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Have You Checked out our Podcasts?

Over 12,000 persons have this year!  If you haven’t visited recently, here is what you may have missed:

In addition to some names you might recognize like Roger Staubach, Dale Dye, Jim McDivitt and Radney Foster we have also spoken with others whose names might NOT be so familiar but are true American Heroes:

The brave helicopter pilots who landed on a cliff side to rescue Marcus Luttrell in the “Lone Survivor” story

A Marine pilot who earned FOUR Distinguished Flying Crosses in Vietnam, returning from one mission with palm fronds stuck in his tail section.

A soldier who was a teenager when he jumped into Normandy, survived the Battle of the Bulge and went on to lead clandestine missions in both Korea and Vietnam.

Check out our podcast archives using the tab above, now conveniently organized by broadcast month!


FBI on 9/11 – James Gagliano

FBI 9/11

James A. Gagliano

Retired Ranger and FBI Special Agent James Gagliano knew about the threat of terrorists before 9/11 – he saw it firsthand in Yemen.

As a member of the elite FBI Hostage Rescue Team, James was dispatched to provide security for the FBI investigators building the case against al-Qa’ida following the December 2000 attack on the USS Cole.  He recalls pacing the deck of the wounded Cole, his weapon at the ready, and thinking thoughts of revenge.

A graduate of WestPoint who earned his Ranger tab and served with the 10th Mountain Division, he knew about conflict.  His 25 year career with the FBI would take him to several locations on the planet and into the sewers of undercover drug work.  But none of that would prepare him for what he witnessed on September 11.

Were it not for a dental appointment and a leg still in a soft cast from recent surgery, James would most likely have been one of the victims of the brazen attacks on the World Trade Center.  As it was, he spent many days following the attack working “the pile” to recover evidence.

James recounts many of the images seared into his mind from that fateful day; the look exchanged with a New York police officer when he passed through the barricade on his way toward the towers and the horrific image of fellow Americans jumping to their deaths rather than being burned alive.

Two of his FBI comrades gave their lives that day – Special Agent Leonard Hatton, who entered the World Trade Center to help and lost his life rescuing civilians and retired Special Agent John Patrick O’Neill, his supervisor in Yemen and the man considered by many to be the man who unsuccessfully tried to warn our nation about the looming terrorist threats.

James penned a compelling and passionate piece for Havok Journal about his experiences and thoughts on 9/11 titled “Earn This”.

TAKEAWAY: Over the course of his military and FBI career, James saw many awful examples of how inhumane men can be to each other. But 9/11 was the worst he has ever seen.

The largest 9/11 Memorial Tower climb by first responders and military members takes place at three locations in Arizona this fall. For more information visit: www.911towerchallenge.org


Freedom Isn’t Free – Folds of Honor

On Independence Day weekend two guests remind our listeners that Freedom isn’t Free.

Both are representatives of the Folds of Honor foundation and both have made sacrifices for the freedom we celebrate this weekend.  One lost a leg and the other lost her husband.

Freedom Free

Major Ed Pulido

Major Ed Pulido is the Folds of Honor Senior Vice President.  He is a 19 year Army Veteran and on August 17th 2004 hit an IED in Iraq. Ed made a vow to the young man who saved his life that if he got back home and received a second chance, he would take care of people like that soldier and his family. He fulfills that vow through his work with Folds of Honor.

Following a forced amputation of his left leg, Ed went through some dark times. Receiving the letter informing him that he was “..unfit for duty” was a particularly tough pill to swallow. Ed invests much of his time addressing the scourge of Veteran suicides.

Freedom Free

Maj. Troy Gilbert (R) with General Robin Rand

Ginger Gilbert Ravella knows all too well that Freedom isn’t Free. She became a Gold Star wife on November 27, 2006.  Air Force Major Troy Gilbert lost his life while providing close air support for the crew of a downed Special Forces helicopter.  The Commander of that Army unit told Ginger that he has no doubt that Major Gilbert saved 22 lives that day.

