The following is a rare, exclusive interview with a source who was present alongside the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, currently occupying the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, near Burns, Oregon. He detailed his journey with the militia, on the condition that his identity be protected. The man, who asked to be identified as “John,” described a surprisingly simple process that took him from his daily life to an increasing paradoxical and potentially dangerous situation in Oregon.

SOFREP: In your own words, can you give us an overview of what it has been like to be there?

John: Upon arrival, I was greeted by members of leadership and immediately welcomed, offered food and lodging, and was asked to await a further “vetting” process. After entering a mess hall on the far east side of the refuge, I immediately noticed how much it resembled that of a hunting lodge. The women seemed to have taken up the role of providing for the men, who began to disperse after a fixin’ of biscuits and gravy.

Machines started up, diesel trucks began to idle, and garage doors lifted. Every man had a job, whether to use the skid steer to remove snow from the interior roads or relieve the night-watch crew from the lookout tower. It was very clear that we had a specific purpose as stewards of this property that rightfully belongs to the ranchers and farmers of Harney County.

Ammon Bundy is a very well-spoken, kindhearted, driven man with clear goals about his intentions here at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Whenever he came down the hill from the leadership offices/area, he continually thanked us for our presence and reminded us that unless the local farmers asked us to leave, we were going to follow through with ensuring that every acre of land was rightfully distributed back to its owner.

As the days progressed, the most recent militia that arrived (including me) waited to be vetted by internal security. People drove here from many different states, from as far away as Arizona and Texas (Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, as well), and came from all walks of life: electricians, gunsmiths, retired veterans, and even those who were unemployed. The cause was clear: defending the constitutional right of these individuals to own and utilize BLM land that was wrongfully seized from them.

There was already an upper leadership structure in place when I arrived. Ammon and Ryan Bundy were escorted by their personal security, a guy they call “Buddha.” We referred to him as “Fluffy Unicorn,” his radio call sign. Apparently, Fluffy Unicorn is actually Cliven Bundy’s personal bodyguard, but Cliven decided it was in his best interest to stay behind at the Bundy Ranch and that his sons, Ammon and Ryan, were more than capable of handling the situation. There is a congressional lawyer here, Mellissa, who follows Fluffy around most of the time and is present during the press conferences, which occur every day at 11 a.m. Another person of interest is Lavoy Finicum, who has also been a very active player. He’s very upfront with the press about our goals of reestablishing the rights of the land to the residents of Harney County. Other big players include Ryan Payne, Blaine Cooper, and John Ritzenheimer, who seem to be the lead militiamen behind the initiative. Ryan was present at the Sugar Pine Mine protests as well as Bundy Ranch.

On the inside, there seems to be a sense of camaraderie growing as we all seek to understand each other’s purpose for being here and attempt to get to know one another. We have voted on three main elected militia leadership individuals: Ryan Payne, Jon Ritzenheimer, and a MARSOC sniper and Vietnam War vet from Arizona who we refer to as “Wolf.” The militia has been divided amongst these three groups, but there was not enough time for us to get clear instructions on tasks and duties just yet.