William “Chief” Carlson came to Delta Force from one of the Green Beret groups around 1995. He was a Siksika warrior from the Blackfeet tribe of Montana. He was man whose reputation preceded him wherever he went in our community; no matter where you were at, there would be guys in your organization who had heard of William Carlson, or just “Chief.”

“Did you hear who’s coming to Squadron from OTC?” I overheard in a conversation one day at work. “William Carlson is supposed to get assigned to our second troop some time next week.” From the tone of the responses I heard, it was clear we were getting a real somebody. Well good on him, I thought. I was somebody for a short while when I first got here, and then I was quickly swallowed up by a crowd of badasses and was never heard from again.

“Chik…come meet Chief,” one of my buds called out. My callsign in Squadron was Chik, evolving since my first assignment in regular Army infantry during the days of the airing of the epic television drama “Roots.” The dark green soldiers in my company started calling me Chicken George after one of the characters in that series. When I got to my first Green Berets assignment, Chicken George would not be cool enough as a callsign, so it would have to be truncated to Chick-G.

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Upon my arrival in Delta, where life was no longer lived in hours and minutes, but rather minutes and seconds, a further abridgment would render my callsign to simply Chick. But a chick is a girl! Yes, perhaps, but Chick was also the name of my all-time favorite jazz musician, Chick Corea. I was okay with it, but the spelling would not endure with redundant letter combo ‘ck’. One letter would have to go, and it would be the ‘c’.

Ok, my bro is going out of his way to introduce me to the new guy, either for my benefit because he is such a stellar being, or for Chief’s benefit because I was such a smoking awesome dude. No, the latter couldn’t be it. “William Carlson. Can I call you Bill?” I suggested in earnest.

“Just Chief,” would be a response I would hear many times in the years to come. Here, I would have thought you didn’t call the red man ‘chief’ because it was a degrading stereotypical thing for whitey to do. But if Chief wanted me to call him Chief, then Chief it would be. After introductions, Chief went into his new team room, and within a couple of minutes, returned in PT gear, exited the backdoor of the Squadron bay, and was off on a screaming five-mile run that he was back from way too soon. Here, then, was an excellent addition to A-Squadron.

As we had time to chat and swap lies, I found the stories of Chief’s childhood to be amazing. He spoke of ‘chasing whitey with a stick,’ or chasing after white kids in his neighborhood who dared cross him and threatening to whip them with a tree branch. It came to be a catchphrase of Chief’s in Squadron over the years.

“Chief, how was your weekend?”

“Oh, you know, man, just chasing whitey with a stick.”

That was all in jest of course, and Chief got his measure of red man return-ribbing from the white man. I steered away from participating in that realm of mutual race joking because, frankly, I had just seen it go wrong too many times as Chicken George in my earlier infantry years. It was such great fun and games, and we were all such brotherly brothers that it was okay to name sling after all…but on that one morning when Mexican brother is just not quite in the mood to hear the usual slur from Irish brother, the chingasos start to fly.

One bag on Chief that caught me off guard happened one day when our sergeant arrived in the back of our squadron bay where we had been eating a sort of a potluck picnic lunch, one which had resulted in a bunch of litter in the field nearby. The SGM announced: “Okay guys, let’s get all this garbage picked up…before Chief starts crying.” Maybe you had to be there, or at least be old enough to remember the television commercial that featured an Indian chief looking out over the vast polluted landscape with a tear streaming down his cheek. I had to duck out of eye/ear shot to launch a projectile laugh.

Then there was the time in Pittsburgh when our squadron was standing down at the municipal airport after a week of urban training. We had our gear piled high on a modest slab of tarmac and began the usual sorting through it and packing it up. Chief had been assigned the wet fast ropes—stretch them out to dry, then pack them up in kit bags and load them up. Chief came to me and asked if he could use a long narrow strip of tarmac next to where we were loading team boxes, to which I readily agreed.

