In this episode, Brian Beckcom speaks with United States Marine Corps Captain and Purple Heart Recipient Nick Kalt. Nick served as a commander for a platoon of Combat Engineers in the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion.
Nick was badly injured during a training exercise in the Marines. Nevertheless, he was able to figure out a way to pass the intense physical requirements to be a Marine Corps Officer.
Nick was then deployed to Iraq. While deployed, he received wounds that eventually led to his medical retirement from the USMC. Nick was awarded the Purple Heart, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V,” and the Combat Action Ribbon.
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Brian and Nick discuss:
- The Value of Service
- Nick’s experience at the Naval Academy and the benefit of developing “meta-skills”
- The significance of “Playing for the love of the game” and Nick’s background as an All American Rugby player
- The transition from a plebe in the Naval Academy to a Combat Engineer in the Marine Corps
- The destabilizing force that was September 11th and the “validation of preparation”
- The emotional response of young marines in hostile combat zones
- Nick’s recovery after being shot with a 7.62 round in Iraq
- A training exercise gone-wrong and the importance of staying your course
- The concept of “post-traumatic growth” and thoughts about how to make ourselves and our communities better
- As well as other topics
Nick Kalt was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After high school, Nick attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. While there, he played on the Club Rugby Team, earning All-American honors in 1999. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Systems Engineering in 2000. After graduation, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and left the armed forces as a Captain in 2015. Nick is now working as a firefighter with the city of Long Beach, CA.
Read the show notes!
[00:00:00] Brian Beckcom: [00:00:00] Welcome to the lessons from leaders podcast. I'm your host, Brian Beckcom. My next guest is Nicholas Kalt. After graduation from high school. Nick went to the United States Naval Academy while there he was on the club rugby team after switching from football and he eventually earned all American honors in rugby.
[00:00:22] In 1999, he graduated with a bachelor of science degree. In systems engineering in 2000, that was commissioned as a second Lieutenant, the United States Marine Corps during a training exercise, Nick had. One of his hands blown completely off and the other one badly damaged, but he was able to figure out a way to get through the physical required that was eventually sent to Iraq.
[00:00:45] He was deployed back in 2004 with the 11th Marine expeditionary unit. He was a platoon commander for a platoon of combat engineers from the first combat engineering battalion while he was deployed. He received wounds [00:01:00] that eventually led to his medical retirement. He retired in 2006 with a rank of captain, he was awarded the purple heart Navy commendation medal with combat V and the combat action ribbon upon leaving the armed forces.
[00:01:14] Nick was hired as a firefighter with the city of long beach California. And for those of, you know, California firefighters have a lot of work to do in 2015, he was promoted to captain and the firefighting department and married his wife, Katie, the following year. They have one daughter Lula and are expecting another baby in 2021.
[00:01:35] And they live in San Clemente, California in a podcast. Nick and I talk about what it was like the United States Naval Academy. What motivated him to get in the military to begin with his athletic accomplishments, his accident he had during training that result in severe injuries, how he was able to stay in the Marine Corps despite.
[00:01:56] What might've been disabling injuries for anybody else, [00:02:00] how he went to Iraq, what it was like when he was shot in Iraq and almost died. And then what's been like afterwards, we talked for so long. We didn't get a chance to talk about his firefight hiding duties. And Nick has agreed to come on. Another podcast to talk about that because I think being a firefighter in California, particularly during the war fire season is a super cool, interesting story.
[00:02:23] We'll talk to Nick about that later. I had a great conversation with Nick. Nick is a true American Patriot hero. He's a distinguished war veteran and is a great guy overall. I hope you enjoy this podcast and I give you Nicholas called. Hey everybody. Brian back. Am I maybe attorneys here? I have Nick called Nick.
[00:02:46] How you doing buddy?
[00:02:47] Nick Kalt: [00:02:47] I'm doing very well. Thank you. Well
[00:02:49] Brian Beckcom: [00:02:49] then thank you for agreeing to come on the podcast. I know you got a lot of things going on before we get into your background and your story, [00:03:00] which is an incredible story by the way, United States Marine Corps. And then also you've got some great stories about being a firefighter.
[00:03:07] How are you doing, man? I mean, it's kind of a difficult time right now. It's July 2nd, 2020. We're kind of right in the middle of this pandemic. We thought we were. It's going to be okay. You're in California,
[00:03:18] Nick Kalt: [00:03:18] right? I am that's right. What
[00:03:20] Brian Beckcom: [00:03:20] part of California? I
[00:03:22] Nick Kalt: [00:03:22] live in a town called Sacramento, which is about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.
[00:03:26] Brian Beckcom: [00:03:26] And what's the situation with the coronavirus where you're
[00:03:30] Nick Kalt: [00:03:30] at. You know, it's interesting, I guess a lot of it depends on who you ask, but from my perspective with my family and I think, yeah, the perspective of my fire department and sort of the folks that I work with the perspective is that it's, it's pretty serious.
[00:03:45] And at this point, I don't think there's any sort of thing that would be an overreaction. The only overreaction is, is the panic at this point, I think every other step that you can reasonably put in place to. Be cautious and sort of take care of your fellow man as is [00:04:00] appropriate. And we're just trying to adhere by that.
[00:04:02] But all things considered, I think we're doing pretty well. My, my family being my, my number one priority here. And then also the guys that I work with, I say guys, generically, although my crew is a crew of entirely made up of men, but yeah, those are our priorities right now. And I would say that both from the perspective of, of my work and my family life, that things are going really well.
[00:04:23] So thanks for asking. I agree.
[00:04:25] Brian Beckcom: [00:04:25] Yeah, good to hear it. And you're married and you have kids. How many kids do you have?
[00:04:29] Nick Kalt: [00:04:29] So that's an interesting question, I guess, dovetails into a portion of the story. You want to talk about it or not, but my wife and I have one living daughter Lula, and she's about two and a half years old.
[00:04:40] And then my wife was pregnant last year and unfortunately we lost the baby. Just prior to childbirth on November, November 6th, when she was born, she actually found that she passed away on November 4th and her name was Matilda. And she's no longer with us, unfortunately, but as it turns out, my wife is pregnant again.
[00:04:57] And we opted to a
[00:04:59] Brian Beckcom: [00:04:59] nice
[00:05:00] [00:04:59] Nick Kalt: [00:04:59] congratulations. Thank you. Try it again in these sort of uncertain times and, uh, really looking forward to seeing who this next little person and, and member of our plan is
[00:05:08] Brian Beckcom: [00:05:08] going to be. Yeah, that's awesome. When my wife, I have three kids there's I have two boys, 16 and 14 and a daughter who's 12.
[00:05:14] And when we were first getting, bring them up. But the same thing happened to us. Although my wife wasn't quite as far along as it sounds like your wife was, but yeah, well, that's great. So you're two and a half. So it's, I've talked to a number of people on the podcast, Nick and. So having teenagers during a quarantine is one thing, you know, having college students that's okay.
[00:05:33] Because they can kind of do their own thing. Teenagers can kind of do their own thing too. I wouldn't imagine a two and a half year old can do that thing. Right. I mean, you've got to pay a lot of attention still.
[00:05:44] Nick Kalt: [00:05:44] Yeah.
[00:05:45] Brian Beckcom: [00:05:45] Two, two and a half. Right.
[00:05:47] Nick Kalt: [00:05:47] You do. And, uh, you know, as time goes along, I think you. Forget, maybe portions of, you know, that you, for example, I'd imagine you maybe forget portions of what it was like to have your kids two, two and
[00:05:59] Brian Beckcom: [00:05:59] a half years [00:06:00] old.
[00:06:00] Gosh. Yeah.
[00:06:01] Nick Kalt: [00:06:01] Yeah. They require a lot of attention. And my wife and I had a conversation about this. It's like, you know, where do you draw the line between letting them initiate their own play and you know, do their own thing. And then really, you know, paying a lot of love and attention to them. And it's an interesting time now because I think.
[00:06:19] We're fortunate in a certain sense, and that we haven't really had to explain to her. You know what COVID-19 is, what the effects of it are, because at this point, I think it's just so far beyond her grasp that she would really understand it, even if we did try to approach it. Although I have explained in very simplistic terms that people are getting sick and things of that nature, but so I think we have the benefit of not having to fully explain it to her.
[00:06:43] But at the same time, we wonder about what she's missing out on as far as interaction with. With other human beings, really, you know, because again, we're trying to be, be very cautious, not only for our own health and safety, but also maybe more so at this point, in terms of kind of our [00:07:00] obligation to society and what that expectation is.
[00:07:02] So we don't do the things with her that we'd normally do, even if that's just taking her to the grocery store or, you know, over to the hardware store to buy some stuff or to the playground. Like we normally would things like that. And just her association with other kids. And I kind of wonder. What that's going to mean for her in the long term, in the short term, she seems incredibly happy to just hang out with us.
[00:07:23] And I don't want to say it's a good thing, but we're getting a lot of quality family time out of it.
[00:07:27] Brian Beckcom: [00:07:27] I'm so glad you said that because every guest I've talked to so far has children. And I always ask how they're doing, especially during the quarantine times. And one of the things I've noticed and you know, there's a lot of rules, really negative stuff about the coronavirus pandemic protest we're having.
[00:07:44] The economy, but if you're going to look at things from the most positive perspective, you can, I've got to spend more quality time with my three kids who were teenagers and I have in a very, very long time. And so that that's a little bit of a positive, but I'll [00:08:00] tell you what, one thing you just said kind of made me think with the two and a half year old child and with her, for instance, with my kids, You know, you and I, and nobody living that I'm aware of it has ever been through anything like this.
[00:08:13] We haven't had a pandemic like this since I think 1918 or 1919. And so this is new for everybody,
[00:08:21] Nick Kalt: [00:08:21] but for
[00:08:22] Brian Beckcom: [00:08:22] kids that are two and a half, or even for my kids, to some extent, you know, I think about how they're not going to know any different, like they're going to grow up in a world that has been changed.
[00:08:34] Dramatically by this pandemic and it's just going to be the new normal too. So you know it, yeah, it's tough because you know, my 16 year old, for instance, he's going to be a junior in high school and he's supposed to play basketball this year. And I have some real concerns about. Whether basketball season's even going to happen.
[00:08:54] And, you know, he'll get another chance when he's a senior, but I, you know, these seniors in [00:09:00] high school, all of them across the country that are playing sports or in the band or whatever, they may not get to enjoy their senior year. And you know, you think about that, that kind of, it's a little bit depressing, but these kids are so resilient.
