Men’s Journal’s Everyday Warrior With Mike Sarraille is a new podcast that inspires individuals to live more fulfilling lives by having conversations with disrupters and high performers in all walks of life. In our sixteenth episode, we spoke to retired General Clay Hutmacher. He spent his career as a United States Army Officer and retired in 2018 after serving over 40 years. As an Army Special Operations Aviator, he commanded during three tours with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Listen to the full episode above (scroll down for the transcript) and see more from this series below.

This interview has not been edited for length or clarity.


Mike Sarraille
Welcome to the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior podcast. I’m your host, Mike Sarraille. I’m joined by a man I highly respect. Excited for this one. I would consider him a mentor…retired Major General Clay. Hutmacher. 40? 41? How many years

Clay Hutmacher
Shy of 41 years. About a month shy.

Mike Sarraille
You couldn’t get to 41. Just lack of commitment.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah, exactly. I was a quitter.

Mike Sarraille
So 40 years of military service. He’s currently the president and CEO of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, for which I’m an ambassador. And I’ll tell you what I, I love this foundation. We’ll definitely get into that towards the end, but we’re living in a crazy world right now.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah, certainly, as crazy as I’ve seen it during my time, and I thought I saw crazy, but crazy’s taken on a new definition these days,

Mike Sarraille
You know, you gotta wonder the World War II vets during Vietnam probably thought the country was up in flames. It ebbs and flows much like the economy; there’s ups, there’s downs, but do you think people lose perspective in this country of how good we have it?

Clay Hutmacher
Yes, I do. Frankly. I think that, you know, for a lot of people they’ve known nothing else. So you know, it at one level while what’s happening in Ukraine is a tragedy. Yeah. But seeing the atrocities and seeing what happens out in the world, I think at some level is a, is a good reminder for people of how good we do have it and how we, you know, those of us that served you. And I, we understand what, you know, what the world is like beyond more, maybe than most average citizens that live in their own little bubble here. But I think seeing what, what could happen and is in, is happening out in the world today is a good reminder that we need to be thankful for and committed to protecting what we have in this nation.

Mike Sarraille
Yeah. Perspective is a powerful tool. And, and I’m thankful to, for, for deploying so many times across the world and, and seeing how other people live. Um, so you have an amazing story. And, uh, I, yeah, I don’t wanna say the words you, you didn’t come from much, but I mean, at 15 you were in a foster home. Yep. In Washington, um, explain to me a little about how, you know, how you ended up in that, that, that foster home at 15. And then I, I know you eventually made the way into the Marine Corps. You enlisted and, and I’m sure that was impactful in your life, but take, take me back to Washington in those teen years.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. My mother and father divorced early on in my life, I was, I’m the youngest of five and way younger. I’m like seven years younger than my brother, the next one up in the chain there. And they divorced and my mother went overseas. She was a writer lived in South Africa. And, you know, I was as a result of, you know, result of the divorce and, you know, I just was a poorly behaved youth, I would say. And so I bounced around and then ended up living in a foster home. And the family that took me in who I am still in contact with to this day. Um, uh, husband was a Charlie Williams, he’s since passed, but he was a Marine in Korea. And he talked to me, he’s telling me stories about the Marine Corps, you know, um, and I didn’t know what I really needed other than I needed somebody to put me on the straighten arrow. And I needed to jump in the deep end of the pool. And the Marines seemed like a good choice. And they definitely put me on a straight narrow. They did not disappoint from the time I got on those yellow footprints. When I got off the bus, I thought I made a horrible mistake.

Mike Sarraille
<laugh> I, you know I don’t think anyone on day one thinks they made a great choice. Okay. I mean, you can’t, you don’t know what you’re stepping into, but the power of Marine recruiting. Yes. I mean, I joined because I met a force recon recon Marine. That guy impressed me so much at, I whopping 135 pounds, how much or much I weighed at, at 19. I’m like, I want to be that dude. Yep. But so, you know, interesting. You said, Hey, you know, an unruly kid, that’s exactly how my parents would’ve described me. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, I did find a common thread, among some of the highest performers in the military is they were unruly. They just didn’t know how to focus. They didn’t know how to commit, but once you made that, that switch and, and, and you mentored them. Yeah. AKA, or, you know, bootcamp. Yeah. they, it it’s like you unleashed a, a beast. They knew how to take that, that energy and just focus it on a mission until it was achieved.

Clay Hutmacher
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I think, you know, when you’re things could have definitely went a different way for me, you know, there were several forks in the road where either through a good decision on my part, or just through fate, I ended up on the right path. But later in life, the things that challenged me earlier in my youth actually became an asset to me later in life, you know, driven, focused, um, a bit of a risk taker.

Mike Sarraille
You, you don’t say yeah,

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. Just a little <laugh> yeah.

Mike Sarraille
For, for what you eventually did. Yeah. The, uh, risk is, uh, and I know you guys are good at mitigating risk, but risk was still,

Clay Hutmacher
But it’s inherent,

Mike Sarraille
It’s inherent and everything we do.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Sarraille
So, and what’d you do in the Marine Corps?

Clay Hutmacher
So in the Marine Corps, uh, I went in on not quite an open contract. I can’t remember what it was, but I ended up as, uh, an am tracker, an 1833 amphibious assault vehicle crewman. And I did that for, you know, I went to campus June 1st. Then I went to Okinawa camp Schwab. Yeah. Then I reenlisted and went to Marine barracks, uh, wood be Allen Washington, which has since closed. And then they, I got picked up for army flight school at that point. I, you know, I went back, got my high school diploma, started going to college at night and the army said, Hey, we’ll pick you up for flight school. I have my acceptance letter. And the Marine Corps sent me back to Okinawa. So I had to defer a year until I came back from Okinawa. And then I went right to flight school.

Mike Sarraille
Was, was that as a, was that a warrant officer program or was that

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah, warrant officer. So I started flight school in 84, graduated in June of 85 as a warrant officer, one grade, one junior warrant officer, and went at a hundred first flying Blackhawks, uh, for a medevac company.

Mike Sarraille
What rank did you achieve in the, in the Marines?

Clay Hutmacher
In the Marines? I was on the E six list. So I was no kidding. Yeah. I was, you know, in the Marines, they centrally select E six S in the army. They don’t start that till E seven, but in the, uh, Marines, they do E six. So I was on the list. Uh, but I hadn’t pinned on, by the time I went to the army. So I went across as an E five, a Sergeant buck,

Mike Sarraille
Sergeant, Hey, one, one of the greatest ranks. I I’m wildly proud of that rank. Absolutely. Yeah. Were my favorite say Sergeant of Marines? Yeah.

Clay Hutmacher
General RYS asked me what my favorite rank was and that’s what I said. The Sergeant,

Mike Sarraille
I was not on the, uh, in the zone for E six. They were happy to, to, to, to lease me out to the, uh, the seals. Um, did, did, did the Marine Corps lay the foundation? Cause I always talk, when I talk to companies, I’m like, Hey, you know, they always wanna hear about the seals. Special operations is sexy. I get it. But I start by talking about the Marine Corps and how they laid the foundation. Cause I’ll give you my example of reason. I sort of reinforce it is I graduated high school with a 2.9 mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, it wasn’t from the lack of aptitude. Totally. If, if it didn’t have to do with parties, girls and fun, I just didn’t care. Uh, but then, you know, the Marine Corps sent me back to school on something called the me program. And

Clay Hutmacher
I graduated, I remember

Mike Sarraille
Three, it was like a 3.65. I assure you I did not get smarter, uh, during my time more focus.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. Yeah. It’s all about effort. Right. And focus.

Mike Sarraille
What, what, what made the cuz I know what made me made the shift from the Marines to, to SOCOM, but what, what made you make the shift from the, the Marines to the army?

Clay Hutmacher
I think it was, you know, a combination of things. Part of it was maturing to the point where, you know, I needed to quit screwing around here and start making something in my life. The clock was ticking and you know, I needed to have some goals and then this opportunity came up. Uh, another guy had applied on Woodby, another Marine, and he had a brochure that showed a Cobra helicopter, hovering over the trees with the MIS coming up. And I just remember that fateful moment. I said, Hey, what is that? I was actually a bouncer in a, uh, the Marine Corps enlisted club. We had our own club there at Marine barracks, the globe and anchor club. And, um, he told me about it. So I started looking into it, started the process, took a long time, but I went down to Fort Lewis and got my flight physicals, took the flight aptitude test, which was probably a four hour drive, you know, back and forth. And I, you know, understanding I needed to do to aspire for more was critical component. But then this opportunity came up and it put me on a completely different trajectory than I would’ve ever anticipated moments before I saw that brochure.

