Hazard Ground

Servicemembers from across the military, sharing their accounts of combat and survival. Hosted by sports talk radio host and Army veteran, Mark Zinno, this podcast brings you inspirational stories of service and resiliency from those who have fought on and off the battlefield. Subscribe to stay up to date when each new episode is released!
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Jan 23, 2018
Today we pick-up with Ryan Pitts' story as the Anti-Afghan force begins their deadly and sustained assault on Pitts and his observation post, in the vicinity of Wanat Village, Kunar Province, Afghanistan on July 13, 2008! If you like the show, please subscribe/rate/review on iTunes!  It helps the show tremendously, and we always appreciate the feedback!
Jan 16, 2018
On the one year anniversary of Hazard Ground, it's probably fitting that we share part one of the two part story of how Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts received the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat. His is a story that defines the reason we do the podcast every week - to tell the stories of service, sacrifice, of unbreakable spirit, and strength in the face of insurmountable odds, with the hope that these stories will help others, whether they've served in the military or not. Sergeant Pitts received the Medal of Honor with humility and grace, and it's evident by his words that he doesn't believe it was just him who earned the Medal of Honor, but it was him alongside every one of his fellow soldiers who fought bravely on that dark day of July 13, 2008, along with those who didn't return. And Ryan Pitts, who is now out of the Army, understands the duty that comes with the recognition of distinguished gallantry. Hear how Ryan Pitts became a recipient of the Medal of Honor, and what he's doing now to carry on the legacy of his fallen brothers, on this one year anniversary episode of Hazard Ground!
Jan 9, 2018
We should consider ourselves fortunate to have someone like Scott Huesing to carry on the story of the brave men of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines who fought daily in Ramadi, Iraq from the winter of 2006 to early 2007. During that period, Ramadi was considered the deadliest city in Iraq. Huesing and his Marines likened it to living in Hell. Scott Huesing served for over 24 years in the Marine Corps, both as enlisted and a commissioned officer, retiring as an Infantry Marine Major. His career included 10 deployments which have put him at the center of major operations in over 60 countries worldwide, leading and conducting combat missions in some of the most dangerous parts of the world. But it is his time leading Echo Company in Ramadi - the "Magnificent Bastards" of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines - that seems to have left the deepest impression on Huesing in all of his time in the Marine Corps. The Hell that he and his Marines lived through is captured so vividly in his new book, "Echo in Ramadi" which will be released in February 2018. Above all the book is a fitting record that explains the indelible scars of those Marines who lived through Hell in Ramadi, while carrying on the memory of those who didn't return. | | | "Echo in Ramadi: The Firsthand Story of US Marines in Iraq's Deadliest City"
Jan 2, 2018
Joining the military had been a lifelong dream for Nick Irving. He even knew from a young age that he wanted to be a sniper, taking BB gun shots at just about every inanimate object in his neighborhood, using his homemade ghillie suit as camouflage. And like many who know they want to be a part of the best the military has to offer, Nick set out in high school to join the elite Special Operations Forces of the U.S. military. Through hard work, preparation, and perseverance he became a sniper with the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment, where he completed 6 combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. While with the 75th he also set a single deployment record with 33 kills in a 3-1/2 month timeframe, earning him the sobriquet, "The Reaper." Nick takes us through the mind of a sniper, on and off the battlefield, and what it was like to come home as The Reaper, in this captivating conversation. | "The Reaper" | "Way of the Reaper"
Dec 19, 2017
Jason Beighley is a special breed of soldier. He has over 17 years experience serving and excelling in the U.S. Army's top tier Special Operations units. Looking for a greater challenge and more fulfilling job in the military, he worked to join those units, and would soon find himself involved in combat and high-stakes engagements with the enemy. One of those engagements was the Battle of Mogadishu, better known by it's film and book adaptation, "Black Hawk Down." In this episode, Jason, like the other guests we've had who fought in that battle, offers up a perspective you only get from someone who lived it and battled through it on the ground those two intense days in October 1993. He especially highlights how the rigorous training he went through prior to Mogadishu prepared him for the stress and strain of combat, allowing him to be an asset to his fellow operators and survive that and several other engagements. Today, he helps provide that same level of training to others working in high-risk environments, continuing to help develop the next generation of warriors like himself.
