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August 2nd, 2006 is just a taste of what war is. We lost two people that day. There are companies, battalions that have lost half, most of their unit. You look at the numbers from WW2 or Vietnam, it's astounding.
BUD/s is a challenge but as you(Jocko Willink) and I know, training is nothing compared to war. You think BUD/s is hard, you think Hell Week is hard? Try getting hit in the face. And then, you reset your benchmark on what is hard, or what is pain, or what is suffering.
Chris Kyle was the Primary Sniper, Navigator, Pointman, and newguys kind of get matched up to a person. He was the person I got matched up to, because I would eventually be groomed to take on his responsibilities, so early on, I got tasked with being the Assistant Lead Navigator and Point Man and Sniper, which I eventually got to take on these roles more as a Primary later, and in workup and also on deployment.
I didn't really feel well accepted, in a lot of ways, by the Korean American community. I remember just being teased, because I was 'too white.' I think one time I had skateboarding shoes when I went to like my Korean church, and I just got made fun of it for and I just, you know, so I just. It's kind of funny to think about, I think just to laugh it off, like it's just ridiculous, but when you're a kid and that's your world, it means a lot, so I never felt like I was accepted to a group until I was in the Teams, and I was, and for the first time, I was home.
I don't know if I would die for my country, but I would, and I will die for my brother or sister, without a doubt.
I have had zero internet presence and I have intentionally not have had any social media accounts before NASA, and even for the first year and a half at being a NASA, just because I have such a visceral feeling with social media. Not because I'm not trying to blame the platform, because I think we all as humans should take accountability for our actions and how we use our tools, but narcissism is perhaps one of the biggest poisons in our society and narcissism breeds narcissism. And, a lot of times the way I've seen social media used as a platform to promote that, and when children see that self promotion that self idolization, they then want to be youtube stars. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, I think people should pursue their dreams, but I think it requires some self reflection and thoughtfulness as a society of what we value, and when you have narcissism as a valued trait, you are by definition putting yourself above others and I think that is not sustainable for a growing and evolving society, and that's why I find service very sustainable, because by definition, you are putting others before yourself. One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King: Everyone is capable of greatness, not fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.' And, I think sometimes people think the definition success is that everyone in the world knows their name, and I think they're missing the point when that is the goal they're trying to seek. And I sometimes see social media used in that, but I agree with you[Jocko Willink] that when used responsibly, respectfully, tactfully, thoughtfully, it can be a platform for good, and what made me change my mind about actually having a social media - and I'm not very active, I try to make a post a week, - a buddy of mine from the Teams said: 'You know, look, you have an opportunity that most people in this world will never have, and people just want to share in some of what you do and learn about it, and if you are using it responsibly not for self promotion, but to promote others and to share some of the cool science and inspire kids, adults, then you owe it to do that', and that was said to me still about a year before I opened up a platform, but it always stuck with me. And, I guess that's why I have been more okay with with having that because I feel that it can be a force for good when used responsibly.
I heard about NASA and like, 'Oh, that's kind of interesting', then wonder like other than space exploration, like what you do? And, learning about the impact that NASA can have on our next generation and what Apollo did for our country. I mean, in the '60's, we were able to land a human on the moon with that technology, despite a growing race with Russia and all of the politics going on during that era: Kennedy's assassination, we were able to complete that, in that secured American preeminence in science and technology for decades to come. I certainly believe that, and the benefits we got from that are... You can't count that. In learning a little bit more about that and how astronauts have had the opportunity to represent humanity for good and bringing together countries in a way that politics and alliances cannot do. When you talk to some of the Apollo astronauts who went to the Moon, and they did their international travel, the comment, the feedback they would get from people would be 'We did it. We did it together.' It wasn't, 'You Americans did it.' It was, 'We did it and it was powerful that countries could come together and see that as a human accomplishment. So there's something about space that takes away those borders, because when you're up there, you don't see these distinct borders between countries, you just see a lot of blue and a lot of land. And, you see how fragile the planet is, So once I learned a little bit about that type of impact and that you can have a huge impact on the next generation of explorers, of scientists, of people who want to be a better version of themselves, maybe I could reach out to those kids, just like me, who are scared, tired, who don't think they can amount to anything. Who don't think they're worth anything. If I can reach out to them, and let them know that, Hey, it doesn't matter where you're from, With the right attitude, or the right hard work, if you get up every time you fail, you can amount to something and you can do positive work. You can leave a good impact, a positive mark for our world. That meant a lot to me, and that's when I put my name in the hat and wanted to be an astronaut, because it was completely consistent with my goals that I promised Mikey Monsoor, Marc Lee, Ryan job, a long list of our brothers who are not here with us today, that I would, for the rest of my life, do something to impact positive good in our world.
