Episode 317 Sean Spencer & David Waterhouse Behind the Scenes of ‘Ranger’ Documentary Transcript

This transcript is from episode 317 with guest Sean Spencer & David Waterhouse.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we’re 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 Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today my guests are Sean Spencer and David Waterhouse. And Sean is the director of the documentary titled Ranger. And it’s a true tale of war that is told by David Waterhouse as he’s recalling his service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Um, so welcome to the show guys. I’m really glad to have both of you here. Thank you very much, Scott. Appreciate it. Yeah, you bet. Um, usually I like to just kind of give, uh, the guests a little chance to give a little bit of background, uh, who you are, what, [00:01:00] what your background is, that type of thing. Uh, just telling a little bit about yourself.

Uh, would you guys mind, uh, you know, sharing a little bit, uh, maybe start with you, David? Uh, yeah,

David Waterhouse: sure. Um, I enlisted in to the army after getting out of high school, 9 11 happened and I don’t know, just had this Sense that I was supposed to be there. And, um, and then with, with Sean, not to speak for him, but he had a huge interest in the military too, and had, had considered going in.

And I was kind of giving him the, the rundown of the nature of it. But I spent. Four years in, um, special operations with the 75th Ranger Regiment. I was deployed to Afghanistan three times, Iraq three times, um, between 2003 and 2007.

Sean Spencer: And then, uh, for me, um, I got into film, uh, in my teenage years shooting motorcycle videos.

And that kind of led me into, uh, uh, doing [00:02:00] corporate advertisements, wedding videos, real estate. Um, and then eventually kind of made that transition to, uh, doing more narrative stuff and, uh, doing documentary films.

Scott DeLuzio: And so do you guys know each other growing up then? Is that, that kind of how you guys?

David Waterhouse: Yeah, we were,

Sean Spencer: uh, we were actually next door neighbors.

Uh, so, you know, when he got back, uh, from the war and I was very interested in hearing all those stories. And, uh, that’s kind of how this, this whole thing. Uh, got started probably 15, 16, 17, almost 20 years ago

David Waterhouse: now.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And it’s, it’s, I mean, it’s fortunate that the two, you guys knew each other so well growing up and, um, you know, now got to the point where you have the platform to create this type of content.

You had the, the background and the story to, you know, put this content out there. So, you know, it really, I think it, it’s a, you know, great, uh, combination of the, the two of your, your backgrounds and [00:03:00] skills and, uh, experiences. Um,

David Waterhouse: it’s like the perfect storm. Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: It is. It is really, it is a perfect storm having the two of those mesh together and have, have all of that, that kind of cool stuff coming out of, um, you know, what, what you guys have experienced.

So, um, I want to get a little bit more into the. the story of, uh, this documentary Ranger, uh, that I mentioned a little bit earlier, um, uh, you know, in this episode, I want to talk about that kind of the inspiration behind it and, um, you know, what, what prompted all of it. But, um, uh, before we get into that, uh, we’re going to, we’re going to cut to a quick commercial break.

So, uh, for the listeners here, stay tuned. Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m here today with Uh, Sean and David talking about the documentary Ranger that they put together. Um, guys, uh, I want to get into this documentary, talk about what it is, where the idea for the film came from and all [00:04:00] that type of stuff.

Uh, could you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind it? Where, where it came from?

David Waterhouse: Yeah. So.

Sean Spencer: You know, over the years, you know, of hearing this story, um, and just the profound effect it had on me being able to be so close to somebody in the special operations community and, and hear that intimate telling of it, um, I wanted to try and get that across to audiences.

And I think, uh, a very similar way that that’s done a lot of times now is through podcasts, you know, you have these conversations that are. That are more intimate and it’s, it’s going to, people can be a fly on the wall to those kinds of conversations. So we wanted to try and integrate that feeling of you’re just sitting in a room, listening to this guy, uh, tell you his story.

Um, and over the years of. Us sitting there, um, you know, we started out as trying to start a, you know, a war journal for this and eventually [00:05:00] thought, Hey, maybe we’ll turn it into a novel. Um, so we wanted to try and incorporate some of the elements of, of the, of a, the feeling of a book with. Feeling of a podcast and then also give you that visual representation to help kind of fill in the blanks as you’re listening to this

Scott DeLuzio: story.

Yeah. And I think one of the things that I’ve discovered through doing this podcast, I’ve been doing it for over four years now. And, um, the, the show has been, um, just. So beneficial to me personally, just hearing so many different people’s stories, all the different, uh, experiences that people have had. And, um, like you were saying, like without a platform like a podcast or, you know, television or books or things like that, um, Sometimes these stories just go untold, um, like, you know, a lot of the older veterans, World War II and, and veterans like that, like maybe they might’ve told their story to, uh, friends or family and things like that, but outside of that, if they didn’t tell anyone, uh, about [00:06:00] their stories and their experiences from their perspective, their stories die with them.

When, when they pass away, those stories are gone and they’re lost to history. And so I think it’s especially important that you guys are doing things like this, because this, this is going to outlive, uh, you know, all of us really. And it’ll help tell the story for years to come. Right. And

David Waterhouse: I’ll be a hundred percent honest with you.

