldn't handle the job I as there to do, it was just that it's hard not to be overwhelmed by awe, in their presence. The four men on that stage - Navy Seal (Retired) Master Chief RIck Kaiser (He was a sniper and explosives expert, and Master Chief of Seal Team 6. He was part of the mission to rescue men that became the movie "Black Hawk Down", and he helped command the mission to capture Osama Biin Laden), Lt Commander Hector Delgado (Seal Teams 2, 3 and 6), Vice Admiral Robert Harward (Deputy Commander of the US Central Command, and former US Marine Mark "Oz" Geist (member of the Annex Security Team that fought back in the raid on Benghazi (and saved 25 lives)- an event the movie "13 Hours" was based on).
In short, TOTAL BADASSES, one and all.
It's humbling just to be in the presence of men like that, if you ask me. I'd love to tell you - "but they're just regular guys" - but I can't. Because they're not. These guys have faced challenges we can't even fathom- BOTH physical and mental. And they' did it voluntarily out of a sense of duty, honor, and for love of our country.
And do you know what made me the most nervous about the whole thing?
It was introducing them properly. How do you introduce four men with a list of accomplishments as long as your arm? Men who had had a profound effect on our history? I get nervous every time Im in that situation. And the funny thing is - none of those man could have cared less. And what I mean is - they don't make a big deal of it. They were totally cool about everything.
So, the Q&A lasted about 45 minutes, and we covered a lot of ground; from the toughest physical and mental challenges they've faced, to how the lessons they've learned help to serve them in every day life, to the kind of sidearm they use now, who their personal heroes are, and if they were ever at a breaking point where they didn't think they could go on. There were some really good questions from the crowd too.
I guess I'm writing this because I thought a lot about it on my ride home.
What these four men - and others who do what they do- have done is a tribute to America at it's best. It's about never giving up, it's about pushing through, and always putting the team first. They are without question, the most patriotic people I've ever met. And I'm in awe of them.
So- next year, when the Swim with a MIssion event comes around - if you feel the same as I do, don't miss it. It's an impressive and humbling day that I was honored to be a part of once again.
ps. In the photo below: L-R: Lt Commander Hector Delgado, Master Chief Rick Kaiser, Vice Admiral Robert Harward, USMC Mark "Oz" Geist. Thanks to @DagdaPhotography