Gold Star Widow Talks About Sacrifice

Michelle Black Gold Star Widow Talks About Sacrifice
Drive On Podcast
Gold Star Widow Talks About Sacrifice

Michelle Black is a Gold Star widow whose husband, Bryan Black, was killed in 2017 in Africa under some rather unusual circumstances. She is the author of the book Sacrifice, which looks into the events surrounding her husband's death.

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Scott DeLuzio    00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into 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 family member, this podcast we'll 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. Everybody welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Michelle Black, being a gold star brother, Michelle, and I share a distinction that no one wants to have by being a gold star family member. Michelle is a gold star widow whose husband Brian Black was killed in 2017 in Africa under some rather unusual circumstances, which I'm sure we'll get to in just a bit. She's also the author of the book sacrifice, which is an in-depth, basically, an after-action report that came out of the attack that killed her husband, and the events that followed after that. So welcome to the show, Michelle

Michelle Black    00:01:00    Thank you so much for having me on. I'm really appreciative of being here. Look forward to this talk.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:01:06    I said before we started recording here. I always like having people who have a story to tell and people like yourself who are fortunate enough to be able to tell a story,, in place of someone who's no longer here to be able to tell their own story. I think that that's something that needs to be done. These stories need to be told, and I'm always happy to have people like yourself who are willing to share their loved one's stories. So, for those who aren't familiar with you and, and your story,  why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?  

Michelle Black    00:01:43    So my name is Michelle Black. And as you stated earlier, I am a widow. My husband, Brian Black was killed on October 4th, 2017 when his Green Beret team was ambushed, just outside of Tonga, Tonga, Niger in Africa, he was killed along with three other Americans and five new Jerianne's. So, that day we lost my husband's staff, Sergeant Brian Black staff, Sergeant Dustin Wright, Sergeant first-class, Jeremiah Johnson, and Sergeant La David Johnson. It was the largest loss of life on the continent of Africa since the battle of Mogadishu also known as Black Hawk Down. And so it instantly became a huge national media story. Especially with Trump being president. Everybody was certain, I think they coined the term. This was Trump's Benghazi. So the media went crazy with it. There were multiple things over about eight months of investigating that happened.  

Michelle Black     00:02:53    Trump called the family members. There was an argument between him, one of the widows. Then the media started saying that this was a team who were a bunch of Cowboys that had gone rogue to wanting to hunt down a terrorist on a kill capture mission, basically trying to trick their higher and their higher-ups. And, then there was a video, I had cam video that was stolen off the body of a Sergeant first class, Jeremiah Johnson by the militants. And they made a propaganda video out of it, which CBS news then released, on TV and which, by the way, multiple people saw. And I detail that in my book about, like my husband's mom coming home from work and seeing her son die on national TV. So then that spread across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, I mean every form of social media, and still, it pops up all the time. I'm pretty sure my children have seen it, at least my oldest autistic son. They get the option of seeing their dad shot in the head anytime they want. And then AFRICOM ran an investigation into themselves. And when we were finally briefed seven months after the fact, they lied to us, and then the commander of AFRICOM went on national TV and said, my husband's team was not indicative of what special operators do.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:04:45    Yeah. That is a lot, and this, again, this is all detailed in your book. I listened to your book, I got the audio version of it, but, it's an incredibly detailed account of what took place on the battlefield where this took place, but also what took place afterward. The investigations, the reports that came out, and the things like the media coverage and how they release the propaganda footage that was taken off of one of the soldiers. It went through all of that. And one of the things that I think your book does really, really well, it does a lot well, but one of the things,  is it lives up to its title that sacrifice not only do you paint a clear picture of the sacrifice that's made when the soldiers are away from family on training or deployments, which is typical, you kind of expect in the military.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:05:58   But also the sacrifice that the families make when they don't make it home. And when, when the soldiers don't make it home, I should say, There's an awful lot of sacrifice being made all around throughout the military. Tell us about that angle of it. What is the purpose behind the book? I know you, you are trying to get the truth and the information out there, but you did more than that. And I think you talked a lot about the sacrifices that were made. How did that come about in terms of the book writing process?  

