"Thank you for your service."

There are many many benefits to working here at Barstool, but one of the biggest is the casual way in which we get to meet celebrities.
I was washing out my mug in a seemingly empty office at 6:30 AM a few weeks ago when A-Rod walked up and asked me where he could find some bottles of water.
Ice Cube called me a "cracker-ass-cracker" when I cut in front of him to use the bathroom in the old office. *
Stone Cold Steve Austin put me in a headlock last month because he could sense I was the type of "man" that wouldn't fight back. **
Lisa Ann once told me the largest number of men she's ever been with at one time was 8, and that gang-bangs are actually great workouts for the core. **
But Tuesday, I had another casual encounter that wound up trumping them all.
I co-host a weekly podcast called The Podfathers with Uncle Chaps and Clem.  It's a parenting-type show that was originally developed by KFC, but Clancy stepped away while he was working through all of his personal shit, and they asked me to sit in.  I honestly don't know what type of numbers the pod does, and I am not sure I care… I would still do it if there were only 5 subscribers because I enjoy venting every week for an hour with the fellas.
We tape on Tuesdays because that is the day Clem is definitely in the office, and then Chaps plugs in remotely to the podcast studio from his government-subsidized mansion down in Texas.
This Tuesday we had studio space starting at 1:30 and, as I was wrangling the boys to begin setting up, Chaps had told me that he actually booked a very important guest on his other podcast, Zero Blog Thirty, and that interview would probably run late.  He went on to suggest that Clem and I bang out this week's edition of Podfathers without him so he could focus on this other guest at hand.
That seemingly benign suggestion is unlike Chaps because I think under normal circumstances, he would either delay our taping or rush the ZBT taping in order to accommodate both shows.  But this week, he clearly had a guest that was a huge priority… One that deserved 100% of his time and focus.
For those who aren't familiar, Zero Blog Thirty is the military podcast here at Barstool, and I have said before that it is the noblest endeavor that this company partakes in.  The 3 hosts- Chaps, Kate and Cons, are all vets who care about veteran issues and work to solve some of them while entertaining and informing their audience.
Barstool frequently raises money for deserving charities, but I feel like ZBT saves lives.
Anyhoo… I see Cons in the office as I am grabbing Clem to tape our show and I ask Captain Cons, "Who is this special guest that Chaps mentioned earlier?"
He promptly told me that it was Kyle Carpenter which admittedly MEANT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO ME.
Kyle Kuzma?… Know him.
Kyler Murray?… Yep.
Kyle Korver?… Yes.
Kyle Maclachlan?… I loved Twin Peaks.

Kylie Minogue?… G'day mate!
But Kyle Carpenter?… No fucking clue.
To be honest, I almost said to Cons, "Oh cool… You mean that guy who played Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights?"
But before I made a fool out of myself, Cons graciously said, "You know Kyle… The youngest living Medal of Honor recipient."
"Ohhhhh.  Of course, I know him, Cons.  What a great guest for you guys to have."
(I still had no clue who he was outside of what Cons just told me… Which is a travesty, in itself.)
As I then followed Cons down the hallway towards the podcast rooms, I had seen his guest being shuffled into the studio next door to mine by a small entourage, and since I had a minute to spare while Clem was setting our shit up, I ducked into the ZBT studio before their cameras started to roll, just to say hello.
When I walked into their studio, I immediately saw Mr. Carpenter, and that is when shit got real.

Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter was a member of a platoon-sized coalition force, comprised of two reinforced Marine rifle squads partnered with an Afghan National Army squad. In July 2010, the platoon had established Patrol Base Dakota in a small village in the Marjah District in order to disrupt enemy activity and provide security for the local Afghan population. Lance Corporal Carpenter and a fellow Marine were manning a rooftop security position on the perimeter of Patrol Base Dakota when the enemy initiated a daylight attack with hand grenades, one of which landed inside their sandbagged position. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own safety, Lance Corporal Carpenter moved toward the grenade in an attempt to shield his fellow Marine from the deadly blast. When the grenade detonated, his body absorbed the brunt of the blast, severely wounding him, but saving the life of his fellow Marine. Carpenter lost his right eye and most of his teeth. His jaw and right arm were shattered and he has undergone dozens of surgeries. On June 19, 2014, Corporal Carpenter received the Medal of Honor from President Obama in a ceremony at the White House. He is the eighth living recipient to be awarded that honor for actions in Afghanistan.

Again… All of that info on Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter was not available to me because my brain never had it, and yet I still approached Kyle with a sense of reverence because of all the respect his name garnered with the ZBT crew beforehand and also because his personal appearance was somewhat jarring.

---- "Jarring" is a fucking TERRIBLE word to use there, and I hope that if Kyle or anyone who loves him reads this understands that I only use it because his experiences left some scars and dents that make it immediately apparent that he has been through some shit that the rest of us mere mortals have the luck to never go through because we don't have the miraculous constitutions that would be required to survive them.

And I'll go one better after the "jarring" comment… Kyle is physically damaged (as people who jump on grenades tend to be), but he is also devilishly handsome and had a smile that made my fucking day.  ----

But back to my brief encounter… I walked into the studio and reached my hand out to shake Kyle's.  As I did it, I casually said, "It's an honor to meet you, sir.  You're a hero to me and my family, and we thank you for your service."

---- Now, I have a confession to make… "Thank you for your service." does not carry the gravitas it used to for me.

Maybe that's because I know more soldiers as an adult than I ever did as a kid.  Maybe it's because of the whole 9/11 connection I have.  For whatever reason, I tend to throw "Thank you for your service." around without the proper context… Kinda like people who respond to tweets with "LOL!" even though they never laughed, and certainly never laughed out loud. ----

But still, I said to this American hero, "It's an honor to meet you, sir.  You're a hero to me and my family, and we thank you for your service.", and I only expected the requisite, "You're welcome." in return.
Instead, this special young man looked me dead in the eye (with his one working eye, mind you) and answered, "You and your family deserved it."
Holy shit.
This fucking stud put me right on my fucking heels by making me reconsider all the sacrifices he made and how he probably justifies all the pain he's gone through by simply telling me that risking his life was all worth it because the millions upon millions of American strangers who sat on their (my) fat asses at home while he was in the suck jumping on hand grenades actually deserved it.
Maybe that is Kyle's go-to response, but I don't think so… And I don't want to put too much weight on it, but his words made me want to be a better man.  A man who raises kids who deserve it when a handsome and decent young person like Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter uses his body as a shield in defense of our freedom.
I'll get back to peddling smut in my next blog, but for now, if anyone else out there wants to be inspired by this saint of a man, please tune into this Friday's edition of Zero Blog Thirty wherever-the-fuck you listen to podcasts.
And Kyle has a book out called You Are Worth It: Building a Life Worth Fighting For that I just ordered.
I hope he makes a fucking bazillion dollars off of the proceeds from this book because if there's one thing I am certain of right now… Kyle Carpenter deserves it.
Thank you all for reading.  God bless America.  And take a fucking report.
Ice Cube never called me that.

Stone Cold never did that.
* Lisa Ann DEFINITELY did do that… And she went into great detail about it on Extra Large.
** Twin Peaks sucked.
This week's edition of Extra Large on BarstoolGOLD is co-starring the new guy, Brandon Newman, and it gets pretty inappropriate.  That one drops Friday morning, and the Lisa Ann gang-bang story is in the archives… Enjoy!