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Wes Masters MC (Military Cross)

by Shaun Kober
August 16th 2021

Wes Masters was awarded the Military Cross by Her Majesty The Queen for his actions on the battlefield in Afghanistan on the 4th of July 2013.

Wes ran hundreds of metres across dangerous g... More

Hey guys codes here just before we get this episode underway, I do want to mention that there is a lot of swearing. Anyone's been following the podcast for Wild does understand that. I do tend to swear a bit, However, when I talk to military guys, ex military guys, some of my mates that's swearing increases even more as it is part of the vocabulary. So my apologies for that. Um also point to note is that there are a few dark topics in this conversation. We do discuss anxiety, depression, pTSD, and suicidal thoughts. So if you are sensitive to those topics may be worth skipping. However, in saying that um if you potentially want some actionable takeaways to identify some of the symptoms, um and some things that you can put into place on a daily basis to get yourself out of a hole and moving in the right direction, then it could be a great conversation for you to listen to. Also point to note is that there was a little bit of a lag in the conversation um in the recording.

So when West was speaking a few times it would take a few seconds for that to come through to hear my replies, you will hear a little bit of that as well without further ado, let's get this episode underway. Yo, what is up guys, welcome to this episode of the live transform podcast, I'm your host, Sean Cobra and joining me today is where's Masters. Whereas I'm excited to have a conversation with you mate, I've spoken to a couple of guys that you know very well Simon maloney and palm inter um And we're going to hear your side of the story in today's episode. So first of all, welcome to the episode mate. Yeah. Thanks guys. It's great to be here. Um Yeah honestly I watched your your previous podcast and it's great to great to be on awesome man, incredible story that we're going to dig into. Um But to lead into that talk to me about the fourth of july when I mentioned that date, what does that mean to you? What emotions come up? What feelings come up? Oh hit me deep. Um So Yeah it's uh reminds me 4th July 2013 when we had quite a hairy day in um in Afghanistan myself in the in the troop.

And yeah one of the one of the boys Simon who you had on previously got um took around to the neck um I was one of the medics on the ground that day. I was the medic assigned to that troop. And yeah so kind of went up moved up to him, treat him, got him extracted and and we had a real difficult time to make it out of there. Um And thankfully uh you know american colleagues came in and just peppered the place and managed to get us out alive. So um Yeah that's what four July means to me. It kind of makes me feel a little bit patriotic. American when I'm really not at all, but yeah, that's I do. Uh it makes me feel things. Yeah, absolutely, totally understandable and we're going to dive into that in a little bit more detail. We are recording this on thursday the 22nd of july. So that was obviously recent that anniversary for you. What did you do to, what do you do? Do you do like anything to kind of celebrate that anniversary or um you know, I say celebrate because you know, I've been in the ship before and was awarded uh you know, a commendation for gallantry and and like it's a celebration man, like fun.

I lived, our boys are still alive, like we're good to go. So you know, what are your, what sort of thoughts and feelings are evoked when that day comes up for you and do you celebrate it? Is it something that you kind of put behind you? Like, what do you how do you approach that? Yeah, it's something that um I mean everyone has their own journey, right? But something I had to put behind me. Um and yeah, me and side will send each other a message, We'll just be like, I love you bro or something like that and or love you proud of you, Something like that. We'll just drop each other just a subtle message and that'll be it, you know? Um I will probably get a little bit anxious around that time as I do around other kind of key dates in the year that that have significance from Afghanistan. Um but nothing too major. Um yeah, maybe I won't go to sleep or something that I have difficulty sleeping. But yeah, I don't really go out and get smashed or anything like that. Uh specifically dedicated to the day, not that I'm against it, but just my process was I had to let it all go, I had to move on.

Yeah, absolutely man. And everyone deals with things differently. Right? So, um you know, this podcast is all about mental health and talking to people like yourself who have faced, you know, some pretty fucking extreme adversities and you know, have come out the other side and then we dig into you know, the principles and the tools that you've used to, you know, deal with those things and overcome them and continue living your life, man. So that's pretty much what this conversation is going to be all about. But before we roll into that conversation, I'm going to read something off here. So hopefully I don't bring up too many emotions or start stirring anything. Then a private Masters troop landed by helicopter and broke into their target area. An insurgent command node at first light, placing a team in Overwatch on the compound roof. The troupe moved into search another target, the enraged enemy began occupying firing positions around the troop engaging Overwatch team and firing from two other positions on to Master's patrol. At 06, 20 hours, one member of the Overwatch team was shot through the neck, the round passing behind his voice box, grazing his trachea and narrowly missing arteries in his neck by less than a millimeter.

Masters troop were pinned down by carefully coordinated and accurate enemy fire. Uh knowing that a member of the troupe had been shot, Masters reacted without waiting for orders And move straight to his injured comrade across 300 m of open ground, weighed down by 60 kg of equipment and in full sight of two enemy firing positions. Only 100 and 50 m away, Masters remain calm despite being under fire and confronted by an extremely rare, complicated and delicate injury. Had no previous experience of Under slung grenade rounds were landing within four m of masters. But despite the risk to his own life, he remained focused on stabilizing the casualty. His pragmatic medical treatment kept the casualty from deteriorating whilst waiting for medical evacuation and remarkably under strict supervision and robust management even allowed for the injured soldier to keep firing. Finally, Masters escorted the soldier for casualty evacuation and on moving to the helicopter, he again consciously exposed himself to enemy fire to ensure his patient was protected before returning to the fight.

For a further hour before the troop managed to extract what comes up when you hear that bro. Yeah, you make me all emotional got me, made me feel things. Um yeah, I don't know why that got you right in the field. Yeah, yeah. The little shed a tear a little bit but um yeah, I don't know why that gives me that reaction. Maybe it's just because it's been a while but maybe it's just the process of how I left it all behind and it kind of drags me straight back and um in the moment, I mean I was I was like anyone, you know you've been out there, it's all a joke and um you know, I I didn't care if I was I got whacked out, you know I was just doing um doing what you do I guess. But yeah, now sometimes going by I guess and when you think about it um yeah, especially those moments, it's I don't know you think wow I did I kind of did something like out of the ordinary there and yeah, it makes you I guess proud of yourself.

Where yes, before that those times you wouldn't have had a huge amount to be proud, I would have had a huge amount to be proud of myself for so yeah, to to be kind of I guess the same person on a monday and then on Tuesday, but Tuesday I did this act and then apparently I'm all this different person. Um Yeah it's mad, it kind of makes you makes you emotional, yeah, sorry about that mate. I wanted wanted to just to give people an understanding of, you know why we're having this conversation. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. But I totally understand where you're coming from, man. Like go on. Oh yeah. Well it's, I was gonna say, I wondered why he asked me for that citation slippery snake Simon. Um but yeah, it's um yeah, there's, there's all the things that come around it, right? It was a great time in my life. It was I was I was with my best best friends and you know, coming from a difficult family situation to be thrusting and and you have this amazing family around you who will give their lives for you.

Um to to then yeah, to then be challenged and have like one of the world's what was highlight enemy at that time, like bearing down on you and has whacked one of your mates to then step the funk up and be like, yeah, now we're as good as you and I'll tell you right now I'm prepared to die today, are you? And like turns out they weren't. So um yeah, man, it was, it was a great day and um yeah, I think we all struggle to sleep for the next couple of nights because of the, you know, the rush of it all. And yeah, and I think as well we did that day. I can imagine, man is it doesn't, you know, in in all in the citation. It doesn't say it and you know, we don't talk about it too much, but as a medic, I think I think of things from another angle a lot of time and we disrupted a basically uh a school where they were from the local area.

They were killing families and taking the Children to put them in this compound and then raise them up as extremists and they had like 30 kids there and you know, we disrupted that. That was, that's why they fought so hard to, to to try and keep it and yeah man, it makes you proud to think that somewhere there could be even if just one of those kids like goes on and becomes a scientist or does something, you know, like it's obviously the chances are slim, but you know the chances are slim that you survive a gunshot wound to the neck so anything can happen. Um but yeah, me too to think of the good that you can do out there just just off the back of them and have a real good scrap. Yeah, yeah man, that's awesome. Um first of all, like I'm proud of you bro, we'll dive into, you know that day, um how the events unfolded already spoken about in detail with Simon. Um but I want to hear it from your point of view as well and then we'll talk about you being awarded the military cross by the queen as well. Um prior to that though.

Um one of the first questions that I ask people or as as a guest on the podcast is around the Swiss eight principles. So you probably you obviously have spoken a sigh and um those guys are working through the head up stuff and building that charity over in the UK. Um Swiss eight is has been doing something very similar in Australia for the last couple of years. Um they initially had very similar idea of building a retreat for veterans to be able to go away and teach people these life skills to reintegrate back into society um and use these and repurpose you know these these S. O. P. Standard operating procedures and things like that that we learned in the military to then repurpose them use them um in the civilian space. Um you know unfortunately one of the boys ended up taking his own life which is a problem for you guys over there. Problem for us in Australia it's a problem for you know veterans in the U. S. Most coalition forces. So swiss I actually ended up coming up with an app that people could download um and structuring and schedule eight pillars of health and wellness on onto their phone.

Um and then each one of those pillars would have like a veteran like myself who's providing content. So I provide a training program under the fitness component and another one of the boys provided the mindfulness work under the mindfulness component etcetera etcetera. So the Swiss eight principles, eight pillars are sleep nutrition. Hey, you've got it, you've got it sleep, nutrition, time management, discipline, fitness, personal growth, mindfulness and minimalism. Do any of those pillars stand out for you at the moment, and is there one of those that you really focus on to allow you to be better at life? Um yeah, I've got them here, so I just want to um I'll probably touch on a few of them. So sleep is obviously hugely important. I wouldn't have said that that is something that I at this stage really got on my way to make sure is is kind of nips, you know, um nutrition again is just, I really center that around my activity and it doesn't really play into my mental wellness. Um but then I guess it kind of does right, because um if I were to deteriorate in horrendous shape, then that would affect that would negatively impact me mentally.

So um yeah, I I love Boskov, so um I, yeah, essentially have to just kind of keep an eye on my nutrition. Um I studied nutrition at university, so I do have a good, good kind of idea on it, um discipline, I think it's hugely important and I think this is probably one thing that um one of the main points of that is that yeah, if I didn't stay disciplined after leaving the military, I I would have just fallen away and and it's, I think it's hugely important. There's that, I remember my first tour of Afghanistan, just that was where I really learned that if you can find a routine in something, if you can find, if you can be disciplined and find a routine and anything that you do, you can endure an outrageous amount of like there's nothing you can't do. Um So yeah, that, that for me probably is is the one that's right up there and I feel that kind of goes hand in hand with time management, fitness is important to me.

I train a lot. Um but it's not vital. I cannot train for a week or two weeks or something like that. Um and and it won't really negatively impact my mental health, which wasn't always the case, but after leaving the military, I then had that process which will probably get into a little bit later. Um And yeah, once I recovered from this, I kind of had gotten to a point where physical training wasn't, it wasn't like the key thing that kept my mental health right? Um which for me, I feel was a great point and especially what was the lockdown that we just had, it was real kind of helpful to not have that, that being central to my my mental well being, but it does make you feel good, especially for a bad day, personal growth, man, this is huge. I have to I have to be pushing for the next thing and the next thing and I start every year, like when people make these like, kind of, what's the word where they basically don't don't want to do this thing for the next year resolutions, resolutions?

I said it was my fault then when they do a New Year's resolution, I'll never do that because if I don't want to do something, I just don't do it. Um but at the start of the year I'm just like, okay, well there's these two big things that I really want to do, probably way out of whack that I'll ever achieve them, but you know, it would be good if I could do them this year and I literally am sat there with excitement on the first of january just thinking I cannot wait to see what I'm going to accomplish and how I'm going to grow this year and the person that is going to see this year out, so personal growth for me is huge and it really, yeah, it really keeps me, keeps me going and keeps me driven um which then I guess fills you with pride and stuff and it just keeps you your mental well being like, I just, I'm so happy man, so um yeah, that probably is quite an important one for me, um minimalism, I quite like quite like that. Um Yeah, yeah, dude, I'm not a huge minimalist, but I'm a moderate, I would say um yeah, I only kind of like like to use things that I need to use and I hate food waste and stuff like that.

