Picking up where we left off last week, the author of “Single Harness” is answering some questions that I (Gary) put to him. His answers are fascinating and give us just a little better glimpse into the mind of our author. Feel free to leave your own question or two in the comment section below for Millard to answer!
Me: Some of the stories you tell almost read like Hollywood movie scripts. Without saying too much (and for the people who haven’t yet read the book), give us some insight into what you actually did.
Millard: Guess the simple answer is that the 18 of us…all volunteers…were selected, trained, and given opportunities to go help certain people around the world, and maybe because of the intensity of those missions we didn’t exactly stay at home back here at home.
Me: Obviously many of the things you did and places you went are things you’ll never be able to fully divulge, but were their ever times you thought that coming home was not going to be an option?
Millard: Even if we thought about it, it didn’t matter. And I don’t mean that to be dramatic. It’s just that every person who saw what we saw and knew what we knew would want to go back…wherever they could make a difference. And making that difference is the most private thing there is. It’s not for anyone else outside your team to understand. And it’s not for any other reason than just: you can do it and it needs to be done.
Me: It’s been said of those who have known “war” intimately that coming home is difficult and that a part of yourself stays on that “battlefield”. Is this something you can relate to, or is the feeling different entirely?
Millard: In the introduction to Single Harness I said who the real heroes are, and at the top of the list are the soldiers who follow orders into a pitched battle knowing the odds are against them. That has to be a horror that movies, no matter how hard they try, can never re-create, and that live in those minds forever. Our experience was entirely different: certainly intense, but quiet, personal, controlled by us as much as possible. We lost 14 of our 18 on missions over the years, and 2 more to residuals of those missions later on, and that’s tough, but we often got to see immediate results first hand and to know we’d made a difference. Entirely different.
Me: In your book you talk a lot about places of solitude- the mysterious “park” you grew up at and the wilderness of the Beartooth Mountains to name just a few. In a world where solitude is often seen as a negative word, what draws you to the solitude of these places?
Millard: Don’t know that I can explain that one at all. Maybe it’s growing up there, or later learning how incredible it is to be out there all day every day seeing and listening and seeing even more…over every ridge and around every bend in a river…that makes it so special. Guess it’s a challenge, but with experience it just gets to be the best part of your life. A few weeks ago I got to hike up north of the Lamar Valley in the northeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park, and stayed out that night curled up out of the wind. Woke up the next morning as it was just lightning up and was covered in light dry snow. About a 2 hour hike back to the car, and I sure didn’t want to go back. It can only be a negative if you haven’t done it. Imaginations are not good teachers.
Me: How have your experiences shaped you and your views of life?
Millard: I have no idea. Can’t imagine life without them. I know we are capable of accomplishing terrific things…much more than I have. And I believe the most important part of our life is the honor with which we live it. But that is probably my Dad and my Granddad talking and has little to do with my experiences. Like I said before, it’s the people in your life that make the difference.
Me: For people who read your book and long for even half the life experiences you’ve had, what would you say to those people?
Millard: Very few people would want most of those experiences, but they may have things that are important to them to accomplish. I grew up in a tiny town in Indiana, and that should be proof enough that anything is possible.