Riding Shotgun With Charlie
Lt Lou Lusk & Rick Capozzi
I met Lt Lou Lusk & Rick Capozzi at the Rod of Iron Freedom Festival in Greely, PA, this past fall. I was emceeing the event for one of the days and helping Amanda Suffecool (RSWC #009) with a concealed carry fashion show. In the VIP room, Stephen Willeford (RSWC #088) suggested that I grab Lt Lou and sit in the passenger’s seat for a show. Lt Lou was with the team that rescued Jessica Lynch in Iraq in 2003.
Lt Lou spent 29 years in service to our country, 14 active duty and 15 in the Pennsylvania Guard, including 7 tours since the Global War on Terrorism. He was part of Task Force 20 and much of the invasions and operations from the War in Iraq are covered in the book COBRA II by Michael Gordon & Bernard Trainor. Lt Lou talks about his time serving the country with much emotion, which is easy to see.
Lt Lou refreshes us about the story of Jessica Lynch, how her battalion was captured, then killed and she was left for dead. She was captured and tortured and ended up in a hospital. Lt Lou’s team went to bring her back. But they also re-patriated 13 American soldier’s bodies. One of the difficult things was to bring the bodies back during a 3 hour helicopter ride that didn’t have body bags. His last tour was as a “BMD” pilot, a Big Mahogany Desk pilot. Lt Lou had a hard time with that as he liked to be with his men, leading from the front.
Lt Lou shares some stories about meeting Richard Winters, from Easy Company, which the series Band of Brothers was based on. He and Richard talked about the differences between the generation now and the generation back then and the major differences in how the military goes from war back to civilian life. Major Winters said back then when they came back, it took time. The men had time to decompress and process the acts of war. Nowadays, they finish their battles and within12 hours they’re back at home living civilian life.
This is one of the issues that haunts many of our military. There isn’t the decompression time to process everything that they experienced in war. They want to get home to their families and loved ones. This leads to much of the PTDS that they have, which also leads to suicide. Lt Lou shares some of his demons that he’s dealt with after military life. He admits that there were 5 times when he should have died; four during battle and one at his own hands. But without the firing pin in his firearm, he was saved by God. This also explains the tattoo he has on his right arm and why he wears a ring on his right index (trigger) finger.
Rick gets a little time to talk about his business, Survival Mindset. They train everyday people to prepare for armed intruders. And how to respond to deal with a situation. Finally, how to survive a deadly situation. Survival Mindset does realtime drills with their clients, and they can include using several agencies including lifeflight. They work with clients on several levels of whatever their needs are of the people attending classes. Rick tells us some stories about people that have taken training with Survival Mindset and then ended up needing to use their training.
I enjoy going back and rewatching shows. There’s so much to learn about not just firearms, and not just that gun folks are the greatest folks or that we’re everyday folks. But there are challenges in life, regardless of your career or path in life. And no matter who you are or where you are, there are people like Lt Lou and Rick that ‘have your 6’.
“That night, also with Jessica Lynch, we re-patriaited 13 Ameican soldier’s bodies that were buried in shallow graves.”
“I don’t know what to fix unless I know what’s broken.”
“It’s going to be hard for you to be the one to tell people to do stuff and not do it.”
“God has saved me 5 times. Four from an enemy, once from myself.”
“When it comes to mental health injury, instead of being broken, you’re more shattered.”
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