Minutes later, our team sergeant, Sam J., approached me and asked me who had strung the fast ropes on “our turf.” I told him that Chief was occupying that chunk of real estate. He told me to get rid of the fast ropes because we needed the space. I approached Sam and asked him if he was truly aware of the gravity of the circumstances he had placed me in: I had granted Chief a parcel of land, and now I was being directed to take it back from him. No possible good could come from it. Sam offered only a callous and unamused expression, and I concluded with a rhetorical inquiry: “Jesus, Sam, should I just go ahead and offer him some Polio-infested blankets while I’m giving him das boot from the tarmac?”

Chief recounted several childhood instances where he was incarcerated for juvenile offenses. In one, he told of sitting in a large holding cell with a couple dozen other ingrates. He was sitting in a row made up of inmates on the floor with their backs against the cell bars. A huge bully of a brute was working his way down the row from man to man having them stand up, and harassing them one at a time with questions and requests for a dollar and other ridiculous things that none of them could produce, which lead to an ass whipping.

If a man refused to stand, that meant an automatic ass kicking. Chief told me he was particularly worried because the jail had issued him a horribly mismatched prison uniform, one with pants way to short/small and a shirt entirely too big for him. He lamented: “Man, I didn’t even look like a bad dude.” And what’s more, he confided in me, once the guy got to him, there was no way he was going to cower and not fight back, and his telltale prison uniform would do him no favor.

Chief’s turn came as the man next to him was pile-driven into the ground. He stood and braced for impact, but as the greatest of luck would have it, the guards opened the cell and divided and relocated the group into smaller cells. From that story on, it was customary for Chief and I to pass each other en route to an assault and remark: “We’ll be okay; at least we look like bad dudes!”

Then there was the time Chief was driving home from work one evening and saw some military police (MP) vehicles parked on the side of the road, lights flashing. He slowed to pass, and shortly after witnessed a naked soldier running along the side of the road. Deducing that this was the reason for the police presence, Chief brought his car to a halt, chased the nude-dude to a final tackle, and passed him off to the closing MPs. After he turned over the suspect, he got back in his car only to see ‘Naked Bear’ running by his car yet again.

Chief re-engaged in a running pursuit, quickly overcoming the man and bringing him to the ground in a flurry of dust and dirt. Chief once again handed him over to the waiting MPs, making sure they had a firm grip on the afflicted before releasing him and going on his way. The next morning, news of Chief’s previous evening’s adventure had already inundated the squadron ranks. When Chief arrived at work, a brother eventually asked him how his evening went. Chief’s response: “You know…just chasing whitey with a stick.”

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From the A-Squadron cartoon book that I kept on the squadron bar. All cartoons were drawn by me and Pete H.

I had, in those years prior to Chief’s arrival at the unit, just finished pulling a nine-month tour in South America working a counter-narcotics gig. That mission came with a decent break six months in, thanks to the in-country presidential elections that took place. The U.S. brought us gringos home until the new presidential policy toward our mission there could be defined.

The policy ended up defined in favor of our effort, so I re-deployed for another three-month stint in SA. Now, I was back in squadron and basically in transit, waiting for the next big thing that would take me back out of the country. The fall of Yugoslavia and United Nations action in the Balkans would be the next mission for A Squadron to concentrate its efforts.

In post-war Bosnia at the time, the in-country peacekeeping force commander was a U.S. Navy admiral. He had a personal security detachment (PSD) that was comprised of a dozen Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six. The admiral was being rotated out by a U.S. Army general. That would bump the ST-6 PSD out and bring in a team of Delta to form the general’s PSD. We were given a three-month tasking to send 12 men over for the first 45 days, and at the end of 45 days half of us would rotate out with six new operators taking our places. I would be one of the six operators to stay for the entire three months and receive and orient the new rotation.