Michelle Black     00:06:36    So I really wanted to do several things with this book, and I'm glad to hear that I did them well, because that was my goal. You hear constantly bridging the gap. How are we going to bridge the gap between the civilian and the military world? I grew up about as far from the military as a person could, I didn't even know anyone who was in the military, at all growing up. And my dad was like, don't marry somebody in the military. Because then they're just gone all the time. They're basically marrying and leaving you. And I was like, oh, okay. Then I married, Brian. And then a couple of years later he joins the military. My dad was not happy about that. It's like, no. I grew up in California where just we were all about sports and out having fun and service wasn't part of that equation.  

Michelle Black    00:07:33    And so to go into this military lifestyle and learn everything I learned and then be on the receiving end of it. I think you go in and you think when people are in the military, you think, oh, a lot of them die. That's what I thought. And here I am now, this is really rare. And how crazy it is that I went from having never experienced the military in my life to now being on this end up being a gold star widow and being completely submerged. I'm the ideal person to write this book that bridges the gap between the civilian world. So a civilian can pick this book up and say, oh my gosh, this is what it's like to walk onto a military base, for the first time. And this is the experience you will have.  

Michelle Black    00:08:23    And this is what you'll feel and see, and this is what I can equate it to. And being able to take the military jargon, like the acronyms, and break those down. Because, honestly, even as I began to interview the men, they just speak that way. And as a military spouse, I imagine if I grew up in the military with a military parent, then, then maybe I would know some of these acronyms, but they're just throwing them out left and right. SIGINT, HUMINT, this, that, and I'm just going okay. and <inaudible> and, and I'm just going okay,, and I just recorded it all. And then later I'd call up. Sheepishly and what's <inaudible>? And what's SIGINT, and, cause I couldn't some of this stuff, I couldn't Google and, or I'd Google and it was wrong.  

Michelle Black     00:09:14    You'd see like 20 different military versions of this, but they were actually meaning something different., so yes, Google is not good for everything. This book, my goal was to bridge that gap between the military and the civilian world so that the civilian people could come in and read this book and say, this is why this matters. This is why it matters when our military doesn't tell the truth because this is what sacrifice actually looks like for these families. And also for those who are wondering, like what really happened here, because everything was bad, Captain Perozeni and he is one of the best men I've ever met. And he was incredible at his job still is. And there's a reason he still continues on at the job and gets promoted and overcomes all of these go Moore's that they threw at him. There's a reason it's because A, he did nothing wrong, and B he's incredible at his job. He's a huge asset. And so my goal was to change it from bad Captain Perozeni and pull out the person who was responsible, Lieutenant Colonel Painter and say, Niger does not fall on the head of Captain Perozeni it falls on the head of Lieutenant Colonel painter. And I wanted to paint, ironically, a very clear picture of why. And hopefully, those are the two things I've managed to do well.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:10:53    Yeah. And I think you did those two things very well in the book and it was, it was really great to hear all, all the different sides of things. When I first started listening to the book, I wasn't sure exactly the direction it was going to go in terms of how in-depth it was going to get in terms of the interview process that you did and learning about the actual details of what went on the ground during that mission from the people who were there. I wasn't sure if it was going to get into that because, I know sometimes with the military, you don't exactly want to share some of that information especially when it's, maybe a contentious kind of thing that's going on and its investigations are happening and stuff you may not necessarily want to share.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:11:50    So I wasn't sure what you were really going to get out of the guys who were there, but they gave you a lot. And that interview process got a lot of information out there. And as I was listening, I just kept finding myself thinking that I couldn't believe some of the failures and leadership that took place throughout the whole mission or several missions that took place in that time period. But it got even worse when those same people were passing the buck down on, the lower people down the chain of command, and trying to pass the blame down. it just really just blew my mind that this type of thing would happen.  I've seen some bad leadership in the past, in different stories, different examples that I've seen along the way.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:12:43    But I think this one takes the cake. I, this one, this one was just, it was hard for me to, just imagine that, that this is what happened and, and it, I'm not doubting it in any way, shape, or form. I'm just saying, like, it's just such a terrible situation to have gone through. Knowing, especially the guys who were on the ground, knowing that the mission wasn't a good mission, and they kept bringing it up to the chain of command and it kept getting denied and they still had to go out on these missions. It just baffles me.  

