marine corps base


Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hostage Rescue Team.
Law Enforcement’s Tier 1 Counter-Terrorism unit.

The FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is the counter-terrorism and hostage rescue unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The HRT is trained to rescue American citizens and allies who are held hostage by hostile forces, usually terrorists and/or criminals. The Hostage Rescue Team was founded in 1982 by Danny Coulson, former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI, and completed its final certification exercise in October 1983.

It was originally composed of 50 operators. However, this number has since increased to well over 90 full-time operators. The HRT commonly functions as a high-level national SWAT team in extremely sensitive or dangerous situations. Today, it is part of the Tactical Support Branch of the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) and is based at the FBI Academy at the Quantico Marine Corps Base, in Stafford County, Virginia.

The primary roles of the HRT are hostage rescue and counter-terrorism. Secondary roles of the HRT include:

- Apprehending barricaded subjects
- Executing helicopter operations and rescue missions
- Executing mobile assaults
- Performing high-risk raids, searches, arrests, and warrants
- Coordinating manhunt and rural operations
- Providing force protection for FBI personnel overseas

To a lesser extent, the HRT may deploy teams or individual operators to act as snipers, or to provide protective service details for certain high-profile federal witnesses or dignitaries. Teams provide support for missions overseas and support Joint Terrorism Task Forces. Teams at home and abroad perform typical law enforcement activities, such as making arrests, processing scenes for evidence recovery, and testifying in court.

The HRT has provided traditional law enforcement during hurricane relief operations, tactical surveys, and special events such as the Olympic Games, presidential inaugurations, and political conventions.

Prospective HRT operators are selected based upon their background and experience, as well as their demonstrated performance during the HRT selection course. The rigorous two-week selection process includes long-distance runs, forced marches, obstacle courses, and other tests of physical and mental stamina. Throughout the entire selection process, candidates are evaluated on their ability to think under pressure and to perform while physically exhausted. After a six-month initial training period known as “New Operator Training School” (“NOTS”), they are headquartered at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Both the selection course and NOTS are near mirror images of the 1st SFOD-D (“Delta Force”) selection and training courses, with some minor adjustments for mission differences. Experienced HRT operators assigned to observer/sniper teams are sent to the United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper Basic Course. After successfully completing the course, they receive further instruction from HRT snipers. Maritime platoon operators are sent to a variety of maritime special operations courses, including Phase II of U.S. Navy BUD/S at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, California. HRT operators receive other specialized interoperability training from various U.S. Special Operations Command entities. HRT operators also conduct training with Allied nation counter-terrorism units such as the British SAS and German GSG-9.

When not operationally deployed, the HRT conducts full-time training for its members at various sites across the country. Two to three hours each day are set aside for physical training, a defensive tactics session, and combative training. One day a week is devoted to maintaining either perishable skills (such as fast roping, breaching, and photography) or specialized skills (such as mobile assaults, manhunt and rural operations), maritime operations, helicopter operations, parachuting, weapons of mass destruction training (provided by the United States Department of Energy), and cold weather operations. Three days are spent honing sniping or close quarters combat skills on the various training ranges available to the team. Biweekly, one day is allotted for gear maintenance. Discretionary time to be used by team leaders is built into the schedule. During a routine week of training, it is not unusual for HRT operators to fire 1,000 rounds of ammunition to keep their shooting skills honed. Every 12 to 18 months, the HRT also participates in at least one major combined exercise that may involve a variety of governmental entities, such as the FBI and the departments of Defense, State, Energy, and Homeland Security.

Three teams rotate through three 120-day cycles: training, operations, and support. During the training cycle, the team refreshes its skills and takes part in exercises, attends other courses, or trains with foreign and domestic units. During the operations cycle, the team is available for deployment (domestic or foreign). During the support cycle, the team works on special projects, maintains the HRT’s equipment, and conducts research.