So yeah. All right. So you've spoken about like how those things relate to you now, has there been a time in your life when you know, something was definitely a lot more important than other things and that was like central. You spoke about like fitness, right? That you said that, you know, that was an integral part of your mental health. It was like one of your coping mechanisms I guess. Um And so I joked about it and you know, every day's a legs day, you know, So has there been other times when some of those principles, when some of those principles become like or have been the number one priority? And then if you're not doing those things then, you know, kind of like has a downward spiral effect. Yeah, man. Yeah, so I would say that the downward spiral that I took after leaving the military was about a two year period. Again, we'll probably come back on this. But the during that time fitness was just the thing man, I would cycle everywhere if I wasn't cycling somewhere I'd run there. Um First thing I thought about when I woke up was what am I going to train today?

How am I going to train? Um what time am I going to get it in and what time am I going to do? My second session? Um like I would train 23 times a day and it was, it was in sick shape me but it's not super happy um but it was keeping me going, you know, and there was other things that kept me going at that time that I guess we can come back to you later. But yeah that fitness maybe it was it was keeping me alive at that time really? Yeah, absolutely. Um and again we will circle back to that um and we'll dive into that a little bit more detail, but I assume that that was like kind of like the only coping mechanism that you had when you were going through a bit of a rough time, is that correct? Yeah, it was um coupled with believing truly that I would get out of it. Uh So I had I had true belief, I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I I just, I just believed that I was going to get out of the whole um and yeah, so that really so just understanding that I would grow that personal growth will take place um you know, if you if you you do all the right things right, if you educate yourself, you train, you look after the people around, you, surround yourself with the right people then you know those are principles for success, like you you can't kind of do all of those things and then not pull yourself out of it.

Um So yeah I just had to believe and just trust that god would get myself out of it in the end um And it did happen. Yeah awesome man. Um We're going to circle all the way back to this but let's let's take a little bit of a journey first. Um How old were you when you join the military? Why did you join the military? Um What year was that? What was kind of the training process? How long were you in for? Um and then that will kind of lead up to actions on four July 2013. Yeah. Yeah. Okay good question. Um so I joined in 2007. I was 18 years old. I joined because um I essentially just couldn't really get a job um I couldn't nail one down and keep one. So I guess to circle back I was kind of like expelled. They basically said look there's no point you being in school anymore just just go to work or something when I was 15.

Um Yeah so. Yeah pretty much and and it was the second school that I've done that right? So it was a bit annoying. Um And technically I think illegal in this country but um Yeah they managed it because I'm from the country, I'm from the middle of nowhere right? I'm like a what your fingers an Iowa kid or like so um So uh yeah I essentially just went and worked in like a tire and exhaust shop at 15. And um I just wanted to graph that was all I wanted to do. I just wanted to graft and earn money and cut to like 16 17 18. And and because I didn't really set my G. C. S. E. S. Or my my kind of like end of school exams people were like no we're not giving you a job or apprenticeship. And I really wanted to kind of work in construction at a time. Um And yeah I couldn't couldn't really know anything down and they're like the options are limited mate. Yeah I mean so then that deteriorated to the point where you know I was going out and I was mixing the wrong people and getting into you know all the kind of trouble that you do and then you start stealing to to sell that stuff to to buy beer and food and stuff and you know so then that was the journey and then there was the point where Mhm.

Because 15 kind of my mom had said look I don't want you here anymore. Go and live with your dad at 17. My dad was like we're moving us to have anywhere for you. So unfortunately I have to find your own thing. Then I lived with someone else and was kind of like bouncing around servers and stuff and they were like look, unfortunately no longer a place it so it was getting to the point where I was now going to go on in this spiral down where, Okay, where am I going to live now? I'm 17 years old or I've just turned in 18, where am I going to live? What am I gonna eat and how am I going to support myself? So um I've always just been like, no, I'm enough, like I'll crack on, I'll just do it and fine. And my dad basically stepped in and said, look, I'm not having you living in that kind of shitty scummy place with those people. Um that he probably, I guess kind of saw it going ahead that I was a year away from prison and um that you just, it's real hard to recover from. So he pretty much just grabbed me by the hand, walked me into the army careers office and said, fine, let's get a job pretty much. Um and then yeah, joined, I wanted, I wanted the quickest out really, so they were gonna pay me, they're gonna give me somewhere to live and they're gonna feed me, right?

I was all I wanted to, I was all I cared about was like, yeah, no worries, just tell me tell me what I need to do and tell me how fast they need to run what time of day I need to do it and you know, I'll do it. So I was just pretty much a lost boy meet that that um that the army just got hold of and I guess I had the raw the toughness or whatever and yeah they kind of molded me to to fit and I joined the parachute regiment initially because it was I wanted to join the toughest thing that the army had. Um And I wanted to I wanted to go to war straight away and it was just that time when Afghanistan was starting up and I wanted the quickest the quickest way through because I didn't see my G. C. S. C. S. I got really high score on the on the army entrance but I didn't have the G. C. S. E. S. The match so they they were just like yeah infantry off you go. Um And then I changed to be a medic after about a year and a half. Yeah dude that's that's an interesting story man. Like very very very similar story um to myself a few little differences here and there.

But yeah very similar story man. Um Alright so you joined as an infantry soldier? Talk to me about uh you know that process of going through the recruit training the initial employment training and all that sort of stuff like what did you learn from that um And what were some of the key takeaways that you talk from that training process before you then transition to become a medic. That is hands down one of the most common experiences I've ever had that, that that training package that they run up there. It was disgusting. Um, I mean bye week for my section had to be disbanded because everyone had left and then we, the last like three or four people were put into other sections. Um, like that. It was ridiculous. Um, they really were just trying to weed out the mentally weak and so yeah too. What did that teach me teach me resilience, mental resilience, which I kind of already had. But I guess it when people were falling away around you and you're still there and you still keep going and going and going and then another persons like right, I'm leaving and you just still keep seem to keep being there kind of like spurs you on and keeps you going.

But in the end and I guess it taught me that one key takeaway is that sleep is a luxury I guess that you can kind of function without sleep if you need to. Yeah. Yeah. For certain periods of time, I'm sure, I'm sure you're the same as as made in the shade army. It's like, you know, fucking sleep whenever you can because you don't know when you're gonna be able to do it again. Yeah, I mean actually has a real good saying about this and it, it does take a bit explaining, it doesn't necessarily make sense right off the bat? but there was one of my first tour of Afghanistan when I was I was just three parallel and I was there medic and um I was I was sat there on my sleeping bag after we just assaulted a village and then we kind of was sat in this compound and they're defending it and the taliban are coming in and then there's a lot of little break in the contact. So I'm sat there just feeling, feeling like I need to be sat there doing something just because it's the middle of the day and one of these like corporals walked past who who, who did the howling tours before, loads and loads of experience at war.

And he just said if you're on it, you might as well be in it. And I just thought, oh yeah, that is true. If you, if I'm sat on my sleeping bag, I might as well just be in it asleep and and it's just carry that forward even today, right? So if if I have a gap in the day, I think I might just get my head down for a bit, might just have a nap for an hour because that will then if I then need to crack on through the night to to do, to read or to do something else, you know, I then have that extra energy to, to do that. And so yeah, I I'm always a big fan of if you're if you're on it you might as well be in it if I if I'm not doing anything you might just get my head down. Yeah, I love that mate, I love it and that's something the military teaches you man is like you could be, I'm sure you know we'll speak about this later on but you know, I remember going out on patrols where we would be in like bush masters or whatever, like our armored vehicles, Australian armored vehicles when I was in Iraq and like we'd be going out on patrol and it's like everyone is just asleep man, it's like alright then they wake you up five minutes before alright, we're approaching the target and everyone's like alright sweet, good to go for it and it's like you literally fucking wake up and boom roll straight into action bro.

Yeah, there's not many people that I know that like have conditioned themselves to be able to do that, right? Yeah, exactly. And the ability to wake up really quickly and fall asleep really really quickly and sleep on or in or around anything. Um Yeah, it doesn't give you that. Yeah, absolutely anything I've had got me I've heard was like sleeping under his desk at work at the office just because ex military guy and yeah, it was a little bit hard at night and just getting is not down under his desk, I've been there, not gonna lie Yeah, but that's it and and also on a health perspective it there's so much research right now, I'm sure of it that like, if you like nap once a day or something, it clears the way your mind and you know, it helps prevent Parkinson's or Alzheimer's in the long run. So, you know, napping is a bit of a joke, but I napped every single day up until my last day in the military and then, you know, obviously kind of when real world takes over, you don't really have that time.

But um yeah, I I love that. Nothing in the real world. Yeah, Yeah, yeah, for sure. Um Alright, cool. So we've just spoken about what you took away from the recruit training, initial employment training, things like that. Um Why did you transition from being an infantry soldier to becoming a medic? Yeah, good question. So I had an injury, so I never passed that training. So I had an injury where I'd gone through a window um and slashed on my hand and wrist up and stuff and it took a long time to recover from, by the time I had recovered. So I mean about six months and I'm still in recruit training for six months, still getting the same shit. Um So yeah, immediately I was like, right, I'm gone. I'm out of it and and I I went to to go to be a medic because during that time as well, people get in your ear and they're like, you know, you can just work with these people, but as their medic and it turned out to be true. But yeah, it's um I'd say probably the little whispers got in my ear and you know, I gave it in, went to go be a medic, did my medical training and then went and then got reattached back to the airborne brigade um and then served them out in kenya and Afghanistan and stuff like that.

So that's why I transitioned. Um and also as they probably always say, it's hard to connect the dots looking forward, it's easier when you're looking back, but looking back on that, um it was so nice to be one of the first names on the arbat list when you're going out on patrol, right? So who do we need to take out today? We need the medic, we need the commander and we need the guy is gonna bring bombs, but we need those people. So to be like a necessity someone, one of the most important people in the patrol from a kid who is used to not ever being wanted by anyone is it was huge, right? So it was, it was a good decision for me in the end. Yeah, absolutely man. Um you know, I spent six years full time as an infantry soldier and like 3.5, 4 years as a qualified sniper and dude, like, you know, I did so many fucking courses and I got out of the military and nothing it was recognized on paper, right? So you know I had all these amazing like life experiences and life skills and weapons qualifications and you know leadership qualities and you know first aid experience, like I was a combat first data so it's a two week super intensive course, obviously nothing to the level that you're qualified that but you know being able to fucking treat you know, be a first responder on the battlefield and like keep people alive until someone like yourself a medic who is more highly qualified can get there and take over the job, you know, so you know I did I did a two week fucking CF a course man and like you know put tourniquets on my mates and patch them up and like you know jam my hand in the legs, stop the bleeding and you know gave I v fluids and morphine and blah blah blah blah and I got out of the army and I had to see it a two day ST john's fucking first aid course before I could like that I could actually use that.

I had paperwork bro to be quite like to be qualified as a pt and work in a gym man and I was like I had all these amazing skills that did not transfer to the civilian space. I think a lot of dudes struggle with that. So you know looking back are you glad that you have those skills and have used those skills transitioning back from military to civilian space. Yeah, absolutely. So I think that's a really good point that you said that the military is excellent and clearly your military is just as good as ours is training you up to a very high standard but not giving you the paperwork. It's like that scene in Monsters inc which is like 90,000 you got your paperwork and it's like no I don't but I got the skills um basically Yeah that's that's exactly it right? Like they train you to such a high standard and they don't give you anything to back up. So I was in the same boat when I left and I did I did the run in South Africa bodyguard course. So I had some, they do a med package at the end of that. So I had some kind of paperwork at least to say that I was medically competent.

But no it didn't equate anywhere near to the standard I was trained at. But luckily and uh as I said to you in the in the green room, I went to university after leaving the military and that is a time when you know people were trying to do anything to get money. I said that badly, you know like doing bar work or whatever. But yeah right but I am I worked for a private medical company who if they have like kind of a doctor, they'll, they'll and they maybe they like you they think you're skilled, they'll just kind of like give you, they will allow you to do certain things under there umbrella as it were. And yeah, I found a private medical company that would treat me as a just under a paramedic level. Um but yeah, they were paying me I think £13 an hour, which was okay for being a student. Um and yeah, so I was doing nightclub stuff, um private events as a medic alongside other things.

Um So yeah, I definitely used that afterwards to to bring some cash in when I needed it. Um And also separately, I think more importantly, is that I think of myself as an asset to the society. So if I'm walking down the street and in fact, may I had this the other day, I was driving back from a mates and came across some car accident, some kid had just gone into a hedge like 60 mile an hour, flipped his car down the road like one in the morning and I've gotten out and I'm like, okay. And I assessed the kid and I'm like, did his Glasgow coma score to make sure he didn't have brain damage and stuff handed over to the ambulance on the phone and you know, it was, there was a little bit of panic at the, at the time when I got there, but then you kind of can go in and you say, look, this is, I didn't hang around because I thought was a bit of a prick and I knew I was going to live, so, but you know, ultimately it's life skills, isn't it? So I haven't been medically competent, I think it's quite important and you know, especially if you're a parent, right? It's quite important, I would say, Dude, man, you made a very good point then, like, this happened to me probably, I don't know, maybe two or three months ago and I haven't told this story on the podcast.

