Helicopter in clouds
episode 92 | Dec 20, 2022
Law Enforcement/Military

Ep. 92: Joel Struthers: From the French Foreign Legion to Private Military Contractor

Get ready for an exciting and informative episode of the Silvercore Podcast with Joel Struthers, author and former member of the French Foreign Legion. In this episode, Travis Bader sits down with Joel to discuss his time in the Legion and his experiences as a private military contractor. With a background in flying helicopters and operating his own company, Raven Hill Risk Control, Joel has plenty of interesting stories to share.
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Appel - Joel Struthers

Civil - Joel Struthers




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[00:00:00] Travis Bader: I'm Travis Bader, and this is the Silvercore Podcast. Silvercore has been providing its members with the skills and knowledge necessary to be confident and proficient in the outdoors for over 20 years, and we make it easier for people to deepen their connection to the natural world. If you enjoy the positive and educational content we provide, please let others know by sharing, commenting and following so that you can join in on everything that Silvercore stands for.

[00:00:40] If you'd like to learn more about becoming a member of the Silvercore Club and community, visit our website at Silvercore.ca

[00:00:52] today I am joined by a man who, when he isn't flying helicopters or operating his company, Raven Hill Risk Control. He's writing books, detailing his time with the French Foreign Legion, or working as a private military contractor. Author of the books, Appell and Civil welcome to the Silvercore Podcast, Joel Struthers.

[00:01:10] Joel Struthers: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. Thanks for having me, Joel. 

[00:01:12] Travis Bader: I've been looking forward to this for a while. This is, um, I've read your books. Love 'em. They're amazing. Uh, really interesting background. Your name's been floating around. For a long time now. Uh, some similar people, similar circles. I've done a little bit of, uh, uh, research on the past.

[00:01:33] I'm really, really, um, really pleased to be able to have this 

[00:01:35] Joel Struthers: opportunity. No, I, well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it. Vice versa. Um, yeah. Glad we could, we could do this. . Well, 

[00:01:41] Travis Bader: this isn't your first podcast. In fact, you were on a pretty big podcast in the past, which was, uh, uh, a neat one. That was a long, long episode with a ton of great information.

[00:01:52] But you were on Jocko's podcast 

[00:01:54] Joel Struthers: before, eh? It was as in, yeah, it was long, correct. Yeah. That was the first, uh, first podcast I'd ever done. So it was a bit of a, an introduction trial by fire. No kidding. Um, and yeah, talking for, I think we almost talked for four hours. That's tough. That's about my quota for six months.

[00:02:09] fact. That's right. This would be my second in person. Um, so I haven't done another one since, since Jocko. I've done a couple Zoom ones. Yeah. But, uh, yeah, I'm happy to, do I find this much more Yeah. Effective? 

[00:02:20] Travis Bader: Yeah. Zoom's never the same. Get getting online. He, yeah. Trying to pick up on this nuances, the para verbal, the non-verbal, and it's just if someone's kicking you under the table, alright.

[00:02:29] You just don't get that anymore. Yeah, no, true. So, okay. I'd imagine it's gotta be pretty nerve-wracking to go in and do your very first podcast to be on such a large platform like that where hundreds of thousands of people will be listening to your, to your story. How, we'll, we'll talk about some of the earlier stuff, but I'm just kind of curious on that podcast one, how did that come about?

[00:02:53] And I got a bit of an idea from reading your books and, um, what was it like? Like what, what was that whole experience 

[00:03:00] Joel Struthers: like? Oh, great. Um, good question. Um, so the Jocko podcast came. Someone suggested actually sending him a Hail Mary copy of the book Appell, which I did and I'd forgotten about it to be honest with you.

[00:03:13] And then one day in the mail was a card from Jocko saying, Hey, you know, enjoy the book. Would you be interested in coming down and, and doing the podcast? Wow. So obviously I was, yeah, yeah. I committed at that point. Um, so then what I did, I had a, a couple months before I had to fly down to, uh, San Diego, I watched as many episodes as I could.

[00:03:30] Uh, obviously his podcast. Yeah. Get a, get an idea of, of his, um, interview style. Mm-hmm. , what type of questions he likes, what he'd focus on, and also just the setting of the room. Right. Hoping that when I got there, I would be comfortable and it would be, cuz obviously that was gonna be my first kick of the cat, the fact that it was filmed and a big part of the, um, well, not depredation, but you know, obviously the, the worry was that.

[00:03:56] In a podcast as such, I would be representing somewhat Legionnaire, right? Because albeit I'm out, I'm no longer Legionnaire, I'm not representing all Legionnaires. I would be, you know, potentially the first, kind of, first look at Legionnaire for a lot of that demographic. Certainly the States and North America, you know, which is obviously the yeah.

[00:04:15] The Prime Watcher for that, uh, that podcast. So I had to choose, um, my wording carefully on how I answered certain things and came across. So I think you, you know, for those that have watcher or do watch it, I think you can tell at the beginning I'm kind of a bit, you know, um, less forthcoming and more careful.

[00:04:34] It's like, I'm not saying a word , and then you forget, right? I mean, obviously I have microphone in front of me, I've got the cameras in my face. There's, you know, echo sitting there. Yeah. Um, so it took a while to kind of just relax and then once the con conversation started to flow, then you forget. Right?

[00:04:49] And then I would answer somewhat, uh, you know, Get a little bit more comfortable. Yeah. So I think it, you know, the latter half of the, the interview's a little more flowing and, and easier to, to listen to perhaps. I haven't listened to the whole thing. I, I can't stand listening to myself to be honest with you, but I watched parts of it.

[00:05:03] Yeah. Um, just to see, you know, it didn't come across like a total idiot, but, uh, Yeah, it was. Uh, but obviously Jocko was very good and skilled at what he does. Yeah, he is. And, uh, that four hours flew by him before he knew it. It was, it was over and I was sucking back his, his Jocko drink there. So I had Oh yes.

[00:05:18] The old, uh, yeah, old Jocko Juice talk flow was gone. Yes. But yeah, no, it was, um, yeah, it was quite the introduction. Uh, and then obviously opened up that, uh, you know, that whole demographic for, so it was big for, for Appelle. 

[00:05:30] Travis Bader: What did you find the response after 

[00:05:32] Joel Struthers: that? Um, it was good. I don't spend too much time, you know, looking at comments or all kind of stuff mm-hmm.

[00:05:39] But I think we're all human and we do, so I, I was keen on kind of seeing what. The reception or what the view was from, from watchers and Yeah. It seemed, uh, it seemed positive. Um, so I, I monitored that obviously the sales of the book Right. Took it, took an increase as a result. But what I noticed, or sorry, what I noticed the most was I had a lot of people reach out that were interested in the Legion and that had questions about, you know, potentially joining and asking questions.

[00:06:07] Um, no, obviously, I mean, I left the Legion what, in 2000, so it's been a chunk of time. Sure. I think I did that podcast two years ago, just over two years ago. Mm-hmm. . So I'm not a recruiter. The legion's obviously changed, but you know, I respect that people asking and reaching out. So I do respond, um, and I try to, Point them in the right direction.

[00:06:27] And that was, at the end of the day, the objective of Appell was to educate. There's so much bullshit out there and misconceptions and, you know, um, I just kind of finally came around and said, listen, maybe it's on me to share a story that's factual. Um, and in the case of Appell, there was three things that I, I needed for it before I would let it go out.

[00:06:43] It was that the Legion approved the narrative. Mm-hmm. , um, I had a Ford from a, an acting officer within which, you know, gives the story legitimacy. Totally. And that there was a, um, a reputable publisher that would put it out and you got all three. So, so, yeah. So that was, and I knew nothing about books. I'm not a writer per se, you know what I mean?

[00:07:01] This was just something I felt like maybe it was on me to do. And for those who wanted to, to know the facts, they could read a book and be educated factually, you know? 

[00:07:09] Travis Bader: Um, isn't that funny? I'm not a writer. I've got a couple books, you know, I'm not really a writer. Well, 

[00:07:13] Joel Struthers: yeah, but I'm not, you know, I mean, I don't know.

[00:07:17] Yeah. How do you, it takes a lot of work. Um, obviously I'm able to share a story because I was obviously the main actor in that story, but with like Appell and Seville, obviously an editor is a big help just for the, uh, grammatical side of stuff, you know, you know, um, and, uh, well, we can get into that putting book together is, is is challenging.

[00:07:39] Yeah. Well, 

[00:07:40] Travis Bader: it was, it's funny, uh, Dean Nugent was on a podcast with Ja Spud, who, friends of mine. Yeah. Um, British Army talking about, uh, uh, mental health and a nu number of diff different things transitioning and from the army life to civilian life. And, uh, Jace has gotten into mountain guiding. Mm-hmm. , he's a firefighter, a Acmg mountain guide, and he's out in the, the hills and climbing all the time.

[00:08:04] And Dean was out there climbing with him, and some girl says, oh, so you're a climber? He is like, no, no, no, no. I'm not a climber. Right. I just, he's like, oh, you got all the kit. You're going up and down the rock. You kinda look like climber. Climber. He's like, Well, I, I guess so. It's cuz I'm, I guess I'm comparing myself to these other people who, I view them as climbers, but people are all looking at you.

[00:08:23] Oh, I'm not really a writer. Well, you've got a couple great books out there. You're a writer. Fair. 

[00:08:27] Joel Struthers: Yeah. Um, yeah, it's having books is a bit of a weird thing. Right. . I mean, it's, you put yourself out there. Um, but yeah. Uh, I will say I'm proud of them. Yeah. Um, but it's not something that I actively look and seek to do.

[00:08:41] Like, would they be a third? I, I certainly don't think so, unless life put a story out there that I felt was worth sharing. Um, but yeah, these two just came to be for, for whatever reason. 

[00:08:52] Travis Bader: Well, what were some of the most common questions that you'd get from people after doing the last podcast and people were interested in the Legion?

[00:08:59] What, what do you see come up over and over? 

[00:09:03] Joel Struthers: A lot of times they were asking if they thought they would gimme a brief rundown of their situation in life and he did. I think they would get accepted. Hmm. Um, and typically, My answer would be, you won't know unless you try. Right? I'm certainly not the, you know, I don't have the, the facts and I don't know if they're gonna get in out.

[00:09:21] All you can do is go, if that's what you want to do, and you be careful on what you wish for. We, we'll get to that. Mm-hmm. . Um, just be prepared. Go over and give it a shot. And then you've, you know, life is short. You only got one shot. If that's something you wanna do, you gotta do it. But if you're asking me 20 questions, , chances are it's not for you.

[00:09:38] You know what I mean? Yeah. I think typically the people that join us, they see this thing, the legion, they, they look into it. That's something I'd like to try and you just go, right. Um, another case, I've actually talked to one person on the phone. I gave him, you know, the respect that he reached out and he was a young, uh, Navy officer, went to, uh, went to the academy and I guess in the SEAL system, you know, I'm not, not that I'm a, I know much about it, but from what he told me as the officers pre, uh, selection buds, whatever, they go through a pre-screening for the officers to make sure that they're of a proper quality.

[00:10:09] He, he had to, his class, I think at the academy was a wrestler. Um, you know, fit young guy went through buds and got injured. Mm. Um, went through the rehab process, got back in, did a second attempt, got through the, uh, you know, the initial phase and was in the training. You know, it takes about a year and a half before they're given their, their tri and whatever.

[00:10:29] Mm-hmm. He was injured. Again, I think it was a diving incident and. In the blood tests, they found a, uh, spiked level of testosterone. So in his recovery period, he had taken tears or whatever Sure. As I think probably 80%, whatever. Sure, sure. They kicked him out. The Navy had said, that's it. You're, you're out.

[00:10:47] Hmm. Um, so he had called me. Um, he was obviously, you know, a young man wanted to service country and he was a bit lost. He felt that was unfair and I, I agreed. I thought that was unfair, and that's why I talked to him on the phone and he said he was thinking about going over to France to join. Um, so we had a, a frank discussion about his level of education, his place in life, what he was looking for, and I just, I was just honest with him.

[00:11:09] I said, listen, you know, it's an option, but it's not the only option. Choose wisely and Right. I didn't, you know, I won't go into it too much. That's between him and I, but Sure. I, I never heard from him again. I don't know if he went over and did it, but, You know, I think certain people, it would be a, a good experience.

[00:11:28] Others not. Yeah. 

[00:11:29] Travis Bader: Who, what sort of personality type would you say this is gonna be a good experience for you? 

[00:11:35] Joel Struthers: Typically, the Legion looks for people with a bit of life skill. So, early twenties, mid twenties. Mm. So you're not just, you know, a knee-jerk reaction or you're running away from something. Right.

[00:11:44] Right. That life experience can be positive and negative, but you're in that phase as a, as a young man where you're kind of learning from your errors and you're, you kind of see that, listen, I gotta get myself on the right path. If not, things aren't gonna go well. Which I think they like, because then you're, you're open to instruction and, and forming.

[00:12:03] Right. They're pretty good at, they've been doing this for a long time so they can, they can make a soldier out of a certain type of individual. Mm-hmm. . Um, so to answer your question more directly is I think it's just someone that says, I wanna fucking try that. Yeah. Can you go, um, But what I do say to the, the people do ask, I don't go into detail.

[00:12:22] I just say, listen, make sure you're, you're ready for this. It's, it's more mental than physical and know the language. Mm-hmm. , knowing French before you show up is a huge benefit. You don't have to be fluent, but you have a good grasp at because that is the biggest struggle and that's the difference. And I get into that in Seville and um, you know, that was kind of, cuz I would say 80% of the people that reach out are American.

[00:12:45] Um, so there's a lot of them and it's, it's tough because up until recently, uh, I think for their, their young men and women who wanna join you can't have any type of criminal record every year. You know, so you might make stupid mistake, you get a DUI when you're 18, 19, whatever, as you know, happens to people.