[00:09:14] So I think they'll get through it,
[00:09:15] Nick Kalt: [00:09:15] but,
[00:09:16] Brian Beckcom: [00:09:16] well, Nick, so tell us a little bit about. Where you're from where you grew up. Sure. Schools, stuff like that.
[00:09:25] Nick Kalt: [00:09:25] Yeah. So I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My parents, Chris enjoy been married, man, I guess 45 years now. They still live in the Milwaukee area. I've got one younger brother, Vince who's 40, 41.
[00:09:38] Now he's got three kids of his own. They still live in the area. And then, uh, yeah, I grew up there went to a high school in a local kind of a. A small public high school called Shorewood high school, which is in kind of one of the immediately Northern suburbs of the Milwaukee area about midway through high school.
[00:09:56] I discovered that, um, I was interested in pursuing a [00:10:00] career in military service. So I decided to go to the Naval Academy. And Annapolis did four years there. As I mentioned to you previously, I got a degree in systems engineering, which I've never used since the military. That's a really good job of training you for one thing and then using you for something entirely different.
[00:10:18] But yeah, joined the Marines. Uh, after that I got a commission as a second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps joined the Marines. Was stationed out in California in camp Pendleton, which happens to be just really jogging distance from my backdoor here in San Clemente, which is, you know, part of the reason I bought my house here and sort of decided to settle down here.
[00:10:36] It was, um, I was stationed, you know, really just a Stone's throw away. Served in the Marines from 2000 to 2006, got out no six kind of went on a, I would call it maybe like a little bit of a walkabout or VisionQuest for nice about a year, two years. Yeah. And found my way into the fire service. Got very lucky to be hired in 2008 in the city of long beach.
[00:10:57] Then working there since Oh [00:11:00] eight, really loved that career and sort of what it's provided. Not only for me, but, but for my family as well. And then as far as my family, sir, my wife, Katie and I have been married since 2016. And like I said, we got our one daughter Lula who's two and a half. And our other daughter Matilda who's who would have been about eight months old right now.
[00:11:17] But isn't with us. Yeah, another little bone in the oven.
[00:11:21] Brian Beckcom: [00:11:21] Awesome. Awesome. Well, congratulations for the a third button in the oven. That's really cool. So let's talk about, so you know, what I've found with a lot of you Marines is you guys tend to be pretty modest. So
[00:11:34] Nick Kalt: [00:11:34] tell me about this just before my coming on here.
[00:11:38] Brian Beckcom: [00:11:38] yeah, so, so you've got such an impression story, life story, and you kind of went through it very quickly. So let's. Let's talk a little bit about, okay. Cause I know there's going to be people listening. For instance, there'll be people who may have kids that want to go to a military Academy or there they're maybe teenagers listening to the podcast that are interested in going [00:12:00] into one of the military academies.
[00:12:01] So, so tell us about what, what was it, do you remember? Was it something specific when you were in high school or some other time earlier than that? Where, where you said, you know what I feel like I want to get in the military? What was it that. Made you say I want to go to the U S Naval. Okay.
[00:12:18] Nick Kalt: [00:12:18] Sure. So specific reasons for wanting to go to the Naval Academy.
[00:12:23] I think there are a number of reasons. My introduction to the school was from, uh, an older guy. Who's two years ahead of me in high school. And, uh, he and I are both on the football and track and field team together. And he was a guy I looked up to and admired, and he had gone to something called the summer seminar in Annapolis, which is essentially, I think it's a one week kind of like a summer camp.
[00:12:43] Where they kind of initiate you, you actually get to spend time on the campus. And so he came back from his summer seminar, which I think would have taken place probably his junior year. So my freshman year in high school, when I just remember the way he talked about it, and again, he's a guy that I held in very high regard and.
[00:12:59] And the degree [00:13:00] of interest that he demonstrated from the summer seminar. I was like, man, that's something really interesting to me. I think again, there were a handful of reasons that made me want to go there. Ultimately, you know, I considered kind of a, an educational background in engineering ever since I was really little, I loved to take things apart, put them back together, see how they worked.
[00:13:18] I think in my minds, I had a really romantic idea of what engineering was about. But I knew that the Naval Academy had a great engineering school. I had a background in athletics, played. Football basketball, track and field and baseball, even at the high school level and want it to be able to continue that athletic pursuit.
[00:13:37] And I was actually recruited by the football team to play football there. And then I think first and foremost, the concept of service and the, the idea that I would be able to serve my country. Although I didn't understand, maybe in what capacity at that point was probably the leading reason. Although, you know, I think all of those things played a factor in going there.
[00:13:57] The summer seminar was great. I ended up doing it [00:14:00] my junior year and it really kind of hammered home my desire to go to school there. And yeah, absolutely no regrets as far as doing it and would be happy to speak to any high school or even younger someone who's, who's looking to maybe do that as a career choice moving forward, but I absolutely loved it.
[00:14:16] And the thing that's interesting about the Naval Academy versus a. You know, a trade school or, you know what, somebody it's considered like a normal college education is that it's almost, it's like a separate path and you can't walk all of the same time. You can maybe go back and go, yeah, college later.
[00:14:33] Maybe you go back and learn a trade later. But at the time that I went to the Naval Academy, it was a very conscious decision that, Hey, this is the path that I'm going down and I'm sort of willing and able to do that.
[00:14:43] Brian Beckcom: [00:14:43] Yeah. And if you're not serious about the military academies, it's probably not going to happen because this would have been in the kind of early to mid nineties.
[00:14:54] Nick Kalt: [00:14:54] Yeah. 96,
[00:14:56] Brian Beckcom: [00:14:56] 96 to 2000. So this is before nine [00:15:00] 11 and I think this was it's fair to say this was during a time of relative peace
[00:15:05] Nick Kalt: [00:15:05] and stability in the world.
[00:15:06] Brian Beckcom: [00:15:06] So when, in other words, when you went to the Naval Academy, We weren't in war in the middle East. I mean, and a matter of fact, we didn't even, there, there was no expectation that there would be any war
[00:15:17] Nick Kalt: [00:15:17] in the middle East,
[00:15:19] Brian Beckcom: [00:15:19] and it was kind of like that one.
[00:15:21] When I was at a and M too, the core cadets for four years with Toby there, there was no, I mean, there was a little hotspots here and there, but there were no major campaigns. There were no major Wars anywhere in the world. Sure. But so when you tell people, because you said something, right, you said something about, if, if anybody, any high school kids or anybody wants to talk about the process of getting into the military Academy, you'd be happy to talk to them.
[00:15:46] So talk to them now, like, let's say I'm a freshmen. Going into high school or a sophomore going into high school. And I want to go to West point or I want to go to the U S Naval Academy. And that's, that's a goal of mine. What kind of [00:16:00] things would you recommend? That I do as a high school, freshmen or sophomore to put myself in the best position to get admitted to one of the military academies.
[00:16:11] Nick Kalt: [00:16:11] Sure. So let me backtrack just a second. You talked about a couple of things that I want to touch on to include stability. Right? You talked about at the time that I joined the Naval Academy, the geopolitical scene in the United States involvement in it was one that. That seemed relatively stable. Right.
[00:16:27] And I know we're talking about living through some unstable times right now. And so I'd like to kind of talk about the concept stability and how that might affect a young person's decision, really, to do anything in this world, whether it's to pursue a career in the military or a spot at one of the service academies or really to.
[00:16:45] Pick a job or a career or calling a spouse, whatever the decision to have children moving forward during times that that may seem unstable. I think. When I decided to go to the Naval Academy, it was a very stable time. And I had, [00:17:00] I lived a life of privilege up to the point when I was 18, where I grew up in a middle-class house that we certainly weren't rich, but I never wanted for food on the table or anything.
[00:17:09] Brian Beckcom: [00:17:09] Can I ask you something that not, not perfect. I don't have any military. Do you have a history of military military participation in your family or.
[00:17:19] Nick Kalt: [00:17:19] My grandfather's both on my mom's and dad's side were in the army, kind of in the world war II timeframe. They were both on the very young end of the spectrum to be participants in world war II.
[00:17:30] I know my grandfather on my mom's side, went to England and never made it as far as Germany. Although they're prepared to go to Germany when he was, I think, 17 or 18 years old. Wow. My parents have no history of military service nor do any of my aunts and uncles. It was just all kind of the two generations removed from my granddad rates.
[00:17:48] Brian Beckcom: [00:17:48] Yeah. And the reason I ask is because I come from a military family, my dad's a Lieutenant Colonel in the air force flew 200 combat missions over
[00:17:55] Nick Kalt: [00:17:55] Vietnam.
[00:17:56] Brian Beckcom: [00:17:56] Yeah. My grandfather who's now deceased was. He was [00:18:00] actually in the army. He was in the us army air Corps before there was even an air force. And then when they started the air force, he moved over to the air force.
[00:18:08] My mom was an air force nurse. My uncle was a air force enlisted man. I've got a long history of military involvement and I ended up becoming a lawyer. I have no lawyers in my family,
[00:18:20] Nick Kalt: [00:18:20] so it's almost like I was
[00:18:21] Brian Beckcom: [00:18:21] intentionally doing something nobody in my family had done. So that's the reason I asked you the question because a lot of people, I think.
[00:18:28] They grew up in military families. And so they naturally gravitate towards the military lifestyle.
[00:18:33] Nick Kalt: [00:18:33] Understood that
[00:18:34] Brian Beckcom: [00:18:34] that wasn't necessarily your. Okay, so right.
[00:18:37] Nick Kalt: [00:18:37] No. And, and so going back to the, you know, kind of the handful of reasons that I decided to go to the Naval Academy, my parents both, I think instilled into me a value of service.
[00:18:48] My mom was a nurse and my dad was a beer salesman, which is arguably one of the greatest services. Yeah. The concept of service [00:19:00] was very strong in both of them, both in their professional lives, um, and in just how we lived our lives daily. And I think, again, that was kind of the. You know, when any young person is deciding what direction they want to go with their lives.
[00:19:12] It was, it was a major factor in me deciding to join the military, to go to the Naval Academy, but also to join the fire service,
[00:19:19] Brian Beckcom: [00:19:19] you know, interesting neck, neck, again, not, not to interrupt you there, but it wasn't until I was about I'm 47 now. And it wasn't until about the time I was maybe in my late thirties that I finally realized something about life and that's that it wasn't all about me.