South America had been a rough mission. I had come back from SA with a 2+/3 score in Latin American Spanish based on the Defense Language Institute foreign language fluency rating. As a non-native speaker, a 3/3 would be the highest score I would be “authorized” to have. I owe the high score to the amount of total immersion we were under, to the extent that we gringos would get together at least once a week and quietly have a conversation in English to glean words in English back from one another that we had forgotten. I had forgotten the English word for ‘curb’, Cracker couldn’t think of ‘zipper’, Lobo couldn’t remember the word ‘crave’. So it went.

Bosnia was a tougher mission yet. A post-war country is one of the saddest environments I have ever experienced. I had started learning the Serbo-Croatian (SC) language on my own at home three months out from my deployment. I would return from Bosnia after three tours (nine months total) and test out of SC with a score of 2/2, a German score of a 1+/2, and a French score of 2/2.

I was kept busy as part of the advance element moving from city to city to prepare for the arrival of the principle either by motorcade or helo. Each city was occupied by troops from a different foreign power. When not out on advance duties, I was sent to find safe houses for our operators to live in. That entailed finding a family that was amenable to moving out of their house for months or even years and negotiating a deal with them to rent their house.

Forty-five days later, enter Chief Carlson. Our six replacements deployed to Bosnia and linked up with us in Sarajevo where we had our tactical operations center (TOC). The morning I entered the TOC to grin and grip with my newly arrived buds, they were busy unpacking weapons and tactical gear and getting settled it. As I struggled vainly to make myself a cup of coffee, I spied a hardback novel sitting on the radiator. “Where White Men Fear to Tread” by American Indian movement activist Russell Means.

I got started immediately. “Um, gee…I wonder who’s reading this book…” I hammed. Chief was on the floor pulling a CAR-15 out of his kit bag. He didn’t look up at all but he grinned his neutral grin, the one he made when he didn’t necessarily think something was funny, but was acknowledging at least hearing it. “It’s a pretty good book; you should read it,” Chief suggested.

For his insolence, I would punish Chief by in fact taking and reading that book, but only because it was non-fiction, as I didn’t waste my time reading fairytales. The book was actually a decent read…until it went south in the end and lost my interest. When I brought the book back, I laid it on the radiator.

“So how was it?” sounded the question from our “kitchenette,” where it was virtually impossible to produce even a simple cup of joe.

“I pretty much liked it, until he lost his mind in the end,” I dared.

“Yep, X-ring Chick; once he found his ‘inner child,’ the book pretty much augered in hard,” was Chief’s assessment.

We would snipe back and forth about the book for the next day or two, sometimes even over the radio during motorcade movement rehearsals. The book stayed gone from the radiator for the remainder of the tour there in Sarajevo as the boys jockeyed it between themselves. The motorcade radio crackled: “Well the Bureau of Indian Affairs deserved to get sieged.”

“Frank Fools Crow was a sniveling whiner.”

“Lakota Sioux sounds like baby talk to Dakota Sioux…”

And so it went.

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Chief (in the suit) moving with the lead vehicle of the principle’s motorcade in Sarajevo.

Chief stayed in a safe house high above our TOC near the ‘Turkish Fort’. I lived below the TOC in a safe house near the ‘Jewish Cemetery’. One morning, Chief came to the TOC wearing a remarkable shirt. I did not know it at the time, but the shirt had been made on a Blackfeet reservation in Montana, not available to the general consumer.

“Hey, nice shirt,” I complimented.

Chief said nothing.

“No really, that is a seriously nice shirt. Where can I get a shirt like that, Chief?” I continued.

Finally, Chief turned to me and and snapped: “You can’t get a shirt like this, Chick.” I was taken aback, but let it glance off my chin and let the day continue. The very next morning I entered the TOC and I found that same shirt on a hanger and clipped to my gun rack. I unhooked it and approached the Chief.

“What’s the deal Chief? Here’s your shirt.”

“Take it,” Chief replied with one of his signature one-line answers.

“I don’t want your shirt. Here, take it back Chief,” I insisted.

Chief paused for a split second to lock eyes as he left the TOC.