Mike Sarraille
What I mean, was it the fascination of the, the aircraft and flying because you hadn’t flown prior to this? What, what, what was it that just like grabbed you?

Clay Hutmacher
You know, that’s a good question. Uh, I would say what grabbed me at first was that awesome looking Cobra, hovering over the trees. And I was like, I want to do that. That looks really cool. Um, and then I discovered, you know, once I started that I really enjoyed flying. I, you know, I liked it. And, um, and so that put me on the path and it was funny because I got to flight school and I, my initial orders out of flight school were to Germany, to a place called swish hall. It was an assault company over there, you know, black Hawks. But I had heard about this secret unit, uh, at Fort Campbell, um, Kentucky. And there was another guy in my class who was going to Fort Campbell and he didn’t want to go to Fort Campbell and I didn’t necessarily want to go to Fort Campbell either, but I wanted to be where that unit was cuz pro you know, geography matters. Right? Yeah. Yes. So I swapped with that guy and I went to Fort Campbell and immediately put in my application to go to the one 60th that got laughed out of the building, you know, like, yeah. Don’t even talk to us, you know, till you get

Mike Sarraille
Lot more, you’ll be yeah. To green Gill

Clay Hutmacher
Going back

Mike Sarraille
So well, they also wanna see that tenacity.

Clay Hutmacher
They do. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I got selected for, so I, you know, what I didn’t realize is a warrant officer, cause I didn’t understand, right. A warrant officer, as you know, now in your life is very technically focused. The army warrant, officer pilot stay in the cockpit, essentially their whole career. They may do some administrative jobs, uh, but generally they fly. Um, but they don’t really get the opportunity to command with very, you know, there’s some exceptions to that, but they’re relatively rare. Um, and when I became a warrant while I love flying and um, was very focused on it, I also realized that, Hey, I’m not gonna be a commander. I’m just, it’s just not gonna be in the cards as a warrant. And I was approaching that critical 10 year point where I had to either be, if I was gonna become a commissioned officer, I had to do it back then.

Clay Hutmacher
The rule was you had to be able to serve 10 years of commission timed by 20 years to be able to retire as a mm-hmm <affirmative> commission guy. So I applied OCS and graduated officer Canada school, Fort Benning with nine years, 10 months and two weeks. And I had applied to the one 60th and I was a week out for graduation. And I called him, said, Hey, I did pretty well. You know, I was at the top of my class. Would you guys give me a look? And they did. I was on my way to the 82nd, uh, to fly for the 82nd airborne division. And they gave me a shot and I made it and stayed there all the way. It stayed in special ops all the way till I was a Lieutenant Colonel on oh five.

Mike Sarraille
That, that is, uh, that is amazing. Let me ask you, this was the cuz you know, we, we often talk about leadership and culture and I know that’s a PA those are, those are two passions of, of yours. Um, what was the culture shift like in, and this is coming from one primary Marine seal. I love the army. I love the army. I’ve, I’ve got nothing with great things, but what was that culture shift like between the Marine Corps and the army?

Clay Hutmacher
Um, it was very different. Um, you know, I, my personal opinion is I think the real strength of the Marine Corps is their NCO core. I think they’ve got a very, very strong NCO core. Um, and I benefited from that being a part of that, uh, core within the core, I guess. Um, I’d say the discipline is much, it’s a little, it’s much stricter in the Marine Corps than it is in the army. There’s also a completely different culture in the, in the Marine Corps. You don’t say I’m a first division Marine or a second division Marine or a third division Marine, right. Which are three primary divisions. And I know there’s a reserve fourth division there, but you don’t identify yourself in that way. You’re a Marine period in the army. You are, you align more with a community or with a division, you know, you’re in the 82nd, you’re with a hundred first or first Cal or whatever.

Clay Hutmacher
Um, it’s more division centric. The other big difference I noticed is the Marine Corps does a much better job in my personal opinion of teaching their history. You’re not gonna find a Marine that doesn’t know that 10, November 17, 75 ton Tavern in Philadelphia. Yes. Pennsylvania, captain Samuel, Nicholas first commandant of the Marine Corps. I mean, I remember in bootcamp, they drilled history. So you really got a sense that you were continuing on that, that line of history, you know, for the Marine Corps, the army, in my opinion, could do a much better job of teaching history cuz the Army’s got a great history, they’ve done great things and they’re,

Mike Sarraille
It’s the us army. Yeah.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. And I mean, you know, but they don’t focus on it like the Marine Corps does. And I, and I think that their own detriment, again, this is my opinion, but I, you know, if somebody, uh, or, you know, if I were ever, if I’d ever been chief of staff of the army, I would’ve put a push on history cuz you have a sense. I think it builds a sense of belonging, a sense of serving something greater than self. Hey look, there’s a lot of people that went before you that did great things. Here’s your time to do something great and have that obligation to continue that high standard.

Mike Sarraille
But what were the things you automatically were like, oh, I love this part of the culture within the army of

Clay Hutmacher
Fresh within the army. Um, the army was the army. I think they’re one of their big strengths is training. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, they’re very focused on training and, and they’ll, you know, they’ll send you to schools. I mean, you know, the Marine Corps, they, you know, they, no budget run out. Every penny. I’ll tell you a funny story. When I got to the hundred first, I was a medivac pilot. Right. And I had to go to this course down in, uh, San Antonio, uh, at Fort Sam Houston, a medical evacuation course for pilots. And you know, they gave me my TDY orders to go down there and they had a rental car on there, a rental car authorization. And uh, I was like a rental car. Is that legal? Can we have a rental car? I mean, I literally, it was a legitimate question. I was like, Marine Corps would never give you a rental car ever. That’s not allowed. You know, so sometimes I think the Marine Corps can be penny wise and pound foolish that way. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille
Yes.

Clay Hutmacher
Um, again, all this is my own opinion and I’m sure everybody’s got different ones, but the army, I think invests more in training like that.

Mike Sarraille
Well, the, the army and I didn’t know this until a few years ago provides more scholarships than any other organization, uh, in the us. And I, I think that that points to it, but to, to reiterate your point, I’m not, you know, denigrating the Marine Corps here is, you know, what, what forced me to, to make that shift was I, I was, I was a recom rate mm-hmm <affirmative> and we get around the seals in the, uh, in the green Beres and they’re carrying around M four S with, with suppressors and I’ve got the M 16 a two. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I’m like this just, and I’m a sniper and I’m like, this just doesn’t make sense. And there was, I, I, you know, we, weren’t part of SOCOMM when I, I, I did this switch now they have, and I’m so excited for that, that they got the, uh, the Raiders, the, the MARSOC and those guys are awesome, but at the time it just, the war had just kicked off. And it made sense to make that leap to SOCOM cuz as per the, you know, uh, AQ X award, you know, SOCOM had the lead in the fight and if they were gonna beat the front

Mike Sarraille
And I don’t care what unit it was with, it just was the, the easiest from the, you know, Marine courts in the Navy. I would, you know, if they say to army and you gotta wear a pink Tutu to get to the front, I, I would’ve worn a pink Tutu. Yep. Uh, with, uh, with bells on. So the, uh,

Clay Hutmacher
I would’ve liked to have seen the whole thing.