I haven't told many people man because I'm like, I'm not one of those people, I'm like, hey, look what I did, you know, it's just just sucking happened, right? Like I was like heading to go get a massage. Have you been to Thailand? Not yet mate, It's coming this jew. So in Thailand there's like a lot of people on the road on scooters, right? So um there's dude, I've seen so many accidents, I've been here for four years and about 23 months ago, I was riding like about 8 30 at night, I was on my way to go and get a massage, had a fucking massive week cause you know, burnt out. I was tired, I was like, oh I need, I need to relax and like, probably maybe 600 m from my place, I drove onto the main road and like 50 m in front of me man, there was a car on the right hand lane scooter on the left hand lane and somehow like they collided and the fucking car kept driving. The dude came off his scooter doing about 60 kilometers now the scooters like sliding down the fucking road. The dude's like hit really hard and then just started like rolling down the road and I'm like, fuck right in front of yourself, just pulled over, like ran over, like started talking to blah blah. And he's like, so I knew that he was like still conscious.

I grabbed his bike, ran it off the road, like started like, you know, organizing people, I'm like, hey you come over here and like tie right thai people. So I was like pointing at them, like calling them over, I'm like, hey you start directing traffic. You know, I'm making sure that you know where he's not gonna get hit by a car or anything like that. Um I go over to him, see what's going on, start talking to him, tell him not to move blah blah blah. And like normally when people see an accident in Thailand they fucking just sit there and watch men and do nothing and start filming and like I've seen this so many times. I was like, all right, I need to take charge of this situation, right? And then like, I'm getting this, I got this call, this little girl over. I'm like, you're directing traffic. I'm like, you know, you call an ambulance, call the police blah blah blah box already off the road. I'm like calling someone over. I'm like, give me a fucking rag or you know, something like that so I can like start compressing, start, you know, stopping the bleeding, blah blah. Dude was pretty banged up man. But you know, the locals were actually quite helpful once I took charge of the situation, then they're like, okay, did it once the ambulance came.

For whatever reason, they were like, okay, okay, a cup cup cup cup like told me to leave man. And I was like, alright sweet. Because I'm pretty sure like, you know, they were looking after me because I would have had to go back to the police station and you know, write a report and we have taken ages. But you know those life skills man, it gives you peace of mind, right? Having those skills and having that experience to be able to deal with any casualty that comes up that you you know that you may come across man. Like that gives you peace of mind knowing that you're capable of helping other people. Did you feel that? Yeah, absolutely. And I Yeah, absolutely. Right. And you don't need to be a medic to do that kind of stuff, right? Any kind of switched on ex ex soldier is is going to be that person, no matter how kind of I mean because you are trained to a standard and that is not a good enough for something like that, especially to be able to take control because that's what really needs to happen as soon as an accidents happen, right? Get some some vital caring and then hand over to the appropriate agency.

So yeah and that's I always think of it like this and that you know you have these switched on soldiers leaving the military and and they're the kind of people because most people like you say are the people that just don't know what to do apart from film. Um Most people are just products of their environments. If one person starts filming, everyone else is gonna start filming and stand there and do Funchal. But it takes real. There are these few special people in society who make that environment a product of them rather than the other way around, right? So to be able to go in and take control and and settle the situation is something that is certainly the switched on people from the military are capable of doing and you know that it's tough like you say, it doesn't always going back to the paperwork thing. It doesn't always translate um on paper to kind of corporate environment or civilian world situation because we don't constantly live in crisis, right? But um you know that ability to affect people around you in a positive way is something that you know, is recognized by the top tier um kind of corporate really and and they they really do have very good pathways of getting people in because they recognize that they are very good in leadership scenarios.

Uh Yeah, that's a great point man, like this is not a slide on, you know, people that do come across an accident and don't know what to do, they just don't know what they don't know, right? So if you don't know how to react, if you've never been trained in that environment, then you know like you don't have the tools available to be able to have an impact on that situation, you know, So um I think that's a that's a great point if people are listening and you want to be able to help out in the situation, take a basic first aid course, you know, if you come across an accident you can help someone and you could potentially save someone's life man and like you don't need to thank you for that, you just know that you've just impacted someone's life. Yeah exactly, there's all these courses all around and you know the amount of times I've literally thought about going back to South Africa to Ronan to do their paramedics course, do I need it? I don't need that at all. Um but to go back learn to a high standard really challenge yourself. That is not given you really have to give everything to pass that stuff and then also be in South africa for eight weeks like that.

That is absolutely amazing. Like going on holiday and doing three weeks kind of just sat there doing nothing. It's not what I do but go on holiday and learn something new. Like I've also thought about doing like going to the Bahamas, doing yoga instructor course and my fun, going to be a yoga instructor but you know, I'd love to go on holiday and learn something new. So these kind of things are out there all the time and you know there's what there's a good saying isn't it? Most most people have done all they're ever gonna do? They raise a family, they earn a living and then they die. But people who are constantly stretching and constantly striving for more um You know life has a special kind of meaning for them. Mm Yeah and that ties back into that personal growth mate. Like that is so fucking important to me man. Like I'm constantly learning, I'm constantly growing. You know people, people I understand why but people have had a bad 2020 did have a bad 2020 right? And like at the start of this year I was like, hey if you had a bad 2020 What makes you think that 2021 is going to be any different? Right?

I'll be honest bro I had a fucking good 2020 you know obviously had some bad things happen, had one of my mates took his own life and you know my my my pops like health is deteriorating and you know uh blah blah blah blah, like all these things happened, but you know my personal growth, my drive to constantly evolve and become better, you know, I'm constantly upgrading man. It's like I think of myself as you know, we think about, we think about computers, we think about our phones right? Like if you'd never fucking update your phone, you're left with the old software, right? That is now out of date. And I think of myself as that I'm constantly trying to upgrade, I'm constantly trying to up skill and if I'm not a fucking better person, if I'm not a better man, potentially partner um you know coach human in five years than what I am now then what the fund have I been doing with my life? Yeah exactly, I've got a good man who who who's um an ex royal marine who I met at university and he's going straight from conditioning, who explained it in quite a good way and that your your mind is like a funnel, there's always always information trickling out and just disappearing so you've got to always be just throwing information into the top, even if it's something you already know, you should always be going over and you all know me in the military you drill things to death Um So that it's just second nature and you know too many people don't do that, it's um that's up to them, you know, I've been terrible to sitting down and doing fun, cool.

Um So again, yeah, exactly. That may, I had an absolutely banging year last year. Absolutely incredible. Um But then I trust myself, I backed myself to thrive in any scenario in any environment. Um And it turns out a lot of people were terrible if they can't go to the pub. So it's um yeah, I mean I'm quite, I'm quite there with you. It's um it was a great year for me and um it was challenging in certain times, but I love a challenge, so it was just great. Yeah, exactly, mate, you're either thriving or surviving and and there was, there was kind of like, I don't know what it was like in in Thailand, but over here it was like for the most of last year you were like a pariah. If you said that you you know what, I'm actually okay, I'm happy, I'm enjoying this. Um So you know, most people were just like, oh life sucks and if I'd get people one on one and be like, okay, why does it suck then?

Well I don't you are you saying this just because everyone else says it like because you are like uploaded with memes all day that live fucking sucks because doesn't really suck for you or do you just think that because everyone else has told you that that sucks and you know, in some cases that is true in some cases not. Um and that's that I think was what last year showed showed us is that you know, we're not all the same, there's some people that are capable of just, you know, shutting down and and being good on their own and just cracking on with their their process and some people are not and you know that we're all different. So what I think what we really should do is accommodate all kinds of people rather than just being like, you're a dick because you can't cope with this or you're a dick because you're having a good time right now. Um I just, I think it was yesterday I was listening to a podcast with Daniel Kahneman who wrote the book, thinking fast and slow, um incredible guy. Um and something that he was talking about in the book is or sorry, on the podcast was that people typically um don't have these experiences and these stories that then create beliefs and morals, et cetera.

It's normally the other way around people. Normally something happens, it's, they come up with a conclusion and then they fill in the gaps with the stories that then justifies that belief. I thought that was super interesting. Yeah, yeah, I completely agree with you on that. I'm I had absolutely trashed principles when I was like 15, 16, 17, I didn't care about anything. Um and I hated anyone that wasn't white and poor. So may I was Yeah, I completely agree with you. And and then it took a set of circumstances for me to pull my head out my ask or have it pulled out for me and like, show in the world um showing what real suffering is and and you know, once you you can kind of see the big picture, you you kind of like, well why why I don't really hate people, Like um and then and then yeah, and that, so I fully took on those military um principles, morals and values, and I still hold them super high today. Um and I even me, I'm such a preacher.

But yeah, I preach to people like civilians and stuff that I work with being like, okay, well, like, what courage did you show here? Like, what selfless commitment do you have here? Like this? You need to be better and you need to be better in these areas. That's something I find um like military guys, ex military veterans, particularly those who have deployed to, you know, um like war torn countries who have faced adversities and this is something cy and I touched on in our conversation is, you know, those guys are willing to have those fucking hard conversations because if you're going out on patrol, you know that you're going to the Badlands the last time you were there, you mate with shot, someone lost his leg, blah, blah, blah, blah. Like if you don't speak your mind, if you don't agree with someone's plan, then there's gonna be a resentment and there's not gonna be fucking trust man. So I find those, those guys, the military guys in particular, are more than willing to not, not look for confrontation, but they're comfortable in those situations.

They're comfortable having those difficult conversations and voicing their opinion and saying, you know what, I don't necessarily agree with this. What are we trying to achieve? How can we potentially mitigate these risks and allow us to still achieve the mission? You know, have you experienced that? I've definitely experienced that, you know, transitioning from the military space back to the civilian space. Having those conversations and I'm used to having those conversations in the military man being part of a sniper team. But I had to change my, how I communicated to civilians since transitioning the first couple of years. I really struggled with that once I discharged from the army and got back into civilian space, people just like what the funk this dude's and asshole. And I was like, you know what? I'm, I'm bringing this stuff up because I care about you and I want to see you do better. That's why I'm having these conversations with you. But you know the way that I was presenting that information, it got people's backs up and it took me a couple of years to figure out that hey, the way that I'm communicating this, I need to change my communication style to suit the person that I'm talking so I can still get this information across but be able to communicate in the way that someone's going to be able to absorb it without being offended.

Yeah, absolutely. Um So I think that's a really good point and yeah, I do it all the time. So um if someone is coming up with a plan or the way we're going to do something um in the work that I do now um And I don't I don't understand why they would do that or what that doesn't make sense to me. I will immediately say okay why why? Because if you want to do something, anything in life you should have a an understanding or reason why you're going to do that. It shouldn't just be a guest. So it shouldn't just be because everyone, that's my worst thing mate. That's my biggest pet. Hate when I say why are we doing this office is how everyone does it. No, no, no. Why are we doing this? Um Because yeah, I I hate it. I did I did a marathon right? I ran a marathon and I hadn't trained for it and because people like you can't do this work, trained for it. Why? Because it's not what everyone else does. Fuck you. I'm gonna run this marathon. And yeah, it's true that I just feel like um we do have to, we do ask difficult questions and back to that point when, when you learn these is, yeah, you'll go on patrol, you'll, you'll do the battle plan for the patrol or something, and you look at it and you think it doesn't make sense to me, and you'll keep it to yourself and it'll go fucking pear shaped and it will go, it will go off at times absolute laser show.

And whilst you're sat there sweating your balls off in a sucking ditch, just thinking, I wish I'd said something, I wish I'd fucking said something every time forever more. After that, you who always say something, you'll say that, shut up, I'm not doing that again. Um and you, I guarantee you will have had this, everyone has had this where someone stands up and says, fuck you, I'm not doing that again, yep, that's why that's why they are so important. That after action, review, man, it's okay, we could have fucking mitigated that risk or that circumstance, that scenario prior to stepping out on patrol, you know? And this is why this is why I think asking those difficult questions, having those hard conversations with people is so important, man, because that brings clarity, right? If you uh, if you're being asked to do something and you don't understand why, then you're not going to give it your best chance. You're not going to give it your best shot, man. But if you understand, hey, I'm doing this because the boss wants to achieve this.

