Author Q&A Part 2

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.

Author Q&A Part 1

One of the usual comments we hear about Single Harness goes a little something like this, “The book was fantastic, but it left me wanting more!” In fact virtually every person has a sentiment much like this when they read the book. So to briefly satisfy our curiosities and appetites for more, I (Gary) recently put some questions to our author, Millard Gregory, about the book from his very own unique perspective.

Me: At its core, what is this book about?

Millard: From the comments I’ve had from many who’ve read the book I may be the worst person to answer that question. To me it’s just a collection of things that happened over the years…combined with a few unique situations that only seem unique looking back. They seemed normal at the time.

Me: In your own mind, why did you write this book?

Millard: I didn’t think of it as a book at all, but there were 2 reasons I wrote it: First. and I included this in the book: one night late last year I went to bed just after 3am and my wife put her arm over me and this cat who’s life she saved 2 or 3 years before climbed up on my side and laid down on me…purring. The contrast of that moment at 68 years old and the 24 years from 1966 to 1990 was inescapable and I sat up and wrote what had happened on the back of a Speedway gas receipt I still have; and Second: looking at that receipt the next day I thought of my old Colonel…now in his 80s and retired for years…and for some reason thought that although he knew the details of our missions out of the country I might be able to surprise him with a few things we did back here. The surprise was that he wasn’t too surprised at all.It only became a book after a few close friends read the manuscript and they all said I had to publish it.

Me: If you got to choose what people took away from the book, what would it be?

Millard: Everyone seems to focus on a different story or sentence and the great honor is hearing what that part meant to them and why. Although it wasn’t planned, if it helps people re-remember the interesting things they’ve done that are easy to forget as our lives move on…that would be the best.

Me: “Single Harness”, the title of the book, is not a phrase often seen. What was your rationale behind this title?

Millard: It was one of those things you hear at a particular moment and never forget. In my case it was at the end of my recruiting meeting with the Top Sergeant and the Captain who said they “Didn’t think I’d pull good in double harness” and that they had a different path for me to consider. That did change everything, and looking back made “Single Harness” seem like a good title.

Me: Over your lifetime you have had astounding, almost unbelievable success in so many of your endeavors. What is your secret?

Millard: There is no secret, and it’s the same for most everyone when they think about it: from my parents, to the short time I got to spend with my Grandfather, to my Grandmother who worked in her garden etc up to 96, to the family friend who filled out an employment form listing my age as 2 years older than I was at the time which got me an adult summer job while still in high school and the money to go to college, to the Top Sergeant who asked me to come back, to the true gentleman who hired me to travel a territory, to the acquaintance who invited me to the join the club in Palm Beach, to the friend with all the manufacturing experience who’d already joined my company when I decided to start a factory…and on and on. It’s the people we meet, and get to know, and learn from that make it all happen.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview next week!