An Interview With Green Beret Veteran Robert Patrick Lewis
A fire is made of many pieces of kindling, an accelerant and a flame. Altogether, it can start small but grow to become something stronger and brighter. As a whole, the fire — small or large — is powerful.
Men, when serving their country, start off alone at the recruiting office. Soon after, they join others like themselves and bond as they learn the basics of being a soldier. Then they take on more specialized training and eventually end up with a unit that becomes what identifies them forever. The unit, small or large, becomes closer than most families.
Meet Army Green Beret Veteran Robert Patrick Lewis, author of Love Me When I’m Gone. He is the kind of man most people would want on their six whether they are male or female. During his military career, Rob served as a Green Beret 18D combat medic.
He mastered his MOS and is still called upon this day for medical advice by the brothers he served with in the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He was an operator on Operational Detachment Alpha 22 (ODA 022) and was deployed to
While some might say that a one and half hour video interview is not long enough to get to know someone, they have not met Rob. He is an open, warm and funny person whose missions were kept secret from the rest of us. One might think that his Special Forces career would make him a little cautious when talking to someone he met moments before. Not so. With an openness that is rare to find when interviewing people, Rob invites you into his view and begins talking to you like you are sharing a German-made beer together.
His ease in meeting people and sharing stories comes from a lifetime of traveling as a child (his passport was full by age 10), and through his career as a Green Beret to where he is now in life. In his own words, Rob is “a big picture guy. I can see the whole picture. I’m very observant and open minded.” This explains how he is able to remain flexible and adapt to any circumstance. Below are some of his observations about his deployments.
On Deploying to
“The most rewarding aspect was seeing how happy the people were despite being very poor and malnourished. Also, the ability to help thousands of people there was rewarding.”
And the aspect liked the least:
“Vaccinations! We all had to be vaccinated against everything all the time since Green Berets have to go everywhere and anywhere with no notice. Nobody wants to be the bad guy with the needle! And it was HOT. You’re never comfortable there.”
When asked if his life of travel has shaped his view of the world:
“Yeah totally. A lot of Americans don’t understand how rough other places are like. It’s shaped my ability to understand how others live and adapt. I got the ability to adapt from traveling. I adapt quickly. I enjoy learning a new culture.” And he has a “third world stomach” from trying local food.
now as opposed to when he deployed there in 2007-2008: Afghanistan
“A change in mission. The purpose of Special Forces was guerilla warfare. We surveyed the area and conducted missions every day. Now, training is the mission. We’re (
Rob took the delayed entry program into the Army. His father insisted he finish school first. He graduated with a degree in Business and then went on to serve his country. He served for 8 and half years and then got out to marry actress Cindy Chiu, whom he knew from high school. He entered the pre-med program at UCLA where he applied for a surgical technician position, but with his business degree, the school offered him a management position. It was during this time that the couple learned Cindy was pregnant. Rob decided that this was the best way to support his family and took it. While he was working at UCLA, he was contacted via LinkedIn about a military contracting job in
“I was in a place where I was ready to leave my job but needed a guarantee before I would quit. (The company) was hiring people for a project that was not funded yet,” he relates. He signed the contract but the project kept getting pushed back until almost a year had gone by before he got the guarantee to go over and train Afghan special operations troops how to be combat medics. The contract was for a year but he was there for five months before coming home. He says it was the right thing to do at the right time in his life.
For those thinking about taking on this kind of work, Rob offers some smart advice: “Know what you’re getting into. Know the company and its company culture. Some companies are run by older non-combat people who aren’t aware of the ‘leave no man behind” ethics of the military. Some jobs do not allow any weapons. Just know the company and the job. Be careful.”
Today, Rob is working on another book, helping a friend with a screenplay and working on a license to be a financial advisor, as well as hosting a radio show, “Center Mass with Rob and Silent J”.
Like a strong bonfire, Rob is spreading the sparks of good through his work with USA Cares, a charitable group assisting troops and Veterans with everyday expenses, and one which is rated higher by Charity Navigator than some of the more well-known organizations. He is also strong supporter of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation which is rated just as high and takes care of their own. He is the fire than men gather around to discuss plans or shoot the breeze. His impeccable character comes from his father who Rob credits as “a man of his word with great moral character”.