Michelle Black     00:13:23    Yeah. I think a lot of people look at the book, they look at the cover and they say, oh, this is going to be a story about loss. And the first few chapters are, but that's what it is. But I had to tell it in a way that was really chronological, because I wanted you to feel and see what we were going through as family members, as far as, okay, this is what we're being told. And I wanted you to see the realization as I hit that point where I'm being lied to in my brief. And I'm still holding on to hope like, okay, they're not going to punish anybody. That still, isn't really making sense. I think they're lying to me because the lawyer is talking over the actual investigating officer, which is not a good sign.  

Michelle Black    00:14:13    And, and he's trying to do it in a sneaky way, but behind everyone's back, except I can see him. And I don't know if he realizes that, and so there were a lot of strange things going on and, and that's why I walked at the beginning was kind of a slow roll because. I wanted to see, I wanted everyone to kind of live it, so to speak. And that way you felt the frustration and that heartache over, just be honest, just tell us and to lay it out the way they did and then tell it the way that it actually happened and do it minute by minute, as detailed as possible. That way when you realize what happened, you're like me where you're we, you see like, oh my gosh, this is a whole different story than what we were given, you know? And I think really they it's like AFRICOM wanted us to focus so much on that first con op and then so much on not worrying about the mission they were sent on in whether it was a bad mission with bad, Intel or lack of Intel and bad, well, complete lack of assets and no real solid plans. They wanted us to not see that at all. But instead focusing on incremental things that they said, Captain pears, you need to do wrong, which costs lives.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:15:49    Yeah. It certainly was insane., to read all of this and, or listen to all of this and here, all of the things that just went wrong. But another thing I think that the book did really well, is it almost made you feel like you were there like you can paint that picture in your head. when you're talking about the things that were happening on the ground. you were talking about at one point they were there lying, hiding, because they only had limited ammunition between whoever was there. And, they had a whole group of Milton's coming their way and they needed to basically just hide just to stay alive. And I could, I could feel the stress of that situation. Just, just from the words that were coming out of a book, it was, it was really incredible.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:16:51    And, and so I know that you, you did,, a lot of research and a lot of the interviews and everything, and, and you got it, right? Like you, you got the information from, from the people who were there because it, it really did feel like you were there when, when, when you're listening to the story of being told, and, and you're right. Like they were trying to say that, that this, this, the team went rogue, that there were, Cowboys or, flying off the hook or whatever, but, but these guys were highly trained green Berets, and it's not to say that they couldn't have gone rogue, but that's not in the character of, of those people, that's not what they, they do. it just really blew my mind to see that they were just so almost arrogant about saying how these guys were, they just went rogue and they didn't do their job and they didn't do what they were supposed to do. It just blew my mind to read that.  

Michelle Black     00:17:58    Yeah. I think it was crazy because they knew they could say that to the public and the general public is going to believe that because they don't, they don't really know or understand green Berets. They don't understand that this isn't true, they enlisted and did six months of training. This is, they enlisted, did six months of training. Now they've spent three years between SFS going through actually it's a lot more than three years, but going through the Q course, getting their green Beret and then, all the extra training on top of that, by the time most of those guys, or even, even the ones who are just on their first or second deployment, they are. So well-trained that it's insane. And you've, you've got a master Sergeant you've got, team captain.  

Michelle Black 00:18:49    You've got all these guys who obviously have longer careers too, who are sitting there and they've had, 8, 10, 12 deployments under their belt. One of the guys on the team had been at Ranger and had had multiple deployments with Ranger regiment under his belt before he came over to the Green Berets side. been in multiple combat situations, had been shot twice before this trip. So it's just the fact that they're saying this team went rogue and that they weren't well-trained, there were a bunch of Cowboys. It was completely insane. And anybody who knew my husband also, we were just, there was no way he was a chess master. He was a chess champion, his whole life. I mean, he was second at nationals. By the time he was 11 years old, he was a very methodical, very planned-out thinker.  

Michelle Black    00:19:50    And so to think that he would just decide to go rogue, to hunt down a terrace is laughable. So what you found was that these officers would say these things, and then as they would try and convince us, and I, and I found out what the other families, the same thing as they tried to convince them, we're going, there's no way. So then their focus became well, it was Captain Perozeni, which is great, except also green Berets are not known to be followers. They have a real hard time following authority in general, especially like a brand new team captain. They would not all follow after a terrorist and, well going rogue. It was just, all of it was crazy. And when, by the time I reached out to the guys, and this was how I really, I'm so grateful to them for trusting me and for telling me their stories.  

