Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Military Channel Documentary on Urgent Fury

Here is an old documentary on Operation URGENT FURY  that aired on the Military Channel. The YouTube notes say that it aired in 2006. The producers interviewed me in New York in July 2005. 

I flew to New York and I stayed at the Paramount Hotel for the interview. I considered it miraculous that I was interviewed, as my lawyer negotiated a strict appearance agreement. The producers apparently wanted me for the project, as they agreed to everything. 

The bottom line was that I must appear in silhouette, and my contemporary likeness could not be used in any way under any circumstances. There were no limitations on the use of my historical likeness. Just the way that I looked at that time. 

The truth is, I had been famous three times by that time, and I did not like it one bit. 

The first time that I was famous, I appeared on front pages nationwide, and I was interviewed for television and Time Magazine. I no longer remember who interviewed me, and I have no videos of any appearances. It almost did not happen. 

Contrary to the plotting of Michael Deaver, Deputy Chief of Staff to President Ronald Reagan, I was bumped below the fold of front pages nationwide on 8 November, 1983, by Puerto Rican terrorists who detonated a bomb at the Capitol the day before, the same day that Ranger Scott Underdonk and I attended a reception for rescued students from the St. George's School of Medicine. 

Front page, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8 November, 1983. 

It is different, I think, for a soldier to be famous than it is for a rock star or a celebrity. Strangers who never introduced themselves to me paid my dinner bills in restaurants. Strangers walked up to me and shook my hand. 

I hated the sensation that strangers around me knew who I was. It offended a deep core of privacy in me that I did not know that I possessed. Some Rangers were jealous of this fame, and many considered me a poor representative of the Rangers. I never asked for it. I never sought it. It just happened, I was a pawn of powerful men who decided that they needed a hero, a poster boy, for the Grenada invasion. 

Some of those Rangers later stabbed me in the back, and they whispered lies about me. They know who they are. They know what they did. The worst of them, the Ranger who started it all, came to my apartment in Tacoma in 1988 and he confessed to me. He could not live with his guilt. 

I opened the door of my apartment and he stood there, in tears. I asked him what was wrong and I brought him into my apartment. We had known one another for years, and I considered him one of my closest friends. I was so very wrong. We sat in my kitchen and over beers, he told me that he had been telling lies about me. 

When I asked him why he did it, he said, "because I was jealous!" Sometimes I am not that smart. This was one example. I never saw his treachery and betrayal coming. 

I leave the name of this Ranger in anonymity, because I will not inflict on him what he so craved: fame. He thought that he wanted to be famous. He is stupid. Fame is not what you think that it is. Fame means that people who never met you, people who know nothing personal about you, can write anything that they like. For example, Esquire Magazine wrote that I am only "the second most bad-ass Trujillo ever," giving the bassist for Metallica the nod over me.

That is pretty funny, when you think about it. And I thank the editors of Esquire for considering me the "second most bad-ass Trujillo ever." Second best is good enough for me. I will take it. 

Another example of fame inciting utter strangers to condemn you can be found in the comments section of an article republished by the writer Michael Yon, a good friend of mine. Yon republished an article about my book, A Tale of the Grenada Raiders, that appeared on the website of The Daily Beast, courtesy of another friend, the writer and editor Jake Siegel.

That commenter wrote:
"What a pompous ass this Ranger is! If he wrote this account there are many discrepancies, I especially love this quote "As our helicopter hammers in towards the beach, the door-gunners cower and fire their machine-guns without aiming. I look at them and think that they are cherries. I remember that I am, too". I pray this story was written for him by someone else as it is full of false bravado and panders to those that do not know better. Shame on Sergeant Trujillo. I was a young Sergeant Crew chief on a Black hawk for this operation so I do know what happened and when as I was there from day one and also participated in other operations there long after the invasion was over."
I shut down that commenter with a reply, but I will not republish it here. By now, I am learning to have a thick skin. These people do not know me, but because of transitory fame, they feel entitled to pronounce judgement on me. Such is fame, even the small, irrelevant fame that I rarely experience.

As I say, those who most crave fame, perhaps by proximity to it, typically do not understand it. My friend, the writer Michael Yon, who is absolutely famous by any indice, accepts his fame, but he does not love it. When Yon and I meet for dinner in Bangkok, as we sometimes do, as he resides up-country in Chiang Mai, we have to sit in dark corners out of eyesight. I do not mind, as I sit in places like that out of paranoid habit anyway. 

