How a Prepared Mind Can Help Minimize PTSD
How a Prepared Mind Can Help Minimize PTSD
Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host Scott DeLuzio and now let’s get on with the show.
Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today my guest is Lieutenant Colonel Brian Slade. He is an Apache pilot and the author of Cleared Hot Lessons, Learned about life, love and leadership while flying the Apache Gunship in Afghanistan, and why I believe a prepared mind can help minimize ptsd.
And we’re going to be discussing his time flying over Afghanistan in Apaches and the challenges that he faced afterwards throughout all of his experiences. So welcome to the show, Brian. Glad to have.
Brian Slade: Well, thanks. I am glad to be here.
Scott DeLuzio: Appreciate it. Yeah, absolutely. So, why don’t you give us a little bit more background [00:01:00] on yourself and you know, thing, things like that.
Brian Slade: Okay. Well, you said I fly Apaches, I have to correct you a little. I did fly Apaches . I now fly. I transitioned over to the Air Force from the Army. The deployment that the book Cleared Hot that we’re kept talking about after that deployment and did, I transferred over to the Air Force, you know, and I always say I transferred over for, to the Air Force for all the reasons I didn’t join it in the first place,
So, like, when I was young, you know, I was like, Oh, the Air Force, you know, they stay in four star hotels, those whistles, you know, all that kind stuff. And then later I was like, they stand for Star Hotels . Like, and so I, you know, I made, they, they’re gone for four months at a time instead of 23 months at a time, you know?
That made that transition. But then I ended up flying Combat Search and Rescue with the Air Force, which is a whole nother, and that’s what I currently do, is what I currently do. I’m the oldest of eight kids. I like to say eldest cuz it sounds more sophisticated, but there’s not a lot that’s sophisticated about me, so, so it’s kind of misleading.
I moved outta my house at 15 cuz there was no food [00:02:00] left. I’m just kidding. That’s not why I moved out. But I did move out at. Finished up high school and went to college at Utah State. You know, actually I went to, on a church mission for two years to Brazil, and then I went to college at Utah State.
Played with little football there, got in the rotc, got commission, and decided to fly helicopters, and then, you know, that’s the catalyst right there.
Scott DeLuzio: Well, that seems like you had a pretty interest. Upbringing, you know, leaving home at 15 and then, you know, just kind of going on your own way, that way.
That, that is pretty interesting in and of itself. But then let’s, you know, you fast forward a few years and you’re in Afghanistan and you’re flying Apache gunships and you’re you’re doing all sorts of crazy stuff over there and I’m, we’re gonna get into that for sure, but, Definitely seems like a pretty interesting life up until this point.
So, I think you can probably kick your feet up and relax for a little bit now going on here. But so in the subtitle of your book, I mentioned it earlier, you [00:03:00] said that you believe that a prepared mind can help minimize ptsd. Could you walk us through what you mean there and how that, how we might be able to prepare our minds in the context that you’re talking about?
Brian Slade: certainly tried . So that really was the catalyst for me deciding to write the book. I never had any aspirations to be an author or anything like that. But I did start noticing, you know, I had a lot of real world experiences that were pretty intense and came out of him actually what I would consider stronger.
Not unscarred, but stronger. And, I didn’t know why at the time, and maybe I still don’t fully know why, but we did drill that down and identify some things that we believe were causal in experiencing growth rather than damage from traumatic experiences. And so unbeknownst to me I mean, I was preparing myself.
I was doing certain things to, to prepare in other ways, but I was also preparing myself mentally to minimize the impacts of [00:04:00] a sexual. And so that’s where it really started to tell me, made me feel like I needed to get these type of things out there. It’s not that they’re not out there, but the more you put ’em out there in different ways, the more people were gonna reach.
And so, like, I’m not gonna share anything cosmic with anybody, but I might open a lock in somebody. And that was my intent is, and I tell people like, you share your story. You never know when your story’s gonna be the key to someone else’s law. I’ve heard things in different ways and some things resonate and some things don’t.
But yeah, so to say, yeah. You know, there were several principles that there were seven principles that were really outlined in the book. And just to be clear, the book is not super did I, was sneaking and putting these lessons in there like it’s a, if you wanna read it just to have a war story, you’re gonna be fine.
You’re not gonna be like, Oh, I’ll teach you instructional. It’s not, There’s lessons learned, weaved in throughout, both with leadership and how do we make yourself more resilient, all that kind of stuff. And then we do kind of do a little bit of a encapsulation at the very end. It’s not even a chapter, [00:05:00] It’s, what do we call this first place?
