There are 3 individuals and 1 group of people that inspired me to work towards my potential as a human being. The 3 individuals are my brother/hero, Michael Baumgarten, Robert Sanchez, and Cory Remsburg. The group of people is comprised of Airborne Rangers past and present.
The thing about inspiration is that you never know where it is going to come from. I don’t believe that true inspiration is something that can be sought after. It is my belief that true inspiration will find you. It will hit you like a lightning bolt. You might not even understand it in that very moment, but it will start to grow in your subconscious. You will start to learn about it and understand it more and more as it peers at you through the fog that clouds your life. One day something will happen and the fog will dissipate and you will see it clearly. You will and embrace it and it will cease being inspiration. It will become a belief. You will learn to love this belief, it will grow every moment of every day. In times of darkness it will be your light. It will pick you up off of the ground when you fall. It will be the compass when you feel lost.
It is hard to understand what inspires us unless we ask ourselves why we do the things that we do. In the past I did so many things because I felt that I had something to prove to my brother. Like I said, he is my hero. He isn’t just my hero, but he is a hero to many others. He doesn’t even understand the amount of impact he has had on people’s lives, even the ones that he has saved. In his mind he was another Ranger doing his job. That is it. The thing is, he did it on another level. He believed in the standards and did whatever it took to uphold them. There is a right way to do things, and everything else was wrong. There wasn’t much of a grey area. That is also what makes him an amazing coach. Attention to detail gets drilled into your head each and every day when you are an Army Ranger, and he has never let that go.
When my brother and I were growing up, we were cool, but we weren’t that close. We were closer than most brothers though because of the things that we went through together as kids. Mike is a genius, a serious fucking genius. The amount of knowledge that this man holds in his brain has boggled my mind since we were young. He was always pretty quiet growing up until he found his true calling when he became a Ranger. I suppose that is where his confidence really grew. That is totally understandable considering the amazing things that he was doing. I have never once heard another Ranger say a single negative thing about him, and if you know Rangers they are quick to point out flaws in their comrades’ work ethic or performance. After all, we are programmed to uphold certain standards. My brother raised the standards, and others followed. Mike wasn’t always the strongest, or the fastest, but he always worked the hardest and helped lift those around him to another level. That is what a great leader does. He is the standard as a leader by which I hold all people that attempt to lead.
I remember after my heat stroke in 2006, and finding out that I would no longer be allowed to perform my job as an infantryman I was crushed, and extremely disappointed in myself for what had happened. I was in tears telling my brother about it a few days after I got out of the hospital and all he did was ask if I was ok and tell me to not be disappointed because I gave everything that I could. I still could not help but feel as though I had let him down. As though I had let down every single on of my Ranger buddies. I carried that negative energy with me after I got out, it ate at me for years. It crept into every aspect of my life. My brother never knew about it because I kept it to myself (probably why it fucked me up so bad), but one drunken night in San Diego I let it all out. I poured my heart out to him in a drunken stupor saying how I felt, how I wish I had just asked for an I.V. instead of pushing forward, but I guess I didn’t want to let him down by stopping. He told me to let it go, he consoled me and reminded me that I gave 100% of what I had and my body just couldn’t keep up. He gave me a hug and told me he loved me, and it was probably the nicest thing he ever did for me as a brother. He helped me let go of the negativity I had towards myself. He is my hero because of all of the things that he has accomplished, but even more so because he has never asked a single person for recognition for it, or to give him anything. Giving everything and asking for nothing, he will always be my hero. As a person, and as a role model, he inspires me every day without knowing it.
My admiration for Rob stems from a different past. He arrived at 1st Ranger Battalion a few months before I did. I never really hung out with him until we returned from Iraq in January of 2006. I met up with my friend Keith Suarez to play cards with a group of his B CO buddies. Rob was one of the people there. He was shit faced drunk, and acting a fool. haha. Pretty much every time I saw him while I was still enlisted we were at the bars, hammered, with a bunch of Ranger buddies. We would see each other on post during the duty day and say whats up, but that was about the extent of our friendship then.
In March of 2009 I went back to Savannah to visit all of my old buddies. Rob was my brother’s roommate and one of his best friends by then. Rob had changed since I knew him before, he was more “squared away,” as they say. During the week that I was in Savannah we all hung out and had a blast. He was my brother’s brother now, and that was it. He was part of the family. I got to know Rob a lot more as a person during that trip, and I gotta tell you, he was an amazing dude. Strong work ethic, smart, funny, and a great friend. After that trip when I went back home to California Rob and I talked on a regular basis, whether it be on Facebook messenger or via text. I thought it was pretty cool becoming closer friends with my brother’s best friend. I remember in July of 2009 he and I had plans to meet up in Vegas when I was going to be there for my birthday, and he was going to be there for a small part of block leave with some fellow Rangers. Both nights that we were in Vegas at the same time we texted trying to meet up, but failed in our attempts as we were both with large groups of people. As you well know, it is a real cluster fuck trying to get large groups of drunks to travel around in Vegas. When we talked after, I remember us having a conversation about how we would hang out in Savannah after he and Mike got back from that deployment.
When I found out that Rob died I was angry and sad, just as everyone that knew him was. I wasn’t the closest person to him by any means, but he was a friend, and he was one of my brother’s best friends. Nobody that I had been friends with had ever died, and I didn’t handle it well. Rob sacrificed his life for people he knew and people he didn’t know. We live in a world where people idolize professional athletes, musicians, and celebrities that have talent, but in many cases are shitty people. Robert Sanchez was a great man that served with many great men, and he lives on in the hearts and memories of those that had the honor of meeting him. I hope that one day society will shift what it admires from idolizing what people do, to appreciating who they are, and knowing that they too can be great.