[00:13:00] Yeah. Doesn't mean you're a bad person. But now you can't even join your own, your own military and they're disillusioned and looking for a way out. It worked for me. Mm-hmm. the pill was a good experience. Or sorry, the lesion was a good experience for me. Um, but it's also time and place and luck. And then what you bring to the table and what you make of it.

[00:13:17] That's the big thing. Yes. If you think you're gonna go over there, you know, in a, in a month you're gonna be jumping into Africa to , you know, that's not the way it is. It's, it's a tough go and it's, and it's mental. Um, you know, it's, first of all, you're in a, a foreign country, a foreign army, foreign language, food's different.

[00:13:33] Everything's different. It's old school. The discipline is there. You're not going out on the weekends. Mm-hmm. . You're not going back to your girlfriend at, at Christmas. Mm-hmm. not for a while. Yeah. Um, and that weighs on people. Um, and a lot of people in the ranks and the legion, they don't have much to go back to.

[00:13:49] They're there for different reasons. You're, you know, north American that goes over, it's probably easy to talk yourself into going home where you have the good life. You know what I mean? It's, it's something that's, uh, pertinent and I try to. put across. I don't wanna dissuade people, but I also wanna say, Hey, be careful what you wish for because it's, it's not necessarily what you, what you think it is.

[00:14:10] You know, you know, 

[00:14:11] Travis Bader: when you read through different books of people who have gone through, uh, elite schools, uh, I mean, and Andy McNabb, what's his name? Steven, uh, 

[00:14:21] Joel Struthers: what whatever is Yeah, probably 

[00:14:23] Travis Bader: Bravo. Yeah. Yeah. Bravo two Zero. Immediate action. All the rest. And, uh, a lot of these guys come from backgrounds that were, were difficult, that were harder, that, um, and, and it seems to be that's the, um, uh, the type of person that the, the Army or the Special Forces groups would really kind of attract people looking for discipline in their life.

[00:14:46] A new way to, uh, to approach things, to be something that they're, they're lacking options outside of that. So I should imagine if your toes are really easy to touch the ground and, and kind of walk on outta there mentally, that would be, Yeah, it'd be tough to stay in something that's gonna be difficult for 'em, but if you're, if you got nothing else to grasp onto, this is it.

[00:15:09] Let's give it at all. Yep. 

[00:15:10] Joel Struthers: No fair one. Whereas I wasn't of that. No, you weren't. You know, I was, yeah. Who knows? I mean, I'm still trying to figure myself out too. So let's let's not go there. That'd be, yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. A difficult podcast. But, um, yeah, who knows? And that's, I think I had, it was an off, A British officer reached out at some point just talking.

[00:15:26] He'd been in Afghanistan about the same time period that I was there. Uh, and he was talking about, he had a, uh, young squad in his group that had served in the Legion. And he said he was quite a character, got himself into a lot of trouble. But when it came down to the shit he was, he was the guy that he went, he trusted the most, like he right.

[00:15:43] He got the job done. And I think, you know, , there's peacetime, armies, wartime armies. Mm-hmm. , different types of people rise to the top. Mm-hmm. . Um, and when shit gets tough, it's, it's interesting the individuals and the type of people that are actually the ones that step up, you know? Well, it's not necessarily always the ones you think that would be Yeah.

[00:16:01] The ones that 

[00:16:02] Travis Bader: step up. Yeah. Well it's the ones that maybe had a little bit of assorted past. Yeah. And it's, it's unfortunate in a way perhaps that, that there is that criminal record barrier cuz of people who are pushing their boundaries. Oh. Getting into trouble, challenging themselves and others and coloring outside the lines, so to speak, can oftentimes be the best soldiers cuz they can think outside the 

[00:16:23] Joel Struthers: box a hundred percent.

[00:16:25] And I think that's why the Legion has been successful. They take people with a bit of life skills. Ah-huh . And then they're able to shape them, give them that discipline that they're potentially looking for. A lot of times we get in trouble cuz there's a lack of, you know, guidelines and discipline and we're trying to prove ourselves.

[00:16:39] We're young, we've got all that adrenaline in our testosterone in our system. You know, Legion, you show up, they're like okay, you can use that focus and adrenaline but these are the the guidelines and you will respect them and you'll do this, you know, properly. 

[00:16:52] Travis Bader: What are some of the myths cuz you say, you know, dispelling some of the myths.

[00:16:55] What are some of the more prevalent myths? 

[00:16:58] Joel Struthers: Um, well a lot of things. Annoyed me. And that was the big thing is when the subject of I served in the French royal angel comes up in a small conversation, it's impossible to explain. And that's not my, I'm not good at small talk anyway. And people would always have a misconception, misconception story that it's, you know, murders and stuff that run away to France to join the French Foreign Legion, which, right, which, which in its inception was true.

[00:17:23] They would take, you know, um, people of that, uh, you know, background, they would give them a choice to go to prison or, or certain legion. But it's changed. The Legion is now a part of the French military. Mm. Same rules and regulations. Um, they don't, they take, you know, I served with some pretty, pretty damn good people, respectable people, um, that I respect to this day and.

[00:17:44] So it annoys me. So I have a hard time. I might come across short and it's like, you know what, shut the fuck up, man. Yeah. Um, but that's not fair. So that's repelled. But that is the big misconception, is the type of in individual story that joins the Legion. Mm-hmm. . Um, I think in this day and age, it's a young man that's looking to soldier and for whatever reason he can't in his own country for what, whatever.

[00:18:06] Sure. Whatever that may be. There's not the options. They don't have the military they're looking for. Mm-hmm. , they're not active, or they have that background where they're no longer able. Um, well, that's what happened 

[00:18:15] Travis Bader: with you, 

[00:18:16] Joel Struthers: right? Yeah, a hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah. No, I was exactly the, uh, the Legion did me a big favor, and that's why, you know, I put in the time and effort to, um, to share that I have a lot of respect for the Legion in France, for what they did for me.

[00:18:28] It worked well for me. Mm-hmm. . It's not something I'd like my son to experience, for example. Mm. And I don't think it's for everybody, but for me, for whatever reason, it, it worked. You needed it. Yeah, 

[00:18:37] Travis Bader: definitely. Yeah. Yeah. So you grew up military, family, military backgrounds. You were. over here. Reservist with the Correct.

[00:18:45] Yep. The West Asia. Yeah. For all Westminster Regiment here in New Westminster. And, um, said, I'm just, I don't see the options over here that I do over there. 

[00:18:56] Joel Struthers: Exactly. Essentially. Exactly. I was in Wayne Wright doing our battle school and the Canadian military was going through its restructuring and the West east at that point, were tasked with the, um, uh, p and the next course, theoretically, once there's a spot available, would be a jump course in Edmonton.

[00:19:11] And that's always something I was interested in doing, was jumping. Um, and I think it stems from my grandfather, my dad's dad, who was second wave, uh, Juno. He had given me, uh, I think he was a hundred first, uh, jump smock that he traded with a, a guy so cool. A D-day. And I think my mom threw it out, but come on.

[00:19:28] She says, she says, no, 

[00:19:29] Travis Bader: but I, it's gone. I still love 

[00:19:31] Joel Struthers: my mum, but that's, that'll stick with me. Who knows. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I'm sure she didn't. But anyway, I wore that thing. . And I always wonder if that gave me the, uh, that itch to be a, be a jumper. But, um, you know, I watched all the, the Vietnam War movie anyway.

[00:19:45] Yeah, yeah. Um, I'm in Wayne Wright. It kind of comes down the pipeline that we're gonna be re-tasked to be anti-tank tow, you know, and, uh, it just happened that there was an NCO and one of the other courses who had recently come back from the Legion and he had served five years with the rep, which is the Airborne Regiment in the Legion.

[00:20:02] Yeah. And one of our master corporals that was on the course, he was a westy, but you know, they detached some of the NCOs for the, for the course. He said, Hey man, you know, if you're, if you're itching to jump, go to France, you can join. And I was like, what? I knew nothing about right at, he's like most people.

[00:20:15] So I, I looked into it. Um, I had actually called the recruiter across the board in Washington, I think it was Marine Corps, um, and asked, you know, and I was basically told it would take a year, two years to get the green card at that time. Mm-hmm. I have no American family, so it would take a while. And I was a young man.

[00:20:33] You're impatient. So I was like, yeah, I'm going to France. And 

[00:20:36] Travis Bader: yeah. That timeline's different 

[00:20:37] Joel Struthers: when you're young, right? Oh yeah. So I went over and uh, and I spoke, that's right. I wrote to the Legion, they sent me a letter back with all the different, uh, recruiting depos some of the information. Um, and I was fortunate because my dad, as we mentioned, he was a fighter pilot in the Canadian Air Force.

[00:20:51] And I grew up, you know, a big chunk of my youth was in uh, Germany. Yeah. And the Canadian Forest base, um, all the schools are French immersion, so I took Right. French immersion until grade eight. That's 

[00:21:02] Travis Bader: a huge help. 

[00:21:03] Joel Struthers: Eh? So I had, yeah, had a really good base. So that was, that was a big part of my, you know, I would assume favorable experience in ages.

[00:21:10] I had the language and it opens up a lot of doors early on because if you don't pick up the language, it's not, uh, it's not a good experience. 

[00:21:17] Travis Bader: So you contact them, they get back to you. Are you sitting there thinking like, what the hell am I doing? Like when you're younger, that timeframe, cuz there's a commitment that you're gonna be having to give them a, a certain portion of your life.

[00:21:30] Five years. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And five years, you were how old at the time? 

[00:21:33] Joel Struthers: I was 20, 21 I believe when I was 

[00:21:35] Travis Bader: 21. Yeah. Okay. So like another quarter of your life from that date anyways, right? Yep. 

[00:21:41] Joel Struthers: Um, now, . Yes. Now my life was big. Yeah. The, I needed a, a change of direction. Okay. And something to focus on that was a little more positive.

[00:21:53] Um, so it was pretty much, I'm going, for whatever reason, it just hit a hit, a hit, hit a mark with me. Um, I had seen the old pictures of, uh, the predecessor to the rep, the be jumping in, into China, you know, and, uh, uh, MBM Fu and then in Algeria and those, you know, black and white pictures. The guys jumping out DC three s and stuff was just, for me, it was like, You know, that wasn't an option for me in Canada.

[00:22:21] I gotta go. And yeah, I didn't really think too much of it. Now, when I got over there and I found the, um, the Legion, uh, depo in, uh, Strasberg where I was gonna sign up, I sat across from the, the depo for an hour or two on the stairs. There's a church I think, across the way, and there's, you know, the big steps.

[00:22:38] So I just sat there, kind of looking at the door, reflecting on my, on my choices. But at that point I had already committed there. I was in, in France, you're there, and it was happening. And so I rang the little 

[00:22:48] Travis Bader: butterflies in the stomach. 

[00:22:51] Joel Struthers: Oh, fuck. It was a long time, I'm sure. Yeah. Um, I think the big thing for me was if I was doing this, I didn't want to be, I knew at the point, I think I'd been told that, you know, typically they take one in six or seven, depends on, uh, but during my time period, that's when the iron wall had come down.

[00:23:07] Mm-hmm. on the iron curtain. So there was an influx of Eastern blockers so they could pick and choose. So the odds of getting in were, were, were tough. Right. Because they only can take certain amount and they have, you know, , the pick of the crop, not the crop, but they have the ability to pick and choose, um, based on the criteria they look for.

[00:23:24] So my fear, to be honest with you, was that I would have to come home saying I didn't even get into the French foreign Legion. Yo. Yeah. I hate to say it, but yeah. And I didn't, I didn't necessarily know how tough it would be to get in, but I hadn't a, I didn't have a plan B for me that was, I'm going there, I want a soldier as a young man, I wanna do it for real.

[00:23:41] And uh, you know, hopefully touch wood, it, it worked and it did. Lovely. 

[00:23:45] Travis Bader: So you have pictures of the rep and the be and this idea of what the legion's gonna be like, and you've had a little bit of an opportunity to correspond with them. Yep. But all up into that point, nothing was truly real. They were just the thoughts of what you had in your head of what it's gonna be like or what others have told you.

[00:24:02] When did things really become real for you in the 

[00:24:04] Joel Struthers: legion sense? Um, well I had read Legionnaire by Simon Murray. Yes. That was a big, from his time during the, uh, the war in Algeria. That was a big, a big one for me. I liked the, I liked the story. Um, . So I had my limited interaction with Allegion. I knew I needed to do something.

[00:24:22] Yeah. Um, so I, I went and once that door opened up and that big corporal chef asked for my passport and said, you wanna join ? I went in and they showed me, uh, they put in a VHS cassette. This is all old, back in the day. This was 90, when did I go over 94? Okay. Um, they put in all, all these cassettes with the different languages.

[00:24:43] So we put in English cassette and it showed, luckily to me, for me, it started off with the, the legion or the rep, sorry, jumping uh, out of the Trans ELs and C one 30 and Calvin. Um, so it just, right there I was like, I'm sold. This is a good sign. Yeah. This is, uh, um, and really at that point they could have showed me anything.

[00:25:01] I mean, I was kind of, I was in, you know. Yeah. It doesn't matter what they showed you and then. From there, it was about a month before I actually went off to basic. There's a whole f from there. It's like from Strassburg, there's a, they do a, a quick recruitment where they, you know, you go to a, a medical, uh, it's a military medical facility.

[00:25:18] They do a quick uh, um, you know, survey, whatever you wanna call medical. Yeah, yeah. Um, they pick and choose from there. Uh, and then you're sent down to Obeying, which is the Allegiance headquarters, the Premierer. Um, and there you're in like a re a recruitment area and you spend typically a month. And there they, they go through all the different, uh, phases and criteria and pick and choose, and then off you go to Costell, which is the catch hammerer, and that's their training regiment.

[00:25:45] Okay. Not far from Tolu. Where they build the Airbus and basic training is four months. Okay. So the first, first month there's 50 of you and you're at a farm. And it's basically these old, there's four, uh, training companies in the regiment. And each training company, they bought these, uh, basically a farm with an old farmhouse rebuilt them for, for barracks.

