In this episode, Tim and Brock speak with Caleb Taylor.
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Caleb was was Marine Rifleman from 2009 to 2014. Caleb talks through why it's so important to build your own life outside the military. How the end of our service doesn't cite the end of our story nor allow us to hang up the cleats. We also get to hear the first audible telling of his coordination efforts to rescue his Afghan interpreter, "NB", during the recent fall of Afghanistan.
Since his exit, Caleb achieved a bachelors and masters in Global Security Studies and now works at FEMA. On the side, he writes for OAF Nation, a veteran owned media brand. He does everything from book reviews, to military history, and was published in a poetry book entitled 'War...&After: The Anthology of Poet Warriors'. Can find the book on Amazon here.
Check out Caleb and OAF Nation
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OAF Nation Website
Whether you’re in the service for four years or twenty, you have learned skills, led teams, and learned what it takes to execute under pressure. While those past successes are valuable, they don’t always translate to a life or career when you get your DD214.
Join Tim and Brock as they break down the skills and strategies current and former military members are using to build a successful careers on the outside the service.
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Brock Briggs 00:14
Hello and welcome to the Scuttlebutt podcast. Our guest today is Caleb Taylor. Caleb was a former Marine rifleman, from 2009 to 2014. After exiting, he went back to school to get his Bachelor's and Master's in Global Security Studies and now works for FEMA, and as a part time writer for OAF Nation, covering everything from book reviews to military history. Caleb, welcome to the show!
Caleb Taylor 00:40
Thanks, man, excited to be here.
Tim McCarthy 00:43
We're happy to have you back. We're excited, too. Absolutely!
Brock Briggs 00:46
I want to start out just kind of the way that we start off with everybody, give us the five minute spiel about what brought you here to this point today? What led you to join the Marines? What possessed you to do that, and sort of what got you into the field that you're in now?
Caleb Taylor 01:04
So, I mean, it's a long story. So feel free to cut me off at any point. Or just tell me to shut the fuck up. I get it. Once I get going, it's hard to pump the brakes. So feel free to interject at any point.
But so high school, I didn't really, I'm super good at school. I was blessed with a mother that read to me a whole lot and encouraged me to read. And that really opened a lot of doors for me and continues to do so today. So I was always very good at schools, came super naturally to me very easy. So I didn't have to work very hard, which wasn't really great for me in the long term.
By high school, I wanted to be cool. I didn't really want to be a nerd doing my, you know, doing my homework and stuff like that. I wanted to fit in and make friends and be popular. So I kind of didn't take school incredibly seriously.
When my senior year approached, I knew that I could go straight to college. That it would be, you know, a bit of work, because I'd have to go to community college first and then go to whatever state school after that. But I also knew that doing so would be contingent upon me keeping, you know, good grades and not fucking around. And I knew, you know, that was.
Brock Briggs 02:16
That wasn't gonna happen.
Caleb Taylor 02:17
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it gave me that kind of space. And my brother actually went down that path as well. And it took him so long. And I was like, “I don't want to do that.” I had always been fascinated with military history. My mom's uncles all fought in World War II. My dad and both his brothers were in the military. My uncle was actually in the Navy as well, as some kind of nuclear engineer on a sub. And he's still is now. He's just a contractor, making ungodly amounts of money. And my other uncle went to West Point and retired as a lieutenant colonel. Whereas my dad was just a dumb Marine.
So obviously, there was no question I was gonna go into the Marine Corps. I was like, I couldn't. One of his uncle's was in the Marines. And now I'm so, there wasn't really a question to me going into the Navy or the Air Force. I flirted with the idea of going to West Point until I realized that doing so meant that I had to take school way more seriously. And that I needed to have done so years ahead of that point. So I was like, “Fuck it. I'm gonna go to the Marine Corps, going to Iraq.”
Because I had no idea. You know, I definitely had a death wish a bit and was like, you know, had my teenage heartbroken and was like, “You know what, fuck this. I'm gonna get out of this town. I'm gonna show them that I'm a hard ass. And I'm gonna go, you know, get killed in the war and be a fucking hero or something like that.
So, joined the Marine Corps, was gonna go Intel because I watched the newest Jason Bourne movie my senior year and was like, “Dude, Intel's the way to go.” I told my uncle who used to be an infantry officer. And he was like, “No, no, no.” He's like, “If you want to kick down doors and shoot bad guys, you gotta go in the infantry.” And I was like, “Alright.” So I told my recruiter and they were like, “Nice, man. We always need bodies.” And I was like, “Okay. Sounds good.”
Tim McCarthy 04:08
What a thing to say. Yeah, absolutely. Like, “Oh, I don't have to convince you to go be infantry.” Like, you just want to do it. Perfect sign. Yeah. Push hard. three copies.
Caleb Taylor 04:17
Yeah. And I scored high on the ASVAB. So you can get a bonus. All you got to do is an extra year and I was like, “Well, hell yeah. Should I do 20 if you'd let me?” And so I got a five year contract for three grand bonus.
Brock Briggs 04:30
What a deal! Was it even three grand up front or did they like separate it out over the entire five years?
Caleb Taylor 04:37
So once I got done the school of infantry, I got 2300 I think, something like that, you know. A whopping two grand, which was, you know, I wish I blew that first weekend, obviously.
You have to.
You know, good Lord! Typical you know, you're 18. You're dumb, you know.
Tim McCarthy 05:01
I was just about to say for like, for a younger kid, I remember I mean, I joined at 21. Did somebody was like, “Hey, here's 2300 bucks.” I'd be like, “Where am I going?” Like, what about whatever, I'll do anything for $2,300 back then. That’s a lot of money.
For sure. That’s a party.
Brock Briggs 05:16
You didn't go slap that down on like a new 2018 charger with like 30% interest, you know?
No, no, no.
Tim McCarthy 05:23
The BMW three series.
Caleb Taylor 05:26
I didn't heed a lot of advice. Everybody got infinities. That was a big thing. Everybody would get an infinity and..
I don't know why.
Maybe, it’s a Marine thing.
It could have been.
Could have been. It was crazy. You know, it's like I imagine now, I just like now there's probably a kid pulling up in a Tesla. You know what I mean? And it's like, what the hell?
Tim McCarthy 05:46
Well, what a weird thought actually. You imagine some E-3 pulling up in a Tesla to his first command? I’ve never even
Brock Briggs 05:55
That’s a bigger flex than a lot of things.
Caleb Taylor 05:57
Bigger than the Mustang, I think but, you know, the Mustang is ubiquitous. He got to do it. You know, they don't tell.
Tim McCarthy 06:04
Never had one, unfortunately. I regret it. I should have.
You don’t regret it.
I don't actually regret it at all.
Caleb Taylor 06:15
I drive way too, I think aggressively to have a fast car. It's just not a good idea for me. You know, forget the other people on the road just for me. I'm going to crash it, you know. There's no way I'm not going to. So dodge that, you know. Didn’t listen to a lot of other advice along the way.
Some of which was, you know, you should get a job that makes you use your brain instead of your body because your brain is going to hold up a lot longer than your body and I was like, “Yeah, okay, sure. I'm gonna go be a rifleman, you know.”
Yeah, so didn't do much with that 20, might not even been 2300, might have been like, 18 or so it was like, obnoxiously low. I was like, there's just no way that that's how it's supposed to work but “okay”. And so spent that, you know, plane ticket home and like a bracelet for my girlfriend, I think that was it.
Brock Briggs 07:10
Was this the one, the teenage heartbreak that you joined the..
Caleb Taylor 07:15
No, this was later. This was a new one. Yeah,
You know, I think I had like an attachment issue. And I was afraid of being alone and whatnot, very insecure. And so, I think that kind of led to me latching on to these long term relationships that weren't incredibly healthy for me, particularly while I was in the Marine Corps. So that was like one of my ways of coping with being far away and kind of dealing with adjustment and whatnot. So and, you know, just making things more stressful for myself, because why not?
Brock Briggs 07:51
Spice it up a little bit.
Tim McCarthy 07:52
Oh, yeah. Add a little razzle dazzle,
Brock Briggs 07:54
Some money issues thrown in there. You know, all we need is the charger and we're set.
Caleb Taylor 08:00
Right, right. Like, why not get married and live on base and just crank things out to 1000 If you can, you know.
Oh, man. I love it.
Being a new guy in an infantry unit, especially, I mean, I'm sure it's hard anytime but in the middle of the war, it's a crazy place. The barracks was absolutely terrifying.
My first night, there was a senior Corporal named Taylor, also. And he found out that I was Taylor. He found out where I lived and we were in the same company. And him and a bunch of other dudes came there banging on my door, and like midnight, my first night in the barracks and they're drunk as shit. And I hear him screaming, “Are you Taylor? Taylor? Are you Taylor, too?” And I was like, “Yes.” And one of the other guys was like, “Close a fucking door. Lock it. Don't come out.” And I was like, “Okay.” And that was my introduction into the barracks and it didn't get less scary over time.
Tim McCarthy 08:53
It’s almost like it's prison. Like, what the hell are they doing over there?
The welcoming committee.
Caleb Taylor 08:58
My mom and dad picked me up and took me out for dinner. My my, like, first night after Infantry School, and in the barracks, and that is what my mom said. She said, “I feel like this is a prison yard. I don't think I'm gonna see you again.” I was like, “Yeah.” Believe me, I'm terrified. It was, it was fuckin’ scary. And they had just gotten back from a crazy deployment. And it was terrifying. So you know, long term attachment helped to deal with that a little bit, I think.
Brock Briggs 09:28
Some kind of a source of comfort
Caleb Taylor 09:30
A little, for a time, you know. So I forget where I'm going with this. But there I was, you know. New guy in the Marine Corps you know, stressing myself out making things difficult. But I loved it, loved every second of it. We went to the field all the time or leadership. It was tough. You know, we trained super hard I'm sure. Now it would probably be like referred to as hazing. But I didn't think it was bad. Like no one ever, like beat the shit out of me or peed on me while I did push ups, which did happen. Not to me or anyone in my squad, but, you know, elsewhere in the barracks. You know, I never had any issues like that. It always seemed like the training that we were doing is for a reason.
And if you drop your rifle, you should do push ups. And if you can't remember how to call in a medivac, and you should do flutter kicks until you can remember.
Well, does that help?
Yeah, am telling you, really gets that memory, will return then. And you know, I had a really great time. We had phenomenal leadership from the team leader and squad leader level, all the way up to the battalion commander, who was an absolute salt dog. He's actually in the OAF nation TBT book, if you want to check it out, JD Harrell. There's like shows on him on the History Channel too, just the absolute badass. And it was the shit, you know. It was like motivating and I was like, “This is it. Like I found my place.”