If Sean and I hadn’t sat down and done that. Then it would have died on the cutting room floor. Yeah. Same as what you just described. Yeah. I

Sean Spencer: mean, I think we were creating this, we even talked about, you know, I said, how amazing would it be to have something like this from World War One, World War Two, even Vietnam.

There’s not, there are a lot of, you know, good tellings and people tell their stories, but you know, there are so many stories that go untold. Um, so to record something like this, you know, it has significance now and the effects on people, but I think in the future will also have significance to people, you know, could look back 25, 50 years from now and say, Hey, this was, uh, about a guy [00:07:00] at the turn of the century, uh, who was in war.

Uh, so, you know, that’s kind of the, the hopes of this thing.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. And, and, and having. That, to look back on, I think, uh, when you have, um, future generations that are going to be sent off to war, because let’s just face it, we… are a war hungry country. It seems like, like we were always going out to war. Right.

And, um, I think hearing these stories from like a firsthand point of view, the guy who was on the ground in combat dealing with the enemy and dealing with the aftermath after coming back home and all of that type of stuff. I think we’ll open up people’s eyes to say, you know, like, is this conflict that we’re about to enter?

Is this actually necessary? Is this worth the cost of, uh, losing, uh, the men and women who go to fight and the ongoing cost of bringing them back home and dealing with the stuff like post traumatic stress and, uh, you know, all these [00:08:00] other things that they’re going to be dealing with? Is it actually worth it?

Uh, and so maybe we take a step back and, and really think about these things. And I think stories like yours, uh, might be a good way to shed light on some of that, right?

David Waterhouse: Well, you know, I, I, we kind of started in, in Sean. We started documenting a lot of this stuff years ago, and I think you had what like 30, 000 words on paper, something, right?


Sean Spencer: A skeleton of a novel for sure.

David Waterhouse: Sure. And it was, it was pretty quick that we realized that we didn’t know anything about writing books, but we both enjoyed film and I was like, Hey, you know, I want to jot this down. I have three kids and I want them to understand. You know, maybe later on in life, they’re like, Hey, I wonder why Dave was a little weird.

It’s like, Hey, you gotta watch that. That’s fine. And they just kind of just snowballed from there and, um, and ended up being what it, you know, it is to this day, but

Scott DeLuzio: right. [00:09:00] I can totally agree or, uh, you know, relate to what you’re talking about there. I mean, I have three kids of my own and I wrote a book about my experiences and stuff.

And, um, a lot of them are kind of difficult, like for me to talk about those experiences and especially. To my kids, like it just, I don’t know, it just was a hard thing to, uh, to talk about, but writing it down on, on paper for me was, was a lot easier. So that was just my way of getting it out there. And when they get a little bit older, it was

David Waterhouse: therapeutic when it was all said and done, I felt like I like, you know, I don’t want to sound cliche, but that proverbial drop the rucksack off your back.

I mean, it felt like I let it go a little bit and, you know, but my kids still haven’t seen it yet. They’re still, they’re still, yeah. A little young, so one day,

Scott DeLuzio: yeah, one day that might be a little traumatic for young kids to, to be, uh, to be watching, but it’s there now while the story was still fresh [00:10:00] in your mind and you know, not, not that it’s going to go away.

Uh, in your mind, but you know, some of those vivid details are, are still fresh in your mind and you, you make this, uh, documentary and you, you, you put it out there now that story as it existed at that point in time is going to exist 10, 20, 30, however many years in the future that they eventually will watch it.

Um, you know, and, and that will be able to help. Share that story and shed some light on, you know, why was dad the way he was, you know, why did he, you know, you know, all that kind of stuff, it could shed some light on that. And I think just sharing stories is, is especially important. Um,

David Waterhouse: just hearing up the details in one of the, we’ve been asked a few times, um, how do you remember all the details?

And I thought Sean had the perfect response to that is that We just never stopped telling the story, right? So those details that would be lost, you know, to the sands of time have continued to be there, which we’re [00:11:00] able to infuse a lot of intimate details into the story because like Sean said, we just never stopped talking.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. And I think it just goes back to the World War One, World War Two generations, even Korea, Vietnam, uh, those, those guys coming back and they just kept those stories to themselves. They didn’t, they didn’t write them down. They didn’t write a book. They didn’t go on television. They didn’t do any of this kind of stuff.

Um, you know, maybe they told, Family members, maybe a friend or something like that, but really those stories never got out. And so even even for history purposes Yeah, those stories aren’t there but but even in their own minds those stories maybe started to fade a bit too because they weren’t Continuously telling the story like you you just said right

David Waterhouse: and I’ve had Ranger buddies call me and be like, how did you remember that?

like I totally forgot about that mission or I forgot about that event or The time some guy fell in a hole and everybody was crack. There’s so [00:12:00] much stuff that just gets lost. And you know, it’s, I was very fortunate to have Sean because I didn’t talk to my family. I didn’t talk to my significant other at the time who was with me the entire time I was there.