[00:19:36] Like my job, you know, I finally realized that my job here on earth, not to do everything I could for myself, but to do what I could do for my kids, for my family, for my friends, from our community. It sounds like you had it, you know, that service mentality. At a much younger age and you attribute that to your parents?
[00:19:55] Nick Kalt: [00:19:55] I do. Yeah. I don't mean to put the cart in front of the horse because I [00:20:00] don't know if I recognized it as, maybe as, as altruistic as, as you're making it out to be as a young man. I think looking back on it, you know, now I'm 42 rapidly approaching 43. And when I think about. My desire for service, which is something that I thought very specifically about what I decided my career in the fire service.
[00:20:20] I think when I was much younger, it was, it was less formed or maybe less, less polished, less understood by me. But I think the concept existed and what's neat about the concept of service and the manner in which I provided it both in the military. And then now in the fire services that. You know, again, the fire service in the military benefited me greatly because they were a niche where I fit, you know, both allow me a level of comradery, the ability to work with my hands, the ability to test myself physically and mentally the ability to utilize teamwork, which are all things that.
[00:20:55] The both of those jobs sets require a view. And to [00:21:00] me, that's, that's what turns my wheels. They have the added benefit of, I think, on their outward appearance and as something, if I want to approach it in the way that, that makes me most effective at my job, that that has an altruistic nature to them as well.
[00:21:15] Right. Cause ultimately your goal should be the service of other people. And just, just in the way that your career. Provides a service to people as well. Right. And, and really any career, you can kind of spin it that way. And so kind of going back towards, um, you know, the mentorship of a young kid who maybe wants to go to the Naval Academy or wants to learn a trade or whatever they want to do.
[00:21:38] Right. It's um, I would encourage kids not to. Join a service industry. And I say service industry loosely, but I use it in terms of, you know, like the fire service or the military, but pursue what it is that you desire as a young person. And that what that is something that makes you positive and makes you happy on a daily basis, [00:22:00] and then find out what it is about those things that are altruistic and benefit other people.
[00:22:05] Yeah. So I chose, I chose to go to the Naval Academy again, because of all those reasons that we've already discussed,
[00:22:12] Brian Beckcom: [00:22:12] tell the kids, cause I interrupted there. You were talking about what you would tell the high school kids. If you want to go to a military Academy, here's the things you should be thinking about.
[00:22:20] Here's the things you sure.
[00:22:22] Nick Kalt: [00:22:22] Well, so number one, I think is exposure, right? I had this grandiose idea of what the Naval Academy was, what a degree in engineering meant, what it meant to play college football. And then I think a lot of those things don't necessarily stand up to the test of experiencing them firsthand.
[00:22:38] Yeah. And so the summer seminar, along with. Know multiple visits that I did not only to the Naval Academy, but to other schools exposed me to what life there would really be like as an engineering student, as a football player, as a, a new freshmen, which we call plebes the Naval Academy, which is a real eyeopener.
[00:22:56] If you haven't been there and experienced it, right. Because it can kind of. Gel [00:23:00] and run sure. If you're not prepared for it. And so I think exposure would be the number one thing. I'm not sure, kind of what level of exposure the Naval Academy or really any other schools are having for incoming students now with COVID-19.
[00:23:13] But if you can educate yourself, whether that's through online videos or talking to people that have sort of been there and done that, I think that's the number one thing. I think the number two thing would be that, and this is a hard one concept, even for us to grasp as, as 40 something years old is the concept of stability.
[00:23:31] And that, you know, again, when I joined the Naval Academy, it was a time of relative peace and relative inactivity for our nation's military overseas. But in the blink of an eye, those things can change. I mean, I think with the realization that change is a part of normal life, whether it's changed due to the coronavirus or civil unrest or, you know, unrest oversees that part of what the Naval Academy does, part of what the fire service does, part of what, [00:24:00] you know, even you exposing yourself to more of these things, as you grew up as a young kid, is it prepares you for that change?
[00:24:08] And the notion that you're going to go to a place like the Naval Academy. And it's going to be just like the experience that I had is different now. Right? Because like you said, the world has changed dramatically and probably semi-permanently for your kids who are in high school. And the expectation is that, and I think a reasonable expectation for any person in this day and age is that change will continue the tenants of what you value as a person and what makes you tick and then the tenants of service to others.
[00:24:39] If those are things that drive you, then I would highly encourage you to seek out those opportunities, whether that's at the Naval Academy or someplace else.
[00:24:47] Brian Beckcom: [00:24:47] So number one piece of advice for, or parents of children that are interested in the military academies or kids that are interested in military academies is expose yourselves as much as you can, to what you're going to be getting
[00:25:00] [00:24:59] Nick Kalt: [00:24:59] into a hundred percent.
[00:25:01] And that's important, I'll say that that's important for the students and then the, you know, aspiring attendees of the Naval Academy. But I think it's really important for the parents as well.
[00:25:10] Brian Beckcom: [00:25:10] Absolutely great point. That's a great point. Yeah. So like when I, when I went to, when I got in the court cadets, My dad was in the Corps of cadets and my granddad was in the Corps cadets.
[00:25:19] So my dad knew what I was getting into, so he didn't have to be there. But a lot of parents, like you're saying that don't know anything about the military
[00:25:27] Nick Kalt: [00:25:27] Academy of core cadets
[00:25:29] Brian Beckcom: [00:25:29] or, or what have you would be shocked about some of the things kids have to go through. Right. And so, yeah, that's a, that's a great point.
[00:25:37] You want the, the parents should be exposed to what it's like as well, but so other than. Being exposed to what it's going to be like, to the extent you can. So for instance, you talked about the summer program and the Naval Academy at the core cadets a day. And then we have what's called spend the night with the core where you can actually go and stay the night with an outfit and stay the whole day.
[00:25:57] See what it's like. Ah, so similar deal, [00:26:00] but other than. The exposure. What I've noticed Nick, is that the military academies at least historically have always tended to want people that were well-rounded like athletes, scholars, or other extracurricular stuff is that you were, uh, you were very high level athlete in high school.
[00:26:19] And I think you were actually an all American rugby player in college, too. Aren't you?
[00:26:23] Nick Kalt: [00:26:23] I was, although it's not like being an all American, uh, college football player, you got to understand that the scale though,
[00:26:33] Brian Beckcom: [00:26:33] still it's still that's impressive. But, so, so you were a basketball, football and track guy in high school, right?
[00:26:40] Right. Would you recommend to kids that are interested in military academies too? I have some, either
[00:26:46] Nick Kalt: [00:26:46] athletic pursuits or other
[00:26:47] Brian Beckcom: [00:26:47] extracurricular pursuits.
[00:26:49] Nick Kalt: [00:26:49] Yeah, well, certainly it would help. And I think you're right in that the military Academy does look for well-rounded individuals. So if I can touch on one point, as far as admissions is concerned real quick, and then we'll go on to talking about [00:27:00] how, you know, someone might make themselves a bit more well rounded.
[00:27:03] I think you need a letter of recommendation. In order to attend the Naval Academy or any of the service academies, this letter has to come from a us Senator congressmen, more Congresswoman or from the vice president is my understanding, right?
[00:27:17] Brian Beckcom: [00:27:17] Yeah. So, and so for people that are listening and I think it's so like this neck, but when you and I were in high school, applying to colleges, you'd literally had to have a sitting us Congressman Senator vice-president write you a letter recommendation.
[00:27:30] Exactly. How do you even get that? I mean, how does that happen?
[00:27:34] Nick Kalt: [00:27:34] Well, so great question. And I think this is another important thing for aspiring students and parents is that every congressperson, every Senator does it differently. They each have an allocation of, I believe, five appointments at any given time.
[00:27:45] Wow. I made the rounds. I went to my local Senator and, uh, congresspeople, and some of them interviewed me personally. And some of them had a panel of people that they appointed within the community to interview me. Bottom line is they wanted to [00:28:00] interview me and. At that point, it becomes pretty competitive.
[00:28:03] Right? And so at this point, you're trying to be well-rounded right. You're trying to appear like a person that this congressperson or Senator wants to have representing them. At a service Academy, right? This is my contingent from, in my case, Wisconsin, that's going to be the face of Wisconsin at the United States Naval Academy.
[00:28:23] So those people probably want to see some, some diversity, some mixture of background and some represent them. Well, ultimately I think in order to make yourself. Well rounded and appear as that. Well rounded individual, not only to these interview panels, but to the admissions committee at the Naval Academy, like you said, a background in athletics is helpful.
[00:28:44] Number one, because there's a physical standard that you have to meet when you go to the Naval Academy. I think it's easier for them to say, Oh, this person probably. Wouldn't have any problem meeting the physical standard because they ran track in high school or whatever,
[00:28:57] Brian Beckcom: [00:28:57] and also being part of a team, you know?
[00:29:00] [00:29:00] Sure. Sports, you gotta, you gotta be part of a team. You got to put your
[00:29:03] Nick Kalt: [00:29:03] interests
[00:29:04] Brian Beckcom: [00:29:04] above your own. And that's exactly what you learn in the
[00:29:06] Nick Kalt: [00:29:06] military under percent. But again, my argument would be to a young person that's in high school is that if you're not involved in athletics, that doesn't, that doesn't preclude you from applying.
[00:29:18] If you're not interested in organized athletics, that doesn't mean that you're not going to make a good Naval and Marine Corps. What I would say is look at the things that you do enjoy doing, whether it's student government or, you know, Students against social apathy or whatever. Yeah. Eagle
[00:29:35] Brian Beckcom: [00:29:35] scout, you know, exactly.
[00:29:38] Nick Kalt: [00:29:38] But try and evaluate those things that you do and that you like to do and how they would benefit, you know, the Naval camera, how they would benefit operating in a team environment, how they would benefit. Society as a person who is, um, dedicating their, you know, their life and their career to a career of service.
[00:29:56] And then I think once you start evaluating those things that you're already good at, [00:30:00] number one that might open the door for you to try something new that maybe you didn't realize it would be an interest of yours, but number two, I think it, it allows you to go in front of an interview panel and say, Hey, this makes me a more well rounded individual because X, Y.
[00:30:15] Brian Beckcom: [00:30:15] And I tell people as a business owner, I say that I will. Absolutely. If somebody has a high level athletic achievements, high school college, I will absolutely give them an interview that will absolutely, in my mind, is somebody making a hiring decision, be a big plus big check Mark in the plus category.