“I said take it.” The door latched shut behind him.

The rest of the guys in the TOC with us that morning were mostly men from Chief’s assault team. They were giving me a somber gaze, making me feel like I was the only moron in the room who ‘just didn’t get it’. “WTF?” I said, shrugging to the rest of the guys.

Mike “Catfish” D. began the explanation: “You coveted his shirt, Chick. You can’t covet something he has, otherwise he is obliged to give it to you.”

“That’s crap, I’ll make him take it back,” I scoffed.

“Don’t fuck with the red man’s custom, Chick.” Collin ‘Chainsaw’ R. warned.

I wore that shirt to the TOC the very next day.

“Nice shirt,” Chief complimented when he saw me walk in.

I couldn’t resist. “Thanks Chief, but it’s just a smidgen tight in the shoulders and a tad loose in the gut.”

Chief shook his head slowly from side to side, grinning as he responded, “George, George, George…” as if to warn me.

It would be over a year later that I would find out through conversation with his team that the custom didn’t end there. So it seems, once you covet something from a Blackfeet warrior and he gives you that item, you must give him in return something of equal or greater value. When I learned that little jewel of a detail, I dashed into my team room and scoured my kit bags.

I produced a flawless oversized Gerber multi-tool with carrying case. I darted across the bay and through his open team room door, where I found him sitting at the team common table, reading. I slammed the Gerber down hard next to him.

“What’s this?” asked Chief without looking up.

“Thanks for the shirt, Chief,” I said.

Chief put his hand on the Gerber and slowly slid it toward himself, shaking his head from side to side, grinning repeating, “George, George, George…” as if I would just never learn.

Hanging with Chief in Sarajevo was not a boring time. Chief had a dry sense of humor and came across as a hard-ass, most likely due to his quiet and no-nonsense demeanor. While he was not arrogant or aggressive, I do remember a rare incident that was funnier than it was awkward. Chief and I tried daily to get over to one of the SFOR annex’s gymnasiums where we could get in some exercise. The one downfall with the gym there was that it was located near a glut of loosely occupied American forces who basically ate, slept, stood in formations, and that was about all.

The gym to them was a place to thwart off boredom for an hour or so, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. For us, though, exercise was a daily staple. On this particular day, I got in and pounced on a stair-climber machine—the only one not being used at the time. Chief came in a few minutes behind me, towel draped over his shoulder, stood just inside the doorway and scanned the room for an open machine. There were none. I glanced back at him and shrugged in sympathy.

Chief walked over to the machine next to me and stood in front of it facing the troop who was on it. Very deliberately, Chief reached over the console and pushed the “off” button. The troop stumbled at the sudden loss of motion, but caught himself on the hand supports. He stood in silent disbelief blinking at Chief. Chief nodded subtly and stated: “You look tired, my man.” The stunned troop stood for only a second more, backed down off the machine, then quickly wiped the sweat off the hand supports.

Chief hopped up and started climbing. He looked straight ahead throughout his entire workout, never glancing over to wink or snicker or solicit a high-five. We climbed on.

On a different day at that same annex, Chief and I stopped for lunch at the chow hall. There we sat, two U.S. Army master sergeants eating lunch dressed in our durable trousers, bomb-proof foot gear, and lumberjack shirts. Among the soldiers sitting in awkward silence at our table was a young private, who eventually broke the silence by rejoicing at the approach of his redeployment back to the states in less than two weeks.

His neutral dissertation slowly turned to, “Fu#$ Sarajevo, fu#$ Bosnia, fu#$ the Army, and fu#$ everything” because he was a two-digit midget, and he was going to get out of the fu#$in’ Army and hang with his home boys and…

“What unit did you say you were with?” interrupted Chief. The private replied something to the effect of “123rd Transportation Battalion.”