But yeah, it breaks down those seven principles. One of the principles that I like to start with people, because to me it was common commonplace. But what really, when I drilled it down, it helped me realize that I was doing this for this reason, but I had these other effects that actually made me prepared to not have, you know, the damage.
And this technique is called chair flying, right? And it’s something that most pots will know what that. It’s just us trying to walk through bad scenarios or even not even bad scenarios. It could just be any scenario that you’re not smooth with yet, and you walk through it until you feel comfortable with it.
Because we’re limited in how many times we’re allowed to practice things in haka or whatever. So it’s a way to go through the mental gymnastics multiple times when you may only get three times to practice it for real, right? Or two times, or. Well, I kind of took that practice and started to apply it in a lot more in depth way.
[00:06:00] I really, for me, cheerly is meditation, visualization, and role play, all kind of mixed into one. And so I would start to do breathing exercises to get my mind right and I was thrown into the deep end a little bit. I was an aircraft commander probably before I was ready. And that upgrade happened when we were in the midst of a war.
I was going from being the guy that’s not really in charge of the aircraft, to the guy that is in charge of the aircraft, and my very first flight as an aircraft commander was a pretty hairy engagement. I mean, it was like the learning curve was really steep, and so I was like, Okay, I need to do something.
I need something to prepare myself because I am the low man on the toe pole as far as experience goes, so I need to gain experience fast. In as many ways as possible. And the meditation visualization I role plays terrifying is what I opted for. So what I would do is I would take emergency procedures, I would take combat scenarios and say, Okay, in this [00:07:00] scenario I lose my tell, and I’m over badard, what am I gonna do?
Right? And so I would break it down into the very, My first thing I’m gonna do is take a. That’s not gonna take too, Like I can’t do that too long. Cause you don’t take all the time you need. You got half a second. Right? So that’s kind of the idea is like, get my wits about me, stay calm, you know, walk through the mental aspect of it as well as then the physical aspect.
I, I’m forward on the cycling. I’m gonna look for a flat area. I’m not gonna communicate, I’m not gonna worry about that right now cause that’s not the priority. Once I get to that priority, we’ll execute. And then I would just walk it all the way through until it was smooth from start to finish, and then I would throw in contingent, then I would throw in variables, then I would throw in, This happens, and then that happens.
I was doing this to prepare myself for the actual physical arena. What I didn’t realize is I was also preparing for they call it stress ino. And it’s not unlike medical inoculation. If you [00:08:00] give yourself a weakened dose of a virus or whatever it is, your body builds up an immunity to it. So when the real thing comes, it doesn’t dere.
You may still get a sniffle. It may affect you a little bit, but it’s not going to hurt you like it would’ve without inoculation. Well, I was doing that with mental visualization. I was giving myself those traumatic experiences in a controlled environ. That was allowing me to control it, right? Allowing me to be safe.
But at stem time, experience it. When it actually did come, it didn’t affect me as negative. It was, I was already prepared. I’d already seen, I’d already seen blown up people a hundred times in my head before I actually did it, you know, Or I’d already seen my co-pilot getting hit before he got hit, and then he got hit, you know, So I already walked through what I would do when that.
I’ve already seen like losing all the electrical power and it’s mid, it’s dark outside and I have nothing. I see black. How do I keep the helicopter stable and communicate when I have no way to communicate? I’d already done that and then it really [00:09:00] happened, right? So when those things really happened, they ended up being cool stories instead of the first person to the scene of a crash.
That’s the first thing. That’s what I was doing it for. And the second thing is I didn’t go to the scene of my own crash. didn’t go to my scene in my own crash emotionally because my was, my mind was prepared for that traumatic event and it actually became a stepping stone rather than a tripping step.
So that’s one of the techniques that we’re talking about,
Scott DeLuzio: you know, and I like that technique and it’s something that I don’t even think we realize that we do this, but I know with. My kids they all play baseball or softball. My daughter plays softball. And whenever they go out on the field, we tell them, Okay, no matter what position you’re playing, doesn’t matter where you are.
If you’re your pitcher, your catcher, your first base, outfield, what? It doesn’t matter if the ball comes to you. What are you gonna do? Every single pitch you gotta think to yourself, what are you gonna do? So that way when the ball is coming to you and you catch it, you’re not standing there like a [00:10:00] deer in the headlights.
Mm-hmm. . Okay. Where am I supposed to throw the ball now? Yeah. You’ve already kind of, went through the whole play in your head. Okay. The ball comes to me, I’m gonna pick it up and I’m gonna throw it a first pace. Boom. Mm-hmm. done. You don’t even have to think about it, it’s just, that’s just the thing that you’re going to do.