I love shooting stuff. I love blowing stuff up. I love being like, I got to be a team leader and one of our deployment trainings. And I was like “This is it for me,” you know what I mean? Being able to lead
And to push people around and yell and scream and get things done and be aggressive and violent. While also, you know, remaining incredibly thoughtful and aware. And there's a lot of processes that go into everything. You have to coordinate everything with a ton of adjacent assets and hire assets and whatever and to be in that zone. And in that realm was just, like, the coolest shit in the world. I felt like I was peeking, you know what I mean? Like, this is the pinnacle of everything. This is awesome. This is everything I wanted it to be. And, yes, it sucks in, you know. We're outside all the time. We hunt for shit. We sleep in the woods. We never bring tents for reasons I don't understand. You know, it's miserable. It's wet. It's disgusting. It's sweaty. It's intense, you know, but it's fun.
It was such a unique and, like, unifying thing to do with your friends. And my boys that I made friends with at that time when I was a bhoot, are my best friends today. And, you know, I think that that really speaks to how much of an impact that had on me, not just then but you know, now too. After that, things took a turn.
And then we deployed and deployment was sick. I got to be in charge again. But it was also brutal and annoying. And a lot of childish things that went on and people making us do dumb shit that was dangerous for no reason, kind of started to sort of like, you know, wedge itself into my brain that maybe this is, you know, not the greatest thing in the world. Or maybe this isn't the greatest way to do these things.
And then second deployment, had shipped leadership from you know, head to toe. Had really good friends and was able to be a squad leader, which was sick, because you know, we go out on patrol, and I'm in charge and everything is mine. And it's a lot of responsibility. But for me, it was awesome. And I had complete faith and trust in my lieutenant who had the same for me. And that allowed me to do more than others and go further and kind of push the boundaries of our mission. And that was awesome. And to be able to take my guys out and give them at least like a taste of the war as at the time it was wrapping up or we thought it was wrapping up.
Certainly the Marine Corps infantry mission in Afghanistan, you know what I mean, to go from the peak of it in 2011, to the big withdrawal in 2013, it was cool to be a part of. Super disappointing for me, because I wanted to keep the point. But the leadership from our battalion commander down was god awful. So that's when I decided I wasn't going to stay in and that I didn't really like stupid people being in charge me, especially when you know, you're talking about the “Ultimate Life and Death job” to be a squad leader at war. So that's what I was like, “Yeah, I'm probably going to go to school and, you know, poke around for the rest of my life, I think.”
Brock Briggs 14:17
What kind of things were happening? You start mentioning on your first deployment that you weren't really agreeing with some of the decisions that were being made. What kinds of things were being done and executed that were maybe different than..
Out of being outside in training, and you know, was it just the closest proximity to the war? What made that different?
Caleb Taylor 14:40
So the war itself was, you know, by far my favorite part. I mean, being so, I should like probably break it down. But we're in Sangin, Afghanistan, which was, I guess, like at the time, the place to be, you know, obviously, like a ton of IDs, lots of casualties. You know, we attached to three five midway through their deployment to Sangin. And they, you know, they got hit pretty hard. But they were, you know, doing the Lord's work and chopping Taliban like it was cool.
And you know, midway through the deployment, one five came on deck. And my company detached from three five and attached to one five. So we stayed in Sangin and stayed in our AO, and continued to do what we had been doing all along, which was, you know, every day we go out on a security patrol. And we try to build connections with locals and build confidence in our partner and indigenous forces.
And, you know, ultimately, it comes down to trying to find IDs and trying to provoke the Taliban into attacking us so that we can, you know, hopefully, dump some of the stuff we're carrying and get some rounds off, which will be sick. So we had a platoon sergeant who was a tyrant. And he was very good at what he did, which was he was tactically, probably the most proficient person that there was in our unit. Like he just he always knew what we needed to do, always knew what the answer was, knew his job and everybody else's job at all times. But he was an asshole. And so a lot of I think insecurities that turn themselves into, you know, in belittling and kind of torturing us. So my squad stayed at a super small outpost, was just our squad, and then about 10 Afghan army guys living with us. And it's just this little tiny Afghan compound with three rooms and a tent in the middle of the compound.
And you know, the compound is a rectangle with walls that go all the way around and on an L shaped portion of the rectangle. The walls have like a building attached to it. And on the roof, we have two sandbag bunkers, one for us and one for the AMA. So, we were like isolated. We were on the main you know, supply route. And so we are often overlooked on resupply runs and they will forget to bring us water, forget to bring us chow on occasion.
Yeah, it was kind of crazy.
Tim McCarthy 17:09
So that sucks. Holy shit.
Caleb Taylor 17:11
It was funny. I mean, like, for us, it was just like, whatever.
Tim McCarthy 17:14
It was funny.
Caleb Taylor 17:15
It was because of how bad the IDs were. The AO was like small in comparison to where it was in central and southern Helmand for my unit on their deployment previously, you know. Our AO was not a large space, like it was a few square kilometers. And that was it.
Tim McCarthy 17:33
And for the listeners of the podcast eight, when you say AO, do you mean area of operation?
Caleb Taylor 17:41
So pretty much the OPs, the outposts had to be like, you had to be able to see them from each other. So like it couldn't be completely isolated out there in the middle of nowhere. Or anytime we tried to do a resupply, there'll be IDs on the route. So we were like, adjacent to an OP that was actually along the route. But for whatever reason, because you had to cross a bridge to get to ours, they would drop pants all the time. So we would have to hump to the platoon, patrol base or PB where the rest of our platoon was in the platoon attachments. And they had a generator and assemblance of electricity to run the radios and everything like that.
And eventually, they got like a bigger generator, and they got a tent with AC, which was, you know, unheard of. Because we didn't have power at our LP. So we'd have to hump to the LP to get what we needed, and then humped back to our OP and it like, doesn't sound like a lot because it's just like what you just walk into, you know, pick up stuff. But the problem is that you're walking through IED laced fields, where people you know, the Taliban are constantly, you know, not really trying to get in a big firefight with this but harassing fire for sure. Somewhat constantly and walking through these fields, a lot of times we just do it at night, even though we weren't supposed to be out at night. Because the IEDs, the way it should have been clear.
So we go at night, but it's muddy as shit. And everything's wet and seem to be slipping and falling and picking up you know, upwards of 100 pounds of supplies and then walking back to the OP was exhausting. And so the platoon sergeant use that to kind of try to punish us. And so if someone did something that he didn't like, which, you know, there were times when it was like justifiable when one of the guys forgot his NVGs and we went on a three day operation. Of course, we're like he should be punished, but he punishes the entire squad.
And, you know, it's like, we're in an active, you know, war zone. People get hurt every day out here. The medevac helicopters come pretty much every single day. We're finding new IDs every single day. So to be like making people do this under these conditions is just kind of absurd.
And very small minded.
Brock Briggs 20:00
Oh, well, it seems like there's, I would hope that there would be a different type of mentality. And something that I saw while deployed. It should be a different environment. And the rules kind of should change when it comes to like, how you're dealing with punishment. And I can't even imagine that. They're like, putting you in extra harm as a punishment. Almost.
That seems wrong.
Caleb Taylor 20:31
Yeah and so another one of the like, common punishments was if somebody's you know, fuck it up or not doing their job, well, we put them on post. And eventually, one of the squad leaders was like, look like, you know, I get it, but you got to come up with a better way of punishing people. If you're putting people on post who don't care and don't want to be here, they're not gonna pay attention, and somebody's gonna get hurt.
You know, they're gonna emplace IDs, or, you know, eventually they, you know, they shot RPGs at the post, because the person on post isn't paying attention. And you shouldn't have to have these conversations when you're like, there. You know what I mean? This is, we are at war. This is it. This is the real deal. And we're just kind of fucking around about it. And that was really disillusioning, I think, for me. And I didn't really, I didn't like that a lot, to put it lightly.
Tim McCarthy 21:21
It kind of gives you the sense from what it sounds like. Like he didn't care about like, you guys didn't feel like he had your back at all. Which, and I mean, if he's putting you in harm's way, obviously, he doesn't. And that's such a big portion of being a good leader, whether that's in the civilian world, or in especially in the military world, as we all know. Like, if you're a leader or manager, whatever you want to call it, has your back, you're gonna work infinitely harder for them to make sure that the job gets done.
And that's just basic human nature, right? So if your leader doesn't have your back, you're like, fuck you. Like I don't need like, you don't care about me. So why am I going to care about getting this job done for you? You know what I mean?
Caleb Taylor 22:12
For sure. And I mean, the thing is, like, this is 100% true, but band of brothers, right? They all talk about the captain in the beginning, that's the company commander, Lieutenant Sobel. And what an asshole he is. And they all hate him. But because of how much he's a dick, it's very unifying for the company and for the platoons, because you're kind of building this resiliency and this camaraderie and spirit of teamwork because of how much of a dick he is. But also because he's a perfectionist.
You guys are very tactically proficient. You're very profound in your decision making, understand everyone's role and where they need to be and how the machine needs to function in order to function properly, and how we all fit into the machine. And I think that is something that we got from him a lot. He was an asshole. But anytime he gave you any kind of praise, it was like, you felt like a king. You were like, he doesn't just pass out praise lightly. You know what I mean? It's like this.
So it's very much like a love-hate relationship. It still is, I think.
Tim McCarthy 23:15
Oh, that's yeah, like the opposite way of, I guess, looking at what I just said, you know. That's the flip side of the coin is that everybody comes together because he is an asshole. And you kind of build up this mentality of trying to earn that praise. Because, you know, like you said, he doesn't give it out often. So when you get it, it must feel good. I know exactly what you're talking about.
Caleb Taylor 23:39
So you know, it was interesting. I mean, I love it, like being outside the wire every day. I'm like, I was the point man. So I went first. And one of the things that we did, we would probe with bayonets. So we would get down on our knees and stick the bayonets into the ground and try to find, you know, IED components. So that way you could find the pressure plate before somebody steps on it. And then have the engineer EOD blow it up. And so that was a cool thing to experience. It was a terrifying thing to be told that that's what you have to do. But once we started doing it, it was like, “This is it.” You know what I mean? Like, and when you find IEDs, it's like, “Holy shit!” You know what I mean? I did it like.
Tim McCarthy 24:25
Well, did you find one? I assume, yes.
Caleb Taylor 24:28
Yeah. We found a lot. I think I only found three. I found more components that weren't quite put together yet. But I only like physically found three. But one of my buddies found, I think upwards of 15.
And well, I mean, this is in the beginning, the first three months, if we even thought, there was something we would throw a line charge, which is like a three foot section of det cord with bits of C four strung through it. And we'll throw down a path and send it off to make a sympathetic detonation to blow up the IED. When we first got there, that was like our SOP was.
If you think there's something there, then we're just gonna throw a line charge on it that way we can be sure, which is incredibly destructive, and probably not great for your hearing in your ear equilibrium, long term. But at that time, I was sick. I mean, we were bowling stuff right every day. And finding IEDs, you know, pretty much every day as well.
Tim McCarthy 25:30
Little boy's dream.