Yon is often recognized by denizens of Bangkok, as he is universally loved by royalists and reviled by those who despise the monarchy. Yon wears hats pulled down low to shadow his face, and he moves quickly and directly to his destinations, as he is prone to be stopped by fans and enemies alike. Usually they just want to take a selfie with him, and he is happy to comply, but he does not seek out these encounters.  

One time, Mike Yon was having dinner with me and some other Special Forces veterans at USJUSMAGTHAI, and one of his critics came up to our table to criticize him. Nobody likes to be confronted by fools, and this critic was definitely a fool. But Yon sat there and took it, and later, this critic cyberstalked Yon for the next two years and wrote defamatory and false accounts of his encounter with Yon on Facebook. 

Fame is not what it appears to be. 

I may someday tell the complete story of the Ranger who lied about me out of jealousy over my small, transitory fame. If he wants to be famous so badly, maybe I will grant his wish. He will learn what I have learned, that fame is not a good thing, it is a consequence, and I want no more to do with it. This Ranger deserves infamy, and those who know me know that my primary flaw is that I never forget, and I never forgive. 

The second time that I was famous was a few short months after the Grenada invasion. I stepped off a Huey deep in the South Ranier Training Area, the playground of the 2d Ranger Battalion, it must have been around 20 January, 1984, when my boss, SFC George Conrad, pulled up in a jeep. I was amazed that Conrad was able to drive a jeep to our location, this betrayed a familiarity with a very remote area, but then he said, "Doc you are going to DC, get in the jeep." 

I looked at Conrad and I said, "I am walking this patrol." That was where I belonged. Conrad replied, "you are going to DC. Get in the jeep."

Rangers were not in the habit of defying their bosses, not then, not now, so I got in. Conrad drove me back to North Fort Lewis, he handed me orders and a packing list, and then somebody drove me to Sea-Tac International Airport. 

I was met at the airport in Washington, DC by my previous escort from the Old Guard, a Staff Sergeant whose name I have now forgotten. His name may have been Anderson. I will refer to him as Anderson.

He took me to the same quarters on Fort McNair where myself and Ranger Scott Underdonk stayed when we were in Washington for the Rose Garden reception for the rescued students from Grenada, and he took my Class A uniform from me. 

I knew this drill, as SSG Anderson performed this service for me the first time that I went to Washington. He took my Class A uniform and my Corcoran jump boots, and when he came to collect me in the morning, my uniform was perfectly pressed, my brass positively gleamed, and my jump boots were shined to a blinding finish. 

Rangers are pretty good at putting the Class A uniform together, but Anderson was in the Old Guard, and those soldiers knew how to prepare and wear the uniform better than anyone. Once I was attired, I met with an ancient full bull Colonel, another soldier whose name escapes me as I write this in 2017. His name began with a Z, and he worked out of an office in the basement of the Pentagon that had something to do with Special Projects. I will refer to him as Colonel Z. 

Colonel Z told me that I was there to do something for the White House, he did not know what. He said that the project was closely held, and he knew no more. I was released and told when to be ready again, and that was that. 

SSG Anderson picked me up on the evening of 25 January, 1984. I was attired in the uniform that his squad prepared for me, and Anderson had a car and a driver who drove us to the Capitol. Secret Service agents took me from SSG Anderson, who was permitted to wait for me somewhere, but not permitted to escort me deeper into the Capitol. 

The Secret Service agents were friendly to me, but they told me nothing about why I was there. I had no idea. Maybe they did not know. I remember that they shook my hand, which surprised me. The first set of agents handed me off to another pair, and they escorted me down to a seat in the front row of the balcony of the Capitol. I still had no idea why I was there. 

The daughter of President Reagan, Mrs. Maureen Reagan, shortly made her way down to sit next to me, and we were soon sharing inside baseball gossip about the assembled luminaries of official Washington seated below us in the gallery. She knew the dirt on everybody. Some of the gossip was horrifying, and it made an impression on me that endures to this day. 

I really liked Mrs. Maureen Reagan. She was a hell of a lady, and she was a plotter who knew the ways of Washington. I was surrounded by political wives of the powerful, and I nearly choked on the heavy floral perfumes that they wore. They smiled on me, but they did not speak. 

Then the FLOTUS, Mrs. Nancy Reagan, joined us, and the President himself made his way into the room below us, shaking hands and greeting everybody as he made his way to the podium. 