Michelle Black   00:20:45    One thing I do have to say is that the men on the team by the time I asked them, it was May, it was right after General Waldhauser had gone on and said that this team is not indicative of what special operators do. And it was at that point that I realized these men are all going to be blind. And before that was, as long as people aren't punished and inward, this is a learning experience. Because at that point I can't bring Brian back. I can't make this better. Let's use it as a learning opportunity and make sure that in the future if people are in this position, this doesn't happen again, we make better decisions. After General Waldhauser said that it occurred to me that all these guys are going to be punished.  

Michelle Black     00:21:36    This isn't about learning anything. It's about covering for somebody and I'm not even sure who they're covering right now, but I want to know, I still just want to know what happened to my husband. That's all I want. And so I went to the guys on the team and, by then they were looking at, they were hearing that they were going to be investigated once again, and this time they were going to have article fifteens, Coming their way, that kind of thing. And so they were being asked to interview once again about what happened on the ground with, um, with military officials. And so they were starting to lawyer up. And so that's when I talked to them and I was like, well, pretty soon your gag orders are going to lift. You're going to have media personnel coming in the media, people coming in and wanting to get your story.  

Michelle Black     00:22:33    They're going to want to write the book. I mean, everybody, right. There's a book on every story, right? Black Hawk down lone survivor. Benghazi like, someone's going to write the book. and someone's going to control that narrative. Do you want someone else? Do you trust someone else? Or do you want to give it to me? Because I have no doubt I can do this. I said, the thing, the difference between me and anybody else is, I don't know what I'm doing. I have nothing to lose. And at this point, if you pull it out from under me in two years, that's fine because I don't know if what I'm promising is possible, it's what I believe I can do. And so I'll keep these interviews here tucked away and they are yours. And until the day I sign on with a publisher.  

Michelle Black     00:23:21    And so that was kind of the agreement and what the interviews ended up being was me just sitting down with the guys. And it was almost more like we just went through in-depth, just discussing Brian and what they went through. And it was more of just a conversation than an interview. And I think that's why I ended up getting so much because it did get really personal. Like for instance, this<inaudible> and my background there that's, it's smaller than all the other ones. It's actually, it was given to me by one of the guys who was back at the AOB during the whole thing on the ground, he was running communications. And he used to be with my husband, on his team the first year they were out in Africa, <inaudible>. And so Casey gave me this flag.  

Michelle Black    00:24:12    And, when we were interviewing, he was pretty upset. And I'm sure you remember the scene in the book where he's covering all the bodies, he's having to remove them. And he had a flag that his mom had given him, and he had served alongside my husband for so many years. And I, he was just falling apart. And as he told me this story over my kitchen table, I mean, Casey's like six, four, he's just a beast. And he is like, I'm like looking at him, like, he's one of my sons. He's just having such a hard time talking about it and how much it affected him. And, so he had covered Brian with this flag and he didn't know what to do with it after that. Because they had handed it back to him when the birds came and picked up the bodies and took them to Germany.  

Michelle Black     00:25:11    I guess back to the US but they stopped in Landstuhl first to drop off the injured. But Casey ended up bringing me that flag and that flag still has all the dirt and dried blood and, and, and so those were kind of the level of, of interviews. It was just different because I was Brian's wife and, and in some ways, I was doing it for them, but in other words, they were doing it for me. And so that's why that scene on the ground. I'm asking them things like, well, how many bullets did you have left? And I've got one of the machine gunners, one of them, oh gosh, you go on weapons. Sergeant's going, one, two he's counting on his hands. And then he goes about a hundred and then he just loses it.  