Army Rangers are a rare breed of human being. Each and every one must undergo more than what most men are willing to endure. In the past the selection process was called the Ranger Indoctrination Program, it was 4 weeks of physical and mental testing to see if you had what it took to become a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment. If you failed here, you would be shipped off to a unit in the Army that did not require such a high standard to be met. It was during these 4 weeks that you would see men of unparalleled physical strength break down mentally and either quit or fail. You see, after a day or two of getting your body crushed with exercise it kind of stops wanting to do things. That is where mental strength shines through. The 75th Ranger Regiment is comprised of men with mental strength beyond that of most people, whether they know it or not. They not only volunteered to serve their country, but they volunteered to go through physical and mental tests that could potentially crush their souls. When they survived these tests they were rewarded with a tan beret and a chance to train and fight along side other men of great will. The tests didn’t stop when you reached 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Ranger Battalion. The veterans would test you, trying to weed out the mentally or physically weak that had slipped through the cracks during RIP, or RASP as it is called today. Without asking for recognition, and without hesitation, Army Rangers train harder, and fight harder than almost any other group of men on the planet. You won’t see them asking for hand outs, most of the time you wouldn’t even see them in uniform when they weren’t at work. We were taught to be quiet professionals. Being a Ranger was a job, like any other, and should be treated as such. I miss being a Ranger each and every day, and the lessons I learned in 1st Ranger Battalion will help me for my entire life. I admire the men that have done that job, and currently still do. I know what they have gone through to get there, and I know what kind of work they put in to stay there. Those are real heroes, whether they know it or not. These people inspire me each and every day to uphold a standard.
Cory Remsburg and I were friends when I was still in Battalion. Even though Cory outranked me, he never treated me like I was less of a person. When Cory saw effort, he acknowledged it and respected it. We would drink together at the bars when we weren’t working, as most Rangers did, and we played soccer together when the hangovers weren’t too bad. I enjoyed Cory’s company and I recognized that he was a good Ranger. He worked hard, like most Rangers, but I never knew at the time how much heart he truly had.
Cory was one of the men wounded the same night that Rob died.October 1, 2009, on his tenth deployment in the Middle East in support of OIF/OEF (Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom), Cory found himself in Afghanistan. Along with the seven other members of his unit, Cory was injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) was set off on the side of the road they were traveling. Several other Rangers in Cory’s unit were injured, he and 2 others being critically wounded.
The explosion threw Cory into a canal, face down in a pool of water with a penetrating head wound. Due to the heroic actions of his fellow Rangers, Cory was rescued and rendered immediate life-saving medical care. He was taken by helicopter to Kandahar Air Base, then to Bagram Airfield, where he had surgery on his most serious injuries. Cory then spent two weeks at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for further life saving medical treatment. On October 16, 2009, Cory was transported to Bethesda Naval Hospital where he spent the next two weeks in the intensive care unit.
When Cory came out of his coma he couldn’t talk, and he couldn’t walk. Cory is still an Airborne Ranger and he has been an amazing example of what the means. Since the day he came out of his coma Cory has worked each and every day towards his ultimate goal of living independently again. Cory did a lot of his rehab at Casa Colina in Pomona, Ca, about 15-20minutes from my house. It gave my brother and I the opportunity to see him during his rehab. In January of 2012, the first time I really got to hang out with him since he was injured, it was challenging to understand what he was saying, but I knew Cory was there. A few months later I got the chance to see him again and there was dramatic improvement in his ability to speak clearly. Against the odds, he was fighting towards his goal and making progress. Many people cower in the face of adversity and he drives towards it, faces it head on, and kicks its fucking ass. In April of this year my brother and I went to see Cory for the last time before he moved to his own place in Arizona, where he is from. One of the coolest things I have seen in my life was when he stood up on his own to take a picture with us. Basically, Cory lets everyone in the world know that there are no excuses when working towards their goals.
Excuses are a defense mechanism that human being provide themselves with so that they are comfortable with failure. I used to do it all the time, and I still practice avoiding excuses every day. The inspirational lighting bolts that I was hit with for a few years didn’t even register in my brain until a year or so ago. Life is funny like that. THERE IS NO QUIT isn’t a mindset that I created by any means. I just thought of it as a name for my business because I wanted to send a message to people that when they come in and tell me their goals I will do everything in my power to help them reach them. The mindset itself, for me anyways, was inspired by all of the people that I have talked about in this post and the life experiences I have had up to this point. You should know that in your life you will face tough times, but what you do in those times will determine who you are. You can accept and understand that you, like each and every person I have talked about, have the ability to stand up for what you believe in and chase your dreams. You have the ability to tell the doubters and the negative people in your life to go fuck themselves. You need to believe in your goals as much as I believe in your ability to achieve them. One of the things that makes the people that inspire me so great is that they will tell me that anyone can do what they have done. That is true, to a point. Everyone on earth has the potential to work hard, believe in themselves, be honest with themselves, and never give up, but not everyone believes that they have the ability to choose to do those things. THERE IS NO QUIT is a mindset, not a gym, it is a belief in yourself, it is a belief in those around you. It is helping lift up the person next to you, it is being open minded and patient. It is loving everyone around you because life is tough for everyone, no matter what they do or say, that is just the way it is. We can either go at it alone or we can come together and help each other to understand that we are all capable of amazing things, mentally, physically, and as human beings. You have the power to do great things. I believe in you. Ask yourself what inspires you and what that inspiration means, and when the time is right, you will understand it, and it will take you wherever you want to go. EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY
I am not a great man, but I have known many great men and I try to follow in their footsteps as best I can. This is dedicated to my brother, to Robert Sanchez, to Cory Remsburg, every Ranger past and present, and everyone that has ever stood up in the face adversity and not let it stop them from moving forward. THERE IS NO QUIT IN LIFE.