Episode 274 Darrell Utt National Medal of Honor Museum Transcript
This episode is from episode 274 with guest Darrell Utt.
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 Darrell Utt Darrell is the Chief of Business Operations at the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, and he’s a retired Green Beret. They’re doing a lot of great things over at the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation. So we’re gonna be talking about that and we’re going to dig into Darrell’s past a bit as a Green Beret.
In this episode. So with that welcome to the show, Darrell. Glad to have you.
Darrell Utt: Yeah. Glad to be here. Thanks a lot, Scott. It’s great.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And for the listeners who maybe aren’t all that familiar with you could you tell us a little bit
Darrell Utt: about [00:01:00] yourself? Well, I’m sure most aren’t familiar with me but yeah, small town kid from Huntington, West Virginia.
Soon as I graduated high school, June the joined the Army all the way back in 1990. Started out in the infantry, did a couple years. Had a couple different duty locations, west Coast. Ended up Fort Campbell. Ended up going through Special Forces assessment selection was lucky enough to make it through.
And went through the Special Forces Qualification course and spent 10 years operational and operational detachment. Which was the highlight pinnacle of my career. Also did some staff time altogether. Did about 26 and a half years. Before I retired. My first post-military job took me to the Museum of the Bible as a director of security, director of Ops.
Did that for a little while. I was a security operations consultant for a couple years. And that ended up with me being fortunate enough to be at the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation as the [00:02:00] Chief of business Operations. Been here in this role for about a year. Absolutely thrilled and honored to be doing this job.
So, yeah, I’m very, very grateful. Been very fortunate, for sure. Yeah, for sure.
Scott DeLuzio: And. We’ll get back to the Medal of Honor Museum and, and everything that you guys are doing there in a second, but my mind tends to work better kind of in a chronological order. So let’s jump back a bit to your time as a Green Beret and I know anyone in special operations like of.
Any branch, doesn’t matter what, which one you’re talking about here, you gotta, you gotta be pretty darn resilient in order to do the job that you all did and do. So talk to me about how that served you, that, that resiliency, not only in your mil military career, but also how it’s continued to serve you afterwards and you know, anything else that might’ve you know, occurred during your time serving in the, the Green Beret?
Darrell Utt: Yeah, sure. I have three simple rules. Three simple. You know, steps for success. And I think this has served me well [00:03:00] from, from being a 16, 17, 18 year old kid to an infantryman, to a Special Forces Green Beret, to a director of operations, chief of Business Operations. Three simple rules. Work hard, be humble, and don’t quit.
Those have always, I mean, they’re so simple. They’re so simple, but they’ve always served me well and they’re great lessons. You know, work hard, be humble. Don’t quit. Yeah, for sure.
Scott DeLuzio: The, those things, I mean, those are just so simple, but if you apply that mindset, those three simple steps to anything in your life, like just, I mean, God, anything, you’re gonna.
Successful in it. I mean, you, you work hard, hard at it. You, you’re, you’re humble and you accept, you know, responsibility for things that you might have done or, or you know, understand that you don’t know everything and, and maybe somebody else out there can help you out and teach you [00:04:00] some things. And, you know, just being humble like that, like that makes a ton of sense.
And, and just not quitting. I mean, that’s, that’s a huge part. Yeah. I mean, showing up not quitting that, that’s huge.
Darrell Utt: Right. Scott, I want to, I want to, I. Talk to you about a time where this really paid off for me. And if I could just take you back and, and imagine this, you make it through Special forces assessment and selection.
Like you’re feeling so good, you know, you’re feeling great, and, and that’s just the entry into the Special Forces Qualification course, which is over a year. So you, you make it through a year plus Special Forces Qualification course. You don the Green Beret, you are a Special Forces Green Beret. My first duty station, I was forward deployed.
I was Stu Gart Germany. I’m a Special Forces Green Beret. I’m tip of the spear. I’m the guy, I’m the man. I’m on top of the world. And then I find myself. [00:05:00] On the bunny slopes in garnish Germany with skis on my feet. I’ve never skied before a day in my life, and I’m absolutely humbled. I’m absolutely crushed.
I’m out here full goretex, camouflage Goretex, and I’m with these little three to five year old German kids on the bunny slopes, and I’m doing pizza and I’m doing french fries, and I’m just trying to like, What is going on? Like what is happening here? And, and that was such a big challenge for me because I felt like I was on top of the world and then all of a sudden I’m so humbled and just kind of like taken back down to reality.
I’m doing something that I’ve never done before and it put me in such a weird place. And then, you know, I finally conquered pizza. I finally conquered french fries and I started going to like the beginner’s little slope, you know, and keep in mind, this is garish Germany. [00:06:00] This is like destination vacation, like beautiful, you know, just beautiful scenery and mountains.
A lot of people vacation. And we’re there to train, you know, special forces. We’re there doing cold weather training. We’re doing ski training, and I’m with a bunch of guys that have pretty hair. You know, everything’s all gelled up. They got glasses on, they got the sunscreen on their nose. They look like Olympic skiers to me.
And I’m still tr I’m trying to figure out like, how do I do this? Because I don’t know if you’ve ever skied military, but they don’t have the boots. Like the, like the civilians, the civilian footwear, like it pretty much gets you in that position that you need to be in the military because you take your skis off and you’re, you’re wearing the same boots so you can still walk cuz you can’t walk really that well in the civilians setup.
But it’s really hard. To learn how to ski if you’ve never skied before. So once I got to the basic, you know, you got people that are [00:07:00] going up the ski lift, they’re laughing, and then we call it, everybody called it the goretex slide. You know, you start making a little bit of progress and you’re just sliding down on the goretex, just racing down.