Dude. One of the I've spoken about this on like an individual solo podcast that I recorded about like some of the best mentors and leaders that I've had in my life, but I'll bring it up here again because my um my patrol base commander in Afghanistan was one of the best leaders that I worked with. And he would literally go, all right, boys, I want, you know the leaders from each team to come into the command post and he's going, alright tomorrow we're going to go out, This is what I want to achieve. Engineers. What are you guys gonna do? Snipers, what are you guys going to do? Security section? What are you guys gonna do? Signal, what are you going to do more to mortal man? What are you guys going to do? And where we go, bom bom bom we all have our individual input and then someone would say something and maybe engineers will go, we go here, we're going to search this area here. And then snipers go, all right, we don't have field of view in that area. So let's change our position. Let's go over here so we can better support you and then the security section be like, all right, well then there's going to be a blind spot here. So this is what we're going to cover.

And the sucking boss goes, hey, this is what we want to achieve. And then all the individual command elements go, all right, This is what the boss wants to achieve. This is what we're going to do to play a role as a part of a team. And then the boss is like, all right boys, good stuff. Come back later, go and give your warning order to your boys, Right? We come back six hours later and then boss would literally go through his fucking orders for that battle plan. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And the one thing that you that I had to learn when to transition to the corporate world or civilian world was you can't just say, fucky, I'm not doing that. There has to be, you have to stay in a different way obviously because uh, fluffy low is enough. But yeah, it's um, you and man, I completely forgot I was going to say them to get a real long tangent. Then I expect you've got, you've got, you've got to say it respectfully. Yeah. Well, I think, let me see if I can let me see if I can jog your memory. Was it something to do with like being part of a team?

Everyone has a role and a responsibility to play and you've got to have clarity from the top down. The man on the fucking ground needs to know what's going on so that he can make a decision without getting a direct order. Yeah, exactly that. And so when I started out, so I was an insurance broker and I'm just about to move. But when I started out, um I went into there just, I mean I worked in with 22, year olds who are the same level as me and I had no problem with that whatsoever. I personally think that there's not a person on this planet, I cannot learn at least one thing from. So I went in there were real open minded and these kind of like guys who a lot younger than me guys and girls actually a lot younger than me being like, okay, well we need to drill this or we need to do this before you go and do it for real. Um and we're gonna do it till we get it right and real sorry. And I'm like, well you apologizing for, let's do it, let's go until I get it right? And I'm like, okay, that's right. And let's go do it again. Like it's just the military in you where you you want to have those difficult conversations, but so many people, I guess they are terrified to be told or to be put on the spot or to be told that you could probably do better here.

Um but a lot of soldiers I guess or ex soldiers are very good at being chest poked and told you need to be better here. And you know, it's it makes you the best person that you can possibly be like, the best thing that I love about my manager right now is, and she's one of the best managers of people. Well, the best managers I've ever had, The best thing is because the second, the smallest thing I do that could be better. Why did you do this? You need to do that? And it honestly, it brings me out to be the best possible version of myself in my opinion. Um, so yeah, that would be something I would advise people and that's bad feedback. Yeah, absolutely, man. And like you always take some a lot of people take criticism. You know, people think criticism is a bad word, man. It's only a fucking bad word. If you attach a negative story to it. If you attach a negative connotation right now, think about this. If your manager gives you criticism instead of thinking about it as criticism, think about as feedback, right?

She knows that you're fucking good at your job, right? But she knows that you can also be better at your job. So she's giving you that criticism slash feedback to help you become a better person and a better employee. She's doing that because she cares about you. She she sees more in you than you may see in yourself rather than just resting on your laurels and fucking floating. She's giving you this feedback too late to grow to develop to become a better employee to become a better person. Yeah. And it goes into again happiness and mindfulness because the mortar demand for me and you know, I can work for 67 hours on something and to the point where I'm like, she is not going to pick up one thing on, this is not gonna be one single thing and I send it off to to double check or something, some contractors and double check it and she'll be like boom boom boom boom boom boom and I'll be so angry, I'd be so angry and like she knows I'm not angry at her, I'm angry at myself because I'm like rock, I should have seen that and man, and you know, like when I talk about making mistakes, it should never ever be afraid of making a mistake, But you should definitely be afraid of continually making the same mistakes and that's something that I have adopted since I was about 16.

I was like, I will make mistakes in my life. That then was just an excuse to funk up. Um, but like yeah, you'll make mistakes in your life but just don't make the same mistakes over and over again and you know, people do that a lot of relationships and right? Yeah, 100% man, 100% and you know, I've spoken about, um, you know, taking ownership being accountable, taking responsibility for your own actions, right? And I learned this the hard way as well bro, because when you take ownership of your actions, your behaviors, your decisions, right? That gives you the power to then be able to go. All right, well I funked up here. What can I do? I put myself in this situation, What can I do to change this environment, Change my circumstances? All right, And maybe make some different decisions, Put some different actions in place to move me in the right direction. Right? So I've told the story before about being in Afghanistan and going out on patrol men and you know, it was the middle of winter.

We had a fucking high operational tempo. We've had a number of blokes had been, you know, um injured are interpreted being killed. It was the middle of winter, man, it's freezing cold, you know, as snipers were the first ones out, we're the last ones back. So you know, we're stepping off out on patrol, making sure that we're in Overwatch position before the boys go out. Um you know, we're targeting key areas of interest where potentially the taliban melee I. E. D. S and target our boys as they step into the green zone, across the aqueducts etcetera. So we stepped out on patrol one day and it was like uh we probably will probably delayed like maybe 2030 minutes or something like that. And dude, I just took off my backpack, which had like you know my binoculars, my Spotting scope, my first aid kit, my fluids, my drugs etcetera etcetera. You know I took that off to give my shoulders a rest before we stepped off man. This is probably like no 33:30 AM or something like that. I'm freaking tired man. Alright comes over the radio. Yeah boys good to go. Stepped off man. Um totally forgot to put my backpack back on, right fucking idiot stepped off probably 20 minutes later something like that.

I'm like I realized bro it's sucking, it just clicked in my mind and I was like funk and I was the lead scout of my team right? And I'm like straight over the radio. I'm like tamps, is that what's up bro? And I was like mate I really apologize man. Like I fucking left my left my first aid kit, I got my binoculars, got my spotting scope, got everything like mission essential stuff back on base man. And he's like and like they crossed my mind to not say anything Right? And that was less than 10 seconds man, I was like fucking own it because if something goes down and you haven't told your fucking team leader that you don't have that equipment, that mission essential equipment, something happens that's on your conscience for the rest of your life. Own it right now fucking speak up, Say something cool tamps hey bro, I funked up and he goes, you're sucking idiot. And I was like yeah I know, and he goes crack on, let's go, let's get in position because he knew that I didn't have that equipment, right? But we would be able to adapt if something did happen because he knew that I didn't have the equipment.

Alright cool. That's going to change maybe some of our protocols, maybe that's going to change some of our our actions on our standard operating procedures, right? And I had to tell him that and like from that moment man, that never happened again, I made sure my ship was squared away so you know, I own that mistake man, but then I learned from it, I made sure that never fucking happened again. And dude, he came up to me afterwards and was like thank you for telling me that. I appreciate it man, you know? Like I think that's powerful bro, to own every fucking action, every decision that has essentially lead you up to where you are right now in your life. Yeah, you're exactly right there and you would have said that knowing that you could most likely got a punch in the throat and the moral courage that you get from being even like 18 19 year old kids and soldiers have this right that if they funk up in some way or they do something or they leave a magazine somewhere around like, do you know what, I'm funked up, I'm sorry, like went up and again, take the punch and then just get on with it.

Don't ever do it again. And that's something I had, I had an instructor talking about basic training. I had, I had an instructor that was like, don't ever apologize to me, Don't ever say you're sorry is a sign of weakness. Just tell me you'll never do it again. Um And like because so many when you're in training, you want to just do anything to not get thrashed and you'd be like, uh You know, I've, I've forgotten like my jacket or something like that. I'm real sorry. And he's like, don't ever fucking apologized to me. Like this is a sign of weakness. Just, just don't ever do it again. And yeah, I mean, so many lessons I learned from those, those people and to think that at that time they were 24 Um there are around 20 for those were some of the scariest people I've ever, I've ever come across and um yeah, I still to this day would not want to ever come across those guys because they terrify the ship at me. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Alright sweet. Let's circle back then and let's go into uh you becoming a medic and then how long are you a medic for?

And then what did you do? You said you went to kenya and then Afghanistan, is that correct? Yeah. So um past my medical training in 2000 and nine, went to unit, went kind of pretty much into the rotation to get ready to go to Afghanistan. So then uh went to kenya, deployed to kenya with B company, third battalion, the parachute regiment. Um um was there kind of medic or one of their medics and I was very baby junior medic. Um and I had unbelievable guys to, to look up to and learn from. One of them had had done two previous tours of them. Um In fact, the tour before had been evacuated like two months because he got mortared and fragged in the gas. Another guy was just a really, really, really on it. Medic was really good. And actually the tour we were preparing for, he ended up getting a guy with a gunshot wound to the head and saving the guy's life. So like unbelievably amazing medics to and that goes into what I think of as like the people you surround yourself with demanding the best from you.

If you are not around people that demand the best from you, you're wasting your time. Um So yeah, then did kenya did a whole love a mess of exercise is getting ready to go to Afghanistan. Then I went and um yeah, it was just one of those tours where I was with a company and from the parachute regiment and we just went out and we had a few objectives over the tour, but the most thing was just you know you're going to live in a checkpoint and you're gonna a tiny tiny little checkpoint in the middle of nowhere and you're gonna patrol around there and getting scraps here and there. But mostly you're just gonna you're gonna stag on, you're going to eat, you're gonna sleep and you're gonna repeat. Yeah there's not much to do on a kind of like combat outpost or a patrol base in Afghanistan. Yeah. You see if people think it's glamorous but it was 95% boredom, 5% action. And then yeah Let's talk about getting to Afghanistan. When did you get there? Um what was it like on the ground? How long were you there for?

Talk me into the lead up to 4th of July 2013 and then we'll go into detail on that day. Yeah for sure. So my second tour was different. So um and there was only a was probably a two year gap between 1st and 2nd. So I did my class on medics course. I did my Army P. T. I. S. Army physical training instructor course which is as you'll know it's just something you kind of do on the side if you'll fit. Um And then you'll take the squad runs that you will go on. Um So I did that. So then I started kind of really like getting getting fitter and fitter and fitter. Um And then I dislocated my knee. So my my patella went right around the back of my leg and I punched it back in the place and did so much damage to my knee and I was like, couldn't really run for about a year. Um So essentially I was I was being dragged into a tour that they had me down as a on the or back for the whole battle group as one of the medics, but I was no longer going out with the cavalry. So Simon's Simon's unit um I was I was going out on the same tour but I was gonna go and sit in the hospital um and stay them.

So I I did that. So I went out um and I was kind of like in the back end of my recovery from this knee injury. Um And yeah, I probably missed out on surgery so that they could send me there when and sat in the hospital after a couple of weeks, there was a huge explosion in the north and some like young girl medic Vanessa, like I think at a back broken in an explosion. So she got extracted. Um I went and replaced her and then it's actually quite jokes and I think that this is probably why I did that thing on the 4th of July because I was never really one where I could follow orders if I I saw it a different way. I was, I was the most annoying person to deal if I imagine because we were just there doing nothing there, it was so so terrible and it was like the last Combat tour combat tour. Um But we were just getting ready to shut down and pull out of Afghanistan, so I'm sitting there thinking this is a waste of my fucking time. Um And then I had this bell and doctor there who was just making my life harder and harder and harder for no reason.

Um And I snapped one day, picked up a chair and lobbed at his head and he was like a captain, right? So you can't really do that with officers. So they tried to discharge me from the army. Then they were like yeah, they were like get this guy back to camp bastion. Um It's sucking not gonna serve another day of my army, went and sat back in the hospital. Two days later, basically one of the girl medics who was who was out with the cavalry and the brigade reconnaissance force um had like Tib and Fib snap on patrol. I think she's just walking over a ditch and then snapped both Tib and fib but you know like this is why it's a bit difficult, you know, like I think she was probably like piss went through about 50 kg and she's carrying 44 54 kg of equipment. So you know, it's it's physiology at times, isn't it? And it snapped Tib and fib. Um And luckily I was there and and the sergeant major was like, we'll take this guy back, thank you very much. And put pulled me into the the reconnaissance compounds. I went from like real low to being like, oh yeah, I'm back where I should be.