[00:30:34] But it's not just that Lytics, Nick, like you said, if I see somebody as an Eagle scout, I know automatically. That they know the value of hard work that they know how to plan, that they know how to work as a team. You know, that there's just certain, or even if you're in the band, let's say you're in an abandoned high school and you're the head drum major or something.
[00:30:55] That shows me as a business owner that you're able to do things beyond just [00:31:00] school. Like you're able to plan, show initiative, be a member of a team. And so I think part of this Naval Academy requirement to be a well rounded person is, is awesome. So when you get to the Naval Academy for real, what was your experience like?
[00:31:14] Was it what you expected? Was it better,
[00:31:15] Nick Kalt: [00:31:15] worse, different. It was, it was so it's super challenging as, as a freshmen are what we call plebes and you're, you're treated as sort of the lowest of the low, you know, and thanks, you know, evaluating, Hey, what am I good at? And why do I do the things that I like to do?
[00:31:29] And how do they dovetail into a career of service? It allows you to. It allows you an opportunity for self evaluation as does, you know, your plebe year and really your whole time at the Naval Academy. Again, it's a completely separate experience than what I would consider like a trade or a normal college experience would be like in that it really puts you to the test physically, mentally.
[00:31:50] Um, the system is designed to place a lot of pressure. Upon you, right. To make decisions, to conduct time management and to do a lot of these things [00:32:00] that frankly, a lot of high schoolers haven't had to do because like myself, you know, I grew up with, Hey, get good grades, you know, in sports and kind of things will work themselves out.
[00:32:11] Now. It's like, Hey, I'm not going to have time enough. To do everything that I need to get across in the middle of the day, how do I get it all done? How do I prioritize them? And they hammer it home through physical exertion, through, you know, life skills, mental stressors to put it nicely. And it's a bit of a shock to the system coming from, you know, a high school environment where you're kind of, in my case, you know, maybe a bit of a big fish in a small pond.
[00:32:37] And I think it was really good for me. And yeah, I'd encourage others to do it as well.
[00:32:41] Brian Beckcom: [00:32:41] You know, when I went to college, Nick, I was kind of similar to you in terms of my high school grad, I made good grades. I was a pretty high level basketball player, you know, went to state finals, all district, that sort of thing.
[00:32:52] And then I went to ANM and I played basketball for a and M my first year. And you said something earlier about how [00:33:00] college sports or the college experience. It was good for the parents to see what it was like to, and I tell people all the time, especially parents. College sports compared to high school sports.
[00:33:10] There's no comparison. It is such a business. It is not what it's like in high school. And so it was a little bit of a shock to me as well. And then I joined the Corps. After my freshman year, I stopped playing basketball and I joined the Corps and it was the same deal, but it was, I had so much stuff to do outside of just school.
[00:33:28] It was, you had to figure out how to plan it when you were going to do this when you were going to do that. But those kinds of skills. Those would all call executive skills or Metta skills. Those are the kinds of skills that carry you throughout your whole life. Right. Dealing with stress and stuff like that.
[00:33:45] So let's talk real quick. Cause you were again. I think a little bit too modest about all American rugby players. So tell us a little bit. Yeah,
[00:33:55] Nick Kalt: [00:33:55] well, so rugby to me, it was a beautiful thing. It's a sport that I'd never played before. And I would say [00:34:00] with the exception of marrying my wife and having our children has been probably the most.
[00:34:05] Taken us as an individual effort formative experience in my, my life, I went to the Naval Academy expecting to play football discovered as it sounds like maybe you did as well that I was now a very small fish in a big pond.
[00:34:19] Brian Beckcom: [00:34:19] The college sports is not what you, when you're in high school, you have one idea of it.
[00:34:23] And then, I mean, for example, I tell people. Since I played basketball, we played over the Christmas holidays. I sure I didn't get to go home during Korea. My freshman year, I was literally living in a dorm were five. I was the only person in a 500 person. Dorm. And that was the kind of sack. And that's just a small example of the differences, but, but anyway, you were talking about rugby and how, how cool it was, or, you know, how football was different than rugby.
[00:34:48] Nick Kalt: [00:34:48] yeah. Yeah. So my football career, you know, I was a tight end in high school and at the time of the Naval Academy, offense, didn't utilize the tight end. So they converted me to defensive and [00:35:00] not fast enough to play the position. So then they put me in an offensive tackle at the time I weighed probably.
[00:35:05] 205 pounds soaking wet. You know, they had a guy who's a year older than me who eventually went on to play with both the green Bay Packers and the Panthers who had made a similar transition and ended up getting the super bowl ring. And I think they envisioned kind of the same type of thing for me. Well, I sort of read the handwriting on the wall and it's like, man, I got to put on almost a hundred pounds here.
[00:35:27] Yeah. Also, still be expected. It's move around. And meanwhile, this guy is still only a year ahead of me. So I'm on the depth chart behind the guy. Who's. An eventual, you know, super bowl, chamber bowl, champion, right? Yeah. You know, then, uh, I actually made it through spring ball and it's a gristmill, right?
[00:35:43] You're in the mornings doing your workouts at noon. 6:00 AM. Yeah. And then after school doing your practice, meanwhile, my, my grades are suffering a little bit and so it just wasn't. I made it past spring ball and I made the cut to continue playing, but I read the handwriting on the wall and it looked [00:36:00] like, man, I probably won't even really get significant playing time until I'm a senior.
[00:36:04] And that's, if I'm really minded my P's and Q's and kind of kicking ass and doing the things that I need to do. And well, another buddy of mine who had played defensive and as a freshman had, had decided to quit rugby team and kind of made me a convert. And man it's I went over there and it was like somebody turned on the light bulb, but I think I'm awesome.
[00:36:25] Suited to a man. It was such a great experience. And I think it was more suited to the top of athleticism I was used to, which was more running around more, I think, on the fly and innovative, as opposed to having a step plan in your mind of what you had to do. And really, I think more fast paced than the guys that were doing it were doing it.
[00:36:43] I think for the love of sport and for the love of the game in particular, which I didn't even have a concept of. Right. I, I knew none of the
[00:36:50] Brian Beckcom: [00:36:50] rights. It's interesting, you know, bill, but don't build up. You talked about love of the sport. I read something that bill Belicheck said that he likes to hire guys that play [00:37:00] division three football.
[00:37:01] Cause he said, if you played division three football, you must really
[00:37:05] Nick Kalt: [00:37:05] love the sport. Right, right, right. You're really into football, so, yep. So
[00:37:09] Brian Beckcom: [00:37:09] you get into rugby and we could have them a whole, another podcast about rugby. I mean sure. I think of rugby. I think of those. Is it Australia or New Zealand? Is it the black and tans or
[00:37:18] Nick Kalt: [00:37:18] the plays?
[00:37:20] All blacks.
[00:37:21] Brian Beckcom: [00:37:21] Yeah. Yeah. The all blacks. Yeah. And I do that. Awesome. Is, are they the ones that do the thing right before the game?
[00:37:26] Nick Kalt: [00:37:26] They do a dance. Yeah. That's
[00:37:29] Brian Beckcom: [00:37:29] that's so cool. So, so you get into rugby and by the end, did you play four years of rugby?
[00:37:34] Nick Kalt: [00:37:34] I played three. So after my freshman year, I made it through spring ball of football and decided that's really not for me.
[00:37:40] And, uh, yeah, at the outset of my sophomore year, I started playing.
[00:37:44] Brian Beckcom: [00:37:44] Nice. And then, and then you were eventually all American.
[00:37:48] Nick Kalt: [00:37:48] I was, yeah. Awesome.
[00:37:50] Brian Beckcom: [00:37:50] Nice. And then never played in high school in three years. You're all
[00:37:54] Nick Kalt: [00:37:54] never, never played in high school. No, that was what was interesting. And that's why I kind of say it's not maybe nearly as impressive as you're [00:38:00] giving me credit for, to be a college.
[00:38:01] All American and rugby is that, you know, everybody plays well, I shouldn't say everybody, but. EV almost every high school in the nation as a high school football team, you know, their pop Warner, football teams, grade school football teams, where it's very seldom that you see a pop Warner and rugby teams becoming more common, especially out here on the West coast, but really rare to see, and even rare to see a lot of, a lot of really well established high school football programs.
[00:38:26] And you being in Texas I'm sure know just how
[00:38:29] Brian Beckcom: [00:38:29] significant Oh, we've got a high school football stadiums. That are twice the size of division one college football.
[00:38:37] Nick Kalt: [00:38:37] Yeah, exactly. And we're, I mean, we're consistently one of the top four rugby teams in the nation, and we're not, we're not bringing in any money for the school.
[00:38:45] We're not selling any action dice or drawing fans to the stadium. You know, they're like the audience is, it's just not really heard of in this day and age. And I'm hopeful that maybe someday it will be. But part of the nice thing about that, Brian, is that I [00:39:00] was still allowed to play it. Essentially for the love of the game, you know, there was no pressure to be anything other than what we were, which was kind of a.
[00:39:09] I don't want to say a bad news bears, but it was kind of this conglomerate guys who had previously played soccer or basketball or football, or maybe heard about rugby or played it a little bit and you throw us all together. And man, what an awesome mixture, not only of teamwork and camaraderie, but just friendship and, and really the sport was sort of in such a flesh, at least at the college level.
[00:39:31] When I played that it was still, I still go on tour to, we went on a tour to Ireland, my, uh, I think it was my sophomore junior year. And it was like, you could still go to Ireland, you know, play at a really high level and then go have a pint in the pub afterwards. And no one looks sideways
[00:39:48] Brian Beckcom: [00:39:48] actually, because it's all part of the culture, you know?
[00:39:50] Nick Kalt: [00:39:50] nice. Whereas I think if you were found doing that as a high level college football player, there'd be questions of, Hey, why is this guy drinking a beer during [00:40:00] the season and what his teammates think about and all that kind of stuff. And we were really allowed to, I think, experience. Rugby, not only here, but also overseas, um, with kind of a lot of the traditions that have been in place for decades and, and to do some of the stuff that I, I think it was really fun to do as a college.
[00:40:18] That's super cool.
[00:40:19] Brian Beckcom: [00:40:19] You know, when, when I, the reason I stopped playing college basketball and Nick was because I played basketball for basically five years of my life, all the way through high school and my first year of college, every single day, 365 days a year, I was totally obsessed. Sure. When I got to college, we had kind of a tough season, but it was just, uh, I was just worn out and I told my dad, I said, I'm just not enjoying myself anymore.