Mike Sarraille
Yeah. Thing being

Clay Hutmacher
Send pictures, if

Mike Sarraille
That ever actually occur being very, uh, very, uh, fictitious there. Uh, so the TF one 60 F one, I mean, you know, I talk about these guys as if they they’re, they’re on a pedestal. I, you know, I, I, I, I serve my country. I did what I, I did my part. Uh, I feel like I did very little compared to a lot of guys, but just working with the TF one 60 at the night stockers in the history of that unit. Um, tell the listeners a little about that. Cuz I mean, during the, the global Ontario, I think we always heard that you guys had the highest operational tempo. Oh, by

Clay Hutmacher
Far. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and that part of that is just a fact that it’s aviation. Right. It’s so expensive. You’ll never have enough. Um,

Mike Sarraille
And there’s, there’s so few of you as well,

Clay Hutmacher
Right? Yeah. And so, you know, we don’t, you can’t get directly assigned as an aviator into the one 60th, right. You have to apply, get selected, go through selection and then the training pipeline, uh, to make the cut. And then you’re on a, you know, it’s a two year after that, you know, it’s a long journey to become a fully mission, qualified aviator and then eventually a few of ’em make flight leave. So it’s a very long process. The, and you know, the thing I learned early on in my tenure in the one 60th was they are 100% customer focused. In fact that I’ll never forget this captain. Um, I was a second Lieutenant running around and they said, Hey, number one priority for us is our customer. And we don’t care if that’s a Navy seal, a green beret, a army ranger, one of our classified special mission units.

Clay Hutmacher
We don’t care. They’re all, they’re all critical to us and that’s why we exist. And I know that, you know, Marine Corps aviation is, is, is very focused on supporting their, you know, the Marine air wings supporting their divisions and their Marines on the ground. But the army is 100% focused on that. I mean, if you just look at the way they’re organized, you know, in a, the, the largest tactical formation of aviation in the army is a aviation brigade, which is subordinate to an army maneuver division mm-hmm <affirmative>. And the one 60th takes that to the next level. I used to tell whether it was seals or, uh, smooth operators or Rangers or green Berets or Raiders or whatever. I said, if we put you in, we’re coming to get you out. I mean, we’re never gonna leave you ever. And you look at Somalia.

Clay Hutmacher
I mean, guys landing in the street, you know, Carl Meyer, a dear friend of mine, you know, two wounded operators in the middle of the street, they land in one of the piles, you know, land in an intersection in a little bird. One of the guys runs out Keith Jones drags two of them into the back of the aircraft shooting his pistol killing enemy. You know, he, his slide was to the rear on his M on his M nine. Yeah. When he, you know, picked each guy up and that was just indicative. Um, I wasn’t in Somalia proper, I ended up picking Mike Durant up when he was on his way back. But I’ve often told people that my proudest day of being a night stalker was when I understood how they performed that day. Those, those that were there. I mean, we never let the ground force down

Mike Sarraille
And, and I’ve seen this in action. And I mean, we put you guys in some tough situations. I mean the ground and the enemy dictated those situations. Uh, but, uh, you’re not joking. You guys would always get us out. I mean, the fact that you guys, and I think it speaks to like the empathy that you guys have, cuz, and I’ve heard you talk about this before. I mean a good majority or, or a good portion of the, the 1 68 pilots were prior seals,

Clay Hutmacher
Special operators, seals, green Beres Rangers, a lot of Rangers. Um, some Raiders we have Marines from aviators from, you know, swap over cuz we had an exchange program. We always had a Marine flying a six S I think they still do. And several of those, you know, ended up leaving the Marine Corps and coming back in the army as warrant officers and flying for that same company. Se when I was there, there were at least three of ’em when I was there.

Mike Sarraille
And that’s not uncommon for, for the Marines that serve at, at the, uh, the classified, uh, special mission units make that eventually make that leap cuz they’re like, yeah,

Clay Hutmacher
Why not? I mean, you got the resources. Yeah. You got the focus, the whole culture, everything. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille
So, you know, and I, I know you you’ve, you’ve talked about Somali and the black Hawk down, uh, scenario. Uh, I think most people, uh, recognized that, that story you had, I mean, those were most of your guys you had been in at the unit and then you went on a, uh,

Clay Hutmacher
Exchange tour

Mike Sarraille
Exchange tour with the air force,

Clay Hutmacher
Right? Yeah. I was flying with the air force at the time. Um, cliff Walcot who was killed Donovan, Briley, um, you know, Ray, Frank, um, bill Cleveland Foy fields. Um, I served with all those guys. My middle son, um, is Mitchell Walcot hock mm-hmm <affirmative> and cliff was in super six. One was killed. I yes, Guild. I, uh, promoted his, I went to his son, uh Robert’s graduation from Norwich. He graduated with honors was an army aviator flew Blackhawk. I promoted him to captain. Yeah. He since left the service, I’ve stayed in touch with his widow. Chris who’s now happily remarried and living, I think North Dakota on a horse ranch, he loves horses. So it was absolutely a and we were in Panama together during just cause we’d been in desert storm together. I flew off Cliff’s wing. Mike Durant was part of all that mm-hmm <affirmative> so yeah, we were, it was definitely a brotherhood and I was very, um, I had went on, you know, my time was up, I was a platoon leader for a long time, but then I was flying with the air force.

Clay Hutmacher
And the funny thing was I was at Fort Bragg with the air force squadron, the 55th that I was flying with. And we were doing some rehearsals for Haiti cuz you remember Haiti was going on when all that happened. I do. And uh, and you knows Ross had sort of seized control. Well, I ran into cliff Walcot Donovan, Briley, Mike de Durant, uh, several others, friends of mine from Michael tune that were at brag at the same time. And they were heading to Mogadishu. They had just done a bunch of, uh, workups and were flying out that week. In fact, we ran across at each other on one of the ranges out at, uh, Fort Bragg.

Mike Sarraille
Uh, you, I saw recently that in, in, you know, the army has a good track record of going back in. I don’t wanna say correcting history, but recognizing people that that should have been recognized, they just, they just awarded like something like a, a, a, something like 20 silver stars and yeah, a bunch distinguished service

Clay Hutmacher
Crosses rated a bunch of awards. There was a few, one 60th that got their awards upgraded, I think mainly crew chiefs mm-hmm <affirmative> um, but the rest, uh, some distinguished service crosses, which, you know, in the Navy side is, will come with the Navy cross, uh, bill Bedford, former SOCOM. Awesome dude. SENTCOM yeah. Awesome guy commands our major great guy. He got his upgraded to a distinguished service cross

Mike Sarraille
That, well, Hey, over 20 years late, but it

Clay Hutmacher
Got done. Scotty Miller’s award got upgraded. That’s great. And I had lunch with him a few weeks ago.

Mike Sarraille
Uh, general Scott Miller, Scott Miller, I mean for the listeners and uh, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him, but uh, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve met a lot of people who I read about who I’ve just, I, I hold in high regards and, and they are me. So it’s like mentorship through readership. Yes. You know, even though I don’t meet ’em a bit, people speak volumes of Scott Miller. It’s,

Clay Hutmacher
He’s an exceptional leader. I was with him on nine 11 with a guy you may know, Homer near pass was with me.

Mike Sarraille
No kidding in that. I mean, it speaks to some of the, the, the greatest leaders I met in the military. All I came outta the army. I mean, you’re talking about the McChrystal’s of the world. Of course, the Al McRaven, um, general Miller, uh, general Thomas.

Clay Hutmacher
Yep. General Tony Thomas general. John Kim. I mean, I have a lot of respect. I mean, my two, the, probably the top that I really, I really enjoyed working for Admiral McCraven and, and SRIs sta McChrystal spoke at our, um, foundations, uh, gala, uh, week before last, um, just tremendous mentors to me later in life general Thomas, I was his J three at SOCOM, and now he’s the chairman of the special ops warrior foundation. So I’m still reporting to him and, uh, uh, but they, they really made me a better person. I mean, I am fortunate and very thankful for

Mike Sarraille
Having iron sharp iron. Um, I I’m, I’m pissed. I missed the gala. I made it out for the ambassador’s night. You did, you did. And I felt like, you know, when we arrived, I brought my wife. I, I thought there was gonna be other people. I, I say at my level. And it was admir McCraven in general, Thomas and you, and I’m like, oh, I’m like, I’m in the, I’m in the wrong room. But, uh, and you know, I had the pleasure of meeting Sean Corrigan, great guy. Oh dude, unbelievable guy. How tall is

Clay Hutmacher
He? Uh, not

Mike Sarraille
Tall. No, not tall. We, we,

Clay Hutmacher
I don’t know how tall is, but he’s not tall,

Mike Sarraille
But you

Clay Hutmacher
Know, but he runs 10 K a day, twice a day, every day still,

Mike Sarraille
Hey dude, I’m respectful to everyone and kind there’s, there’s no reason not to know. And I know you are too, but, um, this is a cautionary tale of treat everyone with respect. Cuz as Sean started to talk, I’d known who Sean Corrigan was in his story. And I don’t want, I don’t, you know, I don’t want to, to, to give his story, but I think the majority of the night, my wife and I just sat there cuz I kept. And what about this? And what about this? He was telling the stories and

Clay Hutmacher
Served the year in Yemen and son. I mean, he’s been all over the world. I’ve known him for, we were, we served together as captains and majors back in uh, 96, 97. And we’ve been friends ever since

Mike Sarraille
Well, but when we left because my wife, it’s all, it’s all Spanish to her. Yeah. Yeah. She, she, we married after the military, but I, I looked her and I’m like, you were just in the room with some of the most like just prolific leaders during the global run terror. And, and I’m like that Sean Guy, I’m like, you have no clue. Like don’t take his kindness for weakness. He like just badass.

