In this episode I talk to Jeff Daly who is one of the hosts of The American Legion's Tango Alpha Lima podcast. Jeff talks about his time in the Marines, what lead him to join the American Legion, and why he felt a desire to start podcasting.
We make some good natured jokes in this episode, and no one got offended. How refreshing!
Links & Resources
- Tango Alpha Lima Podcast
- American Legion
- Why do Marines eat crayons? 🖍 - we got deep on this episode 😉
Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I'd like to ask a favor if you haven't done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you've already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you're there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don't use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email lists. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let's get on with the show.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:44 Hey everyone. Today, my guest is Jeff Daley. Jeff is a Marine Corps Veteran and also a cohost of the Tango Alpha Lima podcast, which explores current events, interesting trends, and quirky stories of interest to the Veteran community. Tango Alpha Lima is produced by the American Legion and gives a Veteran’s view on current events, particularly as it relates to the military and Veteran community. So, Jeff, thanks for joining me today. Why don't you tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your background?
Jeff Daly: 01:17 All right. Well, you said my name and that I was a Marine. I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that big metropolis in the Midwest and I went to the Marine Corps, came back to Kalamazoo. I couldn't get enough, went to college there and a brief stop in Chicago to do the second city conservatory and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue fame and fortune. And that pursuit is still happening.
Scott DeLuzio: 01:53 Well, you're on this podcast, so you've made it. Was Kalamazoo one of those cities that like when I was growing up, I grew up in Connecticut, I wasn't very familiar with Michigan or really much of the other rest of the country. I know Kalamazoo, when I was growing up, it was just a made-up name for just someplace that someone went to. It never was an actual place to me, but then, over the years, I've started to meet people who have been to Kalamazoo. I have seen it on a map. Things have happened in Kalamazoo and this is actually a place. This is amazing to me. So anyways, that was just my little side note into where you're from.
Jeff Daly: 02:32 I've met people who thought that Kalamazoo was a place that their parents threatened to send them if they were bad.
Scott DeLuzio: 02:38 Yeah. That's pretty much what it was. You're either going to military school or you're going to Kalamazoo. And so, I've always been afraid of Kalamazoo and the people who come from it and, I'm shaking over here just talking. So, you talk about after you got out of the military, you went to college; based on your bio, on the Tango Alpha Lima podcast, I got to learn a little bit about you. I know that you like long walks on the beach, but that's not what we're talking about. Today we're talking about you and your background and what it is that you do here. You went to school, you studied economics and political science back in Michigan. After college you got into acting, you said the second conservatory, is that what it was the second city in Chicago.
Jeff Daly: Second City.
Scott DeLuzio: Second City in Chicago. What pushed you in that direction? I know there are politicians who have acting backgrounds, but you have a political science degree and now you're getting into acting. So, what pushed you in that direction?
Jeff Daly: 03:52 It is interesting because I did act all along. I remember I was in a summer stock thing before going to bootcamp and they actually called me early and I had to miss the last performance of that summer. And I remember that it was very traumatic and it was one of the first times I uttered the phrase, “I think I've made a huge mistake.” So, I've always been doing the acting thing. And then when I got out, even in college, I did shows in college, because my mother didn't think it would have been a wise use of funds, hers or mine to get a degree in acting. It's like, if you can do it, you can just do it. So, I took classes and all that, but I did not major in it.
Jeff Daly: 04:39 Like you said, I majored in economics and political science and then moved to Chicago for law school and angers my mother to this day, to make that pursuit and then came on out to Los Angeles. So, I think the military and the entertainment have a lot of things in common. There's this whole teamwork mission thing that's happening. They use things like, you shoot film, and trust me, hurry up and wait, “Oh my God, I am so well trained for that.” People would be annoyed like, “Oh my gosh, we're just been sitting here for 20 minutes!” “That's it, that's it. I'm not even close to annoyed yet.” So, I think that there's just a lot of people in that; I'm even involved in a group called Veterans and Military Entertainment here, BME, and there's a lot of us and it seems to be a great fit.