Blowing shit up!
Caleb Taylor 25:34
It was awesome. I mean, it was sick. It was everything that you wanted to be. I mean, like, I think I probably would have preferred getting into more firefighters for sure, as opposed to just the IED threat. Because the IED threat is terrifying. And you don't really get any, you don't get the payback. You don't get to dish it back out, you know. If you're lucky enough to catch them while they're in place, sure. But that's hard, you know, very rare. There's so much air on station, and they're really smart about it.
The likelihood of you catching them while, like us, catching them while we were there. Since we weren't allowed out at night, it just wasn't. The likelihood just wasn't very high. So you didn't really get to kind of push back for these things that they're pushing on you. And that's kind of a bummer. But, you know, it feels good to have been at least doing this thing and being proactive and trying to make a difference, you know.
Brock Briggs 26:25
It sounds like you totally were and I imagined that actually finding an IED is probably a huge praise. I mean, that's like a huge accomplishment when you come back to your unit or whatever. My question about that is, how does that play into like something that you do now, like being told that you need to say, “Hey, put this bayonet into the sand and look for something that might blow you up.”
To me, I have to think that like going forward the rest of my life, there's not gonna be anything that I would be scared to do. Because that literally is the pinnacle of life. You really have it on the line and like something you think of like a bomb tech, like they're diffusing it at the last minute. Like there is something like that. Does that impact things that you do now? Or do you feel like things are the volume is turned down on when you go to like, a tackle something new or a new project? Or a new job? Or do you feel that at all?
Caleb Taylor 27:27
Oh, if I'm honest with you know, I'm scared of heights. I hate roller coasters. You know, my wife loves going on roller coasters. And I'm just like, “Fuck that.” Like, I can't deal with the anxiety of sitting there waiting to go and just be like, “Man, I don't want this.” I get vertigo now, when I go on swings, you know what I mean? It's crazy. I like I'm such a, I guess, soft now. But realistically, there's like, real actual harm, it doesn't. I don't find those things to be scary. I just don't like heights. You know what I mean? I don't like heights. I get vertigo, you know. I've been around a few explosions. So I think, you know, my brain got a little bit jumbled up.
And you know, I think that's had an effect on me having vertigo. And I think I like the way you put it at tackling new stuff. It's like, I don't care. It doesn't bother me. It's like school, you know. I got comfortable with being uncomfortable and with kind of willing myself to get out of my comfort zone. Because that's really all it was, getting out of my comfort zone. You know, you're fine with getting shot at and shooting back. And you're fine with calling in air and calling in mortars and calling in metal backs. And you're fine with, you know, being the one to make the patrol routes that ultimately are going to determine whether we're going to find an IED or possibly step on one, you know, depending on how this patrol route goes.
You know, it never bothered me. When there was the big thing, with the Green-on-Blue in Afghanistan with Afghan army and Afghan like police shooting Marines and soldiers and sailors and airmen in the back and stuff like that. It never bothered me. I never had a problem with that. I thought that those things largely came about because people didn't treat them the way that they should be treated. And that, in my experience, when you worked with the AMA and you developed a bond with them, and you work closely with them. They want to help and they want to be on your side. And you know, yeah, it's crazy that you should have to convince them of that.
But it's also, we don't understand the war from their terms and in their eyes. And what we're doing can easily be construed as shitty, you know. Kicking people's doors and rifling through their shit in their house. You know, I don't know what's offensive. What's obviously offensive. Imagine if somebody did that to your parents’ house. You'd be fucking pissed, you know?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Brock Briggs 29:49
Kicking the door and thing, that doesn't really bode well in any country.
Caleb Taylor 29:53
Yeah, for some reason. There's like, “Oh, it's a cultural thing.” It's like I don't think there's too many cultures that are like and yeah, you know.
Tim McCarthy 29:59
Booted in, that's fine, like, “Okay, knock?” I mean.
So simple doorbell ring
Caleb Taylor 30:07
I think it made me, it helped me kind of put things into perspective and to understand that, like, well, you know these things can appear intimidating, and scary and terrifying. And you know, obviously harmful too. The reality is that with a professional approach and with by staying calm and kind of taking a deep breath and approaching this, the way that you've been trained to approach it, that you can handle this. And that you need to handle this. And that, in the grand scheme of things, you know.
Fuck it. Suck it. If this thing blows up, and you get, you know, your hands, arms, face blown off, like, it'd be a bummer for sure. But it's your job. Somebody's got to do it. And you're gonna feel a lot worse, if you don't do this. And somebody else gets their legs blown off, and it's your fault. So you better get after it, you know. You're gonna feel a lot worse about you know, for me personally flunking out of school and not being able to do these things.
And for me being in college, it was an adjustment. I had a really hard time at first. I was on academic probation. And then the semester that I figured it out. I was on academic probation, figured out what I wanted to do. And I got straight A's the rest of the time that I was in college, because ultimately, like, nothing compares to that. And it can be easy to be like, “I don't have to work hard,” because nothing compares to that. What can you say to me? Because nothing compares to that. I did these things. I'm a badass, you know. I made it. I did my time, blah, blah, blah. Any number of bumper stickers, you know what I mean? Whatever you've seen ‘em, like, if you've been on base, you can see ‘em from a mile away. Motivated bumper stickers, I can say that, right? Sure.
But that doesn't help me. That doesn't get me anywhere. That doesn't take me where I want to go. That doesn't jive with my plans for my future, which is to make something of myself. Which is to turn the sacrifices that people made for me. That people who I was with, when we were deployed, made, you know, ultimately, the way that I look at things, as you know. If someone else stepped on the IED, it's one less that you didn't have to step on. And that sucks, right? That's a shitty kind of thing to have to think about.
But I think it's the truth. And so you owe it to these guys who sacrificed for you to make something of yourself and to put yourself in a position where you can tell their story and you can tell your own story. And you can use that to kind of try to channel some positive change in the world and positive change in the way we look at veterans and the way that veterans look at themselves.
Brock Briggs 32:35
There are so many people that get out. I almost make it akin to like people when they talk about how great of an athlete they were in high school. Like that the high school was like the peak or whatever. And I think the military has this way of really turning your life upside down. And so it feels like really transformational and like you've done all these really important things. But getting out, it's good to acknowledge those but that doesn't. It doesn't give you license to just coast or whatever, for anything the rest of life.
Caleb Taylor 33:09
For sure. I agree. I think it's kind of like this. And this is something that me and my wife have talked about, you know. We come from the same area. And the city that she's from, which is where I went to high school is pretty bad. You know, it's terrible. It's a violent place. People get stuck, you know what I mean? And it's the small town mentality. It's this, well, “I'm bawling right now, even though I'm living in a rundown apartment and working a dead end job. And I am in an abusive relationship with a piece of shit.” You know, it's this small town mentality. Well, he was the high school quarterback like, who cares?
Right, right. Yeah.
He knows who he is. And I think you see that in the military, because it is very much this, like small town. You know, everybody in my unit knows who I am and knows that I’m the man. And that I'm good at my job. And I have this reputation and there’s respect. And that feels great. And you get out and you're stripped of that. No one knows who you are. No one cares what you did. You know, yeah, they're great things. And yeah, it's a meaningful thing for sure. But you know, you get out even if you do 20. If you join when you're 18, you're 38 years old man. You have your entire life ahead of you. You gotta get something going, you know. And it's a worthy career choice for sure. And it's not to knock anybody or to discourage someone from making it their career, but you know, the job doesn't make the man, doesn't make the woman, doesn't make the person. You know, it's a job. Right? And it is a commitment and it's bigger than your average nine to five for sure, absolutely.
But there's more to life than this. You know what I mean? You get back and you got to keep working. You know, you didn't earn the right to coast. You know, with the exception of, you know, our glorious, wounded and dead. You don't get to hang the cleats up and call it a career. You know what I mean? You got to keep driving. You got to keep pushing. You got to provide for your family. You need to provide a positive example for your community and show people that “Hey, you know, yeah. I came from this shitty area, but look what the military did for me, you know. Look at what empowered me. I'm not the, you know, most satisfied person with how things turned out with my military career. I love what I did. I love the people I work with. I'm proud of what I did and what I accomplished.”
But I had some real issues with the organization as a whole and the people that were in charge and this kind of mentality that pervades it. And that's okay, you know what I mean? That's all right. And that doesn't mean that organization sucks. That doesn't mean that the people suck. It's just humanity, right? Humans are gonna fuck stuff up. That's what we do. That's what we're good at. That's freewill, baby. You know what I mean? That's what we do. And that's okay. Right?
But you got to keep pushing. And you got to let these things enable and empower you. Instead of, you know, hanging your coattails and saying, “You know, I don't need to do anything. I did this. I did this great thing. I saved someone's life. I called him this medivac. I found this IED, whatever, you know what I mean. I smoked an IED and placing team. What do you have, right? None of them is me. I'm just saying like, I'm generalizing, which is bad.
Sure, sure. Yeah, yeah.
You know, you got a potion, right? There's more to it. And the more you push and strive and kind of try to rationalize these things with yourself, the more you like, unlock, you know what I mean?
It's a video game, and you're finding new levels and new codes and new development things for your character to find that there's more to it. And there's more to experience. And life is a big and beautiful and wonderful thing. But it takes work. You know, you don't just because you were a track champion in high school doesn't mean that that's going to provide you with a pathway to success in the future. Just because you were all stayed at wrestling in high school doesn't mean you're gonna be great at the military. You know what I mean?
Like, you have to work. You have to put in the time. You have to put in the effort. And it's easy to kind of blame things on an adverse situation or an adverse thing that you’ve been through, or, you know, something shitty happening in the military, shitty leadership. “Oh, I got fucked.” We all get fucked. I mean, that's kind of the way it goes, either you're fucking or you're getting fucked. I mean, that's life.
And so you need to try to rationalize these things. And it took me a long time and took a lot of help. And, you know, finally, I'm in a position where it's beginning to pay off. But that doesn't mean that I stop and that I, you know, take the training wheels off and coast downhill. You know what I mean? Like, No way. I'm still pushing, as far as I'm concerned. It's still an uphill fight. And I'm in it to win it. You know what I mean? I'm doing what I have to do. I'm making the sacrifices I have to make. And it's very personal. Nothing in the military is personal. You know what I mean?
Even when it's this one on one thing, and your commander despises you or whatever, it's the organization, you know, what I mean? The organization breeds these leaders or they breed these mentalities. And you have to deal with it. And it should make you feel good and make you feel strong that you came out of that. And that you are able to accomplish things under such conditions. You know, you went to war. You went on deployment. You put in the time. You put in the effort. Don't let it be for nothing. You know, you got a medal. That's awesome, right? But the fuck does it mean?
Tim McCarthy 38:32
Can we talk for a second about how it seems like every wrestler who you ever meet is an all state wrestler?
Caleb Taylor 38:42
Every single time like, without fail.