[00:26:04] Yeah. And you go there and your first month is basically just learning the, what it is to be a Legionnaire, the discipline. How they go about doing things. Yeah. Their way of doing business, learning the language and the songs, because they're big on songs. Big on the songs. But you know, in a, in in Appell I get on it, I do shit on it, but yeah, I respect it.

[00:26:26] Yeah. And it's done for a reason and it's, it's effective. Um, and it's, yeah, it's, it's, it's smart. But yeah, for that first month it's tough and that really weeds out, um, yeah, not the week per se, but the people that are not mentally there for the right reasons. And then at the end of basic, you're given a chance to go back to the civilian life.

[00:26:45] So you can either do your five years Yeah. Or get out. But once you commit, you're theoretically you're in stunt for five. Um, and I think in our group there was a dozen that decided to go back. Okay. And, uh, depending on where you finish and basic, you can pick and choose where you want to go. Um, the different regiments.

[00:27:03] Um, so I was fortunate, finished well, and then I chose the rep and. Wow. That's where, that's where I 

[00:27:09] Travis Bader: went. So you spent your time, people, if they really want to get into the ins and outs or that's like, that's in your book Appell. Yep. And, uh, great book by the way. Really enjoyed that for sure. Um, you do your time with the French Foreign Legion and you say, okay, I got these skills.

[00:27:28] Now how can I apply this in the civilian market? And started looking at the, being a private military 

[00:27:36] Joel Struthers: contractor. Yeah. Uh, so I get to the rep, I do basically a year with the first company, which is, uh, they specialize in fibia, uh, if I didn't built up areas mm-hmm. . And then I did selection further the gcp, which is similar to the, uh, the British or the, the Canadian Pathfinders.

[00:27:52] Yep. But they have a second role where they support the French operations. Yep. Special command. Um, so they can work as pathfinders for the regiment or as a tier two group for the, for the cuss. Um, so I did selection for that. and that was, uh, 10 Man Halo team. Okay. Um, so I worked, I was fortunate in that, and I'll get to your, your question.

[00:28:13] Yeah, yeah. The reason for this is, you know, it was small 10 man team, so it'd be an officer, senior NCOs and junior ranks, and you had to be a minimal, uh, rank of corporal to be in the gcp. Yeah. But we were treated differently. It was more of a, a team environment. The hierarchy was there, the discipline was there, but it was a little, little looser.

[00:28:30] Yeah. And a lot of times we were away from the regiment and the legion, so we could relax a bit. It wasn't quite as, um, discipline, but as long as we were doing our jobs, maintaining, you know, a proper level of professionalism and, and fitness, all that kind of stuff, there's no issue. Maybe start to fuck up.

[00:28:48] Obviously. They'll, they'll be all over that. Yeah, they would. But so I was working, we were always in the back of helicopters, the super pumas, super falo, um, And I was 29 at this point. So it was kind of the, the phase of my career in Legion. Whereas I would have to decide if I wanted to go NCO and do the 15 years, which allows for a, a small pension or, and this was just for myself, I'm 29.

[00:29:13] Is this something I want to do for the rest of my life for those 15 years or a, a new career, but I need to get on now at 29 you're kind of at that cusp. You are. Yeah. And then being in those helicopters and watching the pilots and stuff, that was something I was interested in. Um, and uh, in fact my father had mentioned, you know, actually before the Legion, hey, would you wanna do, do helicopters?

[00:29:32] But at that point in life, I was not ready for that kind of, yeah, I need to do something else. So I. Actually had my interview with, uh, Vancouver Island Helicopters Training School from the, um, the phone booth in the regiments or in our company's, uh, parade Square. Very cool. So I remember Dave was his name.

[00:29:50] He was the chief or the, uh, the main training pilot. And he was like, where are you calling from? I was like, oh, I'm calling from the, uh, parade Square from the, uh, dium rep in Calvin Corco with French Foreign Legion. And there was a, a discernible pause, you know, like what ? Anyway, so that for me was the, um, the Exodus, um, was to start a new, a new career, but two twofold.

[00:30:14] Um, I felt bad. Um, you know, the rep had given a lot of, um, given me a good opportunity, put in the time and effort. You know, I'm now with the gcp, so I'm, you know, I've done my commander course, I've done my halo free fall course. Um, you know, I'm, I'm still fairly new and here I'm pulling the pin, right? And.

[00:30:35] My captain at the time, um, who's general now, general Damu, um, you know, kind of gave me a hard time for everybody he understood. Sure. Um, and I think as a Canadian, they understood that, you know, my situation's a bit different and I had always come to Legion, not to leave Canada, but just to experience something different elsewhere.

[00:30:55] Right. And I always felt like, you know, I was a guest in, in the French Army in France. I would always go home. I'm Canadian at the end of the day and I never, I had the opportunity and the option to go and get my French passport, but I never did. Um, you know, I was a Canadian. Um, so Interesting. Yeah. So for me that was, you know, I felt.

[00:31:13] I dunno what the word is. Um, but I felt bad leaving. But the draw was, it was time to go. And unfortunately, um, you know, this is pre, pre nine 11, right? So we were, Francis is active, um, but it wasn't Iraq, Afghanistan type active. Right. Um, so you're kind of looking at your, what you've experienced. I did six years at this point.

[00:31:35] Um, and it, it's somewhat repetitive. You look at your, your peers, your senior NCOs, you see their career path and what, what they're doing. Is that something you necessarily want to do? Um, and that's no knock on them. No respect, cuz that's, that's tough, you know? But your ambitions are different. I had some different ideas and so I, so I came, I came home.

[00:31:56] Yeah. 

[00:31:57] Travis Bader: You come back and you say helicopters. That's the thing for me. I wanna learn how to fly a helicopter from one. People will view what you were doing before as sort of a high level ambition. Mm. Helicopter flying is a high level of ambition in a few different ways, uh, for, for most people. Yeah. What, what was, what was that like to square?

[00:32:18] Joel Struthers: Um, it was tough. There was, it was a tough transition, to be honest with you. It's, I think that's something I didn't really realize till later on. Um, but I was in Victoria at the, the airport there in, on the island, uh, where the VH had its training school, uh, within a couple months of getting out. So there was that real, you know, here I am a city now, you know, it was going from a life of his Legionnaire living in Garrison rules and regulations.

[00:32:46] Pretty, pretty strict and uniform, you know, to now these newfound freedoms. So focus was tough. Mm-hmm. . Um, and I, I struggled with helicopters at the beginning. I didn't, we were initially training these R 20 twos, which is this little dinky helicopters. Okay. Like there's no room for one person there, let alone you and your instructor.

[00:33:04] Yeah. Um, and it was just, Yeah, I, I, I didn't trust them and everything was kind of new, so it, I was, I was not a, a natural if that Okay. That sounds right. Yeah. But I, but I got, I got through it, I got the job done. Uh, um, I knew nothing about the, the commercial helicopter industry in Canada at all. Yeah. All I knew was that I wanted to give this, give this a shot.

[00:33:27] So I, um, I started working for a company up, uh, in Fort Nelson, Northern bc, oil and gas type stuff, learning my trade. And, uh, yeah, it was, uh, it was challenging, but, you know, um, also enjoyable. Mm-hmm. , um, and Yeah, no regrets. And from there, you know, my, my career just continued on, but as a low time pilot in Canada, uh, the winners are, are sparse for work.

[00:33:56] There's not a lot of work. There's hell skiing and some, some stuff. Right. But, so typically you're kind of, you know, you're doing the summer months and then you're off for the, uh, for the winter. Mm-hmm. . And that's where I kind of started to look into the, uh, the overseas type stuff. Right. Yeah. 

[00:34:09] Travis Bader: So how does, how does that develop?

[00:34:12] Because there's, I know there's a certain allure to the overseas type stuff Yeah. To outsiders often. And they say, look it, I've got this skills. I've, I've been to the, I've got some basic training. I've been, um, trained to be a soldier. I can use this. There's some good money in certain ways. Um, h how did, how did you kind of decide.

[00:34:36] How did that transition happen for you? Did you have somebody else that says, Hey look, come on over here. This is what you gotta do. Well, 

[00:34:42] Joel Struthers: and that's Seville that's brought to it. It's basically once I leave the Legion and it gets into this, and again, careful what you wish for, right? Yeah. Um, so I had a couple friends that had gotten out prior to me, uh, including Keith, who was the partner in Raven Hill.

[00:34:56] We'll get into that. Yeah. And they were working for, um, back in the day there was two primary security firms outta London, uh, control Risk group. Jg. Yeah. And, and Armor Group were kind of the two main, and they would hire X Legionnaires, um, Anglophones that had the, the French language for their contracts in Africa mm-hmm.

[00:35:16] With their clients, which was predominantly exploration, oil and gas, that type type of stuff. So they liked the Legionnaires cause we had that bilingual ability and we were, you know, familiar with the African continent. Um, so I got out, I'm flying winners coming. , you're not paid anything. Right. As a low time pilot.

[00:35:38] Um, just enough to survive. And, uh, so yeah, I threw my, um, resume together and, and sent them both off to CRG and Arbor Group. And a long story Short Armor Group took me on. Yep. Um, and I started almost right away in Algeria. So North Africa, um, armor Group had, uh, a relationship with Kellogg Braner Root, which at that point in time was a part of Hall Burton Oil.

[00:36:01] Mm. Um, and they were drilling, uh, in the Sahara for natural gas and, and oil. So Armor Group would provide, uh, KBR r Hall Burton with oil seas, which were operations liaison coordinators. Yeah. And we would be on the rigs, which were secured by the Algerian police or Army cuz there was a terrorism issue in, in Algeria.

[00:36:22] Hmm. Um, and we would just be the, uh, the liaison between the. , the protect, the, the army or the, or the police and the client. So anything for road moves, you know, just what have you. Hmm. So I basically just sat on a, an oil rig for three months and the money was, was good, um, which helped the cause. Yes. And then, uh, you know, I'd go back to the, uh, back to Canada, well, back to, for the flying in the summers.

[00:36:46] Um, and that relationship remained with Armor Group for, I did that for a couple years, Algeria, in fact, I wrote a pill on the rig my first, first tour. I sat there for three months. And when I got out from the Legion, my grandfather who had retired as a, um, a brigadier general, um, dso mm-hmm. , um, was doing his degree at uic, at, I think he was get on, I think he was 86.

[00:37:14] But anyway, yeah, he was doing his degree and he was writing his, um, his thesis, whatever, and he hadn't. Kept the dire during in the war, which he regretted and he was trying to piece together cuz it, right. He had written, uh, it's called, uh, amateur Soldier. Um, and uh, so he said to me, he said, Joel, you know, if you didn't keep a a journal, I suggest you write everything down now, because if not, you were regretted down the road.

[00:37:37] Good advice. Yeah, no doubt. Yeah. Um, smart man, obviously. Yeah. Um, so I, I took his, his advice and I just basically put together, you know, I sat on the radio, I had nothing but time. I think it was, you know, I dunno, 80,000 words, just zero respect for the, uh, English language. Not that I could have, but it was like all in caps, a lot of explanation Marks, , and that, that sat for 10 years just on a Word doc.

[00:38:02] Um, but it was there and that was the really, that's where the book came from. Okay. And over time with, with work life and just, uh, certain things, I was like, you know what, maybe, maybe there's something in that, in that. We're Doc and I worked on that, created Apel. But anyway, so with with Armor Group, um, I do that.

[00:38:21] And then, uh, they were, when Iraq kicked off Ke Brown route at that point had split Cuz j Jch, you know, the Dick Cheney history, whatever. Yep, yep. Hall Burton and KBR R Split and KBR were awarded the log cap, uh, contract by the, uh, um, American, uh, what do you call it? The, um, what's the military, what's the terminology for anyway, um, to build all the bases.

[00:38:46] Okay. So, um, so early on, uh, armor Group sent over, there's a group of us, uh, there's two, uh, one next, the lead guys was, one was sas, um, the other one was Depp. There's an SPS guy on there. There's an Ozzie SAS guy, two r and p, which is the British Royal Military Police that were, um, were. PSD and they had worked with, uh, the SAS in, uh, in Ireland and then myself, the Lone Legionnaire.

[00:39:14] And, uh, we were in Baghdad early, it was 2003, so it had been only a couple months since the Americans enrolled into Baghdad. And, um, the idea was to train vetted in bracket Iraqis on P S D and then we would work with them so that when, uh, KBR R execs came in the country, we would be there to pick them up at the airport and then move them to these different installations that they were going to mm-hmm.

[00:39:40] Um, so this was Earl. So that was my first kind of kick of the kack in, uh, in Iraq, come back to flying and then come back the next winter and things in racket picked up. Um, so then I did some low profile stuff with the, the Iraqis and yeah, so that was the. Back and forth, um, flying the overseas stuff, which was tough.

[00:40:03] Um, yeah, I'd think so. It, uh, cuz as a low time pilot, you're trying to learn your trade and, you know, you, you have a good summer, you get your hands and feet, you start to pick it up, and then you're gone and you, you're on a whole different level and you come back and it's, yeah, it was, it was stressful. You gotta learn it again.

[00:40:19] Yeah. And then you're, you know, as I got a little more experience and I'm on fire, so there was no room for, it's kinda like you're just thrown into the, into the fire, right? Mm-hmm. , you're on a fire, you're slinging and all that kind of stuff. And yeah, I didn't like that. And that's what's one thing I didn't like about flying early on was I didn't like that you couldn't do it full-time.

[00:40:36] Um Right. Which I'm unfortunate now I can, but early on it was a challenge and I think that's why, you know, um, not to go off on a tangent, but becoming a commercial helicopter Canada is, is challenging. A lot of people quit for that reason. Yeah. It's, it's tough. 

[00:40:49] Travis Bader: Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I would think so. Yeah. And you seem like a real all or nothing sort of personality type.