[00:40:42] So I'm going to join the Corps cadets. So I put down my basketball and I didn't pick a basketball up for a year. And then I picked it up again. I started playing intramurals and started playing for the love of the game and I not only had a much, much better time. I was actually a better basketball player [00:41:00] after taking some time off.
[00:41:01] But yeah, well that's great, Nick. So let's talk about, so after basically everybody that goes to a military Academy has to take a military commission of some sort when they graduate. Right. So you graduated and I think you said in
[00:41:16] Nick Kalt: [00:41:16] 2000 that's right.
[00:41:18] Brian Beckcom: [00:41:18] And so this is before again, before nine 11 and you are, are you commissioned as a, as a Naval officer or a Marine officer?
[00:41:26] Nick Kalt: [00:41:26] Yeah. So at the graduation it's usually takes place may or June. And at that point, everyone goes from being in the United States Navy to those who have selected a Marine Corps commission as their, their career in service are not commissioned in the United States Marine Corps, which is technically, still falls under the department of the Navy, separate branch, but still falls under the department
[00:41:49] Brian Beckcom: [00:41:49] of the Navy.
[00:41:49] Okay. So you're, you're commissioned as a second Lieutenant.
[00:41:52] Nick Kalt: [00:41:52] That's right.
[00:41:53] Brian Beckcom: [00:41:53] And then tell us about the time between when you're first commissioned, how the Marine Corps, I assume. And you had [00:42:00] to go to officer candidate school,
[00:42:01] Nick Kalt: [00:42:01] or
[00:42:02] Brian Beckcom: [00:42:02] you do that as part of the Naval Academy?
[00:42:03] Nick Kalt: [00:42:03] No. So interestingly as, and this is one of the very few exceptions you don't go to OCS as a Naval Academy, graduate OCS is designed to be an indoctrination, both physical and mental.
[00:42:15] And I think that, and this might be a gross exaggeration of what. National policy is, but I think the thought is that you get that initiation at the Naval Academy.
[00:42:26] Brian Beckcom: [00:42:26] So
[00:42:27] Nick Kalt: [00:42:27] if you go to OCS coming from private university, that's one path that you can go through and then OCS serves as your indoctrination, as an officer.
[00:42:36] And then from the Naval Academy perspective, your, your plea beer, and then all your four years at the Naval Academy serve as your indoctrination. And so when. Graduates of OCS from a private university and graduates from the Naval Academy, finally meet up is out of school called TBS. Yeah, exactly. And the basic yeah.
[00:42:57] Was designed to train every Marine Corps officer to act [00:43:00] in the capacity of an infantry officer. Right? Whether you're a logistician or a pilot or an infantry officer, they teach you all the basic skills to be an infantry officer, six months long takes place in Quantico, Virginia. And then, so you've got this batch of.
[00:43:14] The second lieutenants coming from OCS, right? And typically there are people who have gone to say, Hey and M for instance, or maybe university of Oregon all over the country. Right. And then they have this very compressed, very condensed indoctrination period OCS, which not having gone through myself. My understanding is that it's, it's pretty exacting both physically and mentally.
[00:43:35] And then you've got this other group. Who's a much smaller cohort coming from the Naval Academy and they've gone through a much more. I guess you'd say stretched out indoctrination where it's very intense that freshman year. And then a lot of the, you know, kind of the, the, the rains get loosened up a little bit, if you will.
[00:43:54] And then I had a fairly, I don't want to say normal college experience, but I was know I was playing rugby. I was, I was [00:44:00] going to my classes live in life as a college student. When a lot of these other folks are going through OCS and really getting put through the gristmill for the first time. And so eventually we meet up at TBS and I think a lot of the graduates from OCS were kind of like, man, who are these guys?
[00:44:16] Brian Beckcom: [00:44:16] PBS
[00:44:18] Nick Kalt: [00:44:18] long hair and maybe a little, and the nice thing about TBS was it takes everybody. Regardless of your starting point and kind of puts a little bit of a finish on you as far as what the expectation of a military officer is.
[00:44:32] Brian Beckcom: [00:44:32] And I was talking to Blake Sawyer is a friend of Toby and I on the podcast.
[00:44:37] And he said, basically, CBS you're either
[00:44:40] Nick Kalt: [00:44:40] pilot or
[00:44:41] Brian Beckcom: [00:44:41] infantry.
[00:44:42] Nick Kalt: [00:44:42] Those are . Yeah. Well, you're your pilot or your ground pilot guaranteed your contract. Right? If you're a pilot, you've got all the physical prerequisites to include. At the time you had to have 20, 20 vision, right? You couldn't have all these other problems that I, [00:45:00] I personally had the disqualified me from being a pilot.
[00:45:03] And then on the other side, you've got the ground element, which. You can go infantry, but you can do all these other things too, to include a logistics combat engineer, which is what I did a whole slew of other things too.
[00:45:14] Brian Beckcom: [00:45:14] So you get out of the Naval Academy and then you go to TBS. And then you become a combat engineer, right?
[00:45:22] What does a combat engineer do?
[00:45:24] Nick Kalt: [00:45:24] So a combat engineer has we serve four primary functions, mobility, counter mobility, survivability in general engineering in the grand scheme of things. So the Marine Corps is. Is based upon the fundamental base unit being the Marine Corp rifle company or the Marine Corp rifle platoon, and every other supporting function is designed to support the Marine Corp rifle company.
[00:45:49] Platoon in their operations combat engineers are designed to provide them with those four basic functions, mobility. So basically if a rifle company or platoon is moving forward in the [00:46:00] offensive, we provide mobility by removing obstacles, whether those obstacles are. You know, minefield or our wire, anything in between, we do it.
[00:46:10] Counter mobility is doing the exact opposite, right? We're putting up obstacles to prevent the enemies movement and freedom of movement in order to affect their will upon us. Survivability is just basically hardening our defensive positions. In my case, in Iraq and involved a lot of vehicle checkpoints, hardening the exteriors of our forward operating bases and providing additional structural support to a lot of the, like the overhead protection for mortar fire and artillery, fire, stuff like that.
[00:46:38] And then general engineering, which is not something that I really dabbled in too much. It's more of a function of larger engineering groups involves. You know, bridge-building and really like the more, the more significant engineering capacity that someone like Toby is probably a lot more familiar with than someone like I am.
[00:46:55] Brian Beckcom: [00:46:55] So you, you get out of TBS, you become a cop. I'm an engineer at this point has [00:47:00] nine, 11 and a half.
[00:47:01] Nick Kalt: [00:47:01] No, it is not. So after TBS, you go to your, your military occupational specialty school. In my case, that was combat engineer school, TBS about six months long common engineer school, I think at the time was about four, four and a half months.
[00:47:15] So I checked into my unit here in Southern California. I believe it was probably about June. Of June of 2001. So very short time thereafter, uh, nine 11 too.
[00:47:29] Brian Beckcom: [00:47:29] Here's why I'm asking you the question then, because I've talked to Blake sor who I don't think, you know, and then Toby who, you know, well, and both of those guys graduated from college and then went off into the workforce and then nine 11 happened and then they joined the military and there's a lot of people that did that.
[00:47:46] I actually think a name or a label or something. For people that did that, we're coming at it from a different perspective. You are in the military, you have gone through the Naval Academy. You've gone through TBS, you've gone through [00:48:00] combat engineering training. And again, like we talked about earlier, no expectations.
[00:48:06] Of there being a war anytime soon. Right. Right. I mean, I would, I would think you would just say, I'm going to do my job. I'm gonna learn how to be a combat engineer. I'm going to do what I need to do. And then at some point I'll get out and go into the private sector fair to say yes. And then boom, not nine 11 happens.
[00:48:26] And so from the perspective, I'm curious to hear, because I've heard a couple of times the perspective of civilians. Who nine 11 happened and that motivated them to get in the military. I want to hear the perspective of an officer who was in the military and then boom, nine 11 happened. What goes through your mind when that happens?
[00:48:49] Nick Kalt: [00:48:49] Absolutely. Let me touch back on a point too. Cause we talked about folks who might be interested in attending the Naval Academy. We talked about the concept of stability. Obviously nine 11 is a huge [00:49:00] destabilizing force. And truthfully, I thought it was going to be the major destabilizing force in our world.
[00:49:04] And certainly in our country, at least during my lifetime, it turns out probably not the case, but to the degree that it affected the stability of. Our nation and our, our militaries involvement, uh, overseas, it was something that I wasn't necessarily prepared for. But again, I would advise young people that, you know, really the purpose that our military versus to serve our national interests overseas and destabilizing events like this happen.
[00:49:33] And at the end of the day, when you raised your right hand, take that oath, the expectation is that you may be called to do something. Of this nature. Right. And so it's, I think it's just a real important consideration. It's and parents, like we talked about to have. For kids possibly deciding to join up. As far as my experience would nine 11 happened.
[00:49:52] I know everybody has their, their own. Hey, I was when story, when it did happen, looking at it from a perspective that's [00:50:00] now almost 20 years removed is that nine 11 to the degree that it was a very terrible event. And we would hope that nothing like that ever repeats itself is a validation for the training and really for the.
[00:50:14] The purpose that, and I don't know how much that makes a lot of sense that people in any one of the other analogies I use is that on a daily basis at the fire house, we train to combat structure fires, right? We trained to put out fires that occur in people's homes, not only to save their lives, to protect their property.
[00:50:31] And even though we hope and wish that that never befalls anyone, the reality of our world is that it does happen. And that when it does, we are as capable as possible to answer that call. And I think that. Firefighters in general, we like to fight fires. We like to go to fires. Certainly not because people lose or potentially are placed in danger, but because it's a validation of the things that we do on a daily basis.
[00:50:56] Again, we talk about all those things like teamwork, critical decision [00:51:00] making, athletic ability, right. And those all combined to make me not only Marine Corps officer, but what a firefighter, when you have the opportunity to validate those things. And what is. Really the most challenging possible arena. It inspires me personally.
[00:51:13] And then the opportunity to hopefully do good for other people through that channel is something that's it's unbeatable in my mind.
[00:51:21] Brian Beckcom: [00:51:21] One of the reasons I'm curious about this neck is because for instance, when I talked to Blake and Toby who joined after nine 11, I mean, they joined the Marine Corps. They were virtually guaranteed to go to a combat.
[00:51:32] So like they chose the branch of the military jobs in the military that would virtually, and they said they wanted to go, I mean, bike, I want to go. I wanted to see what it was like for people like you already in the military. That's not necessarily, I mean, you did sign up for it in a way, but when you signed up, you didn't know we're actually going to go to battle.
