A Debt That Cannot Be Repaid


In a country that most would struggle to find on a map, in a compound that few possess the courage to enter, men from my previous life took the fight to our enemy.

In that compound, they found men that pray five times a day for your destruction.  Those men don’t know me, they don’t know you, and they don’t know America.  They don’t understand our compassion, our freedoms, and our tolerance.  I know it may seem as if those things are currently missing, but they remain, and I know they will return.  Our capacity for them is boundless, and is only dwarfed by their hatred for you.  They don’t care about your religious beliefs; they don’t care about your political opinions.  They don’t care if you sit on the left or the right, liberal or conservative, pacifist or a warrior.  They don’t care how much you believe in diversity, equality, or freedom of speech.

I’m sorry that you have never smelled the breath of a man who wants to kill you.  I am sorry that you have never felt the alarm bells ringing in your body, the combination of fear and adrenaline, as you move towards the fight, instead of running from it.  I am sorry you have never heard someone cry out for help, or cried out for help yourself, relying on the courage of others to bring you home.  I am sorry you have never tasted the salt from your own tears, as you stand at flag draped coffins, burying men you were humbled to call your friends.  I don’t wish those experiences on you, but I wish you had them.  It would change the way you act, it would change the way you value, it would change the way you appreciate.  You become quick to open your eyes, and slow to open your mouth.

Most will never understand the sacrifice required to keep men from that compound away from our doorstep, but it would not hurt you to try.  It would not hurt you to take a moment to respect the sacrifices that others make on your behalf, whether they share your opinions or not.  It would not hurt you to take a moment to think of the relentless drain on family, friends, and loved ones that are left behind.  Ideas are not protected by words.  Paper may outline the foundation and principles of this nation, but it is blood that protects it.

In that compound, a man you have never met gave everything he had, so that YOU, have the freedom to think, speak, and act however you choose.  He went there for all of us, whether you loved him, or hated what he stood for.  He went there to preserve the opportunity and privilege to believe, to be, and to become what we want.  This country, every single person living inside of its borders and under the banner of its flag, owe that man.  We owe that man everything.  We owe him the respect that his sacrifice deserves.

Saying thank you is not enough.

We send our best, and lose them, in the fight against the worst this world has to offer.  If you want to respect and honor their sacrifice, it needs to be more than words.  You have to live it.

Take a minute and look around.  Soak it in, all of it.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  You have the choice, every day, as to which category you want to be in, and which direction you want to move.  You have that choice, because the best among us, the best we have ever had to offer, fought, bled, and died for it.

Don’t ever forget it.





125 thoughts on “A Debt That Cannot Be Repaid

  1. Well said Andy! Yemen is a long way from here and yet there was no hesitation to protect us. I pray for his family….We have never met, I saw you on Joe Rogan’s podcast about ten days ago (you had recorded it with Tait) and immediately liked you. Thank you for your service. (That is not nearly enough). Last year after meeting leif and jocco in Vegas at their book signing, I put it together that jocco was the officer whom I had seen speak so eloquently at AT&T stadium at the funeral of Chris Kyle. You are all men I admire and frankly look up to. I would like to encourage you to keep writing and reach out if you ever need anything…..jeff summers, `Heath, Texas (about 25 miles east of Dallas).


      • I am an American mother of one of these warriors or of all of them. I thank you for your courage, your love of our country and for your sacrifices. I am only one mother but you are all my children. God bless you.


  2. Well said. Thank you, all who have served, and blessings to the families who have lost a warriior, and special blessings to you with life changes from your devoted service.

    Kelsey C. Peterson Jr. M.D. Flight Surgeon, LCDR MC USNR when age and circumstance allowed


  3. Wow, just wow. So very well stated. God bless you, my brother, for stating how so many of us feel. By the grace of God, I never had to face combat. But I will fully support those who have, and will never forget their sacrifices.


  4. Andy,

    As always, you communicate the issues and expressions so well and with such elegance. I am aware you know very little about me, yet you know enough that I am passionate about our active duty members and veterans, because I continue to help them, behind the scenes, as their Advocate, (as much as I am allowed to.)

