June 14, 2014

Surfaces and Gaps

Written by derekherrera

One of the first things taught in training for Marine Officers is to exploit ‘gaps’ and avoid ‘surfaces’ in the enemy’s posture (originally from Sun Tzu’s Art of War).  Exactly two years ago, the enemy attempted to destroy me and deter my team from achieving our objective.  They came close, but left a small window for survival, a ‘gap’ that I have tried to exploit every minute of every day since.

Dictionary of Modern Strategy and Tactics
By Michael Keane

Since then I have experienced the lowest points of my life, and also some of the highest.  Through it all, my wife Maura has been there to love, support, challenge and inspire me.  In reality, there is nearly nothing that I have achieved completely by myself.  Of all the people who have supported me along the way, Maura has been the most influential one, by far.

I recently took a trip to San Francisco and met a few other Marines who recently started an incredible non-profit organization called the Redstone Project.  This organization is specifically designed to facilitate the transition process for any Special Operations Veterans by employing them to support international development and reconstruction efforts.  If you are interested in learning more about the organization please let me know.

Korengal Derek Herrera Sebastian Junger Santa Monica @2x

I was lucky enough to attend the opening day of the movie Korengal in LA last night.  Because it was opening day for the movie, I was also able to meet the director, Sebastian Junger, and speak with him briefly after the show.  He has done incredible work with both this film and his previous film, Restrepo, in visually showcasing and cataloging the struggles facing Veterans returning from war.  He is incredibly smart and talented, and has been able to straddle the line between journalist and Veteran, by earning the respect of the Veterans he lived with by sharing the same hardships they endured for an extended period of time.  Check out his TED Talk below to hear a very articulate description of why Veterans ‘miss’ combat.

Yesterday, at an event for the American Technion Society, where I was sharing my story with a group of people, a young lady (turning 96 years old next week) came up to me and told me that I was the most inspiring person she had ever met.  She was kind, outgoing, sharp as a tack, and has certainly met a large number of people in her lifetime.  To me, this was one of the greatest compliments I have ever received.  Not for my own validation, but because it means that I was successful in communicating a small glimpse of the things that Men in my line of work do on a daily basis.  Communicating this story and advocating to garner support for those still putting it on the line every day has become incredibly important to me.  As long as I can have a positive impact in this realm, I will continue to share my story.  In my view, these Rough Men I have been so lucky to work with are the ‘surface’ of this organization, and embody what makes this country great.