And it was such a humbling experience. And then everyone else is so happy because, you know, they’re in garish Germany, they’re skiing, you know, like we’re getting paid to do this. And you know, I would come in at lunchtime and you know, people are having a great time. They’re laughing, well, I’m cold, I’m wet because I’m like sliding in the snow and you know, they’re just having a great time.
So I really had to kind of work through that in my brain and eventually I got to a point where, you know, they kept switching instructors and I got to an instructor. Kirk Teeny, who I wanna give a shout out because he was actually you know, skilled enough to kind of take me under his wing and said, Hey, Darrell, you’re really thinking this way too [00:08:00] hard.
Like, I, I know that you really want to ski and you want to do this. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to choose some. I was expecting something like some grand lesson from this ski master who had done all of this training and had been in special forces for all this time, but he said, I want you to choose some gum and then I want you to let it rip.
And I was like, that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Like I can’t believe that that’s my guidance. That’s how I’m gonna learn to ski, but I will be darn. I got some gum and I kind of had like a little internal conversation with myself and. I pointed my skis downhill and I let it rip. And I had to f I had to block out all of the, the fear of embarrassment.
The fear of laughter from all the Germans. Oh, by the way, the German army was out there. They look like a flipping Olympic skiing team, [00:09:00] you know? And they’re all laughing because, you know, instead, you know that little competition between Germany and the US and you know, here’s a guy that’s sliding down the flipping hill.
Oh. and you know, they call it yard cell when you crash and then your gloves go one place, your ski poles, your, you know, it’s like, it’s a big rummage cell. But you know, I really had to get through that. And you know, it’s just like anything else. It’s, you know, to get better at shooting, you gotta, you know, pistol shooting, you gotta shoot pistol, get better at long, long range shooting.
You gotta shoot long range. You get better at podcasting. Gotta podcast get better at skiing. Gotta ski. But, but that advice. Really kind of zeroed me in. And I know it’s kind of like a, it’s a funny story at my expense, but I do think there’s a lesson there because so many times I’ve found myself in this same place.
You know, y you know, when I transitioned from the Army, I was working at a museum, a museum of the Bible. I’d never worked at a museum in my life. [00:10:00] So it was like I was starting over again, and you have to. You know, you have to get rid of that fear and you gotta try new things and look for the opportunities.
And, you know, that work hard, be humble, don’t quit. It’s just served me so well. And you know, it’s been years since I’ve been skiing, but I can actually ski now. So that’s a, that’s a success. But you know, it’s, it’s the essence of drive. The drive on pipe, like, you gotta keep going. Don’t quit.
There’s gonna be adversity. Drive on, keep going. Don’t quit.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And that story definitely to me, seems like that’s a humbling story. That’s, that’s a a thing where you, you’re out there, you’re on top of the world. You’re this green beret, this macho dude who’s who can do anything, and then here’s this thing.
It’s like, I can’t do this . This is, this is terrible. This sucks. And. But, but, but then go, going on [00:11:00] through your, your steps here. You worked hard at that, right? That was not something that came easily to you. You had to do a lot of hard work. You had to be humbled and, and you couldn’t quit on it either. I know when I was much younger, I went on a ski trip and was trying to impress some people that I was with.
They’re like, oh, I had gone skiing before. I was probably not much better than you were at that point than, than what you were talking about there. And all the people that I, I was with, they, they were skiing all their lives and they, they were great skiers and they, they wanted to go down the, the tougher hills.
And I was like, yeah, sure. You know, why not? You know, how hard could it really be? Well, they were down at the bottom of the hill waiting for me. As as I’m, as I’m sliding down the hill, I’m, I’m, I’m tumbling. I’m. I probably could have killed myself going down this hill the way, the way I was going cuz I was so out of control.
But yeah, I, after that I was like, n this can’t happen again. I, I can’t go down that one. I need to go [00:12:00] back to the basics. Uh, Maybe not quite the bunny hill, but I gotta go back to the basics, otherwise. I may not be coming home from this trip. Like I was lucky to get it down the first time,
Darrell Utt: you know? Yeah.
It was the, it was the same way Scott and German Lang, you know, German or language training as part of the Special forces, right. Training and, and things like that. So for me, you know, I had four months of German and day one, I’m in a small class with probably 15 other Green Berets. And our instructor goes around the room and is like, Hey, how many people have been exposed to German, which was like 75% of our class.
And then it was like the other 20% was like, well, who’s been exposed, maybe not to German, but to another language that was the other 20%. And I’m like the one guy there. You know, hadn’t, this is my first encounter with a foreign language. Didn’t even do it in high school. I’m sitting there with West Pointers.
I’m sitting there with guys that were stationed in Germany, . And it’s like, it’s kind of the same [00:13:00] thing. Like you’re starting from a disadvantage, right? But you just have to, you have to embrace it. Look for the opportunities, keep going, work hard. It’s easy to be humbled in situations like that and just don’t quit, you know, drive.
Scott DeLuzio: So during your time in the, the Green Beres, green Berets, other than training, did you ever have to use the skiing that you learned?
Darrell Utt: No. Nope. Never did, never did. It was just training. It was the same way with ano. This is another great example. Learning morse code. Learning morse code was probably the hardest thing mentally.
That I ever did in the military. I mean, the hardest thing. And it really messes with you. But never did, never did have to use it. Not one single time. As soon as I graduated from the qualification course, never used it one time. I think they ended up finally doing away with it. Okay. But, but yeah, another humbling [00:14:00] experience for sure.
Scott DeLuzio: and, and both of those things are, are things. I gotta imagine if you needed them it would be really great to know, but the likelihood of you needing them are probably slim to none. Especially you deployed to Iraq, correct? Yeah, yeah. It Iraq. Yeah. There’s probably not a whole lot of skiing going
Darrell Utt: on in Iraq.
yeah, no skiing going on over there in Iraq and no Morse code for sure. Yeah. Right. I can attest to that. Yeah. .