I think that type of thing might be, you know, relatable to the type of people who maybe haven’t served in a you know, a combat operation area. You know, like, like you have where you’re flying over these you know, dangerous areas. You’re. in danger readily. And they may not necessarily relate that, but it’s the same idea really, I think to sports, like any sport really, where you gotta think to yourself, Okay, what am I gonna do next?
What’s that next step? And you know, even driving on the highway, you know, what am I gonna do if, you know that jackass over there decides to cut me off? Like, okay, you gotta have to kind of have a game plan in place. And so that way you. Wrapping your car around a telephone pole you’re able to safely kind of [00:11:00] navigate around that situation.
So, you know, it I like how you put that and it just kind of reminded me of how important it is to teach people the, these particular skills. Not just for You know, sports, the way we might do with our kids, but that it’s useful to apply later on in life. We’re actually at any stage in life
Brian Slade: really, a hundred percent.
I mean, and you hit the nail on the head. I mean, athletes do this all the time. They visualize, they go through the same over and over again. When they say the game slowed down for people, it didn’t slow down. They just rewired those nerves, right? So the nerves already got it. The decisions have been made ahead of time.
They’ve got, you’ve seen this in professional athletes where the guys already moving to where it’s happening before it. And it’s literally, he’s wired that so, so tight that he can, you can almost sense it’s happening before it happens. And you’re correct in the fact that you can apply it in your day to day life.
Simple as like, I got a difficult decision, a difficult discussion with my boss or my wife, or sometimes that’s the same person. So you know, like, how’s that gonna go? You know, like she’s [00:12:00] gonna do. And I normally might get upset and yell now, Okay I’m not gonna do that. Right. I’m gonna, I’m gonna take a deep breath.
I’m gonna let, I’m gonna let her get it all out. You go for you. And then I’m gonna, I’m gonna try to do something to deescalate that. And what would that be? You know, walk through that and actually say the words out loud, you know? And my son makes fun of me. I have a 10 year old. And and he’ll constantly like, Dad, you’re talking to yourself again.
I was like, eh, sort of. I got, I’m talking to someone else, they just don’t know it yet, you know? It’s, it works in all kinds of things.
Scott DeLuzio: Sure. So you said there were seven steps. I know we, we just got through the first one here, but could you kind of go through some of the other steps that you have there?
Brian Slade: Yeah. So one that I think, given what you were saying about your audience earlier that might be helpful is we talk about building, you know, this isn’t cosmic, like I said, none of this stuff is cosmic and we kind of talk about. And building a positive perspective, right? And maintaining, more importantly, maintaining that positive perspective as a way of life, not just something that you’re forcing, [00:13:00] right?
So like anything, it’s about creating habits and it’s about creating something that is your default in, that’s in a positive way. I usually tell, this is the story tell to kind help paint that picture. And I’ve told it on a few podcasts already but basically when I went into Afg Afghanistan, I was up to two leader and it was my first, I’ve been there several, I’ve been deployed several times now, but at the, this book is my first deployment.
And so I didn’t know what to expect. I expected Afghanistan would be nasty cause you know, it’s war so, so it’s gonna suck. So we’re in the C 17 Co-located with three of our Apaches. It’s me and two other NCOs. I’m the lieutenant, they’re the NCOs and we’re, I’m the advan, we’re the advanced party for our company, right?
We’re gonna start set up and basically say all that stuff out. So we’re the literally the first guys from our organization that are gonna be boots all around airbase. So, We’re descend in there and we’re [00:14:00] on that ramp. It’s dark inside of the two, you know, the C 17 and it’s morning. It’s early morning.
The sun hasn’t come up yet, but it’s still it is light outside, so its a dom and my eyes have been definitely accustomed to the dark. And as that clams chair on the back starts to open, you know, the C 17, it’s like that, you know, that piercing light, even though there’s not a sun up, that you can’t really see what you’re seeing.
And I have all this anticipation built up in me. You know, ever since nine 11, I was rare. So here I am, I’m here, I’m ready. Here it comes, right? And it opens. What am I gonna see? You know, it’s all this anticipation and you know, a lot of, we have lots of times in our, and that’s the case. We don’t know what to expect.
We got a lot of anticipation up and as it slowly comes, the first thing it hits me is it doesn’t stink. You know? I’m like, I thought it would smell horrible cuz it’s a bad place. Now if I landed in can horror, it would’ve right. But embargo it does. It didn’t. And as it opened up, I, in front of me, I see these majestic mountains and are covered in snow and I’m from the northwest and I’m like, It’s the Rocky [00:15:00] Mountains.
