Elite U.S. Army Rangers traverse a swamp

COVID-19 Update from U.S. Elite (& a Ranger School Reminiscence)

Steve Keefer

My Ranger buddy in Ranger School was a Marine Force Recon Sniper. Tom was a total badass and he turned out to be the Distinguished Honor Graduate of our class. Tom was absolutely the best - and most hilariously profane - cadence caller I’ve ever heard. My man took creative obscenity to a whole different level and I regularly got in trouble for laughing too hard.

Through this COVID-19 outbreak I’ve been thinking about Tom, and Ranger School. For those of you unfamiliar, Ranger School is just a suckfest of being tired and hungry and overall miserable - and through it all, trying to function (or at least, not major malfunction). So laughter and perspective are really crucial. Tom and I used to regularly counsel each other ‘hope for the best, expect the worst’. And somehow things seemed to normally turn out somewhere between the two - yes things sucked, but coulda been a lot worse.* 

Now to the present - here at U.S. Elite I have asked the Team to stay home, with the exception of Iron Ike, in all his Semper Fi spirit of manning the warehouse and getting our clients’ orders out. So we are still trucking, open for business, and thanks to Iron Ike, getting your orders out pronto. Our sister company and downstairs neighbor CrossFit SOAR has gone virtual, with online activities ranging from workouts to group Netflix movie watchings to meditation sessions. 

We are all finding our balance and embracing the new normal as best as we can. If we can help you in any way, or if you have thoughts on how we could help others, please let us know. Most of our Community is in Service of some sort, and that spirit really shines. I am inspired by the leadership, compassion and genuine service I’m witnessing among people. Not only our medical teams and community leaders, first responders etc. but every day folks checking on neighbors, the elderly, those in need and just being there to help. Times like these display character and I thank you for showing the best side of humanity. At the end we are all in this together.

I’d like to conclude with a classic cadence from Tom - talking about his ‘57 Chevy and all the epic events that transpired within (and in proximity to) that blessed blissful vehicle - but upon reflection think that may be best left for a different time. So I’ll wish you calm, power, grace, good health and gratitude for another day above ground. And hopefully a smile through it all.

With love & compassion,

Steve

 

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Yes things could have been worse, but for those of you with extra time on your hands, I just wanted to share a Ranger School suckfest story. (Everyone who’s been has a bunch of ‘em lol.) For background, Tom & I were both big eaters. As in, I used to compete in eating contests, and my ol’ man & I got kicked out of an all-you-can-eat for eating too much. For further background, I went into Ranger School with single digit body fat - and still lost 45 pounds. I was stick thin and it sucked, muscle eating what little muscle remained just to keep going. Pains me just thinking about it.

Anyway as usual, Tom and I were starving. We found our cache of meals (MRE’s, yum!) and were super excited - we got 5 meals at the same time! So of course what did we do...without another thought, we both decided to eat all 5 meals at the same time. Cause we were friggin’ geniuses, and realized that since we get two meals a day, we would only be hungry for 2.5 days - but for this meal, we would eat like Kings. And so it was. And we rejoiced - fat & happy!

Unfortunately later that day we got word that we had switched from a winter to a summer class - which meant switching from 2 meals per day to 1. So we had no meals for 5 days...yikes! We drank pine needle tea, scraped lichen from rocks, enjoyed deelish insects, tried to trap squirrels (they call those varmints ‘squirrelly’ for a reason, hard to trap! and we were never in one place too long so it was hard to catch any game)...whatever we could to get through that period of time. And we played mind games with ourselves and each other. ‘Cause we were both huge eaters, and were starving and beyond cranky after 2 days of no food. By 3 days, miserable and obsessed, and by 4 days, hallucinating.

What I vividly remember is going through the Everglades at night. Suuuuuper trippy. We’re moving literally through the swamps, with the water thigh high or so. And there I was, in an altered state of consciousness...seeing the delicious offerings each tree had, right over my head! A pizza tree, a sushi tree, a taco tree - each tree had a more tantalizing and succulent offering to feed my soul as well as my starving belly. All I had to do was pluck from here, pluck from there, eat Eat EAT - I was in Heaven!

I continued wading through the swamp, one hand with my weapon at the ready, one hand plucking delectables from the generous trees, those gifts from God, and stuffing my face. And to top it all off, I knew I was wading through a chocolate sundae, with delicious ice cream that I’d step into every step, some crunchy chips as a rewarding taste treat, with chocolate fudge covering the whole shebang. How could Heaven get any better? 

And then I tripped over a root, and sputtering, went completely underwater...and realized this is not chocolate fudge, this is not ice cream, these are not pizza / taco / sushi trees...and I’m still friggin starving!! Omg I wanted to cry and scream for my mommy, I was supposed to be a grownass man but I just felt like a little baby.

Anyway we’ve all been through worse. That’s life. And as Frank Sinatra says in his famous song by that name

Each time I find myself
Flat on my face
I pick myself up and get
Back in the race

Image credit: Mitch Frazier/U.S. Army/Getty Images

Post originally written on March 17th, 2020.

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