I didn’t talk to her about what happened, but for some reason I found peace. In talking to Sean, who also had interest in potentially pursuing a military career and he was the first one I opened

Scott DeLuzio: up to. And it’s great having that sort of support there. Um, you know, even though you, you, it’s not a military connection, uh, where, you know, you guys were maybe in combat together and, you know, saw some of the same things and were able to kind of relate to each other that way.

You still had that person there, um, who. you can open up to and you can share your story with. Um, so with this documentary, what was the message that you guys were hoping to get across to the audience?

Sean Spencer: I think what I wanted to try and get across to [00:13:00] audiences was What I experienced over the years, kind of listening to that story.

I think I grew up in a lot of, you know, people grew up, uh, with a very specific image of what military service was in their minds. You know, I mean, you look at any of the Hollywood movies, you have that, okay. It’s about patriotism, heroism, and like, you know, dying for your country. Um, and now that there’s anything wrong with that, I think it’s just, when I was able to hear these stories.

and understand the fragility of life and just what these men, women sacrifice. I felt that other people needed to hear that story and other people needed, you know, who don’t have somebody in their life. Like I had somebody next door who had served, who had done all this stuff that I was thinking about potentially doing, you know, that helped me.

understand more so what it was [00:14:00] really about. And so I think the message I wanted to get across to people was kind of having that veil pulled back and just showing people, Hey, if you want to do this, here’s, at least you need to understand what you’re getting yourself into. Cause so many people really have no idea, um, until they’re there and they’re doing it and go through it.

Um, so that, I think that was the main message I wanted to get across was just trying to impart that experience I had to other people that maybe don’t know a veteran, don’t have somebody in their life like that. Um, and whether you’re a civilian or military, it’s something that you can watch and learn a lot about your family members, brother, you know, sister, father, mother.

It’s something that everybody can watch and maybe understand somebody in their family a little bit better.

Scott DeLuzio: And there’s so many people, yeah, there’s so many people these days who don’t know people who served in the military because it’s a relatively small percent of the [00:15:00] population that do serve, uh, compared to generations in the past where, where it was a much, much higher percentage that was being shipped out to, you know, Europe or the Pacific in World War II or, uh, you know, different wars like that.

There’s, there’s a lot of people. And so. It was kind of a little bit more well known, I think, back then, like some of the things that people go through and what they experience, the death, the sacrifices, the, the lost limbs and other injuries that people are coming back with, um, whereas now it’s maybe not so much, I mean, maybe a little bit because of social media, it’s, it’s maybe a little bit more well known, but, um, as far as that direct connection, like, You guys grew up next to each other.

And so you definitely knew this person and, uh, you know, you could, you could probably tell a difference between, uh, the person that he was as, you know, carefree kid, probably growing up versus the guy he was when he came back. And, and so, yeah, sharing that type of story, um, is, I think it’s [00:16:00] important because again, going back to that point that I was saying before, we need to.

shed light on all of these things so that, um, future generations know, like, is, is this really worth the cost of going into this next conflict? Right? None

David Waterhouse: of my kids were alive when 9 11 happened. We watched the towers fall on live television and they weren’t. So, I mean, when you talk about, you know, that gap and them not necessarily having, you know, those visual images, um, Or just those experiences.

Yeah, exactly. And you know, them to be able to watch something and be like, Oh. Oh, pardon my language, but oh shit, this, this really went bad. Right. Like, this is how this played out? Yeah, this is how it played out. And, you know, they, I mean, I don’t want them to know, because I do, as a parent, and you can speak to this, you try to shield your kids from everything you can, but at the same time, they have to be realistic about the [00:17:00] way they think about it, and like, hey, these are, these are actual real world problems.

Exactly. History is, in my opinion, the most important. Topic. You can’t, you know, history’s doomed to repeat itself, right?

Scott DeLuzio: Well, we’re going to take a quick commercial break. When we get back, we’re going to talk a little bit more about some of the challenges that veterans face and, um, some of the, the, uh, things that you guys have, uh, experienced.

Uh, so stay tuned. Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. Um, guys, uh, both of you guys have invested a lot of effort in. shedding light on these challenges that, that veterans face after, after the service. Um, we talked a little bit about it in the last segment before the break. Um, what are your thoughts on the role of storytelling and things like using film or other could be, uh, books, could be podcasts, other, other things like that.

But I guess in [00:18:00] this case, specifically film, because of the nature of the documentary that you guys made, um, as, as far as promoting awareness and understanding of, you know, issues that veterans are facing as they’re getting out of the military or, or even while they’re serving.

Sean Spencer: I think it’s, uh, it’s a very important thing.

Um, I think it’s gotta be kind of guided a little bit with. Um, kind of what you’re trying to tell because, you know, obviously, you know, we do have a lot of Hollywood eyes kind of like military stories out there that, um, you know, do help to promote knowledge and people learning about things, um, but can also kind of give people misconceptions.

Um, but I think, you know, in order to help people, one of the things you have to do is we have to. Make it normal for people to share these stories, or at least give them opportunities, uh, to share them. Offer veterans platforms for books, for, you know, doing [00:19:00] documentaries. Um, and I think what we’ve seen from, you know, giving data to this platform, is that it’s helped other veterans, either with understanding, and veterans families with understanding, but also it gives them.