    In your recent article, I saw and felt the compassion of your words and the meaning that you expressed. I agree, it is frustrating for those that have not served and do not try to understand or appreciate what they have. However, they are the ones that never have (or will have) that bond, that connection that many, like yourself, have with your Brothers. That is something that cannot be explained and that is something special, as you already know! And, I feel strongly that those that have sacrificed so much, they will not be forgotten, because it is embedded in the souls of too many brothers that faught beside them. And, the families and those same brothers will share the stories of their sacrifice.

    Donna Strickland


  5. More than well said. In depth, epic! All my life I have and will continue to strive to do all I can do to do more than say “thank you”. It is a struggle and some times I forget to stay on the path of trying to belong to the good.
    All we can do is to continue choose the right category.
    The Swede.


    • As the father of a SEAL I thank you for your words. And your sacrifice .When deployment comes ,family’s cringe knowing the day of death may be near for a loved one who sacrificed everything wouldn’t be a strong message if the politicians in Washington had to deal with the same sacrifice or maybe themselves

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. I sit in a midsize southern city reading this over organic chopped chicken and rice while my wife and daughter are home, about as safe as anyone in the US can be, and my 12-year old son is at basketball practice. My older son is at college on a football scholarship, has a beautiful, sweet girlfriend, and he too is safe and well-fed. I have a gun in my truck that I’ll likely never have to use (I pray), but I’m free to carry it. We have more than many and less than many, but I get paid for hard work and when I lie down at night, I do so in peace. The point of all this is that without the blood of you and your brothers–and your willingness to go to indescribable places like you described –none of this would be possible. None of my foregoing sentiments are novel, but let Jen suffice as a heartfelt thanks. I’m sure this young man has aspirations that were no different from those of my sons. Yet they live and he does not. So when I say thank you, I mean it! Finally, his sacrifice is a reflection of Jesus’ sacrifice for all of us: an immeasurable price paid to purchase a feeedom we ourself have no ability to purchase. I hope this young petty officer knew that hope, and trusted in it, for then we can take solace in knowing he’s still smiling. Thank you sir. A million thank yous!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Love this! Excellent comparison to the cross of Christ. Although his death on the cross offers freedom & salvation for all, he, too, is often despised by the very ones he died to save. Lord, help us.


  8. My heart goes out to the family and friends of this young American patriot. Gone but never forgotten, thank you for your sacrifice, we will forever be indebted to you


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  10. Some of those that pray 5 times a day have fought and died defending the same constitution that you and I pledged a oath to protect . Our constitution has freedom of religion for all Americans . To think otherwise dishonors all my brother and sisters that didn’t come home

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was specifically referencing those they encountered that night. I served with many Muslims during my career, fought shoulder to shoulder with Muslim soldiers in two countries I do not call home, and put my life on the line in an attempt to make their life better. I fought for freedom of religion, everyone’s. If you are hearing anything other than that, you are bringing here with you.


  11. Wow, sat here reading this with tears running down my cheeks. Thank you to all the fine, unselfish men who made the decision to protect our country. We will never forget you and pray every day for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and those who are still in harm’s way. God bless and keep you safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My words are not enough to express how I feel but my heart bleeds again for another fallen soldier, that I heard of yesterday. His name was Ryan William Owens. I cried, I prayed but there just aren’t words that can express how I feel about our military (past, present & hopefully not future!


  13. There is no fight for freedom. Muslim radicals do not have no credible threat to your freedom whatsoever. There is only threats of sporadic and inconsistent violence from poorly trained rebels and radicals. Explain to me how those rebels from the third world who are not even educated at a fifth grade level can pose a threat to a giant like America’s freedoms? Will you give your freedom away to them? They pose no ideological threat to your way of life whatsoever. This dream and idea is needed for you to feel good and survive in your own skin but it is a massive lie. An American soldier is a naive pawn in a more complex and sinister political game.
    No one listens to the truth, because their very foundation of their values and foundations are tied to this idea of ‘fighting for freedom’. This is something that needs to be abandoned. This is needed to save the next soldier who goes to another foreign country and dies for ‘freedom’. America’s only threat to their freedom comes from within itself.


    • We will have to agree to disagree.

      Although religion and politics were briefly mentioned in this post, it was not the intended topic, only the sacrifice of one person for many others.

