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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Apr 17, 2018
A combination of factors led Lewis Nelson to enlist in the Army after college - 9/11; a family history of military service; and a history degree with a job that was going nowhere. So Nelson enlisted to become a linguist, and after several years of specialized training found himself in Iraq on two separate deployments with the 101st Airborne Division. While deployed, Nelson ran the gamut of combat occupations, from intelligence collection, to running convoys, to helping combat arms soldiers clear houses. All of it seemed pretty natural and exciting to someone who lives life on the heels of the next adventure. But the return home & reintegration with normal life is where the adventure of war caught up with Nelson. He found himself battling a new enemy - PTSD. Hear his story & how he worked through those struggles on this very enlightening episode of HAZARD GROUND! | "Life After Loyalty" This week's episode is brought to you by Blue Apron! Now for a limited time, if you order Blue Apron through our website, you’ll get $60 off your first 6 weeks of deliveries…So get on over to, click on the Blue Apron banner…And Discover a better way to cook!  
Apr 10, 2018

Matt Gallagher thought he was just keeping a regular blog of his time spent in a war zone as a way to chronicle daily life as a Platoon Leader during the Iraq War in 2007-08. Little did he know that his blog, aptly titled, "Kaboom" was a much bigger hit on the internet than he thought. His chain of command was even okay with it, until, as Matt puts it, "they weren't." And soon the US Army was shutting the young officer's blog down. But, with the internet being the internet, Matt's war journal & war memoir-in-the-making never left the internet (you can still find it online today). And what "Kaboom" did was help Gallagher organize his thoughts about the war, provide levity to the daily grind & sludge factory that war often becomes, & help shape an author-in-the-making. Matt Gallagher is now out of the army & is an accomplished author. His work has appeared in "The New York Times," "The Atlantic," "The Paris Review Daily" & "Wired," as well as other publications. Hear how he went from "Kaboom" to novelist on this very enlightening episode of HAZARD GROUND! | "Kaboom" | "Youngblood"

This week’s episode is brought to you by our newest sponsor Patagonia clothing. Another company we stand behind 100%! Their clothing and gear is next level, and customer service is top notch! We only have show sponsors w/ products we know and trust, otherwise they wouldn't be a sponsor. Patagonia is another one of those brands. Click on the Patagonia banner at for FREE shipping on all orders over $75!! Supporting our sponsors, helps support the show!

This week's episode is also brought to you by Blue Apron! Now for a limited time, if you order Blue Apron through our website, you’ll get $60 off your first 6 weeks of deliveries…So get on over to, click on the Blue Apron banner…And Discover a better way to cook!