Tim McCarthy 38:44
Oh, without fail, like how many states are there? I think I've met 7000 All State wrestlers. I have two of ‘em, 70 of them were from my school. I’m just kidding.
Brock Briggs 38:55
But actually it places, it’s just kind of this level and everybody is one.
Tim McCarthy 39:00
Correct. Yeah, yeah. You know, like, if you wrestled, you were indeed all state.
Caleb Taylor 39:04
You gotta hope it's kind of like faded out a bit. Because now it's like, “I'll just Google it.” And then you know.
Yeah, get away with it, you know.
Let me just look it up. Yeah. Weird, I don't see you on here.
Caleb Taylor 39:17
They didn't mention you on this one, you know.
Tim McCarthy 39:19
That's so funny.
Brock Briggs 39:21
I think that what you said about trying to, you almost need to use your military time in as like a stepping stone. It doesn't need to be this thing that you dwell on. It's part of your past. You've learned and you've done all of these things. And it should help you build the foundation for what's next. Just like the high school, the wrestling thing, like anything from your past can quickly become something that sets the tone and defines you for the rest of your life. But it shouldn't be that way. You always want to continue to be improving. And to do that, it has to be a stepping stone and not something that's like, “This is going to be me from now until forever.”
Tim McCarthy 40:01
When I first got out and I was kind of struggling with what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go, one quote I think that like really hits home for me or changed my life was, “Where you're at right now is not your whole book.” It might not even be a chapter in the book of your life. It may just be a single page, like. So your military career is two chapters of your life. It's not your whole damn book. You know, like, keep writing your book. Keep moving on, you know that. I heard that when I first got out and I was like, “Oh, yeah. Okay. We're good. Let's keep moving.” Like, you know.
Brock Briggs 40:46
Was that Dr. Seuss?
Tim McCarthy 40:48
It was actually yes. I haven't tattooed across my chest. I'd show you but it might make things weird.
Brock Briggs 41:01
Might be submitting this to OnlyFans, if we're doing that.
Tim McCarthy 41:04
Yeah, link will be down below.
Brock Briggs 41:09
Caleb, so we know a little bit about your story. But I want to kind of like wrap up the time of your time in the military, in the Marines, but lead into something that happened this year. You have talked at length publicly about your interpreter. And do you want to kind of give us the rundown and the backstory on that?
Caleb Taylor 41:32
For sure. Yeah. So my interpreter, NB. He was my interpreter on my first deployment in Sangin, back in 2011. I think he came to us in March of 2011. And stayed with us until August, when we rotated home. NB was actually like the same age as me, just a couple months older than me. We had a really funny relationship with NB. He had a bit of an adjustment period.
When he first got there, his past, he wasn't that great. And his English wasn't that great either. But he spoke really good dari, which in Helmand isn't the most helpful thing in the world. But he could talk. He could talk to the Afghan army guys, which was helpful because part of that they were our best friends. At this point, because of advice given us by the unit that we were ripping out with. They were like, you know, you should make friends with them. You know, these people worry about getting shot by the AMA. All you have to do is make friends with them. And you'll be fine.
And so we were best friends with these guys. We couldn't talk to each other, not really like it was all pointing, talking. You know what I mean? Like, one of the sergeant's spoke a little bit of English. And that was it. You know, none of us spoke any more than what's your name? How are you? Hi, my name is and that's it. And so we had this relationship with these guys. But until NB got there, we can actually talk to them.
So once NB got there, you know, like opened up this whole new thing for us. And we had these they were, we were so tight with those guys. It's always like such a bummer. When you hear people talk shit about him because yeah, like they were not to the professional standards of the American military. No shit. You know what I mean? Of course they weren't, but.
Tim McCarthy 43:09
You wouldn't be there if they were, right?
Caleb Taylor 43:13
Right, yeah. We wouldn’t. This wouldn't make any sense if they were. So but, digressing a little bit but NB helped us really connect with the people because up to that point, most of the people that left the fighting was really bad over the wintertime. And there were like a handful of civilian casualties. So the people left. It was a ghost town when we got there. And then around March, as it began turning in the spring and starting to warm up and things started to grow, people started showing up. And now there's like a ton of people and it's like a full. This is humongous village and there's, you know, hundreds of families and stuff.
And so NB allowed us to go through and do census operations. So we know who lives where and we can kind of start to weed out when new people come in and where they're coming from and start to build like an informant network and all this stuff. And a lot of stays ahead and kind of disrupt these IED building teams and whatnot. And, you know, he was super helpful. He couldn't have done the job that we did without him. And I think we did have I think a noticeable impact on our ALM. I'm 100% positive and went to shit as soon as we left but I mean, it was never a question in my mind of whether saying it was gonna get wasn't whether the Taliban were gonna win saying and it was like, “Of course, Jesus Christ, you know.” We're holding on but as soon as we leave, we know what's going to happen.
But NB was pivotal in that success. And you know, he sacrificed everything to be there, right? Like he couldn't use his real name. The Taliban, he was marked as soon as he came there, right, the Taliban back in the village. You know, I think we meet especially underestimated how much of a network this is and how there's Taliban here, call Taliban from your home province. And then find Taliban in your home village and be like, “Yeah, you know, this guy, this name?” Yeah, his parents over here. Okay, let's go leave a night later on their door, you know what I mean? This is very real thing that happened all over the place. So NB stayed on in Sangin for a couple of months. And then he went to Kandahar with a couple of army units, and then went back to Herat, and worked with another army unit in Herat.
And I think in 2015, he tried putting in his SIV packet, and they got shot down. And at the time, he couldn't appeal. And throughout all this time, me and NB and all of my squad and friends, we're all friends on Facebook. And so we talked NB throughout this whole process. And, you know, he's kind of told us what's going on and give us the updates. And at the time, you know, didn't really think anything of it. The war was still going on. It wasn't a given that the Taliban were going to win the whole thing. And obviously, we were still there. So wasn't like, didn't seem like a big rush. He didn't seem that concerned about it.
So he joined the Afghan Air Force and went to school at the Air Force University in Cabo and got some kind of degree in Management, and was a first lieutenant in the Air Force. And I think he was like a logistics officer. He says, “engineer”, and I think that they're just applying the term “engineer”, meaning that he's educated and has a degree. So but from what it sounds like, he was the logistics officer for a helicopter unit that covered a couple of provinces. So he did that for five years, or four years. He got married, I think in 2016. And his wife, she was in med school at the time.
She was in her last semester of her residency at a hospital in Iraq when the government fell. And so he reached out to me last year and all 2020. You know, we tried this the same campaign that we tried this year, and reaching out to senators and congressmen and anybody that can try to help. And we got, you know, zero assistance, of course. And no one cared.
The government wasn't falling. People just kind of paid us lip service. Excuse me, and that was about it. So, this year, January, I was like, “Alright, you know, things are looking grim.” He's hitting me up telling me what's happening. I'm watching the videos on Instagram. And I'm like, “Okay, I know they're close to his airbase. He can no longer drive into work. He has to take a helo to get to work.” So things are getting dark. And his wife's really worried. They had a baby, December 30, last year.
So we start reaching out. We start emailing senators and congressmen. We talked to Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey, who looked into his case. I'm not sure how many times. I didn't actually do anything. But they looked into it. Cory Booker sent me an email, obviously a pre written one that he didn't look at saying that he's sorry, he couldn't help but he's proud of all the work that he's doing to get Afghans that are in danger to the US, of course, right? And so I was like, alright, you know, fuck me, right? So, yeah. So then I go on Instagram, and my buddy has a nonprofit he was like, “Well you got to do is you got to record a video of you talking, and upload it and ask people to share it.”
And so that's what I do. And we have nation, thankfully shares it. We get a ton of, we get 1000s of views. I have tons and tons of people reaching out to me, who are emailing their senators and congressmen who maybe aren't doing more, but they're at least asking questions. Like, they're actually asking me questions. And I'm like, awesome, you know, we're making progress. We're getting somewhere and be worked for a subcontractor of the giant contractor momentum. He doesn't know that. So he's not asking the right questions. He's not telling them the right things. So they can't find his paperwork. This guy, Steven Prince, reached out to me. He follows OAF and he hit me up and he was like, “Yo, you know. I work in finance in Manhattan. We’re connected. What can I do?” And I was like, “This is what we got.” He's like, “Alright, I'm gonna make some calls.”
A few days later, I get a call from the VP of HR for Omentum, which is, you know, does a giant multinational corporation at like six o'clock on a Tuesday. And she was like, “Hey, what's your guy's name?” And I was like, “He worked for this company. I think it's a subcontract.” She was like, ‘Oh, yeah, okay, here it is. I'll send it over.” And that was that. We got his paperwork because at that point his SIV was still pending appeal
Brock Briggs 49:39
Waiting on that one document?
Caleb Taylor 49:41
Waiting on that one document.
Tim McCarthy 49:42
And then she found it like instantly? Is that what you’re saying?
Caleb Taylor 49:46
Yeah. Pretty much just about so..
Yeah, so like a day or two.
My other interpreter from that deployment was like, yeah, he fucked up. He should have known that. He should have said that. He should have led with that. This would be over but that was just part of it right? Getting SIV was just part of it because they're in Iraq. And so we do this fundraising thing because they gotta get the cobble.
I talked to this journalist, Jonathan Landbay, who works for Reuters. He's been covering in Afghanistan, been in and out Afghanistan since the Soviets invaded. Super cool dude, incredibly helpful was like, “Hey, you need to tell your guy he needs to get out of here, right now. He needs to get to Cabo now, because if he doesn't get on a flight out, he's not getting out.” And so we're like, “Shit, okay, how do we do that?” And he's like, “Oh, if you can transfer me like $1,000, we'll be alright.” I'm like, “Okay, you know, I'll post the thing. If I have to use $1,000, it is $1,000.
But I have a ton of friends that I know want to help that know NB, people that know and be that want to help. So I'll make this post. We make the post. We raised $10,000. And I'm like, “Dude, we got the money. What do we do?” He's like, “You just got to transfer to Western Union.” Western Union shuts down because the Taliban are taken over and they don't want the Taliban to get money off the transfers.
So we can't get him money. He somehow borrows money and gets bus tickets or borrows bus tickets from friend. And they get to Cabo. When they get to Cabo and go on, like go to the airport, you know, and this is when I start getting added to a ton of signal chats. One of which is with the US Military Academy graduates who are all high ranking officers or you know, now veterans who were officers who are super well connected, and they're all, you know, doing God's work to get their interpreter out, which is phenomenal, right?
But as a enlisted Marine riflemen, nobody gives a fuck about my interpreter. No one cares. He's not a government official. He's not a minister. He didn't work for anybody important. No one cares about this dude at all. And at the airport, you have to know someone. You have to get them in. In order to get them in, they have to know someone. We helped my other interpreter. My friend, Kevin Ryan, got his mother and his sisters in because our interpreter had a friend who was working as an interpreter with the Marines, gave his phone to one of the Marines. And my buddy Ryan said, “Hey, you know, these are my interpreter’s friends from when we were together in Sangin. Can you let them in? They can't get through the line because they're women and the Taliban are beating them.”