I just want one goal at a time. That's really important to me even to this day, that you have one singular goal. Because you should be all-in in what you're doing.
I remember what Tony Eafrati(His Platoon Chief) said me when I first showed up: 'Never think you're too good to do trash.' And I take that to heart, like to this day. Never too good to do those jobs, because the moment you start to think you're better than anyone else, you have poisoned yourself. You are on the dark path.
I still have and hope that I will continue to have this attitude where I'm just happy to be where I am. I have an immense opportunity that so many deserving people don't have, to work in NASA, to be in the Astronaut Corps. That, if I never flew, it would still be an honor to serve. And who knows, something medical can come up, an injury can come up where I may be ineligible for spaceflight. It's not time wasted, I would still be very feel very privileged and it would be a huge honor to support ongoing missions. So to me, I don't know when I'll be assigned to a mission, and I don't care. I will be happy with whatever I have the honor of doing, and I will fulfill any role to the best of my ability.
I wish I had a book like [Extreme Ownership] to teach me but maybe you wouldn't have been affected. I mean, maybe you require a little bit of suffering through those mistakes to really hit home.
I'd say that the events that unfolded on August 2nd 2006 and days afterwards where we lost much better warriors than I, much braver and selfless, that those were much more formative in shaping what I do and will do for the rest of my life. And the actions of that day, we lost 2 really good men. I don't even know where to start. One of my good friends one of our good friends Ryan Job was hit in the face, and I learned a lot that day. Well, I think we all did.
I'm a firm believer that shared hardship and suffering is one of the best ways to bring people together towards a common goal.
I'm fascinated by anything that is challenging. If it's engineering, space, medicine, anything that challenges you, it's fascinating.
if you think for a second that you may not be in a bubble yourself just because you're in the military, you're wrong. I was in that bubble. And I quickly discovered that I was indoctrinated and yes, I went to a very liberal arts college and I may not have agreed with everything that was discussed, but you know what, learning to respectfully voice my opinion and listen to others voice their opinions is so important to being a productive member of society, so I am so thankful that I was able to step outside of my bubble into the civilian world and see how operations are done on that side, and I think it just helped me be a more rounded person a more rounded human being.
It pains me to this day that I wasn't there for that assault, because I was with Ryan Job. And I'm glad that I was by Ryan side. But I meant I wasn't there for Marc. When he was shot and killed. The next time I saw him was in the morgue, giving his giving a final kiss to his forehead.
Single cracks are usually not good. The crack, you know, in the crack, when I say crack, I mean when you are on the giving end of a rifle, you it's a much different sound than being on the receiving end of a rifle, that of a bullet that is supersonic makes a very distinctive crack. And when you hear that, and it's a single one, it generally is not good.
The void created by those warriors that would certainly have done good for this world, that we owe it to them to leave a positive mark in this world, and that can take many forms for me, That was why I wanted to be a physician. It didn't really matter that it was medicine. It was just natural for me because that's what I was involved in, to take that level of service to a higher calling, but taking it like trying to become an astronaut is completely consistent with my promise to leave a positive impact in this world and that's how I honor the brothers we lost. And I will never stop until the day I die trying to fill in that void because it's a void that can never be filled in.
The way I would talk to a platoon of SEALs would be very different than the way I would talk to a 60 year old COPD patient.
You can be born with bad cards. You don't need to have it all. But you have a choice and the power to craft your own destiny, your own path.
You choose your battles. I think it's important to choose what battles you stand up for. But there are some battles that you should never, ever stand down from.
You should never think you're too good to do a job. And I think you should be like that in everything you do. 'Be a forever new guy' is what I try to emulate, and I don't mean as in you shouldn't step up to the role and be a leader and delegate appropriately, but never think that you are above taking out the trash or that you're above not respecting the secretary or the lowest junior enlisted.
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