Michelle Black     00:26:02    And I just thought, oh my gosh, these guys have been through. So then, it was about then that I realized they've probably been through far more than I have, and their grief is just as heavy as mine. And so writing those scenes in many ways, I could just feel what they must have been feeling, just sitting there watching them that day when I interviewed, whichever guy, it just, every time I'd bring the interviews back up. You could hear their emotion come across in writing that. I just thought, oh my gosh, these are the things that you don't, you don't hear about. We all hear, oh, the Alamo spot, the Alamo spot. You don't even think of Alamo when you're talking about it, when you're reading it, it's just, they're literally hiding in a little divot of dirt being hunted.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:26:57    Yeah. And that's exactly what they were dealing with. They were being hunted. They, the people who are coming after them, were looking for them and with only one intention. They weren't looking to take them out for coffee. They were looking to kill them. And, and for people who are listening, who aren't really familiar with the ammunition counts and, a hundred rounds is not a lot of ammunition to have especially when you're dealing with somewhere around 80 to there, there was a very large number of people that were coming after them.

Michelle Black     00:27:40    I guess, is that all told they were attacked by between 100 and 200 militants. And it's just kind of a moving number. No one will really say,  

Scott DeLuzio     00:27:50    Yeah. So, I mean, exactly, even, even at one bullet per person, that they're still falling short in, in those estimates. And so just the way firefights go, you don't always hit your target on the first shot. And sometimes you need more than one to take that, that target down. So a hundred rounds is not a lot of ammunition. And so when they were down to that low that's, that's what we were talking about when, when they're just hiding in that little divot, trying to go undetected. They were really fearing for their lives, thinking that this, this probably was it,, right. That's, that's kind of the thought process that you're going through.  

Michelle Black     00:28:32    One of the guys told me that he had actually purposely saved around in his pistol for himself. So he wouldn't be taken because he was so he said I'm more afraid of being captured. And, he, you could tell, by the way, he told me that he, he just stopped and he's like, I don't want to talk about that anymore. But he literally assumed that he was going to use his round. I imagine there were probably a few of them doing that, just saving around because it was down to a point where they came face to face with them at one point. And I mean, they were within inches of all of them being killed when by the time the planes came over.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:29:18    Right. Yeah. And that, that part, it was the scene that I envisioned in my mind was almost like out of a movie where, where it's like, just moments before all hell broke loose. They were saved by the roaring of the jets flying overhead. Thank God that they were there, but it, it, it just seemed like it was, it was so close and I easily could have gone the other way for the people who did survive. Had those jets not come, that would've been even bigger of a tragedy,  not to say that it wasn't a tragedy, to begin with, but it was, it could have been even worse.  

Michelle Black    00:30:04    I don't think any of them thought they were going to survive. And even now they, as they interviewed with me and in the years since that we've talked, it just over and over, it was gone. There we didn't, it was a miracle. There's no way we should be here still. And when, if you read the book and you read that part, that's why it just, I mean, there's no way they should have survived, but they did  

Scott DeLuzio   00:30:33    One story from the book that made me actually smile a little bit was when president Trump called you and your family to offer his condolences and your son's reaction to that. Could you share that story? Because it was one of those, those lights in like in the whole,, bad situation. It was just to me, it brought a smile to my face saying, okay, there's, there's a little bit of good here., coming out of this,  

Michelle Black     00:31:03    It's funny because, that was the year Trump was elected and Zeke being autistic and being, you went to this like artsy school. So everyone was all about Hillary. And I remember him coming home and, and just, mom, like, I don't know what to think basically. And Brian and I have been like personally like we don't, we're not big on voting. We hate politicians. But, pick who you like, and then be totally shameless about it. Just who cares, like whether it makes you friends or not, not just support them, love them, whatever. So he decided the means were great and all the Trump means we're like hilarious. So at, I think he must have been 10 when all this started, it was Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, and then that summer we went and, he was all about Trump.  

Michelle Black    00:31:54    When we were in DC. You want to take pictures in front of the Trump hotel. So I'm 11 years old, Brian was killed and see cause on the phone with Trump. And, it was just so funny. He was very awkward as yes, Mr. President and yes, sir. It was so cute. And so I told President Trump, I said, you know, we're going to be in Arlington. We're going to be burying Brian there. Um, an easy kill would give anything to stay at your hotel. We can't afford it, but we would love that. So he gave us a couple of nights at his hotel, which was just amazing. I think it was the one in a bright spot in everything. And, we also were given a private tour of the White House where we were able to go anywhere we wanted, we could lift any of those red or the, what are they, the little things that  