The HRT is known to conduct joint training exercises and participate in exchange programs with US military units such as the US Army’s Combat Applications Group (otherwise known as 1st SFOD-D or Delta Force) or the U.S. Navy’s DEVGRU. The HRT routinely trains with other federal tactical teams such as the DEA’s FAST Team, the United States Border Patrol’s BORTAC unit or the United States Capitol Police’s CERT. Occasionally the HRT trains with French GIGN, British SAS and Special Boat Service, Irish Garda ERU, the Australian SAS, German GSG 9, and other international units. In addition to the HRT’s own facilities, the HRT routinely uses private and 1st SFOD-D Delta Force shoot houses and ranges. The HRT has also been known to train at Camp Peary and Harvey Point.


BCM Gunfighter History : Travis Haley

An Exercise in Compromise

Hanging in my office, is a clone of the rifle I carried on two combat tours(Iraq and Liberia). It’s a reminder of where I came from, where I stand today, where I am going and why I am going there.

While serving in 2nd Force Reconnaissance in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, my unit started seeing radical advances in small arms and light weaponry via the SOPMOD program. Suddenly, carbines could quickly be fine tuned for specific missions by mounting night vision systems, laser aiming devices, weapon lights and red dot optics to the 1913 Picatinny Rail Systems on the upper receiver and handguard.

These technologies opened up whole new tactics, techniques and procedures that could be employed to prosecute our mission of specialized reconnaissance, ambush and direct action raids.

Despite the additional capabilities the SOPMOD program delivered, opinions were sharply divided on the program. Some saw these tools as a burden, adding a lot of “crap” that would only increase the amount of weight our Marines carried on mission for little tangible benefit. A maxed out M4 could run up to 14 pounds, but we didn’t need every component for every mission.


The SOPMOD accessory package that my platoon ended up running included almost two pounds of weight in mounting interfaces alone. When I challenged this, I got a typical Marine Corps answer, “Because that’s what you are issued, now quit asking irrelevant questions Too Speed.” (Too Speed was my call sign)

I couldn’t accept that answer. It was an institutional answer that repeated a party line and the lives of my teammates were, and will always be, more important than not rocking the boat.

After some trial and error, the first mod I made was to ditch the Surefire M951 Weapon Light and replace it with a Surefire 6P in a shotgun tube light mount that I scored at a sporting goods shop near base. After swapping the 6P tail cap for the M951 remote switch assembly, I then ran the tape switch on the left side of the 203 so activating the light wouldn’t impact my weapons manipulation.

Getting a weapon light in tight with a rail and shaving weight off the interface was something I would spend the next 10 years fiddling with before I had a eureka moment and Haley Strategic Partners released the Thorntail Adaptive Series of light mounts, currently in use by military, security contractors and law enforcement worldwide.

This time was a defining moment for me, as it was when I first started tweaking and eventually building original components for my platoon based on the unique requirements of our missions. These experiences of shaving weight, improving ergonomics and finding a balance between capability and utility, would drive the development of so many of the components I have commercialized in my post-service career.


Colt M4 with 14.5” Barrel
Colt M203 40 mm Grenade Launcher
Knights Armament RAS Handguard
PEQ-2 IR Aiming Laser
Surefire Classic 6P with a custom “Simply Dynamic” mount
Boone & Packer Redi-Mag
Simply Dynamic Multi-Mission Sling (commercialized by Magpul as the MS3)


Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Force was trained up for both Green Side(reconnaissance) and Black Side(direct action) missions, with the assumption we would be tasked to one or the other. However, when we entered Iraq, our platoon found ourselves doing a combination of both at the same time. Force Recon is a special operations unit that prepares the battlespace and gathers intelligence for the MAGTF(Marine Air Ground Task Force) and then prosecutes specialized targets as directed.  

With a few days under our belts, the entire platoon started striping gear and mags, looking for that perfect balance of speed, utility and capability. If you can’t move, you can’t be effective. Most of the Marines went from 13 rifle magazines to between five or six. I ended up with four on my vest and two taped together on my carbine with riggers tape and offset with a stick.

Force Recon ran low signature loads outs, often working out of vehicles(mil and civilian), and running a double mag on the carbine meant I had 60 rounds at the ready. When I saw the “Redi-Mag” in a copy of Shotgun News, I ordered it and had it delivered to me overseas. Despite the weight, the Redi-Mag was more versatile than the old riggers tape and stick, and cut my carbine reloads to sub one second.

