SEA4 Podcast: Southeast Asian Athlete Achievement > Adversity

The SEA4 Podcast aims to bring the stories of refugees from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam and their American-born descendants into the mainstream. By focusing on athletes and other accomplished individuals who have overcome adversity we hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams. John Messina and Ko Chandetka from the Lao American Sports Hall of Fame will be interviewing athletes and others who represent the diverse cultures of Southeast Asia including Lao, Laotian, Khmu, Khmer, Hmong, Vietnamese, Lu Mien, Cham, and others.

Tron Siphaxay: Lao American Navy Seal

Tron Siphaxay: Lao American Navy Seal

Mon, 06 Mar 2023 11:30

Why attempt something if most people fail? Why put yourself in danger when you can be at home safe? Soukhanthone Siphaxay, known to most as Tron, was in boot camp during the September 11th, 2001 attack on America and would soon find himself on the front lines of the war on terror as part of an elite force, the Navy Seals. Tron enlisted in the Navy with the purpose of serving his country and was deployed to hot spots around the world including Iraq, Afghanistan, and the southern Philippines. The Laos born refugee has been fighting his whole life but one of his toughest battles would come at the end of his career as he tried to adapt back to life as a civilian.

Music: Summer 1984 by RKVC

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Tonight I can report to the American people and to the world. The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda. Why attempt something if most people fail? Why put yourself in danger when you can be safe at home? Sukenton, Sipasai, known to most as Tron, was in boot camp during the September 11th, 2001 attack on America and would soon find himself on the front lines of the war on terror as part of an elite force, the Navy Seals. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack, and a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. Tron enlisted in the Navy with the purpose of serving as country and was deployed to hotspots around the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and the southern Philippines. The Laosborn refugee has been fighting his whole life, but one of his toughest battles would come at the end of his career, as he tried to adapt back to life as a civilian. Alright, hey everybody, welcome to another episode of C4 Podcasts, South East Asian Athletic, she went through adversity. My name is Coach Andecca, and I'm here with my co-host John Macina. We have the amazing guests today. I'm going to let John in to do some, but I know the podcast, we tend to focus on athletes, and believe me, this individual is, I'm sure, would kick a lot of athletes asses. Man, I'm a bodybuilder, and I trained hard, but I don't think what I did would compare to what this gentleman has done, the physical strength, and probably the mental and psychological strength that he had to do to excel in his career choice. So without further ado, let my co-host John Macina introduce them. This is exciting, we are going to be interviewing. As far as we know, the first ever Navy Seal that was born in Laos and came to the US as a refugee and went on to become a Navy Seal. But before we jump into this amazing interview with Tron here, we just wanted to give a quick shout out to our brothers over at the Now In Session Podcast. We started their show in 2022 just like us, so we're kind of going on this journey together with them. Follow their show on Spotify, YouTube, follow them on IG and Facebook. Our brother LL Lucky over there is also a Navy veteran. So this shows dedicate to all the veterans out there. We appreciate what you guys do. We're going to go ahead and have Tron introduce himself. Tell us Tron, tell us your full name and a little bit about your family coming from Laos, etc. Yeah, so the guys got in the teams called me Tron, but my real name is Su Contan, Sifasa. I was born in Laos and at a time when the war was still going on, but nobody really knew that Laos was still fighting going on. It was like Laos was a covert war and Vietnam was an overt war. So my dad worked with the three-letter organization that was the Americans were with the American. The king of Laos was pro-American and the prince of Laos was communist. So the communist Red Army intelligence caught on to my father and my uncle were doing. So they left. They left my mom and my two older sister and I, and they just they went to Thailand to set up a place for us to stay. So we were bouncing from the cemetery to cemetery just to avoid the authorities, the communist authorities. And then once we got to the makeover, my dad was there to receive us and take us to Thailand to refuge camp before we got sponsored. So then we moved to, we started in Thailand and then we got in process in the Philippines and then we flew into San Francisco. And this is about like the 1981 timeframe and then we settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Yeah, and then folks split up, you know, and then I grew up in Iowa out of all the places. You know, as a kid, I think sports was like a really good, good way for me to, you know, control my anger, I would say, you know, and I learned at a really young age, how to manage, well, you know, this is that control anger, you know. And so one of the questions you had asked is like, what attracted me to the, you know, the, the seal teams, I think it was, you know, everything that I did from middle school, junior high, the sports that I did, I think it just got me, I was new, it was going to get ready to be, you know, for something like that. You know, I was, because either way I was going to go in the military, but I was going to go army, I was going to go SF, I was going to go to any other branch, I was going to do their special operations thing. But with the teams, I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a seal. So, and then I just took some form lessons, took some form lessons that I had at a later age, in late 22, and then just, I had to do it. It was one of those journeys that I had to do for myself, you know. I got to say