Clay Hutmacher
I am fortunate to have the opportunity to continue serving with him could be happier. I,

Mike Sarraille
I think that speaks volumes to, and I want to ask one question, uh, about Somalia. But uh, before we do that, like Hollywood paints, military leaders in a certain they’ve gotta sell movies. Yeah. Yeah. But once people get to meet guys like Sean and you they’re like, oh my God, these guys are the most empathetic kind, respectful, direct leaders you’ll ever meet. Like these, these, I credit my time in the military for making me the man. I am as well as my parents get here. But

Clay Hutmacher
100%,

Mike Sarraille
Uh, you know, it, they really, once you really meet a military leader of, of, of, of your, uh, you know, your level and your, your fabric and what you’ve done, it, it redefines what people think about the, uh, the military. And, and sometimes we need to advertise that that more.

Clay Hutmacher
Well, it certainly built, it certainly made me into a better person. I don’t think I’d be sitting across almost positive. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if I hadn’t served and grown as a person through my service.

Mike Sarraille
So before we take the Midroll, uh, break, I, I, I do want to ask about Somalia because you had left the unit, right. They deploy and that goes down and you lose a lot of friends and I’ve seen this. And the reason I ask is it, it almost hits the guys who weren’t there harder because they, they, they feel like I should have been there. And I, my answer is like, well, dude, if you were there, you may have perished as well. What, what were the feelings you had when you, I mean, they broke the news to you that this happened. I mean, one, you didn’t know names at the time?

Clay Hutmacher
Probably. No. I, I had been out actually in Yuma at the Marine Corps fighter weapons, school, WT, I weapons and tactics, uh, and instructor course out there. And I saw that there was a big event in Somalia, but I, I wasn’t gonna call the unit. I wasn’t gonna be that guy. Yeah, yeah. Right. You know, there, you know, they’re busy caring for families. They have a bunch of casualties. They don’t need a rubber Necker like me in there trying to, but Mike Duran’s wife called me Sunday morning, October 4th. And she said, Mike’s missing. Cause there was a short period of time, maybe six hours or so where everybody was gone for Mike’s crash site at super six, four. And I thought he was dead. I mean, I really did. And uh, I just thought, you know what, um, I’m gonna go up and make sure that I’m there for his family fully again.

Clay Hutmacher
I had, I thought for sure he was gone. I, I called my squadrant commander, my air force squadrant commander and said, Hey, this is what happened. I’d like to take some leave and go up and, and, uh, and be with his family. And I also called the regimental commander. Then Colonel Doug brown, who ended up being the SOCOM commander is still a great mentor of mine. And I said, is it okay? I mean, Lori has asked me, Mike’s wife has asked me to come up. Is it okay if I come up? And he said, absolutely. And, uh, so

Mike Sarraille
Absolutely thank you.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. Yeah. And yeah. And so I stayed there at his house and when I, you know, for the whole time, but when I landed up in Nashville still didn’t know anything. And I got up there, rented a car, drove up there, keep in mind, I’m a captain. So this is a huge expenditure for me, you know, like buying a plane ticket at the last minute and a rental car, I was like, oh, I gonna eat macaroni and cheese for a month for this. You know? And, uh, that’s when I learned he was still alive. The video came out with him, with his, you know, leaning up against that wall with his broken back. And then it became a, just a, a different thing. All the others wives that, you know, I had served with their husbands that were still over there. Yes. Were with me, you know, they were with, uh, Lori Durant and, you know, it was a very interesting experience dealing. I didn’t deal with the press. I didn’t want anything to deal with them. You know, my, to me, the mission was getting Mike home, not, you know, doing interviews or whatever, but they are a force to be reckoned with that’s for sure. Oh, I mean, they were

Mike Sarraille
And true the unsung heroes in the military, as I say, oh,

Clay Hutmacher
The, yeah, they, it was so, you know, I was, I regretful that I wasn’t there. Yeah. I mean, I’m regretful every time I miss an op you know? Yeah. I mean, everybody is, but cuz that’s why we’re in it, you know, we’re in it to win it, you know? But, but I was also, like I had said earlier, very proud. I mean, when I, especially when it, I started getting more details about how many missions and how many, you know, 18 hours and the cockpit flying, you know, guys getting their airplanes shot to pieces, landing them with the landing gear splayed out, underneath him, hopping in the spare and going right back into the fight. I mean, just, just what you would expect from

Mike Sarraille
Of an, of an American Spiderman. Yeah.

Clay Hutmacher
That’s right.

Mike Sarraille
What, what, what do you say to Lori when she calls? Cause you know, she’s calling for reassurance. Oh yeah. And, but in, in the back of your mind, you’re like, oh he’s, he’s probably gone.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. I did. All I said to her was, Hey, let me check with my boss and I’ll be up there. She said, that would be great. And,

Mike Sarraille
But you, you, you didn’t feed her a false line. Like, Hey, it’s gonna be okay.

Clay Hutmacher
You just, no, I did. I mean, I don’t think I did, you know, that was a long time ago. Um, but no, I just felt like, I guess what ran through my mind is I know that if this is ha if I, if the situation was reversed, Mike, would’ve done that for me. Yeah. And we are extremely close friends when we have been he’s on the board of the special ed warrior foundation. Oh yes. And he’s running for us Senate in Alabama right now, but he’s, and he’s done very well with his life. Um, but I, you know, to me, that’s part of this community, right. Is we’re always there for each other. And I feel that same commitment, you know, I mean, clearly I’m very tightly associated with the one 60th, but also to people, you know, that I’ve served with in the, in the seal community and the SF community and the Rangers, there’s a young ranger that we were on an op uh, June 11th, 2003 called operation reindeer, Sergeant Matt waters, we hit a terrorist camp. I mean, this was like the kind of sub dreams were made of there’s a hundred bad guys in there. They were all getting ready to go out on sewer suicide.

Mike Sarraille
Some people call those nightmares just by the way.

Clay Hutmacher
That’s true. But you know, to us, this was like, I’m wait my whole life for this gig. You know, anyway, he took an RPG below the knee. Um, we met AVAC him out. I’ve always stayed in touch with him. He’s a police officer on a, uh, for a university. Now he went, he was a Tacoma police officer, uh, right after that, he was a second, second range of battalion guy out of Fort rose. Yes. 2 72 75. And uh, you know, I mean I’m completely committed to him and always have been and we stay in touch and we, whenever we’re, you know, we, our paths cross, you know, every year or so. And, and he knows that I’m always there if he needs anything. And that to me is part of that brotherhood,

Mike Sarraille
The selfless valor we got to watch on a nightly basis that was in awe of, of the guys we served with before, before we go to Thero break, we, we always ask two hard questions. One, what is the, uh, the biggest regret you’ve had in your career thus far or life?

Clay Hutmacher
I, you know, it’s, it’s a negative and a positive. Yeah. The biggest regret is that I wasn’t more involved in my son’s lives. Right. I mean, nine, you know, my youngest was born, um, August 21st, 2001, September 11th. I was over in Budapest on an exercise. Um, and of course that changed everything. You know, I would found myself in Afghanistan a couple months after that and then in Iraq and, and that just kept up. And so I was absent fortunate for me. I mean, I married a, uh, former air force officer that I met when I was flying down in Herbert then, but she, you know, she was, she raised our kids and she did a great job, but I wasn’t there for her. I wasn’t there for our kids. The fact that they’re all successful and that we have a great marriage, I is, is due to my wife, not due to me. I was completely focused on being in a fight. And, um, so I do have regrets for that, but I would also say that if I hadn’t done that, if I had, if I had bailed, I would have regrets over that too. So that is my biggest regret that I wish I would’ve had more of an influence on my kids’ life. Growing up

Mike Sarraille
The military during the T suffered such a high operational tempo. You know, I don’t wanna say especially special operations. I just, you know, I didn’t handle that. Well, I ended in, in divorce, which is, you know, I consider one of the biggest failures of my life, you know, no one wants to say they got divorced. Uh, and, and I wasn’t there. I mean, I missed my daughter’s birth. Yeah. And I deployed one month after my son was born.