I no longer run a Redi-Mag because there are so many excellent belt mounted magazine pouches available today, that I can reload at almost the exact speed as from a Redi-Mag. That said, you will sometimes find them on my house and car guns, as I do not expect to be kitting up if someone breaks into my house or I find myself engaged with an active shooter around vehicles in the streets.


The M203 is a vital component to small and agile units, like Force, who operate in small units in semi and non-permissive settings. It becomes even more essential in worst case scenarios where the mission is compromised or the unit is outright ambushed by an enemy force.

We prepared for scenarios where 203s could be employed for a hasty breach, in instances where a short count/stack was not possible. Also, as a posturing tool to achieve immediate fire superiority in the face of an ambush. Finally, we practiced employing them to suppress fortified enemy positions in buildings by putting accurate fire through windows or open doors.

In fact, in the first gunfight I was involved in during OIF, I put this into practice, pumping 40mm HEDP(High Explosive Dual Purpose) rounds through windows of enemy positions 50 meters out. This fire created instant hate and discontent on target, where crew served weapons and M4s did not offer as much of an immediate positive effect. We had never trained to fire the M203 at such a close distance for safety reasons, but I held at the top of the window frame with my Aimpoint and the round went straight where I wanted it.


The MEUSOC 1911 has an almost legendary reputation among 1911 and handgun enthusiasts. One of the most high performance handguns ever built, the MEUSOC 1911 we ran was hand built by Marine Armorers from the Precision Weapons Section at MCBQ (Marine Corps Base Quantico). They fine tuned our 1911’s, hand selecting barrels, link pins, sear springs, ejectors, firing pin stops, mainspring housings and mainsprings. Slides were custom built by Springfield Armory with beavertail safeties and recoil spring guides by Ed Brown, Novak rear sights, Wilson Combat extractors + mag release buttons, and King’s Gun Works ambi thumb safeties.

Force ran the 1911 specifically in direct action raid or ambush missions. It was not a primary and would only come into play if our carbines had run dry or malfunctioned. We carried 10 round magazines with 230 Grain 45 ACP. More than enough to deal with any immediate situation and then refocus on the carbine to get it back into action.

On DRP(Deep Reconnaissance Patrol) Missions, I personally chose my Berretta M92, which was our only 9mm alternative at the time. The flatter trajectory at range of the 9mm and the larger magazine meant more bullets to deal with more problems in the event my carbine was down or permanently disabled.

When I later worked as a security contractor on Ambassador Bremmer’s detail with Blackwater, we would run Glock 17s. But in the end, the mission drives the gear. But more importantly, the mission drives the man.


When I first started making gear, I was doing it to help keep my guys alive. When I started my first company, Simply Dynamic Tactical, I wasn’t in it to get rich. I was doing it to pass on what I learned in combat and to provide tools that would stack the deck in the favor of the men and women who were going overseas or out on our streets as warfighters, law enforcement or private citizens.

Surviving war is an awesome responsibility. For those who have been in combat, you never forget the brothers you lost. When you are one of those who made it back, you carry a weight that is difficult to put into words. I was lucky to have known such great men in my life. I was lucky to have a second family closer than any people I will ever know.

As I approach the 5th year in business with Haley Strategic Partners, we have tried to bring this industry together and to stay focused on that one mission. Enable brave men and women to complete their missions as safely as possible. Through training, through gear and through mindset.  

Stay Sharp and be safe,

Travis Haley
October, 2015


ExRIMPAC16 - Intergration Training

Photos by: CPL Matt Bickerton, and CPL David Said, Hawaii, USA.

Australian Army soldier Lance Corporal Joel Baron, Section 2IC, 1 Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), participates in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016, working closely with US Marines and other nations on a range of training activities at the United States Marine Corps Base on Kaneohe Bay from 29 June to 10 July 2016, before proceeding to the Big Island for live fire range activities.

Exercise RIMPAC is the world’s largest maritime exercise enhancing Australia’s relationship with the United States and contributing nations. It is aimed at strengthening international maritime partnerships, enhance interoperability and improve the readiness of participating forces for a wide range of potential operations.