      Having said that, if you feel that there is no threat from radical Muslims, then you have zero experience with them, which is a good thing. I can tell from your words that you are passionate about what you believe, and it is not my intention to try to change your mind, which would be the actions of the pawns you mentioned.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Whether here or on foreign soil….the death of a soldier, sailor or airman diminishes each of us….we have walked some of the ground, borne many of the same burdens and shared the sacrifices. Their loss cannot be in vain…we who live on must carry their flag…continue to fight their fight for freedom. Well said Andy….well said. From on Soldier to another…and to those who have sacrificed all….my salute.

    Gene Shewbert
    US Cavalry

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. I don’t know you but I stumbled across this post and was compelled to not only share it, but you thank you for such an eloquent and important post. I often wonder how our service men and women must feel as they make (too often) the ultimate sacrifice for a Nation that is increasingly unappreciative of or oblivious to the dedication, selflessness, and heartbreak that goes into protecting the freedoms we enjoy. God bless you for your service, your eloquence, and your willingness to share this beautiful post. I pray that it opens hearts and minds.


  17. As the family of a SEAL wounded in Afghanistan in 2012, we applaud your testimony. If not for the warriors, all the sheep would be slaughtered by the wolves. How quickly many Americans forget the cost of the freedoms most of them take for granted every day. Maybe less protesting and more positive service is needed by all.


  18. My cousin was killed in world war 2.I was there when my aunt received the telegraph that he had been killed. Her tears and his aunt, my mother, I will never forget. I had Uncles in the first world war. The civil war took many lives also. How can we not respect and thank all who serve and died for our freedom. God bless them and thanks from the bottom of my heart. Emma


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  20. I think that sentiment and that declaration were absolutely wonderful! It is so sad that we as a country who have so much freedom for all of our people get attacked here as well as a broad when we’re trying to help others, amen .


  21. “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”… Orwell

    As the son of a Vietnam vet, I have never taken for granted the service & sacrifice of our vets. May God bless & keep all our active duty & retired vets, their families & friends. And may the memory of ALL our fallen warriors be eternal.


  22. This story is heart wrenching. If more Americans read this maybe their perspectives would change about our country and why our brave men and women keep on fighting our foreign enemies. God bless our military,and may the Lord keep a special watch over you all. May you know there are many who cheer you on as you fight for our freedom. We thank you for your service and wish we could take away the pain of what you see everyday on the battle fields. Lastly thank you for your service and God Bless you.


  23. Well said,
    I don’t know you personally however, I have spent many days in portions of the world that most protestors have never witnessed. I have a son currently in Iraq, a place I thought we left too early (just my opinion). All too often the people that make the most noise forget the ones who sacrificed all to give them that option.


  24. One of the most powerful thoughts i have read – i must say that i cry as i read this – i have lost very close friends – warriors and i am forever grateful for their ultimate sacrifice. I will continue to serve to honor their sacrifice….thank you a million times – because of people like you i am an american citizen serving in the greatest military in the world!

    J. J. Gonzalez – Command Master Chief, USN


  25. Thanks for writing this.

    When I saw this on the news I thought about him leaving his family and children at home while he goes out to serve our country. Much respect for his commitment; simply incredible.


  26. Andy, I served in the Air Force, a long time ago. Peacetime, that’s what most of us called it back then, but my squadron routinely escorted Russian bombers up and down the East Coast. It wasn’t like it is today. For me, it was an eight to five job. I’ve never smelled combat, or the personal fear of men around me, I’ve never heard the round that just misses my head.
    For those of you who have, I give thanks daily to God for your lives. I ask His hand of protection and blessing in you. I pray for our country, too.
    You ARE the tip of the spear, and for you, I cannot records my deepest thanks, but know that I am thankful for you.


  27. This is powerful to say the least.My beloved sister Cheryl sent me this,as she has devoted a great deal of her time (along with her husband) honoring and helping veterans and their grieving parents through the years.As I sit in my upstate New York home on 60 acres of SACRED AMERICAN SOIL….I want ALL of you warriors to know that I DO NOT take ANY of you for granted! You are true patriots and the silent majority has your back.We spoke in November for you, and we have the utmost respect for your service and dedication to this great country.


  28. The best way to thank somebody who is willing to put it all on the line for their country is to not needlessly put them in situations where they would have to.


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