what part of Iowa did you grow up on? And the reason I'm asking is we have had what co-like maybe five people from Iowa on this podcast. I don't know what it is we've had Olympic medalists from Tokyo games, we had a pro football player, we had Linda Syavongchon, who's, you know, a D1 basketball coach at Indiana. There's something going on out there. Yeah, I think it was the Midwest, you know, like hard work, because majority of the people that, because it's an agricultural state, you know, so I think with with Iowa, it was just it was just it's bread in them. And you look at like Iowa wrestling, Iowa state wrestling, just the, just, in any sport, it was just the hard work and dedication. Like it was part of the culture, you know. Hey, hey, try and you mentioned if you can delve off into it more than the anger, right? I mean, me growing up the kid, I came here when I was four and like the first thing I dealt with, my family as well, right, but me being a kid, I just dealt with being like bullied in school, because I looked different, I dealt with, you know, with the racism and and precious and all that. That was the source, like, you know, of my anger, right? And it made me want to, well, I'm going to work out now so I can like you defend myself or take care of myself or just something, right? So can you tell us a little bit more about what, what was the anger that you were talking about? So, yeah, I experienced the same thing when, but it was like different though. So I mean, same thing, but different kind of like, you know, same, same, but different. So when I went, when I lived in Philly, so we lived in in Ben Salem. That's where we first started. It was right outside of Philly. No, like three years, and then my mom and dad were like, they wanted to be around more loud people, because Ben Salem was predominantly white. And then we moved inside inside Philly, like, like Logan area, like North Philly, like it was rough man, like, when would you come to US? I came in 75, but I, we landed in the Midwest, we landed in Ohio for a year, and then Chicago. Okay, so you can still remember the fighting, right? The war, yeah, yeah, because my dad was a lieutenant colonel in the war. Okay, so, so I remember, I mean, just being, you know, I was like four years old, and it was, and I say this because, and I'll get to this, how it just like it was muscle memory, however, remember things. So when I remember being real little on my aunt, or my mom would like, whenever there was like bombing and, and, and the fighting was going, they, you know, they just grabbed me and, you know, run to a shelter, right? So when we moved into Philly, it was like, it was a war zone, bro. I was fighting every day before school recess, you know, after school. You like the only lay ocean kids school, and only Asian, no, they put all the Asian kids in one class. It was like a ESL. Yeah, it was, yeah, so there was like, from cable hands into, there was a couple of allow people, there was like two classes. It was inside Philly. There was like two classes of just Asian kids from the girls, and they even put the Africans in our class too, you know, the guy, the folks that are from, from Ethiopia and Kenya. Oh, so it, and everybody got along. It was the locals, you know, like the kids from, from Philly, like inside Philly, and it was predominantly like 70% was like 70 80% black in North Philly. And then, you know, just small amount of Asian Puerto Ricans, but they put all the, the non blacks in one, one class. So it would be fight like every day. It was rough. But I remember when they were fighting when the, I could hear, you know, gunshots, you know, gunfire in, in, because the Philadelphia PD, and the move, people to Jamaicans, they were like, there's a big, big on like firefight. And everybody was like, I could, you know, I was just walking down the street and everybody's like cringing down because they just didn't know, but it was like muscle memory where I was like, oh, why, why are like one of these people? It felt normal, you know, I can. So I, I didn't cringe down or try to hide. I was just like just walking to my own thing, just walking to this. And then, the local at like, at like second, third grade, you know, wow. So, and then, but yeah, you, you can Google it. I mean, they fill it up. The PD blew up like a whole, like a whole block or some shit like that. It's, it was crazy. So, but then, but yeah, I think that that was part of the anger of just being being different. But then, but I didn't, I didn't really, you know, I looked at it more like a challenge. You know, like, okay, hey, you don't want you guys want to, you guys want to create me like this. I wasn't going to try, I wasn't going to give them any, you know, anything else. Because then if I worried about, I would have just given them, you know, more energy for them, they would just take more energy minds. So like, I got to manage this. So that's. And then when, when my folks split up, I was just like constantly angry. But then I got an arresting. And I had, I had just my, my eighth grade coach just, he just, you know, he saw, he saw something in me. And then he was just like, just taught me. It was the first time that I really learn how to control my anger. And then I went into to match. I was just like, just, just aggressive, you know, and just angry. And then I went to high school. And I tried that same shit, trying to throw some dudes, you know, because that was used to throw on guys and I won by pins and junior high. But when I got into high school, I wrestled varsity, my freshman year, I wrestled varsity, I was four year, I wrestled varsity for all four years. But I tried that, I tried that shit, my, my freshman year, my first match against kid who was like a junior. And he was like pretty much a grown-ass man. And I couldn't throw him. So I had to actually wrestle wrestle. And he was just like, all right, I got to change my tactics. So, is this in Iowa or in Philadelphia? Yeah, this is an Iowa. Oh, yeah. So my folks put up when I was in third, middle of my third grade year. And we moved to Iowa because my, my, my mom's brother, only brother in the US lived there. And he moved