The theme for RIMPAC 16 is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners” and provides a key opportunity for Australia’s Amphibious Force Landing Force to test their interoperability within the multinational amphibious readiness group.

Private Marion Pillsbury assembles a .50 caliber machine gun at a Marine Corps base in San Diego.

From: USMC Archives


MARSOC Corpsman receives Silver Star.

Major Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, presents Petty Officer 2nd Class Alejandro Salabarria the Silver Star Medal during a ceremony at Stone Bay aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. Salabarria was awarded for his actions in Afghanistan Sept. 15, 2014.

(Photo and article by Sergeant Lia Gamato, 5 FEB 2016.)

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Petty Officer 2nd Class Alejandro Salabarria, a corpsman with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Raider Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, was awarded the Silver Star Medal during a ceremony at Stone Bay aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 5, for his actions in Afghanistan.

Salabarria, a Miami native, joined the Navy in December 2008 with the full intention of becoming a corpsman serving at an infantry unit. However, his first orders directed him to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.

Unfazed, Salabarria decided to take control of his future service as a corpsman, taking an interest in special operations. He attended the Basic Reconnaissance School and Army Basic Airborne School, then received orders to 3d Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. While preparing for deployment with Scout Sniper Platoon, Salabarria jumped on the opportunity to attend the Special Operations Combat Medic Course in Fort Bragg, N.C. Upon graduation, he received orders to 2nd MRB.

“From all of his training, he was basically a junior (Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman), which was exactly what we needed on the team,” said a critical skills operator with Marine Special Operations Team 8214, Marine Special Operations Company F.

Salabarria checked into the team in 2013 and, from the start, he set himself apart.

“Most corpsmen stay in their bubble … but Sal was always the guy who wanted to go out and be a CSO before he was a corpsman,” said a critical skills operator. “Which was great because it’s hard to instill that aggressiveness in someone.”

In June 2014, the team deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was nearing the end of their deployment, on Sept. 15, 2014, that the team was caught by enemy fire.

“We were headed to the (landing zone), and what caught my eye was that off to my right there was one guy praying. No one else was praying, just this one individual,” said the CSO. “Didn’t think anything of it.”

The team was dropped off on the LZ and split into two groups for the flight, one team staging to the north, the other to the south. Because aircraft wasn’t expected to land for several hours, the teams took a tactical pause to adjust their gear. It wasn’t until dark settled over the LZ that they came under attack.

“It’s funny that I heard (it) because we were a fair good distance away, but it was clear as day. I heard, ‘What the (expletive),’ and it almost sounded like a flash bang went off, and then just rapid fire,” said the CSO.

A rogue shooter had fired an M203 round into the LZ before circling around firing off an automatic weapon into the groups of gathered Raiders and commandos.

“I immediately hit the deck, I thought Sal is right next to me. He wasn’t,” said the CSO. “I don’t think he even hit the ground, I think he just ran.”

Salabarria had grabbed his medical kit and taken off running toward the center of the LZ where someone was yelling in pain. He explained that the only thing visible were muzzle flashes and the outlines of people, so he followed the cries for help. Salabarria first came across the foreign interpreter who then directed him to the team SARC. The senior medic had been struck by rapid fire in his arm and leg, shattering the upper part of his shin bone.

“I checked him over real quick, and that’s when I noticed that we were directly getting shot at,” said Salabarria. “At that point, I laid on top of (the team SARC), told him not to move, and I shot at (the shooter) until he went down.”

“Stories go, that other commandos were shooting, that our guys were shooting,” said the CSO. “But from my perspective, it was a gunfight between two people.”

For his “bold initiative, undaunted courage, and complete dedication to duty,” Maj Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, presented Salabarria with the Silver Star Medal. He was joined by Surgeon General Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, and teammates from 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.

“I think anybody on that team, given the opportunity, would have done the same thing. It just happened to be me that did it,” said Salabarria.

Sergeant Charles Strong lost his life during this attack. His family attended the ceremony as guests of honor, along with the family of Capt. Stanford H. Shaw III, who was a part of the “Raider 7” lost in March 2015, in a helicopter crash off the coast of Florida. Shaw was the officer who first submitted Salabarria for the award.