I guess, uh, uh, an openness to want to share, um, many of the people that we showed the film to, uh, early on, um, while it was going around the festival circuit, we wanted to show it to a lot of veterans just to get feedback. Um, you know, David shared it with a lot of his, uh, you know, old regiment buddies. And one thing that was consistent throughout showing everybody is when we got done with the viewing.

Everybody there wanted to share a story that they had, you know, everybody, I think it, it just opened up the room for conversation. Um, and I think one segment that that goes back to is, uh, I’ll let you tell this story. Um, [00:20:00] is David doing a, um, I’m trying to think it was kind of a veterans.

David Waterhouse: Oh yeah, it was, uh, it was like a two or three day veterans retreat.

And I think it was day two and it’s probably one of the most stressful days. And it’s basically, you kind of voluntarily get up there and tell this group of. People you don’t know about, you know, the shittiest day of your life or something that bothers you. And when I got up there and was speaking, I had multiple people, one in particular that came up to me afterwards and was like, Hey, I put my name on the little, you know, whiteboard because I wasn’t going to tell my story, but then you told yours and he felt like, Hey, well, if he can tell his, then I can tell mine.

And I think. In a nutshell, at least for us, that’s the most important thing in the world is just having a voice [00:21:00] and, and also knowing that you’re not fighting this by yourself. Yeah.

Sean Spencer: And maybe just, if this gives anybody the, whatever it takes inside for them to want to share their story, if this can help them in some way.

You know, that’s a win for us. And that’s what we hope that it does is that we hope it sparks conversations and families among groups of friends, anybody who’s served or had family members, you know, who have served, we hope that this helps to spark, you know, conversations, um, and, and hope, you know, to help people start healing.

Um, and experience that cathartic, you know, nature of getting that off your chest

David Waterhouse: and being able to share it. And we’ve said from day one, you know, this helps one person.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And that’s the same thing I said with this show is I, I started it over four years ago now. Um, I, I started it because several people that I served with, [00:22:00] they took their own lives.

And I said, I can’t just sit around waiting for that phone to ring another time. Just, you know, with that, that, uh, kind of bad news, uh, I got to do something and I want to reach as many people as possible. And I was like, if I, if this could, yeah. Help just one person, it’s going to keep me going and motivate me to do that.

But it, um, the, the cool thing is, is people like yourself, um, and other veterans who’ve come on and shared their story, uh, I get all this kind of feedback from people saying like, it totally helped me. Process through whatever I was going through, um, you know, and all that kind of stuff. And, uh, you know, maybe even encourage some people to, uh, share their stories as well.

And so, like you said, a little bit earlier in this episode, there’s. a therapeutic effect to sharing your story. And it doesn’t matter the medium that you’re, you’re using, whether it’s film or print, or, um, it could even be an artistic approach with, you know, painting or whatever. Um, not, not that film isn’t artistic, [00:23:00] but you know, just a different medium that you might be using.

Um, And it just encourages you and other people to just start opening up and sharing the story.

David Waterhouse: As a vet yourself and as many people that you’ve interviewed on this show, you know exactly that late night phone call at 2, 3 in the morning that you’re like, What happened? And like, those are the moments that we’re fighting to avoid.

Yeah, exactly. You just, your whole body tenses up. You’re like, who died? Who did something? And yeah. We just want to let everyone know everyone has struggles. Everyone has problems, but hey, we can fight this shit together

Scott DeLuzio: We can, absolutely. Now, speaking of telling stories, we, we kind of have danced around this story that we’ve been talking about a little bit.

We, we’ve kind of alluded to the fact that it exists and, but, uh, David, I’d like to maybe get your, uh, side of your story that, that you guys talked about. Um, [00:24:00] um, cause you are a part of the Operation Red Wings, uh, recovery efforts. Uh, can you tell us about that and, The effect that, that type of operation had on you and kind of what your story is, the story basically from your perspective.

David Waterhouse: Yeah. Uh, it’s always a tough one. Um, we were, uh, QRF, uh, station. We were, our, our FOB was, uh, Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and it was just a normal day. And we were, I still remember we were playing Tiger Woods and the door got kicked in and one of our squad leaders came in. I was a team leader at the time.

And he came in and he was like, Hey, a bird just got shot down outside of Sadabad. We’re spinning up. So everybody got kidded. As soon as we got everybody out there, they realized that the elevation we were going to be at, they had to start making cuts just due to the weight on the birds. And so we [00:25:00] made our cuts and we just kind of basically it was mostly.

Team leaders, squad leaders, platoon sergeant. I mean, like, very few of the privates and stuff like that went. And we got on a bird probably 15 minutes after the door got kicked in. They said, hey, the bird got shot down. We’re gonna go to J Bad, Jalalabad, and then we’re gonna launch from there. And they were like, we’ll be back in six hours.

Well, that six hours turned into about 13 days, I think. So we had no water, no food. We didn’t, ended up doing, uh, we flew in to where we were gonna infill and it was so foggy that night that they ended up turning the birds around at about the 32nd mark. And then we flew back to Jalalabad and had all night, the rest of that night, and all day to just sit there and just Think about what we knew we were going.