Apr 3, 2018
Trey Grissom entered the Naval Academy to play football & left there to become a Marine after highlighting his collegiate football career in one of the great Navy upsets over rival Notre Dame in 2010. The rigors of the Academy & college football prepared Grissom well for leading Marines in combat. But as combat goes, nothing ever fully prepares you for that experience, except the experience itself. That sentiment is reflected in Grissom's thoughts on his combat tour in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as well as in his reflection on probably one of the most high profile assignments a Marine can undertake - platoon commander at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. There, he oversaw several Marine burials at Arlington National Cemetery, bringing honor & dignity to those who didn't make it home alive. This episode goes deep inside the mind of a Marine who has been in the unfortunate position of laying his brothers to rest both on & off the battlefield, but has exemplified the leader he is by handling this duty with incredible poise & strength. Check it out! This week’s episode is brought to you by our new sponsor Adidas Outdoor & Five Ten shoes. Again, this is gear we use, put to the test, and stand behind 100%!  Otherwise they wouldn't be a sponsor. Go to and click on the Five Ten banner for FREE SHIPPING! Supporting our sponsors helps support the show!
Mar 27, 2018
As a Green Beret, Joe Serna has been through just about everything in combat: he's been blown up a couple of times, shot at, and nearly drown in an armored vehicle when the road under it gave way next to a canal. And with all those combat injuries, most certainly comes PTSD, which Joe has most certainly battled. The breaking point came a few years ago when Joe was arrested for drunk driving. He subsequently broke his probation & ironically found an unintended healing point when the judge who sentenced him spent the 24 hours in jail with him knowing that Serna's PTSD makes confined spaces torturous. When you listen to Serna speak, you can tell that his love of life & family is what keeps him alive. It's what kept him engaged with the judge that one night in jail, so the walls "didn't exist." And it's what helped him push past simple luck those dark days in combat. This is another inspiring episode you don't want to miss! This week’s episode is brought to you by Blue Apron. Trust us when we say these meals are incredible. We eat them and haven't had a bad one yet! They're healthy, convenient, and worth every penny! Click on the link below to get $40 Off Your First 2 Boxes of Blue Apron! (FOR A LIMITED TIME. Save $20 Week 1 - Save $20 Week 2)
Mar 19, 2018
From a young age, Cliff Anders wanted to fly helicopters in the military. Getting into the cockpit seemed to be a breeze for Cliff, but getting to war, to "do his part," was not so easy. He was in flight school during September 11, 2001, but it would be several more years & a few moves around the world to various Apache & training outfits, before Cliff would finally see combat. You see, Cliff is a determined individual - so much so that he & a fellow pilot would call the Army's Personnel Command every night during their tour in Korea to try & get reassigned to a unit heading to fight in the Middle East once the Global War on Terror kicked off. In the end Cliff would have to wait nearly 5 years before finally seeing combat. And when he did, he was thrown straight into the lion's den. On this episode, Cliff Anders talks about those first experiences flying in combat & how they changed him as a person & the incredible connection he formed with those soldiers on the ground who he supported by fire, but only knew by voice. This is another great episode you don't want to miss!! This week's episode is brought to you by Blue Apron! Get $30 off your first order of Blue Apron by going to HAZARDGROUND.COM/SPONSORS and clicking on the Blue Apron banner!
Mar 13, 2018
Josh Jespersen's entrance into the military wasn't exactly conventional. But then again, there really isn't much about Josh that is "conventional." And he's just about the nicest & decent human being you'll ever meet, too! Once in the military, Josh quickly earned the Trident of a Navy SEAL & went on to honorably serve several years as a SEAL, surviving combat tours in Iraq & Afghanistan. After leaving the Navy he co-founded Mission Memorial Day - an organization that has set out to bring back the true meaning & recognition to Memorial Day by serving "not only those who made it back from the battle field, but also those who didn’t." Mission Memorial Day (MMD) honors those who never made it home from war by encouraging decoration of monuments or servicemembers' graves, or engaging in a physically demanding activity or small expedition. Aside from co-founding MMD, Josh also holds the speed record for climbing & snowboarding down all of Colorado's 14,000 foot peaks in just 138 days - a record previously held by a professional big mountain skier. In a nutshell, Josh is the epitome of the silent professional - he's truly a warrior & inspirational dude, & we are honored to have him on the show! Don't forget to subscribe, rate & review on iTunes...Every review helps grow the show! | @joshjespersen | This week's episode is once again UNOFFICIALLY brought to you by NO COW protein bars. 1g of sugar & they still taste great! "No Cow, No Bull, No Whey!" Try 'em today...Tell 'em Hazard Ground sent yah!
Mar 6, 2018

Two men...One of them wanted to work in special operations from the start, & ended up serving a long career in the most elite forces in the U.S. military, fighting in The Battle of Mogadishu all the way into the Global War on Terror. The other holds the unique distinction of playing in both Nirvana & Soundgarden before deciding to join the Army & going on to serve in Special Forces for the rest of his military career. They are "Brad" & Jason Everman, both the truest form of modern day warriors you'll ever meet. And now both of them are returning to their music roots to form a new band called "Silence and Light" with the intent to give back to the community they served with, through music. They plan to record an album this summer with a major producer, & give all proceeds from the record back to veterans & service charities! These are two incredible humans on an episode you don't want to miss!

And don't forget to subscribe, rate & review on iTunes...Every review helps grow the show! | @jbradford_official |

This week's episode is once again UNOFFICIALLY brought to you by No Cow protein bars. No Cow bars provide a high amount of protein with just 1g of sugar & they still taste great! So if you're into living and eating healthy, try No Cow bars to get that protein boost when you need it most. In the words of No Cow, "No Cow isn’t just for the dairy intolerant, it’s for the bull$#*t intolerant. Those who choose to live a healthy life and demand better." We actually use No Cow bars & they really are what they say they are. No bull$#*t!