[00:40:54] Like if you're gonna get into it, you're gonna give it 110%. Yeah, exactly. And then to be forced off of it for a while. Yeah. And have to get back in. It's like, oh, come on. I mean, I suck. That's right. I was just doing this and I was doing okay and now Yeah. 

[00:41:05] Joel Struthers: I still do. I I shit you not, so the company I worked for was out of uh, um, spring Bank Airport, which is outside of Calgary.

[00:41:11] Yeah. And, you know, I'd come back and they'd fly me in, you know, red Eye into Calgary. I'd go to the hangar, do some groundwork, and I'd do a training flight, and then I'd have my check flight with Transport Canada probably the same day. And it was just like a, yeah. You know. Information overload, shock into the mouth.

[00:41:27] You know, if , you know, can I still hover her doing it? And I st I sh you know, whenever I fly into Calgary, I think I still get anxiety from really just a, it's like a flash attack. That's interesting. Acting like, holy shit, you know? That's interesting. Yeah. Anyway, it all worked out for, for the good. 

[00:41:40] Travis Bader: It does.

[00:41:41] Yep. How those helicopters, I tell you. So I've, I've flown a few planes. Yep. Basic understanding and you know, buddy of mine's got me up in, uh, his helicopter and he looks over is like, take control. So I'm like, okay, . It's like holy crow. Are those things ever touchy? I mean like, you just think about it and they move.

[00:42:00] Right? Yeah. I wasn't expecting that. That's, that's 

[00:42:02] Joel Struthers: the first mistake is thinking. Yeah. Yeah. we over, we overthink it, but yeah. I mean they, you can te Yeah, they're, once it's like riding a bike, you know, you remember when you were a kid up first. It's like what? And then once you get it, you don't think about it.

[00:42:14] It, uh, but there is skill fade for sure. I mean that's the easy part when it comes to Yeah. The, the finer precision stuff. Um, it's, yeah. You need to be on it for sure. 

[00:42:23] Travis Bader: Well, so, okay, so Appell, you've got a book basically roughed out in the works in your kind of memoirs diary kind of format. Yep. , but you didn't have that with Seville.

[00:42:35] You approached Seil. I, I'm imagining Yes. No, true. Yeah. You approached totally different Seville as I'm going to write a book. Yeah. As opposed, I've got this platform, I can kind 

[00:42:43] Joel Struthers: of, so once, so yeah. Word doc with Apel on it. Um, 10 years passes, life's changed, you know, with circumstances and, and stuff I found interesting.

[00:42:54] And then there was never a book that came out that was a positive portrayal of Legionnaire. Mm-hmm. Which annoyed me. Um, typically the guys that did write about their experience in Legion are deserters and their story supports their narrative, but at the end of the day, they're quitters, you know? Yeah.

[00:43:08] And that kind of stems from the, the three things that I needed. So if I put this out, I wanted the Legion to a, to approve its narrative in the before, because then, you know, it's legit. You're getting a, yeah. And I think to this day, um, Appell is the only, you know, um, story of its kind that's, you know, has Allegion's approval and a forward from an acting general.

[00:43:26] That's really cool. Yeah. I, I think so. Yeah. I'm, that's really cool. Yeah. I take that on the, on the, on the chest side one. But anyway, so. I just said, okay, maybe it's on me. I need to share the story perhaps. Mm-hmm. , you know. Um, so then I worked on it with a friend, um, for a while. And then I hired a, um, and the friend was a, an ex Legionnaire too, so I wanted him to go through and kind of look us up because, you know, I get stuff wrong.

[00:43:50] And as I said, I, a lot of, when I did initially put it down, it's just all based on memory. Um, so we worked on that. And then when I hit my limit, I hired a, a professional editor. Mm-hmm. Um, which is challenging because they would know nothing about the subject matter. So you spend most of your time just asking questions.

[00:44:07] Right. Your questions, so you get nowhere until finally they kind of understand and get a grasping of the story. But then the big thing for me was that, and I, I get that a lot of you read a lot of these in this genre in particular, They use a lot of ghost writers, right? So it's not necessarily their voice, right?

[00:44:27] And some of the wording you used or some of the stuff you think, oh, really doesn't sound like a soldier to me. It's a right, I'm not no judgment, but typically sometimes you, you know, you lose that. So the deal with my editor was, listen, you can't change my words. You can maybe add a comma or say, Hey, let's, right, you know, let's, let's think about, you gotta add something here, Joel.

[00:44:45] You can't. And I remember she said that to me early on, you can't be a sociopath and tell a story . Cause you know, well, I guess could, you could, but, you know, like, I'm more introvert so I'm like, you know, my individual, this was like, no, you gotta, you gotta tell us a bit about yourself so that the, the readers, and as I said, I'm not Ari, so I knew nothing about that.

[00:45:00] So I learned a lot in writing Appell. Right. Just the process. Um, so for Seville, uh, it was different. I went back to France last November, um, and. The idea wa I was, you know, it's, it was for some family research that that's in the book. Yeah. Um, and I met up with some friends from the Legion that are in Appelle.

[00:45:23] Um, and during that visit, a story kind of came together. Mm-hmm. and I was like, and some people, you know, since Appelle, cuz I make reference to my, my, you know, going Iraq, Afghanistan, post, uh, right. Postell and people say, Hey, you should write, you know, you should consider a, a follow up book. And I never have.

[00:45:43] Um, cause I didn't think there was anything to share there. But that, that during this trip, it seemed like, you know, this would be actually a good, there were some things that happened and, uh, I was just, yeah, there's a story there. So when I came home, I shut myself down in my house for like three months.

[00:45:57] Not totally. But I just, yeah. Just wrote same, same, same way. Just verbal, you know? Yeah. Diarrhea. No respect for anything. Anything. And then, And the same thing I did with Appell is I would share the early drafts with family and friends. Hmm. And I would say, you know, if, if you were willing, I'd appreciate, have a read and tell me if it has potential.

[00:46:18] Like, are you interested in the, the core of the story? Mm-hmm. . . If yes, I'll continue her. If you know it's boring, well then I'll, I'll shut her down. You know? So I did the same thing with Seville. Um, so my dad's always been a huge help on that, uh, cuz I trust his voice. Mm-hmm. Um, I and, uh, friends and family, um, and I tried to, send it to different people that would typically read different type of stuff.

[00:46:41] So you get a right, a wide range of, because when you tell a story you can't please everybody. You never will. And then, you know, if you get your demographic that's former military or or into that genre, they kind of need something different than someone that's only interested. You know, typically doesn't read that they don't want to get dumbed or I can't dumb it down too much to right to ruin it for one group.

[00:47:03] But at the same time I gotta explain some things for the others. Right? So you gotta find that nice middle ground. So I use that to gauge. Um, and then I just, you know, focus on spots, say, Hey, I like that, you gotta tell me more here. So within three months I had that story, um, pretty much done. And then same thing, I hired two different editors that had, um, their strengths and certain things to help me get it to where it had to be.

[00:47:28] And the big one on that is cuz editors cost money. Yeah. So time is money. Yeah. Um, I had learnt cuz Wilfred Laurie, uh, published Apel. So I knew nothing obviously about the publishing world and I was fortunate that, I think it was through, it was a friend of my father's who had, uh, flown 1 1 0 4 s with him and he worked at rmc.

[00:47:54] Um, and he heard from my dad that I was working on, he said, Hey, you know, do you mind asking Joel if, if, uh, if I could read his, uh, his manuscript? He had, uh, he had actually published a couple books, um, about, uh, I think it was the Canadian, um, fighter Piloter in the Second World War. Okay. Flyboy. Anyway. Yeah.

[00:48:10] Um, nice man. Anyway, he read it and he said, you know, Joel, I think he got something here. Do you mind if I show it to my, to my publisher? So I had never, I didn't shop out or look, I knew nothing about. Oh, that's awesome. Um, and they actually put me in touch with, they said, you know, I think Wilford Laurie would like this and they did, but they, how it works is so Wilford Laurie took it on.

[00:48:30] Um, , they worked on it for a year. Cuz they, they do their stuff that's beyond my, you know, like Sure. The tents and all the, all the stuff that goes with it. Yeah. And, um, but basically you sign over your story to them so they own copyright. Um Okay. And which is fine. Yeah. Like it didn't, it didn't matter to me.

[00:48:50] They give you, you know, the percentage that you get as, as the author if there's any sales. That was fine. This book was never about money. What 

[00:48:56] Travis Bader: happens when the movie's made? 

[00:48:58] Joel Struthers: It's a little more, I think it's 50 50. Okay. But yeah, I can't say fair enough. But anyway, but you know what I mean, that wasn't, but I, I learned a lot.

[00:49:05] Um, and then the onus is on the author to market that book. Once it's published, it's you, the author that's gotta be really gotta get out there. Yeah. I mean if it's, it's, you know, I'm not Yeah. Is what it is. It's not Harry Potter. You don't have, you know what I mean? Like this is a different . Yes. Yep. So I have to get onto the Jockos.

[00:49:23] Yep. This type of thing, you know, podcast, get on social media, which pre-book, I didn't have a Facebook, I had nothing. So I had to learn. Navigate that war. Um, learning how to put yourself out there and, and try to, you know, draw a attention to your, to your story. Well, it's tough. It's, uh, 

[00:49:39] Travis Bader: that's really difficult that it is, that that's a tightrope because you don't want to talk about things that would, um, spoil the plot in the book, so to speak.

[00:49:48] Yeah. You don't want to do things that are gonna be offside for the legion. Yeah. Um, you're, you've got all these different goals in mind, but you still want to be able to promote it out there and you don't wanna do it in some flashy way where it's, uh, gonna be looked at. Um, yeah. 

[00:50:00] Joel Struthers: Like ego, like, oh, look at this guy.

[00:50:01] Right. Here's a story about me. Which, you know, it is, but it's not, it could be any legion. But yeah. So I, I struggled with that, but I learned, and I learned a lot with Apel. And then when Sevelle came up, um, you know, I had actually, I sent an early draft to a Canadian, uh, publisher out east that, uh, deals in this genre more, more as a litmus test.

[00:50:22] Yeah. To see And, uh, they, they, they were interested in wanting take it on. And I had initially said, well, what about. You know, partnership. I'm not gonna give, cuz in Seville, I obviously begin the book with the last paragraph from Appell. Mm-hmm. , I had to ask Wil for lawyer for approval to use, you know what I mean?

[00:50:40] Which is weird, which is fine. They were, they were great about it. Yeah. Yeah. And all the, you know, respect. But, uh, it was just weird that I had to ask someone else approval to use my lawyer, you know? Yeah, I know. But, um, my business part at Raven Hill, Keith, we said, well, why don't we, you know, things have changed a lot.

[00:50:53] You have that first book that was out by a reputable publisher. It's, it's done well. Yeah. Why don't we self-publish, um, which you can in this day and age to a certain extent. Mm-hmm. . And so I created for Appell, I had created a non-profit called Legion Engineered where Okay. My small percentage of, um, author proceeds would go to that.

[00:51:13] So it wasn't about me. So what I did is I just, we created, we made that a. A not-for-profit, incorporation, whatever. And that was the, the publisher Le Projects, which is Legion Engineered. And so we, we went through the effort and we said, okay, we'll do this ourself. So, but there's a cost incurred, right?

[00:51:31] Right. So, right. There's not a lot of money in books anyway, so it, it's gonna be how much you gonna spend, what's the objective? So we had a number in mind. Seville is a bit shorter than Appelle. Um, it's probably rougher. It's a little more edgier. Um, it's different. I, I, I like it per se. I mean, Appelle was educational.

[00:51:56] It was a little, you know, this one's a little more, um, yeah. What harder as in Yeah, it's, I mean, so Postell. Seville, I do the flying, you know, I'm newly married, young family doing the Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria kinda stuff. It has, its, its challenges and yes, it probably, you know, cost me a marriage to a certain extent.

[00:52:20] Um, the transition back and forth wasn't easy. That's life, you know? I mean, there's people out there that have a lot, lot harder mm-hmm. . Um, but I also got to see, you know, the war and terror. I saw, you know, the Americans, the Brits, all these different countries out there slogging away going at it. Where I was, I was, I was a part of it, but I wasn't in the frontline drown range with these guys.

[00:52:42] And as a soldier who, you know, had done my time in the Legion, and unfortunately I didn't really have, you know, I saw combat, but not at the level that these guys were and girls were seeing. It was, it was an eye-opener. It was good. Um, so I wanted, I felt maybe I could share, share that, um, that respect, but also that experience.

[00:53:04] So, and it's grittier. 

[00:53:07] Travis Bader: Yeah. And I really like, yeah. It's, it's, yeah. The realness that you get out of it, I mean, did you see the difference? 

[00:53:11] Joel Struthers: Did you feel the, the difference? Yeah. Oh yeah. Oh, definitely. That's good. Yeah. Cuz 

[00:53:13] Travis Bader: it's, and I like the blemishes, right? Yeah. Like you're okay talking about the, the areas that other people with more ego might, might have a difficult time.

[00:53:23] Yeah. 

[00:53:24] Joel Struthers: Talking about fair one. Yeah. Yeah. It's, and that's, and that's something I said to, to my, um, to editors is I can't, let's not change the past. So I might write something down in the regret and say, eh, because you can easily change things, right? Totally. Here you're younger and you're, you're an idiot.

[00:53:37] It's easy. Anyway, so , that was a big one. And then when you pull the trigger it sent, and anyway, so we decided to do ourselves, um, the audio book, which I think that was a big one for me. Um, so Wilford Laier, they went the audiobook, uh, route. Yeah. In the, one of the first three books that they did was, was appell.

[00:53:56] Mm-hmm. . And when they mentioned that to me, I said, that's, you know, it's cool. But I think typically people like to hear the author. Right. Which you 

[00:54:02] Travis Bader: did in Seville. Yeah. So, , 

[00:54:04] Joel Struthers: they didn't, um, they went with a professional company that has professional narrators. Mm-hmm. . And I had, I had respectfully asked 'em. I said, listen, well if you go that route, that's fine.