Now widowed with five young children, Ginger faced extra challenges due to the fact that Al Qaeda fighters removed Troy’s remains before a rescue party could reach the crash site.  It took 10 years of persistent pressure before his remains could be fully repatriated.

Ginger & Troy’s children were some of the first to receive scholarships through the Folds of Honor Foundation.  She continues to “pay it forward” by helping to spread the word about Folds of Honor as the Director of their speakers bureau.

Ginger and her current husband Jim (also a retired Air Force fighter pilot) have recently published a book titled “Hope Found” that discusses their journey through dual tragedies (Jim lost his wife to cancer in 2007) and how faith has buoyed them.


World War II Foundation – Tim Gray

War FoundationTim Gray is the Founder and Chairman of the World War II Foundation. He has produced 18 World War II documentary films to date, with several more in post-production.  Tim is a master storyteller; just the kind of person we love on American Warrior Radio!

His work has been recognized with FIVE regional Emmy Awards, THREE Indie International Film Fest Awards and American Public Television’s National Programming Excellence Award. Tim’s documentary films rank among the top five most requested programs nationally by PBS Stations.

Tim was a sports and news anchor before taking a leap of faith and retiring to create the World War II Foundation. He was soon rewarded when his first documentary film won an Emmy. He is used to deadlines but faces his biggest challenge yet; chronicling the stories of the World War II generation before they have all passed on.

His latest work is “D-Day Over Normandy” which uses modern drone technology to give viewers a bird’s eye view of these critical battlefields complimented with interviews of men who were there and participated in the combat.

“D-Day Over Normandy” is narrated by NFL legend Bill Belichik. Belichik is just one of the notable names who have narrated Tim’s films. Others include; Tom Selleck, Matthew Broderick, Dan Akroyd, President George W. Bush,  David Schwimmer, Ben Affleck and Governor Tom Ridge. Actor Damion Lewis (who played Major Dick Winters in Band of Brothers) said it was a defining moment in his life.

While fun to partner with celebrities, Tim says he gets a bigger thrill meeting his World War II heroes. One common trait among them all is an earnest sense of humility – they had a job to do and did it.  He pursues his mission to educate future generations through the films of the World War II Foundation with a similar earnest passion.

The World War II Foundation is a non-profit and anyone who wishes to donate my do so directly at their website.


A Veteran Helping Veterans – Deb Martinez-Garibay

Deb Martinez-Garibay is an Army Reservist with a passion for helping Veterans.

Deb shares additional information and background on just a few of the projects with which she is involved.  She emphasized that no matter the program, they all need volunteers and support in the form or monetary or in-kind contributions.

Team RWB

Team RWB seeks to enrich the lives of America’s Veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. They have chapters in 87 communities around the globe.  Activities range from team sports to marathons or cultural events. This program is a great way for civilians to get to engage in helping Veterans and also getting to know their stories and challenges.

PGA Hope (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere)

Sponsored by the Professional Golfers Association, the HOPE program provides Veterans with FREE golf instruction taught by local PGA Professionals. The year round program is designed to enhance rehabilitation and assimilation back into civilian society. The local group even has a special wheel chair built for a disabled Veteran that allows him to golf!

Arizona Veterans Stand Down Alliance

A Stand Down is community-based event where organizations come together to provide annual, one to three day events that bring together the State’s homeless and at-risk military veterans, connecting them with services ranging from: VA HealthCare, Mental Health Services, Clothing, Meals, Emergency Shelter, Transitional and Permanent Housing, ID/ Drivers License’s, Court Services and Legal Aide, Showers and Haircuts and myriad other services and resources.

We wrap the show with Deb sharing some of the personal challenges she has faced after becoming disabled during here military service.  Her experiences have inspired her to become even more active in programs that are helping Veterans who may not have the kind of family support network that she has.


Memorial Day – Navy SEAL Nelson Miller

Memorial DayNelson Miller KNOWS the reasons for Memorial Day. He spent two decades in the military, much of it as a Navy SEAL. He has lost comrades in combat. One wall in his Trident Grill restaurant is dedicated to those comrades lost.