What the heck? It’s not supposed to be pretty here. What’s going on? You know? But it was pretty, very pretty. And then I ended up flying over those mountains and I hadn’t got into any stuff yet. And I’m like, Man, what snowboard over there? That’d be a wicked snowmobile trail there. I mean, this is beautiful.
You know, just that kinda. You just got you. It’s hard to appreciate it when you know we’re in a war, but at the same time, it’s like, it’s beautiful. And then you get a call to go out to, to descend out of the beautiful and to get into the ugly. And that call is a troops and content, which means that they’re trading bullets and it’s not at a bizarre, like they’re trading them at high velocity and the bad guys have a have the upper hand.
That’s why they call us. And then we’re gonna, we’re gonna shift that tide, right? Cause we got bigger bolts. You know, the call that you get from the ground guy is one of extreme urges. One that you can tell that you, the mindset of what you were just seeing with the pictures views has taken a 180. He’s breathing hard.
[00:16:00] You hear the gunfire in the back, and he’s saying, I need immediate suppression on the 1 20 0 for 300 meters. We are taking effective fire, Roger. That’s what we’re gotta do. All right, we’re gonna roll in. So he’s in the. He’s in the gun fight and that’s all he sees, That’s all he sees, That’s all that’s all that matters to him at that moment.
And he is not aware of anything other than that. Yes. We’re now in his, and that’s all we’re focused. We’re throwing ordinance at the bad guys. I am focused on what we’re doing, what we’re gonna do, how we’re gonna react, all those kinda things. But in the middle of that chaos, those mountains never changed.
Right. Those mountain. We’re still there and they were still beautiful and there’s still snowcap in that wicked snowmobile trail still there, right? And, but they’re not in my head. They’re not in my mindset. What’s in my mindset right now is the ugly, what’s right in front of me, and that’s become my world.
But that what’s in front of me is [00:17:00] finite. This will end, this will pass. We’ll get through this. We may have some scars from it, but it’s not a forever. Those mountains and that beauty it is, that’s forever. You raise up even higher at 30,000 feet where you see the curvature of the earth, and I don’t care if you’re over the freaking wastelands or wherever it’s still gonna be because you can see the curvature, You see that in every direction, and you raise up to where you can see the globe.
I’m guessing, I haven’t seen this. You raise out there in a space, you’re literally looking at a celestial body. That’s what you’re looking at. And now the beauty. It’s not in every direction because there is no, The beauty just is right, And that’s the forever. That’s the reality of what is beauty, right? In that planet, On that planet.
The same time that you are experiencing all that beauty, there’s a lot of gun, [00:18:00] there’s a lot of gun ffi, but those are t. Those should be temporary. We should move to make them and understand that growth comes from those or can cope. And that’s where we get into the application of how we keep that in beauty is there.
So on the application side of that, okay, we get that. It’s beauty. That’s it. That’s always there. That’s the big picture. But application is always a little harder than freaking just, you know, the momentary, like, I get epiphany. So I always tell people it’s easier to look, It’s easier looking backwards than for, right?
It’s easier to see things when we’re looking. In hindsight we’re looking foresight. And so challenge people to look back at your wins, man. Look back at your growth. Look back at what, where you’ve seen the biggest, you know, some of your. Changes [00:19:00] that are in the positive. And I would guess for you, you know, given your story, one of the toughest things that happened to you has now been also a source of a lot of your strength and growth, who you are now.
Right. And that’s true of, Right. We almost always have our biggest wins after ours trial. Sometimes there’s self-inflicted trials. Those are called. Right Some, I mean, that’s what, it’s purposefully self-inflicted. Some are self-inflicted. There aren’t goals, and that’s a different thing. But when we come through those things on the other side, we’re stronger.
We can be if we utilize them. Right? And that’s where our wins come from. So if we know that, and then we take our hindsight and we play that forward, and we play that forward, and then we’re in the middle of that gun fight. We’re in a gun fight, we know that’s. An obstacle, that’s an opportunity because there’s something that can come from this that can make us a better version of ourselves.
And that’s [00:20:00] just a practice. You know, there’s a good book on this by Ben Hardy called The Gap and the Game, And it’s not about war, it’s not about, it’s just about perspective, and it’s about focusing on your game, not your death. What’s your focus on what you’ve gained, not what you’re missing, or where you’re lacking.
I’m not where I wanna be. Well, where are you compared to where you were? Right. You know, where’s your win between yesterday and today? Where’s your win between yesterday and a month ago? Where’s your win between yesterday and a year ago? So it’s a great book, and it’s kind of like this, the scholarly version of what I’m trying my boots and boots on the ground version of saying, you know, every obstacle’s an opportunity and that.