[00:54:14] Um, obviously it's prerogative. You can do what you wish, please avoid using a French Canadian narrator for the French . And that's not, no, that, that makes sense. But it's just because Legion French is not kibble different French, different, it's a different sound, different twang to it. And unfortunately they went, they went with a gentleman who, you know, this is no bang on him or Judge, he did an excellent job.

[00:54:35] He reached out a couple times. In fact, I think he listened to Jocko to get a sense of my tone and, and all that kind of stuff. And he's anglophone uh, Francophone. So his English is his acting like it doesn't Yeah. But when he says the, like the rep, it's got that Quebec ah, yes. Twang. Um, which, hard to get rid of that.

[00:54:54] Yeah. Hopefully he doesn't hear this cuz it's, it's not his fault. And I respect he did a great job, but it's just not, it's not Legion French. Right. So, Whatever that's, they did what they did. But for Seville, that's what we, we said I would obviously do it. So we invested and I think, I don't know, I think it listens better than Reads and I typically write that way.

[00:55:14] I mean, it's just the voice in my head. 

[00:55:15] Travis Bader: So, so, so I actually, I listened to it cuz I was, uh, in airports on flights, so just back and forth from Halifax there. And so that was, uh, and I've taken notes on my phone as I'm going through. I got a whole ton of notes here too. Oh, okay. Yep. But, uh, I, I really enjoyed that and having done voiceover work in the past for courses, I could only imagine the amount of retakes and time.

[00:55:36] And dude, were you doing i'll into 

[00:55:37] Joel Struthers: yourself or So, so here we go. So I, I found a studio in Vancouver that does that type of thing. Um, and, uh, I said to them the book's, you know, 60 plus thousand words. Yeah. Typically, how long would that take to, to record? So they came back with a quote. Yeah. So I went in and blew that fucking quote outta the water

[00:55:57] Um, but. . What was interesting is we made some mistakes. I mean, obviously publishers know what they're doing and there's a reason why they exist and they do it, and us doing it ourselves, you know, we made some mistakes and, um, so in fact the, the producer made a couple b reels where I'm reading and then I hit a typo.

[00:56:14] I'm like, at this point it's already, yeah. We had, uh, , we actually released the wrong, like when the actual paperback book went Yeah. Live. We were supposed to do a test print and there was some switch ology area on our part. Yeah. And we went live and Oops. So yeah, handful of books went out that weren't the actual edited anyway,

[00:56:34] Right. That's love it. We're not, yeah. So, so I'm reading, so I'm in the studio reading. And then I'd run into these typos and I'd be like, mid-sentence, I'd be like, what the fuck? ? You know, so he made a B reel where I'm talking, then I would lose my shit, you know? Or , you talk too fast, you mumble, you say a word wrong.

[00:56:51] So he would, you know, say, okay, stop. Let's, let's do this. So anyway, we basically doubled the budget on the, uh, so we're gonna, it's so easy to do. We're gonna have to sell a lot of audio books to, to recover that one. But hey, well the audio 

[00:57:01] Travis Bader: book is awesome. I appreciate that. Let's 

[00:57:03] Joel Struthers: just say that. Yeah. I 

[00:57:03] Travis Bader: was happy with the end result.

[00:57:04] Yeah, no, it was really good. Yeah. Little things I found like how you're sitting in a chair will change the inflection of how it comes across words that I thought I said properly. Yeah. They're like, it's firearms, not firearms. . 

[00:57:16] Joel Struthers: Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah. And I'm a, a mumbler by trade. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, the big focus.

[00:57:22] Yeah, you're right. It's, it's a lot. And there's a reason why they use professionals. Yeah. And the comeback, it makes sense why Wilfred Laurie did that cuz sure it'd be cost effective. You know, it gets done fairly fast and properly. He's, he's drilled, you know, he knows what he's doing. It's not me making him walk, move , but whatever you live and learn and I'm happy with him results.

[00:57:41] So it's, I'm, I'm glad you 

[00:57:42] Travis Bader: enjoyed it. That's cool, man. It's really good. Yeah. You know what, I'm gonna look at a couple of things that I wrote down as it went through here. One of them, okay. 

[00:57:48] Joel Struthers: So I think you get the sense of humor too, easier. I mean, it's, 

[00:57:52] Travis Bader: you do because you put your inflection 

[00:57:54] Joel Struthers: on it. Yeah.

[00:57:54] Right? Yeah, exactly. Whereas on paper it's like, is he serious or, yeah. Yeah, because I am, you know, I do, humor is a big part of my, I might be dry and, but yeah. If people don't pick up on it, , I've ruined a lot of relat early relationships with, uh, girls on text because they don't get my humor. Well, that's, they think, you know what, 

[00:58:13] Travis Bader: yeah.

[00:58:13] that's why a moticon are, how would you say that? Born, I think, like I said, that and there's a smiley face because it's supposed to be funny. Right. And Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. You just, you, you tend to lose that unless you're really good at the written word of which I'm not. So same. You really need to be able to have that.

[00:58:28] Yep. Non-verbal. Let's, this is why doing podcasts in person is so much better. Yeah. A 

[00:58:33] Joel Struthers: hundred percent agreed. Yeah. The para verbal. Yeah. So anyway, so yeah, the second book was totally different. Um, but at least I had the lessons learned and experience from the first to draw from, and it was probably as a result quicker and, you know, on our terms.

[00:58:49] So we'll 

[00:58:49] Travis Bader: see. Well, I, I took a few notes as I was going through there and one of them that I, uh, stuck out was, uh, George Albert, Raven Hill, between Yes, sir. Cross. Yeah. Something about six Iron Shillings. Yeah. Um, yep. . Yeah. He was the, and he was like, Silvercore is named after my grandfather, silver Armeneau. My other grandfather, Cornelius Bader, Silver Core put 'em together.

[00:59:12] Very cool. Yep. You've got a relation here Yes. To George Raven Hill, which you've named your company after, 

[00:59:16] Joel Struthers: correct? Yeah. Yeah. He, um, Raven Hill on my mom's side. Uh, brave man. Um, Bo War, first World War, uh, won the vc, um, you know, survived, which is, you know, wasn't posthumous. So that and those, and back in the day, if you're given a, a VC and you're survived, it's gotta be.

[00:59:35] Yeah. Legit. Um, but, you know, he went on to serve in the First World War, got thrown into a, a, like a penal regiment for disciplinary issues. and then he lived in Birmingham. Uh, him and his wife had, you know, quite a few kids and he wasn't being paid. What he felt was his, his fair amount. Mm. So he was stealing, um, steel from the yards to sell, to pay for food.

[00:59:59] Okay. It was like six shillings worth, whatever. And anyway, he was caught. Okay. And, uh, he was one of eight VC recipients that had the VC taken back by the Queen back in the day. Like it's, they were reinstalled, but he was one of those original eights. Um, anyway, at, at, at a certain point they had to make the decision to send, uh, three their kids to Canada to be orphaned.

[01:00:18] Mm-hmm. Cause they couldn't afford anyway. He died at 49. Destitute. Obviously, you know, sheesh alcohol was, Alco is probably involved. Yeah. You know, that would be definitely, I mean, if you served in France and all, yeah. There's p anyway. Sad story of a brave man who served his country and was kind of left to the side and wasn't, which is something that, you know, I take to heart, I respect, but it's also family.

[01:00:42] It's sad. He's got like a little, little marker with a number on it of his grave. Yeah. Um, so when my partner Keith and I were, you know, discussing starting a company, um, actually I had come up with a name and I had reached out to Keith and say, let's, you know, are you interested in mm-hmm. doing this with me.

[01:01:00] Raven Hill was obviously the name that I went with for, for obvious reasons. It 

[01:01:03] Travis Bader: was just, well, isn't that cool? Respectful. Yeah. 49 years old. He's got his things ups and downs, but, but he's now the name is living on. Yeah. Which 

[01:01:12] Joel Struthers: is No, no, a hundred percent. Um, huge respect. Yeah. And I, you know, these are real soldiers, you know?

[01:01:18] Yeah. I mean, I, yeah. I don't, what do you say to that? Right? These, these guys that really fucking went at it. Yeah. And paid the price set. So, yeah. So respect to George, 

[01:01:29] Travis Bader: um, So, okay. Steve Mitchell. Andy McNabb. Yep. You and he crossed paths in the green zone. You talk about that a little bit, judge. Yeah. In the book.

[01:01:40] Uh, why do you think he uses pseudonym and why did you choose 

[01:01:44] Joel Struthers: not to? Yeah, that's a good question. Uh, to be honest, I've never, I've never thought of it. Um, I'm thinking maybe for his professional life. Hmm. Um, trying to just disconnect his, you know, efforts as a security consultant. Yeah. On that side of stuff, being excess s whatever.

[01:02:00] And then an author. I don't know. I mean, obviously I can't speak for him. That would be my, my only guess. Um, but did it 

[01:02:05] Travis Bader: cross your mind? Maybe, well, 

[01:02:07] Joel Struthers: you think it'd working against him, right? I mean, at that point with Bravo two Zero, you're, you know, you're, everyone knows who you are, right. Um, but then he goes from, that's, well, we, non-fiction, theoretically.

[01:02:18] Right, right. And then he goes fiction. So I don't know if that's there theoretically, right. Yes. Yeah. Um, myself, I don't know. I just never went. Uh, I just put my name on it. I didn't really think about too much. Uh, And 

[01:02:31] Travis Bader: I mean, so you also had the option, the allegiance famous for having the option of people having new names.

[01:02:38] Yep. When they leave and having, uh, their passport. If you got a French passport, you would've been able to keep your Canadian as well, wouldn't you? Or would you have to announce it? No, I 

[01:02:47] Joel Struthers: think you'd be able to keep it. Um, I don't think the, I mean the now you can, I don't think the laws were any different back then.

[01:02:53] In retrospect. I wish I had. Okay. Just for European Union work. Every travel it would be, you know, um, but I didn't, at the time I was stubborn and I'm Canadian, you know, whatever surprise. It's big or what? Pardon 

[01:03:05] Travis Bader: me? Was it a pride thing? I think so, yeah. Probably. Yeah. Proud 

[01:03:08] Joel Struthers: Canadian. That's what I am. Yeah.

[01:03:10] That being said, I have, you know, yeah. Whatever. 

[01:03:12] Travis Bader: There's a lot that he said for being stubborn. Yeah. I think we talked about that before a little bit. True. 

[01:03:16] Joel Struthers: But, um, yeah. The Legion, you know, you can, I, I kept my name in the Legion. There is no reason for me to change my name. Yeah. It's not, Illegal for a Canadian to join a foreign military?

[01:03:27] Others? It is, yes. So they change a name for that reason. Um, it's just a admin formality so they can give him documentation and stuff. Um, if someone else figures out your new name and they ask Allegion like, is Bob, who's now Charles? Is he in the have to say Yes, he's here. Gotcha. Uh, it's not ne for nefarious reason, it's just documentation type thing, but I kept my name and then, um, yeah, it, uh, 

[01:03:51] Travis Bader: yeah.

[01:03:52] So there's a interesting story about hearing protection when Oh, yeah. , yes. Okay. I, but I, I e d something that's going off 

[01:04:02] Joel Struthers: that was, uh, yeah. Coming out of, um, down south. Um, yeah. So we had, you know, we're doing low profile PSD with, uh, Iraqi. So my second time back into Baghdad, things are kicking off. Uh, , the jihadist, the, you know, bathis, whatever you wanna call 'em, the insurgent are definitely more active.

[01:04:23] Mm. Um, and up to then they had been focusing their efforts on the American military or the, the early parts of the, the new Iraqi or, or the police. Um, and there was a lot of Ps, PSD teams starting to ramp up in country. Mm-hmm. Um, you know, from different countries, different companies. And again, I can't comment for, for everybody, and it's just my view, but I got the gut feeling that a lot of these guys and these teams were, had served, they're now civilians, but they had served in the military pre nine 11.

[01:04:58] Mm-hmm. , so they hadn't really done much. Right. Now, they find themselves in a war zone and they're, they're out to prove something for themselves. Sure. , unfortunately, you know, innocent Iraqi civilians were being shot, right? For many a reasons. Lack of due care and attention. Not necessarily their fault, but guys were just happy to, you know what I mean?

[01:05:18] Yep. Um, so as I would, and that's something I always do when I put myself in, in a scenario country, what have you, is I put myself in their other people's shoes. If I was a young Iraqi did the same in Africa, if I was, you know, whatever in Afghanistan, if I was one of them, what would I be doing? And, you know, kind of watching what was going around me, I would've done the same.

[01:05:41] And what they were doing was the baths and the, the judges, whatever, they said, let's just lay off the military for a while and we're gonna go after the PSD teams, cuz these guys are fucking scum. Right. Um, in their, in their view. Um, and fair dues. So at this time in country, everyone was, um, overt. So driving around in the big trucks and pushing through traffic and.

[01:06:01] You know, so we went low profile. So what we did is we bought local vehicles, um, put run flat tires on them, tried to up our bed as we can around the doors, and it would be two vehicle moves, so two expats. Um, so I worked with Mo mostly Brits, some Kiwis and Aussies. And the rest were Iraqi, uh, teammates. So we'd have two cars.

[01:06:22] Um, we were armed with AKs, pkm and uh, we had their shitty macoff pistol too. . Um, and we would just try to blend into the, uh, the traffic, which Baghdad was just cer block. It was just a traffic traffic jam. Yeah. And our biggest fear was obviously we're stuck in traffic trying to blend in. is if a, uh, a military call sign pulled up beside us or another PSD team, and they look down and they see an Iraqi sitting there with an AK on their lap.

[01:06:49] Right. No questions asked. So we would have a laminated, uh, union Jack, and as soon as they did, we just put those up in the window. Um, same thing for, and that worked. It would, yeah. And you get a lot of weird looks. Yeah. I remember like one of the early mill units pull up beside us and they were like, what?