And so the Marines went and got ‘em and brought ‘em in. And so we were like, “Okay, that's what we got to do. But no contacts on the ground.” So we're able to get them some money so that they can pay for food and lodging in Cabo, because my interpreter has a friend who's got a British bank account. So we Paypal him some money. And he's like, “Okay, we're good.” And it takes like three more days. The next day, they go, can't get in, get turned away, go home. Next day, they go and they're in the canal. And I get added to this Marine chat, right? And it's all enlisted Marines who were in Afghanistan with two three, I think Second Battalion, Third Marines.
And a buddy of mine, Jared Garlin, who was a squad leader with me in 2013 was like, “Hey, you know, one of our friends is the gunny on the ground at the airport right now.” So we're, he's in Cabo. His family, his wife and his daughter with him actually. His brother's with him, too. We didn't know that until the last day. But so the second day, they're there. They go out and they try to get in. They can't, they come back.
And so there's all this chatter about what gate to go to and what time to get there, where the Taliban checkpoints are. There's all this like satellite imagery, and it's like, it's helpful, but it's overwhelming, right? You're getting all these messages. This one officer in the military academy chat is freaking out because she was on the phone with her friend, and then there were gunshots and now she thinks they're all dead. And I'm like, “She's an American citizen. The Taliban aren’t executing American citizens at the gate of the airport.” You know what I mean? Like, get fucking real! Like, “Let's take a fucking chill pill. You're freaking everybody out. You know, you're supposed to be an officer, right?” Like grow the fuck up.
But you know, they don't leave the wire so they don't know anything. What can you do? But, so the second day, my friend Joe Pendergast, who was my corpsman on my first appointment. God damn hero ran into a minefield to save an EOD tech, who had gotten his leg blown off by an IED, watched him do it, ran right into this cloud, couldn't see anything. You wouldn't run. You weren't allowed to run where we were,. You could do the Sangin shuffle and that was it. Because if you ran, you're gonna hit an IED. Joey ran dead spread into this cloud of smoke and saved this EOD tech's life.
And his wife, Emma Pendergast, who's just awesome and keeps us in check. Thankfully, she reached out to a friend of hers who was a news reporter in Manhattan. And so I had a news interview and talked to them about what was going on. And then we had even more people reaching out and more people saying you need to talk to Senator Cotton. Because they're like, an obvious like, I don't want to get into politics. I don't really fuck with Cotton's political views, but they had an aide actually reached out to me and say, “Hey, if you get him in, we'll get them on plane.”
Like straight up, just let us know what's going on. Like they emailed me. It was crazy, right? Like, all of this effort trying to reach out to these representatives and the senators and them doing you know, basically fuck all the help. And now here's Senator Cotton's office reaching out to me saying, “Hey, we're aware of him. We know his SIV isn't complete yet. We don't care if you can get him in the airport, we'll get him in.” I haven't got another guy whose Department of State Security and he's like, “Hey, man, I'm at the airport. If you can get him in, let me know. And I'll do this, this and this. And, you know, we'll make sure we can get him through the checkpoints to get them to where the, you know, the planes are.” And I'm like, “Sick. Okay!”
So I'm in this Marine chat. And there's this gunny, there's a video of him on the way of nation going around. They don't say who it is. They just, it's just a marine going around pouring water in a little kid's mouth. It's gunny Brett Tate. He's a fucking hero. They should make a movie about him. I don't know if they're going to, I don't know. He might have gotten in trouble for doing what he did. That man saved so many interpreters. I don't think you could have counted because all of these enlisted Marines whose interpreters were not going to be helped by anybody else were saved because they went to Abbey Gate. And because gunny Brett Tate was there. And Brett Tate was like, “Look, they work with our Marines. They were in our war. These are our interpreters. We're gonna get them out.” And that's what happened.
So, while behind the scenes, you know, we're working to get the rest of NB’s paperwork set up and working. We actually had contact with a super high ranking State Department official on the ground, via Steven Prince, the miracle worker who was also like, we're aware of him, you know, you gotta get him inside. We can't really do anything if you can't get him inside. So, NB, Medina and their daughter, Deena, go to the gate or try to get to Abbey Gate. And along Abbey Gate, there's a canal and the canal is disgusting. And there's piss and shit and blood in it. And, you know, at least it's just this giant waist deep canal, not even like chest deep canal filled with trash and shit. And it's up against the wall. So that's the only way they can talk to the Marines. So they stayed in this canal all night. And the baby, Medina is where, the baby's going hypothermic. And so we're sending her a diagram.
Me and my wife are sending her diagrams and charts and showed her how to do skin to skin contact to try to keep the baby warm. Because Jack Bolger is another guy who was really super helpful former Marine officer. He was like, “You know, you should. If it's coming down to the baby, that maybe you should consider leaving.” And I'm like, “It's something to think about, but you're at the gate right now. And so, as long as the baby is still breathing, you need to stay at the gate and get out.”
So next morning, we're talking to gunny Tate all night. He's like, “Hey, they told me to stand down. I'm not on the gate for another eight hours. But have them hold up the sign.” And so we had NB’s wife, Medina, right Gunny, take on a sign in lipstick and row and be on the other side. And so they're holding it up. The next morning, gunny Tate comes out. And I don't hear from NB for four hours. And on the third hour, the suicide bomber detonates his vest in Abbey Gate and kills hundreds of people. And one of the guys who was in the chat with the Marines, his interpreter got killed by suicide bomber. And I haven't heard from NB.
And I at the time, I'm driving to Virginia, because I got reassigned for a FEMA deployment to help with Afghan refugees that were coming into Dulles International. So I'm driving to Virginia and I get a text from NB that says, “We're in. We made it.” And I was like, “Holy fuck.” And I couldn't pull over because I'm on 495 outside Silver Spring Maryland. And it's an absolute nightmare. And I just couldn't believe it and gunny Tate sent a pic. When he got the interpreter's through, he would send a picture.
And so when I woke up that morning, I scrolled through but I didn't see the picture. So I drove that I pulled over and I'm checking on I'm looking and scrolling way back to the early hours that morning. Sure enough, there he is with NB and Medina and that's the picture that's on OAF Nation and on I think NB’s page when they got through the gate. And they got through the gate, I emailed Senator Cotton's office. They said we're getting him on a plane. The State Department contacts at the same thing. Gunny Tate made sure they got over to where, you know, the passengers were waiting to board and that was that. And they missed the suicide bombing by three hours.
If they had been there for another three hours, they would have gotten killed. So it was insanity. Honestly, it was and I wasn't even there. You know what I mean? It was the most stressful thing. Most anxiety inducing thing I've ever been a part of. I feel like a bit of a coward but I've never had a panic attack before. You know, my anxiety and PTSD related anxiety is very manageable.
And, you know, generally it kind of just drives me to be more task oriented and make sure I don't forget so. But it was too much for me like, I'm going to bed and I had too many and had too much to drink. And I was like, how could you get drunk? You know what I mean? What if they call you and you're too fucked up to make a call? You're too drunk to send an email to whoever. You're too drunk to do whatever, like, how could you? How could you do this? You know what I mean? I was like, the better down for the night like they're safe, you know, chill out, drink a couple beers, blow off some steam, wake up and get back to it in the morning.
And all the time, I'm working. You know, I mean, I'm working at FEMA. My, you know, my time commandment at OAF Nation isn't that significant. And we were all kind of working something similar at OAF Nation, especially E, the CEO. I mean, he's been at the fore of that stuff, you know, with some bigger organizations doing God's work getting people out. So it was understandable that I was, you know, under this amount of stress and working with this, and the people that FEMA knew about it, because they watched the news clip. And they watched the OAF clip, and they were like, “This is incredible, blah, blah, blah, you know. If we can help, let us know.”
So it was like, all right for me to be in this position. But I just was freaking out. It was just a lot. It was crazy. I obviously had been responsible for people's lives and well being before. But never in a way like this. And I said it in my news interview. And I will say it again, I would happily do another deployment before I would do that again. That was too much, right? Like in Sangin, at least I was in charge of myself when I was outside the wire. And I was confident that I would find any IED that I came across.
And you know, you can't say the same for somebody who's overseas and who's in Afghanistan and who's not in the Marine Corps and who's going through this incredibly traumatic experience with a nine month old baby and a wife, you know?
Yes, it was. So his brother was with him until the last night. When his brother’s, when they told him that they had to stay in the canal all night, his brother, it was like he went back to Herat, which was a bad decision. He got kidnapped and tortured by the Taliban for like a night. And then I think he's trying to leave the country now. But yeah, it was crazy. It was absolute madness.
Brock Briggs 1:02:00
So NB is here in the states now. Correct?
Caleb Taylor 1:02:04
Yeah. So I went to Virginia to go work at Dulles International to help with the Afghan repatriation mission, as they call it. I don't know why it's repatriation because most of the people weren't being repatriated. They're being patriated. So I don't really know. But that's what they call it. Operation allies welcome. And I had the time of my life, right. So I'm deployed with FEMA, for the COVID disaster in Pennsylvania.
And so I've been working with local government entities and nonprofit medical institutes to get funding to recover from COVID. And make sure they can keep functioning to continue to respond to COVID. But I was pulled off that deployment, and which was a miracle because they don't let people leave because obviously, it's a priority right now. Because they knew about my work with NB, they let me go to Virginia to you know, work with the refugees that were incoming.
And so I knew they were coming into Dulles. They were coming into Philly, and I think San Antonio. So I was like, “Well, hopefully, NB will come to Dulles while I'm here, you know. That would be sick. So I get down there and I'm working with these other interpreters who got out on SIVs that have been here for a while and they were awesome. They're like, we're really good friends now. They came to my wedding.
So I'm having a great time and I'm getting to help and I'm getting to speak Pashto and Dari. And I haven't been able to speak Pashto and Dari in years. And so it's cool. And for me, it feels great, because I'm helping. You know, I don't spend a lot of time studying Afghan history and culture since I got out. And I read a ton about it. And I stayed in touch with as many of the guys that we were with as I could. So super fulfilling for me just being there. Like I was like, “This is awesome.”
And then I got a text from NB saying they just landed in Dulles, and I was like, Dallas, I was like, “Huh, I didn't know they're coming to Dallas.” And I was like, “Oh, you mean Dulles? Are you in Virginia?” He's like, “Yeah.” I was like, “Okay.” So I was working the night shift from 8pm to 8am. Got off at 8am, got a text from him at nine and met him at the Dulles Expo Center around like 10 o'clock. And I hadn't seen him in 10 years and met him as he was checking in and getting all his stuff and met his wife and his daughter. And it was crazy. You know, 10 years. And like, obviously recognize them immediately. Clearly, you know, of course recognize me immediately, but it was something you know. It was crazy.