Habit it by forcing that back, that backwards loop to go forward. And at first it’s, At first it’s very intentional. At first it has to be very intentional. I don’t care. You can remind yourself, there’s all kinds of different techniques to remind yourself do it or whatever. I’ll tell you a really good [00:21:00] way.
If you have a kid, you explain this to him and then you tell ’em, When I’m not focusing on my wins, you call me out. Kids love to call their parents out, right? So my kid will be like, Are you focusing on your. I’m like, No, you got me. Okay, let’s focus on the lens. Right. So that’s how you like anything.
There is no like magic pill. You’re gonna have to practice it, but it is very doable. And then it becomes I very rarely focus on any kind of negatives or stay there very long because it’s become a practice. And my kid is very similar. He’s doing the same things and I see it getting stronger in him too, where he doesn’t stay down anymore cause he realizes.
He’s not focusing on the win, He’s focused on this, whatever you And
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. You know, I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways from all of this is that mentorship that you have with your kids and any parent has with their children is being able to pass something along. As valuable as that allows them to.
[00:22:00] Deal with the negatives in life. Cause there’s going to be negatives. I don’t care who you are or how much you’ve prepared yourself for things, it doesn’t matter. There’s always gonna be something negative that happens to everybody at some point or not. I don’t think anyone has gotten out of life unscathed, you know, like we, we all have something.
Right? So how do you deal with that? Right. And, A kid has a role model to look up to someone who has been through some crap in their lives and they still wake up in the morning with a smile on their face, and they’re still able to see the positives in life. Instead of, you know, just being down and depressed and letting life beat them up.
It’s going to give them the tools that they need to be able to. Succeed in life when they get older, you know, they’re, things just pile up sometimes and you want them to be able to deal with these things so that, you know, as a 30, 40, [00:23:00] 50 plus year old person, they’re able to continue having that positive attitude throughout their lives.
Brian Slade: Yeah, it’s been a, it’s been a joy. That’s my favorite thing, his favorite hat I wear is dad. It’s also very stressful. , ,
you always question yourself, Am I doing it right? Am I, you know, am I doing the best I can all,
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. I mean, that’s one of those things. There’s no owner’s manual to a kid, you know?
Well, there’s lots of them. Your hand, Well, there’s, but a lot and a lot of ’em have crappy advice. So you gotta be careful which one you pick, Right. You know, but you get to, you get your child and it’s like, now I have to figure this stuff out. And, you know, if I wanna read one of those, you know, quote unquote owner’s manuals, you gotta figure out which one to actually pay attention to.
Right. And you know, some of them are, some of them are craps, some of ’em are okay. But you know, you, you can only do the best that you can do no matter what it is that you’re doing with them. So, you know, having that positive attitude certainly isn’t gonna hurt anything. Right?
Brian Slade: No, not at [00:24:00] all. I honestly like, I think that we’re graded on intent.
Like I feel like our kids grade on, They can feel it, they can feel the intent. You don’t have to be perfect. Yeah. You don’t have to get the book down. Right. You don’t have to do those kinda things. They just have to know that’s what I feel. You know? I guess he’s 10, so we’ll see.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Well, it seems like he’s off to a good start at least, so that, that’s a good thing.
I, I did want to fast forward a little bit talk about your time in Afghanistan. You talked a little bit about it, but and may, maybe we can talk about some of these other lessons and we could kind of maybe incorporate it into your time in Afghanistan. But specifically, you were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for some of the actions in Afghanistan.
And I watched the video of the mission that you were on and I gotta admit, it was a pretty intense video to watch. I mean, Not a lot as far as the video goes in terms of the intensity, but the conversation that was going on that, that was a pretty intense conversation and you know, everything that, that happened that day.
Could you tell us about the [00:25:00] events of that mission and what took place and maybe some, along the way, some of the lessons that either you talked about in your book or that you learned along the way that kind of helped you out?
Brian Slade: Yeah. Viewer discretion is advised. So, yeah, . So it’s interesting how things transpire.
It, when I went to Afghanistan and I was, like I said, I was a co pot, then I became an ac, then I became a company commander, then I became it. It was just like this boy becomes man thing in a lot of different ways. Like not just in po, not just in like experience, but also in position also in responsibility.
And it just, it really, I mean, the thing kind of wrote itself. This was towards the end of our deployment. So it’s also kind of like the climax of the book. So I’m going anyway. It, I mean the book has lots of engagements, but this one was unique in that we, the human beings inside the aircraft did not escape uncap.