Dec 12, 2017
Dr. Julia D. Dye is an author and the VP and CFO of Warriors, Inc., "the entertainment industry‚Äôs premiere military advising company."  She also runs Warriors Publishing Group with her husband, retired Marine, and star of such iconic war films as "Platoon" and "Saving Private Ryan"....And former Hazard Ground guest, Dale Dye. Julia also holds a Ph.D. in Theatrical Hoplology - a field which combines anthropology, sociology, economics, and the study of military history and combatives with performance. For this episode, Dr. Dye sits down with us to talk about the importance of accurately portraying warfighters' stories in film and television. She also discusses her new book, "Through My Daughter's Eyes," which takes a close look at life growing up in a military family, with all of its ups and downs, and what it means to sacrifice in the name of service to one's country. This episode is all about telling the warfighter's story, the right way, and it comes straight from one of the leading experts in the business! | | "Through My Daughter's Eyes" | "Code Word: Geronimo" | "Backbone: History, Traditions, and Leadership Lessons of Marine Corps NCOs"
Dec 5, 2017
As a young infantryman, Jesse Yandell knew he wanted to serve with the best units the U.S. Army had to offer - with soldiers who had the desire to take on more and always push further than the rest. He settled on the elite soldiers of the 75th Ranger Regiment. Once in, he never looked back, serving 15 combat deployments with the Rangers, and eventually reaching the position of Company First Sergeant within the Regiment. Many describe him as "cool and calm" in combat, and a "rock" who others look to in times of trouble. His will and strength are simply outmatched, as evidenced when he came back from a near-career ending and nearly fatal gunshot wound to the chest. He let the Army and others around him know that he had more to give and wasn't finished serving, by successfully summiting Mt. Rainier, just four months after surgery! If you're looking for inspiration, or searching for motivation to push yourself to your max potential, look no further than the story of Jesse Yandell! |
Nov 28, 2017
Having decided that eight years of medical school was not the right fit for him, and stung by a desire to do something immediately more challenging with his life, Robert Disney dropped out of college to join the Air Force to become a Pararescue specialist, more commonly known as a "PJ." The PJs primary mission is to rescue, recover, and/or provide medical aid to downed air crews anywhere in the world, in any type of environment, both hostile and friendly. The attrition rate within the PJ training and qualification pipeline is extremely high. Disney's class started out with 86 recruits, and graduated just 6. It's no wonder Robert Disney went on to have such a successful career as a PJ, and survive an absolutely insane amount of combat and training related traumatic events, including a helicopter crash and being shot through the face. Hear about this incredible ride he's taken through the ranks of the Air Force, in combat and brotherhood, and how he's found peace amongst the inescapable scars of battle, on this amazing episode of Hazard Ground!
Nov 21, 2017
A self-described hellion growing up, Kirstie Ennis has always had the fire inside of her to overcome virtually any obstacle. That trait was put to the test on June 23, 2012, when the helicopter she was a door gunner on crashed in Afghanistan while performing combat resupplies. Kirstie, the daughter of two Marines, had planned to stay in the Marine Corps for a full career. The injuries she sustained as a result of the crash, which included an above-the-knee amputation on her left leg and a traumatic brain injury, forced her to medically retire from the Marine Corps in 2014. The fire inside was never needed more than in her years of recovery, fighting to become something greater than the person she was before joining the military. And Kirstie has done just that. She's now a mountaineer, Olympic hopeful, and the first female US veteran above-the-knee amputee to summit Carstensz Pyramid, a 16K foot peak in Indonesia...And she's working on a host of other high alpine summits! She's also just an all-around incredible and inspiring human being, and we're beyond honored to have her on the Hazard Ground Podcast! |
Nov 14, 2017
They're father and son, bonded by war. Both of them, Marines. The father fought in Vietnam, during one of the most violent periods of that conflict. The son did the same in Iraq. For the longest time, the son only knew that his dad was Alvin Bert Grantham, or "A.B." as he's known, the wounded Marine on the tank in one of the most iconic photographs from the Vietnam War. The photo of A.B. Grantham was shot by award-winning photographer, John Olson. It was featured in the March 8, 1968 issue of "Life" magazine, and would come to symbolize the horrific fighting that took place in Hue City during the Tet Offensive. It wasn't until the son, Joshua Grantham, fought as a Recon Marine in Iraq in 2004 and 2006, that father and son would finally solve the enigma of one another, revealing the haunting wartime past that had made the father a hero to his son, and unveiling the son's reasons for following in the hero's footsteps. This is an amazing story of family, brotherhood, sacrifice, and raw human experience that we truly consider ourselves lucky to cover on the Hazard Ground Podcast! | "Hue 1968"