“(This medal) is more for Capt. Shaw and Sgt. Strong than anything,” said Salabarria. “It’s all for them.”

USMC Sergeant Charles C. Strong. 15 SEP 2014.
Died in Herat Province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered in an insider attack. Strong was assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, out of Camp Lejeune, NC.

san diego county gothic
  • people talk about the “green flash” that comes at sunset on the beach when everything is just right. you saw it once, two years ago, the green light on the horizon at sunset. you still see it even when it’s not sunset, when you’re nowhere near the beach, no matter where you look. always the green light in the corners of your eyes.
  • you can’t see the stars at night, the land is too bright. it glows from tijuana to oceanside. the land glows orange. you can’t see the stars at night, the smoke is too heavy. you may have never seen them anyway.
  • the air rumbles. you tell yourself that it’s just a plane from the marine corps base. the idea of a 19-year-old piloting an f-15 is more comforting than what you think it may be.
  • there are adopt-a-highway signs all along the road. this one has been adopted by a mexican restaurant. this one by an insurance group. this one by a church. this one by something unpronounceable, whose letters you cannot directly look at. you try to avoid that stretch of highway.
  • the fog comes in in the night. the marine layer, everyone says. it’ll burn off by noon. when it does, everyone pretends not to notice what went with it, and what was left.
  • everyone went to the midway when they were in elementary school. nobody has ever talked about what they saw in the narrow hallway two decks down.
  • microbreweries are everywhere, their beers named after beaches and fishes and things in the depths. you probably haven’t heard of this beer, your friend tells you, but you have heard the sound made in the interval between its opening and its drinking.
  • in the night, you hear a high whooping sound. a coyote, you tell yourself, or a kid. either way, someone’s pet will be missing come morning.
  • southbound traffic on the i-5 will be slow today. northbound traffic on the i-5 will be slow today. the necessary sacrifices have not been made. traffic both directions on the 56 will be slow today. traffic both directions on the 805 will be slow today. the necessary sacrifices have not been made. the i-8 and the i-15 will carry the necessary sacrifices. the i-8 and i-15 will be slow in both directions today, and please take blood into account as you drive.
  • when it rains, everyone stares at the sky, everyone begins to panic. they know what will be exacted from them once the rain is over.
  • canyons reach from the suburbs all the way into the city center, full of dry grass, dry eucalyptus. some of them were made by now-dry streams. some of them were not. the coyotes don’t go into those ones, though you think you hear howls.
  • it’s beautiful here, you tell your out-of-state friends. it’s beautiful. sunny. there’s in-n-out. seaworld. palm trees. you should come, you tell them, as the thermometer breaks 110 and the sun turns the asphalt into something soft and grasping, the heat shimmer slowly advancing down the street from both ways and devouring the houses. you should come. you should come. it’s beautiful. please.
  • to the north: roads and roads and roads, tangling in on each other in knots of endless asphalt. to the south: another border, another fence. to the east: dry mountains, dry desert, tumbleweeds, states that you’re not sure exist. to the west: the beckoning, calling ocean, reaching out with seaweed hands. four ways to die. no ways to leave.

A soldier from The 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Recce Platoon, 3 Section, jumps from a U.S. Marines Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during Helocasting training at Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) on June 30, 2014.


SOLDIER STORIES: Celebrating the life of a Viking Raider.

The battlefield cross for fallen Raiders was displayed at the Celebration of Life ceremony remembering retired Master Sgt. Eden M. Pearl, at the Base Theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 19, 2016. Master Sergeant Eden M. Pearl deployed with Fox Company, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, to Herat Province, Afghanistan, in 2009. His identification tags will be added to those of other fallen Raiders and displayed at U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command headquarters building aboard Stone Bay, N.C.

(Combat images are courtesy photos dated MAY 2009. Other photos by Sergeant Donovan Lee, 19 FEB 2016. Article by Sergeant Lia Gamero, 19 FEB 2016.)