Scott DeLuzio: So what, what was your time in Iraq like, what was that, that deployment
Darrell Utt: like? You know, I was there in oh three. I was up north actually. We’re getting ready to come up on our 20 year anniversary on, we were a little bit late to the game by a few days thanks to Turkey, because they didn’t want to cooperate and give us Overflight permission or the ability to use their, their land.
So we were a little bit late to the fight because the State Department was going back and forth with Turkey and they had demands and things like that. So we ended up flying in on March [00:15:00] 22nd. That was Operation Ugly Baby. So, in two more days, I’ll have my 20th anniversary of our infill into Northern Iraq, which.
You know, we, we didn’t have the ability to soften up all the, the triple a, the anti-aircraft artillery. So, so our flight in, we really got lit up. Thank God we had a phenomenal Air force crew that were just amazing, man, just amazing pilots and crew. They were able to get us in safely. So oh three, I mean, we were working with the Kurdish Peshmerga and you know, that was interesting.
The fall of Mosel was interesting. You know, we were at Mosel airport and that was when General Petras had the hundred first, and they ended up driving all the way up north and. I remember when the hundred first got there oh four and oh five. Things started picking up a little bit like oh three.
You could kind of see like toward the end, cuz we were only there for a couple months. But oh three [00:16:00] I remember pointing out like, some of these people aren’t very happy. Like I think we expected, you know, like, oh my gosh, the Americans, we love you guys so much. And some people were like that. I remember specifically seeing some people, some young Iraqi guys, and they looked at us like, man, we hate you dude so much.
And I just remember like, that’s kind of odd. Interesting, you know, and I remember telling some of the guys, but, but oh 4, 0 5, we were we were on the Iranian border and things were picking up a little bit. You know, the i e D threat was, you know, I don’t know if you remember some of those times, but it was like a chess match.
It was PhD level, you know, war fighting with the, with the way the IEDs came about and things like that. Cuz yeah, we started in soft skin vehicles up north and then we started with uh, You know, we didn’t have armored Humvees, we had the doors out and all that stuff. We had unarmed, [00:17:00] and then it, you know, we kept playing chess.
Then we had armored vehicles, and then we had speed, you know, we used speed as to our advantage, and then they came out with efp. It didn’t matter if you were going a hundred miles an hour or 60 miles, you know, so all of these things. But oh 4, 0 5, we were on the Iranian border. Things started picking up a little bit.
Oh six. Just crazy. Mm-hmm. crazy. We were in Baghdad in oh six. We were in aea, which was the last Sunni suburban Baghdad, that, that remained Sunni cuz everything else went Shia. Okay. And, and that was, that was intense. That was violent. The Civil War ended up, the Iraqi Civil War ended up breaking out on 22, February oh six.
Right in the middle of our rotation. So, I, I’m pretty sure that year were the most deaths for Iraqi civilians. It was, it was one of the most deadly years for, for local Iraqis. I think it was the third deadliest for [00:18:00] American forces. So just a violent time period. Then oh seven I was in Baghdad again.
That was my last rotation. And we did a lot of targeting and things like that. We were at the airport, another just very violent, violent rotation.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. My brother was in Iraq. He was in Ramadi in oh six. And just the stories that I heard from him, you’re talking about the IEDs and other things that were going on over there.
Just it, it was like, They knew leaving the wires, they were gonna get into some sort of contact. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when and yeah, what, you know, it, it, it was just so intense. And he actually was sent there as kind of a, a replacement for, because they lost a nu number of people and whether they’re.
Through injuries or deaths and, and things like that. And so he, he was deployed over there with a group of, I wanna say probably 20 or so guys just as kind of replacements to, to fill in the gaps where, where they needed them [00:19:00] at the tail end of that, that unit’s deployment. And, and he said that six months or so he spent over there were just, just insane, you know?
Darrell Utt: can imagine. I mean, being in Ramadi in oh six, like I can imagine that’s a, that was. Dangerous deadly time period for sure.
Scott DeLuzio: Oh yeah, for sure. For sure. So let’s, let’s jump forward a little bit here. So you get out of the military and you start getting into the museum work something you probably never saw yourself doing.
Never. And, and, and so you got into that. How’d you get into that? Like what, what was the path
Darrell Utt: there for you? Yeah, because it’s definitely an interesting career path, for sure. Right. So, So I had a, I had a guy that actually served on my detachment when I was a team sergeant. You know, he, he was an operator.
He served on my team and worked for me. Well, he was up in that area. He was, he was working at Fort Belfor and, and I was going up to DC toward the end of my [00:20:00] career, we were doing a lot of surveillance exercises in DC like us and every single other government agency that does surveillance in DC . But there was one time I was up there and, and I just, he was, he was looking, he, he got out, he ended up getting out and he ended up getting a job at the Museum of the Bible as the global, like he was on the global side global director of Security and the Museum of the Bible was under construction.
You know, they were building it in Washington, DC a 430,000 square foot museum, 550 million. Like it was a big deal. Right. So I’d made a comment to him on one of my trips up to DC I was at his house for a barbecue and I said, Hey man, you know, getting ready to get out so if you ever need any help, gimme a holler.
And we kinda laughed about it cuz you know, I was in North Carolina. He was up in, he was actually Fort Belfor, Virginia, but he’s in, you know, the DC area. And I think about a week or two later, he ended up calling me and said, Hey man, were you serious? I mean, would you even consider working [00:21:00] at a museum?