I mean, we had imagery. We were looking at it on ISR. We didn’t see anyone moving, but you know, you’re holding that hope for the best. And so the next [00:26:00] cycle of darkness, we launched again, ended up doing an 85 foot fast rope, uh, onto the side of a mountain and then walked, uh, for the remainder of the night, um, got to the edge of the hill to where the.

The bird was, and it was very steep, very steep incline. And, uh, we kind of took a look over the hill and it was, it was like, oh, this is bad. And, uh, so we dropped, there were about 15 of us, 12 to 15 of us that were on body recovery. Um, the other group, and it wasn’t a hell of a lot of people, but the other groups were doing presence patrols.

Uh, Also looking for that initial four man seal element, um, that was out there. So they kind of kept the heat off us. We dropped all of our kit and started putting bodies in bags and You know, some people ask me, you know, what’s the best day of your life? And I’ll say June 28th to third June 30th [00:27:00] 2005 and they say what’s the worst same day?

And, you know, I, I take pride and honor the fact that I was able to get those guys hope because that’s what I would have won. I think that’s what all of us would want is someone being like, whatever we got dudes down, let’s go. And to be able to do that and provide some sort of closure to the families was the most important thing that I’ve ever done in my life.

It was also the most painful and has caused the most traumatic. points of my life as well. Um, it was just, it was just a real ugly scene. Sure. And I couldn’t describe it to you any better without going into graphic detail, but it was, it was bad. And I got into it more in the documentary. So I don’t want to bog you down with gory details, but it was not

Scott DeLuzio: pretty.

Yeah. And I, I don’t, I don’t want you to share the whole story. Um, [00:28:00] obviously because we want people to go check out the documentary again. Ranger is the name of the documentary. And, um, you know, we want people to go check that out and, and hear the whole story there. Um, but you know, it’s, it’s that whole.

You know, I will never leave a fallen comrade, uh, mindset. Um, yeah, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s there for a reason. Um, and it just puts it in the back of your mind when you go out on a mission. Uh, it doesn’t matter how routine the mission might be. Um, you’re going out knowing that if something happens to you, someone’s coming to get you to bring closure to your family.

Um, and. In this case, you were that guy and you and your teammates, I should say, were, were those guys who were out there gathering those, those, uh, you know, the fallen and, and making sure that they got back home and that their families were able to have the closure, uh, that they, they need and [00:29:00] deserve. Um, and so.

You know, obviously, definitely hats off to you and I think it’s, it’s a tremendous, uh, effort that you guys all had to go through, um, both, both physically exhausting and probably mentally exhausting, um, as well. But it’s, like you said, the best day of your life because you’re able to provide that, uh, closure to those families, but also the worst day because you had to do that type of work and, um,

David Waterhouse: really incredible.

Thank you, guys, for running me again. I would do exactly the same. Even knowing what I was going to have trauma from emotionally for the rest of my life, I’d still be on that bird. And, you know, I’ve always, me and my friends used to joke about it, but I always said, I’m always scared after the fact.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

David Waterhouse: Uh, and when it’s all done, I’m like, holy shit, that was intense.

But in the moment it’s like A to B to C to [00:30:00] D and you just, you don’t really think about like, well, and that’s probably why, you know, they, they want younger kids in the military. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,

Scott DeLuzio: yeah, exactly.

Sean Spencer: that was sketchy.

David Waterhouse: Right? I blew my knee out walking to get the mail the other day. I’m not roping in from 85

Scott DeLuzio: feet. You’re about to another quick commercial break here. Um, but when we get back, we’re going to talk, um, you know, kind of more of the. the nature of this film and, um, you know, how it can help contribute to understanding of things like mental health and other challenges that veterans might face. So stay tuned.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. Um, guys, we’re really incredible, uh, experiences that you were just describing, uh, before the break, uh, talking about your, your involvement in the Operation Red Wings, uh, and you know, just how that kind of incorporates into [00:31:00] the, the film and everything else that you guys were, uh, talking about earlier.

Um, As we, we kind of mentioned, uh, guys, the, the film talks about the, like the raw nature of, of combat and, and the aftermath, you know, like having to go recover bodies, like, that’s just not the, the sexy Hollywood thing that you, you see all the time. Right. But that’s the reality, like that’s something that has to happen.

Um, and we talked a little bit about this, about, you know, kind of raising awareness, but, um, how do you guys think that the, the story, uh, as, as you guys described it in, in this documentary, um, Can contribute to a better understanding of the challenges that veterans face in terms of mental health and other aspects of life after the military.

Sean Spencer: I think, um, you know, one thing we’ve really tried to do is to have it, it be that, that raw telling, um, which I feel like, unfortunately, a lot of times when, [00:32:00] uh, they sit down to make a military documentary, Uh, they’re getting guys and they’re putting them in a room with strangers and they’re like, Hey, tell us, tell us about the hardest day of your life.

And a lot of times we get this very military telling of like almost script. Very, yeah. Like, like, like my lieutenants over my shoulder, watching me tell this story. And I’m going to give you the brief in a very professional military manner. And a lot of times that’s what we see, uh, portrayed in documentaries.