During a Celebration of Life ceremony, family, friends and fellow Raiders gathered to honor the life and legacy of retired Master Sgt. Eden M. Pearl, at the Base Theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 19, 2016. Master Sgt. Pearl succumbed to his wounds on Dec. 20, 2015, more than six years after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device while deployed to Herat Province, Afghanistan in 2009.

“He was one of those guys the Marines tell stories about in the Marine Corps, so I couldn’t wait to meet (him)” said Phillip Noblin, who met Pearl in 2002, when Pearl was his team leader at 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force. “Just off the stories, I had built up this picture of this battle-ax swinging Viking of a beast of a man.”

By 2002, Pearl had already built himself a reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the reconnaissance community. He had deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, completed Amphibious Reconnaissance School, Scout Sniper School, and the Rigid-hull Inflatable Boat Coxswain’s Course.

“He was a very consummate professional, and commanded respect everywhere he went,” said Noblin, who described Pearl as a leader who always took the time to teach and train younger Marines. “(On his team) you always wanted to make sure you did the right thing because Eden was your team leader and you didn’t want to let him down.”

Pearl completed four more deployments with II MEF, in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom I and Iraqi Freedom II. It was shortly before his fifth deployment that Pearl was introduced to his wife, Alicia, a U.S. Navy corpsman stationed in Virginia. After a long-distance relationship, the two received orders to deploy with the same unit, but two months from deployment, Alicia found out she was expecting.

“He had a plan, to be together for some time, engaged for some time,” said Alicia, “but we both knew we were right for each other and we wanted to be together, so he was just so excited when he found out.”

The couple married days before his deployment and their daughter was born just two weeks before his return in 2005.

“(She) was his joy,” said Don Hoemann, long-time friend of Pearl. “He had this carrier that he bragged about continuously and did so much in-depth research on, and he’d carry her absolutely everywhere. He’d be up to his knees in muck, and she’d be on his back, hiking with him.”

In April 2005, Pearl then received orders to 2nd Special Operations Training Group, Special Missions Branch, as a Dynamic Assault/Entry Instructor.

“(When I arrived) Eden was kind of in charge over there, which was funny because on paper there was probably a (gunnery sergeant) over him,” said Noblin, founder of Brothers in Arms Foundation. “But he had that about him, you could be in a room with majors and captains, but if Eden was talking they were listening. He was the guy who had been there and knew all the skills, and at the time, that was with only 10 years in.”

Pearl was with the Special Missions Branch in 2006 when the unit was reassigned and re-designated at Marine Special Operations School (MSOS), U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. At MSOS, Pearl was assigned as Lead Instructor and was integral in the development of the Individual Training Course (ITC).

An explosive ordinance disposal technician with 3rd Marine Raider Support Battalion, who met Pearl in 2006 described Pearl as a very intense individual.

“His reputation as a recon Marine was already legendary with all of us, so in a way it was hard not to be in some kind of ‘awe’ when you first met the guy,” said the EOD tech. In 2008, he was assigned to Marine Special Operations Team 8211, Fox Company, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, with Pearl as his team chief.
“Eden was (the team’s) anchor, our go-to guy with anything,” said the EOD tech. “We all would have followed him anywhere because we knew without a doubt that he would do the same for any of us.”

In 2009, MSOT 8211 deployed to Herat Province, Afghanistan. While on a routine convoy, Pearl’s team was ambushed and an IED was detonated directly under his vehicle. Two service members were ejected from the vehicle and survived, three others, including Pearl, were caught inside. Pearl was the only service member from inside the vehicle to survive.

“I don’t pray often, but that night I prayed it wasn’t one of our vehicles, and more specifically not his,” said the EOD tech. “As you can imagine, the entire team was caught pretty off guard to that kind of a blow; having that anchor, brother, leader and friend taken from you.”

Pearl suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 97 percent of his body. He was medically evacuated from country and only days later to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he underwent multiple surgeries and skin grafts. After a couple of months, Pearl had a severe stroke that put him into a temporary vegetative state, but after 16 months he was transferred to a facility in Florida, that catered to his cognitive care needs.

In 2013, the Brothers in Arms Foundation, together with the Gary Sinise Foundation, helped build a home in San Antonio that was accessible to care for Pearl in a home setting.