Would you even consider moving to Washington DC? And I was like, well, hey man it’s a job and you know, I’m, I’m, I’m getting ready to retire, so I need, you know, I need something. This is a, you know, a business decision, a family decision. I need to support my family. And sure enough, man, one thing led to another.
I, I went up there and interviewed with their president and had a great interview and was lucky enough to get selected to be the, the first director of security at the Museum of the Bible, and, and things took off, man. Yeah, that, that’s cool.
Scott DeLuzio: Definitely just a stroke of luck that you ha happened to know the right person.
Was there at the right time when he was looking for some sort of help and got you yourself in the door. And then so how did that eventually lead to you working for the National Medal of Honor Museum foundation and,
Darrell Utt: and what you’re doing now? Yeah, well, I mean, it’s actually a great, it was a great transition, but you know, I, I had about three years at the museum and [00:22:00] I did security.
I did operations. I was there during construction. I was, I started there in July 16, so I had, you know, well over a year of construction before the museum. The Museum of the Bible opened in November of 2017. So I had a, I had a good, you know, right seat to, to the construction phase and the buildup and, and the grand opening and the opening and the day-to-day ops.
So I got to see all of that. And then I was even exposed to more museums when I was a consultant. You know, I was working for tho Thornton Thomasetti world renowned firm. They work all over the place. And I did a lot of museums there too. National Museum of Intelligence and Special Operations which they’re still building the milk and center for advancing the American Dream, which I believe they’re getting ready to open in, in DC right beside the White House.
And some Jewish institutions. So I still continued working on museums because I had the [00:23:00] background and it was in that capacity. Thornton Tace, they allowed me to transfer from DC to Dallas, Texas, cuz they have an office in Dallas. And that was that was a good move for my family, you know, to come to come to Texas.
So in that capacity, I ended up meeting the president and c e o of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation. Chris Cassidy, who by the way, has a very interesting background. He is a former Navy Seal. He’s a former chief NASA astronaut with loads of time out in space. He’s an M I T guy and he’s, he’s leading the National Mead of Honor Museum Foundation.
So as a consult I was able to meet Chris and I just came in and, and we had a great meeting and, and it was basically me just being like a good human being, a good American, and, and I said, Hey man I love what you’re doing. I, I’ve heard about this, [00:24:00] you know, museum that you guys are, are, are building and I think it’s awesome.
If you ever need anything, let me know. And I had a black notebook. And I just started w I started going through some notes from my, my experience and my time at the Museum of the Bible. And I went through a whole list and, and I just basically said, Hey I have all of these lessons learned. I’ve, I’ve went through all of these things.
I’ve experienced all of these things. So if you need anything here, you know, here’s my number. Give me a call. And I was actually, I was going at, like, at the time where, where Chris and his team was located, it was right beside global life field where the Texas Rangers play. So I was actually I was on Governor Abbott’s the Texas Task Force for concert safety.
I was on that task force cuz there was a concert down in Houston and a bunch of people got killed. So I was on that task force. I was getting ready to give a presentation at the Rangers and I had, you know, 30 [00:25:00] minutes with Chris. And then I asked him, I said, Hey, can you show me where I need to get into the, to the Texas Rangers?
I have this presentation, this Governor Abbots thing. And he, he showed me and then he said, Hey, would you, would you be interested in working here for us? And I was like, heck yeah, I would be. So, so that was just kind of like the start of it. And then, you know, one thing led to another. We had a couple more meetings and I did a couple presentations and I was fortunate enough to be offered a position and you know, I was just so proud to, to take it and to be part of this because for me, and I think it’s Chris the same way, because Chris and I were talking about this and he said, man, he found himself up in space, you know, and he is looking out and he’s like, gosh, you know, this is getting ready to come to an end and I still wanna serve, like, you know, what’s next for me?
What, you know, how can I continue to. And I felt that was the same way. I mean, I thought I was doing honorable noble [00:26:00] work, you know, at the Museum of the Bible as a security consultant, keeping people safe, keeping infrastructure safe. But working at the National Medal of Honor Museum was, was on a different level and and it just made my heart feel good that I could continue serving and giving back.
So, so yeah, that’s kind of where it started and ended.
Scott DeLuzio: That’s an interesting path to go through and how you, you got all the way to where you are now, and I know the feeling that you have when it’s like, yeah, I’m, I’m doing some work. It’s, it’s good work. It’s, you know, honest work, everything that you’re doing.
It’s good stuff, but it’s not serving necessarily in that same capacity that you, you might, you’re not serving the people who sacrificed or, or did some great things and stuff like that, and, It, while it is good stuff that you’re doing, it maybe isn’t quite as meaningful as it could be in another capacity.
And so I, I, I [00:27:00] understand kind of where you’re coming from because it’s, I mean, honestly, that’s part of the reason why I do this podcast is to give back to the military and the veteran community because there’s so much out there that people need help with, and they’re just, they’re struggling. They’re, they’re trying to figure things out and you know, that.
Kind of why this podcast even exists, right? To, to just kind of help people out and continue serving. Yeah,
Darrell Utt: I think that’s honorable work, Scott. I mean, you’re, you’re doing something so honorable and noble and, and through the different messages of, of what you’re talking about, what your guests are talking about.
You know, this is a new generation. And, and this generation, they listen to a lot of podcasts. There’s a lot of multitasking going on, and it’s so easy, you know, to drive in, in the morning or be on your commute if it’s a train or you know, whatever it might be, and you can just. You know, you can be listening to a [00:28:00] podcast for 15, 20 minutes on your way to work, finish it up on the way back.
But that’s what this generation is doing, and I think it’s a, it’s a great service that you and others are doing. I’ve been on a few of the other veteran podcasts and And I just think that there’s folks out there that are listening and they need to hear some of these messages. Like, Hey man, I’m not the only one that’s struggling.