to Iowa because his in-laws. So their family was a lot closer than ours. So he's just like, hey, I'm not, I'm gonna stay. I mean, I'm gonna wherever they go, that's where I'm going. But you know how, you know how like how they reach, regionalize you, right? I didn't know this until 2005 when I came back from Iraq the first time. So whenever the US goes to war, they're like, whatever the guys who get first dibs are always the guys who work for the US, you know, like your dad was Lieutenant Colonel. And, and he was, he was fighting for Laos, but then they were pro pro Americans. And then they're like, okay, well, you're from a city. So we're going to put you in a city if you're from the country they're going to put you in a, you know, you don't say like, my uncle married a tight-up woman who like, I love her. She's like, my favorite aunt. She can understand, she can speak loud, but I can't speak or understand tight-up, you know, a lot. There's a lot of tight-up in Iowa. There is. There is. Yeah. So, so hit. So her family is tied up. She has 13 brothers and sisters. And, and then with with my mom, you know, she only has, she had like four brothers, one lived in Canada, one lived in in Iowa, and then the other two lived in Laos. So she didn't, she only had one. There was the easy choice to move to Iowa. We weren't going to move to Canada because, you know, for for immigration purposes. But then I can remember, you know, and their family was like, they were really close. So when, when just growing up and watching their family interact and stuff like that, I really, I really admired that they were like super close. Whereas like, you know, my family, I think we weren't so close. We were more dysfunctional. And then, then, then, then, then, then close, but it was, it was good. And then, and, and I learned how to, you know, put that, put that, that, that anger into my into sports. So, yeah. So, so then you enlisted right after high school, I take it. So, no, so I tried other things. I actually, you know, I went to, I went to after high school. I wasn't, I didn't start early enough in wrestling to, to, to, I was saying I wasn't good enough to wrestle in college in Iowa. And I just decided to focus more on Chinese kung fu because there's no more tie or anything like that. So I got really close with my, my kung fu teacher. And, and, you know, Pat Militich, really good dude. He, he, he fought out of Iowa. And, you know, he had a, he was just up and coming. This is like the early 2000s. You know, late, late 1990s to early 2000s. And I was like, okay, I was really big UFC fans. So I was like, so I asked my see if I was like, you know, you know, I was like, I really want to test my skills. Can I, should I fight? And he's like, he was how, he started making me think he's like, what's the average lifespan of a fighter? I was like, I have these guys are like two, three years. He was, but didn't you always wanted to go in the, in the, in the SEAL teams? I was like, yeah. Yeah, you know, because I didn't know any seals. I was like, well, you know, I'm 20, you know, 23, 24. And I thought I was getting too old. And he's like, well, you know, how long is a, you know, a lifespan of a seal? I'm like, well, they can retire. He's like, okay, he was thinking about it. I was like, all right. So, you know, what's your school? Because I was going to University of Iowa at the time. I was thinking about it. I'm like, well, you know what, 24 years old, and their bush just took office. I knew the Bush senior was, was, was, he was director of the CIA during during the, the, the law revolution. I was like, well, we're, we're going to go back to war and we're going to go soon. So then I was like, talking my seafood, my kung fu teacher, Mr. Sang. And he's like, you know, I was like, I just made a call to the recruiters and I was like, hey, I want to go in the Navy. I want to be a seal. And then I get, I get this like bang on my door. And he, this guy, Jeremy, Cillespe, you know, bangs on my door, he's open the door, motherfucker. Sorry, am I supposed to, am I not able to? You're good. That's good. So I was like, who the fuck? I'm kind of Navy recruiter bangs on my door and tells me open the door, motherfucker. So I open the door and I'm like, I'm like Jeremy. So he had left like, you know, right after high school. And we had played football together. So you want to be a seal, huh? I was like, yeah, he was all right. He goes, uh, then he's like, we got to do some tests before he can get you in. And then we go into, um, and I'm older, right? You know, then, then the, then the kid who just came out of high school. And so we go to maps, we do all this process. You know, I take the swim test, pass, pass everything. So I, we go to maps and. And I started being demanding. I was like, hey, I want, I want a bonus. I want a seal contract. I want a good, you know, rate. So in the Navy, a rate is, is like your job. You know, so, um, so I was able to get electrician. I signed to go to Buds, but at the time you had seal source rating. So yeah, like 15 different ratings, you can be like a Gunners mate, boats, this mate, whatever, um, just whatever 15 jobs that that was like dedicated to for that, that seal, that job as a seal, you know, like guys that can well, guys can fix things. So. I get there and they're like, yeah, we can get to electrician. I was like, who was the, the contract that says, you know, the seal that's going to give me a guarantee shot to go to Buds. And he's like, he's like, um, they go, I don't know. I was like, okay, get me the contract that says that I'm going to go to Buds after a school, or I'm walking out this door. And they thought I was full of shit. So I just walked out the door and some chief runs after me. He's like, whoa, he goes, hey, I was able to get you buds. I was able to get you everything that you, you want an electrician, if that's okay. I wasn't able to get you any any bonus money because you didn't, you know, have your undergrad. I was like, that's fine. I was like, I'm not in for the money. I just want to, you know, serve my country where I grew up, you know, be a seal and go to war. That's, that's all I want to do. And