Scott DeLuzio     00:32:52   The ropes that move off the road

Michelle Black    00:32:54    So we were moving the ropes and moving all this stuff. And we had our own, we had the president's football, the military to the president. So he was with us showing us around and giving us military history. And then we had an actual white house historian with us who was amazing and he was showing us everything and yeah, we just saw amazing stuff. We didn't see Trump, but we did see pants and we'd talked to him for a minute and got to go into the west wing and the Eisenhower building and all the offices. And it was just, I Wouldn't say it made it better, but it made it less bleak, and yeah,  

Scott DeLuzio     00:33:37    Yeah. I mean, nothing can make it better. I mean, that's a bad situation and it's a tragedy for you and your family. But the thing that, that made me smile was, the whole backstory with, with how your, your son,, came to, support Trump, in his own way, which was, which was kind of cute in its own way because it, a kid in politics and, most adults don't understand politics. And so it's just how he decided that was, it was kind of funny, but I know, kids look up to all sorts of people, sports figures, things like that, movie stars on all sorts of things like that. But then to be able to speak to that person who, who he was looking up to on the phone is just, just something that just brought a smile to my face like that.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:34:35    That's just cool, being able to do that because not everyone gets that opportunity and he did. And then you guys got to stay in the hotel in DC and everything as well. And that, that probably just was the icing on the cake for him as well which that, that was, an eventful experience as well. But I'm not going to get too much into that. I'll let people read the book and, and find out more about that, that experience. But in addition to everything that we've talked about today, I think it's important to be able to give you the opportunity to share a little bit about your, your husband, about who he was,, the type of person he was not necessarily who he was as a soldier in, in what happened in his, in his final days, but who he was as a person. Could you tell us a little bit about Brian?  

Michelle Black    00:35:31    Yeah. Brian, now I actually did a post about him this morning. Cause I was like, all you need to do is look at the bookshelf and you'll find Brian, like the big boss, the big book of, combat for boss room. And I was telling the kids the other day at jujitsu his favorite thing before open mat was to find some new offensive move from the big book and go try it like one day he told me, yeah, I managed to find this move where I'm choking a guy out. And I was in his face the whole time. I'm like, great, cool. And you're like 30, but just silly. He was a prankster and but really intelligent, he was always working on something so highly motivated. I still find lists around the house.  

Michelle Black    00:36:20    I keep all his old is old like right on the rain right in right. And rain, notebooks. And so he'd write things like spend more time with the family, prioritize family time, prioritize skills, like less grand schemes, more practical. I mean, totally just funny notes to himself, but they were good. So in the last year of his life, he created a stock trading algorithm and I still have that. With stocks being crazy right now, it's not very usable, but back when they were more consistent, it was amazing. So hopefully when things even out I'll be able to use it, but, he, taught himself <inaudible>, which is the local dialect in Niger, taught himself, French. And then anything I wanted or whatever, like I wanted these whoa, this walk-in closet and Fayetteville.  

Michelle Black    00:37:15    So he went through and bought himself. I have tons of books on building custom cabinetry and he bought himself all the tools. And the next thing,  he's building custom cabinets for me. So that was him. Hours spent sharpening tools while drinking beer out in his shed. And he's made like all these schematics for how he's gonna make the shed bigger and make it into a perfect shed with all these perfect tables. And, but that's what I remember is him sharpening things while drinking beer and telling him that it wasn't safe and him thinking I was being ridiculous.  And then he would constantly be cooking. So he'd smoke all this stuff in the smoker all night and be out roasting his own coffee beans. So yeah. Brian was kind of a Jack of all trades.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:38:08    It sounds like it, yeah. I mean, I don't know when he had time to even go to Africa with all the things that he had been doing

Michelle Black    00:38:16    I feel like I never saw him. But what was funny is anytime the office door was shut or cracked,  I'd be like, what are you doing up there? And he'd respond with nothing. And I'm like, you're playing chess again. And that was like our constant issue. And it's like, you're playing chess again, get off the chest games.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:38:35    Yeah. Yeah. And when, when you guys first met, what, I'm not even going to get into that. People, if you want to know more about their story and the background of, how Michelle and Brian met and, and everything read the book Sacrifice., I think it's, it's a great read. And I think you do a good job of telling who he was and what he meant to you and your family in the book. And it really makes you feel like you've, you feel the loss as well, obviously not the same that you and your family has felt, but you've, you feel sad when sadness when that battle is taking place and it really does kind of affect you as well. And I, I think that that's important for the people who might read this book, especially the civilians who maybe don't understand the impact of, of people's going overseas and serving and, and being willing to give their lives and sacrifice for, for other people. It really does drive it home. And, and I think that, like I said, this book did a lot of things well, and that's just another one of them. I think, it really does make you feel that emotion of, of that loss.  