We. Getting ready to [00:26:00] engage the Taliban that was firing in a tree line, but we had to define where they were and we were developing that situation, and I could tell we were almost ready to develop it. So we were on what would be our outbound leg and inward inbound to engage. But it was kind of taking a second, so I slowed down a little bit hoping we could get it cleared in on this next one.
Otherwise, it’d have to do a whole. And come back around again. And they did, They cleared us in. So I, okay, so I pulled it, I was about 60 knots and about 300 feet. And and I banked it around and I was about ready to roll in and in the middle of that bank you just like God.
And I mean, it is definitely at the moment that it happens and there’s no question what happened? Says, I’m shot. You know, I hit my leg, I’m shot. And it’s a screen, you know, And, but I don’t know if you noticed in the video, cause a lot of times that’s what takes everybody’s everybody’s attention is that screen.
But [00:27:00] in the video there’s also a thing in the background that goes RPM low, you know, which was more important than him screaming because rotor rpm is what makes you stay in the air when you’re a helicopter and when it’s low, you transform a helicopter into a rock and. That’s what was happening, Right? So what happened is they shot out one of my engines at the same time they shot.
And also when I was in the middle of the bank, I, this is happening. I went to out of the bank and the like. So, at the time I didn’t know why. But, so this is all what I’m explaining you happened in about a second. So, The engine’s out. I gotta, I have to adjust something immediately to make sure that we don’t lose a rotor.
And counterintuitively, what the control in your left hand is called a collective. And that’s what makes the helicopter go up and down. We’re falling because we’re losing the rotor, so we’re falling down. But to get the rotor back, I need to increase the induced flow of air through the rotor [00:28:00] system, which means I need to slam the collective down.
So you wanna go up, that’s what you wanna do. But if you want the rotor speed up, you need to slam it down. We’re at basically 300 now, 200, 150 months happening fast. So, so I slam that down. At the same time, I know that my cyclic the control, my right hand, which makes the helicopter my right left pitch forward backwards, is jammed up.
I have to break out those controls. There’s a backup control system on the Apache. It’s a fly by wire. It’s a lot sloppier, but to get to that back control system, you have to break the mechanical link. For it to activate. There’s no button or anything. It’s a physical breakthrough, so I have to slam that over at the same time.
And meanwhile you knows screaming. So there’s all that stuff happen at the same time. So ied, ic, I remember thinking, I don’t how I advertised at breaking that, going into the backup [00:29:00] control system. There’s a one second, easy on meaning nothing will take effect in the controls for one second after you break the.
I don’t know if I knew why that was up until this point. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. I remember thinking as I was in there that I hope it works as advertised. Cause now I know why it’s there. I am gonna have to in the direction we’re already banking, so if it takes immediate effect, we will end up upside down, which is not a way you land.
And so I remember thinking, Please work this sabotage Boeing. You know? And so I snap it over and it. Because I’m here and then we brought it back and it, and we’re still falling because we have an engine that’s out. So our lift isn’t that good. So I try to gain some air speed, make us a little more efficient, and then we start climbing up.
Now I have to start working with my, Are you bleeding from what’s turned out? Why the jammed, Cause his leg was, he, his femur was exploded. His leg got popped up and. [00:30:00] Around the side. Ok. Basically walked around. So when I, you could imagine when I broke out, excuse me, was un his leg on the, Didn’t know that at the time, but figured that out.
So then, you know, we had a 30 minute flight back to Ash. Which, if you watch the video you saw it was a lot of troubleshooting. It was a lot of, Hey, keep this thing up. Let’s coordinate an emergency here. Wait about a contingency there, have to sit this down in the desert, That kinda thing. Let’s get rid of extra weight, Let’s punch the wing stores.
All these different kind of things. And my wingman was being amazing. He’s lean, he’s leaning forward. He’s only. I mean, bits of information because he knows that I’m up there being a holes and elbows trying to do, you know, whatever. It was really cool. It was really I mean, the incident wasn’t, but the teamwork was cool.
And the fact that like when I, when it [00:31:00] happened, you know, I did that, those movements boom like that were flying and I had communicated immediately. I said, Hey guys my front seater shot min bucks. That was all I told him. And the translation for that. And being all I can be. Help me out as much as you can.
You know, that’s right. That’s really, and that’s what they did. They started communicating to ground guys. The communicate for, to bash. They communicated to other women in the air. They fell in on my sixth. They made sure you tell me if my engine’s on fire, any of this other stuff, you know? And you know, it was just, it was a testament to training was a testament to the guys that flew it.
