During my recent appearance on SOFREP Radio, I said something that wasn’t true. No, I don’t mean accidentally calling Rich Froning (Crossfit Champion) Rich Franklin (former UFC Champion) though I did do that too… I mean when I said that I was a “late blooming” nerd that embraced things like Star Trek as an adult, once I was certain my tough guy resume had enough bullet points on it to keep my ego intact throughout my twilight years. The truth of the matter is, I was always a nerd, I just used to hide it.

I grew up playing sports, hanging out in locker rooms and picking fights like the sort of punk that so often ends up enlisting into the U.S. Marine Corps – but when I wasn’t trying desperately to convince the world that I was a big tough guy, I was home on the couch, drinking hot chocolate and watching re-runs of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I knew admitting that at school wasn’t going to win me any tough-guy accolades or girl’s phone numbers, so I usually just left that part out of casual conversation, intent instead on convincing the world at large that I was the sort of brooding tough guy I so hoped they saw me as.

Now, as an adult, I did find a renewed passion for the shows that so enraptured me in my youth: above the fireplace in my living room, there hangs an oil paining of Brisco County Jr. and his faithful horse comet – the wild west bounty hunter that taught me that there didn’t have to be a difference between being a tough guy and being a well educated one. My years watching the X-Files still informs my approach to some content I cover here at SOFREP to this day – but no single fictional character has had a greater impact on the man I became – the Marine I became, than the Captain of the Federation’s flag ship, NCC 1701-D Enterprise: Jean Luc Picard. And I don’t just mean because the man handles being stabbed through the heart like this… but I do have to admit, seeing this as a child left a lasting impression.

Although my father was a veteran and I grew up surrounded by others that had served, I never interacted with active duty service members until I was one myself, and anyone that knows vets can tell you the general demeanor exhibited by veterans telling stories about their days in service is far from the behavior one might expect in uniform. When someone asks me about the times I found myself standing tall in front of First Sergeants and Lieutenant Colonels for my mistakes, I recount the tale as though I was as salty before my leaders as I am today… but in truth, I was standing at a crisp parade rest, responding with aye sirs and good to go’s. The Marine Corps is, to a large extent, built on discipline, and as a Marine the prided himself in being good at what he did, that discipline was a big part of who I was.

The higher calling of duty was paramount to Picard – and as far as he was concerned, those who didn’t share the understanding didn’t deserve to wear the uniform.

And I learned that recognition of authority, that understanding that the chain of command outweighs your feelings regardless of how strong they are, from my time watching Star Trek. When Lieutenant Worf started bending Star Fleet’s rules to clear his family’s name, Captain Picard was there to stop him, even though he supported the cause. When Picard was captured by the Cardassian, Gul Madred, and tortured for information regarding Federation defenses, he chose torment over even the simplest of allowances, like agreeing that there were five lights shining above him, when in truth, there were only four.