Um, so when we went to make this, I wanted to try and steer clear of, of that in any way, shape or form, and really have that, that raw telling. And I think that is what helps open up people and see that, hey, if this guy’s gonna tell his story this way, and he can go on and tell, you know, millions of people to this story, I can, I can say something, I can bring something up.

I might be able to talk about what I went [00:33:00] through, or at least I can show somebody this film and they can go to me and say, Hey, so did you go through stuff like this too? And you can be like, yeah, that’s a very similar story to mine. So it, it almost gives people a way of sharing something about themselves, even if they don’t want to open up and necessarily tell that hard day, you know, story.

This is a way for them to, you know, at least share with somebody and say, Hey, yeah, I went through a lot of this too. I see myself in this.

David Waterhouse: And one of the things for me is, you know, it doesn’t matter how tough you are, what training you went through, how bad ass you may think you are. We’re all human and this affects people, no matter how cool you think you are, how bad ass it hurts.

And that’s, that gets to be a really lonely place sometimes. And that’s what, that’s what we’re just trying to, to bring the light. It’s like, Hey man, call

Sean Spencer: [00:34:00] a buddy. Yeah. Call somebody. You don’t have to shove it all down and ignore it. And I think, um, getting away from the stereotype of not talking. not addressing, you know, how this may be, you know, destabilizing you mentally.

And, you know, that leads to destabilizing you physically. And a lot of, a lot of these guys turn to substance abuse, turn to a lot of different things and, you know, in order to try and bury that story, because that is, And that’s what most of those guys know. It’s like, Hey, you go do your thing. You keep your mouth shut, you go home and you know, the war’s over.


David Waterhouse: your life. Men don’t crap.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Right. And I

Sean Spencer: think, yeah, it’s, it’s,

Scott DeLuzio: it’s, it’s

Sean Spencer: a tough thing, uh, for people to, you know, get to that vulnerable spot or. Do that. So I think having [00:35:00] somebody, you know, at least be the first person to tee off. It’s like, all right, at least you’re not the first guy, you know, going up there and having to, you know, send the drive down, you know, at least somebody else has gone before you, right?

The pressure’s off a little bit. Teeing off

David Waterhouse: in front of the 19th hole, 30 drunk people up there. And you’re like,

Scott DeLuzio: sure, right. So

Sean Spencer: hopefully it gives people some courage to do that.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I think. You know, there’s a time and a place for, uh, stuffing some of those things down. Like, when you’re in the middle of the shit and you’re, you’re bagging up bodies and you’re dragging them to wherever they need to be.

And, and maybe dragon’s not the right word that, as I’m saying that I kind of like

Sean Spencer: kicked myself. You’re not far off.

Scott DeLuzio: So there’s a time and a place where like, yeah, that’s an emotional thing that you’re going through and it’s, it’s really tough, but that’s not the time to be breaking down and crying about it.

It’s, you, you gotta kind of shove some of that stuff down, but at some point you [00:36:00] got to pick that stuff back up. It’s going

Sean Spencer: to come out in some way, shape or

David Waterhouse: form. It will manifest itself. And you know, that, that’s why I always kind of live by the credo. I’ll be scared when it’s

Scott DeLuzio: over. Yeah. And that’s, I think you said that earlier too.

And I think that’s a great way to look at it is there’s no time to be scared right now in the middle of a firefight or in the middle of, you know, recovering these, these bodies on this cliff side that, you know, may or may not be safe to be walking on. Who knows, you know, at this point, it’s a kind of uncharted territory.

Um, you have a job to do and go do it. And afterwards you’ll. You’ll look back on it and be like, Oh my God, what did I just do? Right. It’s it can be really scary looking back at it, but that’s the time when you need to process those emotions and and get the therapeutic effect of Picking that stuff back up and in dealing with it as opposed to just keeping it shoved down because it’s hard [00:37:00] Yeah.

And it’s, it’s hard to pick it back up. Um, but it’s necessary, uh, because like you said, yeah, it’s not going to stay there forever and it’s going to come out in ways that are maybe kind of ugly. Um, and I, I’d rather see someone cry it out and get the, get those emotions out as opposed to, you know, beating their spouse or kicking their dog or, you know, it’s a whole new, it’s all that

Sean Spencer: other stuff.

It’s a whole new war when you get home and, you know, that’s one of the, I think one of the most important chapters in the film is talking about coming home and battling that new war, which is being home and having to figure out what, who am I, what is my life now and what am I going to do and how do I deal with what I have done and what I’ve had to do to be alive and be here and to.

To, you know, be back in this world. Cause it’s, they’re two very, very different worlds.

David Waterhouse: And, and, you know, Sean and I were talking yesterday, actually, about this [00:38:00] very point. And it was no matter how much you explain to someone what it was like. You can never put them in that moment. They’ll say, Oh my God, that must’ve been terrible.

Oh, you know, but they have nothing, no frame of reference for it. So when you, when you, at least in my personal experience, when I came home, I didn’t know who to talk to. And that’s why I ended up talking to Sean. And I mean, I was, I remember the first time that we talked, it was very awkward. For me, I didn’t know if I’m telling them too much, not telling them enough.