Clay Hutmacher
Same

Mike Sarraille
Here. Yeah. It just same here. I, I there’s, there’s, there’s a, I don’t wanna say guilt. Maybe it is guilt, but that’s yeah. I still still struggle with that one. What’s the hardest decision you’ve had to make in your life. It is a stuper.

Clay Hutmacher
It is. Um, so the heart is, and it won’t seem hard to anybody else. And it’s, you know, I, I don’t know, um, if it rises to the level of what you’re looking for, but I had been into one 60th for a long time. Then I went down, flew with the air force and I had an opportunity to try out for a special mission unit. And I came under a pretty significant amount and I got an approval from my chain of command to, to try out for it. But then the chain of command swapped out in the interim and the new in the new boss was not big on me doing that. And he wanted me to come back to the one 60th, but I’d made a commitment. I’d been training mm-hmm <affirmative> for it, you know? And, uh, and basically it was put out to me, you better be successful, cuz if you’re not, you’re never coming back. And, uh, and I was a captain. I mean, I was a nobody. And, um, but I was like, Hey, I made a commitment. I’m doing it. Come hell or high water. And that was a hard one. Cause I knew this was either this ain’t catch and release. I mean, I, in it to win it for sure.

Mike Sarraille
You gotta ask if that was that, that, that statement from him was necessary.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. I, you know, I mean, we’re, we’re friends and we certainly got past that and I don’t know what, you know, Manning challenges he had and it was really a backhand compliment. Right. He wanted me back in the, in the regiment and uh, I probably didn’t appreciate that at the time, but it was really one of those. And there was a lot of mentors telling me I was making a huge mistake, but to me there, you know, I knew that was gonna be a difficult path. It was, you know, it was hard to get in, you make it through the selection process and that’s exactly why I wanted to do

Mike Sarraille
It. It’s amazing how they applaud you now. Like, oh, you made all, all the right calls even forward to centers.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. I mean, people, you know, hindsight’s 20, 20, I guess.

Mike Sarraille
Well, we’re gonna take a quick break and we will be right back and we’re back, uh, with major general clay hot. So for the last half of this, uh, this podcast, you know, I definitely wanna talk about leadership and, and as we talk about it for the listeners, Hey, everything we’re talking about applies to you individually to how you run your companies, your families, whatever profession you do, you do. But, um, you know, we, we, in the break, we’re talking about, uh, one of my former members guy named Chris Fussel, who was a protege of general Stanley McChrystal.

Clay Hutmacher
Yep. Still works with him to this day.

Mike Sarraille
Yeah. He’s the, the, the president. Yeah. Um, in, in an email when I left his, his command, uh, he wrote, uh, Mike, I need you to realize that leadership is such a vague art and requires constant reassessment. And he went on to say that, Hey, don’t think you ever have it figured out environments variables change, just keep evolving. And during the break, you said, Hey, it changes with every, you know, scale as you step up leadership position, um, across the spectrum of billets, you held from Sergeant all the way to measure, measure general. What was the biggest leadership challenges or the most difficult position you think you held? Or is it, is it just maybe even comparing them is, is not the, the right thing?

Clay Hutmacher
Well, I would say that every level of leadership that I had, um, significant challenges some later in life when I was in more senior leadership positions had more impact on, you know, greater number of people. You know, I had a, a pretty significant issue I had to deal with is a, uh, first battalion commander of one 60th first, the one 60th commander that involves some lack of discipline mm-hmm, <affirmative> on the parts of some leaders, which I was pretty draconian on, uh, some aircraft damage and lack of discipline on maintenance procedures and things like that.

Mike Sarraille
So you actually talked about that, cuz we, we were on the Jedberg podcast, basically. There was some holes on the bottom of the aircraft, but in what year is this?

Clay Hutmacher
This was in 2006,

Mike Sarraille
The guys are always over, the guys have been deploying, deploy and deploying.

Clay Hutmacher
And that was, that was part of the, I mean that in my mind that was a contributing factor to this failure. You know, you’re in combat a lot of the, I won’t say the rules don’t apply, but you’re more focused on combat you’re, you know, and I think, um, some things get, you know, subordinated to getting a mission done, which is, you know, in the macro level’s probably right, but there’s a negative part of that and what it ha I had just taken over first battalion. So this must have been in June of 2006 and we had flown an aircraft down to one of our sister battalions for what we call a phase inspection, a, a major overhaul of the aircraft. And the battalion commander down there called me and said, Hey, we’re doing, they do an inspection on the aircraft before they inducted into this overhaul program and they call it a pre-phase inspection and they crawl all over it cuz they wanna make sure they know everything that’s wrong with it so they can fix it.

Clay Hutmacher
So when it comes out, the other end, it’s, it’s, you know, fully mission capable. And he said, our guys we’re looking underneath the aircraft, theres like big holes in the bottom of it, which is unheard of. I mean, you know, and so I, you know, I was taken aback by that and professionally embarrassed by that. And I sent an officer over to do what we call an informal commanders inquiry and to look at, okay, do we have a systemic problem? Or was this just a, you know, a, a one off, you know, an over a single failure or something. And it came back that, Hey, they’re not doing the basics. They’re not doing the block and tackling, and they’re not, pre-flight appropriately, they’re not doing their daily, um, maintenance checks appropriately. And to me, you know, I’ve come to believe this over the years that an accident is not a single event, an accident is a chain of events, right.

Clay Hutmacher
And you know, this and this, I saw these as two significant links in that chain. I’ve got discipline failure on the part of leaders and on, on the, on the troops doing the actual maintenance. And so I, every, I asked my boss, um, the regimental commander, if I could have jurisdiction over this, so I could one, I could handle it at my level two, that if I needed to fire someone, that I had his authority to fire, whoever I needed to fire. And he gave me both of those very graciously and it really defined my command tour. So this company was, I don’t know, 150 people or so, and O and every leader that was directly accountable from the company commander to the oper, not the operations officer, but this, the instructor pilots, you know, on the warrant officer side, the platoon leaders on the commission side, the platoon sergeants on the NCO side, I called ’em all in and gave ’em all a letter reprimand, every single one of ’em.

Mike Sarraille
And, and how many, how many days are you into your, your command when you do this?

Clay Hutmacher
I started it maybe a week and a half into command. If that, I mean, it was right away.

Mike Sarraille
So within a week and a half, you’re, you’re issuing letters of reprimand to all your people, correct? The, this significant

Clay Hutmacher
Leaders, six company, I had six companies, but this company and, and I called them in, I read ’em the letter. And I said, this is a failure and you’re responsible. And, uh, if you don’t wanna work in here anymore, let me know if you’re not gonna conform to the standard and you’re not gonna uphold the standard. I don’t want you here. And I gave him the opportunity and eventually a couple of the MCOs ended up getting reassigned, but not immediately. And at the time, I mean, that was a pretty draconian move. And it sent shockwaves through the rest of the formation. You know, I mean, Hucker, ain’t playing. And I said, Hey, we’re all about self-discipline here. We’re all about doing the right thing when no one’s looking and upholding the standards. Like, you know, people used to give me a hard time. They say, why are you so focused on haircuts?

Clay Hutmacher
I said, I don’t give a damn about hair. Okay. I don’t care if you Pierce your tongue, Frank, frankly, I don’t care. I’m not gonna do it, but I don’t care. I care about standards. If the standard is that you have a haircut, that’s the standard. If the standard is tomorrow, you can grow beard, Pierce shares, do whatever. That’s fine with me. I don’t care, but we’re, we’re a standards based organization. And that was what offended me about our failure maintenance, cuz not only are you putting the lives of your fellow soldiers in that company at risk, but we’re putting all the customers that we support at risk. We’re flying right on the edge every night. We don’t need to be shooting ourselves in the foot by not doing

Mike Sarraille
Self-inflicted wounds.