When it comes to Memorial Day, Nelson leans toward George Patton’s position of “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived!”

“When I have a bad day or a bad week or a bad moment, and I think of some of my friends and realize; what would they give to have my bad day? That puts things in perspective.  I want to remember these guys a week from Tuesday, not just on Memorial Day.”

BBG and Nelson agreed that everyone should observe Memorial Day in their own way – somber or celebrative. Just so long as they recognize the reason the day exists.

Memorial Day

Pvt. James William DeGraff

We also share a heartwarming Memorial Day story brought to our attention by the folks at Legacy Tree. James William DeGraff was an Army Private killed on Utah Beach on D-Day. His full story might not have been told were it not for Don Alfonso. Don was visiting a cemetery in Normandy when his eye was drawn to a headstone of the fellow Floridian.  Unable to let go of the connection he made with this soldier, Don commissioned Legacy Tree genealogists to do extensive research so that James’ story will not be forgotten. They were even able to locate a photo of James taken just before deployment.  This story showcases the strong connection between the American public and those who fight for our freedoms, even when there is not a familial association.

Takeaway:  When asked what civilians can do to honor those who paid the ultimate price, Nelson delivered a short concise answer – “Live..because we are not here very long”.


Havok Journal Update – Scott Faith

Havok Journal editor Scott Faith checks in to share updates on some of the issues & articles from their website.  The writings at Havok Journal are compelling, interesting and sometimes humorous.

This “buffet for the brain” discussion delves into several issues.  We begin with a “how not to make military friends segment” by sharing the story of an east coast auctioneer who advertised a big sale of household goods/personal property of military members who were stationed overseas.  While the auction house later clarified this was abandoned property and they had followed all requirements for notification of the property owners, the stir caused them to cancel the auction until issues could be clarified.

Next we get Scott’s take on the situation with North Korea. While this could be more of the saber rattling we have come to expect from that nation’s leader, Scott shares his perspective from two years stationed near the DMZ.

Lastly we discuss Scott’s rationale for why our nation should bring back the military draft. He suggests that a limited military draft should go into effect any time there is a military conflict lasting longer than 180 days and involving the deaths of more than 1000 US service members.   He makes a compelling case, especially in terms of the fact that war has become an abstraction for a great percentage of the American populace.

Scott also makes a very good case for the fact that we HAVE had a draft to fulfill the manpower needs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the “stop loss” program during which some members were prevented from leaving the military and involuntarily recalling inactive Reservists to active duty.  This practice requires those to have already fulfilled their obligation to our nation to continue to bear the burden on seeming unending conflicts.

TAKEAWAY: Havok Journal is an excellent source for the perspectives of Veterans and the civilians who support them.


Host on the Hot Seat


BBG with John Eslinger at his Honorary Commander “Retirement”

I thought the whole reason for having a guest host was so that I could take the occasional weekend off – but John Eslinger had other ideas.

In the nearly 30 years I have been supporting the military, I always knew that it was the right thing to do but never gave much thought to what led me down this path or the influences it has had on my life. John challenges me by putting ME in the hot seat and quizzing me on the factors that led to my role as host for American Warrior Radio.

Growing up my family didn’t have much interaction with the military. No one on my mother or fathers side of the family served except an uncle who was drafted during the Korean War.  My fascination began sophomore year in high school with a book report on “1,000 Destroyed” by Grover Hall, Jr.  Mr. Hall was the Public Relations officer for the 4th Fighter group during World War II. I wanted to be a fighter pilot but life had other ideas in store.

We discussed some of the circumstances that led to my increased interaction with the military and eventual role as a talk show host. From the Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee to my brother’s bronze star about which he STILL cannot speak.

As a radio host I am able to participate in many activities that are fun for a civilian. However, the real rewards I receive from interacting with the men & women of our military come in terms of inspiration and the mental/emotional “recharge” of observing persons committed to a cause greater than themselves.