Like, you know, even at Thornton Thomasetti, I mean, when I walked in there, I’m a, I’m a much older guy. I’m experienced former Green Beret and I’m starting over day one. Dude, I’m with some of the smartest people in the country. These are all engineers. I’m not an engineer. I, you know, I have a security risk management background.
But man, talk about like being a fish outta water. Right? But that’s just the way it is. You gotta keep going, you gotta keep grinding, you gotta keep working and you gotta, you know, keep figuring it out. So I think it’s a great message, man. I appreciate what you’re doing. No, I appreciate that
Scott DeLuzio: too. [00:29:00] I, I think.
The stuff that, that we’re doing here with the, the podcast, like you said, people could listen to it on their commute, they can listen to it in the gym. They could, you know, they could listen to it anywhere. And the cool thing about it that I, I found just through talking to other people is that some people, there may be some stigma still associated with mental health things or other things that they might be dealing with.
Nobody has to know what you’re listening to. You got headphones on whatever, like nobody knows what you’re listening to. It doesn’t really matter. You can listen to it. Comfort of your own car or your home or your office or whatever. Nobody has to know what you’re listening to. And it’s awesome because you can still find the resources and the help that you need or the encouragement, the inspiration, whatever it is that you wanna call it.
You can find all that stuff through the podcast. My podcast, other podcasts that are out there do very similar type things. I don’t care where they find it, honestly. I, I just want them to. And if it means that they’re sitting there with their headphones on, listen to whatever inspiration [00:30:00] that they need and giving them the hope to keep pushing forward another day.
And like you said in one of your three steps, don’t quit. You know, just keep, yeah, keep going and don’t quit. That’s, that’s to me the best part A about all of this. And I, I found there’s, there’s a lot of people who prefer listening to the audio version versus watching the video version of the podcast.
And I, I believe it’s probably for that reason where they can have. That kind of confidentiality. Like nobody has to know what it is that they’re actually listening to and they go, yeah, I’m just listening to music. Like, who cares? Yeah. Nobody needs to know what you’re listening to. Right, right.
Darrell Utt: Yeah.
Scott DeLuzio: So let’s talk more about the, the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation.
Tell us some of the things that the foundation has going on. What you guys are, are doing to help out this. Yeah, for sure. So we’re
Darrell Utt: heavily under construction. You know, we broke ground last March on, on National Medal of Honor Day, which is March 25th, coming right around the corner. So we broke ground March 25th, 2022.
So we’re right around our first year of construction. And, and when you [00:31:00] say, or when you hear the National Medal of Honoring Museum Foundation, I know that’s a lot of words. , but we’re a, we’re a three-pronged project. There’s gonna be a museum and an institute that’s co-located in Arlington, Texas. And there’ll eventually be a monument that’ll be built in Washington, DC Nations capital.
So our museum is scheduled to open, we still got a couple more years, but scheduled to open early 2025, and we’re in a perfect location in Arlington, Texas. I mean, right beside at and t Stadium where the Cowboys play right beside Globe Life where the Texas Rangers play, they’re building an 888 room hotel with a convention center.
I mean, man, we are in a great place. We’re, we’re so close to Dallas Fort Worth airport. We’re so close to Dallas Love Field Dallas Fort Worth is like the fourth largest metropolitan in the United States. Texas just is the second state to go over 30 million [00:32:00] people, you know, second only to California.
It seems like we’re, we’re growing daily but we just have a ton of people. We have a lot of patriotic people in Texas. I mean, we have a lot of patriotic people across the country, but we have a lot of patriotic people here in this area. So, so we’re really, really excited. Just today, just today we had an event.
Our offices are in Choctaw Stadium. Which is the old open stadium where the Rangers used to play back in the day. Just today we had two Medal of Honor recipients. We had captain Flo Groberg medal of Honor recipient from Afghanistan, and we had Major General Pat Brady Medal of Honor recipient.
One of the most just decorated medevac helicopter pilots in, in the history of our, of our military. But they were, they were both at an event today, and it is just kind of surreal to me. I have to pinch myself. Like, you know, I spent, I spent 20, Scott, you served, right? Yeah. Yeah. How about six [00:33:00] years.
Six years. Were you ever around a medal of honor Re.
Scott DeLuzio: Only recently I, I met Dakota Meyer at an event a couple months ago.
Darrell Utt: Okay. But while you were in,
Scott DeLuzio: while I was serving, no not
Darrell Utt: while I was serving. See, same for me, man. I served 26 and a half years. I was only ever around one recipient, and that was Bob Howard.
Mfi. Saag been a lot recipient. Vietnam guy was just, was a total beast. But it’s very rare. Like it’s a rare occurrence, you know, cuz there’s only 65 living Medal of Honor recipients. That’s it. So, you know, Phil, Phil privilege that you got to meet Dakota? I haven’t, I haven’t had a chance to meet Dakota, but it was always it’s always so nice to be around the recipients.
I gave General Brady. A little bit of a hard time, just, you know, kind of in a fun way. But we have a podcast the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation. It’s called Mission Inspire. If I could give that little plug out there. Yeah, absolutely. [00:34:00] Mission Inspire and General Brady was on the first podcast with with one of our former CEOs.
And and our, the former c e o asked General Brady, he was like, Hey, tell me about your hero. You know, you’re a Medal of Honor recipient. You’re one of the most decorated men you know alive. Do you have a hero? Tell me about him. And it was one of general Brady’s crew chiefs from Vietnam. Young kid, like 21 years old kid, had been in a minefield with him, kid had been shot in the face by a sniper, shot in a chicken plate.
I mean, and he had saved, you know, thousands of. And General Brady was talking about this, this kid. And then, you know, decades later this guy was on his deathbed and he wanted General Brady to take care of all of his arrangements. And and he, this kid was from Las say kid, but you know, as he got older, he was from Turkey Creek.