then they're like, all right, cool. When you, you know, can you leave Wednesday? I was like, all right. Well, so I go to my wife. I look like it has fun. I look like my wife, I get home on a Thursday and I'm like, hey, I'm leaving. She's like, why? Where? I'm like, I'm joining, I'm joining an avian and I'm going to go be a seal. And we'd probably been married for two years. She's like, well, when are we going to talk about it? I'm like, we're talking about it now. She's like, okay, what are you leaving? I'm like, I'm leaving for boot camp on Wednesday. So last of the week, because the way I looked at it was like, hey, man, I knew that the first golf was so quick that I didn't want to miss out on the second one. So I was like, you know, it was like, all right, we're going to do this. And then sure enough, getting to boot camp in August and 9-11 happens. So I got, I got to boot camp August 13th, the 20th, 2000, 2001. And then, you know, 9-11 didn't happen. I wasn't able to see any of the footage until after boot camp until I got to a school. And I was really, I was upset at the same time. I was like, okay, you know, like, like I knew, you know, expectation management. And then, you know, went to A school and then went straight to Buds after A school. It was like my A school was like six months long. And then I showed up to to Buds that like, you know, in 2000, 2002. And then went through Buds, SQT, you know, Army Jump School, Cold Weather Training in Alaska. And then showed up to, so 25th, in 2003. So the pipeline, I think if there was like two years, you know. So Buds is notorious, right? I mean, frankly, most people that go in don't make it out. Tell us a little bit about it. How hard was it? How did you mentally get through this thing and physically? And it can cause the acronym for Buds as well. Sure. Yeah. Buds stands for Basic Underwater Demolition Seal Training. It's like the, it's really a selection, you know. So you have your first phase, second and third phase. But even before that, it was like, it was like in-daff. And it was just, it was like, back when I went through, it was like, it was four weeks long. Now it's like three weeks long. But then again, they have Buds Prep now. They didn't have Buds Prep when I went through it. You know, they have, it's a Buds Prep is like, it's like after you're done with boot camp, then you go to, to like eight weeks of, you know, just building your body up where you're just, you know, running every day, you're, you're swimming every day, and then you're, you're lifting every day and just getting strong. Because although the reason why Buds Prep was developed was to get guys in the best shape to get ready to, to try out and go to Buds, because Buds, you don't really, you don't really don't learn anything. They just break you down for like six months. You know, these are just beat the hell out of you. And it's always, and then like, so in doc, they just teach how like, hey, this is how you fold your clothes, this is how you, for inspections, because everything is a test there. It was like never a day where, where there's, there's a test. So they're constantly, you know, testing your, your, your, your physically more mentally than anything else, you know. And then there's a lot of emotional like testing too. So, you know, like, what I've seen now with, with this generation, compared to ours, is that when you can get the, the best athlete and, and, and the best like anything. But then when, when an instructor comes up to him and it's like, hey, you piece of shit. And it's the first time they've ever heard that somebody called them a piece of shit. They, they're like, what? You know, like, they just, they lose it. So, so, so that, that, that's what I mean by emotional. And physical is just like, okay, you got, you got, you know, four, four mile time runs, four, two not a mile time swims, four, four, four, you know, time. And if you fail, then you get, you try again, if you fail again, you're out, you know, so you can only get like one performance, one performance role. And then. And, and, and I've seen guys who were like, mentally strong, they had like a really big heart, but they just couldn't pass the times, you know, so. And the times, the times get, it's like the times get, it's not like, but the times get, it's still the same four mile time run, but, but the times get faster. So you have to just, you have to get stronger, you have to get faster. Even though they just break you down constantly, you know. But it's, it's, it's, it's got its challenges, you know. So. And then once you're done with that, then once you're done with buds, then, then it's like, then you go to the dump, it used to be where, when I went through, they went to the Army jumps, we would go to Army jump school out in Fort Benning for three weeks. Now, now we have our own jump school. So, yeah. Did I answer your question about buds? Yeah, yeah. So after you completed your buds and your training, so you seal team five, you know, obviously there's certain things you cannot discuss, but maybe tell us some of about some of your proudest moments as a seal, as well as some of the most challenging moments. I mean, we'll just put it out there. You went in at a, I would say a very challenging time because we had, like you said, just came off 9-11 or an Iraq, Afghanistan, Ben Gazi, and there are a lot of stuff going on in there. So maybe tell us what you can about some of the proudest and most challenging times. You know, I didn't think I was going to stand for 20 years. I thought I was just going to, you know, my plan, my plan was to, you know, serve my country, go be a seal and go to war, and then get out. I didn't know that, hey, you know, when you're done with, with buds, you know, an SQT, seal qualified for fish and training as SQT. And once you get, once you become a seal, you owe a seal team like five years. I didn't know that. I was like, oh, shit, I was like, okay, cool. Then I, I guess I extended two extra years. Extended two extra years. And then I went to, and then I'm like, all right, well, I thought that I, the entire time that I stayed in, and as long as I did is because, you know, we