Air Force Veteran Chris Cobb also phones in to share his mission to climb the highest mountain in North America to raise money for the Arizona Fisher House.  People can make a pledge here and follow his step by step progress on his Facebook page.


Pima Air and Space Museum

air museum

Pima Air Museum Director Scott Marchand, Sean & Tiffanie Denlinger, Rick Felker.

Pima Air and Space Museum is the world’s largest non-government funded air museum. This week our Nova Home Loans remote broadcast took us to the Pima Air and Space Museum to learn more about their programs and talk with one of their volunteers who flew some of the aircraft on display.

Pima hosts over 300 historical aircraft on 80 acres and in several hangars. Some of their more unique displays include an SR-71 Blackbird, a former Air Force One and many World War II, Korea and Vietnam era aircraft.  A big part of their mission includes education and they host regular programs for youth.

Rick Felker with O-2 similar to the one he flew in Vietnam

One of the museum volunteers is Rick Felker, who flew the Cessna O-2 on 325 missions as a Forward Air Controller over the Ho Chi Minh trail in Vietnam. Some of his missions were pre-assigned and some involved loitering over certain areas. As a Forward Air Controller he had the authority to take anyone off a mission regardless of rank.

The second half of his tour he was selected for missions under the call sign “Prairie Fire”.  These involved Special Forces and indigenous personnel conducting small patrols along the Ho Chi Minh trail. “These guys were the true warriors; they were under fire from the minute they were inserted into the landing zone.” There were never more than 75 personnel in these ground groups and during 7 years of combat they were awarded five Medals of Honor. Everyone on these teams was wounded, some more than once. One of the personnel was on the run and under fire but when the FAC checked in with him he replied “I’ve got them right where I want them..surrounded from the inside!”

Pima Air Museum is always seeking good volunteers and donors. For more information please visit their website.

Takeaway: “It wasn’t the heavy caliber anti-aircraft I worried about, it was the smaller caliber rapid firing guns that could zip a wing off. And we were often pretty much down where they could throw rocks at us.”


September 11 Visit from the President – Tom Keck

September 11

Lt. General Thomas Keck

On September 11 Lt. General Thomas Keck was conducting an exercise at Barksdale AFB. Before long the President of the United States would be making an unannounced visit to his base.

As Commander of the 8th Air Force, Keck had just begun the Global Guardian exercise when a Captain handed him a note stating a plane had hit the World Trade Center. General Keck informed the Captain that all messages should begin with “Sir, this is an exercise message” to avoid confusion. But there was no mistake – in a few minutes a second plane hit the towers and Keck knew we were under attack and they converted to a “real” THREATCON Delta.

Keck called for fighter aircraft to protect his base. The nearest assets were reserve A-10’s that were put on alert to shoot down any unauthorized incoming aircraft. Thankfully, Keck never had to give THAT order but did receive a message about an incoming “Code Alpha” flight which turned out to be Air Force One with President Bush on board. They got President Bush situated and he delivered his September 11 address to the nation from Barksdale Air Force Base.

Keck also shared some experiences he had following September 11, including throwing out the first pitch at the Mets-Braves game and visiting ground zero.  Several retired firefighters still searching for remains had lost sons on September 11.  Keck had two Captains who had just returned from combat over Afghanistan as his escort. They presented the firefighters with arming lanyards from bombs released on those missions.

Tom is a member of “The Friday Pilots” and if it had wings, he flew it during his career; from A-10’s to B-2 bombers and even the SR-71 Blackbird.  He has 4600 flight hours, 886 flying B-52’s in combat over Vietnam. As an SR-71 pilot, he has literally flown faster than a speeding bullet. One mission from England to California, he landed before he took off. “You could make the sun rise in the west in an SR-71”.

TAKEAWAY: President Johnson was supposed to announce the name of our new spy plane as “RS-71” but he misspoke, calling it the SR-71.  The designation stuck.