Scott DeLuzio: 05:40 It sounds like a great fit and it's something that you're clearly passionate about something that you've done before. And I definitely know that feeling of, “what have I done feeling?” When you step off the bus at bootcamp and you have all the drill sergeants screaming down your throat and they're yelling at you and they're telling you to move faster and do this and do that, and you start thinking to yourself, what in the heck did I just do? What did I sign up for?
Jeff Daly: 06:13 My experience with that was literally the first sentence that an instructor said to us as a group off the bus and the main cars, these yellow footprints that you have to go stand on. He told us to get off his bus, mind you, this enlisted Marine owns everything. He said, get off my bus and stand on my yellow footprints because you're too stupid to know how to stand properly. And I was like, “Oh no, I just don't know.”
Scott DeLuzio: 06:44 And I'm just going to be a little guest here. I'm going to go and guess that somebody screwed it up. Somebody was not standing on those yellow footprints the right way at first. I got it.
Jeff Daly: 06:54 I think somebody stood in an area that didn't have them. So yeah, you do have those and they had to be corrected and redirected. So, I guess maybe for the collective they're speaking to the collective, not me directly.
Scott DeLuzio: 07:09 Exactly. I know when I actually first pulled up to Fort Benning, the drill Sergeant got up on the bus, the first thing he said to us was that, given that we're at a time of war, this was 2006 or so, we're in a time of war. The other drill sergeants had nothing but respect for us for volunteering and signing up to serve our country. But with that said, get the hell off my bus. It was the last nice thing I heard for the next, however many weeks I was there; that was the last time that they said anything like that.
Scott DeLuzio: 07:53 They said they respect us, but you're going to learn. You're going to learn much more. So ultimately you end up getting out to the West coast to LA where that's kind of like the Holy Grail of the acting community. That's where people go. You're not the first person, I have this idea to go out to Hollywood and pursue acting. Eventually you reconnected with the Veterans through local Hollywood American Legion post and you mentioned earlier the Veterans in Media and Entertainment. What made you want to reconnect with the Veterans in that community?
Jeff Daly: 08:35 Well, I would say first of all, reconnect is kind of a stretch, it was actually my first connection when I got out of the military. I didn't identify with that community at all. I just finished with that chapter. It's time to go to college and get the career thing happening. So, I went and did the college thing, and I got the GI Bill. I took the goodies, but I didn't have the conversations. And except with people who realized, because I went to a very small little selective liberal arts college Clemson College. And then, so everybody there was traditional students. They were all 18 when they started, I've met one person who transferred into it. And so obviously I was older, I'm a freshman going to the bar. So, people had questions and that was the only time it ever came up.
Jeff Daly: 09:30 But so mostly I got through college without thinking about it and then went to Chicago and thought less about the military and being a Veteran. So, I got here and it's a big place. And you do seek out connections. If I see someone with a Michigan sweatshirt on, I could see them blocks away; within 20 minutes, they're in my Facebook friends’ list. You really seek connections like that. And one of my friends is a standup comedian who was teaching a comedy writing workshop. And I went to the comedy writing workshop, which happened to be in the cabaret room of Hollywood Post 43. So, I go there and I'm looking around, “What is this place?” If you've ever seen it, it's large majestic looking and it's very imposing, it's right by the Hollywood Bowl.
Jeff Daly: 10:26 What is this place I've lived here for years and I don't know anything about this. So, I see this building and I go in and I take this comedy workshop and I ask about it. And there are a few Vets in it because the VME people were there. They were also invited to this comedy workshop. And I started talking to them and I got interested. At first, I did VME but it was called VFT then. And then I went to a music writing workshop, not because I'm musically inclined, but just because I'm broadening my horizons and I've met some people there, my good friend, Michelle, and now a good friend but I didn't know her at the time. And I told her, “Oh, you're wearing this cap, and I said, “Oh, you're a Hollywood Post 43. I visited there. I was thinking about joining. She goes, “Oh, no, you are joining.” So, now I joined. I've had a long career of 2.5 years of being a Legionnaire. I'm salty. And I know everything. Just ask me.
