(The following tribute was co-authored with Frumentarius by semi-regular contributor to this space, John Martin, with contribution also from Brandon Webb. John is the Republican county clerk of Crawford County, Missouri, and a historian who has specialized in Naval Special Warfare (NSW) history for over 15 years.)
At the end of his book, Unleash the Warrior Within (2002), Richard “Mack” Machowicz pointedly wrote that, “In the end, we will all die. There is no way to get around that fact.” Some might consider such words trite, but they are true all the same.
It seemed that by the time 2016 had come to an end we were collectively lamenting the passing of too many of our heroes and celebrities. For the Navy SEAL community, 2017 granted only a single day’s reprieve before hitting us with the passing of another brother. On January 2, 2017, Mack passed from this life after nearly fifty-two years of living by example, and after a valiant fight against brain cancer.
The co-author of this tribute, John Martin, had the pleasure of meeting Mack and his lovely wife, Mandy, several years ago at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida. Mack had just published the second edition of the aforementioned book, and he had been asked to be the keynote speaker at the museum’s “Muster” that year.
Mack spent several hours graciously signing copies of his book for event attendees, he and John spent just as much time together that afternoon talking about his history with the SEAL Teams, and his life’s work thereafter. John happened to be sitting between Mack and Mandy at a table, and as Mack opened up to John, the latter could tell that Mandy was also learning some new information about her husband. Mack was entertaining and educational that way, always. He was a FutureWeapons episode in the flesh.
In his quest to become a Navy SEAL, Mack toiled through SEAL training (BUD/S) alongside the other tadpoles of Class 136. Upon finally earning his SEAL Trident, he served with SEAL Team One and SEAL Team Two, qualified as a Naval Special Warfare Scout/Sniper, and became a certified instructor at the Naval Special Warfare Combat Fighting Instructor Course. His naval career lasted a decade, but his service to others did not stop there.
Mack was what one might call an avid practitioner of martial arts, having studied no fewer than eight disciplines and achieving numerous black belts. His interest in those disciplines and their accompanying philosophies led him to found his own school, which he called “Bukido.”
Broken down in the simplest of terms, Mack used Bukido to teach others to look at life’s obstacles as targets to be knocked down. Targets, he posited, could be conquered by creating a proper combat mindset, using the right weapons for the task, and putting everything into action. Mack wrapped his whole philosophy into one basic tenet, which he stated as “Not Dead, Can’t Quit.” He abbreviated it simply to “NDCQ.”
A person can only be truly beaten when he decides to quit, otherwise, there is still work to be done. This philosophy was the central focus of Unleash the Warrior Within, and, later, Mack’s website NDCQ.com.
Aside from teaching his Bukido method to willing learners, Mack also provided personal protection for business, political, and entertainment clients. However, most people recognized him from his television appearances. He was the host of FutureWeapons on The Discovery Channel, Weapons That Changed the World on The Military Channel, and Deadliest Warrior on Spike TV. Mack also filmed six episodes of America: The Story of Us and twelve episodes of Mankind: The Story of Us All for The History Channel, in addition to making appearances in a handful of other shows between 1998 and 2012.
Mack’s experience as an author, combined with his television celebrity and his SEAL Team involvement, also made him a sought-after speaker across the United States. He also had his work appear in a variety of magazines and newspapers, as well as network and cable television shows. Demands on his time increased, and targets kept popping up, but Mack kept knocking them down.
In the fall of 2015, the biggest target of Mack’s life presented itself in the form of stage-four brain cancer. There is no doubt that brain cancer never had a stronger fight than the one Mack put forth. Nor is there any doubt that he spent every second getting the most out of what remained of his life, and giving the most of himself to his family. He never quit.
One of the challenges proffered by Mack in his book was, “What will you create with the gift that is your life?” Mack created security and safety with his SEAL Team experience; he created entertainment and an opportunity to teach with his television and writing careers; and most importantly, he and Mandy created a loving home and a superb example for their daughters.
Former SEAL and Hurricane Group CEO Brandon Webb (full disclosure: Brandon’s company owns this website) called Mack an amazing husband and father, in addition to a friend. Brandon noted Mack’s generosity in being one of his first SEAL teammates to call him and congratulate him on his success with SOFREP and Hurricane Group as a whole. Mack was a good man that way.
Little known about Mack, furthermore, is the fact that shortly before being diagnosed with brain cancer, he losthis in-laws, to a tragic holiday car accident. His stoicism and general positive outlook on life prevented him from sharing this news far and wide. Yet despite that adversity, and the tragic pain and loss he suffered, Brandon says Mack still carried himself and his family on his shoulders “like the true champion of life he was.”
Tonight, we urge you to say a prayer for Mandy and her young family. Then, as soon as you can, pick up a copy of Mack’s book and learn more about quickly knocking down your own targets. The quicker you knock them down, the more time you will have to create whatever you desire with your gift of life.
When you have learned to do this, pass that information on to another, and then another. Mack’s work on this Earth is done, but ours remains. It would be a fitting tribute to him and to his legacy.
Something tells us, too, that even though he has passed, Mack still hasn’t quit. Freed from his pain and suffering, he is probably putting God through a kick-in-the-balls Bukido lesson this very moment.
Rest in peace, brother.
(Photo courtesy of RadioTimes.com)