Nov 11, 2017
Each time Peter van Agtmael has been to war, he's gone without a weapon. No pistol, no knife, no rifle. The only thing he's carried into combat is a camera. And through that camera he has captured the human toll of war, both mental and physical. Since 2006 he has covered the Global War on Terror, working primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has since produced three books of images from these wars that are at times just as moving as they are haunting. Without these works, we would be devoid of a very important and sobering reminder:  That war is an instrument so powerful, it should only be used when all other options have truly been exhausted. This conversation with Peter van Agtmael is an interesting and thought-provoking discussion on that perspective, and what it's like to not only document, but to feel the consequence of such violent action. | "2nd Tour Hope I don't Die" | "Disco Night Sept. 11" | "Buzzing at the Sill" 
Oct 31, 2017
There's probably no greater act of patriotism or selflessness than signing up for military service right after your country has been attacked. That's exactly what Joel Carpenter did after September 11, 2001. Prior to 9/11 he had gone to Hollywood to pursue a career in film and television, but the coordinated terrorist attacks compelled him to fulfill a higher sense of purpose, even though Joel was teetering on the cusp of "making it" in LA. He soon joined the ranks of the Army Rangers at the 75th Ranger Regiment, alongside a few others who had given up lucrative paths in life to serve their country. After serving multiple combat deployments as a Ranger, Joel decided it was time to leave the military and head back to civilian life and a job in the private sector. Part of that transition included picking up where he left things off in Hollywood. He has since taken on developing and writing the screenplay for a film about the Battle of Takur Ghar, the story that was the impetus for "Hazard Ground," and one that Joel is deeply connected to. Hear about Joel's journey from actor and screenwriter, to Army Ranger, and back to writing the stories of sacrifice in combat that deserve an enduring mark in history, on this special episode of "Hazard Ground."
Oct 24, 2017
For Dan Futrell, joining the military was at first just a means to pay for college.  After initially shunning the idea of joining ROTC, he started taking some of the classes and found he enjoyed working with the people in the program. He eventually earned a four-year ROTC scholarship, and from there the Army became more than just a way to pay for college. Following graduation and commissioning, he joined the Infantry, because as he put it, "I wanted to be right in the thick of things." After multiple combat tours in Iraq, where he participated in over 400 combat missions, Dan eventually stepped away from the military to continue serving in a different capacity. In 2012 he earned a Masters Degree in Public Policy from Harvard, where he attended the Kennedy School of Government as a Pat Tillman Scholar and Rappaport Public Policy Fellow. That achievement launched several endeavors to continue public service and working to better society and enrich the lives of those around him. From the military to working in his local community, Dan Futrell epitomizes serving one's country, and we're honored to have him on the podcast!
Oct 17, 2017
Staff Sergeant John Diem knows what it means to serve one's country. That phrase gets thrown around a lot, but John Diem embodies the spirit of patriotism in every sense of the word. He has served multiple combat tours as an infantryman, spending most of that time on the line as part of an infantry squad. He survived a year-long deployment to Iraq's "Triangle of Death", where he and his unit suffered almost daily bomb, mortar, and small arms attacks, before four members of his platoon were convicted of murdering an Iraqi family of four in Yusufiyah. Although he projects a somewhat reserved appearance, his peers have described him as an "absolute killer in combat." The steady and calm timbre he uses in normal, everyday conversation, is the same tone he uses when the bullets are flying all around him. The rigors of combat and in general, the Army, have challenged Diem's mettle many times, but perhaps nothing tested him more than when Private First Class Justin Watt broke the news to him about the family in Yusufiyah murdered by members of their own platoon. Diem ensured the incident was properly reported up the chain of command, while making a crucial effort to protect Watt from unit leadership who simply wanted the story - and Watt for that matter - to go away. This is a story of service, and making hard decisions in the face of undesirable consequences...A story we all can learn from, and one you don't want to miss!
"Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death"
Oct 10, 2017
Even if you've seen the movie "Black Hawk Down," and know everything about the book by the same title, you'll want to listen to this very special episode with Mike Durant, the pilot who was shot down over Mogadishu, Somalia during Operation Gothic Serpent in 1993. The level of courage and bravery displayed by him and the other soldiers who fought that long day on October 3rd, 1993, is unmatched. In this episode, Mike takes us through what it's like to fly helicopters for the Army's most elite aviation unit, and what it was like to face an angry mob who wanted him dead, with crippling injuries after being shot out of the sky over Mogadishu. Listen and get a perspective on the Battle of Mogadishu and the story of "Black Hawk Down" you just can't get from book or film. Hear from someone who lived through and survived the very worst moments of that battle on this incredible episode of Hazard Ground!
"In the Company of Heroes: The Personal Story Behind Black Hawk Down" | "The Night Stalkers" |
Oct 3, 2017
If you've ever wondered what it's like to be shot down in a helicopter in the middle of a war zone, then you definitely want to listen to this week's episode. Even if you haven't, then you'll want to listen to how this week's guest, Robin Brown reacted cool and calmly under pressure, and crash landed her Kiowa Warrior helicopter after literally being blown out of the sky by enemy fire in 2003, when the war in Iraq was starting to go from bad to worse. Many years later, Robin would go back to Iraq to take on a much different challenge and potentially dangerous, but fulfilling experience. Recently she climbed and skied Mt. Halgurd, the highest mountain in Iraq, with two other veterans (and past guests on Hazard Ground), to help find peace and beauty in a land that has for so long been associated with war, pain, and suffering. Her trip was chronicled in The North Face short documentary, "Adventure Not War." Hear her complete impassioned journey on this episode of Hazard Ground. |
Sep 26, 2017
From as early as he can remember, Stacy Bare wanted to be in the military. To him it was adventure, coolness, and selfless service, all in one. When Stacy finally got to be the soldier he always dreamed of, he went to war, and served with honor during Operation Iraqi Freedom. But when he came home, his life began to unravel. War had never left him. After battling addictions and a downward spiral that was sure to end in death, Stacy found peace in the outdoors. He became a climber and mountaineer, and is now helping other veterans find that same peace through adventure in the mountains and teaching outdoor leadership. Among other things Stacy is the Director of Sierra Club Outdoors and co-founder of Veterans Expeditions - a non-profit that seeks to enrich and heal the lives of veterans, especially those who suffer from PTSD. He is also a brand ambassador for The North Face and Keen footwear, and was named the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2014. He is an incredible, motivating individual, who we are no doubt honored to have on the show! | | | |
Sep 19, 2017
On the show today, we go back over 70 years and cover the most significant attack on American soil prior to 9/11. Our guest on this episode is retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing. At 104 years old, Jim is the 2nd oldest known American survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Jim's memory of that day is still as sharp and clear as it was the day it all unfolded, so we are incredibly lucky to get this firsthand account of the day "which will live in infamy," as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt observed after the attack. Hear on this episode how Jim survived the attack, and rushed in to save his fellow shipmates. Also hear Jim explain why he had the greatest peace in his life during such a horrific scene of shock and carnage. This episode will take you back to a very pivotal time in America's history, as told by someone who lived every eye-opening moment of it! | "The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey Through Pearl Harbor and the World of War"
Sep 12, 2017
Early in the morning on September 20, 2004, and during some of the bloodiest days of the war in Iraq, Jacob Schick and his fellow Marines received a quick reaction call. With no sleep following the previous night's mission, Schick rounded up his Marines and jumped in a Humvee. Even though he had a bad feeling about the situation, Schick demanded he drive the lead vehicle. Shortly after moving out, his vehicle ran over a triple-stacked tank mine IED. Schick took the brunt of the blast. He was blown 30 feet into the air. He never lost consciousness, and he never went into shock. Every horrific moment about that day is locked in his brain. The blast took limbs and parts of his body away, and caused him to endure 46 operations. But the most difficult part of the entire ordeal was the mental pain Schick had to endure during recovery. Not being on the battlefield with his Marines, literally nearly killed him, physically and mentally. Severe depression, painkillers, and thoughts of suicide became his new enemy. Hear on this episode how Jacob Schick fought one last battle, and is now living for his Marines and everyone else who continues to fight.