Um And I've I've done like a lot more rehab out there at that time. So this is probably two months into the tour now. Um My knees look looking good. I'm I've been smashing them leg days me and that was it. Like I I smashed a ton of leg days to to get my knee right? Really? Um And yeah, ended up, I think it was like having the fun out of it. You're with a good crew, you're in a good environment. You're thriving. Yeah. I mean I wasn't really with a good, good bunch, I was, you know, it was just classic like medic isolated, like I didn't really know the guys I was with or anything like that, but I was just in my process, you know, I was like disciplined and and and training hard and yeah, there's that saying, isn't there? It's better to be ready for an opportunity and not have one too than to have an opportunity and not be ready. So um I was ready as far as I was young and I was fucking hungry to get out there and do it all again. So and it was, it was a good gig, you know the brigade reconnaissance was is a good gig like you go out and you know you're always going to go out and have some kind of effect on the enemy rather than just dominate the ground.

So um yeah that was how it came into the sport for a second so we can explain that too just so we can explain that to the listeners. So the br br f like you guys were pretty much like based at a base was at boston you guys are at or another base Yeah combustion Yeah. And then you guys would like get yeah get intelligence that you know there's a fucking key leader in a specific area, is going to be there for a certain period of time. All right, sweet. This is a time sensitive mission. We need to jump on the helicopters, we need to get out, we need to get boots on the ground, we need to coordinate off, we need to we need to get this dude like tonight, let's rock and roll. So you roll out helicopters do you think get back on helicopters back to campus and grab a feed, get a good night's sleep and do it all again, get ready. Always be prepared. Yeah, it was exactly that and that's that's fucking glory, right? That's what you you sit there playing call of duty and and and there you are, you're doing it. You know, it's it's I'm not gonna lie, it was not a bad job to do. And you know, it's like you you gear up, you do like a two day intelligence cycle where you really just psych up, go over the plan, over the plan, you're part of the plan, your job.

Where do you sit in the plan, whether you sit on the ground in in relation to others and stuff like that, and you go through it and then, and then I would, you know, from my little corner of the sky, I would train the guys up on some new medical procedure. And it's quite ironic because right before that up, um I was training the guys up. I'm we linked up with the green Berets that were over on the other side of camp bastion, over in the american side. So we linked up the green Berets medic and we were just like, fuckinwith our blokes, basically. And I was like, what? It was like, what can I make my guys do? And then he was like, what can I make my guys do? And, you know, there's no nasal pharyngeal tubes, the airway, basically, if you put an airway and someone goes in your nose, basically, like the width of your little finger. I had them putting them in my fucking in my blokes. Um which is jokes because it's a horrible feeling that's like getting that's truly feels like getting fucked in the nose. Um But basically, yeah, but basically right before that op, I did this thing called a surgical creek or surgical creek a thyroidectomy, which basically means you slash this little membrane in your in your throat here.

If all this is mangled and you don't really have an airway to work with you slash a little thing here, put a tube in and magic, you can breathe. And I was teaching the guises and Simon was like, I would rather fucking die than have that done to me. And it's quite funny because we went on the upper cut a few days later and I was literally have my cricket right there because he's just been entry and exit here. I'm like, I'm gonna have to crack this guy. I know I'm gonna have to crack him because it's not, he's not bleeding out, He's bleeding. They were bleeding out. And I thought that airway is fun and it's gonna, I'm gonna, I sat there and I was like, looking at it just, you know, government view, I'm funding coming for you. Um Yeah, it was quite funny and he knew, I said, let's pause there for a little bit because you've obviously skipped a lot of stuff which Simon and I have covered in another podcast. So I'll have that linked in the show notes. If anyone wants to go back and listen to Simon's side of the story where he gets shot in the throat falls off a fucking roof, um lands on a goat kills it thinks he's like a couple minutes left to live and then like all of a sudden you're then you're there next to him and he's like what the funk, where'd you just come from?

So you know, you guys obviously step out, um you're on helicopters, you get inserted, you start patrolling in towards the target compound, um snipers are up on in an Overwatch position. Um you guys uh you know, a few rounds start kicking off and then you hear over the radio, Simon's been shot, What's going through your mind? Yeah, yeah, it pretty much happened exactly like that. So um I'm I'm I'm over in a in a different cluster of compounds because we moved out and um and gone on to a different objective when I'm just there because that's where most of the blokes are, right, so I'm where most guys can get hit, I'm there and I didn't think the snipers get whacked. Um that's not a slide job but yeah and and basically yeah and I was with two of my blokes got shot, two of my books and my four man team got shot bro. So it was always a bit of a joke in uh in our teams as well as like fun, don't you going out with codes? Yeah, be careful the last thing we have been shot.

Yeah well you know what like on a serious note that was an amazing podcast to listen to because he said so much stuff that I'd never heard him say, you know, and it was incredible to hear and maybe very emotional mate to hear him say it and hear from his perspective. Um and obviously I always know my perspective, so I'm hoping I can have some kind of a similar impact on him and some of the other guys. But yeah, so I've got to him and or I've heard heard he's been hit. So yeah, I've got my my my kind of like radio on, which is like short distance radio and yeah, one of the machine gunner that was with him has just gone our size. I've got a butcher, the accent. So I'm not gonna bother. But he was just a strong Mancunian guy and he was like size has been whacked in the neck. And um So immediately I had won the section commander there and he he had a lot of kit on, right? So he was weighed right down. Um I mean I was carrying 65 kg and I swear he was in excess of that.

Um and he was fit as well for Jean Guy. Um And yeah, it's just come over the radio, everyone's heard it, right? So everyone's just like just as a contact coming on, I was like I'm like funk this like okay yeah, just make my way back and it was I guess maybe from planning like where you, it was like constantly like okay well we're gonna be here, we're gonna be here, we're gonna be here. If something happens, I'm just gonna get to you, right? I'm just gonna get up and I'm gonna go um And the boys knew I was fit enough, I was one of the fist in a in a squadron, right? So they knew I was I could I could make it and yeah, to do it in a contact though, it was probably not wise but and certainly out of the S. O. P. S, right? And that was where probably looping back to me being a mischievous little prick, is that if I didn't see the reason behind a rule, which obviously is a clear very reason because if I got hit we'd all be fucked. Um But yeah, so like I just got up and I was like, right, well I either get to him in two minutes or he's gonna die.

So that was it. I just got up and just, maybe you've said this, you said this a couple of times man in this podcast bro, you're like, I back myself, it's sucking came out right there and then made and like I'm sure size super grateful for that and I'm sure you're grateful for that and how it turned out, man, I'm going to come back myself, I'm gonna run 300 m weighed down with 65 kg in whatever like 50 degree heat to get to my mate who's just been shot in the throat. Yeah, exactly, and you know like there was no specific thing that I've done in the past where I'd run with that kit to know that I could do that. But you know, I've done other stuff and you know, it was either make it or don't make it and yeah, it just just got up, did it um got to him and and I'm presented with this injury. That doesn't make fucking logical sense because he's got an entry and an exit and they both look the same. So I didn't know the entry exit and the whole time I thought, okay, well he's been hit with some frag that's pinned in front of him and it split and gone in either side.

That's the only logical explanation because you know, he's talking and he's not catastrophically bleeding. So what what is going on here? And yeah, basically just just made up a bluff dressing because I wanted to get pressure on the bleeding, but you can't get pressure on the bleeding because I would have occluded his airway. So I just fucking looked at my kid, I was like what the funk am I gonna do with this and pulled out some sniper tape pulled out, addressing cut it up, so there's a couple of pads, then take them the width apart. I wanted to have and then use the elastic from those for from those dressings to get it round. So that essentially the dressings kind of brought it out a little bit and I could get a little pressure on them but I did spend quite a bit of time with my fingers in his neck and that's a constant joke that I've I've had a finger and a thumb inside him. I love that, I love the that's something I miss actually is like the military humor man. Like it gets pretty fucking dark, right? Like I've laughed I've laughed through you know some of the most boring, fucking mundane things that like people would be like that's not even funny why you're laughing at that.

But then I just laughed at some of the like most stupid ridiculous things where you should be fucking like fearful for your life. You know there's bullets whizzing around you and you know you can fucking hear the crack of the of the bullet whizzes by your head man, the dirt being kicked up around you and you're like laughing with you make on funk, that's close. But yeah me on on a more serious note that there isn't really a higher answer that I can give here like in terms of how I felt like I didn't feel anything, I just felt like there was a job and I had to do the job so I head down, got the job done and I didn't feel anything, I didn't feel scared, I didn't feel anxious, I don't feel nervous, I didn't feel overconfident, I just was like okay here's what I need to do and just quickly out of plan in my head or here's here's what I'm gonna do, okay, I'm going to do it. Um There's been other times don't get me wrong where in fact later that day where I was doing something and I thought I'm gonna die here, I'm definitely gonna die, I'm gonna die. But literally if we go down there I'm going to die and which you will be able to relate to, right, you go down a certain alley and you think I'm not going to see the other side of this.

Um But yeah, on that day, in that moment that just was it just all clicked. It made sense and I was just fucking making it up as I went along with him being quite honest and um when I just thought you're not gonna die was like you're not gonna die, but that christ get might might be coming for you. Um And you know, he was at ease and like well the good thing about some medics get real in their little pigeon hole in their corner that they're the most important thing, what they do is the most important thing and stuff. But I could see the big picture right? I was like we need our sniper back because our walls are about to get overrun and I'm about to be on Al Jazeera with my head held up right? So like I um yeah I was like make you good and he was itching to get back in the firefight. I was having a hard time to keep him with me, right? So um like in the end I was like right I need to make something that's gonna last. Um and then how badly can things go wrong in 3-5 minutes?

It was like back in the go go go get back up there fucking kill someone and come back and see me. And yeah and and that was exactly how it worked and because it was so hot because the like they were they were literally from all sides trying to get over the walls and shit. Um Like I couldn't get them extracted for 90 minutes and and that's a long time to have a casualty for really especially a casualty that's that's like that golden hour bro. Yeah so um so that was that was from a medical perspective because I thought I've not really done you have that right? You do something special but at the moment and and for like a year later you're just like I'm really do anything that was fun. Yeah I did what I would have done any other time. I don't really do anything that special but the hospital made a big deal of it and that was probably played into me getting the M. C. Was because the second in command of the squadron got pulled aside by the surgeons and said whoever that fucking medic was like, they need to be recognized for that because that was out outrageous when really I was sucking made it up.

Yeah, that's funny man. Like you just, it's like something's come up right? Like all right, here's a problem. I need to provide a solution and I'm just gonna do whatever is necessary right now and figure it out along the way, man. You know, and luckily things worked out in your favor and in Simon's favor and you know, for the benefit of the entire troop that you know, you got there, you are able to patch him up, get him back in the fight to you know, then start sucking taking dudes out and eliminating threats man. Like that's incredible bro. And you know, I understand exactly where you're coming from because when I was nominated for my award, I was just like, I just did my job. Like any of the, any of the boys would have done the same thing. Like if you're gonna award me, you should be awarding all these guys as well. Like I didn't do anything special. I was just like johnny on the spot that just had to come up with a solution for a problem that had just presented itself right? Like and it wasn't for years, years and years and years that like I never talked about it and it was like, it was, it was always my mates that were like hey man, like what you did was fucking incredible and blah blah and I'm like you would have done the same thing like yeah I might say that but I don't actually know that in the fucking time and in the location with that situation like unfolding as it did man, so you know you should be proud of what you achieved bro and to be recognized by you know higher up higher command that are like you know you fucking you save this dude dude's life, you got him back on the job, you know, which then potentially saved more guys life within the troop to you know bring these guys home man like that's fucking incredible bro and you should be really proud of that maybe yeah, maybe I am and and don't get me wrong, I go back to what I said at the start and that I was the same person the day before that happened, the day it happened and the day after I was the same person, but in most other people's eyes, I was a different person, right?

So that that for me is like looking, looking past what you can see about someone, you I think of myself as a pretty good judge of character and you know, I can look at someone, I think they've probably got something quite special, they've just not been tested at this time and you know, I've had people that have had a real problem with it at times when I came back home and I'm on the on the piste on the lash and on a night out and people come up to me like are you sucking? Amazing? Like I just don't know how you do that and I was like, maybe like until you've been tested, you don't have any idea what you're capable of um and most people won't ever feel that um And that's just the way it is, but I think I think that human beings are more resilient than a lot of people give them credit for and you know, you honestly are capable of when you're really push comes to shove people like I can't I can't run anymore. I got bad knees. I was like well if I put a line behind you you'd fucking run. Um Which I'm sure you've said many times.