[01:07:03] They're like , because that was somewhat new. Yeah. Um, so yeah. But that it was a handful. And then working with, I get into it with, uh, in Seville, I end up actually punching one of my Iraqis out. Mm-hmm. Um, it was, it was a, it was a handful, um, an eyeopener. Um, . But yeah. Um, and then I went up to, uh, they sent me up to decree.

[01:07:26] Yeah. Um, and there I took over a, uh, all expat, uh, PSD team when we were supporting the, uh, US Corps of Engineers, um, looking for weapons of mass destruction, which we never found. P and uh, where were they? Where were they? Yeah, exactly. Where were they hidden and um, anyway, whatever. And, uh, blowing up old ordinances and what had happened, uh, early days of the first golf and then the second one they had bombed all these, uh, cuz decree is where Saddam was from.

[01:07:53] And actually where we was found is, um, guard and a lot of huge, uh, installations were built there where they had bunkers, actually the French and Brits building bunkers, where they would store all the armament for the Iran Iraq War. The Americans bombed them and left them. Unsecured and a lot of those shells that, you know, got thrown, didn't explode, were recovered and used his IDs for, you know, right.

[01:08:17] So they went in after that and then started cleaning up, you know, but unfortunately, that probably killed a lot of American soldiers leaving those, uh, those places unsecured. Mm-hmm. . But, so we, I did that for a while and, um, you know, we had my driver lost a leg to an anti tank mine. We lost a couple guys.

[01:08:32] Efp were starting to make their, their appearance mm-hmm. from the Iranians. And they were, cuz we started to get issued, um, actually brand new, uh, 4, 3 50 s that were built here in Canada. Um, but those EFP would just go right. Mm. And fuck it through it. Um, so I was like, I'll starting, my son was, Born at that point, young, I was kind of looking at the, the risk versus the reward, what was happening in country.

[01:08:56] And I was like, this place is a fucking shithole. How, how old was your son? Just like, now he's, he's, uh, 17, but no, at the time he was just born like newborn, a year type 

[01:09:04] Travis Bader: thing. It's nothing that really brings your own mortality into a focal point than having kids, eh, no, a hundred percent. 

[01:09:11] Joel Struthers: Yeah. It's funny how that works.

[01:09:12] Leaving them was, was tough. And I Yeah, I get it. That's so it was, uh, yeah, a big factor. But, um, then, uh, armor Group had the, they awarded the, uh, foreign Commonwealth Office. The Brit foreign common, uh, contract in Afghanistan. Mm-hmm. Um, and they're only taking, uh, Brits at the time, but then it opened up to Commonwealth.

[01:09:33] So I was always interested in doing that, having read, you know, read books and watched all the documentaries on the, uh, you know, the Russians in Afghanistan and obviously the war being gone, going out for a while. So I was keen to get over there. So, um, yeah, I went over, uh, he had to commit for a year, so I went back to flying for a while.

[01:09:49] So all this time I'd, you know, I'd fly the summers fires and then come back, do this. And, um, so I went over to Afghanistan. Initially I was up, we were up in, uh, Kabul supporting the Brit police that were men doing the mentorship program for their, um, narcotics police. Yeah. Uh, so we'd, we'd fly around. We had a, it was a South African company that had a C one 30 herk painted in un colors, but it wasn't un and we'd, cuz we were embassy, we had.

[01:10:15] Nice kit. Yeah. Best, best we could buy in the market. We had Nice, uh, new armored, uh, the latest ECM technology, which put out a electronic countermeasure bubble around the, um, yeah. The vehicle. So that if they try to set off an ID by, by phone or what have you, it wouldn't, it wouldn't go through. Yeah. Uh, we had the, um, HK 360.

[01:10:35] We had the, uh, the Glock and the Mini Me. So we had nice, nice tools and we'd load this, our armored into the, into the H and fly off to, you know, uh, CANDUs, all these different areas. And we'd go there for a couple days. We'd stay in the American, uh, SF bases, and we'd go out and they'd mentor these, uh, these Afghan, uh, police set checkpoints and all kind of stuff.

[01:10:56] Yeah. And then, um, , the Brits obviously controlled Hellman area, Hellman Province. Mm-hmm. , they were building a, uh, a P R T in Lash, which a p rt, which was like their provincial Rebuilding, rebuilding team. Okay. So they, they would build these, they'd take over small compounds in these towns in, uh, in Hemond, and then that's where the Brits would go, uh, and do their thing.

[01:11:18] Um, so the FCO had, uh, their main guy, Tom Tugen Tugen, who was actually just, uh, in the elections there. He, he, he lost, but he was one of the, uh, one of the names to be the Prime minister. And anyway, he was a young, uh, well, Paul Fco politician identity, but he was ex uh, reservist, Brit Mill, served with the s sps, uh, Iraq and did some stuff in, had actually been involved in a, in a pretty good contact in Afghanistan.

[01:11:45] But he was the advisor to the Governor Heman. Okay. So the FCO needed, uh, three teams from Armor Group to go down and live in the, uh, p R T with, uh, With Tom and some of his, his people. But, uh, at that time it was the, uh, para reg, uh, that were, they did six month tours, so it was a para reg. And then, so we went down, um, I took, uh, leadership of a team, um, and we went in and, and learn our trade.

[01:12:14] And basically we would take Tom to his compound. So the governor of, of Af of, of Hellman had a compound not far from the p r t, uh, which was secured by the Afghan army. And he had a little, uh, a building in there on its own. And we'd basically drive Tom. Most of our days were that we'd drive there, it's a two-story building.

[01:12:34] Tom would go into his office, we'd put a BG at the front of his office just to make sure you know. Mm-hmm. , no one was coming and going, that didn't need to be. And we would sit outside the building just beside his windows in the armored all, all day. Mm-hmm. . And, uh, then obviously things, this is 2006 right?

[01:12:51] Things were not going well for the Brits and helmet. Right. Then the general, uh, the two, sorry. He would come down ex uh, s a guy, nice man and we would have him, so we would drive from the p r t to the governor's compound cuz they would do late evenings at the governor's residence. Discussing what was, what was happening.

[01:13:07] Sang in Gresh, um, cuz the Brits were having a hard time. Mm-hmm. and. I just remember we'd have this two star general on our back of our armored. It's about a 50 minute drive from the, uh, the compound to the p r t. And man, a good, uh, an RPG seven man would, would do the trick. Like it's a hell of a target, you know?

[01:13:25] Yeah. I was always nervous with him inside because it would, and that's, that's a big thing. I was always wondering, when are they gonna, you know, when are you gonna take a run, man, this is, that's, this is where it's at. We're back and forth the same. Right. That's gotta play in the mind. We only had like three different roots we could theoretically use.

[01:13:39] Like they're, and your enemy's never dumb. Yeah, right. They're, they're more than capable. And, uh, so it was always a waiting game, like, when are they gonna, but, um, in the end, we had a suicide bottom, take a run at, uh, the governor of, of Hellman, uh, young, 17 year old, uh, um, Pakistani boy that they brought up across the border, put a fake uniform.

[01:13:59] He made his way through the checkpoints and walked up and then detonated himself about 10 meters from 10, 15 meters from us. But he, he did it with our Afghan counterparts that were standing around their, uh, their technicals, you know, their, Hmm. Blue show them. And for me that was again, another eye-opener.

[01:14:14] Yeah. How do you, how do you combat that? What 17 year old kid feels? That's, what were you doing ats at 17? I was thinking about not 

[01:14:21] Travis Bader: that boobs, you 

[01:14:22] Joel Struthers: know, . There you go. I wasn't thinking about strapping a vest on and blowing myself up for a cause. So anyway, it was, uh, again, it was at that point I done a year.

[01:14:31] I'd seen Afghanistan, you know, there's some beautiful countryside. I'd seen these young men and women doing their thing, which, you know, I respected. But it was, it was time to move on and, uh, I kind of got away from that. KBR built, uh, an l and g project in, uh, north Africa, and they asked, um, a couple officers we wanted to come on for the security side of stuff.

[01:14:54] And I ended up doing that straight for eight years, built this l mega train. Wow. And we had a twin star, a French, we hired a, a French twin star to move our people from the airport to the camps back and forth. Yeah. And so I was in the helicopter all the time and I started to miss it. Yeah. And, uh, that was about eight years ago, and I said, fuck it.

[01:15:12] I came back to Canada and flew full-time. And I've been with, um, Mustang, I did the Ebola stuff for the old company I worked for. Um, you had an 

[01:15:20] Travis Bader: Ebola scare, didn't you? 

[01:15:22] Joel Struthers: Yeah. Not really. It was more comical than anything, but, uh, and then I've been with yeah. Mustang for coming up in eight years now. Okay.

[01:15:28] Full-time. You know, we do fires in the summer hall, skiing in the winter, so it's, yeah. It's, it's come, it's come together. Okay. I'm behind compared to a lot of my colleagues. In what way? Um, experience wise, just time. Okay. Um, you know, a lot of, a lot of the guys I fly with, the type of flying we do, um, you know, the summer went two 12 with the tanks and BC and then the hell ski Rebel Stok, the 2 0 5 s and a stars in the winter.

[01:15:51] Um, you know, a lot of guys, they start at 18, 19, 20. Right. I start at 29, 30, you know, so I'm, when it comes to time in the seat, I'm a little halfway compared to them. It's, uh, and you can't, you can't compensate. So I'm always working harder, struggling compared to some of my, yeah. It'd be a lot of work. It 

[01:16:10] Travis Bader: is, but it's all, it's kinda like learning how to drive a car early in life as opposed to later and the way the brain works and how you pick things up, you're always gonna have that little bit of an advantage having those hundred percent Yeah.

[01:16:22] Years on the early side as opposed to the, the inside, 

[01:16:26] Joel Struthers: but no regrets. It's, it's all worked out. Yeah. 

[01:16:28] Travis Bader: So obviously. Events like that. In, in the, the earmuff one I was thinking about was, uh, firing inside the vehicle. Yes. And thinking, okay. I hear he protection might have 

[01:16:39] Joel Struthers: went off on, uh, yeah. So we were coming out of, it was down south.

[01:16:42] Um, Where the Brits were, what's the name of, um, the airport there? Um, anyway, we were leaving, so we had with our Iraqis, and that's where we went off on the, we would, we'd put them on the range and we'd, we'd teach 'em. So PSD worked with the vehicles, so, you know, reaction to the combat or to to contact, you know, right.

[01:17:01] Left rear. Yeah. Um, Getting away from the vehicles, yada, yada. So we would, we spent a lot, well, as much time as we could on the range with them to get them proficient and safe. Cuz me being in a, in a vehicle with, uh, you know, three Iraqis pumping rounds out the windows. Last thing I need is an nie or side of my head getting blown off by Yeah, by mistake, right?

[01:17:20] So we were, I was a stickler on that. And uh, that was a big one. Um, safety, but getting them in the vehicle, doing their stop, which is mag changes communicating. And of course during training we had our, our earmuffs on and it was good. And then real word we're out there and stupid mistake, but never really anticipated.

[01:17:38] And we, they took a shot at us with an i e d missed, but then there's some smaller fires. So I said at this point we're on the route Tampa, which is the main highway past the kills, like we were past. But I just, out of interest, I said to one of 'em, the guys on the left. Open up with rounds on that berm in the distance wherein sure enough, he unloaded his AK mag and we didn't have any, I was like, holy fuck.

[01:17:58] It was like on the shopping list at the PX was a, a good set of, uh, . You know what I mean? Things you just, yeah. You're focused, you never thought about it and Yeah. Made a, made a hell of a racket inside that. Anyway, so those are some of the, the obvious things that you ever think about, right? Yeah. 

[01:18:14] Travis Bader: Obvious in hindsight, right when your ears are ringing.

[01:18:16] You got tinnitus now, but Yeah. Yeah. Um, the mental toll that this can take, and I know a lot of people will, um, uh, mental health has become a lot more common place and talked about in a, um, in a much more positive way. It's interesting how you're talking about feeling bad leaving the legion because they put this time into you.

[01:18:40] Yep. And, uh, there's this level of, um, um, I, I find it a lot with others when they're leaving the army, leaving the, um, air Force, whatever it might be. There's this team that they feel like they might be disappointing if they leave and there's this, um, uh, sense of obligation and yeah, a lot of times people go out and they somehow start gravitating their way back, but it's never gonna be the same when they come on back.

[01:19:04] True. I, I, I gotta wonder if, if that process of, uh, building someone in and having a, uh, a very rigid out process as well would be a huge help to the, um, the mental health of soldiers as they leave. I don't know. It's, um, uh, yeah, the, the PTs D side of things and the stress seems to. , uh, from my observations, a, a reframing of or how people interpret things that have happened before.

[01:19:37] Yep. True. And if you come back and you're greeted like a hero and warrior and everything you did was well and good. Yep. The, um, uh, the mental health aspects seems to be diminished compared to those who, uh, don't share that it's contrary to their, uh, personal or religious beliefs. So society says that they're, uh, they're now on the outside of things.

[01:19:59] True. Yep. Um, and I, and I guess like obviously without delving into your observations where you're at, but on the, uh, military side, formal French foreign Legion, you're in there and you come out, there's a level of acceptance on the private military contractor side. Does that get a lot more great? Does that get more difficult to, uh, um, to navigate?

[01:20:24] Joel Struthers: Yeah. Um, that's a tough question. Mm-hmm. , I think. As you make reference to, I mean, everyone reacts differently to their environment and what's going on around them. Mm-hmm. , um, you know, coming outta the Legion, I think the way they vet and they take on people and the training and the discipline and stuff. I think once you're kind of thrown into the shit, a lot of those people are, you know, somewhat prepared for it.

[01:20:52] Mm-hmm. , I think in the western world where it's all squeaky feely, happy love, , we don't prepare our, our young men and women for what they're about to encounter. And that's has a huge bearing on the amount of, um, that being said, there's guys in the leagues on the suffer for psc. I mean, sure it is where it is, but I think you need to prepare, uh, people properly.