I think it was Turkey Creek, Kentucky. But General Brady had made a comment. He is like, man, I had to go [00:35:00] back and take care of all the funeral arrangements and, you know, Turkey Creek, Kentucky, like they don’t even speak English in Turkey Creek, Kentucky. So when I saw him today, I said, gen O Brady. I heard that podcast when you said that.
I cracked up laughing cuz I can appreciate that being a West Virginia boy, even though I feel like I’ve lost my accent years and years and years ago. Cuz my first duty station was California. But it just like really tickled me. That, you know, he said something like that. But he was he was one of the speakers today and he always delivers.
I mean, he always gives great speeches, great presentations, and it’s from the heart. And one of the things that he likes to say, it’s like, Hey, this metal, this ribbon around our neck doesn’t make us special. But it allows us to do special things. And he’s just has so many of those type of sayings that every time I listen to him I just feel enriched or, or smarter or more [00:36:00] patriotic.
And I think that is what. This museum is gonna do for our country something that’s gonna be more unifying than dividing, you know, the recipients come from all different backgrounds. They’re not, you know, they’re all different races. They’re all different religions. Political affiliations like this transcends politics.
You know, this isn’t a political thing. This is an American thing. And the Medal of Honor recipients. You know, the way I see it, you know, they represent all of us. They represent all of us that have served, they represent all that we have lost All of our brothers and sisters that we’ve lost, they represent all of the people in this country because they come from those people.
You know, these were ordinary people who did extraordinary things above and beyond the call of Duty. And I think listening to their stories, Are gonna [00:37:00] inspire a lot of people and I think people are gonna be able to draw things from their story and, and when you hear the recipients talk about like, Hey, what do you really want out of this museum?
They don’t want people to come in and be a big glory fest about, you know, look what I did, or I saved 5,000, or You shot this many, you know, it’s not about that. It’s about the values that are inherent and the Medal of Honor recipients, and we talk about ’em all the time. Courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship, patriotism, and how.
Those values and those the character traits, all of those things, that’s what they’re really, that’s what they’re excited and jazzed up about. Yeah. That’s what they want people to learn. And
Scott DeLuzio: I think that’s a great thing to do too, because like you said, these recipients, they come from all different walks of life, [00:38:00] all different economic backgrounds.
Religious backgrounds, political backgrounds, race, everything. Yeah. They’re, they’re all over the board. Right. And there are people out there who can. Hear one of these stories from one of these Medal of Honor recipients and see a little bit of themselves in that person. Maybe they came from a similar upbringing, maybe from the same town even, or the same, you know, area of the country.
And it’s like, yeah, that, that’s kind of like my upbringing. That’s who I was when, when I was a kid. And you know, I was the same, you know, guy who went out and got in trouble, you know, all that kind of stuff. Yeah. And then, yeah, then I, then I grew up and, you know, matured a little bit and had. This moment.
Right. We all have these moments when, when you, you gotta be courageous, you gotta be you know, and, but you don’t have those moments the way that some of these guys have had right. There, there’s, there’s things where you gotta stand up and do the right thing and in tho those types of things. Right. But but not in the face of danger the way these guys have in [00:39:00] most cases, you
Darrell Utt: know?
Yeah. And. . Yeah, for sure. Like you don’t have to grab a rifle and go to Syria and fight ISIS or Al-Qaeda. Right. I mean, it takes courage to step in if you see a kid getting bullied at a school. Right. You know, that takes courage to do that. And actually, I, I read something today that made so much sense and it resonated with me and.
I was just like, wow. That’s true. It takes courage to ask for help. Yeah. Or, or to raise your hand and say, Hey, I, I’m in a bad place right now. I need some help. And, and I think that’s a good lesson. You know, we have a lot of folks out there. We have a lot of veterans that are out there that are hurting and and unfortunately some of ’em, you know, they turn to alcohol or they turn to pills.
You know, I think that, It takes courage to raise your hand and or go to your buddy or to [00:40:00] go to someone from your family and say, Hey, I’m not in a good place right now. Right. I need help. Please help me. Yeah. That, that is, and I guarantee you they’ll, they’ll get some help, man. They’ll get some help, but the, it
Scott DeLuzio: takes the courage to go and actually ask for that type of help because it doesn’t.
Knock on your door. It doesn’t show up on your doorstep like an Amazon package. You know, you gotta, you’re right. Do something to get it right. Yeah. And, and you’re right, that does take courage. But I think having a place where people can go and learn some of these stories and find out more about these people even having some of these people there to share their stories and their inspiration will.
Develop a more courageous group of people to go and do those types of things. You know, we’re not, we’re not talking about running into danger all the time necessarily, right? Because that’s, that’s not your typical everyday experience. Although it does happen from time to time. You have [00:41:00] things like, you know, the Boston Marathon bombing or something like that.
Where, or nine 11 where, where people did have to go run into a dangerous situation and they didn’t know whether or. They, they were gonna be in, in danger, but they saw there was, there was something and, and I think those people have very similar amount of heroism as, as some of the Medal of honor recipients.
That, that they, they, they would get that too.
Darrell Utt: You know, Scott, it’s, it’s funny that you say that. I, I listen to General Brady today talk about heroes and he was talking about females. And he was talking about how heroic they were, like during the wars you know, world War II and Vietnam. Yeah. And, and gwa.
And, and they had to stay at home and they had to raise the kids and they had to do all of these different things. And he was like, that is heroic. That takes courage. That takes sacrifice, that takes [00:42:00] commitment. And just for him to recognize. , you know, it was like, wow. You know, it, like you could hear kind of a pin drop.