Yeah. That's awesome man. Alright cool. So um then you obviously you you know, continue on your tour in Afghanistan, how much longer you therefore before you return home, that was the halfway point. So okay, we we actually had our rest and recuperation period straight after that, so we then had a week to wind down and you know, process it and then we we flew home for two weeks. Um I got absolutely smashed stupid for two weeks and then went back out um and then did three months of the tour came home, there was there was flashes of like real hairy and then the last day or the last off was was fucking grim. Um We lost one of the guys, unfortunately one of the incoming guys and um then you came home and then then classic military stuff, they're like okay, we need to put you on a promotion course. So yeah, post or leave is not really going to be a thing for you, You've got 10 days off and then we're gonna put you made.

That was horrendous by the way, coming from the desert of like 45 degrees to then go in november in like in Hampshire in Southern England, like middle of the night, it's like fucking minus three. Um That was horrendous change of climate. But yeah, and then and then really it was I was prepping for a specialist branch of the military to to go on that selection. And and then I I signed off probably seven months later after coming home. And then yeah, so applied to leave the military. Mhm. We'll talk about your transition process in a moment. But before that, how did you find out? When did you find out that you've been nominated for the military cross? Yes, I had some idea that something was coming. Um And then, oh this is quite a funny story actually. Um I so whilst I was, it's 2014, the beginning of 2014 and at that christmas I was tired of being a really poor soldier because I was I think I was still getting paid as a private or something and I was like, how can I earn money?

How can this guy money? And I was in okay shape. So I googled how can I? And it was like, you can be a butler in the buff. So you know, the geese is with the colors and the topless and cuffs and stuff and they basically go around the hen booze giving drinks to women. So I I did that meat. So I was in, I was in Central London doing a job and and I'm coming back from this job where I've just done a I think I did a hindu on like a, I don't even know what night it was, maybe a thursday or something. And Simon is, has messaged me, he's like, we're out in West London, a place called Hammersmith. We're out come come meet us. And I was like, well I've obviously got kit on the piss kit in my backpack. That's something I always tell people, you should never go anywhere without wet kit. Warm kit on the biscuit. And yeah, so um yeah, so I've basically put, and I'm on a motorbike, right? So I've pulled up outside literally right outside this club in Hammersmith and have just gone around the corner in a bush.

Got changed all out of this bike stuff into this on the biscuit and quickly done my hair in a car window, packed it all back in my bag giving it to the cloakroom person. And and then I'm just like, we just at this at this thing and Simon's like, mate, we've done it, we're getting we're getting some swingers, we're getting some medals and I was like funk and uh yeah, we got absolutely sourced that night in in this private table area and you know, he had some compensation money that he was splashing like, so we had the vodka flowing and all come with me. It was messy, so that's how I found out what happened the next day. Yeah, I can't remember, I can't remember. But yeah, so basically that was on the thursday and then I think I was on leave the following week. Um but on the monday morning um the colonel would send someone someone down to get me out of bed so he's like knocked on the door and he's like, the colonel needs to see right now. Um I was like for fox sake and I, so I had to shave and getting kit and just go and see a belter of a colonel.

And yeah, I went up there and he was like yeah you, yeah and Simon was on course, so I didn't I didn't do it with him at that time and he came off the awards less at the same time. So I was just in this room and the colonel was like, right you, he said it's such a dick ish way. He was like someone who seemed fit to award you the military cross and I was like fuck you. Um so uh yeah and and then he was like you need to your leaves been canceled, you need to go uh and get into central London because that you're going to do a week with the media and interviews with radio interviews, tv interviews and live tv interviews. And we had like a day of training, but what that really meant was me and Simon together got fucking shitfaced in London for a whole week. So I probably had about four or five hours sleep that week. Um and you can tell it, you can look back at some of the old footage of me doing tv interviews, May I lost my berry. I was, I was sitting in this this room on the friday and I've had enough of talking to people about the same story by this time and and I like I think we got in at like half five in the morning and everyone's getting ready and we were leaving at six a.m. So all these people already and this sergeant majors there who was supposed to be keeping control of us and he's like he's like you to take in the fucking piss, go and get changed now.

So we like got changed and then we get on the coach and you go there and then uh I'm on this couch waiting to be interviewed. I think it was for like Good Morning Britain or Sky news or something which are quite big outlets over here and you hit me, I'm sitting on the sofa and I've just gone straight to sleep like that and I have my my berry on and it fell down the side of the sofa and then someone's come to me and they're like, oh yeah you're live now let's go on, let's go and get you miked up and stuff. I was like yeah no no worries. And and then I'm like funk, I haven't got my fucking berry on and Simon screw the nut and had his on. So I was just there mates theme in just speaking just absolute shit. Um and yeah luckily Simon carried it but I mean I was I've seen and I've seen that I've seen that clip bro where you asked the, you asked the chick that was interviewing you if if she was single. Yeah, that happened. But yeah, basically I think that was the last one of the day, so that was the last one on the friday lunch so we've been made, I had a week of it and I was I was honestly tired of it and Yeah, channel four bless them.

They uh they know sorry channel five and and they like this woman and I bear in mind I couldn't see them, right, So we just had this mike and we were on this like rugby pitch or whatever in this camp in the middle of London and they're like filming and so we can just hear them through a thing. I can't see her at all. And then she's just like, she sets me up for it, right? She's like, oh, I bet your girlfriends will be, you know, sadly, you're spending so much time together and I was like, I'm single, are you? And um yeah, because I was just tired of seeing the same conversations by that point. Yeah. Alright, cool. Let's transition. I have heard that you missed an opportunity to speak to the prime minister at 10 downing street. Tell me that story. Yeah. I can't really remember why. I think we just thought he was an absolute belter at the time. So it's David Cameron and we were like, we have done one of the most like, saucy things here. So if he has any idea who's in this room, he'll come and speak to us, we're not going to go and speak to him.

You know, that's the kind of like saucy attitude you have when you're a soldier, you're like, hey, I'm from going to you can come to me. And so we just sat in the corner drinking orange juice and there was this room of people and stuff and the Prime Minister just walking around speaking to people and we were just sat there just like, Yeah, I mean, and so yeah, we never spoke to me the end, but 10 day industry is lovely. The feelings are super high, which were both over six for really appreciate it. I heard a little rumor that you decided that taking a ship at 10 Downing Street was going to be more important than meeting the Prime minister. Oh yeah, I did do that. Yeah. Yeah, man, I did do that. Yeah. I shot a ship at 10 downing street at that to the resume bro. Yeah. Well. Mhm. Alright, cool. So let's let's start transitioning towards um your transition from the military to civilian space. How long did you stay in the army for? After you rewarded that? Um What did you do? Why did you decide to discharge from the army?

Um and then talk to me about um you know, your experience going through that transition period, like any difficult periods, You went through mental health implications, um You know, losing your purpose, losing your direction, your self identity, etcetera. Talk me through that process. Yeah. I think I'll try and go linear and I'll try and go go from the beginning. So um yeah, it was probably about two weeks after that that time with the media where I've got fucked around and um I was like, no more. No more. I've had enough of this. Like I had a month's leave and the military greater doing this. They're like, no, no, no, no, like you're just about to go and leave and they're like, uh so, and I was being held back to do something fucking stupid and pointless. And so I was like, right, that's it, I I can do something else. Um and then I applied to leave was um looking at what I was gonna do and at that time I was like, I want to be a pe teacher, so I'm gonna have to go to university.

I'm gonna have to do all this stuff to get ready to go to university. I didn't finish school and yeah, I was super excited. Um Then the army of this thing where they wanted to get as much blood from me as possible. So they sent me all over for that last as long as they could um obviously have to serve a year's notice and, and then I went and did the role in South Africa cause the bodyguard cause I had no intention of doing it. But that time I had been accepted to university to study sports science and nutrition. Um And I, yeah, so I essentially thought I had some cash and I thought, well I'm gonna do this bodyguard course because it would be a good backup if university doesn't work out, You know, I'd never written an essay before. I didn't even finish school. So I thought, well I'll be prudent to have a good backup in case, you know, I'm a moron. And so I, yes, I did that cause that was fucking tough. That's really tough me. I could do a separate podcast just on that course. That was grim. That tasted on that cause it's horrible. Um but and that taught me a lot. I taught me a lot that caused it.

Um and then, yeah, so then I kind of discharge moving to London. Um and then, and I was so organized also planned, I had my budget had a job squared and it was this guy, he was gonna, you know, I was gonna be this boot camp instructor running a couple of parks in London and I knew what was gonna get paid and stuff literally the day I discharged all that week I discharge stopped taking my call and he, he's never text me or spoke to me since. So um the whole foundations of how of, of my plan for those six months between military and university fell away underneath me. So I literally had to go and just again you use any skills that you can, so I was doing a few private medical events. Um I, and for the most part I had to work the doors. So I was a bouncer in West London and and just just had to, because I had the close protection, the bodyguard course, I could, I could work as door security. So um, so yeah, I was just doing that for six months and it sucked dick.

Um but again, it taught me about like more about being humble, right? Because like people live in London. They think it's this like amazing place, but you think that because you're, they're going out for dinners and stuff when you're working behind the scenes is literally all immigrants that are waiters, waitresses, security and stuff like that. So you know, I was just with all these like polish people and stuff, just making friends and and then started university and that was really where my decline happened. And I didn't know or realize until probably about two years after, which is when my girlfriend who I'd, I'd been with and lived with from probably about, we've been together for probably six months before I left the military. So she, she'd been through that whole transition. Um, we live together then in London. She basically left me. She was like, I can't do this anymore. I'm gone. Um and that was like my whole support structure and that's because of, was this because of the, your like slow decline that potentially you didn't see.

And all these like little things started ticking over, ticking over, ticking over and got to a point where she's like funk man, like you're not the same person anymore. I don't want to hang around, I want to go off and do my own thing and let you figure out your own ship is that kind of what happened or Yeah, I'd say so yeah, pretty much, I'd say so like I just wasn't the same person anymore and like I I turned into this horrible person to be around, I just wasn't an enjoyable person to be around and there was there was there was a bit of other things but nothing nothing like no cheating or anything like that. Um So so yeah, that that was kind of what happened and you know, I was just a homemade like and this this deep underlying thing, they've been getting gradually and gradually worse and you know, there were signs like six months prior or something, she should come and like hugged me from behind and saying, come on, why are you being so grumpy and I'd be like, well how about I shoot one of your friends in the face and you know, I see how you adapt to it. Um and you know, little things like that, A little point is if people are saying that around you, I'd fucking raise some flags because those are little point is that someone is struggling to deal with things inside and um you know, I'd say I would say stuff like that, like I thought I had the right to be fucking miserable and everyone because I was West Masters military Cross, you know, I was just I was just sucking high profile person, you know like people should just deal with it um and that's just not the way the world works and so yeah, essentially, um, May I was in an absolute hole and I'll probably pause there so I can carry on and carry on from there.

But if you've got any questions or anything like around that leading up to that, you can, I guess you can ask them now. Yeah man, I wanna, I wanna ask like, do you think that she did your favor by leaving you and basically pointing out that you were being a fucking cont and this slow progression of becoming a worse person and you know, being on your high horse and you know, maybe treating her like sh it and not giving her, you know, the love and respect that she was looking for, maybe that her leaving was the catalyst for you to be like, all right, well fuck, I've gone too far down that slippery slope. Oh, undoubtedly. Um, and just not in that way as well. So, you know, the military strike, it's like a, it's like a bubble, right? And you know, there was, there was so much that she taught me in that two year period that was like, this is not an okay thing to say. People will not think you're joking here. They think you are genuinely sexist or they like, so, You know, I learned a lot from her of what of my transition to becoming a civilian, right?

Because I joined up at 18, I came from a very violent and savage background. So you know, I I thought it was okay to kind of say these and jokes joke about these kind of things when it's just really not ok in in normal normal life in society. So, you know, I learned a lot from her on that end, um and took it all on board, but then similarly when when it fell apart and I said, look what's going on here, Why has this happened? Why have you done this? And she was like, boom boom, boom, boom boom. This is why um I guess you can react in one of two ways, but I was like right there, I no longer have any fucking excuse for not being the best possible bloke I can be. So it's like, right, I need to I need to be more caring more empathetic, need for a start. I need to go and do some charity work right? For some purpose because that's pretty much what you do in the military, right? You you go around and you help people who can't help themselves. So, you know, I was like, I need to I need to get with everyone else. You put other people before yourself. Exactly. And I need to feel that again.