Tim McCarthy 1:04:30
Oh, that's so freakin’ cool, dude. That is so awesome. What a good story, bro!
Caleb Taylor 1:04:38
I got more. So while we're, you know, while he's down there and he's getting processed, Steven Prince, the king of New York was like “Hey, man, he's gonna need, you know, legal help to get his SIV processed and everything you know.” Like, yeah, like I was like, “Well, I got a pro bono person doing it.” He's like, “Well, you know, we'll get like, we'll get some good lawyers.” And so actually, I'm gonna find the name of the firm so that I can say it out loud because it’s a $1,000 an hour law firm, right? Like, these are..
Super fancy pants, Fifth Avenue, or Park Avenue or something like that. Like, these are the real deal lawyers and they did everything.
I just I sent them all the paperwork I had. Said, “Hey, this is what he needs.” And that was it. They were like, “Okay, we'll take care of it.” And then it was taken care of. And that was it. Awesome! Jennifer Rakowski at Ropes and Gray. And I mean, they had a whole team helping out on it. And I mean, it was, you know, by the time he got processed and left Virginia, his SIV was done, and he was ready to go. Which was, you know, a blessing because a lot of people, our other interpreter, his family's been in Fort Dix, up in central New Jersey for two, three months now, waiting for paperwork to process. So we were incredibly fortunate to have such a high profile law firm help us out and take care of that stuff. And then..
Brock Briggs 1:06:13
It sounds like so much of like, what you brought together, like all of these individual resources, and like, kind of pulled them together, like none of this would have happened, were it not for you. I mean, like, look at all of these different things. Like, you know, talking to the Marines, we've got the State Department people, we've got this law firm like that. That's really inspirational man.
Tim McCarthy 1:06:40
Well that’s what’s the craziest thing to me is you're like the epicenter. Like you're like, everybody's coming to you.
Who's not even there.
Yeah, exactly. Like, you're not even. Yeah, that's it. Good on you, man. Holy smokes.
Caleb Taylor 1:06:57
Well, I really appreciate it, guys. I mean, it was fucking crazy. You know, I don't
I don't want to, like be perceived as take in all the credit, because by no means wasn't me alone. But, you know, it was a big commitment. It was a big bite. As I like to say, I don't know if you guys have ever watched Workaholics.
But the first episode, take a bite out of the ceiling tile. It's a big first bite.
Tim McCarthy 1:07:23
Big first bite, absolutely.
Caleb Taylor 1:07:25
It was a big bite for me, like, emotionally and psychologically. And I mean, I don't regret doing it. I'll tell you what, I don't think I've ever been more proud of anything in my life. And so..
Brock Briggs 1:07:39
These are the types of stories to that, like somebody who is unaware of what's going on like me, certainly, like this year, as we're seeing the people pull out or end this bombing happening at the airport, all this stuff. What you see on the news is, “Oh, we're gonna bring in all these refugees,” and it's like, always, like, thrown into this negative light. But that's like completely snubbing stories like this, and bringing in the people that like have been serving the US. That may not be American, because there's a lot of those people.
Caleb Taylor 1:08:15
For sure. And that was something that I learned, you know, a lot about in Virginia, because every time we got new interpreters, I mean, for me, it's like, I don't want to pry in anybody's personal life. You know, I know. A lot of these, a lot of these Afghans that have come here on SIVs, have had these incredibly traumatic things happened to them and their families. And so I don't like to pry, but because they find out that one, I love Afghanistan. And two, I speak a little bit like I read a little bit of the language, they like that. I end up talking to them all night.
And so that's why I learned my friend Brock's story about his road company. He's also got a YouTube channel called Brock's Kitchen, which is phenomenal. It's him making a bunch of Afghan dishes. He also plays a ton of instruments. He does most of the music for his videos. He's crazy. He's like the world's most interesting man. By the front of Maude, worked with the DEA for 12. I think 12 years in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2013, something like that.
You know, and like just these incredible, incredible stories. Another guy who was the first Afghan civilian to be awarded Bronze Star, as an interpreter with the army. He saved some guy's life. And it was like, everybody you talked to was another crazy, amazing story. And it was just such a cool thing to experience and to hear because you get, it's hard to connect with these personal things because we never hear these personal stories. You know what I mean? Like, it's one in a million that you hear my story, NB’s story. And it's not even this isn't even NB’s stories, from my perspective, you know. And I think it's easy to kind of separate that from the big picture stuff because no one ever breaks it down.
You know, you'll hear about one bad story about what's happening and that's it, you know. There's nothing, there's no you know, I'm not the only Marine that did this. I'm not the only American that did this. And that helped get their interpreter and get their friends out. Because that's what it was, you know. It was a humongous coalition of Americans and allied partnered forces doing everything we could to get our friends out, because we owe it to them.
You know, it's like, I think we like to act like, oh, you know, you should be happy that you're getting this, but it's like, they shouldn't be happy. They're getting this. They're owed this. We owe them this. We've told
That they would get this if they helped us. And we're screwing them over by not allowing them to get it, you know. So I think it's good to get these personal stories out and to hear them because, you know, there's a lot more that goes to it than just, you know, bringing refugees to America. It's so much deeper than that, you know.
Tim McCarthy 1:10:45
Well that's what I was just about to say if these types of stories were distributed, where if they were put out for people to hear or read, or whatever, I think it would really change the perspective of a lot like the opinions that a lot of people have on the bringing refugees here like, “No, no, you don't understand.” Like these people that everybody's fighting to get out have probably done more for this country most definitely done more for this country than you have.
Caleb Taylor 1:11:15
Right! That’s what I say all the time. Oh, yeah. You know, you're supposed to call people out who have sacrificed much more for this country than you have and deriving from it, you know I mean? So from there, they went to Fort Bliss. And they were there for about a month and a half. And while that was going on, and they were applying for their work, and be put my name down as his sponsor, basically. But it's not like a formal like, now you can formally sponsor people, which makes the process much faster, which is awesome.
But at the time was just like, here's someone he knows. So they're going to try to get him to live somewhere near here. And then one of the nonprofits that got a contract from the government to be the caseworkers for NB and Medina, reached out to me, and they're like, “Hey, we're gonna put them here in New Jersey.” And I was like, “Look, that's an hour and a half away from me. The whole point of him coming in New Jersey is be close to me, so that he can be around me and my family and my friends.”
Because one of my best friends, Dan Murray, we were in the same squad on our first appointment in Sangin. And like from that deployment, we formed a bond. We've been best friends ever since. And he actually moved out here from South Dakota. It was a big help with me in school because we were both in our junior years. And I just started figuring things out as did he. And so being in school together at the same time, same place, was like a big, humongous boost for us. And, you know, it made school so much easier and made life so much easier. So he's out here too.
And so and we have a bunch of other friends that are in the northeast, that were in the squad. So I was like, “You know, we want him to be here close to us so that we can surround him. And he's got a family when he gets here because he's been saying it. He's got a huge family. He's very sad to leave his family behind. But now he's got a new family. And this is from his mouth. And we are his family. Not to say that he's not because he is but you know, for him, that was really important.”
So I told the nonprofit, I was like, “You know, you got to figure it out because he needs to be closer.” So now he lives 10 minutes down the road. And..
Yeah. So they came to actually well, so I got married October 30. And so they were in New Brunswick at the time, which is about an hour and a half away. But Joe Pendergast, and his wife picked them up and brought them down. And they came to my wedding. And then they moved down here a couple weeks after that. So they came to Thanksgiving with us.
Most of my parents' family's house, had dinner there, and then came back to me and my wife's house here and had dinner with her family. And then they just enjoyed their first Christmas a couple days ago with us.
That’s super cool.
We're having their daughter's first birthday here in two days.
Brock Briggs 1:14:00
You're a true hero for that man, that you truly have been like an advocate. And I think that coming back to how the news portrays and how people are seeing refugees and certainly AMA and Afghan civilians, that they need advocates and I think that you fit that billet.
Caleb Taylor 1:14:26
I think that was the goal. You know what I mean? I did a few like, I don't know what you would call them I guess like speaking engagements, kind of where I was talking about what was going on and advocate like, directly advocating and being like, you know, “This is what's going on. This is what we need to do.” And, I mean, it felt really good. It felt I mean, it's the right thing to do. You know, it's not always clear what the right thing to do is and isn't. And it's not always, it's obviously not always easy to decide to do the right thing. And I'm you know, not the person to come talk to you about moral high ground and stuff like that. You know, I don't think that that's my place to speak.
But I think, in this exact scenario, I knew what the right thing was to do. And that and I knew that if I didn't do it, and no one was going to do it. And that, you know, we owe it to NB. I mean, if no one else is going to do it, and I'll do it, you know what I mean? Not to say that, like, yeah, if it comes down to it, I guess I'll do it like not, you know.
Tim McCarthy 1:15:28
No. no. We get what you're saying, for sure. We understand.
Caleb Taylor 1:15:30
You have the ability, and you have the support. And for me, I have a lot of friends. And I have a lot of friends who are incredibly helpful and who love me and appreciate me and will do whatever they can to help me out. And I think that's ultimately what it boiled down to was, you know, this was the right thing to do.
And Steven Prince, so the guy I mentioned from New York, he felt personally motivated to help out and assess because his father's a Holocaust survivor, you know. His father's entire family was killed during the Holocaust. And he felt like this is the right thing to do, you know what I mean? This is kind of like a continuation of saving people. You know what I mean, not to say that, you know, not to say that we had the savior complex or something like that. But when you have this opportunity to do this good thing, you should do it, you know. You don't have to boast about it.
The guy doesn't talk about it at all. I just keep saying his name. So that hopefully, he'll hear it at some point. Because he doesn't talk about it. He doesn't mention it, you know. But that man was instrumental in getting NB here. And so were so many other people. And it's a worthy thing. It's a good thing. Few things are just inherently good. And I think this is one of those things.
Tim McCarthy 1:16:49
I agree. I couldn't agree more.
Brock Briggs 1:16:53
All under the same boat. That's a hell of a story, man. Thank you.
I don't know what else to say other than thank you.
Caleb Taylor 1:17:01
Well, thanks for listening, man. It's a lot. I know. It takes me a while to get through it sometimes. And I get distracted and derailed because I'm just like, you know, I want to paint as full of a picture as possible. And, you know, that can be difficult when telling the story.
Brock Briggs 1:17:15
Well, you had mentioned before to me that you want to do some kind of like a write up of this story, like maybe incorporate your viewpoint and NB’s viewpoint and kind of fuse those together that would make a hell of a story.
Tim McCarthy 1:17:31
I would read it. I would read it. And I don't read very much. But I would read that.
Brock Briggs 1:17:36
Tim, not a big reader.
Tim McCarthy 1:17:40
I don’t look. I don't run and I really don't read that much. But I would read that for sure.