Mm-hmm. . But I do have a spoiler alert. And I’ve seen this over and over and over. You know, I think when you see or, or you hear about the National Medal of Honor Museum, and I want to ask you a question about that, Scott, here in a second. I think when most people, they, they think about the museum and they think about it’s gonna be war and, you know, glory and, you know, combat and, and all of those type of things.
But I think what most people will not think of, it’s actually the ultimate love story. I mean, really the way, the way, I mean, why did Gen O Brady, I mean, how was he able to save 5,000 people, you know, and get them out? I mean, he [00:43:00] had a love for his fellow human being. Yeah. And why would someone, why would someone jump on a grenade?
You know, I mean, when you really look at it and you peel back all the different layers, right? It’s like, I love my brother, I love my sister. And I wanted to protect them more than my life, and I was willing to do that. It’s an, it’s the ultimate love story,
Scott DeLuzio: right? Yeah. When you think of war, you think of death, destruction, chaos, chaos, violence, all that violence, hatred, all that kind of stuff that, that goes into it.
But yeah, there’s love involved too, and it’s, it’s strange, like when you think of. You don’t really, like I said, you don’t think of war as having love involved, but there is, there is a love, you know, you, people you serve with, like, you may not love every single one of them, but you’ll die for ’em. You know, you’ll, you’ll put yourself out there and, and you’ll fight for ’em.
You know, talking about, you know, jumping on a grenade, like [00:44:00] that’s not something that’s normal you don’t think? No, that’s not a, a normal reaction that someone’s gonna have. It’s like, I’m gonna go jump on this thing and I know I’m gonna get blown up. It’s, you know, probably gonna kill. But I’m gonna go do it anyways because I care more about the people behind me that I’m protecting than, than my myself.
And that’s, that’s incredible. Yeah. And that’s, that’s a, a great thing to have coming out, out of this museum.
Darrell Utt: Yeah. And I really had to do a lot of self-reflection on this, you know, for me personally. My first podcast I was, I was on Combat story episode 74 with Ryan Fugit, and there was a part of the podcast where he was like, Hey, you guys were in this serious firefight.
Your vehicle had got shot up, engine block was killed. You know, you had to get towed out of there. Was there any doubt in your mind that you would come back And I remember it was like, no, of course not. Like we told, we told our brothers from the hundred first. Hey, we’re coming back. We’re gonna go get more [00:45:00] ammo.
We’re gonna be back. Yeah. And it was like, it wasn’t even a thought, but it’s like, well, why was it like, why wasn’t it a thought? It was like it was more than, you know, the bad guys and you know, all that type of stuff. Those were my brothers. You know, and it really was about love for another human being and you, you had trust and, and they counted on us and we counted on them.
So I had to do a lot of self-reflection. I was like, wow. It really is. Let me ask you this though, Scott. Sure. Put you on the spot here. So you’ve heard, you’ve heard a little bit about the National Medal of Honor Museum. Would this be something if you’re ever in Texas, where are you at, Scott?
Scott DeLuzio: I’m in Arizona.
I’m actually, so you mentioned the the Texas Rangers being right, right down the street, kind of in your area. We are. About where, where I live is about three miles away from their spring training stadium here in Arizona.
Darrell Utt: So, . Yeah. Yeah. I’ll, I will beat my wife and I, we will be at the Rangers opening.
[00:46:00] I, I forgot who they’re playing, but we will be there. But let me ask you this. If you’re ever in Texas, would you consider visiting the National Medal of Honor Museum with you and your friends or your family? And if so, you know, because obviously there’s only, you know, There’s, there’s ever been like 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients, so that’s not a big group.
But but why would you, if, if you would, like, why would you go to the museum? What would you expect to, to take outta that museum? Maybe to learn or to share or reflect? I mean, what, what would this museum, what, what would you think, you know, fir first
Scott DeLuzio: off? Yeah. I would definitely if I’m, if I’m in the area, I’m definitely gonna check it out.
But let me just kind of take a step back for a second. A few months ago, okay, I was in New York and I had the opportunity to go up in the Freedom Tower where they, they rebuilt after nine 11 and yeah. We looked down out of, out of one of the windows we were on, like the sixties, [00:47:00] some odd floor, some somewhere around there.
And we’re looking down on the basically the footprint of the Twin Towers that Sure. That were there. And it was. Just, to me it was just like kind of awe-inspiring. Like, like this is where like such a very significant event took place and it you know, it was a it was kind of hu it was humbling in a, in a way.
It, it was, it was looking down at it and saying like, a lot of destruction, a lot of death, a lot of bad things came out of this. But here I am standing in this building and I felt perfectly safe. Like it was so good stuff came out of it too. And it, and it. It, it was a good feeling to me and, and looking down.
I, I was, I was humbled that I was honored to, to have been able to be there. Now thinking about how that kind of applies to, to the museum that you’re talking about here just the, the stories of all of these recipients. I mean, there’s, you said 3,500 recipients. I mean, [00:48:00] just the few that I know. Their stories.
Cause I, I’ve done some research. I’ve looked into ’em, I’ve, I’ve read their books, I’ve, I’ve heard their stories on podcasts and other shows and stuff like that. It’s, it’s humbling to know that these types of people exist. It’s great that they are on our side, . Yeah. Right. You know, and, you know, I, I feel like, you know, as a patriotic American it’s.
Duty maybe to share these stories with my children and let them know like that this is kind of a fabric of America. Like this is, this is the dna. The DNA of America. Exactly. And I want them to grow up, not I, I’m not necessarily pushing ’em to the military, pushing ’em to, you know, go be some superhero, medal of honor recipient, or anything like that.