Feb 27, 2018
This is sure to be part one of a multi-interview series with US Army & Delta Force legend, retired SGM Mike Vining. Vining enlisted in the Army in 1968. He served in Vietnam as an EOD tech, but after 10 years in EOD he started looking to transition to Special Forces as a medic. He soon found himself, however, going through the selection process for the newly formed 1st SFOD-Delta, more commonly known as "Delta Force" as the Unit was looking to add more EOD techs to its initial roster. Vining successfully graduated the 1st selection class for Delta, and would go on to serve with Delta for the better part of his career. Vining served in many high level operations. So in this episode we dive deep into Operations EAGLE CLAW (Iran) & URGENT FURY (Grenada). Today, Mike Vining spends his time writing, hiking, rock & mountain climbing, & alpine & backcountry skiing, while doing important research work for the National EOD Memorial & working as a committee member for the National EOD Association. This is a very interesting episode, so don't miss it! And don't forget to subscribe, rate & review on iTunes!
This week's episode is UNOFFICIALLY brought to you by No Cow protein bars. No Cow bars provide a high amount of protein with just 1g of sugar & they still taste great! So if you're into living and eating healthy, try No Cow bars to get that protein boost when you need it most. In the words of No Cow, "No Cow isn’t just for the dairy intolerant, it’s for the bull$#*t intolerant. Those who choose to live a healthy life and demand better." We actually use No Cow bars & they really are what they say they are. No bull$#*t!
Feb 20, 2018
Our guest this week is not the typical guest we tend to feature on "Hazard Ground." But we felt it was important to have Steve Cannon on to talk about service & leadership, as he is someone who's embodied those ideals for a very long time. Steve Cannon is currently the CEO of AMB Group, LLC - the Arthur M. Blank family of businesses, which includes the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, whose business operations Cannon currently leads. He is also a West Point graduate and qualified Army Airborne Ranger, who served in West Germany during the fall of the Iron Curtain. Prior to joining AMB Group, Cannon served as president & CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, where he was responsible for leading operations that generated record sales with annual revenues exceeding $20 billion. Cannon's leadership philosophy, work ethic, and all-around attitude on perseverance & resilience are the reasons he's been so successful, while continuing to be a down-to-earth, humble & all-around good human being. This is a must-listen episode...Don't miss it!! | |
Feb 13, 2018
We are honored to be joined this week by special guest & author/journalist/filmmaker Sebastian Junger. Junger is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author of such works as "The Perfect Storm," "War," & "Tribe." He is also a documentary filmmaker whose debut film "Restrepo" was nominated for an Academy Award. As an award-winning journalist who's covered news stories around the world, he's received both a National Magazine Award & a Peabody Award. He is also known for directing "Korengal," the sequel to "Restrepo." Hear how Junger got his start in journalism and filmmaking; hear about his interaction with Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was assassinated just days before 9/11; and what it was like to live alongside, in combat no less, the soldiers whose story he was sharing with the world...On this very special episode of HAZARD GROUND! | |
Feb 6, 2018
We return this week with a guest who at first, humbly, didn't really believe she had much to offer to the podcast or our general audience. But she in fact does have something important to share, & sharing her story is yet another reason we do the podcast each week - to help others whether they've been in the military or not. Margaux Mange is a living example that you can find a way to heal from PTSD & the traumatic effects of having your brain literally rattled in combat. While serving in Iraq, Margaux survived multiple IED blasts, one of which killed her best friend, literally in front of her. For a long time she suffered through finding the right therapy to even try & heal from the blasts & the loss of her friend. It wasn't until she discovered the healing effects from outdoor pursuits that she actually started to recover. Nothing will bring back the people she lost through war, but she can now live the rest of her days for them. She's even climbed Denali, just for them. Catch this highly inspirational story of combat & survival on this week's episode of HAZARD GROUND! |
Jan 30, 2018
There are simply too many positive things to say about Chris Van Etten to fit in this short intro, but what we will say is that his drive & motivation to move beyond his injuries & inspire others is infectious & invigorating. In 2012, while on patrol as a Marine in Afghanistan, Van Etten stepped on an IED. The blast took both of his legs as well as the life of his best friend. The accident took its toll both physically & mentally on Chris. Unsure where his drastically changed life was headed, Van Etten started working out religiously to clear his head. The physique he attained eventually landed him as an underwear model with Jockey's inspirational "Show ’Em What’s Underneath" campaign. And a desire to pursue projects that help motivate & inspire others has driven Van Etten toward acting, where he currently plays "Chet" - also an injured vet - on ABC’s daytime drama, "General Hospital." Van Etten also continues to work as a motivational speaker, and if this episode of "Hazard Ground" doesn't inspire you, we're pretty sure nothing will. So many good stories in this one, so check it out! | | @chrisvanetten_official
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’s 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!
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