“I don’t think most people would have survived those initial injuries to begin with and the fact that he made it out of (Brook Army Medical Center) after 16 months is amazing, and the fact that he was even able to come home and spend more time with us here, is kind of miraculous,” said Alicia. “He truly was an incredible man, father and husband.”

Pearl’s wounds and recovery not only led to the development of multiple medicines but also several procedures that will help future burn victims. His survival was the leading factor for the Brothers in Arms foundation, which continues to support wounded and fallen special operations Marines. Alicia and Hoemann attribute his survival to his ceaseless warrior spirit.
“(Eden) was the epitome of a fighter, he was not going to give up,” said Hoemann. “Even with family and work it wasn’t an option to give up and not give 110 percent. He fought every day … for what he thought was best for his Marines and his family.”

Pearl was retired in September 2014, where he continued to live in San Antonio with his family, until his passing on Dec. 20, 2015. He is survived by his wife Alicia, daughter Avery, and a community of Raiders with an example to live up to.

“I only wish that more guys coming up through MARSOC could have been influenced by him,” said the EOD tech. “(Eden) was a full package deal that could do it all. I will never forget the moments that I had with him, to know him, and have the honor to work beside him.”

Marines assigned to 2nd LAAD, conclude firing the FIM-92 Stinger missile launcher after hitting a drone during a live fire exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 8, 2016. 2nd LAAD conducted a live fire exercise to maintain proficiency and accuracy with the FIM-92 Stinger missile launcher.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Brosilow/Released)

an ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

dir.: chad stahelski, david leitch (uncredited)
action / thriller

keanu reeves as john wick
michael nyqvist as viggo tarasov
alfie allen as iosef tarasov
willem dafoe as marcus

some facts:

  • according to keanu reeves, he did 90% of his own stunts in the film.
  • keanu reeves learned & memorized the nightclub fight sequence the day that the scene was filmed.
  • director chad stahelski was keanu reeves’ stunt double in the matrix movies.
  • john wick is intended to be a trilogy franchise.
  • the red circle bar is a clear allusion to 1 of the main influences for this film: le cercle rouge (1970).
  • according to the directors’ commentary, when they shot the top-level nightclub fight sequence keanu reeves had the flu & was running a 104°F fever.
  • john wick is referred to as “baba yaga”. in slavic lore, baba yaga is usually portrayed as a witch that lives in a house standing on chicken legs. she is often portrayed in a scary way but tends to act more like a trickster. even so, she has been known to be helpful to those who are pure of heart.
  • the filmmakers took into account keanu reeves’ native hawaiian ancestry for john wick’s tattoo. “fortis fortuna adiuvat” (fortune favors the bold) is the motto used by 3rd battalion 3rd marines based in marine corps base hawaii, kaneohe bay. suggesting that john wick was once a u.s. marine in hawaii.
  • john wick smoothly transitions between several shooting styles depending on the situation. during close-quarters battles & while moving through tight hallways, he employs a center axis relock stance. when moving & shooting at longer ranges, he changes into more traditional weaver & isosceles stances.
  • during hand to hand combat scenes, john wick shows himself to be a judoka & use japanese traditional jujutsu. judo is a japanese martial art emphasizing throws. specifically, wick repeatedly uses head throws and arm throws. on the other hand, his rival assassin, ms. perkins, uses brazilian jiu-jitsu (employing a kimura shoulder lock, the crucifix position & using her leather jacket as a gi to perform a wing choke in her fight against wick in the hotel room).
  • the film reunites actors keanu reeves, daniel bernhardt, randall duk kim along with producers-directors chad stahelski & david leitch, all of whom were involved in the matrix trilogy.
  • the character of john wick is also a playable character in the video-game payday 2 (2013). he was added to the game 2 days before the movie’s wide release.
  • while chad stahelski is the credited director & david leitch is the credited producer (due to dga & pga regulations), the 2 produced & directed together as a team.
  • keanu reeves’ 6th time playing a role named john.
  • the logo with the 2 arrows seen on the van from the cleaning team is the symbol for the german recycling system called green dot (grüner punkt).
  • american muscle cars in movie are 1969 mach 1 mustang, (mistaken for a 429 boss mustang), 1970 ss396 chevelle a 2011 dodge charger ld & the 1968 dodge charger in aureilo’s garage.
  • the pistol john wick primarily used in the beginning of the film is a heckler & koch p30 with a silencer or compensator.
  • gregori is playing dust 514 (2013) at the safe house, a first person shooter only available on the playstation 3 system. yet he can be seen playing it on xbox 360.
  • during the dust 514 (2013) scene, the mobster can be seen shooting an enemy with the name point break (1991), another keanu reeves title.
  • the shotgun john wick uses towards the end of the film is a keltek ksg.
  • bridget moynahan, who plays john wick’s wife, has only 8 seconds of screen time.
  • derek kolstad had no actors in mind when “john wick” was a spec script. the writer only had non-living action stars in mind before it was produced.
  • the book on the coffee table is a monography of alvaro siza, a portuguese architect, considered to be one of the best in the world.
  • derek kolstad’s grandfather, 88-year-old john wick served as an inspiration for the movie’s title & character name.
  • daniel bernhardt played an agent in the keanu reeves vehicle matrix reloaded (2003).
  • marilyn manson (matrix’s soundtrack) is also in john wick’s soundtrack.
  • 2nd movie where keanu reeves drives a black dodge charger, the first being los reyes de la calle (2008).
  • this movie reunites 2 actors from the hbo tv series the wire (2002). although they don’t share screen time, both lance reddick & clarke peters appear in the continental. reunites 3 actors from the hbo tv series oz (1997). although they don’t share screen time, lance reddick, clarke peters, & dean winters appear in the movie.
  • bacon grease was placed on keanu’s face to attract his dog to jump on him when he wakes up in bed.
  • kevin nash plays a large russian henchman. he also played 1 in the punisher (2004), though in that film his lines were cut in post-production.
  • 1st time that keanu reeves & willem dafoe have acted together on film, both were in the speed franchise: reeves was in speed (1994), & dafoe was in speed 2: cruise control (1997).
  • bridget regan, who played addy the bartender at the continental, played the confessor in the legend of the seeker (2008) tv series.