[01:21:12] If you're gonna ask 'em to do a nasty job, you. Put him through the test. And that's why, you know, Appell was kind of, cuz um, um, the former, uh, CEO of the PP C l I, uh, general Kra had written a, a small Ford and he had written a read, an early version. And the reason I think he liked it is cuz I kind of make reference to that, is, you know, the allegiance discipline and the harsh training isn't, they're doing you a favor.

[01:21:37] They're trying to show you, do you want to, do you want to be here? Is this for you? Right. You know, if you can't handle this, you, you know, you have no place in, in combat. And then do you want someone beside you that shouldn't be there? Um, now going into the, the private military type stuff, we were all ex, you know, um, military, so we had our background.

[01:21:55] So theoretically and Armor Group, you know, they do their vetting. Um, and then later on, a lot of these guys were getting outta the Brit mill. So they had done Afghanistan, Iraq, mm-hmm. and. We didn't have to do the time in country like your, your other soldiers did. You know we were two months on, one month off.

[01:22:14] Um, I think the challenge for us more so was that back and forth coming out of a, an environment like Lashcar, two days later you're in Langley with your, your, your wife and young son. That would be tough. You know what I mean? Whereas, not that it's easier, but you know, guys that do. Six months and they come back for their week off.

[01:22:34] It's not easier, but it's not quite as, it's a one-off. Like they do it once, whereas we're back and forth all the time. 

[01:22:40] Travis Bader: And you wouldn't wanna shut it off when you come home, would you? Well, I don't 

[01:22:43] Joel Struthers: think you can. No. Shut it off. And that's, I think I, I mentioned Seville is, you know, like driving back from the airport, my wife would pick me up and we'd be in traffic and she'd be like, as everyone does, well, you know, when you're stopped at a, a light or a stop sign, you, you're right behind the other vehicle.

[01:22:57] Yeah. Whereas in my world that I just left, you need that space to Right. To get outta jobs if shit kicks off. Right. So I'd be like, and then I'd be looking at, you know, a, a vehicle parked off to the side. I'm like, you know, I d uh, or, you know, dead dogs, they would fill them with a 1 0 5 shower right on the side, so you can't switch that off.

[01:23:16] Um, but you just, you deal with it. And, you know, I, I was, I was fortunate and. , you know, in my, you know, touch wood in my career and stuff, I haven't really experienced anything that's out of the norm. People have experienced a lot more than me, so I've been able, I'm sure it's, it's definitely affected me, but I don't, you know, I don't suffer.

[01:23:37] I wasn't right. Beating the shit outta my wife or, you know what I mean? Like right. As unfortunately that it happens. Yeah. Like the, wasn't the 82nd airborn and they shut down the completed regimen. Cause the amount of murder, suicides, you know, post. Right. It's, it's a legit, you know, issue. So I think our challenge was probably more, um, and that's something I think the military look at is the counseling for families.

[01:23:57] That back and forth, because I would leave as, as you know, many soldier would do, and whoever's staying home be at the, the male or the female, they're left behind to run the, the household. Mm-hmm. deal with the children, get everything done. You can't expect to come back and just like become the, the alpha male or whatever.

[01:24:17] Right. No, you need to kind of just slowly, and I think there's a lack of. preparedness for that, where they say, Hey, listen, hey, you know, as a family now you've been separated. Your partner now has been in an environment that's, you know, highly, you know, kinetic, and there's gonna be some stress and some emotion, and it's gonna take 'em a while to, to switch off and mm-hmm.

[01:24:36] just relax, give him a bit of leeway. But vice versa, Joel, when you're coming back to, to Langley, just wind your neck in and just relax. She's, you know, she had the, she's been running the household for the last whatever, just do her thing. And then, you know, unfortunately I make reference. You know, you've been home for two weeks and you're driving back to the airport and you're, you're gutted cuz it was a bad experience and that you got your two year old in the back.

[01:25:01] You're like, fuck, I'm going back to, yeah, that's, that, that I remember the most as. Um, challenging and perhaps some regrets. Yeah. But that's life, right? It is life. And you know, in retrospect post, you know, post the book, and I, I get into it, it's interesting because I have a good relationship with my, she's remarried, has a son, and we have a, a good relationship where we co-parent, well, our two kids.

[01:25:24] I like her husband. He respects my place. I respect his place. I like their, their son. I think it's, we're lucky in that manner. Yes. You know, the kids, it's all about the kids. So we've, we've, we've done well. But, uh, it was funny when I, when I wrote the story, I, I reached out to her and I said, listen, I'm, you know, I got

[01:25:41] This story, it obviously dwells, jumps into our, our marriage and it's, you know, it's not about that, but it's obviously has its place, you know. Um, if you, if you want, you can read it, you can comment. But, um, and I'll, you know, yeah. But if you don't, and then it comes out, you gotta, you can't say it's too late.

[01:25:59] Right, right. Anyway, so that was an interesting something I never really Yeah, yeah. Never really considered. And then her, her husband read it, actually. I don't think she ever read it. Yeah. That was a weird scenario too. Like, holy shit, , you know what I mean? Something you never, you never consider. Yeah. Yeah.

[01:26:14] But, um, yeah, the guys I worked with in Arbor Group and stuff, um, I think, to answer your question, we, we weren't in the shit like, like, like we'd fly into Gresh and sang with the, the Paris and the last six months I was, there was a Royal Marines and they were just getting the, the shit kicked in with the man.

[01:26:32] And, you know, we'd fly back with a dead, dead guy in the Chinook. And yeah, I was just more humbled by these young kids and what they were experiencing. So I, you know what, I had nothing to complain about. And if I felt sorry for myself, it's like, shut the fuck up, man. Mm-hmm. Yep. . Yeah. I think we're all the same, you know?

[01:26:47] Yeah. Yeah. 

[01:26:48] Travis Bader: There's a number of people who, uh, ask questions. Oh, yeah. Something on social media. Some of 'em you've actually already kind of answered. Okay. Um, yeah. And, you know, talking about, uh, coming back and not being able to switch off yet a, uh, a public transit and maybe they gotta read the book that, oh, I, that was kind of a, uh, the bus.

[01:27:08] Yeah. The bus incident. The bus incident. Yeah. Uh, it is, uh, yeah. But, uh, yeah, lucky everything turned out as an ought to, and we're, um, 

[01:27:19] Joel Struthers: yeah, I was, uh, there was a, um, a gentleman that was sitting beside us that had watched the whole, so luckily I had someone to collaborated for. Yeah. Um, do we, are we gonna tell that story?

[01:27:30] Or? If you want to, so I was just back from RME and my wife, we had a, a condo in kits. And so I was on my three weeks off, I think, at that point. And my, the guy I flew for, um, Called me. He's based outta Calgary. And, uh, he said, Joel, what are you doing? I was like, oh, I'm just watching Sopranos or whatever, you know?

[01:27:51] I was like, cast a favor. I was like, yeah, by all means. He said, I, his brother, who's a big, uh, construction guy, was putting in a, a bid to do the soil reclamation at the, the airport up in Fort Nelson. Okay. BC and government bid. You had to put in a certified check on the cert certain time for, you know, whatever.

[01:28:07] However that works. It just shows that you're Yeah. You're a legit company, you know? Um, it's not a bribe. It's just part of the It's not a bribe. The pro. Yeah. A pro not, it's not a bribe. It's, yeah. Part of their, anyway, he said it has to be at the, uh, the government building by noon. I'm gonna send a, uh, an envelope by Air Canada Cargo.

[01:28:25] Do you mind grabbing it and dropping it off? I said, yeah, Al me's too easy. And my, my wife at the time worked at a golf course not far from the airport. Okay. Um, so she dropped me off at Air Canada car. I grabbed this, this envelope, and I walked down to the main bus station, which is by the old Delta Hotel.

[01:28:38] Yep. And there was two or three buses. Rush hour. So there's a seat at the very back. So I sit down side seat. Um, and what I remember is I look across and there's an attractive girl, and she had a Russian book. She was like studying. And then next I see this like leg twitching beside her. And I look over and it's like a guy in a hoodie, and he's mm-hmm.

[01:28:59] like, you know, just kind of looks like skateboard type by tire, but, you know, tweaking, you know, tweaking. And then within, I don't know, whatever it was, seconds, he stood up and went to rip the envelope out my hand. Like I kinda had it on my, yeah. Two hands holding it so that, so my reaction was just to stand up, pull the envelope back, and then put, kind of put my hand on its chest and, and push him down back to his, I was like, dude, what the fuck?

[01:29:23] You know? Yeah. Why are you touching my shit? Like, oh, I'm weirded out, right? Like, totally. And he's like, fuck you, you know? I was like, dude, man, just relax. And he, he starts going for his, something in his pocket. Nope. So I grabbed his other arm and I pull it. I said, keep your fucking hands there. What's your problem?

[01:29:36] He's like, fuck you, you're, you're high in crystal meth. And I was like, well, what? No, not . Wait a second. I thought you might do my, yeah, now I, now I know what I'm dealing with. Anyway, he starts kicking up at me, you know, like, yeah. So, you know, I just drilled him as hard as I could in the, in the mouth.

[01:29:53] Knocked him out. Yeah. And then right away I was like, fuck. Whoops. Yes. That was probably little over the top. And then I do, I just remember the look and that poor girl, she just looked at me like with a complete whore, you know? I was like, man, so I walked to the front of the bus. Worst. I'm like, I'm like, sir, because we're still sitting there.

[01:30:11] I was like, sir, I just had an altercation with the gentleman in the back. And then he's at this point, starts hobbling up the back. He's got the phone. That's what was in his pocket phone. He's calling nine one one. So he is like, you know what, just the bus driver says just get off and get on the bus in the front of us.

[01:30:26] So I go into the front of the bus, the guy lets me in. Yeah. And then buddy basically stands in front of that bus, so it can't go anywhere. Mm. Long story short, poor victim, both buses. Dismounted, there must have been about five or six rp. They have a Yep. There was transit police were there. Uh, luckily he had been, uh, arrested the day prior for hasling old people or so.

[01:30:48] He was hogtied in the back of one of the cop cars. Right. Freaking out. Why I'm bleeding, why am I being arrested? You know, . But there was a young gentleman that had been sitting beside us and he had seen the whole thing. So he collaborated my side of the story. I had called my, my wife as this was happened, said, come back to the bus station.

[01:31:04] She's like, why? I was like, just come back. So she showed up to see me standing there with like all these police officers, all about a hundred people, all these, you know, red flag, I'm sure for her. Like, holy shit, 1:00 AM I dealing with, you know? Yep. Anyway, they took a picture. I went back to the, uh, little precinct and, uh, nice police lady took a picture of the envelope.

[01:31:22] I don't think they actually, we took the checkout, but they took my story. Yeah. And, uh, you know, I was concerned that I had got above and beyond, and she said, well, we don't really, you know, suggest that type of action, but perhaps the other individual won't do that again. Yeah. Perhaps you had it coming.

[01:31:37] You're good to go. Anyway, so I, my wife dropped me off at the building, in the government building. I had to check in on a time, and then about a minute after 12, my boss calls me any problems, . I was like, no. Nope. , nope. All good. . But I've never been, never been on a bus since. There you go. 

[01:31:53] Travis Bader: Yeah. Well, that's, 

[01:31:54] Joel Struthers: so yeah, that was, uh, probably, uh, um, not the wisest choice, but it was a, a direct correlation to my, my environment and Headspace.

[01:32:05] I, yeah, 

[01:32:06] Travis Bader: totally. Yeah. Uh, you ever watch a Bear Grills episode? I think it was called Escape to the Legion. You ever see that? Yeah. Yeah. What were your thoughts on No, no, no. Were that, no. Okay. ? No. Just that was a, uh, a lot of Hollywood. Yes. Yeah. Gotcha. Yep. Um, got a note here. Haiti watch big tales of how the Haitians are being helped.

[01:32:28] Yeah. It's funny. I actually, I reached out to a buddy yesterday. My wife's like looking at flights and accommodations everywhere is like really expensive. It's like, you know, we haven't been outta town for a while. She's like, wow. Hey, there's some stuff real cheap. Flights down to Haiti right now. 

[01:32:42] Joel Struthers: I bet there is.

[01:32:42] Yeah. . 

[01:32:43] Travis Bader: I, I'm like, and she's like, uh, what do you think of Haiti? And I'm like, in the middle of something else and I'm, uh, I give a text over to, to Seb. Uh, yeah, he's was down there doing some work while about it, Hey, Seb, thinking about doing a family thing down in Haiti, . And he was like, uh, brother, I hope you're joking,

[01:32:59] And he said, what? After the other, I'm like, okay. He's like, clearly, clearly your political science and your geography needs some 

[01:33:05] Joel Struthers: work. Yeah. You need to, yeah. Talk to your, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, um, Yeah, we went in there for a short span of time right after the, uh, within the week of the earthquake. Mm-hmm. or close too.

[01:33:17] Um, just to see if we could Yeah. Maybe help out on logistics side for some of these NGOs, you know, other people. Yeah. Um, yeah, twofold. It was more to see, it was interesting. It worked out, uh, schedule wise. I, I was working in, uh, Algeria at the time and, um, yeah, we thought why not? Um, my dad's brother at the east passed, unfortunately, but he was a, uh, commander in the, the, uh, Canadian Navy and he was in charge of the, uh, the Canadian military efforts at the time.

[01:33:42] Um, so he put me in touch with someone at the un So we showed up and we drove in from, uh, across the border and rendered ourselves a villa and how a driver and, um, showed up at the UN facility installation, whatever, which was at the airport. And, uh, they invited us to their morning meeting. So it was just all UN people and us, and, uh, I don't think they realized who exactly or what we were, right.

[01:34:06] Mm-hmm. . And they went through their whole spiel, what they were doing, and blah, blah, blah. And the end, end of the, uh, meeting they had, I stood up, they asked me to stand up and, you know, introduce myself and explain why we were there, all that kind of stuff. And then I could see the main, the main guy kind of like, huh,

[01:34:22] And then at the end of it, he's like, uh, do you mind if, could I talk to you for a second? Yeah. By all means. And, uh, yeah, we were no longer welcomed into the . I didn't, I don't think they really realized what we were doing, but at, we were basically just saying, listen, if you have NGOs out there, mm. Because it, it was a bit of a shit show.