Am I making the story complete? And it was hard. But once that ball got rolled, it was like, all right, fire hose, you’re drinking through a fire hose now, buddy. And, uh, and we just, we just never stopped, um, with the, with the information coming back, telling the story, remembering the details. Uh, [00:39:00] so, I mean, that was huge.

I mean, Sean, I can literally say Sean helped save my life. He helped me by being there to

Scott DeLuzio: listen. Being there to listen. That’s what I was going to say. Yeah. It’s that simple for the people who are out there who maybe have a loved one who’s going through a tough time. Um, and they don’t, they don’t know what to do.

Literally, you got two ears, use them, like sit there and listen, just to listen to their story. Um, and you, you mentioned it’s, it’s hard for people to imagine what it’s actually like to be there. You can describe it all you want to actually imagine it. You, you kind of have to be there and physically, uh, you know, be present and experience it yourself.

And even two people who are in the same exact scenario, they may experience things two different ways. Right. Um, and I know there’s, There’s been a movie made up, uh, about this, uh, uh, situation too. I believe that you, that you were in the, um, I think it was, was it Lone Survivor? Was [00:40:00] that about the same? Uh, that’s yeah,

David Waterhouse: that’s, that was the initial, Marcus the trail was a part of that four man seal element on recce, uh, reconnaissance.

And once they got compromises, when they launched. The QRF bird, which was the one that got shot down, Turbine 33 that got shot down.

Scott DeLuzio: So there were eight SEALs

David Waterhouse: and eight crew members from the 160th that went down on that bird going to get Marcus Luttrell, who ended up being

Scott DeLuzio: the lone survivor. Right. And I guess the reason why I bring that that up is because someone could even sit there and watch that movie and it’s not going to equal the experience that he had while he was on that mountaintop, you know, fighting and, you know, fighting for his life, literally, um, and, and going through all of those experiences, it can give you kind of a general idea, but it’s not going to give you that pit in the stomach kind of feeling or the, the, the fear or the anger or the frustration or the, whatever other [00:41:00] emotions he may, he may have been going through, um, like those, those things even compare when you’re watching the movie.

Um, and so, um, yeah, you can, you can tell us all about it, but, but it’s, it’s going to be, it’s definitely going to be different. Um, but, but I think it’s still at least opens people’s eyes up to the fact that these things exist. One of the things

David Waterhouse: I don’t think people don’t want to understand. I think they genuinely do.

Especially when it’s a loved one or someone that you, you know, one of your friends, but whatever it’s just, they just don’t have the comprehension to be able to understand. And until you get chucked out and you’re on the street and bad things start happening, how I’ve never played in the NBA. I’d step on the floor and be like, uh, I played horse once.

So you’re

Sean Spencer: really there on the streets and experiencing those things and, you know, smelling it, feeling it and, and all that. Like he [00:42:00] said, you can explain it to somebody only to a certain degree. Um, but when you’ve been there and you’ve seen those things, you’ve had that veil pulled back and you realize just how fragile the world is around you.

It’s, it’s almost something, you know, like you said, you don’t necessarily want to share with people because it’s like you kind of do yourself wish a little bit that you didn’t know and you didn’t understand and have to have that, that shown to you and. No matter how much you tell somebody, until they’re on the street with it, and facing death like that, it’s just something you can’t understand.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And like you said, you don’t want your kids to ever have to experience that type of thing. Right. Uh, and I, I remember actually one time, uh, when I was in Afghanistan, uh, one of my interpreters would ask, asked me like, why are you, why are you here? Uh, you know, why, why, why did you want to, you know, join the military and, uh, you know, come over here [00:43:00] and fight in a place like this?

And I said, because I don’t want my kids to end up having to come here and, and fight 20, 30, however many years from now. Um, And have this war continue to go on. I’d rather be the one who’s there fighting and dealing with all this

David Waterhouse: crap. And I said the exact same thing almost verbatim in my children. I went to war so you didn’t have to.

Right. I don’t want my… I would not trade my military service for all the money in Fort Knox, but I don’t want them to have to experience it. I love watching football, but I don’t want my kids to play it.

Scott DeLuzio: Sure. Yeah. And there’s, I think there’s, there’s that, that element of like, it’s, it’s that, that protector.

mindset that you have. And I think a lot of us who served in the military have that, like, we want to be protectors, um, whether it’s, we want to protect our country or, uh, our communities, or just the guy to the left or to the right of us. We, we [00:44:00] want to be the protector. Um, you look at, Stories of, you know, guys who jump on grenades to protect their friends, or, or whatever, like, those guys they threw out the fact that, yeah, this is gonna totally rock my world and, and probably kill me, um, but I’m here to protect these guys, and so I’m gonna, I’m gonna do what I need to do.

David Waterhouse: Absolutely. Yeah. Couldn’t

Scott DeLuzio: agree with you more. All right. We’re going to take another quick commercial break here, uh, in just a second. But, uh, when we get back, we’ll, uh, we’ll talk a little bit more about, about the film where you can go to find it and, uh, and things like that. So stay tuned, everybody.

