By David “Jager” Burnell
Founder and CEO, OPSGEAR®
For the past seven years and intently the past couple days I have been with my good friend John Bravo. John is the most gentle, calm and loving man with a deep sense of personal responsibility, patriotism and affection for right. He is a silent warrior with unmatched tactical skills and knowledge. John served his country in many lands and is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. John is a decorated soldier with accolades that I had to tell his own parents months after his return from war. He is a quiet professional soldier… a Green Beret.
Over the past couple of days we assisted in training up Body Guard Operators for high-risk areas. This course produces warriors, pure and simple. The methods are hard and fast and the lessons are life-saving and intense. While operating in this dangerous live-fire environment, I observed the gentle teaching skills of John while he would mentor a student that barely spoke English and didn’t know one end of the rifle from the other. He built confidence through clarity and exuded the competence of a master at arms. His methods are timeless and garner respect and trust from all who meet him.
John is more than my friend, he is an example to me of a tender father, loyal patriot and master tactician. He can be fierce and relentless when circumstances require it, but this is reserved for the enemy or a classic teaching moment. I have seen this unique switch personally in training and real operations. Yet this warrior resolve is balanced with a quiet dignity that will not acknowledge the bragger or boastful banter. He has little energy for that. To prove yourself to John you must do it quietly, for a long time and continually seek to refine not only your skills, but yourself. Mistakes are expected, but giving up or assuming you have arrived is not.
In a deployment with him to do Body Guard work in a most unforgiving and demanding place John was unwavering for not only the principles we guarded but for me personally. Often I would look left or right and John would be glancing at me and my sector making sure that I was OK. Where do you find friends like this? Hard to explain if you don’t have one or haven’t needed that kind of over-watch. We worked on very sensitive missions and he was the ONLY one who would not only risk his life with me consistently, but would do it in a calm and measured way that can only come from a true and seasoned operator. It was and is a privilege to train, operate and be next to him daily. John and I have personally trained hundreds of soldiers, police and airmen. I know John.
You might ask yourself… why do I write about this man? To be candid, it has to do with those that have fallen in recent years in the war on terror. It is for you who do not know these type of men… for his children… my personal witness and testament of this incredible man… my friend.
John was in the thick of this fight on terror more than you will EVER know. He will not likely say diddly to you, especially if he does not know you. It is the way of the true professional. He does not need your validation or the abstract approval of his deeds. He does not do them directly for you unless you are his mate, but he does them for the cause and the unified purposes of good and right. He is the perfect example of the Green Beret… the Special Forces soldier who never stops learning and progresses constantly. John has little love for the man who won’t but has an undying respect and loyalty to the man who will.
There are a few other men like John and sadly of the few that are out there… many have fallen. They are gone with only the legacy of a secret life of service, sacrifice and honor. Elements of a life that most will never know except through media and day dreaming. I have carried a gun in a hostile land with this man in ways most of you will never know. I tell you as only few can of the greatness he possesses, the surety and dedication to me his friend and the cause of good. There are few men like him and I thought you should know this from my own lips, heart and experience. I love, respect and TRUST John Bravo with my life, my children and my wallet.
If there is a John in your circle… embrace them, love them, learn from them. There are a few of these REAL Special Operations veterans in your midst. Instead of just watching Band of Brothers on the couch… get up and do something today for the current generation of these brothers, these men who dare… these good solid souls.
I am Jager, and John Bravo is my friend.