I need to I need to have that purpose because otherwise who the funk am I what my girl might be coming. Um Am I just this guy who was this important person and now I'm not um like, am I just gonna ride the wave of that for the rest of my life? Like because I don't see that ending. Well so yeah, essentially that was it mate. And I had she not done that, had she done anything else? Had she stayed and said you need to do this, I wouldn't have done it. So that was the only way and made that hit me real hard. I was suicidal for about six months. Um There was one moment where I really gave up and luckily one of my friends was there. But um yeah literally made that was one of the toughest times in my life. Um that was probably the toughest time of my life. For sure. I just want to I just want to pause there man um and touch on this because you know it is a problem in the veteran community as I said in the you know within coalition forces and definitely within Australian force, I'm sure it's the same for you as well. But you know when you're having these suicidal thoughts man and you're having a really fucking rough time and you think that the only way for these bad times to end is to take your own life, like what goes through your mind or what happens?

What are the circumstances like with your friends conversations that you're having that Mexico you know what, I'm a fucking soldier, I'm going to keep soldiering on, I'm going to figure out a way to deal with this issue, I'm going to find some tools that is going to move, get me out of this fucking hole and then allow me to grow and develop into the fucking person that I want to be remembered as. Yeah, well, I think, I think that's a very good appointment and if I'm being honest, it's not a simple solution. There was a couple of, there was a number of things that fed in that helped me get there and you know, it's important to understand that if when people say to me, oh, you were in the army were in the military. So I mean, I would say, yeah, in a different lifetime and that's how I that's how I categorize it. It was a different lifetime was a different person. Um, I keep some of the key skills and values that I learned into the new me, but I had to let it go and that was really what I had to get to to get there and I'll probably bring this up now, counseling didn't really work for me.

Um, I went, they kind of pointed out way to solve the problem and then I had to go, I had to go off and do it on my own because constantly going over ship that happened in my childhood, going over stuff. I saw in the military, you know, there's a medic, I don't want to go over that over and over again, me, it makes me feel shit. So like for me, it was about jokingly bottling it up and moving on and that was really what it was me is I just didn't move on and because I didn't have classic signs of PTSD, you know, I didn't, I didn't understand what was going on, I had no idea I had this feeling inside that it felt like someone was stood on my chest and I couldn't breathe. Um and you know, like I'm telling the few friends that I've got around because again, leaving the military, you leave if you don't stay in the area, you and you go on to somewhere new, you have to make new friends if you're not a super enjoyable person to be around, that really isn't gonna happen and you're just alive.

Exactly that, and, and it's tough bro, like, and I was, I was studying in university, so I'm poor as fuck. Um and yeah, so it's, I can't do things with my old friends and and they start getting sassy because I'm not like coming to see them all the time, or I'm not, you know, doing this and that, and it's, it's tough, like, it really is one of the toughest things to do for me to say goodbye to your family, who are you're so close to it, I mean, you could just me and Simon made when we were in, we just sit there and cry and talk about stories and stuff and you know, you flush it out and then when you leave, you just don't have it. And so I would say the biggest problem there was not leaving that world behind, trying to still feel like I was this this amazing person, this military cross winner soldier, I had to find a new identity and go on to new things. Um and yeah, and really just fully embrace that.

I think that's a great point. There's something that you brought up there that um that piqued my interest and and when you said um you know, I felt like someone was standing on my chest, right? Like this is a thing, man, like with ptsd anxiety, depression and things like that. There's no people don't see like a physical disability, so they don't think there's anything wrong with someone right now, if someone's dealing with anxiety, depression, ptsd, like it literally feels like a physical fucking burden, right? So, um in my coaching journey, I did what's called an NLP course and became a master practitioner of neuro linguistic programming and something that I took away from that, one of the biggest things was how you speak to yourself. So, going right back to what we said at the start about, you know, here's the conclusion and then we start creating these stories to fill in the gaps, right?

And this is where I think, you know, for myself, I went through a little bit of a rough time. Um you know, not as bad as a lot of people that transition from the military, but um, you know, I went through a little bit of a rough time, kind of floated a little bit, Lost my tribe, my self identity and my purpose, my direction. And once I started implementing these tools again that I'd learned standard operating procedures, like getting out of bed at the same time, making my bed shaving, you know, fucking going to the gym, looking after myself and building my schedule man. Like it really allowed me to continue progressing my life in a way that was going to allow me to become and grow into the person that I wanted to be now, Something that was really important. There was those stories that I was telling myself, I had to change the story that I was telling myself, you know, and instead of being, you know, this entitled guy was like, I've been awarded this and funding, I was a highly functioning soldier and blah blah blah blah and now like everyone else is shipped, like I'm dealing with these people who you know, I can't rely upon at work that unprofessional that, you know, you know, not showing up on time and not respectful and not professional, not capable of doing their job or just like barely meeting the minimum standard man, you know, I had to tell myself a different story and I had to create a new narrative to be like, all right, well, you know, maybe they just haven't that they haven't had that same level of training.

I've had a high level of training, I expect higher standards from myself. And that's because, you know, I'm relied upon as part of a team, right? So I started changing, you know, the narratives that I was saying to myself and speaking to myself different. I was like, well that instead of that happening to me, that happened for me, you know, all the good things in my life, all the bad things in my life, what did I learn from that particular situation? Okay, and again, I'm going to learn from that. I'm going to think about, you know, I give myself a little a are all right. If that situation came up again, what would I fix? How would I fix it? What am I improves? How can I improve it? What sustained, what did I do well to deal with that situation? All right, cool, sweet. If this situation comes up again, how am I going to deal with it? Right. And like for me always reflecting on those decisions, actions, behaviors, circumstances, events that then, you know, made me think about who I wanted to be, how I was going to deal with that again, moving forward.

Like I love reflecting on all of those events, those crossroads in my life to then go, hey, I learned something from that. What did I learn from that? How can I apply that in the future? So then I can start projecting towards you know, walking that path that I want to walk on to become the person that I want to be man. I think that's really fucking powerful is the way that you speak to yourself because we want to take ourself from, you know, this victim mentality where we go, well, this happened to me right? And now because it happened to me that story is like, I have no power in that, I have no control over what happens. Whereas if you go the other way and you take ownership, you take responsibility. You're accountable for those actions. All right, what did I do to get myself in that situation? Maybe I was being a ship partner? Maybe, you know, I was being a little bit high and mighty. Maybe I wasn't giving people a fair chance when you know, maybe they had something going on their life and they were rocking up late to work or whatever it might be man. And I was like, all right, how how can I become a better person? How can I tell myself a different story that's going to shape my mentality and you know, instead of moving backwards, I'm now progressing forwards as as I said earlier man, I want to be a fucking better person, A better human, a better man, A better coach in five years time than what I am right now because I can look back to five years ago ago and say I have improved in fucking so many areas of my life and I'm really grateful for everything that's happened to me up until this point.

Yeah, exactly. That and there's nothing more funny than people, you know, you see someone five years after you last saw them or something and then they call, where's the time gone? And you're like, May, it feels like fucking different decade for me, I don't know about you, but that feels like it's been about 20 years, I've done so much. So um you know, like it's um probably just going back quickly onto the, onto the how I felt when I was, when I was wanting to commit. Well when I wanted to kill myself was like, I didn't want to do it and I was I was open with a few people that were in my life, I was like, look, I don't, I want to get out of this, but I just can't, I don't see a way and you know, like have been severely depressed and not having any idea that you are severely depressed because you're the soldier that's done tours or wherever. So it must be PTSD but you know, I don't really have PTSD because it doesn't make sense. You know, I feel like the one of the best things for me was really just understanding my feelings and understanding that that you have ups and downs in a day but really like truly understanding what I'm feeling, what I'm feeling that way and you know, being okay with that.

Um That was what helped get me out of it and really I may I just went and I went off and started walking across Europe on my own with a dog and a tent. And yeah, I spent a long time walking walking through through europe and spent some time in the alps and stuff just on my own with the dog and stuff and make it just really cleared my head up and you know, I can't can't um say enough how beneficial, just spending time, just time on my own in the quiet with no distractions, just just on your own. Um What how that I could, was able to just process everything. Um And and yeah, really? It was just amazing and um going them back to university but now as a single guy and my support networks gone like there is nothing more infuriating to a soldier, an ex soldier than privileged students not giving a funk what they've been through. And that was amazing for me because I was like, no one here gives a funk what I've been through because they're too busy going through their own ship.

And I remember being sat in an exam one day and this young girl bless her heart, like got up within five minutes, broke into tears and fucking legged it for the door and burst through them like she was door kicking like and I was like oh my God I can't imagine like what she must be feeling inside. And that was when I was really like you know what everyone this is normal, everyone is feeling something, everyone has their own story whether you're a soldier wherever yourself harm like no matter where you come from, everyone's got stuff going on inside and you should just and you've got to accept it. Otherwise you know it's just this little demon that sits on your shoulder that pokes up every now and then and fox your day up. But for me when that when that does happen I'm like I'll be good tomorrow though might be fine and I'm just gonna sit here and eat chocolate today and just feel it mate. That is that is really powerful man. And you know that is literally mindfulness right? Is like understanding that emotions are emotions, they come and go right and I've heard this explained is like someone someone saying like if you are trying to be happy all the time, you will never succeed, right?

Because if people think that they can if they're chasing happiness all the time, okay if something makes them not happy all right then they're fucking sad then they're depressed then like emotions are emotions they come and go right So if I heard someone say like if you think that you can stay happy all the time. That's like trying to ride a wave, right? You can ride that way for a certain period of time. But then that way it's going to crash. What do you do now? All right. You've gotta fucking paddle back out. You've got to stay on the board. You've got to wait for the next wave, right? And that's what emotions are like, man, they fucking come and go and as soon as you understand that, then, you know, so many things affect our emotions. Our environment is a big one bro. What we do, like social media. Um You know, like what we what we read, what we listen to, who we speak to, who we interact with, how we eat, how we're sleeping. Training. Everything impacts our emotional and physical and mental well being, man.

So, you know, if you can pay attention to those thoughts and not act upon them and just just acknowledge them and be like, all right, well, I'm not feeling great about myself today, okay, what's within my control that I can do? That's going to allow me to kind of balance everything out. I'm going to acknowledge that hey, I'm today, I'm a little bit sad and I don't know why. Okay, how's my sleep been? Probably didn't sleep very well last night. My nutrition is probably little bit shit. I haven't trained today. Alright. Had a fight with the missus this morning, All right, there's a few things there that I can probably address that are within my control. That's kind of going to balance me out a little bit, but if I don't pay attention to it and I don't acknowledge it and I don't put some action steps in place to balance myself out and ride that ride that fucking sad wave out or whatever you want to call it like and put myself into a good position to be able to catch the next happy wave or whatever it might be like, you know, we can only control what we can control. So I think it's really important to, as you said, spend some time with yourself man, have your own fucking thoughts and acknowledge those thoughts and process them.

You don't have to act upon them. You don't have to attach meaning to them, right? Just understand that they're going to come and go and something. I heard someone say, I think it was a book or a podcast or something. Was like think about your thoughts like a thief in the night. Alright if someone, if a thief in the night comes into your house right? And you've got all of this stuff and they you they steal like a tv and a stereo and blah blah blah. Like you're attaching meaning to those thoughts and those thoughts are going to then um sabbath. Sorry um Hijack your attention, right and you go off on this tangent and then you start going down the hill rather go alright, this thief has come into my house, I'm not going to give him anything to take away. Okay the thief goes there's nothing here. Doesn't get any meaning, doesn't get any emotions attached to, it just leaves. All right. Sweet Next thought comes in do the same thing man, don't attach meaning, don't attach emotion, acknowledge it and then afterwards go what do I want to act upon? Okay I don't need to be reactive to those things.

I understand these thoughts are coming in but there's gonna be some thoughts that are going to be important that within my control that I can start putting action steps into place. There's gonna be some thoughts that I can't control and I can't put action steps in place. So you know acknowledging that difference and then being able to um determine the difference between them what you can control, what you can't control. I think that's super important bro. Yeah man. And I think that that's that's a really really good point and I probably just go back to something that you said is that I I think is hugely important and you see a lot these days is that people are positive vibes only and that's just not the life that's not the world, right? You you're trying to live in a bubble and okay fine if you want to live in your own little bubble, then been great. But when when the bad times come for you, it's gonna hurt you so much harder. Um But yeah and it's just as daft as people that are just miserable all the time, right? So it's it's um yeah, it's something that you just kind of have to understand that we are humans right? And it's human nature to have human emotions.