Clay Hutmacher
Correct. We’re not doing our established maintenance procedures to keep this aircraft safe and airworthy. And you know, I didn’t wanna do that at the time. And I, you know, I always think I was, you know, disappointed that I had to start my command tour that way at the time. But now when I look in the rear view mirror, it was the best thing that could have happened.

Mike Sarraille
I, I, I’ve got so many questions off this cuz I mean, what were the outcomes if you didn’t do it, potential outcomes

Clay Hutmacher
Of could have been an air on the catastrophic side of that. I mean there’s several potential outcomes, but we could have lost an aircraft full of people and killed a bunch of people, an extortion one seven like event. Yeah. Yes. Um, um, we could have, you know, in any lesser degree of that, um, but you know, it, it set the tone for my command tour that, uh, the emphasis that I, I mean, it was tangible evidence of where I stood on standards and I think it, you know, I was worried coming into command of, of chronic fatigue. We’ve been in a fight for a long time. The one 60th had lost a lot of people and I was afraid that we were gonna start having a rash accidents from chronic fatigue. And this ended up really being, I think the, the, this point where I was able to refocus the team, you know that, Hey, we, we’re not gonna tolerate a lack of self-discipline.

Clay Hutmacher
I mean, I will, this is not a job for life. You gotta earn the right to be here every single day. Got it. Everyone believe that if that, if you don’t want to be here, Hey, there’s the army needs good sticks. You guys got a lot of good experience. You’ll be the, you’ll be the top dog. And you’ll be the ACE of the base in your next unit. But you ain’t doing it here. If you can’t do the right thing and do the little things right. And uphold the standards that, that has made this regiment. Great. Then I don’t want you here. How,

Mike Sarraille
How long did you dwell in that decision? I know it wasn’t long, but I mean, did you, did you say, Hey, I need to go home and think about this.

Clay Hutmacher
No, I’d say I, I did close my door in my office and put my, um, feet up on my still new desk with my little cardboard box and my love me stuff sitting in the corner and thought about it for a couple hours. I, I called in some folks that I trusted in the unit to get their opinion. I’m a sort of an inclusive decision maker like that. Yes. And then I walked down the hall to my boss and closed the door with him and said, Hey, this is what happened. This is what I wanted. This is how I’d like to handle it. And frankly, I didn’t fully appreciate him giving me the jurisdiction over that. Delegating that to me was not common. And I’m V I’m, he’s still a very close friend of mine and I’m very appreciative that he gave me that opportunity because I wanted to be the, I wanted to be the lead chess plate on that. I wanted to be the guy whose face was on that discipline. I didn’t want it to be the regimental commander. I wanted it to be me. It was my formation.

Mike Sarraille
Yeah. Yeah. You wanted to own it exactly. In, in front of, especially in front of your, your youngest.

Clay Hutmacher
Right. I owned it. Yeah. And I’ve done that, you know, I’m a big believer and accept them responsibility for your actions. I mean, I’ve had, when I have to, you know, I’d have some sort of, um, violation of the uniform code of military justice. I’d call the soldier in and I’d say, okay, here’s the deal. You got a lawyer you’ve been afforded a chance to talk to a lawyer. Right? Yep. Okay. I’m not, I’m not telling you what to say. What I’m gonna tell you is this, if you, in fact did this and you are responsible, things will go better for you. If you accept responsibility for your action, you know, uh, not saying you’re getting a pass, you’re still accountable, but take it from me. If you accept responsibility and you step up, things will be better for you. Yeah. Than if you do the old, he, you know, he did it, she did it and avoid responsibility, but you do what you think is right. And then I’d dismiss him and then we’d start the official proceedings.

Mike Sarraille
There, there seems like a total lack of cred. I’m sorry of accountability in, in today’s day and age. Yeah. I’m, I’m not trying to page you one direction, but they’re amongst our national leaders who we expect to set the example. There’s, there’s, there’s not much accountability.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. I, you know, I always can. I always hesitate to critique others cuz I don’t have all the information a lot of time. There’s a lot of nuances mm-hmm <affirmative> or facts present. But my, my personal ethos is accept him responsibility, you know? Um, I believe that’s critical and when you do something wrong, you own it. And you know, I, I think, you know, and I’ve had to do it where, I mean, I, I had some crew members accidentally shoot a, uh, an Afghan sheep heard outside of gebad and I mean, we were culpable and I called my boss and I said, Hey, I own this. I mean, I was sitting at Fort Campbell and it happened, I wasn’t in gebad but still it’s my formation. Commander’s accountable for everything your unit does or fails to do. And you know, you know, the ironic thing is when I see a leader that wraps himself at, in glory all the time, sometimes it is peers expense and I call it the overuse of the vertical pronoun. I that’s a red flag to me, you know, I did this and I did that, you know, in my mind if we’re successful as an organization, it’s they? Yeah. You always push the credit down to your subordinates. If your unit fails, then it’s, I it’s me. And I tell guys, I say

Mike Sarraille
It’s a burden of leadership.

Clay Hutmacher
Absolutely. But here’s the thing as a commander of an organization, whether that’s a platoon or a platoon Sergeant or whatever, you automatically get credit when they do well. Yes, automatically. Yes. And, and you know, and when you, when you start trying to take all the credit for it and you use that, that, you know, that vertical pronoun, I, I, I, me, me, me, all it does is detract from that. You’re really defeating what you’re, I assume you’re trying to accomplish, which is to propel yourself to the next level or get some sort of recognition, but all you do really is stifle that

Mike Sarraille
People see it.

Clay Hutmacher
I do it. I mean, I that’s a red flag for me.

Mike Sarraille
We, we even had leaders that used their name in third person. <laugh> yeah. Usually. So that decision early on into your command order, I know I often talk about, you know, there’s two types of decisions, the right decisions and what, and the best decision and best is usually to, to gain popularity. You must have been wildly unpopular for a few weeks. Did, uh, are there grumblings cuz the boys will talk. Yeah. Uh, did anyone come back to you and say, Hey sir, I wanna thank you for actually holding us accountable on that one. You’re right.

Clay Hutmacher
Much later. In fact, one of the officers that I gave a letter of reprimand to is the current regimental commander of the one 60th. Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille
Yep. That’s

Clay Hutmacher
Awesome. He was one of the officers and he was crest fallen. Um, and you know, the chances are, it may not have been his platoon. He may have been doing everything right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but in his particular section, I can’t remember ex I’m sure he was probably a platoon leader then platoon leaders or oh, threes, captains. But you know, I did get feedback later. Like you ch you took, took us off that trajectory of failure and put us back. I, I don’t know. I mean, really ultimately I issued the marching orders. Uh, you know, you can, I, I told each one of ’em. I said, you can be a zealot or a martyr. Yeah. I can accommodate either option. I prefer you’re a zealot, but if you wanna be a martyr, I’m your guy. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille
<laugh> well, you know, it’s so different. Uh, you know, people are so good about accountability with kids. They are, you see your kid do something wrong. I believe, you know, the highest form of compassion is accountability. Yep. Yeah. And you want them to become good, outstanding, uh, you know, humans that contribute to society. So you hold them accountable. It’s the only way they, uh, they learn. But man, that must have been a rough, rough decision

Clay Hutmacher
Early on. It was not the way I had intended on start my command tour.

Mike Sarraille
Let me, let me ask you this. Um, I’m always fascinated. Uh, who’s the one soldier either past, present, or beyond, beyond meaning no longer with us that when you think of ’em you just think of the prototypical soldier leader, um, that you were just always an admiration of. And, and when I say that we all know, no, one’s perfect. We all have our yeah, yeah,

Speaker 3:
Yeah, yeah.