I wrote a story about what happened next, it is in my third book, Tales of the Rangers, so I will not detract from it. When Tales of the Rangers is published, then everybody can read about it. I will include a couple of photographs that I just found when I did a web search on my name. 

At the State of the Union Address, 25 January, 1984. I do not remember the lady to my right, she was the wife of a powerful Senator, and she had no time for me. Mrs. Maureen Reagan, the President's daughter, is on my left. She was seated on my right, but she moved over to hug her mother when the President mentioned her during the Address.

This photo chronologically preceded the one above, and was taken when President Reagan mentioned his wife, the First Lady, Mrs. Nancy Reagan. I was actually seated between Mrs. Maureen Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan for the entirety of the Address. The First Lady did not have much to say to me, which was fine. Her daughter was a superb hostess and she kept me well entertained in the run up to the Address. 

Returning to the video, my friend the historian Joe Muccia was involved in some way with the project, it may have been Joe who brought me into it, or maybe I brought him into it, I forget now, twelve years later, but his involvement definitely improved the project. 

Joe Muccia probably saved the project when you get down to it. He says that the original script was a horrible politicized mess. I am very glad that the result was a video that focused on the valor of the participants, and not on the politics of an evil imperial hegemon invading yet another small innocent Caribbean nation. 

So thank God for Joe Muccia

I remind you that on Grenada, the date of the invasion, 25 October, 1983, is considered their Thanksgiving Day

I was rolling in money at the time that I was interviewed, so I flew Business Class from Bangkok to New York on Thai Air. The ticket was more than $5,000. It sure was a pleasant experience. The episode producers gave me $500 to defray my expenses, which was nice. I paid for my own hotel room in the Paramount Hotel, which at that time was on its last legs, soon to be refurbished, but it was an oddity in New York, an affordable hotel that was not a total dive. 

The producers ended up using the Paramount for the project, renting a small conference room to shoot interviews, and I believe that they put up other Rangers and soldiers interviewed in that hotel as well. 

The interviewer and the cameraman knew their business, they showed me a script, and their questions were not bad questions. They knew what they were looking for, and they put together a decent documentary. I appeared in silhouette, and my likeness was not exposed for a third time. 

So photos and video of me available on the clearnet internet all date back to the 1980's and 1990's. This is as I want it. I cherish the ability to walk through Bangkok with nobody recognizing me. No one recognizes me as I clear Customs and Immigration on the rare occasions that I return to the US. Anonymity is a gift that only the famous truly understand. 

The third time that I was momentarily famous was on April 7, 1992, when my Shining Path articles appeared in The New York Times

My article "Cocaine and Corruption in Peru" appeared on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times on April 7, 1992. It was followed the next day by "Peru's Maoist Drug Dealers."

These articles are published on my Academia.edu page. You can read an article that I wrote about them elsewhere on this website, and click through to see them if you are curious. 

My likeness was not important for those articles, so no photos were taken, even when I went to The New York Times building in New York City to meet with the editor of the Op-Ed page and the editor who edited them. 

I remember that I had a meeting with an editor at Crown with my agent, then Mr. Robert Dukas. Mr. Dukas was an ancient gentlemen at that time, and I knew nothing of his personal biography. He was in fact a well-known agent, and I was lucky to have him. 

It turned out that the editor at Crown was looking for another book like a then-bestseller, Red Cell by Dick Marcinko. That was not what I was about, so our meeting ended. I could not believe that the editor could expect me to write anything like Marcinko's works, which were heavily self-aggrandizing. 

So that was the third time that I was momentarily famous. It fizzled into nothing, as I returned to active duty in the US Army later that year. By the time that I was again a civilian, in 1994, I was old business. 

I am braced for fame, yet a fourth time, should it transpire after my first book is published. I have not talked about this book very much lately, both because I am giving it time in the hands of an agent, and because I am tired of it. If the agent does not place the book by the time of the anniversary of Urgent Fury, I will publish it myself on iBooks and Kindle Amazon. 

This time, I will permit no photographs of my present likeness. Should anyone seek to interview me, I will permit unconditional use of historical photos from the 1980's and the 1990's, but no contemporary photos. 

I will pull a Salinger, or if you prefer, a Pynchon. Both of those writers carefully protected their anonymity despite great literary fame. I am under no illusions that I will ever experience literary fame on their level, but like them, I will remain anonymous. 

This dispatch was heavily rewritten on 19 July, 2017, after I stumbled upon the complete documentary on Urgent Fury



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