had two decades of war. So the, the entire time that I was in, I was fortunate enough to, you know, go to war, train to go to war, or train guys to go to war. That was, that was my 20 years, you know. And after a while, it takes a toll on, you know, on your body and on your mind. And I think, I think it's being a seal, and in the teams, that was, I was just, it was no like one moment that I was proud of, besides that, except when I, when, when I saw my daughter being born, I think that was like the proudest moment. But then, I mean, there was like other proud moments I had as a seal. But I think being a dad was like, you know, it trumped all that, you know. But I think it was when I, you know, like, you know, finishing hell week was, I was proud of that. And then, you know, passing, passing pool comp, and then getting through San Clement Island in third phase, and then, you know, making through, you know, the first day I checked in, so when you check into a seal team, you gotta get in your dress blues. And, you know, I'm like, you know, I'm just having my, my tried in with like three ribbons, or, you know, I walk in there and, I'm like, you know, I'm like, you know, I'm like, you know, I'm like, I'm like, you know, I'm like, you know, I walk in there and, and I see this, this, trusty ass like chief team guy. And he's like, he introduces himself. He's like, yeah, I'm Tommy. You know, and I'm like, hey, what's going on? I'm, I'm, I'm sukkhan town see for say shakes my hand. And he goes, we all made it through hell week. You didn't do anything special. And I'm like, what the fuck? So I asked a couple guys around me, you know, like, after like a day, just going to get inside off. I was like, yeah, who's that dude? They're like, oh, yeah, that's, that's Tommy. I won't say this is the last name, but. I'm gonna find out if dude was a Panama, Kosovo, and he was in the invasion. And I'm just like, okay, I realized quick that I end, I wouldn't, it humbled me. You know, and I realized really quick that I, that I really wasn't shit. So I had to prove myself, you know, and it was like that, like we talked about earlier, it was like channel, channeling that anger, you know, and, and, you know, it's not like, it's like, I learned that that's like one of the, I think it was like the first thing that I learned that, you know, don't get mad, get better. And I was just constantly trying to strive to get better. And using that, that, that, that, that still anger to. And it haven't been with control better. So I use that to, to get better. And, um, yeah, it just. So, so you, you, I know you've, you've been, you went to a rack at what, Afghanistan as well, where were some of the hot spots you were deployed to. We wanted to take a break to tell you about how we got our podcasts started. If you haven't heard about anchor by Spotify, it's the easiest way to make a podcast with everything that you need. All in one place. Anchor has tools that allow you to record and edit your podcasts from a phone or computer. It allowed us to easily distribute our podcast across all major platforms, including Spotify, Apple, Google, and more. It's everything that you need to make a podcast in one place. And best of all, it's free. Download the anchor app or go to anchor dot FM to get started today. Now back to the show. I did a rack a couple of times, Afghanistan. And then, Southern Philippines is, you know, I was. So, um, but then. But it wasn't like, but every, every theater was different, you know, there was a couple of their places. Uh, around the world, too. There was some, some hot spots, but I'd say Afghanistan was probably like the best. I think that's one of the best. Yes. One of the best supporters. Yeah, that that was rough. You know, quite a few. But when I was in when I was in, you know, we were winning. So I was out by the time that they left Afghanistan. So I can't, I can't complain, you know. Yeah. Yeah. No, no, for sure. Um, yeah. Well, we, you know. We were, you've served it some like I said, some of the very toughest times and some of the toughest theaters. You and many seals. Um, so our hats are off to all the seals and special ops and, and just the rest of the veterans that served over there as well. Not easy. Um, you know, one of the most difficult things about serving, especially in something like the seals. Is trying to balance your family life with military, because you're gone all the time and with the, if you're in the seals, sometimes you can't even talk about where you're at, right? They don't know if you're coming back. Your family. Right. How did you, how did you manage the home front? You just, you said something like, you know, that you just said it. You know, you, some people would not come back. And I was always ready for. You know, like, I just like, I didn't expect to live past 35. So it was that expectation management. And so I would always write on my pelican case, because they, they should us pelican case and I lock it up. And I'm like, OK, if you know, KIA, KIA is killed in action. This goes to Michael, my wife and Kennedy. So I was like, this is where it goes. But then you guys can just divvy up my, my gear. I don't care, you know, because then after that, but it was like, the little things that. That I wanted my, my wife to have, you know, like the, a lot of the, like my watch to a couple of the, a couple of the things that, that she knew that I took over to, on deployment. That's what I wanted them to have. And I, you know, talk to the guys and is, and I had like death letters and things like that. Like, hey, this is, you know, and then after deployment. And when I got home, I was just burning things like that. But I say expectation management. And then with managing our family, it was, it was, the first two years was, it was tough because you're just adjusting. And then it got to the point where I was like, I was coming home to visit. You know, because every duty was different. Every job was different. And, and it was like, you know, having been at five for five years, then I had to go to, go to teach the West Coast teams, land warfare. And then go to, go to team, I went to team three for two years. I went