Clay Hutmacher
Um,

Clay Hutmacher
I really, uh, I had a lot of time for cliff Walcot. He was our flight lead. I, I flew his wing. We fielded the DAP, you know, the direct action penetrator of the arm, 60, which there’s 15 of them in the army. They all reside in the one 60 that I happened to be the first platoon leader mm-hmm <affirmative> of that organization when we stood up and cliff was the lead guy on that. He was in our R and D section and then moved back over into the platoon. And, uh, I mean, I thought the world of the guy and, uh, I thought he was professional. He was a warrior and it crushed me when he was killed in Somalia. And that’s why my middle son is Mitchell Walcot hub worker. Right. So, you know, when I look at a professional soldier, an aviator, a selfless servant, you know, who was, and he’s the guy that taught me about that customer focus, a big part of it was cliff. Walcot like, Hey, if this is what the customer needs is, what we’re gonna do

Mike Sarraille
Was was he a loud guy? Was he, I

Clay Hutmacher
Mean, no, no. I mean, I’d say he was, I don’t know. He’s well, he wasn’t an exceptionally loud guy. Uh, he had, he had a similar background to me. He was an enlisted military policeman. So was his wife, Chris that’s when they met, he flew cobras in, uh, in an attack battalion and then swapped over and was flying sixties. Um, and then ended up in the DAP. Yeah. Later. Um, he was, I think he was, I wouldn’t just call him the epitome of the quiet professional, but he was, I mean, Tony Thomas would say the finest pilot he ever flew with was cliff Walcot no kidding. Yeah. When he was, uh, you know, a troop commander, uh, back in the day and he was an, you know, an exceptional flight lead, he, he was all business and he was completely focused on the mission.

Mike Sarraille
What, and, you know, we said it, when I asked you that question, we all have weaknesses. And, and you know, the, I think the highest form of self-reflection is the ability to say, Hey, I’m not good at this. Or I still need to work at this 40 plus years of service, major general, most of that in special operations, even to this day, what is the thing, one thing that you struggle with personally,

Clay Hutmacher
Patience, patience, absolutely plagues me. I pray about it every morning and he’s yet to answer my prayers. Uh, I mean, I think I’m marginally better, but I struggle with patience, you know, I, and I’ll give you an example. So if I was gonna propose some sort of change or new path or something or reorganization or whatever, I’ll go through before. I mean, before I throw that on the table in front of my staff and my subordinate commanders or my bosses or whatever it is, I mean, it’s like a Rubik’s cube, right. I turn it all different ways and look at it from different angles and, you know, play the devil’s advocate. And before I go forward, I have to be, you know, before I’ve really articulated or presented, uh, as a, as an option going forward or, or a directive I’ve sort of thought through this, I don’t, you know, make this, I don’t

Mike Sarraille
Do it. No baked ideas. Yeah.

Clay Hutmacher
So I just remember sitting in these meetings and people would, you know, they would, I, I always encouraged very candid feedback, right. Because, you know, and, and even if it meant that it was a bad idea and there’s been occasion where something that I thought was good, somebody brought up a, some consideration that I hadn’t thought of. And I’m like, you know what, you’re right. We don’t need to do that because of this or whatever. But if somebody brought up, well, what about this? And it was something I already thought of. I’d be like, no, I already thought of that. Let’s go next. You know, like, this is, this is good. You know, what I failed to appreciate at the time is you let them, you need to let them work through that. You need to let them look at it. Like you looked at it and be patient because then they have buy-in and they feel like what they’re saying has value when I’m just dismissive of it.

Clay Hutmacher
And I’m not dismissive of the individual I’m dismissive, cuz I’ve already thought through it. And I don’t think this is a problem, but it’s important that they come to that same point without me just cutting ’em off. Um, and I, you know, I struggled with that and frankly, it’s hard to get candid feedback from subordinates. You know, they’re not, there’s very few bosses that want to hear that they’re jacked up and you know, and it was later in life when I really looked back on my command tours and what I should have done and could have done. And it was like, you know what? This is, that was probably the biggest takeaway is I needed to just let the process work, let people war game it and argue and just, just step back and let that process cuz it, ultimately you’re gonna have more buy-in cuz people will salute you to your, to your face and say yes sir. Yes, sir. Yep. Greatest idea ever. And then you walk outta the room and say, you know that dude’s an ass hat. I mean he completely doesn’t get it. Um, they’re never gonna tell you that to your face. Right. Um,

Clay Hutmacher
So patience is what I struggle with.

Mike Sarraille
Uh, I’d say a lot of people, well, high performers across the board, struggle with that. I mean, and that’s, it is both a, uh, a strength and uh, it is and a weakness.

Clay Hutmacher
It is greatest. Strength carries over to be your greatest weakness. Oh yeah.

Mike Sarraille
Because vulnerability, uh, before we end this, I wanna talk a little about theSpecial Operations Warrior Foundation. Uh, again, thank you. The way people ask me, what is it? I said, it’s the organization that funds the education of the children, of our fallen special operations warriors. And it does more than

Clay Hutmacher
That, but yeah, it does. And it’s, and, and the children of our middle of honor recipient as well. Yeah. Living in deceased and not just soft. Um, yeah. So that you, you know, you captured the mission. We actually have two missions. We provide immediate financial support to severely wounded ill or injured specialized personnel severely means they’re in a hospital basically. Um, and we send them a check. We send them an iPad so they can, especially during COVID so they can communicate with their loved ones. But our, our primary effort, our main effort in military terms is the education of the children who are fallen and our special on, or our medal of honor recipients. People think that’s a, uh, a college scholarship and that’s a big part, but not nearly all, you know, depending on the age of the kid and the average age of our children that come into our program is around seven, but we pay preschool. We fund preschool up to eight K per year per child. We provide unlimited tutoring from K through 12 or K through really college graduation, unlimited tutoring, S a T prep, a C T prep, language, math, reading science, you name it. It doesn’t matter band. We got a, one of our medal of honor recipient kids is playing the elbow in band and we’re tutoring, paying for tutoring. That’s for him. Yeah. Good for him. Um, we pay a private school, tuition assistance for our kids up to 5k per year, per child.

Clay Hutmacher
We pay for everything in college. We pay for their college visits, their college application fees, computers, printers, they get a whole packet and we completely fund their education. Um, and we don’t, you know, they don’t have to go to a four year institution. Most of them do about 80, 84, 80 5% do. But if they, we have one young lady, uh, Sarah Weiss, her dad was an air force, uh, special tactics guy. She’s a firefighter in Pinehurst, North Carolina. And

Mike Sarraille
You’re kidding me. Uh, she contacted me when I was in, uh,

Clay Hutmacher
Really

Mike Sarraille
In Mount Everest. I

Clay Hutmacher
Just saw her. Yeah, Sarah, she’s a, she’s a firefighter and she’s now a firefighter instructor. She tried nursing. It didn’t work out and this is what she wants to do. She’s passionate about it. She spoke to a group of folks. We had in pioneers, we pay for study abroad. We really encourage internships. And we fund internships, especially if they have to relocate for an internship. We have a program for children with disabilities, which I’m extremely proud of. And we’re committed to funding that, uh, at the same level as we do all of our other kids. And I consider I’ve expanded the definition of disabilities to kids that are having significant behavioral or emotional issues. Cuz you know, you can clearly tie that back to the loss of one of their parents. And you know, if they go to Harvard, it’s covered. If they go to a community college or trade school it’s covered, we want ’em to, and it’s a lifelong commitment for us.

Clay Hutmacher
And it’s, you know, I was interviewing some education counselors the other day, uh, that are coming, bringing ’em on. And one of our counselors said, when she was interview said, this isn’t a job for us. This is a calling. And uh, and you know, I looked at her we’re, you know, interviewing this person and I, you know, I thought about it. I said, that’s exactly it. I mean, my, I, I have the post nine 11 GI bill. You have the post nine 11 GI bill. Yes. I gave it to my, one of my kids went to duke. So I, you know, he, he got it. Um,

Mike Sarraille
Good use, right? Yeah. For an still not enough, but not so cheap education. Yeah.

Clay Hutmacher
But you know, the VA gives you a check and you know, there was no, it was, that’s an entitlement, it’s a government entitlement that you earn through your service. This is so much more than that. I mean, the relationship that we have with those kids, every kid that gets a 3.5 G GPA every semester I write ’em a personal note and congratulate him or any other significant achievement or a kid that’s struggling. Our counselors are with their families through the whole journey. It really is just, it, it really is a calling. Uh, and I’m glad to be part of it an honor, to be part of it

Mike Sarraille
When, when, when I was telling somebody about the, the, the, the, uh, foundation. Um, and, and they weren’t trying to be cute. Yeah. Uh, they said, well, don’t those families get like a, a huge check when one of their, uh, service members dying. I, I, I told the story of Kerry mills. Yeah. Yeah. She, she may have gotten a check, but cash or son was 18 months old. Right. And that money does not make it to, to, to, to, to his college years probably well short of his high school years.