Scott DeLuzio: 11:36 That's a dangerous combination there. In the American Legion now, how are you involved with the American Legion outside of the podcasts
Jeff Daly: 11:48 Outside of the podcast I'm so involved. It's crazy. I did nothing up until October 23rd, 2017. I'm a vice commander of my post, vice commander of the district. I'm a tech advisor on the media and communications team for the department of California. I’ve been to two state conventions, one national convention. I can't go to this year's because it's been canceled due to COVID, which is interesting to me. I'll just go on a tangent one second. If you think about the fact that this is a very monumental year, because the American Legion started the year after the Spanish flu was eradicated, and this is the first time we're not having a national convention. And it's because of another pandemic. I mean, here we are.
Scott DeLuzio: 12:56 And this is a hundred years, for the American Legion.
Jeff Daly: 13:02 Was it 100, 101, which is a nice freeway here in Hollywood, the 101. So, this is the 101 year here. So, I have gotten so involved. It's funny that I go from having no friends in an organization like this to now; I believe the majority of your friends in California are Legion family, whether sons, auxiliary riders, or straight up Vets. It's personally changed my life.
Scott DeLuzio: 13:43 And for people who are kind of feeling like they're missing out on that comradery, the back and forth that you have with the people that you serve, even just the jokes and the things like that, that's one way that you can go and get back into the swing of things and pick up almost where you last left off, join either American Legion, there's other organizations as well that you can join. You can pick up almost where you left off, in terms of the connections that you have and meet new people, make new friends and things like that. So, I think that's really great.
Jeff Daly: 14:30 It is awesome because the American Legion has just so many programs that you can get involved in so many ways, but like you said, that comradery and that picking on all of the other inferior branches, it takes me back. I feel a strong kinship and little brother for all of you.
Scott DeLuzio: And when we want to give it back to you, we'll just make a nice sign and crayons and that way you can read it
Jeff Daly: Or eat it
Scott DeLuzio: Or you might eat it too. I mean, we're really looking out for the environment here.
Jeff Daly: Crayons are delicious. I don't know why I don't I don't even consider that an insult. That is delicious.
Scott DeLuzio: What's your favorite color?
Jeff Daly: It's flavor.
Scott DeLuzio: Sorry. Yes. Sorry. That's Army speak there. Sorry.
Jeff Daly: 15:26 So yeah, I mean, I love getting back in touch with Veterans. If I didn't do that, I wouldn't be on this show with you right now. I wouldn't have been on the other show that we'll maybe talk about later. I met on the other show our super famous, behind the scenes, producer Holly at a meeting at national. And it was interesting because it was a lot of people making a lot of complaints about the Veteran community and all of that, and the organizations that serve them. And I listened for a really long time. I didn't say anything which people will tell you now, that's really weird for me to not speak or say anything. I got up because I was a little annoyed.
Jeff Daly: 16:15 I said, well, all the complaining, I just want to challenge everybody to go home and do something. I don't even care what it is. People are complaining about the shirts; go design a tee shirt and submit it or do something. So, I went home and decided that I was going to start a podcast. I did start one. I've only done a few episodes of mine because I jumped into the Tango Alpha Lima podcast and I'm still trying to figure out how to minimize the Venn diagram. So, there’s not too much crossover there. And when I figure that out, I will probably jump back into doing my own because that's what I said that I would do. And so I came home and did what I said. And that's how the journey brought me to knowing Scott DeLuzio and the Drive On Podcast.
Scott DeLuzio: 17:08 You mentioned your podcast, Tango Alpha Lima podcasts, for people who are not familiar with it, tell us what it's all about, and you gave a little bit of the backstory of your own personal podcast, when you were challenging people to do something, but what about the Tango Alpha Lima, what's that all about? And what's the backstory on that?