to Buds, you know, PTRR for two years. I went back to team three for two years. And I went to, to back to trade-up for two years. And I went to team one for two years. The sniper scores in the structure for two years. And I finished up it at great lakes where I started. At Buds Prep for two years. And then that was my 20 year retirement. But the, I think it was 18th straight up. I think it was 18th straight up. I think it was 18th straight years of like really sea duty or being gone all the time. That wasn't too bad. The roughest was when my last two years, when I was home, we had to adjust and get to know each other again. That's, I think it making the adjustments, you know, yeah, I think that's something that's often overlooked. Because you're getting this groove, right? And being in the military, and whether it's that your station back home, or you know, when people get out, right? Tell us, I mean, how do you, how do you go from being a seal, right? That you're up here, and then you're like one of us back in civilian life, you know? Yeah. That was, it was, it was, it was tough. I'd say my, the, the year that I, after retirement, it was like, you know, I'd, I'd been prepping for it for, I'd say about four years before I retired. So I started prepping for it. And, and then, then when I, it finally was over, it was, it was tough because everything that I had done since fifth grade, to the time I, so I was like, you know, 24, I actually went in, everything I did for whether it was screwed up, whether it was, you know, wrestling practice, football practice, or track practice, I was like, okay, this is, you know, I got to bust my ass, I got to, like, put out, and, and work hard, because this is just getting me, you know, stronger, faster, getting me ready for budget. So I had that mentality, every time I went to, you know, comfortable practice, it was like, it was that, that mentality of trying to get better and, and just being competitive. I think it was, that was, probably the toughest, this one, it was over, and, and I still was kind of like, it felt like I was still in kind of denial, you know? And I went in a depression, it was, it was for me, it was hard for me to say it, you know, I went in a depression, I've been, you know, been a team guy, you know, you're not supposed to have feelings for it, right? But, yeah, I was, I was depressed and, and, and, and I just, just, for weeks, and, and still having friends, and, nothing really, make our30s adult want me to get my free or open college, and now I know that, from within the training, available, I've seen a guy run a company and not me and, I know it feels different from what I used to do, but it's, like, is this really great and its amazing that, Sometimes the TV was on, sometimes the TV was off and it was just, I just, you know, just didn't really do anything. And then one day she's like, go get a job. I'm like, what? Like I just had surgery like in my neck. I had to get like, like, Poma, like, you know, thick ass like, like, Poma out of my neck. So they cut it, took it in the, in the, and the doctor's like, hey, know what you did soon? Like, five weeks, no, this now I'm like, okay, and I was like, that's easy. I can do that. And then that's where my wife was like, go get a job. So I talked to my daughter. I was like, hey, if I, if I, so you want to move back to California? Because oh, so great lakes. I said that the, what's preposite in great lakes. So we move, so my last two years, we moved back to the Midwest to see if we were going to try to, to retire out there because, you know, being closer to Iowa. And then two weeks after we moved in in October, it snowed. So I was like, fuck this place. And this is why I spent so many years getting out of this place. So I talked to my daughter because she was born and raised in San Diego from, times she was born to 13. And she's 16 now, but so for the last three years, she's been in Wisconsin. So I was like, hey, let's go back to San Diego. She was like, all right. And then my wife's like, we're going to stay here till you, you know, till she graduates and then we'll move back out there with you. I was like, all right. And then when my wife told me to go get a job, I started applying for all these, these federally agencies and I aged out on a couple and then, you know, I applied for a couple like police departments and sheriff's department. And I got one agency that was like, yeah, we'll work with you. I was like, okay, cool. So I came out, had the interview process in like exactly a year ago. And then, you know, I came home and I was like, hey, I think I got a good shot at getting this job. I just got to go back to one more interview, the tenants interview came out in July for those tenants interview and they're like, yep, you're hired. And it was weird, man, like I snapped out of my depression and groggyness. And I was like, shit, I got a purpose again, started working out, getting ready. And then I came back out here and they're like, hey, you got to be out here, back out here in San Diego by August, orientations on August 17th. And then the academy starts on the 29th. I'm like, all right, you know, flew back home packed on my stuff. I was out here by the 12th, short of to the orientation and started the academy, the police academy. And then I just just graduated. So like two weeks ago. So I graduated. And graduation. And so I mean, talking about the depression, we hear that a lot about like veterans, right, covered back home and adjusted, adjusting to civilization, right? And a lot of, you know, you hear a lot of guys, they don't snap out of it. You know, so yeah, I was going to ask you what you saw, like, you know, got you through it all. But yeah, it's kind of, you hear so many stories about veterans coming back and not adapting, right? And yeah, so here's the thing, man. I was older when I went in. So by the time I was, I was, you know, I came in in 24. By the time I was done with, you know, my A school buds, SKT and a full workup, I went to Iraq, you know, my first deployment was to a war zone. And I showed up in like 28, you know, and then I, at CD's, young guys are like 18 years old, 19, you know, 20 