Sep 5, 2017
Part II of our episode with Nate Self, and the incredible Battle of Takur Ghar. Thanks for listening! | "Two Wars"
Aug 29, 2017
Nate Self's story is the reason "Hazard Ground" was born. Early on the morning of March 4, 2002, Self, a young officer and elite Army Ranger, found himself fighting for his life on top of a remote mountain in Afghanistan, markedly outgunned by al Qaeda fighters. Self was tasked with leading the Ranger Quick Reaction Force that was sent to rescue Navy SEAL Neil Roberts and Air Force Technical Sergeant John Chapman, who had become trapped on top of the mountain known as Takur Ghar, during Operation ANACONDA. As the chinook helicopter that Self and half of his team were riding in attempted to land on top of Takur Ghar, it was immediately hit with rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun fire, forcing it to crash land. Within seconds, some of Self's men lay dead in the snow, just off the helicopter's back ramp. And so began a day-long battle between Self's small team of Rangers and well-entrenched al Qaeda fighters, that lasted until after sunset. After Takur Ghar, another battle raged inside Nate Self's head - this one the result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For years, Nate Self fought that battle alone, nearly destroying his family and himself in the process. Hear how he survived what he describes as the "Two Wars" in this very special episode of Hazard Ground. | "Two Wars"
Aug 22, 2017
Mike Erwin is an amazing human. After surviving three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Intelligence Officer, much of that time directly supporting Special Operations, he started one of the premier veterans support organizations in America: Team Red, White & Blue, or "Team RWB" as it's commonly known. For several years now, Team RWB has been connecting and helping veterans heal through physical fitness, building community, and enacting positive change. Mike is also the Founder and President of The Positivity Project and CEO of The Character & Leadership Center, both organizations that are making incredible strides in developing the next generation of great leaders. In a world that's seemingly saturated in negative energy, Mike Erwin is a positive force connecting those who want to be something truly greater than themselves!
"Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude" | |
Aug 15, 2017
Mark Zinno & Matt Pascarella, creators of "Hazard Ground," finally get together in the same city and sit down for a chat. They talk about everything from how the show got started, what it was like booking and working with some of their favorite guests so far, plans for the future, and a whole lot more! Check it out! | | @hazardground
Aug 8, 2017
General (Ret) Ann Dunwoody holds the distinction of being the first woman in the US Military to achieve the rank of four-star general. But when you listen to her speak and understand a little bit of who she is as a person, you get the sense that there is no military rank high enough to quantify who she is as a leader. Her 37 plus years of military service have helped transform the US military for the better, and inspired other servicemembers to become incredible leaders like herself. She has deployed in support of major combat operations from Desert Storm to the Global War on Terror, and finished up her military career by commanding the largest global logistics network in the Army. It goes without saying that she's an incredible woman, human, and leader, who knows the true meaning of humility, integrity, and selfless service. We are again honored to have such an outstanding guest as General Dunwoody on the show! "A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies from America's First Female Four-Star General"
Aug 1, 2017
In the spring of 1966 a 19-year old Bill Reynolds was on top of the world. The young Californian had it all: the killer car (a '65 Chevelle Super Sport to be exact), the gorgeous girlfriend, and a well-paying job in Los Angeles. Then, just before summer hit, his world changed forever - he received a draft notice in the mail, with orders to report to the Los Angeles Induction Station on May 17, 1966. Bill knew that it was his time to serve, like his father before him in WWII, so he went without question. He went to war with the Army's 9th Infantry Division, which had been re-activated for combat in Vietnam. Throughout his tour, Bill fought some extremely tough battles, lost some very good friends along the way, and served honorably. This episode was actually recorded one day after the 50th anniversary of one of the last battles Bill fought in, where he lost several of his good friends. Bill ultimately completed his tour of duty in Vietnam, and returned home to pick up where he left off back in 1966. We're honored to have him on the podcast, and thankful he's able to keep such an important part of our history alive. This is another incredible episode you don't want to miss!
The Greatest Generations Foundation (
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