The Voice of a Modern Warrior: An Interview with Grant McGarry

Grant McGarry is an Army Ranger who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment. He is the owner of LTRC (Live the Ranger Creed) Ops, the Director of the Darby Project and author of the newbook, “A Night in the Pech Valley – A memoir of a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the Global War on Terrorism”.

The moment that you begin to speak with Grant you are greeted with a sense of comfort. His southern drawl speaks from the roots of Georgia pine, and brings with it visions of a comfortable fire place, front porches, and Cracker Barrel-esque rocking chairs. Grant carries the calm demeanor that not only represents where he grew up, but is also found in seasoned war-fighters who no longer have anything to prove to anyone, unless that person is themselves.

This is where we largely pick up the conversation. Through his words, Grant has visually brought me to a place in the bitter freezing cold, traversing snowy mountains and steep cliffs. He is by and large seriously questioning himself at this point, not only physically from the weather and terrain, but with the question of, “Just what in the hell am I doing right now?” No, Grant is not in the mountains of Afghanistan, but rather in North America. He was not ordered to travel to this location at this specific time; he was led to it.

Our topic: Life after war and with the 75th Ranger Regiment. “It is an intense lifestyle”, he comments, “When you leave Battalion, and you’re deploying every few months – that isn’t something that just stops because you’re no longer in the unit. It stays with you and becomes a part of you. After a few months of going through the daily grind, something inside just takes over and I gotta get out there and do something, but this time I’m out here thinking this is just agony”.

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We laugh together at this point as we’ve shared many similar feelings and hardships. However, wanting to keep things in a traditional order I bring Grant back to his days before the Army. I wanted to know what his life was like before raising his hand, what led him to decide a path a service, and to get a better understanding of the man before the uniform.

“I grew up in Roswell Georgia. I played football and was on the wrestling team and really enjoyed the whole sports scene. I was a senior in high-school when 9/11 happened and I remember going into a class on criminal justice. The teacher had the television on and we were watching the aftermath of the first plane after it had hit the first tower. Then as we were watching, as you know, the second plane flew in. Almost immediately afterward our school principle was running around the classrooms telling our teachers to turn the televisions off. My teacher at the time, honestly could have cared less about what the principle had to say and kept it on. The next moment he said something that I’ll never forget. He simply asked who was eighteen in the room and I was one of the only ones. His next remark was something I’ll never forget because it really changed my life and it was simply, “You’ll be going to war”. So that was my first taste of the future but my mom had different plans for me. I came home telling my mom I wanted to be a Marine or something to that affect, and she wasn’t really against the idea, but she told me that she wanted me to go to college first and that if I still wanted this, afterwards I had her blessing.”

I shared my own personal experience with 9/11 and my father’s similar reaction, then giving the conversation back to Grant he continued. “So I ended up doing just that” he said. “I went to the University of Alabama and graduated with a degree in finance. Towards the end of my time in college I had started frequently talking to a former 3rd Ranger Battalion veteran who had participated in both jumps into Iraq and Afghanistan and was going back to school. I remember how motivating his stories were and that’s where I really began my education on what an Army Ranger really was. I went to Barnes and Noble and bought the book “To be an Army Ranger”.

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After that I pretty much just did what the book told me to do and I found myself in the pipeline to the 75th Ranger Regiment. I’m there, going to Jump school, and the Ranger Indoctrination Program, and the next thing you know I’m in a heavy training cycle and we were off to Iraq in April of 2007″.

From there Grant briefly discussed his deployment history, consisting of five total deployments with three to Iraq and two to Afghanistan. His last deployment to Afghanistan was in the late summer – into the fall of 2010. Based on the conversation up until this point, you easily begin to understand that this specific deployment was probably the most significant and painful for Grant. “I came home on block leave around Christmas time and I was not in a good place” Grant said. “We had just lost Chris (Spc. Christopher Shane Wright) and I was experiencing some very extreme symptoms of post traumatic stress. I had and think I will always have a lot of survivor’s guilt. At the time I was having a lot of reoccurring nightmares and things really just weren’t right in my head. I would dream that I was dragging Chris and he would just get up and shout, “I’m alive!” and just… it was a very rough time for me. So I’m home, and its Christmas but my mom could just tell I was not the same. So for Christmas she bought me a journal and told me to let it out in the journal. That really changed a lot as I began to write, and continued to write.” Little did his mother know, but that gift would eventually fuel the fire behind the book.

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Grant shortly thereafter ended his time in service and quickly found himself contracting with Triple Canopy. He took a position that brought him to the American Embassy in Baghdad; this time with journal in hand. He continued writing as he found refuge in his journal and felt the therapeutic benefits of putting pen to paper.

He returned home in December of 2011 on what was supposed to be a leave period with Triple Canopy; however due to the political environment at the time with the Department of State and Hillary Clinton; his and many other contractor’s work visas were removed. So instead of working through the bureaucratic system and waiting for a resolution, Grant took a position in finance with the Coca Cola Company.

Throughout this time Grant had maintained contact with Chris’s father and stepmother. He never felt like there was “enough” to really say or do to bring the comfort that he wished for them. He did know that Chris’s father rightfully wanted to know more about what happened to his son, as any parent in such a tragic situation would. “It was a difficult process for me and obviously for them as well, but I just always wanted to do more for them but I never really knew how or what to do”.

This led Grant to ultimately compose a letter to Chris’s dad and stepmom. Grant mustered everything he could from his memory and from his heart into that letter. He believed that they appreciated the letter, but he still never felt like it was enough. This letter though was the ultimate catalyst for Grant to turn everything he had written in his Journal into a word document, ultimately forming the book, “A Night in the Pech Valley”.

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“When I was younger I would read books about Vietnam Special Operations guys and I thought they were just so cool and inspiring. When you get into the (Special Operations) community though, ya know, writing a book is generally looked down upon. So it wasn’t an easy or seamless decision for me, but ultimately I wanted to give something to the world that would continue Chris’s legacy and the legacy of the guys I served with. I have friends who don’t like that I wrote a book, and really it is what it is but I respect their opinion. I made sure I did what I believe is right and to me it was by sending it through the 75th Ranger Regiment Public Affairs Office. From there it went through the chain and finally came out of the Public Affairs Office at the Pentagon. I never intended to say anything that was out of bounds or do any type of injustice to the Ranger Regiment and took all the necessary actions to accomplish this book. I want Chris to be remembered and I think this was the best way I could make sure that happened” Grant earnestly explained.LTRC-logo-shadowed2

Grant started LTRC (Live the Ranger Creed) LLC. which began as a platform for the book. LTRC now sells gear and apparel and is looking forward to a tactical line coming out in 2016. While setting out on these entrepreneurial adventures, Grant left the Coca-Cola Company and set his sights on a Masters of Business Administration degree which he is now pursuing at Emory University.

In this transition Grant began an endeavor helping active and former Rangers and veterans alike. Through this process Grant began working with the Darby Project in April of this year, where he now stands as the Director of the organization. “We focus on three main things” Grant said. “We help Rangers and similar or related service members in transitioning out of the military. We work a lot with family assistance, and started a service dog project for those in need.”

Grant is a true patriot, he’s served his country in and out of uniform and continues his service to this day, through the Darby Project and through his writing. His book is for the memory of Christopher Shane Wright and his brothers who fought right by his side.

To contact Grant and shop LTRC you can go to http://www.ltrc-ops.com. To learn more about the Darby project go to http://www.darbyproject.org. You can also download a copy of “A Night in the Pech Valley” here at Amazon.com.

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