[01:34:35] Things were, yeah, they had their hands full, but there was a lot of, you know, these companies that were there willing and wanting to help. But there was obviously risks involved with that, that part of the country. We said, you know, if they're concerned about their safety and they just want, you know, people with that kind of background, SOPs and help them set up a safe way of doing things, we're around and willing and able, you know, so.

[01:34:54] Right. Um, did the same thing with Canadian Embassy, but it wasn't really a. Yeah, a, uh, favorable experience. And we, um, we ended up just kind of hanging out with this, uh, old hotel, which had wifi and a lot of the NGO groups were, were staying there too, so we just befriended quite a few of them and just helped them put together some procedures and plans and suggestions, like just hung out and then we, we headed home.

[01:35:18] Very cool. But, uh, yeah, it's a, um, the history in Haiti is, is interesting. Mm-hmm. Um, yeah, how they came to the freedoms. I mean, obviously there's the French involvement Napoleon stuff, and they're, um, yeah, they've had a hard run, but, uh, they're, they're a tough people. Well, you're 

[01:35:34] Travis Bader: quite the history buff that really kind of comes through and you're your books.

[01:35:38] Yeah, I 

[01:35:38] Joel Struthers: do like, I do like the history and that's always the main thing for me in my travels is kind of like, you know, where and why is this happening and what's the history here? And, uh, it obviously repeats itself, but, uh, yeah, just touching old. You know, castles or old forts or, that's cool. Being, uh, there's a shit that's, I think that's a result of my growing up in Germany as a youngster.

[01:36:01] You know, just castles were, were neat or anything to do with the war, you know? Yeah. Um, and it's just always stuck with me. I really enjoy the, the historical side of things. 

[01:36:09] Travis Bader: Well, you had a neat thing with the, uh, sword as well, too. Yeah. That was a pretty, uh, yeah, 

[01:36:14] Joel Struthers: no, agreed. Yeah, no, I'm, I'm glad you liked that.

[01:36:16] Um, yeah, that's at the end of civil, and that was, so my dad's dad was a, um, missionary doctor, and he went into ch and in fact, my dad's dad was born in China. Um, they went over there to teach a Chinese medicine and how to, you know, they're starting to build hospitals and how to run them. And he was there when the Japanese, so he's in Manchuria when the Japanese came through.

[01:36:41] Um, and he wrote a book, um, and I read it, but, and this sword, so there's a samurai sword. So my, my dad's dad was, uh, artillery. second wave, Juneau. Uh, and then he finished off, um, he worked for, uh, NATO in Brussels for the Canadians. And I just remember, and then he, he retired in Santon on the island. Okay. And they always, and from early days they had their like wicker basket at the front door with the canes and the umbrellas.

[01:37:08] Yeah. But there was always the samurai sword in there that I was enamored with. Yeah, totally. And, um, anyway, when my grandma passed, she left it to me in her will, cuz she knows into that kind of stuff. And, uh, it's a legit samurai sword, um, that he had brought back with him. But in his book, the only time he references, like, there's no history or story behind that sword.

[01:37:30] Um, the only run he had with the, uh, the Japanese military was, and they had, the Japanese had given, uh, free passage to, to whites or, you know, four nationals in that area. , but there had been an altercation where a Japanese soldier, soldiers had been killed. So as we know, the Japanese were fairly brutal.

[01:37:47] They went into one of, of these hospitals, but it was a hospital for the, the Chinese military size stuff. And they basically ban everybody. Mm-hmm. doctors. Yeah. Nurses, patients. And one of the, um, staff was able to get a message to my grandfather to come help. And when he got there, he confronted the Japanese officer in charge and he said that's the one time he was, he feared for his life.

[01:38:08] Mm-hmm. . Cause he basically said, this is a place of medicine, not a place of, but you don't, you can imagine you don't tell a Japanese officer shit Right. In that setting. Right. Not in that setting. Um, but anyway, he came back and he wasn't into military or any type of that, but he came back with a sword. And that would not be something that someone just gives away, right?

[01:38:24] No. Um, so I had the sword, I looked at it. And I gave it to my son. This is family arm. I said, you know what son? This is, this is yours. There's two things. We could just let it rot away, you know, or we could track down its original family and see if we could give it back to the rightful owners, you know?

[01:38:45] Cool. Um, so I had reached out to a gentleman through a LinkedIn. I found, uh, using Tokyo, he runs, uh, Paul's his name. He runs a, a company called the Japanese Sword, and he had been a curator for the British Museum in London there for the, that department. And then gone over to, done really well for himself, but he just loves the samurai sword and culture and stuff.

[01:39:03] So I sent him pictures, shipped him the sword, like we went back and forth for a year. So I, you know, I trusted him. He said, you know, the only way I can tell you more, um, is by getting my hands on it. So I shipped it to him and he said, yep, this is an old family sword. It's over 500 years old. Wow. The tip had been broken off at some point and they repaired it, so it was no longer legally, uh, but whatever.

[01:39:25] Yeah. Um, but there was no markings on the handle where. Typically the blacksmiths would leave a mark and they could from there maybe figure it out. Right. But what he said is, gimme some time and I'll, I'll get back to you. So he did. And what happened is, um, the, uh, shrine, uh, for the emperor go Toba on the Oakey Islands, which is on the north between, uh, Japan and, and Korea, um, he was an original ever that fought the samurai and lost, and he was exiled on this, on this island.

[01:39:54] But he was a, a keen, um, sword enthusiast and made his own swords and stuff. Anyway, so that's, they were willing to take it on and they would look after it and, uh, you know, put it on display for people to see. And so I said, fuck yeah. But the deal is the family. We go over and we hand over the sword. And so the kids and I, we flew to oak okay.

[01:40:15] In Japan and, uh, yeah, handed the sword. Good deal. Yeah. So my, my son, uh, you know, I stood there. It was interesting cuz uh, you know, there's this, uh, shrine. Um, priest in his full on garb, and we go through the whole procedure to show our respect and honors to the gods. Mm-hmm. and the Emperor and my son there, and he's, uh, his white socks had gone through the washing machine, so they're now pink.

[01:40:38] Anyway, so he's in his, you know, I thought it was in interesting juxtaposition of culture and stuff. So there he is with his Samurai sword handing it, you know, in his, it was Pink Socks and that's why the chapter's called Pink Socks. Yeah, yeah. . But, uh, yeah, I know it was, it was really a, it was a good experience for, for them and I, to be honest with you.

[01:40:54] And that was, I was quite taken in Japan. If you have the opportunity to go there, it's, they got their shit dialed 

[01:40:58] Travis Bader: at some point. Yeah, I think I 

[01:41:00] Joel Struthers: should probably do that. Yeah, it's, uh, it's a neat spot. Anyway, so yeah, that's, uh, and I thought that was kind of, I mean, I don't say it, but I think in, in a way it kind of comes, it's kind of soldier's honor.

[01:41:09] You know, you, this was, you know, politics were side, I mean, we know they were brutal, but, um, you know, at the end of the day, it was probably just a soldier doing what he was told to do. And I, I get into that too with Seville on the, on the German side of stuff. Mm-hmm. , you know, it's like, And I see it, to be honest with you.

[01:41:27] I see it right now with, you know, the shit show in, uh, over in the Ukraine is, you know, I, I feel sorry for the young soldiers, whatever side, they're just being thrown into the shit, you know? So I've, I've always taken that from my, I see the soldiering side of it where it's just young men and women doing what they're, what they're told.

[01:41:43] It's not, you know, it's not the leaders that are swaying them in the wrong direction. But, uh, so that was my effort to kind of maybe give something back that didn't belong to us and belonged to a family that obviously, probably lost, lost family. Yeah. And there was a gentleman there, um, Mr. San as I called him, but he was the, um, the sword specialist, the government sword specialist.

[01:42:01] And, uh, he was probably in his eighties. It's hard to tell, they're hard to gauge, but he had, knowing the history of, you know, Japan and the military, he guaranteed he served. And uh, but um, in the morning we were leaving really early. And, uh, when he found out the story behind the sword, cause I think a lot of swords had been returned because.

[01:42:22] The Japanese military, mass producing World War I, world War ii, right? Mm-hmm. , but this one's an old, an old family sword, really. So when. when the, um, translators explained to him the story behind it. He was, I could tell that he was like, oh, he's quite, um, and then during dinner, uh, you know, through the translator, we kind of talked.

[01:42:41] Unfortunately, I never, I, one of my regrets is I never asked him what his background, but I didn't know the protocol on that. Mm-hmm. , and I don't know how comfortable they would feel sharing. Right. But in the morning, we had to catch an early ferry off the island. And when we showed up at like seven, there was Mr.

[01:42:54] Sand, and he had a gift for my son and my daughter. And I think he, you know, I didn't speak Japanese, obviously, he didn't speak English, but we had, we had learned how to bow properly. Okay. And so we, we bowed and then I grabbed his hand and shook it and he laughed. , you know what I mean? But I think he appreciated that we were giving something back.

[01:43:12] That is really cool. Yeah. So that, for me, that was the neatest part of the, the experience was his. 

[01:43:18] Travis Bader: Well, that definitely came across in the book too. Yeah. Which is, that's cool. Which is pretty neat. Appreciate. Yeah, 

[01:43:22] Joel Struthers: yeah, yeah. You never know how things come across. Right. Totally. 

[01:43:26] Travis Bader: I think we covered a lot of the things on here without going, uh, too deep in some of the, uh, the more personal ones that they're, they're asking there.

[01:43:33] Um, is there anything that we should be talking about that we haven't covered? 

[01:43:39] Joel Struthers: Um, no. I mean, I think Seville, it's a tough, so it's been out since what may? Um, it's a tough sell because it's, yeah, it's a follow up book. I don't know how many of those exist, cuz if you haven't read Apel. It wouldn't, you could probably comment, but if you know what I mean?

[01:43:57] If you read Seville without knowing No, you could, you could reads on its own. You could, but some of the names 

[01:44:01] Travis Bader: Sure. Yes. Illa. Well, what it does is it'll make somebody want to read a pill too. Right? Yeah. But agreed. It, it's totally a standalone. You don't have to do one to get the other. Cuz I, I really enjoyed reading the, uh, the perspective from the, um, uh, the pm c side and all the references you made.

[01:44:17] And, 

[01:44:18] Joel Struthers: uh, but I think that was lacking, right? Cause I think there can, I might be wrong, but there can be kind of a, a negative connotation to the. You know, the, the Blackwater stuff and whatever, like 

[01:44:26] Travis Bader: some people have that, right? Yeah. And actually one of the questions that they, they had was, um, um, uh, juggling the, cuz it's a positive thing.

[01:44:34] Yeah. But there is that negative, uh, sphere around it and the, uh, some ethical quandaries at times too. Yes. Being able to, yeah. Uh, and how you might juggle 

[01:44:42] Joel Struthers: that. And I found, and that. Similar reason Seville made sense because it does educate to a certain extent and it shows, it portrays, you know, like the guys on my team, uh, in Afghanistan team too, they're Aaron and Chris.

[01:44:54] Like Aaron, he was, um, ex uh, British officer. Um, so it, it was interesting cuz I'm, you know, I've been with Armor Group for a while, had my experience, you know, Iraq in Afghanistan, so I took over, you know, as team leader, but then I got, you know, my subordinate is, you know, a fresh officer out of the, you know, obviously mm-hmm.

[01:45:11] He's more than capable and Sure. But we were all good. We understood, like we were a team with, there wasn't that hierarchy, it was more just a, a positional thing. But Chris was ex uh, Royal Marine, uh, we actually had two Royal Marines. Um, the other two guys were, uh, Brit, uh, Brit Army, one in one, you know, an mc, a military cross.

[01:45:30] So they're all experienced guys. But, uh, Aaron went on, he's a, he's a doctor now. Um, so he got med school after and did really well for himself. Chris is still out there doing the health and safety type of stuff, so, There was, you know, some really some good people. And when it came to ethics, we were not out there looking the fuck around.

[01:45:48] We were just there to do a job. And I think Armor Group, you know, especially for the fco, cuz they vetted the FCO had final call on who, so your resume and stuff would go to the FCO before they allowed you on that project. Um, and I think they, they did a good job, you know, where you had people that were there for the right reasons.

[01:46:04] That can't necessarily be said everywhere, but I can't comment for, for anyone else. Mm-hmm. . But I know within my group and the way I am, we were there to provide a, a skillset and a, a job not out there to, to fuck around and Yeah. Yeah. I'm not, yeah. 

[01:46:21] Travis Bader: That's not me. So if people want to get the book, what's the best place to place to do it?

[01:46:25] Joel Struthers: Um, so yeah, both books are obviously on Amazon. Yeah. Seil, uh, whether it's both audiobook, but for Seil it's only on Audible and Apple. Yeah. Um, or you could go, you know, I'm on Instagram, there's the Legion engineer website, which has links to the books. Yeah. But yeah, it's, it just takes you straight to Amazon.

[01:46:43] Well, I'll put, 

[01:46:44] Travis Bader: I'll put those links up there. 

[01:46:45] Joel Struthers: Appreciate that. Yeah. And if, yeah, if they want it, I don't keep a lot of books, but if people, every once in a while they, people ask for a, a signed copy, what I do basically, so I just order a handful from Amazon. Yep. And uh, basically I just sign them and ship 'em and it's just the cost of whatever it was on Amazon and the shipping and yeah.

[01:47:02] I'll send it off. It's crazy. Interested in that. Yeah. 

[01:47:04] Travis Bader: That's awesome. Joel, thank you very much for me, another podcast. Thank you. Really enjoy urge conversation. 

[01:47:10] Joel Struthers: Appreciate you. Thank.

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