spoilers (the trivia items below may give away important plot points)

  • the body count is 119 in this film.
  • the security guard who waves wick onto the airport runway is reading the 1970s thriller novel “shibumi” by rod whitaker, under the pen name trevanian, also about a retired master assassin dragged back into the game. the story viggo tells about how wick killed three men “with a pencil” alludes to a crucial scene from the same novel.
  • both producer basil iwanyk & keanu reeves reference the number 84 as being the total number of kills by john wick.
  • according to the directors’ commentary, their first cut of the movie was 2 hours & 20 minutes long. they didn’t reveal much about approximately 39 minutes of footage that was cut out of the movie but they did mentioned that ending fight between john & viggo was longer but was cut down after they both acknowledged that viggo shouldn’t really pose a big physical threat to wick. also, david leitch said how “there’s a ton of great shots on the cutting room floor that’s just keanu reeves walking in cool environments.”
  • the red shirt henchmen are an homage to star trek (1966).
  • iosef (alfie allen) is shot in the genitals before being killed. in game of thrones (2011), allen’s character was castrated.

+: imdb / amazon

Just going to casually list a few mistakes MCU has made with Frank Castle. 

  • A marine would NEVER refer to himself as a “soldier.” Soldier = Army. Marine = Marine corps. 
  • They make it seem like Frank lives in New York ( in the city and all ) when the incident occurs. While I’ve attempted to make this possible in the canon on this blog, there are absolutely no marine corps bases in the state of New York.  Because Frank is a recon marine he’d have likely been stationed in California, North Carolina or Japan. While he is permitted to live off of base, there’s usually a required distance. 
  • Again, I can’t stress enough how awful it is that they make Frank call himself a soldier. Sooooooo cringe, everything about it made my skin crawl.  The marine corps in particular tend to take a lot of pride in their branch. It’s not uncommon for them to correct civilians that call them soldiers. They themselves would never do so in a million years.