It was a testament to the fact that together, you know, we made that happen and he made it. To, to the 30 minute flight. We got the first aid that in on him is you put the pressure where he needed to put the pressure isolated, that there was only one wound, there was no exit. All that kinda stuff.
And you know, I said some stupid things like, you know, put your pressure on the blood instead of put your pressure on the wound. You know, you could see those and listen to those in thing. But for the most part I was pretty calm. I didn’t [00:32:00] really get elevated. And that is the testament to the, that we talked, you know, That was, I was prepared.
I had share flow. I mean, I’d had my engine shot before, so that was a real thing. And then I’d had I, I’d had to break into backup controls in down range a couple times already before that. So I’d already had real experiences in those two areas. And I had share flow getting wounded, me getting wounded a getting.
I, the interesting thing is I never chair flew just him getting injur. It was either both of us, me, but never just him. And maybe that’s a, maybe that’s a, was a perfection thing of my own. I didn’t want to be like the, you know, and you could probably identify with this is you don’t wanna be the one that’s helping you.
If somebody got it, then right. And when we, when I pulled him, I helped pull him outta the cockpit and his leg came out right in front of me. And you saw, we started joking with each other, trying to keep our minds off of what was going [00:33:00] on in that flight, trying to keep it light. It pulled him out his wound.
I don’t know if it actually paused in front of me, but my memory and my memory, it pauses, right? I mean, and there’s just this huge. And muscles hanging out of it and blood, you know, all that. And I’m, look, he sees me looking at it, and this was an attempt knowing him, and we probably got a little gist of this by listening to the video.
He was trying to put my mind at ease with a joke, but it was like punching me right in the face. He, you got me shot, right. , you know, And he was a great, he was that guy. He was the guy that wouldn’t do that, right? I mean, like he called his wife that night and said, I get to come home her.
She’s like, What? She’s like, Well, I broke my leg. She’s like, Well, how’d you break your legs? She’s like, he’s like a bullet hit
Scott DeLuzio: He was probably trying to avoid avoid telling her that he got shot, you know, all altogether. But you know, when she keeps crying, [00:34:00] you gotta come. No,
Brian Slade: he was setting that up. He was, he’s a common, He was just that guy, right? He was just, he was always cracking a. And so it was for, it was to set my mind at ease the way he said it.
But man, did It hit right. You know, because and it’s along the same vein of, I didn’t ever cheerly just him. We were, it was either, both of us weren’t it as a team or me, I’ll take it, but it was never just him, you know? And so, you know, sometimes when we do our cheer flowing, we like make sure that we’re on all of our.
That’s probably one thing that, that out from that deployment that I did have to deal with a little bit. You know, I did have to come to terms with that. There’s always woulda, coulda, shoulda us. There’s always, if I would’ve only kept up to speed or if I would’ve done this or, you know, but and those are true, you know, but even all the ones that hand that, that ended up really well, you can work a commission and those things that you,
Scott DeLuzio: there always things you can.
You know, and I think if I [00:35:00] recall correctly, in the video you even said something like, Hey man you’re still here. You feel the pain. The pain is good because the pain is telling you that everything’s still working the way it’s supposed to. You’re supposed to feel pain. You got a bullet in your leg, right?
Yeah. And. I had no idea that was true. Just made that up . Hey, you know what, it sounded great, you know, and I bought it. So, and I’m pretty sure if I was sitting there with a bullet in my leg, I’d probably be like, Yeah, you know what? Hey, he’s probably right. So, you know, it worked, it served its purpose.
But then you also said, you know, it could have been worse too. And you know, you’re probably thinking to yourself, Right, I got shot in my leg. My, my. Got blood coming out and you know, yeah. Everything’s screwed up there. But yeah, I mean, he could have got shot in the head like that could have been way worse.
And that would’ve been, could’ve been, I think that is what you said. Yeah. And which is a terrible, That would’ve It is. Yeah. Don’t be, don’t go being a doctor or anything like that. Cause you, you’d probably suck at it. . Yes. [00:36:00]
Brian Slade: I was just trying, you know. But yeah, I did say
Scott DeLuzio: that. It is true. I mean, it, the situation could have been worse and it could have been worse for you too because you know, you were flying there with him and, you know, if the worst happened to him, that probably would’ve.
Taking an even bigger toll on you you know, mentally and everything like that. You probably wouldn’t deal with that quite as well as, you know, an injury like this. But yeah I did love hearing some of the jokes between the two of you. Throughout that whole situation because that meant that you had a minute to kind of collect your thoughts and kind of figure out what was going on.
I think he even said something about you know, if you wanted a Purple Heart, you could just throw in a rock at him or something. .