Michelle Black     00:39:57    Yeah. I'm glad, and just a sidebar, because as you were starting to say, when we first met, I told all about, how he was kind of crazy, intense, and all this stuff. And, and I was thinking about it the other day and one story, I didn't tell anybody about it. I didn't write in there. It was about how I ended up in that ski town where we met. I had actually interviewed for a job, and with my degree. So it was going to be working in greenhouses, which were large growing greenhouses in Southern California, for cut flowers. And, they said, okay, you need to sign on for five years. And I was like, really five years so I don't think I can do that. So I packed my snowboard bag and my grandparents were going up to that ski area to Mammoth Lakes that night and I caught a ride with them the next morning they were going up and I just had them drop me off in town.  

Michelle Black    00:41:05    And I walked up with my snowboard bag, got hired at the mountain as an instructor, and then walked back into town. I had an uncle in town, so I went to his apartment and he wasn't home. So I fell asleep on the washer and dryer. and his girlfriend found me and it was like, what are you doing? And I was like, well, I don't really have anywhere to live. And I figured I could stay with uncle Steve. And I said, but then I saw he has a huge dog in there and I, he's not here and I don't have keys. So she ended up taking me home with her and letting me stay with her in her son's apartment or her son's room because he had left. And so I got to live with her until I finally met some friends. I could kinda be a little more stable and eventually bring my car up,  

Scott DeLuzio    00:41:55    a whole series of events that took place to make it possible for the two of you to meet. And, and there's others, other stories too, that took place throughout your, your, your time together. And I think, I think people should definitely get the book and read it and, and, learn some of those stories through that., but it's been a pleasure speaking with you today. it really has, I am really grateful for the opportunity to have you on and share your story and your husband's story. I could probably talk to you for a few more hours about your story in the book, like I said, I don't want to give it all away. I want people to go out and get the book. So where can people go to get a copy of the book?

Michelle Black    00:42:41    So the first down, so people can see a picture of it, but this is, hopefully, it's not too bad of a glare, and you can find it really anywhere. Books are sold on Amazon. There is the Kindle version. There is the audible version. There is hardback, we'll have paperbacks out in the spring with a new cover. You can find it Barnes and Noble usually has them in stock in stores, in I believe the biography section. And then you can go to Michelle Black and I have a whole list, or you can, and of course follow me on any social media, Michelle Black 71, or on Facebook author, Michelle Black. So yeah,  

Scott DeLuzio   00:43:38    I will have links to all of this in the show notes. So anyone who's looking to pick up a copy of the book, either on Amazon or, or elsewhere, I'll have those links available and you can click through and get the book. You can also follow Michelle on social media, definitely encourage you to do that and keep up with what she's up to and what she's been doing. I actually saw your post earlier today about the bookcase in the background, here and anyone who's not watching this on YouTube you just have to imagine a big bookcase behind her right now, or just go to YouTube and watch the video and see it. I really appreciated you sharing that part of your life as well, all the things that Brian had left behind and all the things that you had accumulated throughout his life and, and not just physical books, but the knowledge that you accumulated. It was interesting to see that as well.  

Michelle Black     00:44:37    Yeah. I mean, as my post said, our favorite date was to go to a used bookstore and peruse a non-fiction section. Right. So, that's, we did that too much. We have too many old books lying around the house now

Scott DeLuzio     00:44:51    Well, you can never have too many so, though it's good. And you can always pass some of that knowledge down to the younger generation as well. So, anyway, thank you again for joining me. I really do appreciate it.  

Michelle Black    00:45:04    Absolutely. I really appreciate you having me on, I love, love getting, talk about this, and like about Brian and, it's a huge honor that the men both trusted me with this story and I'm the one who gets to tell it.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:45:20    Yeah, absolutely. Well, you did a great job telling it, and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.  

Michelle Black    00:45:28    Thank you so much.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:45:30    Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at driveonpodcast.

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