Clay Hutmacher
Right. And they, and they do get a VA entitlement for part of it. And we, we do use a little bit of that for our kids to qualify for it.

Mike Sarraille
You help them with that process too. The, the,

Clay Hutmacher
Well that’s, yeah. That’s almost all done by the military when they, um, when that, when their death occurs that, you know, the casualty assistance officer takes care of that. Um, but the fact is, um, you know, there’s so much more than that. And our commitment is an enduring commitment. You know, when you were in the seal community, when I was in the one 60, we both lost people. Right. Yeah. And there’s an intense focus put on those families when you lose ’em for sure. You know, we do meals on wheels. The wives would get together they’d meals, bring ’em over there, take care of the family. It’s an intense spotlight on that family. But after that Memorial and that funeral, the units got a mission to do, you know, you’re back deploying. Yeah. That, that focus drops off the special ops warrior foundation. That’s just the beginning for us. And we’re with them every step of the way mm-hmm <affirmative> and you just gotta, you know, you’ve got all these things, just think about it, you lost your husband or your wife. And we have both. And all of a sudden there’s financial impacts. There’s, you know, all these things, your whole life changes and giving them that peace of mind that we’re gonna be there for them. And they, they have a lot of things to worry about, but this isn’t one of ’em.

Mike Sarraille
Let, let me ask you this. So general 40 years, you could have started your own consulting. Yeah. Firm, you, plenty companies would’ve made you offers to be on the board, but you chose this shows this, I mean, was that a discussion with a wife? I mean, what, what was the final decision to, to, to continue? I mean, you’re still serving, you took the uniform off, but you’re still

Clay Hutmacher
Serving. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so yeah, clearly I talked to my wife. I mean, I’m not an idiot. I talked to my wife about everything.

Mike Sarraille
If, if you’re listening, uh, it’s a two person decision. Yeah. Yeah.

Clay Hutmacher
That’s self critiquing if I don’t. But, um, you know, I, when I retired, yeah, I was, you know, I thought I’d be here talking to you about, you know, convincing you that talent war group needs a helicopter or a plane or something, um, for whatever company that I was working for. But when this came up and this opportunity presented itself, I mean, there was no hesitation. I mean, I’m like, wow, this are you kidding me. I’ve seen firsthand what this organization does for our families in a way that the government will never be able to do that. The unit, the military will never be able to do in spite of our best intentions. And I think soft does it. My, you know, and I I’m biased clearly does it better than anybody else. I don’t care what service you’re in, but we are there for them every step of the way. And there’s no, we proactively reach out to ’em, you know, you don’t have to apply for your scholarships. You have already earned the price of admission. You’re already approved. You fill out a contact form one time and that’s it.

Mike Sarraille
That’s, that’s that again, definition of, uh, of service and making it easier. Absolutely. For that. Well, clay, uh, we end on on two questions and we are gonna drop the links to the special operate, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, where they can find you where they can donate. And what I would ask for the listeners is, you know, it’s $5, $10, $25, whatever you can give it is going to a good cause. I, I, I support very few foundations. This was the one, uh, that, that, you know, held onto my heartstrings. Cuz again, I look at the Kerry mills of the world and all guys on extortion, 17,

Clay Hutmacher
Familiar with extortion 17, for sure.

Mike Sarraille
So, uh, how will clay Hucker evaluate whether he’s lived a life of purpose and impact?

Clay Hutmacher
I would say that I have lived a life of, but I’m gonna give some caveats. I have lived a life of purpose. I’m still living a life of persons. I’m still serving a cause greater than self, but I’m still imperfect. And I still struggle with leadership every day. I still, I fail routinely. I aspire to be better. And uh, the struggle continues. I am committed to leadership. I love it. I’m passionate about it. Um, I think it’s not appreciated, especially as much out in the corporate world as I think it should be. And I mean, the evidence to me is blatant, but we can’t quantify it. Right. You don’t have a four year degree in leadership or a master’s in leadership. I think they’re out there, but really, you know, this is an exp you know, a learned skill,

Mike Sarraille
Uh, personally, uh, I think starting in college is wasy lake. Oh yeah. Leadership curriculums in grammar school to teach it then former military leaders again, who are empathetic kind respectful people. That

Clay Hutmacher
One of my favorite things to do is sit around and have informal discussions about leadership and sharing the mistakes that I’ve made and you know, how I made ’em and the events that led up to me, making them is very satisfying for me, you know? And I mean, companies ask me, would you do it? Yeah, I’ll be happy to do it. You know, cover my travel. Yeah. Maybe make a donation to the foundation. You know, to me, it’s, it’s a, you know, a labor of love and one that I still am very passionate about.

Mike Sarraille
We just returned talent or group had a leadership offsite amongst all our leaders, you know, 1 31 year, uh, Sergeant major from the special forces community Marine infantry, captain, myself, uh, you know, Carly who was in the air force. And it was just two days of just talking leadership and our, our different philosophies and mistakes. Oh God.

Clay Hutmacher
Yeah. The conversation is not really scripted. It goes where it goes.

Mike Sarraille
I didn’t wanna leave. Yeah. Those, those are the best retreats in, in the business world. Doesn’t do that enough. I, I absolutely agree. I agree. Uh, what are those 1, 2, 3 keys to success? Those, those tenets, those non-negotiables that you believe had have on most occasions led to your, your success.

Clay Hutmacher
Number one has gotta be integrity. I know that’s a common one, but if there, if your subordinates, your superiors don’t trust you, um, you can’t go anywhere from there. You’ve gotta have that trust and you gotta earn it every day and that’s part of owning it and all of that to humility. And I think, you know, being humble, realizing that while you may have a significant role, uh, in an organization, it, it doesn’t mean you’re better than anybody else. Um, in fact it may mean that more is expected of you. Um, and you have more experience, but you’re not better than anybody else. And the other one is, um, and may be surprising to you. A little is consistency. You know, I, I think I’m not saying you prejudge, but you should be consistent your Le your subordinates to sort of know what they’re gonna get.

Clay Hutmacher
I’ve worked for leaders before where I go in with a catastrophic thing and say, man, this just happened. And they’re like, oh, it’s fine. Clay. We’ll work through this. And then I come through with some nitnoid mouse, turd he mouse heard and they like lose their mind over it. And I’m like, I want the other guy, can we get the other guy in here? Yeah. You know? Yeah. Um, and I think that puts people off and I think you should be consistent on how you deal with people. And they, you know, it doesn’t mean that, that you lower the standard. Uh, but you know, they should know what they’re gonna get. Those would be my three.

Mike Sarraille
I, you know, I, I can’t recall where I heard that, but somebody said leadership is consistency. Absolutely. It is consistency of what’s consistency.

Clay Hutmacher
That’s hard to be consistent. Right. I don’t feel like being a selfless leader all the

Mike Sarraille
Time. Yeah. Well, clay, I, I can’t thank you enough for, uh, for coming. Um, I know from the listeners, uh, every time I sit down with you, I learn a whole lot. Uh, I know we’ve got a dinner tonight. Yes, sir. Uh, in Austin to raise for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, uh, Scott Howell, general Howell

Clay Hutmacher
Is there

Mike Sarraille
Yeah. Is gonna be the keynote speaker

Clay Hutmacher
Commander,

Mike Sarraille
Uh, as well as Admiral McCraven,

Clay Hutmacher
Admiral Craven will be there. Yep. Two, two great friends and mentors.

Mike Sarraille
Well, again, thank you for joining us and for all those listening, thank you for joining the men’s journal everyday warrior podcast. We’ll see you again.

Episode 17

Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 17: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
In episode seventeen of the Men's Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast, we spoke to 'Game of Thrones' actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
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Episode 18

Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 18: Dr. Kirk Parsley
In episode eighteen, we spoke to Dr. Kirk Parsley, M.D., who specializes in sleep, wellness, and hormonal optimization. 
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Episode 19

Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 19: Michael Gaffney
In episode nineteen, we spoke to Michael Gaffney, retired professional bull rider.
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