Caleb Taylor 1:17:45
Yeah, no, I think it's definitely something. I think we're going to try to tackle next year for sure.
Tim McCarthy 1:17:53
Yeah, you should man.
Brock Briggs 1:17:54
We'll be standing by for that. Kind of I don't know how you'd like follow up a story like that. I feel. I don't even know what to say. You clearly have a desire to use your position and ability and your history to impact other people positively. This example, this story is the perfect example of that. And I think that we can see that in your work with FEMA to like, there's, that's such a high calling to serve other people. And a lot of people don't pitch the military in that light. They don't view it as a service type thing, but it is. And I think that's super admirable. What's your experience like been at FEMA?
Caleb Taylor 1:18:45
Oh, I mean, FEMA, I think for me has been super cool. I appreciate you saying that about it speaking to my character. But really, I didn't like initially want to work if I wanted to work at the State Department, or do something along those lines. And then after working with the State Department, I was like, I guess I'm glad I don't work there.
Brock Briggs 1:19:03
But I won't let your boss at FEMA hear this, so..
Caleb Taylor 1:19:05
No, I mean, I think they'll tell you. I mean, I've said it to them, you know. It's not really something that I was aiming for, so to speak, but what I found out about it. And, like started going through the application process, I was like, I do like this. I do. Like the sound of that I do like helping people you know. It's not that I don't value that or anything like that. It just kind of was like I wanted to do something that was like foreign policy, intellectually stimulating type of stuff, and it's like, not that FEMA isn't intellectually stimulating. It's just a very different, different animal entirely, you know what I mean? Because it's all you're domestically helping people and you're solving problems and doing what you can to help these especially small towns and counties and townships kind of get on their feet and recover from this, you know, beaten they've been taken from COVID.
So you know, I kind of just stumbled upon it, but it's worked out great. It's such a professional organization. I saw, it's legitimately the most professional work environment I've ever been in. And that's not a shot at my previous employers. But FEMA is a wonderful, wonderful place to work. They actually do care. They encourage you to take days off. And when you've been working nonstop for, you know, numbers of period of time, they're like, you know, you should think about taking a day off. And, you know, make sure you don't have anything going on that day. But like, you know, should you know, you're not feeling like you should take a day off. Like imagine being in the Navy and you're not feeling good. And your supervisors like, “Hey, man, maybe you should just go to sick call.” You know what I mean? Like, when does that happen?
You think about going to BAS. No, I don't. Okay, yeah. Had nightmares last night, “Hey, here's some Ambien,” you know what I mean, rather than go talk to the wizard, like, “Here's some, you'll figure it out.” You know, they're super helpful, very much. Like they do practice what they preach, as far as having this work life balance and stuff like that. All of my leadership have been super encouraging of me and pushing me to kind of find new ways to work. And you know, I'm like, looking for new opportunities and looking to do different stuff. And you know, at every turn, people will like my supervisor, she'll reach out to whoever and be like, “Hey, he was interested in doing something like this. Would you mind talking to him?” And you're talking, I'm talking to their division directors and stuff like that, that are just like, “Hey, yeah, I got time today.”
And you know, you're talking to people who are very high ranking, who just will legitimately take time out of their day to talk to you and discuss your career and what you want to do moving forward and what you're interested in. And I think that that's super cool, because people tell you all the time that they have an open door policy, but I think we all know that nine times out of 10, it's not true. And at FEMA, it has genuinely been, you know, my experience that that is true. They do care.
And, you know, it's awesome. I can't express that enough. It's such a great place to work. It's tough to get into for sure, as is every federal job, I think. But I think the big thing you kind of need to focus on if you're trying to get a federal job is to really work at the federal resume. You know, there's keywords and stuff that you need to hit that are explicitly stated on USA Jobs and the job opening. And you need to make sure that you're reviewing those things and make sure that you're including them in there and showing how you meet those standards. And it is time consuming. But it's like, look, you know, do you want it, you want the job? You should work on your resume, then you know, that's what it comes down to, you know, you should work on it to make sure that you get the job.
But I would strongly encourage anybody we're hiring all the time. You know, all you need is a bachelor's to be a core employee, if you want to be you know. There's a Reservist. There's FEMA Corps for people coming out of high school in college. There are other options, you know, to get your foot in the door and kind of work your way in and get to know people and whatnot. And I would definitely strongly encourage anybody interested to get after it, for sure. Or hit me up. You know, I'll help out. I don't care.
Brock Briggs 1:23:11
Oh, cool. I appreciate you accepting that offer. I think you've highlighted something there with how important resumes are, and how it's really not just as simple as applying for any job like here or there. It's not just there to show, “Hey, this is what I've worked at, like these are my former employers.” A resume is how does things that you've experienced or done in the past, apply and meet this job description. And like writing specific sentences that say, “Hey, yeah, my time at this job allowed me and I like I learned this. And that will allow me to do this in this new position or kind of lining those things up.” I think that I had a really misunderstood view of what a resume was until the last couple years and understanding how you can mold that and put it together to match the job is super important.
Caleb Taylor 1:24:11
For sure. And I think that there's a lesson in there, when it comes to kind of trying to convert, you know, the things that you did in the military and see how they apply to now and to what you're doing now. Because, you know, people love the combat riflemen and be like, oh, yeah, the valuable skills you'll get. Being a rifleman, you know, no one cares that you can choose from bossa nova. That's true.
People do care that I have combat experience in complex planning. People do love that I have combat experience in logistics planning. You know what I mean? I hit so many and it takes a little bit to kind of take a step back and understand it. But it's like, yeah, you have this experience. You've done these things before. How can you word it to show that you've done it in a way that makes sense that isn't just you know. I was responsible for so many dollars in equipment, you know. You didn't really have a choice. Of course, you were, you know, if you lost it, you would have got it. You wouldn't have got an honorable discharge.
So, you know, it's not that big of a thing. But that's all they'll tell you is, well, I was in charge of this many people in this much equipment. That doesn't say anything, you know. What did you do? Did you write five paragraph orders to get ready? Did you? You know, did you? Did you talk on the radio? Did you discuss planning? Did you discuss anything, right? Are you coordinating with higher assets with adjacent assets? Are you partnering with local forces? You know, through an interpreter, right? These are valuable, valuable skills. Being able to communicate through an interpreter, you need to be able to do that, right?
Yeah, if you can do that you can do all kinds of things, right? That can open up a whole new world for you. Not everybody's good at it. Yeah, it takes time. It takes experience to understand the lag, you know. You have to talk slowly. And you have to wait for your response, you know. You have to wait for the response to be translated like, you know. There's so many things that apply to a variety of jobs and job openings. And, you know, and more than that, like looking beyond just what can I do with this, right? Like, what can I, what's the immediate connection? You know, what does this do for me, right? Like, what have I learned in the military? And what does it do for me, right? I learned a lot of bad shit, that isn't helpful. I got really bad at swearing, you know what I mean? And now I just don't care enough to change it. So it's like, that's not the most helpful thing in the world. But whatever, right? I know how to turn it off if I have to.
But what did you actually learn, right? Do you learn that you can positively impact someone's day, by the way that you act, right? It doesn't matter what's going on inside of you, right? You're a leader. You have to present this positive kinda optimism so that you can get your guys to perform to their best, you know. Sometimes it doesn't take breaking somebody down, to get them to do what they need to do. Sometimes you need to put a foot in their ass, not all the time, right?
You know, the anxieties that come from doing for us, you know, pre combat checks, and pre combat inspections. I don't ever forget anything. I put everything in the same place all the time. I put all of my like accoutrements into my pockets, in the same pockets, in the same place all the time. So I don't forget my phone. I don't forget my wallet. I don't go anywhere without chapstick. I don't forget my keys. I put it all in the same place.
And when I come home, I put it back in the same spot. Yeah, it's a little neurotic. But it keeps me on track. It keeps me from forgetting stuff. It keeps me from being caught out. And being you know, pissed off, because I forgot my wallet and I forgot my phone. I did whatever, you know what I mean? You kind of there's more to it than just bullets and band aids, right? Like there's so much more to it. And I think you deal with human aspects so much. But no one ever tells you that. No one ever explains that to you. You don't ever get a class on, you know, what drives people right. Or what influences people and you kind of learn that over time. And you learn to be a people person, when you need to be a people person. So that you can motivate your team that you can get done, what needs to get done.
And I think that takes time. And it takes patience, but it also takes, you know, a holistic approach to how you understand not just yourself, but everything around you, you know. You really have to invest in yourself. While also, you know, understanding like, how you affect other people, how you impact other people, how your relationships with other people work, and why they work the way they do.
And knowing that you need to make a change is great, but acting on that is better, I think. And that takes time. You know, transition is fucking hard. You know that there's no other way around it. It is not easy. You know, even if you know what you want to do, even if you know, you know, grandpappy's got me a job on the local police department. That's fantastic. That doesn't mean it's gonna be easy. You know what I mean? It takes time. It takes patience. It takes understanding. And it takes communication, right? You have to be able to talk. So many guys don't talk. Get out and don’t bottle stuff up. And you know, it was cool for World War II veterans to do it. Because World War II veterans, you know, you saved the world.
You can hang it up and do whatever the fuck you want for the rest of your life. They didn't but they can, right? We don't have that. We don't have that gift. You know, we do have to work hard, not to say World War II veterans didn't work hard. I think they all did. But they could have gotten away with not doing it. You know what I mean?
Save the world from fascism. You can take a couple years off, you know, people aren't..
Tim McCarthy 1:29:38
hanging the cleats up, if you will.
Caleb Taylor 1:29:39
For sure. You know, and I mean, you know, Vietnam vets for what they were put through, I think around that as well. I think, you know, we're spoiled by the attention that we're given from society. And yeah, it's not always right. And it doesn't always make sense in his way to pure worship, you know. But fuck it’s better than getting spit on, you know. Getting caught a piece of shit no baby killer. So, you know, how bad can you be? You know, the world wants you in it. You just got to work at it.
Brock Briggs 1:30:05
Yeah. You talked about bottling stuff up and how important it is to like, let that stuff out so you can kind of understand yourself. I think a lot of things that we've experienced, because I think getting out and looking back I still have like big questions about things. So you write for OAF Nation on the side? How do you think that writing has helped you do that, or maybe not helped you?
Caleb Taylor 1:30:37
So writing is like very much my outlet. I don't always write as much as I should. I'm like, pretty good. I'm pretty good at writing poetry, for reasons that I don't really know. Like, it's just come very naturally to me. I had one poem published in the most recent dead reckoning collective, like war poetry collection. I can't remember the name off the top of my head. I feel like an ass for that. But like, just kind of, since then, I've been like, okay, you know, writing, poetry allows me to communicate, you know. Much more emotion and much more imagery, I think, than my regular writing, which I contend to be, you know, nonfiction and academic to an extent.