“123rd Trans!” Chief repeated, “We just got in a report that the 123rd Trans received amended orders extending them another six months in Sarajevo…yes, yes that’s the one, the 123rd Transportation Battalion.” Chief continued to eat while the private stared in horror. Just as I was entertaining the notion that this had been a feeble attempt at a bad joke to a knows-better troop, the private swatted hard at the napkin and salt/pepper dispenser fixture in the center of the table.

A salt shaker sailed by Chief’s forehead. Chief didn’t miss a beat; he got up with his plate and moved to the next table over. I followed right behind him as the private slammed his fist repeatedly on the table, unleashing a crescendo of expletives and oaths. The troop stomped out of the chow tent leaving his chow tray upside down on the floor where he had sat. A pissed off-looking sergeant first class chased not far behind him.

“Can we eat one meal in peace, Chief?” I requested.

“Shit man, when it rains it pours,” was the Chief’s grinning reply.

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Left to right: Mike D., Chief, Darrell H., the principle, Mark “Pope” P., Rob H., Mark “Cuz” C., Marty B., the author.

At the TOC in Sarajevo, when Chief and crew had only been in-country with us for about a week, it came to be that the old man would return to Heidelberg, Germany, where he maintained his headquarters and lived. There would be an entire week of down time for the whole PSD. The detachment collectively decided it would be a grand idea to all go back to Germany and go skiing in Garmisch for the week.

I didn’t like the sound of the overall scheme, or any of the details for that matter, so I opted out of the trip completely. Chief was of the same mind and, as he explained it to me, “I have only been here for about a week. I don’t feel like I warrant a ski junket to a foreign country already.” Chief went on to couch the idea that when C Squadron came to rotate us out in January, it would be great to be able to present the detachment leader with a binder of all of the motorcade movement details outlined in it.

He was totally correct. For the next week, Chief and I ran all the routes, made diagrams, schematics, took photos, and wrote up all the details we felt were pertinent to each movement. When we did ultimately deliver the binder to C-Squadron’s detachment commander, Jon H., he was more than mildly surprise and utterly grateful for what we had done. Good call, Chief.

Then there was the time in Afghanistan, or “Asscrackistan” as it was unaffectionately termed, when Chief was paired up with a Delta Signal Squadron operator and sent out along with several two-man teams of hunters to search for wanted individuals listed as high-value targets (HVT). They were given the identification data of the most-wanted persons of interest in-country at the time, rules of engagement (ROE), and hands-off instructions for any eventual encounters and captures.

Chief and his backup departed the briefing in their vehicle and navigated through traffic. At a stoplight, Chief visually locked onto the occupant of a nearby car, and quickly came to the conclusion that the occupant was in fact one of the listed HVTs. Chief cobbled together a quick verbal plan, and at the next traffic stop Chief and his backup stormed the car and took the suspect hog-tied into their own vehicle.

Once at the location of the directed hand-off, the ‘receivers’ indicated to Chief that he had responded so quickly that they were honestly not yet ready to receive. Chief suggested that he might then let his captive go until there was a more opportune time for his capture. The gate to the reception depot was thrown open and Chief’s capture was received.

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Chief with his Northern Alliance fighters in the ‘Stan. (Photo courtesy of Jammie W.)

Then there was the time I ran into Chief as he was driving off for the day on his way home. I stood by his car and chatted him up through the open driver’s window. As we talked, I couldn’t help but notice a faint chanting sound—”hiya hiya hiya hi, hi na-kai hiya hiya hi…”—to the steady beat of a single bass drum, or so it seemed.

“Chief what the hell are we listening to here?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s a cassette tape of some of my cousins performing some traditional tribal dance songs.”

“Interesting.” I said, “How about you let me hang onto that tape for a couple of days?”

He did. Try as I may, I couldn’t attach any shred of recognition or appreciation to those chants: There was the Fancy Dance, the Fast Dance, the Warrior Dance, the War Dance, the Fancy Dance II…beyond a modest increase or decrease in the speed of the beating bass drum I could draw no distinction beyond the “hiya hiya hiya hi, hiya hi, hi na-kai, hiya hiya hiya….”