[00:51:55] And so I'm just, I'm, I'm real curious to know. I would imagine there were some [00:52:00] people that were like, Hey, this is, this is not really what I necessarily signed up for it. And then there were probably other people that they were like, okay, now I get to test my skills and my training and see what I've been doing.
[00:52:13] We'll work in the real world. So we're where you kind of, one of those guys, like I'm ready to go, like
[00:52:19] Nick Kalt: [00:52:19] yeah. And I think in the, in the lead up to that timeframe, Ryan, to answer your question in between the time when I eventually deployed in 2004 to 2001, there's, there's a pretty long timeframe in there where it's like, Hey, what.
[00:52:32] What is actually going to happen when I see combat, how will I react? And I give huge credit to people like Toby, who decided to sign up knowing full well, what was at stake. And that's again, why I tell young people in their parents, Hey, really consider this because this is potentially what you're signing up for, right?
[00:52:48] From my perspective, you know, you go into it really wondering how you're going to. You're going to stack up. Right. And I think it was a great leadership challenge for me to know that I had Marines and [00:53:00] sailors in my charge who all of a sudden, you know, the, the situation in the world changes and they're like, yeah, no, you know, and that's a huge challenge for a leader.
[00:53:10] The other interesting part is like a lot of people are seeking out that combat scenario. Not, not necessarily for. The accolades. And certainly at least, hopefully not from the perspective of, Hey, I want to, I want to injure or kill some, someone else, another human being, but from the perspective of how do I measure up, right.
[00:53:29] And how do I face the challenge? And interestingly about, you know, what, what varies between, you know, the time when I signed up versus the time that Toby signed up and the fact that we, you know, we were roommates really in Iraq for, for some time is that you go overseas and. The level of tests that you face with the level of involvement that you have is still largely up to chance.
[00:53:53] You might sit in the COC and that is your ordered place of duty every day. And you might never see someone [00:54:00] actually shooting at you. You might actually get shot at and shoot at someone else and, you know, never have the close face to face personal interaction. You might be up close and personal and hand to hand combat with someone.
[00:54:12] And I think a lot of people. You know, maybe sign up with the expectation of, especially if it's in war time of like, man, I'm really gonna go out there and I'm going to test myself and then you end up driving a computer. You know what I mean? It might be state side. It might be in Europe somewhere. It might be, you know, the Iraq, Afghanistan,
[00:54:32] Brian Beckcom: [00:54:32] food notes, you know, and nowadays you might be starting.
[00:54:34] You might, you might, you might be sitting and, uh, in a building in South Dakota, flying Raptors over
[00:54:40] Nick Kalt: [00:54:40] a hundred percent percent,
[00:54:41] Brian Beckcom: [00:54:41] and then you just drive home at night. And sleep in your own bed.
[00:54:45] Nick Kalt: [00:54:45] Right? I think the unifying factor in all of these things is the concept of service and quite possibly the concept of, Hey, I'm going to test myself, right?
[00:54:54] The difference is that everybody's individual experience, whether you talk to Toby or your friend Blake [00:55:00] or myself, is that even if we all went overseas at the same time, even though Toby and I shared a room together, his experience is going to be fundamentally different than my experience and whether or not we come back.
[00:55:11] With a satisfaction over whether or not we've, we've sort of met the challenge that, that we entered it dissipated, or that we still feel like there's something that needs to be done either in terms of testing yourself out or in terms of service to your fellow, man is something that I think is, is still the big question that remains.
[00:55:29] Brian Beckcom: [00:55:29] So tell me, wanted me to ask you a question. He said, he said, make sure you ask Nick about it. What the, what the, what was it? What was the ride like on a ship to Iraq? And he also said, make sure and ask Nick about Lieutenant.
[00:55:46] Nick Kalt: [00:55:46] Perfect. So the ride over to our wrapped on the ship was pretty interesting for me.
[00:55:51] There were three major ships in this, this, um, Battle group that Marines were assigned to. Right. We, we floated for, I think about [00:56:00] man a month, a good month, at least before we arrived in Kuwait. And then eventually convoyed up to Iraq. But to me it was an opportunity to spend a lot of time with my Marines individually, because as a manager of combat engineers, you know, I can operate my platoon as a full platoon.
[00:56:17] We have, we bring a lot. So the table at that point, or the Colonel who was in charge of our battalion, ended up farming out a lot of my Marines, his own individual units and providing mobility for those guys in the field, which kind of left me like, ah, I'm just going to the advisor to the boss now. Right?
[00:56:33] I'm not left, you know, leading my guys in, essentially facing the music with them right next to them shoulder to shoulder as would have been my desire. The nice part about being on ship was I had almost, I would say a month good month to like, Provide them with some last minute training advice, ideology, which hopefully helped get them through.
[00:56:52] But also, you know, I got to be away from, we call it being away from the flag a little bit where I wasn't under the watchful eye of. The [00:57:00] command staff a hundred percent of the time. So I can conduct training and really sort of morale boosting for my Marines as I saw fit. Whereas when we actually got to Iraq, you know, they were sort of farmed out and I was like, sort of a man without a cause for a little while.
[00:57:15] But the ride over was, was bumpy at parts. You know, there were some, some pretty heavy seas, which I had done a good bit of time. On boats previously, whether through the Naval Academy or just my own personal interest. And so a lot of people tended to get sick where I was sort of riding it, but so from time to time, they would take me by a helicopter from my small boat and transfer me over to the big boat.
[00:57:38] At which point it was kinda like, okay, big brother's watching and you get dragged into these meetings and you would stand, watch, you know, there, there are constant updates that we were trying to update ourselves with, uh, as a battalion landing team to make sure we had an accurate Intel situation. When we did land in Iraq, which, you know, the, the threat there was constantly evolving.
[00:57:58] And so these watches, I believe, were about four [00:58:00] hours long and I was scheduled to stand mine in the middle of the night, I think from probably, you know, 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM after which, you know, uh, I was looking at the, the rotation schedule and there's a guy named Lieutenant Schwartz. It was designated designated to relieve me.
[00:58:15] And I was like, man, that's funny. I don't. Yeah, I know I'm a new guy of this battalion, but I don't, I don't know that exists. I think it was the senior enlisted that had, had written the scheduling. This guy's name was not even close to Schwartz. It started with that, but he tried to spell it out phonetically and it just ended up being Schwartz.
[00:58:37] And I was like, well, certainly Schwartz knows that he's scheduled to come relieve me. Right. Yeah, the rolls around to about two in the morning, I'm looking at my watch bleary eyed, full of coffee, trying to stay awake two 30, two 45. And it's like, well, Schwartz doesn't know he's supposed to be here or he doesn't exist.
[00:58:56] So yeah, I got to stand back to back, you know, in the middle [00:59:00] of the night and just ended up completely exhausted the next day because this guy, Lieutenant Schwartz didn't exist, but long story short, you know, shit always hits the fan overseas and it's like, whose fault is it?
[00:59:13] Brian Beckcom: [00:59:13] Fucking shorts again, you know,
[00:59:15] Nick Kalt: [00:59:15] I'm not allowed to throw some shorts.
[00:59:20] Brian Beckcom: [00:59:20] Yeah. Well that, that's hilarious. So what is it I'm always curious to know. And I think a lot of our listeners are curious to know when you're heading into a combat zone. Like when you get to Kuwait and then you convoy up to Iraq, like what's going through your mind, what kind of emotions do you have? Are you excited?
[00:59:37] Nervous. Combination of the two, like, what are you thinking
[00:59:41] Nick Kalt: [00:59:41] about that? It's a combination of everything. It's ton of nerves. Even before we got off ship. I remember myself. Like, I just remember my extremities shaking and I had to physically grab them and hold them down just cause I was like, man, what, what is this going to be like?
[00:59:55] And I think in part the emotions they're so high just because the stakes are so [01:00:00] high and it doesn't matter what the, my previous experience had been, whether it was working with explosives or shooting weapons or, you know, high level of athletic engagement. It just, it doesn't prepare you because the stakes aren't present or at least they don't seem as president.
[01:00:14] And, uh, so it's just a mixture of emotions of, you know, hopefulness that you'll kind of meet up to the expectations you have for yourself, that your crew will meet your expectations in that you'll meet theirs. I think fear. I think if you're not afraid of, of armed combat, then there's probably something wrong with
[01:00:32] Brian Beckcom: [01:00:32] you, for sure.
[01:00:34] Nick Kalt: [01:00:34] Yeah.
[01:00:35] Brian Beckcom: [01:00:35] I mean, you gotta, you guys don't want. The I would think you would be a little nervous about having Marines that have no fear of that want to go in there and kill as many people as they can. Like, that's not what
[01:00:44] Nick Kalt: [01:00:44] you're looking for and you know what I think. Even if you do get that. I think a lot of times it's just bravado, I'm sure a brave face, or maybe an attitude that's perpetuated by a, uh, an environment or a culture that wants guys [01:01:00] to be tough and macho.
[01:01:00] But I mean, the amazing thing about it is that about 50% of the Marine Corps is Lance corporal or below, which means that most of these guys really are under the age of probably 23. You know, probably the majority of enlisted. Marines are under the age of 24. This, this is again, just me ballparking. I don't know the actual statistics, but yeah, we're, we're literally going over to other countries and effecting our will overseas with a bunch of teenagers and young 20 somethings.
[01:01:29] And that's
[01:01:30] Brian Beckcom: [01:01:30] if you think of, yeah, that is amazing. And you know, in some ways, I think just from a psychological standpoint, Once you get to be in your mid twenties or your late twenties, or even your early thirties, you start getting married. You have kids just can't think and do the same things, you know, do when you're 20 years old, like when you're a 20 year old athlete, Nick, and I know, you know what, this feels like.
[01:01:56] You feel like you could do anything. Yeah. I mean, you feel [01:02:00] indestructable right?
[01:02:00] Nick Kalt: [01:02:00] Absolutely. I wish I still could.
[01:02:02] Brian Beckcom: [01:02:02] I, yeah, me too. I tried to play basketball with my son now and I'm like, man, I'll tell you what
[01:02:08] Nick Kalt: [01:02:08] the
[01:02:08] Brian Beckcom: [01:02:08] problem is. My brain still tells me I can do things that my body can't do it.
[01:02:13] Nick Kalt: [01:02:13] That's right.
