Apparently, Mattis Is Making Lots Of Friends…In The Pentagon Laundry Room

Leadership
The 26th Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, arrives at the Pentagon on his first full day in the position in Arlington, VA, Jan. 21, 2017.
DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis seems to have settled into his new gig at the Pentagon, and he’s already making lots of friends … while doing his own laundry in the basement.


On Thursday, Benny Johnson, a reporter for Independent Journal Review, recounted a run-in he had with Mattis on Tuesday night, just before President Donald Trump’s joint address to Congress. Johnson came upon Mattis with a group of veterans who needed someone to take their photo with the new secretary of Defense.

After introducing himself, Johnson asked Mattis how his transition was going at the Pentagon. In true form, Mattis responded:

“I treat the people inside that building like my family.

When I go down to get my laundry in the basement, I factor in ten extra minutes every trip just so I can talk with people. Ya know, they see me coming down the hallway and want to ask something, they should be able to. We work just like a family.”

“… just like a family.” Mattis, please be my dad.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis meets with U.S. Marines assigned to the embassy in Munich, Germany, Feb. 17, 2017.DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

Before parting ways, Johnson asked the secretary whether people in the Pentagon were still calling him “Mad Dog.” According to Johnson, he responded:

“You know, that is not my real call sign? That was something made up by the press. Some reporter, who needed a quick name for me. My real name is Chaos. ‘Colonel Has An Outstanding Solution.’ That is my real call sign and what my men used to call me. Anyone who has ever worked with me calls me Chaos. That's the name I prefer.”

Mattis then closed with, “Call me Chaos,” winked, and walked away.

These stories probably don’t surprise people who knew him in uniform. There’s one in particular that perfectly captures Mattis’ true character.

Stars and Stripes confirmed this rumor in 2011, after speaking to retired Marine Gen. Charles Krulak, who was commandant at the time.

In 1998, Krulak was making his final rounds on Christmas Day at Marine Corps Combat Development Command headquarters at Quantico, Virginia, when he asked who the officer of the day was. Turned out it was Mattis, who was then a brigadier general.

“So I said to him, ‘Jim, what are you standing the duty for?’ Krulak recounted. “And he said, ‘Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it who is married and had a family; and so I’m a bachelor, I thought why should the major miss out on the fun of having Christmas with his family, and so I took the duty for him.’”

Yes, this man can kill you with knifehands, charisma, and kindness.

My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead

"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.

Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.

On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.

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U.S. special operations forces are currently field testing a lightweight combat armor designed to cover more of an operator's body than previous protective gear, an official told Task & Purpose.

The armor, called the Lightweight Polyethylene (PE) Armor for Extremity Protection, is one of a handful of subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

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