Brian Slade: Yeah. That was terrible. I’m telling you, the funniest one I thought was like minutes down just like that. He’s like, I think it’s going a lot faster for you buddy. . .
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah.
Which is which? I have no doubt that’s absolutely true. Well, yeah. I mean,
Brian Slade: well, as soon as he said it, I’m like, Wow, [00:37:00] I’m the jackass for saying this. You know, so. Right. You know, you’re just trying to like, get his mind off of the scenario, you know, trying to like, not just his, my mind off the scenario too, you know, I was, it started giving him tests to do to, that would just, you know, keep him, you know, his, these guys’ legs blowing up, you know, so, That’s obvious.
Let’s get away from the elephant in the room. It’s really hard to do though cause it’s screaming the whole time. But but yeah, and he did a great job of composing himself. I mean, he was, the screams were intense initially and he brought himself back to being a contributing member of that life.
Scott DeLuzio: Correct. Yeah. And at first it was I was like, Oh my God, I can almost barely even understand what’s going on here, because it, like, the streams were just that intense. It was so loud. But once when you know, to your credit, you were able to get him to calm down, you know, you talked him down from the, all of that and you helped him understand that things were gonna be okay.
He’s, he, as long as he kept [00:38:00] pressure on the wound and he. You know, he kept communicating. He didn’t, you know, black out or anything like that. He was gonna be, he’s more likely than not, he was gonna be fine. And you helped him with that. And so, you know, not only were you able to fly this this helicopter that was almost to the point of being un flyable, you know, you lost an engine, you know, that like a lot of other stuff was going wrong with it.
You also kept him alive. And so that, that’s like multitasking at its finest. Like . I don’t think it gets any better than that at this point. Right. So, you know, I think you you had a pretty incredible Day, that day you know, you were awarded the Distinguished Flying cross for those actions.
And I think it was definitely well deserved for all of that. But I can only imagine you know, being there, sitting there in, in the cockpit with all of that going on and trying not to crash all on top of everything else that was going on. That was pretty incredible.
I know your book is out. And I know there are probably people who are [00:39:00] listening to this who wanna find out more, cuz I know we only touched on a little bit of some of us, the lessons and all that kind of stuff that are covered in the book. I don’t want to give away everything because I want people to go out and buy the book.
So where can people go? ? Yeah, exactly. Where should people go to get
That’s that’s the whole thing, right? We want people to go get a copy of the book and yeah, I do. Of something they can learn from themselves. So where can they go to get a copy of it? So
Brian Slade: there’s a couple places, you know, Amazon of course, and it’s Cleared Hot, you know, and then it has the very, like subtitle.
If you just do Cleared Hot Brian Slade, even just Cleared Hot, you should find it. And then there’s clearedhot.info is my webpage and you can order it through there. So either way you can get it and it’s in the hard copy. Enter paper back. I am well, at the time we’re recording this, I’m currently doing the audio.
Hopefully by the time this comes out, there’ll be an audio book as well. But lemme tell you, that’s a gift. People that can do that. Oh my God. I’m outside my comfort zone doing it, [00:40:00]
Scott DeLuzio: but we’ll get it. Yeah. Well, you said earlier in this episode that you had no aspirations of being an author and neither did I when I wrote my book.
As a matter of fact, if I think if I told any of my English teachers in high school that I wrote a book, they’d, it would probably drop dead with a heart attack or some something, right? Like I, I was not. On a fast track to becoming an author. But I was even on a slower track to becoming an audiobook narrator.
And when I did that myself, that was quite the process. So I I can definitely empathize with the process you are going through right now. So, you know, take your time. It. Excruciating . Its excruciating. I was just gonna say that. And you know, but once it comes out, it feels good.
Brian Slade: Is probably true with you. And you did yours too, for me, it’s kinda hard too because some of this stuff I haven’t been able to read without getting choke because it’s real, you know? It’s real. Yeah. And you know, and I think getting a little bit’s, Okay. But you know, if you have to pause too much, you know, so it, it has been difficult that way.
It’s [00:41:00] also difficult, you know, just reading and not sound like you’re reading, but but yeah, we’ll get through it. We’ll figure it out and we’ll get done.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, for sure. So go to Amazon or go to clearedhot.info for a copy of the book. Definitely get a copy support Brian and everything that he’s got going on with that.
Brian, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today. You know, love having neon and love ha to have you back on again in the future. You know, Go a little bit deeper into some of this. Yeah,
Brian Slade: likewise. And there’s lots of other places we could go, so there’s probably a few episodes here.
Scott DeLuzio: Excellent. All right. Thanks again.
Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.[00:42:00]