Not, not at all. But [00:49:00] but I want them to know that’s okay to be courageous, to do things that most people would be like, oh my God, I would never do that type of thing. But do it for the right reasons. Right? Like you were talking about the love of the, the people that you’re serving with, the love of the kid who’s getting bullied on the playground you know, things like that.
I, I want them to grow up and be that type of person as well. Whether they have a medal hanging around their neck or not. To me, it doesn’t matter. It’s, it’s really just about the character and the type of person that they are and, and seeing some of these stories may just be that type of inspiration that they need in order to kind of push them towards living that type of life.
Darrell Utt: Yeah, definitely. I agree. I agree. I heard Gen Brady, another thing that he said today. He goes, when people come through the museum, they’ll realize that superheroes don’t wear capes. They wear dog tags, . And I thought that was another good one. He’s, he is got a ton, you know, if you right. If you ever pull up some of his videos, I, I think that would be He is, he is Mr.
[00:50:00] Inspiration for sure. But, you know, Scott, another thing that I think is interesting to point out, and, and you’re a military guy and you’ve served and you know this thing or you, you know what I’m getting ready to say here. If you think back to the Civil War, you know, the first Medal of Honor was awarded all the way back in 1863.
You know, this is our hundred 60th anniversary, hundred 60 years for Medal of Honor this year. But I, if you imagine Scott from Civil War, like the technology and the weapons and the equipment, I mean, how they fought back then. To the way they fought. Now, you know, everything has changed. It’s more sophisticated.
The, the, the weapons are more lethal and we got drones and we got all of those things. So, so you think from the Civil War 1863, all the way up to G what? All of the technology, all the way that we fight, detect the tactics, the techniques procedure. [00:51:00] Everything has changed, but the one thing that’s remained the same throughout those 160 years are those values.
Yeah. You know, from 1863 to now, the courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship, patriotism, those values remain, and I think when you’re talking about the fabric, the d n A of our country, That’s it. And it seems like, I think most would argue that we’ve gotten away from that as a country, and I think it’s time to go back.
Scott DeLuzio: a hundred percent. Yeah. I, I think that’s a great way to look at things. You know, the, the people are the things that remain the same. The, the weapons, the technology, the, the medical care, all of that stuff has changed. Yeah. And. The people have ever remained the same. Their, their values and their commitment and their courage they’re, they’re still there.
And I think that’s an incredible thing that, that we still have that. But you’re right, we, the country I do believe is [00:52:00] drifting away from some of that. And, and I think it’s time to kind of, Shift course back towards you know, that, that type of type of way of thinking and way of life. And so, yeah.
Getting this message out there through the museum the, the monuments and the different programs that you might, that might put on Exactly. Podcast. Yep. Sharing these messages, getting that message out there I think is just super important for America. And. Getting us back on the right track. Now I know some of the listeners out there are gonna want to help to contribute to the foundation, to the museum.
Could you tell people first what, first off, what is the foundation even looking for as far as are you looking for volunteers, donations, financial contributions, different things like that? Or, or something else Entirely. Yes. And yes. Where can people go to get involved?
Darrell Utt: So you can go to moh museum.org.
Moh museum.org. And yes, we are looking for [00:53:00] contributions. We are looking for donations, all of those things. We’re looking for volunteers. We would love for people to follow us on the different socials. We have the National Medal of Honor Museum. You can find us on LinkedIn and Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and, and all of those.
Follow us, like, like us, comment on some of our things. Be involved with us. Go to our website, do some research, reach out to us. There’s not too many Darrell Utts on LinkedIn. So, that’s the only social media that I’m on at this, at this time. Hopefully that will be changing very soon. But if you wanna reach out to me on LinkedIn and connect, I’m always connecting with people and people are always sending me messages and I appreciate that.
I post a lot. We’re connected on LinkedIn, right,
Scott DeLuzio: Scott? I think so, yeah. If that, we’ll, we’ll fix
Darrell Utt: that soon. Yeah, please, please, please. I, I typically do a, a bunch of posts on the museum, so, so yes, we’re still knee deep into fundraising. That is a big thing for us. So, any help that we can [00:54:00] get would surely be appreciated.
And just having people support, having the message get out there, having people talk about it. It’s one of the biggest lessons that I learned from the Museum of the Bible in Washington, dc. Even though we’re building a 550 million museum right in the nation’s capitol, I could drive three blocks away from the museum construction site and I’d be talking to someone and I’d be like, oh, you know, what are you doing? It’s like, oh, I work at the museum over there. And it’s like, which museum? Smithsonian? Like, no, the Museum of the Bible, they’re building. It’s like they’re building a museum of the Bible in Washington DC Are you crazy?
It’s like, no. I mean, it’s the one thing I’ll learn though. You, you need to get that message out constantly, consistently. Cause the more people that hears it, the better. Exactly. And hopefully we’ve got a great message. We want to. Yeah.
Scott DeLuzio: And hopefully we’ve accomplished that with this episode by getting it the message out there to all the listeners.
So I will have links to all the social media and to the website in the show notes. I will, I’ll put that out there for the listeners. Check out the [00:55:00] website, go make financial contributions, check out to see if they have any opportunities, if they need any volunteers for any particular things that they have going on.
I know the museum isn’t technically open yet, but they, there’s still may be some other things going on. Once the museum’s open, I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot more need coming through there. So, just check out the, the website. Follow them on social media so that way when those needs do occur, you’ll, you’ll have a way of getting in touch and finding out about what it is that they are looking for.
So, Darrell, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today. I, I really do appreciate you taking the time to come on and I also appreciate not only your service, but also everything that you’re doing to continue to serve with the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation.
Darrell Utt: It’s an honor.
Thank you so much.
Scott DeLuzio: 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 [00:56:00] you listen to podcasts.
Leave a Comment