Welcome back to drive on. If you’ve missed the last couple episodes of drive on, you might’ve missed that. We’re trying to close out each episode with some humor. Laughter can be the best medicine. And today I want to try out a new segment. Uh, last time I’ve been doing a few jokes and some of them are kind of corny, but, uh, but I want to try out a new segment that I’m calling, Is It Service Connected?

Uh, where we take a look at a video of a [00:45:00] service member doing something stupid or otherwise getting injured, doing some crazy stuff. And we try to predict whether or not whatever happened to this, the soldier or. Soldiers, plural could be, um, uh, would qualify for disability benefits somewhere down the line, uh, should they be so seriously injured that they, that those injuries become kind of a permanent type thing.

But before we get to that, uh, Sean, David, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you guys today. Uh, can you let people know in the audience where they can go to watch Ranger and anything else that you might want to add?

Sean Spencer: Yeah, absolutely. So Ranger is currently available on Amazon. You can find it on there.

You can also check us out on Instagram at ranger movie and all of our links and everything is in there and Just to say it’s been a pleasure for both of us to chat with you today and and get to talk about the film And just you know, hopefully That it reaches out to you know Some new [00:46:00] audiences and gets to that guy who needs the guy or gal who needs to see it

David Waterhouse: just

Scott DeLuzio: raise that awareness Absolutely.

All right. Well, thank you guys again for that. Now it’s time for, is it service connected? So I’m going to queue up this video here. Um, give me just one second here while I, while I get this going so you guys can see it. I want to make sure that you guys have the opportunity to see this, uh, this video as well.

Um, as I go to play it. So, uh, for the podcast listeners, it’s audio only, obviously. Um, I’m going to do my best to try to describe the video that we’re, we’re watching here. Um, so that way you can kind of play along at home as well, but, um, you can also tune in at WTSMTV. com to see the video, or I may also post the video to social media later on too.

So follow Drive On Podcast at, uh, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all those social media sites. So, so I’ll put that video up there as well. Um, all right, can you guys see the video that popped up on the [00:47:00] screen there? All right, so I’m going to play it just a short, uh, short video here. Um, we’ve got two soldiers out in the woods.

And they are running into a tree. Slammed right face first into a tree. Are they trying to

David Waterhouse: get out of like a field exercise

Scott DeLuzio: or something? I don’t know what it was. I think I saw some,

David Waterhouse: let me, let me

Scott DeLuzio: do this one more time here. Hang on. Yeah, it looked like. Well, headbutt. I think like his soul kept going like after.

Yeah, it was like he ran so hard into this tree and then flop back. Um, you know, there’s probably some whiplash there. Probably a TBI when his head hit the… He got at least 10%. I mean, um, you know, his head smacked into the ground. Who knows what he landed on there? He did have his…

David Waterhouse: Yeah, that’s, I get 30% through TBI, that’s it, yeah.


Scott DeLuzio: [00:48:00] probably, probably somewhere around there, I think. As long

Sean Spencer: as nobody finds out he did it that way. I

Scott DeLuzio: know, the problem is his video exists right now, and that’s, that’s where he’s having trouble. That’s his main problem, hurting him right now. That’s his, that’s the biggest problem right there, is that video exists, um, so.

David Waterhouse: So I got a quick follow up for you, to wrap We were in airborne school. I think it was like our third jump or something like that. And there was this guy, I still remember his name, but I’m not going to say it. Uh, he was an older gentleman. He was like 34. We were all like 19, 20 years old. And we’re on our third jump and on Friar Drop Zone at Fort Benning, where we would jump into where airborne school is, they parked like an ambulance out the middle of the drop zone in case someone had like some catastrophic injury or something.

And you got all the instructors and they’re on the, on the DZ and they had their bullhorns because. People don’t know what they’re doing, really. And this guy, he’s coming down and they’re screaming at him through the bullhorn, like, pull a slip, pull a [00:49:00] slip. And he either didn’t listen, panic, didn’t do anything.

And homeboy landed directly on top of the back of the ambulance. Broke both of his legs. Is it service connected?

Scott DeLuzio: I would say yes, homeboy service

Sean Spencer: connected. And luckily the medics were right there.

David Waterhouse: Yeah, he landed.

Scott DeLuzio: It couldn’t be a better place to land, I don’t think. I mean,

Sean Spencer: as far as it’s going to break your lip,

Scott DeLuzio: I mean, that’s the one.

Maybe the better place would be right next to the ambulance, not on top. Cause you still got to figure out how to get them down. Or if they had the doors open, he could have just like slid right

Sean Spencer: in.

Scott DeLuzio: Awesome guys. Well, again, thank you for taking the time to join us. Thank you for sharing your stories and, and sharing it with, with all of us so that we can, uh, learn from your point of view and, and everything, uh, that, that you went through, um, for, for future generations to, uh, make better decisions and, and, uh, really understand what goes on when we go to combat.

So thank you again. [00:50:00] Well, thank you

David Waterhouse: so much for having us on here. It’s been a pleasure. Yeah. And, um, absolutely.

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 you listen to podcasts.

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