[01:02:14] That's right. I'm right there with you. The interest. Yeah. You know, I had a platoon of about 40 combat engineers with me and I wasn't. I wasn't very senior to them. As far as you know, years in my belt. I think I was 28 at the time that we actually deployed. But at the same time, the. Emotional and mental maturity level, because again, I don't think you can, it's a very difficult expectation to have of a 17 or 18 year old for them to have an appropriate emotional and mental response to a situation that is really, I mean, armed combat is in conflict with, I think what our natural inclination is as human beings and to expect them to have a, you know, even a healthy, emotional response is pretty big expectation.
[01:02:56] So I felt like that was a lot of my. Role [01:03:00] as, as really the, the officer that those responsible for really working on behalf of these guys and helping them to realize, cause again, I, and I still had struggle with swearing myself away with the reasons that we went to Iraq in the first place, but helping these guys realize, Hey, what is the ideology behind?
[01:03:17] Why you're going. Can I help you in determining why it is that you're here and what makes you feel better about being
[01:03:24] Brian Beckcom: [01:03:24] here and
[01:03:25] Nick Kalt: [01:03:25] being part of this unit and doing the missions that we're charged with doing, and ultimately, I think that was my primary job. Uh, when I was overseas
[01:03:33] Brian Beckcom: [01:03:33] and Nick, you did one tour in Iraq,
[01:03:36] Nick Kalt: [01:03:36] one tour.
[01:03:37] Brian Beckcom: [01:03:37] And you were, you were wounded in Iraq. Do you mind telling us a little bit about that?
[01:03:42] Nick Kalt: [01:03:42] Not at all. And I apologize because I actually have a follow on medical appointment that I got to leave for. We're about 20 minutes. Perfect. We'll be done those injuries, but I can follow up with you at a later date. If you like, we were in the battle of Fallujah.
[01:03:56] Um, part two, there was an initial one in the spring, and then [01:04:00] again in the fall, and we were incorporated into the, uh, the offensive in the fall, at which point. Again, my, my platoon was actually reunited as an entire platoon and so I was able to utilize them. In the capacity that I've been trained to as a, as Lieutenant now, I'd been promoted to captain at this point, but was really grateful for the opportunity to have all those, those guys together.
[01:04:21] Um, but we were providing mobility for, um, Marine infantry units, um, moving forward into the assault into the city, um, in order to retake the city. And during one of our routine patrols, we met enemy resistance out on the street, got into a firefight with them, and then I was shot through. I guess what you'd call the abdominal cavity, but I had a seven, six, two round enter my right hip and exit through kind of like my upper left butt cheek area.
[01:04:51] Brian Beckcom: [01:04:51] So that happens. What's what's going through your mind. I mean, tell us you had to get taken immediately to the medics
[01:04:59] Nick Kalt: [01:04:59] or [01:05:00] so. Uh, we had a, a, a corpsman, um, embedded in our unit. He's a great guy and a great medic. Obviously you can only do so much for gunshot wound in the field. But immediately when I was shot, I was like, Oh man, I, I know this isn't good.
[01:05:15] You know, the, the sensation is one that I can't really describe. It felt like getting hit by a baseball bat, but I immediately got, I sort of dropped to my knees and onto my face and I was kinda in the dirt. And I remember testing my legs to make sure that they still worked. Cause it felt like I got hit in the back.
[01:05:30] And I was so grateful that my legs still work, but I knew I was, I was kinda in trouble. I was probably conscious for. I mean, Tom distorts itself over, over this long, uh, trying to remember back, but probably about another 10, 15 minutes at which point a couple of Marines kind of have to meet up under their arms.
[01:05:46] Um, took me back into an armored vehicle that we had. They passed me up as best I could. My, my corpsman said, Hey, sir, you got to sit on it. I know it doesn't feel good, but you gotta sit on it. Cause the wound on my, my upper left. But cheek area was, was where all the blood [01:06:00] was coming out. And so I sat on and tried to put pressure on the dressing that he had applied.
[01:06:05] Brian Beckcom: [01:06:05] That was the exit wound.
[01:06:06] Nick Kalt: [01:06:06] That was the exit wound. Yep. Yeah. And then, uh, provided my, my CEO who had picked me up in the medivac vehicle with the map of where I. You know, we had engaged the enemy and that's about all that I remember. Um, at that point, I think that went into shock. They transported me to a number of different bases in Iraq, where I received a lot of critical care again to Germany, and then from Germany to Bethesda, Maryland, which is where I ended up essentially waking up about two weeks later,
[01:06:33] Brian Beckcom: [01:06:33] I was going to ask you, after, after your shot, you pass on the, essentially the plans to your commanding officer, and then you don't have any memory.
[01:06:42] What your next memory. Well, is there your next clue?
[01:06:45] Nick Kalt: [01:06:45] Remember? Uh, so I was in a drug induced. Yeah. It's coma for a couple of weeks. I have scattered memories after that point, I remember kind of coming around and I was very out of it, man. No my next, [01:07:00] yeah. I don't know if this is good for your listenership or not, but one of my next lucid memories was of a male nurse applying like a cell or a bomb to my groin area because my, my scrotum, it swelled up so much.
[01:07:14] It was that the size of it. Couple of Texas grapefruits due to the amount of blood flow that had just pulled there, but he was trying to prevent him from chase and then doing whatever else they were doing. And I was kind of coming around at that point. I was like, Oh man, this isn't, this is not the best experience, not
[01:07:29] Brian Beckcom: [01:07:29] the way I wanted to wake up.
[01:07:33] Well, you know, I had a, I had a fellow on the podcast, Jared Dunn, who, when he was 20, got paralyzed, he jumped into the Rio Grande river in Texas and got paralyzed from down. He described his experience. Similar to yours in that for about a month, he said it was like, almost like what a hallucinogenic trip would be like.
[01:07:50] Like he doesn't have a lot, he has some memories, but not a lot of clear memories. So was it back in Bethesda when you first started kind of coming [01:08:00] out of this and
[01:08:01] Nick Kalt: [01:08:01] it was, you know, so I'm going to backtrack a little bit and hopefully it will offer some perspective on number one, my concept of. You know, stability versus change and kind of like the new normal, which is a term that's been thrown out a lot lately, but also might offer some perspective on just maybe some, some concepts of resilience that I think are really important as they relate to change and stability two years prior to that.
[01:08:29] After nine 11, but just prior to my entire battalion deploying to Iraq, I injured my hands. Um, it was a training accident right here on board camp Pendleton. Um, I'll kind of show you my hands, but I'm missing the fingertips to ball, but the pinky on this left hand here, and then a lot of the fingers here on the right hand, I won't bore you with the micro details.
[01:08:49] Other than to tell you that it was kind of one of those Swiss cheese model accidents, where there were probably 20 different things that went wrong with this training range. That ultimately led to my [01:09:00] injury. Yeah. It was a pretty disheartening injury for myself. Number one, because it meant that I wouldn't be able to deploy with my Marines because I knew that the deployment was coming.
[01:09:09] And this was again the, the opportunity to test myself, to see if my Marines met the test and really to validate all the training that we had done. But number two, because my injury was partly of my own making. Like there were mistakes in that Swiss cheese model that I was responsible for. And it was really hard for me.
[01:09:26] I mean, frankly, like I even still describe it as a bit professionally embarrassing. Yeah. As someone who places a really high degree of confidence and pride in the work that I do, I almost felt like I was walking around with this stigma of man, that guy. That guy screwed it up, right?
[01:09:42] Brian Beckcom: [01:09:42] Yeah.
[01:09:43] Nick Kalt: [01:09:43] A lot of the rules of the range are written in blood.
[01:09:45] And I had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that number one, I was dealing with what some might consider a physical disability. Number two, I was partly responsible for it. I'd be lying to you if I told you that. I wasn't down in the [01:10:00] dumps and having a bit of a pity party for myself after it happened.
[01:10:04] What was interesting about the subsequent entry that I had, which was almost two years to the day following my hand injury was that I was almost kind of primed for that kind of. Need for resilience. And even though the injury was different, the concept of facing an injury, like that was something that was entirely within my wheelhouse.
[01:10:27] I felt like not only. Not only was my mental outlook, one of positivity, which I feel like your podcast and just your outlook on life, really champion and which I'm a huge champion of it as well. But my ability to recognize that there is no such thing as a normal whatever the new normal is, is just it's going to be what is right.
[01:10:47] Yeah. And my ability to look to that and then be a positive agent of change for my own recovery was so much better. Now that my perspective was one of. Hey, I need to, to, to [01:11:00] bear down and influence the factors that I can influence and the other factors that I can't influence, I have no influence over and I have to let them go.
[01:11:08] Brian Beckcom: [01:11:08] You know, Nick, that reminds, so my mother died when I was 10 and my brother was eight and my dad was a major in the air force at the time. And she died. Well, I appreciate you saying that, but she struggled. She had a very difficult struggle with breast cancer for about five years. Lost her hair, double mastectomies, multiple broken hips.
[01:11:28] I mean, it was really tough, but looking back on it, It has, I think steeled me or given me some resolve it's given me two things. Number one, it's made me realize that life is short. And so, you know, you're better off looking at things from the most positive perspective. You can then the most negative thing, negative way you can put the other thing it taught me, I think is resilience.
[01:11:52] And like you're talking about, and I got to ask you next. So for people that are just listening to this on the podcast and not watching on YouTube, Nick held [01:12:00] up his hands. And on one hand, he has essentially one finger and part of a thumb. And on the other hand, he has essentially half or kind of a third of the finger.
[01:12:12] So, so people, if you can get that image in your head, Nick, I got to ask you, how was it with that kind of injury? Were you able to stay in the Marine Corps? Like, cause a lot of people that get injured like that, you're not going to combat. So how were you able to, how were you?
[01:12:30] Nick Kalt: [01:12:30] Yeah, so what they did was, and again, there are physical standards that you have to meet.
[01:12:33] I'm in the Marine Corps as well. And they put me in before what's called the medical review board and the convening authority on this was a guy who's an orthopedic surgeon. And basically it was his job to test the functionality of my hand and really to determine if I'd want it to stay. And of course, you know, I wanted to stay not only because I felt like the concept of, of service that I had intended to join up for in the first place hadn't been.
[01:12:56] Fulfill the realized yet, but also because I hadn't, [01:13:00] I hadn't gone through the challenge that I felt like I needed to, in order to say, Hey, I've got what it takes. I can, my metal has been tested,
[01:13:08] Brian Beckcom: [01:13:08] not nine 11. It happened by this time. And then you have this training injury, a severe training injury, and you could have, if you wanted to use that as a way to get out of the military and nobody would've ever criticized me.