Jeff Daly: 17:33 Well, you read an awesome description that I had actually never read before, but that is what it is. And it's interesting to experience this because in every episode we try to do something light and then we try to do something with a little more depth and you have to make those transitions. So, if we're talking about something silly, I don't know what could be silly. I can't even think of silly right now. My improvising community is shaming me right now. But if we talked about something super silly, and then we have to talk about something else, like maybe like some deaths that happened in a field of battle and you have to make those transitions, but we also have to keep it light, which sometimes falls on me after we do something deep, I will say something ridiculous, and then we can move on, but I always have to be aware.
Jeff Daly: 18:41 So we do stories about things that affect both the military and the Veteran community. We react to those stories and your podcast, where you go in a little bit more in depth, because your whole podcast is about one thing. We hit on things and then we move on and we encourage people to dig deeper for themselves. We have show links and things like that. So it's a great experience. Sometimes it's a ride. And as I told you earlier, we are obsessed with things like space force and the Tiger King, which I wouldn't think would have anything to do with military or Veteran, but we always find a way to make that real twist and make it topical.
Scott DeLuzio: 19:32 And the strangest thing is the Tiger King seems like the most normal of everything that has gone on in 2020, so far. It seems like it's probably the most sane and logical thing that has happened so far. So, it's crazy. Prior to recording this episode of Drive on Podcast, we just recorded an episode where you had me on as a guest on Tango Alpha Lima. And we talked about some things that are more serious in nature. And we talked about other things too, and we poked fun at Iran trying to blow up a toy boat in the water and thinking that they're going to take on the US Navy or things like that. It's fun but also very informative, with the types of stuff that you guys talk about. So, it's truly great.
Jeff Daly: 20:30 Your listeners should know that you stepped into a completely different format and knocked it out of the park. So, kudos, kudos to you. Our little test ones that we did, did not go that smoothly. Like there were moments and sometimes even when we're doing mine, sometimes Ashley and Mark go off on something and I'm looking like a deer in headlights, because I don't know what they're talking about. So, it's the Army talk and the Marines getting involved. And they're both Army. You Army guys outnumber us Marines all the time. And then you wonder why we have a chip on our shoulder and why we get superpower from eating Crimson crayons. And that's because that's what we have to do. We have to do that to keep up because you guys outnumber us and it's just crazy. And the Navy won't back us up, they'll give us rides everywhere, but they won't back us up. They will send you places. And then they'll just leave you there. You figure out how to do your own ride home. I know maybe I should jump on that fake boat that Iran is building and just see what's happened in there. I heard that one's going to be a second ship though.
Scott DeLuzio: 21:47 And it's kind of like the space force, with the Air Force, how the Marines are associated with the Navy, the space force is associated with the Air Force.
Jeff Daly: 21:56 Yeah, we're the military department of the Navy is what we were told in bootcamp. So, you were on our show, I don't mean to turn the interview and ask you questions, but what do you think about that wild going from here to there format?
Scott DeLuzio: 22:15 Yeah, I liked it. I liked that. I liked that format, because some of the topics you don't want to get too in depth on, we talked about some of the heavier topics, where you're talking about the Army, potentially changing the names of some of the bases that are named after Confederate soldiers from the Civil War. If you get too deep on that, that could turn South. Oh, geographically, South as North South is what I'm saying.
Jeff Daly: Wait a minute, don't sweep by that. That was brilliant.
Scott DeLuzio: 23:01 It could go the wrong way, you could have people who are extremely one side or the other on things like, whatever the political issue of the day is that you might be talking about and that's going to potentially alienate some people who might be totally for or totally against something. And whatever the topic is, it doesn't necessarily have to be about Army bases changing their names. It could be any number of things if you talk about a lot of issues that are going on in the news. I don't think that that would do anyone any good. You don't want to push away potential listeners who might be able to benefit from some of the stuff that you're talking about. And that's what I like to do with this podcast.
