A few years ago, I was at a serious low point, made worse by the fact that some disgruntled former members of the SEAL community were engaging in a smear campaign against me on social media. It was ugly, stupid, and pointless, but it was also a serious drain on my morale.

At the height of this episode, I happened to be out in California for a meeting with Mark Harmon, the actor, and producer (best known for his work on the show NCIS).

I met Mark through Paradigm, the agency that represents us both and we would eventually become friends (we both love timepieces). The people at the agency told me that when he was preparing for an episode of NCIS that involved snipers, Mark had read a book I wrote with my friend Glen, Navy SEAL Sniper. He loved the book, they said, and then read The Red Circle and loved that, too, and we met to talk about making a television show out of it.

Mark, I soon learned, was also a huge aviation fan. During World War II, his father, Tom, had quite a storied career flying bombers. In April 1943, over South America en route to Africa, his plane broke up in a torrential storm, and the elder Harmon gave the order to bail out. He was the last one out of the plane, and he also turned out to be the sole survivor of the crash. Six months later, he was back in the sky again. He was later shot down by a Japanese Zero during a dogfight over China and was ultimately awarded a Purple Heart and a Silver Star.

And did I mention that before the war he won a Heisman Trophy and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame? If there was ever a guy who exemplified excellence, it was Tom Harmon.

Which made it all the more shocking to hear what Mark had to say.

When we met, I guess he could tell that something was bugging me, and I ended up telling him about the smear campaign that was dragging me down.

“Let me tell you something,” he said.

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