[01:13:24] Right. Nobody would, people would have totally understood. But it sounds like you made a different decision. You said I don't care about these injuries. I'm gonna stay, I'm gonna stay in with my, my team. And I'm going to go to combat. Is that basically how it happens?
[01:13:38] Nick Kalt: [01:13:38] Yeah. So I didn't know if the, the opportunity to go to combat was going to present itself again or not, but the idea that I would not be capable of.
[01:13:48] Of doing the things that I felt like I should be able to do as a Marine, as a man, as a human, just didn't sit well with me. And so this convening authority, who's a great guy, by the way. I don't remember his [01:14:00] name, but asked me basically, Hey, can you still shoot a rifle? Can you still do pull ups? Can you do all the things that are required of you as a Marine Corps officer?
[01:14:08] And I set out during my rehabilitation period, prove that I could, and right around the time that I met Toby was when I was teaching myself how to. How to do pull ups essentially with one finger on my right hand. And yeah, I've since learned how to incorporate, like the portion of my index finger. That's still capable of doing that.
[01:14:23] Not do all the things that I needed to. And so, yeah. Ultimately I decided to stay and yeah, this convening authority was kind enough and recognize that I think my desire and capability enough to allow me to stay.
[01:14:36] Brian Beckcom: [01:14:36] So Nick that's awesome. And I would think, you know, the UBM high level athlete probably helped too, because you probably have enough hand, eye coordination and physical strength and dexterity.
[01:14:49] That may be somebody that doesn't have those
[01:14:51] Nick Kalt: [01:14:51] physical
[01:14:52] Brian Beckcom: [01:14:52] capabilities, wouldn't be able to do what you were able to do. So certainly being athletic probably helped you [01:15:00] deal with that situation. Well, Nick, I'm mindful of your time. I've got five or 10 more minutes.
[01:15:05] Nick Kalt: [01:15:05] Yeah, yeah. About, I'd say six or seven minutes.
[01:15:08] Brian Beckcom: [01:15:08] Okay, perfect. That's perfect. So I really wanted to spend a lot of time talking about your work as a firefighter, and we're not going to have time to do that. Maybe we can get you on. Later. And we can just talk about your work as a firefighter, because I'm super interested in that like super, super interested, but in the last five minutes or so, what I'd like to do,
[01:15:29] Nick Kalt: [01:15:29] if
[01:15:29] Brian Beckcom: [01:15:29] it's okay, is I'd like to hear kind of your perspective as somebody who's been through some really hard times or been injured twice has had to overcome some things.
[01:15:41] And it's probably seen some very, very.
[01:15:45] Nick Kalt: [01:15:45] Tragic
[01:15:45] Brian Beckcom: [01:15:45] things as well. Are you telling people now that you work
[01:15:48] Nick Kalt: [01:15:48] with
[01:15:50] Brian Beckcom: [01:15:50] how we can deal with these times that are, you know, this pandemic is so big, it affects literally everybody in the world. There's [01:16:00] so much uncertainty. Then we have the protests, we have the economy and it's just a real hard time for people.
[01:16:06] So I think people would love to hear from. A Marine Corps officer, who's dealt with these kind of, really, really trying situations. Like what are you telling people? Certainly
[01:16:18] Nick Kalt: [01:16:18] first I'll say that there's a concept of resilience that you and I have both kind of referred back to. And I think by the definition of resilience is essentially returning to a shape.
[01:16:29] That you've already been in, right? Whether that's your recovering from an injury or the loss of a loved one. And if it hasn't happened to you personally, it's going to happen at some point in your life, it necessarily will happen. And that's kind of what happened to me. I had a great upbringing, never suffered any significant loss.
[01:16:45] You know, really everything was, it was kind of laid out for me and it was up to me to go off and take it and then experienced some setbacks. Right. In terms of, you know, Multiple significant physical injuries in terms of most recently the loss of our [01:17:00] daughter, which, you know, we're still, and I think probably always will be dealing with.
[01:17:04] And so there's, there's a concept of resilience that we will get through this. And, and with the initial injury to my hands, again, it was one that, that promoted in me, the understanding that. Hey, none of this is going to get better unless I make it better. And I have to be a positive agent of change. Not only at my own level, but hopefully for other people.
[01:17:24] Right. And which I think is to large degree. Why are you doing this podcast? Yeah, there's the concept of posttraumatic growth, which I think goes a step beyond.
[01:17:34] Brian Beckcom: [01:17:34] I love this concept. I love this concept. Yeah.
[01:17:37] Nick Kalt: [01:17:37] And so post traumatic growth and contrast to resilience is that yes, you've recovered and returned to your original shape.
[01:17:45] Much like I did, I would say with the situation, with my hand injury, where I returned to a state of physical readiness, where I was able to do pull ups to shoot a rifle, just, I mean, Utilizing different technique, but in the same manner that I was able to before the post traumatic [01:18:00] growth portion of that was that now I was what I like to say to suffer additional injuries.
[01:18:06] Again, these injuries are going to happen and that's not to say don't enjoy the good things in life. And hopefully it allows you to enjoy the. The good things more, but it also allows you to realize that with these setbacks and whether the setbacks personal injury or loss of family or friends, or in the case that we're in now.
[01:18:23] Right? Civil unrest. Yeah. COVID-19 the economy, whatever. Yeah. But these things are changeable. And I know a lot of people are having a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And in the case, like you were talking about of your son, who's in high school, you know, we're not going to go back to living yeah.
[01:18:40] In a world that looks like it did before these times. That's right. We don't have any influence over that. What we do have influence over is to do the things that we can do to the best of our ability to provide the services, whether that's service, you know, on a national scale. If you're one of these researchers, who's developing a vaccine and going through [01:19:00] clinical trials, and this is something that's going to affect the wellbeing of humankind.
[01:19:04] Terrific. I don't have, I don't have the propeller of a brain that, that allows me to do that kind of thing. The things, again, that, that drive me are things that I think affect change locally. Right. Um, the things that. That drive me have always been, you know, athleticism from teamwork, testing myself in these, these high stress, you know, mental and physical capacities.
[01:19:27] And again, that's, that's led me to a career as a firefighter and that's, that's the service that I provide back along with some other things that maybe we can talk about later, but. Find those things that turn your wheel recognize that things are gone, that things are going to change. Yeah. Even after the COVID-19 thing is kind of washed through and we are living whatever the new normal is, guess what that new normal isn't going to be, our new normal forever either.
[01:19:49] There's going to be something else that changes either us as humankind, or you personally as an individual to experience that post traumatic growth. We need to learn as much as we can from this COVID situation. [01:20:00] Analyze, whatever other situations of loss or injury that you've had in your life and realize, how do I turn these.
[01:20:06] How do I turn these too good? How do I turn these to the betterment? Not only of myself, but to my family, to my coworkers, to my friends. And really, if I want to affect change at a local level at a global level, how do I best do that? And I think your message of positivity is one that it allowed me to heal faster, whether it's from the loss of our daughter, whether it was from my gunshot wound, a positive mental attitude has played a significant and I think very measurable role.
[01:20:32] Not only my physical recovery, but my psychological recovery. And I guess that would be, that would be the lasting message that I would send to people. And I think with the realization that, you know, the old saying this too shall pass, I think with the recognition that this is not forever, but there are things that we can do now to influence the outcome.
[01:20:52] For ourselves, for our families, for people that we care about is a huge lesson to take away. And I think it's the most important takeaway that we've gotten out
[01:21:00] [01:20:59] Brian Beckcom: [01:20:59] well, put Moraine well put, well, you know, I've been telling my family, I've been saying we just gotta be mentally flexible. We have to be willing to.
[01:21:08] Kind of roll with the punches. You know, there's a great book, Nick, can you you've referenced his comp concept multiple times in the podcast. There's a great book called antifragile by an author named Nicholas and I seem to lead and the concept is really simple. He says, basically there's three kinds of systems.
[01:21:27] There's fragile systems, which break easily. There's robust systems. Which don't break easily, but they eventually break. And then there's systems that are, I actually get stronger with stress. So like, you know, the, the obvious example is when you, when you lift weights or something, you're literally right.
[01:21:45] Putting stress and you're tearing your muscles. And then they ended up getting stronger and building stronger. This concept of resilience, it's the same thing as resilience. Antifragility, you know, there's a famous saying, it doesn't kill me, makes me stronger. [01:22:00] It's kind of that, that concept. And so, uh, I love the way you put that because now is the time.
[01:22:07] I mean, we basically have two options. Nick, we can feel sorry for ourselves and we can be upset and depressed and we can be part of the, all the negativity. Or we can say, we're going to use this to get better, stronger. We're going to get better prepared for pandemics. We're going to get, uh, we're going to do what we need to do with the police and some of the minority community.
[01:22:26] So we can, we can make things better. This is op these are opportunities right now. We have opportunities to make. Our community and our country better. And so Nick, I want to thank you so much for being a part of that. Thanks for being on the podcast. Thanks for spending a little extra time with me. And I should have said this at the beginning, and I know you hear this all the time, but I feel like I need to say it anyway.
[01:22:48] Nick Kalt: [01:22:48] you for your service to our country. Well, thank you for saying so it's always, uh, always nice to hear and I know you genuinely appreciate it and thank you for what you do as well. I really appreciate being with you.
[01:22:59] Brian Beckcom: [01:22:59] Yeah, man, [01:23:00] for sure. And, and, and I'm serious maybe in a couple of months, we can get you back on and we can talk about being a firefighter.
[01:23:04] Cause that is super cool, man. I'd
[01:23:07] Nick Kalt: [01:23:07] love to hear about that. Let's let's do it. Let's do it. I would love to, and I apologize for having to cut you guys short today, but, uh, I do need to get to this appointment. And again, I really appreciate you having me for the time that you have had me.
[01:23:20] Brian Beckcom: [01:23:20] Thank
[01:23:20] Nick Kalt: [01:23:20] you, brother.
[01:23:20] All right, we'll talk to you soon.
[01:23:22] Brian Beckcom: [01:23:22] Bye. Take care.
[01:23:24] Nick Kalt: [01:23:24] You've been listening to lessons from leaders with Brian Beckam. If you've enjoyed this week's interview, be sure to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast and keep up with the latest episodes. You can also connect with Brian through his firstname.lastname@example.org.