That was only the first day of my exposure to Blackfeet tribal dance chant, but the jury was already in and had deliberated a verdict of “hell no.” I kept the cassette an extra misleading couple of days out of respect for the Chief, and then I slipped the cassette tape back into his kit locker in plain site, so as to avoid any impression of critique from the Chief.

Inevitably, I crossed paths with the Chief later in the day, who promptly queried my opinion of the music. I swallowed hard and fumbled: “Goddamn smash hits, Chief. Casey Kasem was robbed, my man!” Chief tipped his chin upward and regarded me for a moment with his expressionless face and began to shake his head slowly from side to side. I heard those words echo in my subconscious: “George, George, George….”

It wasn’t that Chief Carlson was just proud of his American Indian heritage, it was his Blackfeet American Indian heritage. He routinely scoffed and was disdainful of the notion of other tribal pride. I recall the day that we were in the weight room prior to lunch where there was a visiting A-Team from one of the Green Beret groups—Charlie Company from out of Panama, I believe it was.

One of the GBs was wearing gym shorts and working the leg extension machine. He was dark-skinned, and maybe one could mistake him for a Hispanic, or…who knows. He sported large, homemade tattoos on both of his legs—eagle feathers, tomahawks, crossed arrows…etc. I gained the attention of Chief Carlson several stations away working curls, tilted my head, and pointed with my eyes in the direction of the tattooed GB.

Chief looked him over for a moment, then rolled his eyes and looked away. As I drifted by the Chief, I paused momentarily to receive his assessment: “Okay, so, Chief?” Chief again rolled eyes and muttered, “Navajo. Pieces of shit.”

And then there was the time in Sarajevo, Bosnia, when Chief and I ventured into the neighboring suburb of Ilidza to an American military joint service intelligence-gathering bureau. It was during the week that Chief and I were building the PSD binder for our brother squadron that would be relieving us in a couple of months.

Chief was the one who had business there in one of the offices; I was just there as a strap hanger. The duty officer at the intel center at the time was a USMC lieutenant colonel. During our introduction, the LTC shook our hands and gave us his full name. Chief shook hands and said merely: “Chief. Glad to meet you, sir.” The LTC asked for Chief’s last name, to which Chief responded, “Just Chief.”

I remained there with the LTC while Chief ducked away behind a closed door for several minutes. The LTC had apparently felt a tad slighted by Chief’s lack of enthusiasm upon their introduction. I assured him that it was nothing personal and that Chief was an honorable, no-nonsense man of few words. When the LTC inquired about whether “Chief” was a real name or a nickname, I may have suggested that it was an official title back home in the Blackfeet country of Montana.

Now, that rather impressed the LTC, and he showered me with a barrage of questions regarding Chief’s status and tenure. I answer most of them the best I could, driven by both a sense of adventure and a throng of boredom.

When Chief emerged from the office, we shook hands one last time with the LTC and bid goodbye. The LTC shook hands vigorously with Chief and said in a respectful tone, “Chief, it was truly an honor to meet you. Really, it was.” Chief nodded a single nod of his head and turned his blank expression toward the door.

Outside, Chief said nothing as we walked to our car. Once inside the car and several streets away from the bureau, he finally asked, “Chik, what the fuck did you tell that guy when I was in the other room?”

I drew a lung-full and explained, “Well, I told him that you were, in fact, a direct descendent of Chief Joseph. You know, ‘Where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever’?”

Chief Carlson let out a modest chuckle and then a “Pshhhttt…Nez Perce…those pieces of shit.”

Chief spoke the Blackfeet tribal language, a dialect of Plains Algonquin, that he learned from his father and grandmother. I didn’t think he did speak any, so I was surprised and interested when I found out he did. I would pester him for new words and phrases and found it pretty entertaining.