So like be angry if it's something that makes you angry, be sad at something that makes you feel sad, be happy. So it makes you feel sad and I think it's steve Rinella says um quite quite quite well in that it has like a like a gauge for happiness and things that make them happy, right? And there's a period of adversity prior to that, that and and the greater the adversity to get to that happy moment, the greater the happiness and like the easier like going on a roller coaster for something is the quickest forgotten is the most quickly forgotten source of happiness, right? You could do it, you feel great and then you forget that a week later. Um Whereas like when I do something that I do a lot, like say if I if I do 100 mile walk or something like that and I do it like three days is a horrible three days, but that's something I'll remember for years and and I'll remember that feeling and I'll chase that feeling again. Um And yeah, so so happiness without down like downtime and downside is, is just how happy really are you are you just taking over and God help.

There'll be another pandemic come because you're fucked. You can't have one without the other, right? Like, you know, if you've experienced bad times and you know, been sad, depressed, blah, blah blah, like it makes you when something good happens, you know, it makes you appreciate it more, it makes you more grateful for those things, right? Like if you never experienced bad things, then you know, how can you experience the other end? Right? We live on this spectrum man and that that pendulum is constantly swinging back and forth. Now I heard someone say um obviously post traumatic stress is where people keep replaying reliving these events over and over again and you know, they're living in the past and they wish they could have done things differently and blah, blah, blah blah. But then on the other side of the spectrum, there's post traumatic growth where people have experienced something really traumatic but have come out the other side and like learned from it and they've learned and they've been taught how to be grateful for certain things and good things in their life and the people around them and you know, their situations and taking control of the things that they can control and not focusing on the things that they can't control and I think that's an important thing to understand as well as like there's a spectrum.

So you know, you can influence where you sit on that spectrum, are you going to go through drop to post traumatic stress or are you going to create an environment to allow post traumatic growth? Yeah, exactly. I I actually love that. I've not heard of that before, but, and, and something as well, I think it's less brown. So I, who said this and I use a lot is that you never have a bad day. You only ever have a character building day and that probably falls in the NLP bucket, right? Just assigning a different name to something. Makes me feel different way about it. Like if I'm having a hacking day with work, I'm like, this isn't a bad day. This is a character building day and I feel differently about it. I'm like, I'll get through this day like, oh fucking make it through this day and uh and tomorrow is a new one and I have a new fresh start to kick the ship out of it. Um so yeah, I think that's absolutely absolutely true and I love that post traumatic growth thing. That's um that's good. Yeah, that's awesome. That's awesome.

And you know, as you said, man, like tomorrow's a new day, I know that, you know, today might be a bad day. Things aren't going my way, what's within my control that I can, you know, put into action and tomorrow is a new opportunity to create the environment, that's going to allow me to thrive and every day, once you start telling yourself that story, once you start again, you just, you spoke about like the words that you're using, right? Like this is this is an opportunity to grow, right? What was that? What was that quote you just said, Yeah, you don't ever have a bad, they have a building, building day. Yeah, he said something else. What did he say? He says, don't um when the bad times are gonna come and they are going to come, you will experience bad times in your life. Just understand that they have not come to stay, they have come to pass. Like they are just, they are just a fleeting moment, Sometimes they stay for longer, sometimes they stay for shorter, but understand that they will pass if like I said right at the start, if you adopt, if you try and be the best possible version of yourself, not just an average person that just fits in society, like if you just try and be the best person, you can possibly bur fucking unstoppable and like most people have no idea how powerful they are inside and they'll never experience that.

But if you truly believe you came differently and you are a breed apart, like the success will come along with the bad times, but you will see through those bad times knowing that you are going to get somewhere fucking sick and I may I do it every year and and every time I absolutely smash it. And I love, I love myself, I'm so happy. Um and you know, I would 110% not be here right now had I not gone through those two difficult years made this is this has been a fucking incredible conversation bro. I've really enjoyed it. Um just to start wrapping up the conversation, The name of the podcast is live train perform, which stands for live life to the fullest, trained to your potential and perform at your best. What does that mean to be mean to you? Yeah, so I think firstly live, right, we all live but we all die at some point and one of my biggest fit, not one of my fears, but something that I want to make sure never ever happens is that I get to a deathbed and I regret that I didn't live my life to the complete fullest.

So every single day I wake up um and I just try and kill it every day. Um and it's gotten me to a point now where if someone said, oh unfortunately I've only got a month to live, you've got some packing horrible cancer or something. I'd be like, okay, yeah, I mean I had a sick one while it lasted. Like how many people in their thirties could say that like it's um yeah, and it's been, but it came with hard work right? So and and starting each day being like what am I gonna do? How am I going to attack it today or who am I going to spend time with today? Or am I gonna tell my mate what? He text me yesterday um Just out of the blue. He was like, hey I freaking love you, I'm so proud to have you as a friend, you're an amazing friend. And I was like stop it, I wasn't ready for that like and you know like and he does he approaches life the same way he gets up in the morning and he gets fucking after it. And and that that's not always going and having a sick training session sometimes that's telling someone in your life that you love them or or making that effort to go drive to one of your friends and giving them a fucking hug and having a beer of them, right?

So it's uh I'll never ever wanna come to the end of my life, not really have having a real fuckingo at it. And you know, a lot a lot of people's days are based around trying to elongate that life, trying to make their time on this planet longer. Whereas what I try to do is just make that my time here as fulfilled as possible, whether that means that I end up doing 45 50 wherever I end up at like 90 or whatever, I don't care, but the days that make up my life uh r as fulfilled as possible. So yeah, it was it live train train me as if I'm gonna do fucking not train training. Training is just like food to me. So um Yeah, and I guess probably on a more serious note on that, I do like to say to people is that if I was like on the tube and there was a tube attack or something which is very regular um or something like or if if old woman fell down and had a heart attack or something and the elevators were broken or a block some kind of situation, I would feel like the most shittiest bloke ever.

If I was physically incapable of running upstairs with someone or running up to get help or incapable of carrying her or him whatever. Like if I felt physically not able to carry out some task that meant that someone had some kind of pain or physical ailment because of I'd feel like a ship stain. So um yeah, train train because you know something, you never know what's gonna come around the corner and like I said, exactly me and you know, like, I would never have made that run to Simon if I wasn't, if I didn't train 23 times a day, if I didn't and I didn't know that was coming like, but I trained because I wanted to be the best version of myself and um Yeah. I don't know. I don't know how many other guys could have done that run in that squadron of that weight. But yeah, it was it was something that was just a result of fucking grafting prior to it.

And like Simon said, yeah, every day was a leg is a leg day is something that I said because I like to smash their legs and then perform is just a result of hard, hard work. Yeah. Performing is just, I guess the results of all your hard work. It's the glory bit. Um And I've said this to people who have had a bit of a swipe at university students. I'm like something that they have to do that you don't do in the military is so we're going on a run in the military, right? 10 miles with kit or something like that. It's horrible. But there's people watching you and it is not that hard to perform when the lights are on you. When people are watching it is fucking horrible to put in hours and hours and hours of hard, hard work when there's no glory there when there's no one watching you and a degree was three years, right? So you have three years to work fucking hard behind the scenes for that thing at the end. And yeah, so performing is just just a result of hard work.

So like I feel like the results come if you if you train and you live to the fullest, right? I guess they can link in maybe in a backwards way. Something like that. That's exactly why I named the podcast that made because they all link in. But I'm always interested to hear what people say because like for me, living life to the fullest is training to my potential, right? And training to my potential allows me to perform on my best in life. It allows me to live life to my fullest. So if something comes up, I want to fucking, you know, so he's been hitting me up. He's like, hey, let's do this challenge, let's do this challenge. I'm not going to go into detail here cause I don't want to give away any secrets, but you know, I need to be fucking I want to be prepared for anything that life throws at me bro, You know, that's what, that's what live life to the fullest, trains your potential perform your best means to me, man. Like it all fucking links in together and it's all a self fulfilling prophecy, right? Yeah, look right, and like me going back to that marathon example, like I've got, I've got a cool, like a few weeks before, I'll be loads of people dropped out this marathon, You want to run it for us?

And I was like, look right, like, well, hold on, have you done any training was like, no, but you know, I'm trained. Um So like when you, when yeah, when yeah, I'm fucking ready, I'm ready for anything. Like how many people like I like that and if it's really not, it's just the hard work, isn't it really? I guess some people don't want to do that, but you, the feeling of being jacked and ready for anything is just something that you, I mean you just feel like the ultimate boy, don't you just feel like the ultimate human um when like if someone's are you need to read this by monday or something, then you're like, yeah, no worries. Rather than, oh, I actually haven't read any things in school. Um So yeah, I guess um yeah, performing is just, there is just a byproduct of of training hard and and living to the fullest. Exactly, man. I always always say like you, whenever an event comes up, everything that you've done to lead up to that point is all that you have.

Those are the fucking tools that you have right there. And then and the more tools you have in the tool box, the more situations, the more circumstances, the more events you're able to deal with. Yeah, exactly. My made that reference earlier, johnny, he does it all the time. He'll like the way he lives, his heart were not hard, but he lives and he trains and um he'll just challenge himself from a performance aspect of it. Like okay, uh shall I just go lunge a mile, I'm just gonna go do lunges for a mile. Um and when you perform and then you succeed, you know, you like I said at the start that, okay, what's the next thing then? What's the next thing and that that military cross that I've got, It made me into a person where I'm like, okay, I don't want to do anything where if I read it on the front page of a newspaper, I would think what a cunt I would think what a decade. Um So because of that, right? So it makes me a better person, like I don't want to and and a lot of people I guess leave the military and and they regress back to the person they were before because it's just, you know, they need someone to live so they go back to where they were and you know, then they go and the military is such an amazing training package that they turn you into a different person.

If you're regressing straight back to the person you were before, you're wasting all that training and um Yeah, I think it's, it's um it's important to move on to to where you're going with that personal growth and just continually challenge yourself to be like, okay, I wonder how long it's gonna take me to do 100 pull ups or if you're good at pull ups, the 500 pull ups or something and just fucking stay on that bar till you finish them. And and just and then like I understand that feeling of how you feel. If there's people listening that aren't haven't done a little challenge themselves, challenge yourself to do something and then see how you fucking feel afterwards. Yeah, that's setting yourself up for achievement man and I think that is like the meaningful meaning of life for me. Um This has been an incredible conversation man. Um I've really enjoyed this one. You're very inspirational dude and I've loved hearing your story. I'm looking forward to getting this out to people. Um If people want to reach out to you um you know, touch base to say how much they appreciate this podcast, your story, the lessons that you know, they've taken away from it.

Where can they find you? Yeah, social media wise, I'm only on instagram because I think that's the easiest thing to control the content that I'm exposed to. Um So yeah, it's just West Masters um on instagram. So at West Masters um And yeah, I mean I do regular, I've got one coming up regular adventures that I guess people can can mimic and stuff like that. But yeah, that's that's the only place to reach me. There's the address isn't going, I'm afraid awesome mate, I'll have that linked in the show notes mate, whereas I want to thank you very much for your time brother. I appreciate you, sharing your journey man, your emotions, those lessons. Um and I'm really looking forward to meeting you face to face one day. I think we're going to become really good mates. Yeah, I've been I've not been to Thailand, so I've been meaning to come out there and um yeah, we'll definitely link up. But yeah, honestly, thank you so much for the invite is it's amazing to speak to you again. Super inspirational guy, I think you're amazing at these podcast. It's great to listen to every single one. So um yeah, I I appreciate appreciate you having me on awesome.

Thank you very much, cheers brother, take care. And there we have a great conversation with wes Masters military Cross recipient for actions in Afghanistan. This episode was brought to you by Swiss A which is a proactive mental health program designed by veterans Initially four veterans that has been pushed out to the wider community via an app. The app allows you to schedule in their eight pillars of health and wellness, which are sleep, nutrition, discipline, time management, fitness, personal growth, mindfulness and minimalism. You can download the app via their website, which I'll have linked in the show notes. This episode was also brought to you by be spunky, which is a listed Australian made nutraceutical male hormone optimization supplement which is a supplement. I've been using for about a year and a half now and absolutely rate you can go into their website, be spunky dot com dot au and use the code codes KO BEs 10 for your 10% discount.

25 star ratings and reviews are much appreciated guys, much love peace.

Wes Masters MC (Military Cross)
Wes Masters MC (Military Cross)
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