(Please understand that at the time of this writing Tom Greer is indeed still living) It is with a profane sorrow that I push this essay to the editor of SOFREP. I seize the opportunity to further a personal agenda of mine.
It did truly catch up with me eventually, the pain of the loss of so many vaunted peers of mine. Even as the readers remarked time and again that the writing of such stories must be difficult for me. In fact it was not difficult at all, other than my personal penance for failure to express my true appreciation for these men.
Words are too analogue for the task.
I take profound pride in the many generous terms that we parted on, me and the boys. I could not frankly be more pleased with the relationships I had with all of them. I became vexed early on with the attendance of funerals for men lost in combat and life, where the usual suspect compliments ensued… what a great father, brother, husband, son, and how he is ‘up there in heaven smiling down on us…’
Are we all really that daft?
I get it though: funerals are for the living. Yes, well we certainly have to send them off with a proper burial, right? We can’t just usher them off without their Christmas dinner, now can we? Can the melodrama pour out any slower than it already does from the jar that Eleanor Rigby keeps by the door?
I’m not poo-pooing tradition; I actually embrace the dogshit out of tradition, lest it be all but swept away by our hip-hop rappin’ turd of a legacy. I have been keen on the opportunity to gush about a great American to his face, not to his coffin. Tom Greer, in all his insane generosity, has provided me with a golden opportunity to do that. Here’s to you Tom:
I don’t know Tom. I’ll bet you didn’t expect that. Tom got to my own A Squadron after I had already retired. I mean we saw and greeted each other as professional adult men do, but I never met Tom in person. Tom was essentially my replacement in Delta.
That then illustrates a modern day phenomenon that I mentioned in my previous essay on the Internet. You probably have twice or more friends today because of watershed leaps in communications technology in this century. That notion did not even exist some fifty years ago. Well the closest thing to it was the ‘Pen Pal,’ a vapid invocation in the realm of human interaction… yet it was all we had.
That’s right I never met Tom Greer, Red Fly, Dalton Fury, brother. I came to know of Tom through a mutual friend, the magnificent Patrick K. O. S., one of the most highly decorated men in the US today for valor in Combat. There was this book, Pat told me about, written by a former unit officer: Kill Bin Laden
There came the usual and inevitable controversy snap linked to publications about Delta: right or wrong? Though Tom’s books come through the required derivative classification review, there are always those astringent thinkers who feel quite certain that you should sooner stick your severed head in a safe rather than even say the word “Delta” out loud.
While the world took sides, I gathered clearly from Pat S. that he was not the sort to fault Tom on his literary work; rather, he embraced the man for his merits and ecumenical worth. That was enough for me; Pat’s assessment of a man was all I needed to build my case. I got Tom’s contact information and proceeded to establish a long distance relationship of mutual respect, admiration, and support.
I purchased his first book and sent it to him for his autograph. He turned it around quickly, to my delight. Reading it was to pick up right where I left off with the Unit; all the names in the book were the names I knew from my time in squadron: Hopper, Blinky, Chewy, Low Blow, Crap Shoot, Scrawny, Jester, Iron Head, and Red Fly. Red Fly was Major Tom Greer, the Delta combat force commander.
* how Hopper and an Air Force CCT brother remained fighting and hiding throughout the night when they were separated from the main forces near sundown
* Scrawny, for loss of a modern technology fire and control instrument, in old school tradition pulled out a paper (yes paper) map and Silva wrist compass, and called in accurate air support onto Taliban forces in Tora Bora
* how Tom’s Command Sergeant Major, former Ranger Regimental Command Sergeant Major Greg “Iron Head” B., made countless climbs daily in the Tora Bora mountains with monumentally heavy
resupply loads for the men, to the extent that he literally destroyed his hips from the march, both of which had to be fully replaced when he retired
* how Blinky and Crap Shoot moved from their insignificant roles as third and forth-in-command, to leaders in troop and squadron-sized combat teams—pride surmounted.
Other books by the Renaissance Man, Tom Greer are electrifying works of fiction:
Over the years Tom continued to produce more works, each more entertaining than the previous. Each time Tom sent an autographed copy to me, and every time a pleasant surprise. My greatest admiration for Tom was for his ability to write a book. Never mind my oddity; it is just my personal perspective growing up as a child: people who had refrigerators in their kitchens AND their garages to me were very rich people. People who could write books were superior individuals deserving of pedestal exaltation.
As a man of some forty years old I got my first refrigerator in my garage, I felt like a truly rich man, as I stood next to it drinking a cold soda. My name must have certainly been in the phonebook that year.
There came the year, and it was at Christmas time, that Tom and revered friend war correspondent Michael Yon came under extreme negative criticism from a former military career man who owned and operated an online blog. The man, bitterly contested by poor personal choices and paltry career achievements, sought asylum from his wretched demise through his Internet blog.
It was my impression, as I perused his site, that he used it as a platform to attack persons of upstanding and gallant reputations where he would otherwise be remiss of any means with which to disrupt. Our man claimed to have been in the revered Delta Force, as Tom explained, but it had been well before his time, and wondered if I could help discredit his claim.
The man, Mr. Jeff, had actually been before my time as well, but I was able to quickly gain sufficient information about him to present this shocking truth to Tom and Mike: Mr. Jeff had indeed been assigned to Delta, but lasted only a very few months, when during his train up phase in NC he was arrested by local law enforcement for lewd conduct with a minor. When Mr. Jeff got back to the Unit compound, all his personal possessions were piled up outside the main gate; he was forbidden entrance.
A small potatoes event, all in all I’d say, but it was remarkably appreciated by Mike and especially Tom. I was just one hero lost in their ponderous tomes.
Tom continued to write and send books. He got wind of my writing for SOFREP and graciously offered compliments and encouragement on my writing. He made me feel like I was good enough to write. I was a rich man yet again.
I say again that I never met Tom, not even have I heard his voice over the phone. When I consider the impact that he had on my life, me a nobody… well at least a man with a second fridge in his garage… I can hardly hold an estimation of the positive influence he had on people who were in regular personal contact with him.
“Life is like a box of chocolates” once said a man much greater than I. From my squinting gander I see life as a game of musical chairs. We dance to the music as we circle round and round, with a life stare on the nearest empty seat, and the death stares of the competition. All I can tell you, brother, is that when the music stops… just make damn sure you are sitting in a chair.
The music is stopping for Tom Greer now, but he is offering his well-deserved seat to someone else, someone he has never even met; that’s just the kind of man Tom is. Tom is loved, by me and anyone who cares to queue up with me to bid him following seas en route to his greatest reward ever. Tom is.
Tom in the disguise provided for him as he interviews with 60 Minutes on his book Kill Bin Laden