Scott DeLuzio: 23:45 I try to keep politics out of it. I'm here for Veterans period. I'm not here for Republican Veterans. I'm not here for Democrat Veterans. I'm not here for independent Veterans. I'm here for Veterans period. End of story. I don't care what your political affiliations are. I don't care about any of that stuff. If you served and you raised your hand and volunteered, and you're going through some stuff, I want this to be a resource for you. And I want this to be a way that you can get that information no matter who you voted for, no matter what your political beliefs are, no matter what period. That's how I see this podcast. And that's how I saw your podcast too.
Jeff Daly: 24:31 Yeah. I try to stay mostly journalistic, presenting the situation. So, I always have 7%, 8% bias pushed in as more of a nudging guidance than trying to bludgeon of a point of view. So, I try to present the different spheres of thought around an issue, even the ones that I don't agree with, because, if you think you know an issue and you can't talk about the other side of an issue, you don't really know the issue. My goal in any discussion is to know it so well that I could argue your point better than you can. And only then do I think that I really know an issue, so that's the approach I take to these things.
Scott DeLuzio: 25:30 I totally agree with that point of view. When I was in college, I took a law class and we had to take an issue that was controversial and we had to argue one side or the other of that issue. And so, it was issues in a hat, pick them out. And then the professor told you what side of the issue you had to argue? The one that I had was flag burning and I had to argue the pro flag burning point of view. And it was difficult. It was not an easy thing for me to do because, generally speaking, I don't agree with people burning the flag. I've been brought up to respect the flag and things like that, but it opened up my eyes to another point of view, that there are people out there who have their points of view and why they feel that this is an appropriate form of protest and things like that. It was something that I was closed off to prior to that exercise, as painful as it was to go through, but it did help me understand that my point of view is not the only point of view that's out there and that you can start to see other people's sides. I think that that might be something that we need more of in our society.
Jeff Daly: 27:04 Oh, like 100%, because this is straight out of high school debate. They give you a topic and you're the pro or con on it, and you have to do that. And I think above just yourself, above the self-evolution of thought that you have, I think it also helps to humanize people who you don't necessarily agree with. And in this niche society that we have right now, it's the way I think, or the enemy that's just how it is. And it could be the color of roses to give somebody on an anniversary. And if you say red and they think white, they think something is deficient in you because your perspective is different. And if you have to take the time and intellectualize another person's perspective, you can see that, “Oh, I guess if you have certain influences, certain types of data and information in your life, I can hundred percent understand how you came to be at the perspective that you're at.”
Jeff Daly: 28:09 And it doesn't mean that there's something necessarily wrong with you. I had to learn that because I used to go full Marine on people, and I'm talking about everything, I'm doing it down here, they can't see it, but I'm doing that knife hand to the screen and it's in the volume, I just find the volume civilians can't take that volume or leaning into their face, they just can't take that. I had to humanize them a little bit. And so that we can have real discussions like two super intelligent people are having right now. I want other people to be able to come up to our level. I'm talking to you; he's looking behind him. He's doing that thing that I do sometimes, I drink that humility, that faux humility thing, because I find humility with people.
Scott DeLuzio: You said two intelligent people and I started looking behind me.
Jeff Daly: Oh, you know who you are.
Scott DeLuzio: 29:15 Yeah. And it's true though. I think there's so much, no matter what the issue is, pick any hot topic issue, there's so much us versus them mentality. And until you understand where the other person's coming from, you're really missing out on a big piece of the puzzle, and the other person’s point of view might actually be right in that circumstance for that person. If you're just going through the world with your blinders on and you don't understand that other person's point of view then are you really doing them the Justice that they deserve to be able to have that conversation with each other.
Jeff Daly: 30:04 And is that another benefit of being around Veterans? I will yell and cuss out of a Veteran and still buy them a beer when we're done. It's just part of that community. And thankfully I met an American Legion post where that's not too big of an investment device, somebody a beer. So, I will have you on my screen right now, a beer and it will cost me like anything. So I think it's good. That's great.
