This article is dedicated to SOFREP brother Jerry “ol’ Jer” Sullivan; thank you brother!

When I grew up I became a professional soldier. That is what I did when I grew up at about 20 years old. I never embraced the sham that I would be in my 40’s one day saying lamenting that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was never 40 or 50 years young; I was always since 20 years old, all grown up. Today I fancy myself a mature man, that I do.

I never just didn’t want to be the daddy in any situation, the one who was ultimately responsible for something or someone important. I would take over being the daddy from someone who didn’t want to do it. I never wanted to be Peter Pan and run off to join the circus in Never-Never Land. I was a grown up at the stroke of 20 years, and ready to harness and shoulder the responsibility of a man. I was a professional soldier and all grown up.

Me, I was born to carry a rifle; carry a rifle out ahead of a pack. I was born to carry a rifle, to run with a rifle, to carry it out ahead, and bring it back with more than I started with. Since my time even in kindergarten before real school, I knew I wanted to carry a rifle and a heavy load; to run with it ahead of an advancing pack of marauders, a murderous bunch, and return it all with plenty. Imagine my surprise when I grew up and learned that to do that an actual thing. I wanted to do it even more by the time I found it I really could.

And that is what I did.

“We carried 120-lb rucks on that operation,” boasted an SF man in a no-shit-there-I-was article I read once almost through to the end. I had read the same article before authored by a different name, and then another. “What’s with these 120-lb rucks?” I anguished at length. It was some sort of magic number, I ventured, these 120-lb rucksacks! My God, that would be heavy, right?! I wondered in bewilderment.

I reckoned at the time that the 120-lb figure must have worked its way into the (SOF) English language as the catch-all, he-man figure numerical figure, the load weight that surpassed all expectation of the supreme warrior. It was the magical weight of rucksacks strapped by those dauntless few en route to destroy all opposition and liberate nuns and orphans.

I lived in Washington State in those years, serving with the 1st Special Forces Group. My tiny hood was gauged from a vast parcel of coniferous forest. It was a thing to draw a body in, time after time, as I so often took to running and rucking through the green expanse for miles on the weekends.