But, you know, having a TV tease, having this comedic outlet for me, is awesome, I guess. Anytime I have the chance to say something funny or communicate a line that I know, is relatively universal. And people are gonna get it. Whenever I see people talk about, you know, the hashtag that I made in the comment section, I'm like, “That's sick.” You know, you got somebody to laugh at it. That's pretty tight.
But for me, I think poetry, especially, it's a really good outlet. It's something that I talked about with my therapist. She asked, like, legitimately the same questions like, you know, “What is writing do for you? And are you writing? You know, are you writing enough? Are you getting it out there?” You know, I don't really talk about writing poetry. I didn't do it for a long time, before I submitted work to the book. But since then, it's been like, you know, I do know that it comes to me, I think, in waves. And it's good for me to elucidate on that when I have the opportunity when it's within me. And I'm cooking, you know, stewing on these ideas, and these words. And it's good for me to be able to crank it out and put pen to paper, and even pen and paper, my handwriting is too bad. So I just tell you, but it's good to have that.
And to get it out and to say these things and express them because you know, I sent it to my mom, you know. I can remember being on deployment and always being like, you know, I can't wait to tell, you know, a parent's about this or that, you know. Obviously not the bad things. But, you know, these cool things that I've experienced and really, like amazing things that I've seen and been a part of. And you get home and it's just not that easy, right?
It's not that easy to talk about it. Because one, you know, I don't want to talk about the war too much. I don't want everyone to think that my whole life revolves around it. But also two, you know, of course, it kind of doesn't want to fuck and worry you know what I mean? Yeah, it takes up a bit of my, you know, emotional energy and occupies a good bit of space in my brain for sure. But it can also be hard to put into words, you know, these nice things. These things that you appreciate, because it's hard to take the context out of it.
And you know, experiencing the sunrise and the, you know, the call to prayer. Yeah, it's scary because you watch Black Hawk Down. But after you've been there for a few months, it's not scary at all. You do it every morning. And you're saying, oh, you know, you're having a great time, the sun's coming up. It's not quite hot, yet. It's just warm enough. There's like a dew on the grass. You know, it's beautiful. It's an amazing thing to witness. Afghanistan is probably the most beautiful place I've ever seen. With the exception of maybe Mexico. And I mean, obviously, certain parts of America as well.
But, you know, it's hard to put that into words. Because when you're saying this to your parents, my mom can't get past the fact that like, “Yeah, this is happening.” But I'm wearing a full kit and I have a rifle in my hands. And I'm out looking for the Taliban. You know, it's hard to separate those things out for people back home, because that's all they think about, you know. They're worried about you. And they can't, they're not going to see the beauty in war the same way that you're going to see the beauty of war. Because to me, for the most part, it's all beauty. You know, yeah, it sucks and there's some really terrible shit in it. But it's like, this is an incredible thing to be witness to. And, you know, be a relatively active participant in. So I think for me, writing gives me that opportunity.
Brock Briggs 1:34:36
Yeah, I think that that's right. And you highlighted something there. Even when the stars do align, and you do have the words to explain something that you've experienced, telling it to somebody who hasn't been there. There will never be the appreciation for that. And that's something that I've experienced too. You want so bad for people to understand what it is that you're talking about, and to like, feel the way that you felt on that like one day, whether it be a really hard day or a really good day. But the reality is, they probably won't ever, unless they've been there and done that. So I think that writing is a cool way to relive that and kind of make it real by seeing it on paper.
Caleb Taylor 1:35:26
For sure, I would agree completely.
Brock Briggs 1:35:29
You kind of mentioned that there a few minutes ago, but will you kind of walk us through what kind of content and stuff you're doing over at OAF?
Caleb Taylor 1:35:36
Yeah, so like I said, I write the TBTs, the occasional honesty in history. If we can find a good one, back when we were kind of making our own news articles, I would write the news articles. Now I just kind of upload the news to the website and then to Facebook. Like I said, I do book reviews.
Occasionally, I don't write as many book reviews as I should, because I read too much. And then I have a hard time remembering what I read. And I don't want to be disingenuous, you know. I don't want to kind of lead you astray because I'm mixing up my books. But that is something I'm going to try to work on in the new years trying to relay that more, because I've been finding some really just phenomenal stuff.
And I think that it would be good to get, you know, to tell people about it and get things to read and get into. That people, that veteran community would definitely be interested in. And I wrote a few articles about envy. I think, maybe like initially, I was trying to go through the New York Times opinion page. But they were just super annoying, and not incredibly helpful. So I was like, “Fuck it!” It worked out fine. I mean, it accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, which was to get it out in time to help.
So, you know, any kind of interest, my like intent, as well as to interview my friend Barak and talk about, you know, his journey, you know, to SIV. You know what he did in Afghanistan growing up in Pakistan, during the Civil War, going back to Afghanistan, and working with a bunch of different governments to, he's like, an IT security guy. So he installed the security systems in a bunch of embassies, as well as some other stuff, as well as like being a consultant.
Tim McCarthy 1:37:26
He's done a lot of stuff. Holy crap!
Caleb Taylor 1:37:29
Telling you, he's the world's most interesting man. I'm not kidding. He's a really incredible guy, super, super cool. So I want to do an interview with him kind of humans in New York style. And just kind of talk about, you know, his journey to come here. And his wife and his kids are actually still in Afghanistan and in the process of trying to get them here. And what it's like having them there now and trying to, you know, keep them safe, and keep them fed, because you know, he has money to help. But because of the circumstances, there's only so much that he can do even with the money.
So it's, I think, super interesting. And I hope a really humanizing way to talk about Afghan refugees, for people who don't know, and who don't understand these personal stories. So that is something that I look forward to, and a challenge too because I don't really, I've never written an interview before.
Brock Briggs 1:38:18
Just to kind of close out here. What's a bit of advice that you wish you knew, prior to joining? It could be about anything, time in, getting out, any of that?
Caleb Taylor 1:38:30
Oh, you know, I'm not really sure. Things have worked out incredibly well for me. I'm a super lucky dude. I think that's really been such a constant throughout my lifetime, is that I just am incredibly lucky. You know, I'm not really religious. I don't pray or go to church or anything like that, you know. If God is looking out for me, sick! You know, if not, somehow I'm lucky, right? Things just fucking work out for me. You know, I'm super duper lucky.
But I worked very hard to get here. And I think, you know, I had a plan. I didn't always know. I didn't always know the steps in the plan. You know what I mean? I think visualizing things as one stepping stone to another, you know, never really visualizing a summit. Just kind of my friend, my buddy Dan Murray, his wife, his mom, Jill jumped the good one on me and she was like, “You know, you get a new job and people who settle in and you're like, you'll be here for 20 years.” And she's like, “You know, you should really just start looking for the next best thing you know. You shouldn't get comfortable and settled in you know. Don't look at this as “Ah, this is good enough.” What is good enough? You know what I mean?
You should keep pushing and keep striving and I think that's really been a big thing for me. It's such a simple and small statement. But it's really been something that I've applied kind of to everything and not to say that I'm never satisfied and I'm always hungry you know. I'm not the rock right or some fucking weird shit. But you know, I do my best to be relentlessly optimistic and to continually push myself and you know strive to create more for myself, whatever that more is whatever it means, whatever it adds up to, you know. I don't at the same time sacrifice things in my personal life for this, you know what I mean? I have work and I have ambition. And then I have my downtime.
And you know, it's important to have that downtime. It's important to appreciate it. But it's important to keep that in check and make sure that I'm not using that downtime to enable myself to be a lazy turd. And I get things done that I need to get done. You know, you're gonna have setbacks. You're gonna have curveballs thrown your way. And that's cool, man. You know, Barry Bonds strikes out, look, yeah. The guy does steroids. But could you hit that many home runs on steroids? Fuck no. Right? So you just gotta keep chopping. Gotta keep hacking. See how it goes. You know what I mean? Nothing, I think is, you know, too bad for you to recover from. Nothing is too severe for you to overcome. I think that you have to, you know, do your best to stay optimistic and keep pushing.
And you know, it's gonna suck sometimes. Life sucks, sometimes. There's a whole lot you can do about it. That is just the way she goes. And you just gotta keep on moving. You know, Joe Dirt says it best, “Life’s a garden. Dig it, brother!”
Tim McCarthy 1:41:24
Just thinking about that quote!
Caleb Taylor 1:41:27
It’s such an inspirational movie, you know, very overlooked when it comes to that. But I think you know, Joe Dirt is kind of right.
Brock Briggs 1:41:34
We might need to make a podcasting note to incorporate more Joe Dirt.
Tim McCarthy 1:41:40
I'll write it down right now.
Brock Briggs 1:41:43
Pass it on to the producer. It is shifting out there. I think that that's really true, Caleb. Constantly just having the mentality of just showing up and being willing to give 100% and stay uncomfortable a little bit so you don't fall into that day to day thing of like you said waking up in 20 years and not knowing what happened.
This has been really cool. Tim, do you got anything else?
Tim McCarthy 1:42:1
No. Dude Caleb thank you so much man. That just the story about NB alone was insane. Thank you for sharing that and thanks for being here man. You’re true inspiration and a hero for probably a lot of reasons but envy especially, so that's freaking awesome dude.
Caleb Taylor 1:42:32
Well thanks guys. I really appreciate you having me on and giving me the opportunity to tell the story because I haven't been able to yet, so I greatly appreciate it.
Yeah. We’re happy.
Brock Briggs 1:42:40
Oh, this is the first time?
Caleb Taylor 1:42:43
Yeah. In its entirety, yeah.
Tim McCarthy 1:42:46
Holy smokes! Wow!
What an honor!
Well that changes the game yeah, for real. Geez Louise!
Brock Briggs 1:42:51
I really hope we did it justice. If people want to follow along with any of your writing, I don't know if you want to put out your personal Instagram if you get into that. Where can people go to follow along with you if they want to?
Caleb Taylor 1:43:05
Yeah, for sure. I got a look because I forget, because my Instagram name was meatmunch90. I got that from Workaholics too!
Tim McCarthy 1:43:16
True marine fashion.
Caleb Taylor 1:43:19
My wife was like, “Jesus Christ! You're gonna be on the news. You can't have your Instagram as meat Munch90. No one's gonna take you seriously.”
Tim McCarthy 1:43:26
That's so funny. You should have kept it. I love it!
Caleb Taylor 1:43:34
So now it's trykacaleb. That’s my middle name because Taylor’s taken. So yeah! Trykacaleb on Instagram. I try to post you know, at least their stuff to my stories. I kind of don't like posting all my work, as like actual posts because I find the attention a little embarrassing. But I do like post updates about how things are going at OAF new stories when the book came out, you know. When I was published in the poetry book as well. So I think it's a good way to try to keep up with me.
Brock Briggs 1:44:14
Very cool, we’ll link that to you. And to the book on OAF. Caleb, thank you so much! This has been fantastic, man!
Thanks for having me.