I also learned that he had given several of the brothers in squadron Blackfeet names based on things that reminded him of them. He kept the names to himself other than disclosing them to me at my request. There was Tsisk Stuki, “wood biter/beaver,” because the brother was an avid woodworker on his time off. There was Itsi Nitsi, “dark outside,” because the brother often stayed late after work to go on long runs that brought him back after sundown.

There was the phrase his grandmother used to explain the sound of thunder to the children when it stormed outside: “Listen, you can hear the thundering sound of buffalo.” Chief and the kids, however, reserved that phrase for when they passed gas loudly. There was the phrase his father often used to end a dissertation or harangue: “Sure, or so says the white man.”

I dared ask him what his real given Blackfeet name was. He hesitated and at first responded, “Eseen Amakan, and you might laugh when I tell you what it means. It means “carries rifle ahead.” No laughing here. What would my Blackfeet name be then? Surely I must have one, whether it is something cool or perhaps something more realistic like, “Annoys Blackfeet warrior.”

“I haven’t come up with one for you, Chik…but I am working on it and will let you know when I come up with one,” Chief consoled.

I would just have to wait.

It happened in the few weeks after we had all returned from Bosnia, having turned over our charge to C-Squadron. We were back at the farm engaged in business as usual, waiting for the next big event to come down the pike. I recall I had just come from the range and was in our squadron common weapons-cleaning room running a bore brush down the barrel of my M4.

Chief came in and started breaking down a .45 across the table from me. After a few minutes of silence, Chief began, “Chik, you came back from South America and you were speaking Spanish like Cervantes. You came back from Bosnia speaking Bosnian, German, and French. Everywhere you go, you come back with a formidable testimony of where you have been and what you did. My Blackfeet name for you is Ako Pitsu, “Returns With Plenty.” That is a bad ass name and I only could have done worse. It was well worth the wait, and I made the wait without annoying the Blackfeet warrior.

I left the service after 20 years and moved to take a job in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the years on the new job, we contacted many Unit members who were due to retire and hooked them up with employment with us on contract to the Department of Energy, handling many endeavors for Homeland Security and other causes.

I was contacted one day directly by Chief, who was already past his 20-year service term in the military and was frankly fed up with his time in the Unit, hopping between Iraq (the Raq) and Afghanistan (the Stan). Chief was keenly interested in moving to Vegas and working with us on the contract.

I was elated, and made myself his sponsor to facilitate his in-process and handle anything else I could to ease his transition into the civilian populous and new line of work. I hosted him on his trip to Vegas for his formal interview and looks around town for houses and locations of schools. It was going to be great to have Chief around again. There would be a brother around who was totally dependable, sensible, logical, and knew no fear.

Chief called me unexpectedly one morning as I drove to work. He had already been back to North Carolina to get his family, back to Vegas with them, and back to NC again with his family. His wife had been absolutely horrified with the Las Vegas school system and reputation. He would have had to uproot his two sons from school in NC, totally disrupting their scholastic situations, separating them from their long-time school buds, and inflicting upon them one of the worst school systems in the nation.

His wife convinced him that he shouldn’t do that to those two boys. He hated it, really hated it, but he would have turn down the job he had accepted with me and my company, and just remain in NC to let his boys finish up school there. I was righteously stunned, absolutely dumbfounded…and sad.

Just a scant couple of months later, Chief would die in an ambush in Shikin, Afghanistan, with CIA Ground Branch during a Taliban ambush. He was driving the lead car in a convoy when he was mortally struck by rounds from a burst of machine gun fire. Chief’s last official act was to gun his vehicle’s engine and bring the convoy forward and out of the kill zone, allowing his teammates to recover and maneuver. Chief carried the rifle ahead. That being accomplished, William “Chief” Carlson promptly bled out and died.

Chief,

Napu-kakit Iseen Amakan, Siksikaw mootsik, a-yiki na-anna a-neeskim awaniwa. Ka-koksa iski-nip, imi tachikan. Chik sends.

(Featured image courtesy of Jammie W.)