Scott DeLuzio: 30:38 It is good and I think that is a benefit of being a Veteran is that, before serving, a lot of times people are coming from they're town that they've never left 20 miles away from their town. So they're used to a certain way of life, a certain type of people, a certain way of thinking, and then they go off and they're in this big mix of people from all over the country, and potentially from all over the world. I know when I went to basic training, we had a guy from Jamaica, he wasn't even fully a citizen yet at this point he was just going through basic training. And that was his goal.
Scott DeLuzio: 31:18 Ultimate goal was to become a US citizen. But then you had the opposite end of the spectrum, where you had people from small town USA and they never left that small town until they got to basic training. And now they're all of a sudden sitting there sharing a bunk with a guy from Jamaica, and it's just a completely different world, but you learn, you learn quickly to appreciate each other's differences and know that you're all fighting on the same team. I think that's something that we miss a lot.
Jeff Daly: 31:48 Or as drill instructors will tell you, you're all equally worthless.
Scott DeLuzio: 31:53 Exactly. I don't hate anybody or no, it's I think everyone's equally worthless, a full metal jacket. I totally butchered that quote though. So that's good. I'm going to keep it in there. I'm not editing that out.
Jeff Daly: 32:11 You're not going to edit yourself. You're not going to edit yourself out.
Scott DeLuzio: 32:13 No, that's me being me. I could be an idiot sometimes too. Jeff, anything else you want to tell us about Tango Alpha Lima, American Legion, anything else that you want to share with us?
Jeff Daly: 32:30 I think that our discussion today has covered some very important reasons for affiliating with other Veterans, other people who have been through a similar experience. And I think that the American Legion itself is an organization that has people from all of those different sized communities that you're talking about and all of the branches. And we come together and we volunteer, we hang out, we argue, we get along after that. And it's kind of like we do all of those things. And then the Tango Alpha Lima podcast is kind of an extension on that. And we're starting the conversation by targeting an audience that consists of Veterans. And when you start having a conversation like that, and you have it in a way that's not overly confrontational, but you still get the issues out, then people can have those conversations, hopefully amongst themselves in a productive way.
Jeff Daly: 33:45 And I think that's part of the reason why I'm really excited and stoked about your podcast and our podcast is because I think both of them approach issues in a way that encourages discourse, if you're not encouraging discourse, and all you do is pontificating, then I think you're just adding to the current divisiveness that we have right now. But I think that you're doing it. I think we're doing it at my other two cohorts are doing it better than me. I like to get in little digs all the time, but I think that the projects are encouraging discourse and I always support that. So, I actually thank you for doing what you're doing, especially focusing on resources for benefits. We can't do that every week, although Ashley wants us to, because she does resources and benefits and things like that for people. And it's great. I'm putting you on my subscribed podcast list for sure. And we'll encourage others to do that.
Scott DeLuzio: 34:59 Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. I appreciate that. And I've been subscribed to Tango Alpha Lima for a little bit now. We're definitely looking forward to hearing all of the great episodes that you have coming out, especially the one with me on it, which will be coming out at some point. So, thank you very much. It's been a pleasure speaking with you, learning more about you and what you do through the American Legion in the podcast. Where can people go to find out more about the podcast and the American Legion in general?
Jeff Daly: 35:35 Let me go to legion.org, Tango Alpha Lima, and for people that aren't in the military are thinking, do I have to spell that like TANGOALPHALIMA and they can find it there. And then it's interesting. You can even look that up on YouTube, if you want to see our faces and facial expressions like me rolling my eyes at somebody or things like that. It's awesome. And you know, we're obviously on Spotify and the same places that your listeners are at. We are there as well, and they can always look up TangoAlphaLima.
Scott DeLuzio: 36:18 So do that, go look up Tango Alpha Lima on the podcast player of your choice, wherever you're listening to this podcast right now, go to the search button and look up TangoAlphaLima, subscribe, leave a review rating, all that good stuff. That'll help them out a bunch. Jeff, again, thank you for joining us, really been a pleasure.
Jeff Daly: 36:42 Thank you, sir.
Scott DeLuzio: 36:50 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, DriveOnPodcast.com. We're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at DriveOnPodcast.