years old, no, no life experience. Yeah. And they're in war zone, bro. And it's stressful. And they go home and they do, and it's like they, they try, they try to adjust. And it's, it's hard. So when I went there, it was like, okay, who I was older, I had more life experience. But another thing too, man, like I never did anything that, that I would regret, you know, it was like, like I, for example, I went to, I stopped a kid in Afghanistan. So I was, I was a bridge, I was a sniper. I was, you know, a bunch of other stuff. And I went out and I, I supported these, the conventional guys that, that helped us, you know, that they would do convoys, but they would kept, they kept on getting hit on this spot. And I was like, hey, you know what? I was like, here are my quals. I'm a sniper bridge. I'm, or so, range safety officer. I can, I can help you guys run range. I can do that. They're like, well, we don't, we're short of sniper. I'm like, okay, I'll go. And they're like, you serious? Like, not even, you know, green braze will help us. I'm like, well, I'm not special forces, you know? So love those guys. I mean, you know, I got a lot of buddies, especially forces of green braze. But I told this kid from the 10th mountain, I was like, yeah, man, like you guys are American, I'm American. Well, I'll help you guys. So I would go work, you know, when I was in Afghanistan, I would work at night managing a battle space. I can't say where. And then during the day, I would go, provides sniper overlaps from eight in the morning and I go back to work for eight in the morning. So I do that once a week. But my main job was to, to, to manage this, you know, battle space and, and support and whenever, um, and support a lot of the other guys that are out in the field. So I did that. And, um, well, one time this young kid was like, you know, we were, we, we inserted and then we set up, we set up a hide. We knew the, the, the, the call for prayer was going to come up, which it did. And then I just, you know, I see these three, three guys with pitch, forks and shumbles. And they're coming in and, and, and, you know, we're, we're hidden, we're hidden by, uh, some brushes and, some trees. And I hear this click. And I, you know, grabbed this young kid. And I was like, I was like, hey, just come down. And they went, they, you know, kind of their knees, the three guys got in their knees and started praying once, once the prayer was over, they got up and they walked away. So this young kid comes up and he's like, you know, a couple of hours later, he goes, he asked me why, like I stopped him and I explained. I was like, you know, like, you, you guys, he is, but you're a seal. I go, dude, we're, we're professional and seals are, we're killers, but we're not murderers. You know, I was like, you kill somebody. You're going to, that's something you got to live with the rest of your life. That's, you know, that's somebody's dad, that's somebody's brother. That's something. So, and I get it. This kid was infantry. He just wanted to, he just wanted to get out and get some, you know, like that's why he was trained. But, you know, by me stopping him. I hope, because I haven't seen him since, I mean, like 2014, I hope that that that, that, that, that, that help him think about things, things, things through because the kid went from, you know, just graduated high school, went to boot camp, went to AIT, which is a advanced training for, for their, you know, their, their infantry guys. And then less than a year, many's in Afghanistan. He's in war zone. And, you know, how do you do that? I mean, like, I'm, I was in my, my late 30s, you know, and this kid was just 20 years younger than me in a war zone. So then when he comes home, it's like, I don't know what else he, he did when he was out there and, and I, you know, I can't speak for him. I can speak for myself. So, that's what I mean, like by me not doing anything that, that I regret it, you know, that didn't do anything illegal, didn't, I just, you know, because when, when we go into country, where I was brief in the R.O.E.s, like rules of engagement. So if, I did what I needed to do, I, I didn't have any regrets. And I, I could like, honestly look at myself and mirror and be like, hey, I'm, I'm good. You know. Yeah. So. Yeah. That's a big part of the mental battles that some veterans have after is they feel you know, remorse for some things they did. E.O.T. War, right? I mean, it's people, it's war. Things happen. It's rough. So. And you know, there's some things that I did that was like, that I could have done better. You know, but then again, you're, you're, you're in your worst credit. You know, you're always going to be harder yourself. Yeah. Well, so, you know, there's a lot of people striving to be seals or other, you know, special forces. What advice would you have for a young person listening to this thinking about going on this journey? Well, there's a lot of advice. I would say, you know, education, you know, be willing to learn because you're never, you're never, you're never done learning. You know, his blood is, it's, it's 90% mental and 10% physical. It's like, yeah, there's a lot of physical stuff, but it really is, you know, and, and other things like education, like learn to be good at, you know, math, science, all the other nerdish. You know, my biggest regret when I was going through buds in third phase, second to third phase was skipping school. You know, I had a lot of freedom when I was in high school. So I would skip school and I would just like thinking it was cool to go hang out with my, my buddies. And then we get in second phase and it's like, oh shit, you know, like dive medicine. You're talking like Charles Law, Boyles Law, you know, so all the laws that, that pertains to, you know, math and science, get to third phase. Now you're learning about demo and you're like, oh shit, now you're calculating. You know, I went to a free fall jump master and it's that I went to jump master and it was like, it was all math and science. You know, because what happens up in, you know, 20,000 feet is different from, from 18,000 feet to 16, you know, and then, you know, when you can tell the guys what, you know, during the breath, when you can tell them when they can pull the parachute and when they can't, you know, and then where they're landing, which way to go, you know, it's, it's just like it's all math and science. And then being, having been a sniper since old five and then been an instructor, it's like all, all math and science, you know. So it's like, it's, it's crazy. Just be a good student. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think a lot of people overlook that. For sure, I think it's all about jumping out of planes and, you know, diving and whatever there's a lot that goes into it. Yeah. Well, hey, I'm trying. This was a great interview. Tell you got anything else here? Tron? No, no, no, this is a, yeah, like I said, it was a great interview. Thank you for, you know, sharing as much as you can, right? I mean, this is some like, you know, not too many people in our community like the loud, the loud American community or even the Southeast Asian community really, you know, talk about like, you know, and listening in the seals like it. Yeah, like John said, I think you're probably the only, you're the one that we, you're the one that we know of, right? And it's, and, uh, man, it's, it's not easy. Yeah, but definitely like you said, man, how it's 90% mental, you know, but it's still physical. But yeah, that's the mental toughness is, again, that's, that's so important. And it's like, you know, like we hear like a lot of guys come back, right? And they can't adjust. So there's another challenge, man. So it's always like, you know, you never stop learning. I think, yeah, once you stop learning that that's what you really, you know, that's when the growth, the growth as a human being stops. So, yeah, you know, I would recommend like, um, guys that that veterans or, or anybody that that retires from a profession that they, they, they love, you know, like anything, everything has an ending. And, you know, my time as a team guy, as a seal was, was done and just having that, that finding that, that purpose again, you know, because, because we're all, we're all, we're men, we have to have a purpose, we have to have, we have to stay busy, you know, because what I've learned since I was at the academy, it was like, you know, this line of work, it's really, really similar to the guys in the military. You hear of guys that were like, that that retire from the force. And within three weeks, you know, guys have a heart attack or within, you know, less than, you know, or three months or three years, it's like they, they just, they lost that sense of purpose and they just, they died at early age. You know, so, I mean, so you got to take care of yourself, you know, mentally, physically, emotionally. And, and whatever it is, that's what you got to do, you know, um, I mean, co it's similar for you. So as an elite athlete, right, you were working out, go to a competition. And then now you're just working out in the gym and probably going right after, right, well, why? Well, yeah, I'm open about me and how I suffer from depression, right, when it was over because like, yeah, like, try and you say, I lost my purpose, man, I'm like, what am I going to do now? I was, I excelled at this and now like I'm normal and not it's a bad thing. There's nothing wrong with being normal, right? But it's like, I had no purpose, man, you know, so it was hard for me for a while as well. Yeah. You know, like, whether it's coaching is great, you know, um, you see a lot of guys, I mean, I learned so much from my coaches. I wouldn't be where I am today without my coaches and my, my kung fu teacher. Um, and I always, and I stay in contact with those guys, you know, um, I still keep contact with my mentors that were in the teams. Um, and now, now I started a new journey and everybody here, dude, I, I'm with guys that are like old enough to be my kid, you know, so, um, and then it seemed like, it seemed like, you know, I'd been mentored so much that I was mentoring a lot of these young guys in my police academy. You know, so, um, I'm like, okay. And a lot of guys listen to the ones that didn't. I was just like, okay, cool. You know, I'm going to listen. So I've got to ask is Cohen, our huge David Goggins fans, did you ever serve with them? Did you ever meet them? Yeah. So Goggins, Goggins was in, um, in Brawville, Platoon, and I was an echo. So, so in a sealed team, the, the, um, so you, yeah, you have like, you know, a, a, a seal team, right? And then you have, then you're split up into, into, uh, platoons. So our platoons are like 16 to 21 men, man platoons. And, uh, really depends on what platoon and what they're doing. So, and I really can't get in, um, in depth and what, you know, how, how platoons. But yeah, he was, we were at five together. I was, I was, we were just in different platoons. And then he went to, then he let, he did, did his five years. And I, I owed another, another, uh, platoon. So I came back from deployment and I had to redo another platoon. And then, um, then when he was done with trade at, I, I took over his spot as, uh, as a instructor. Oh, did you guys are across paths? Did you ever, did you meet ever meet the guy or, oh, yeah, I don't know. Yeah, we know. Yeah, he's, he's a good dude. Yeah. So, yeah, I mean, he was, I mean, he has a lot of miles in the desert heat or anything. Uh, for me, it's so, so because being, you know, being five, five, five, six, uh, about, you know, 180 pounds, I'm gonna let that go for running. So running's for the, running's for the enemy. Yeah. Yeah. Well, good. Well, yeah, Tron, we appreciate you coming on, um, telling your story, being open about it, telling the good, the bad, you know, the, the challenging and all that. So thanks so much, folks. Thanks for being here. Thanks for having me. Yeah. For sure, we'd appreciate, uh, if you give us five star review on Apple and Spotify with you, the few more of those. Tell your friends about the show and thanks so much, everybody. All right. The C4 podcast is brought to you by the allow American sports hall of fame. Visit us on the web at allow American sports dot com, celebrating the first, inspiring the