Kevin Lacz is not a Navy SEAL. He completed his Navy enlistment about six years ago, which makes him a former SEAL, but he still looks like he could swim a mile in full combat gear. That, I assume, has something to do with the reason he became an elite special operator in the first place: Lacz is extremely competitive. He’ll be the first to admit it. In fact, throughout his new memoir, “The Last Punisher,” which was co-authored by his wife, Lindsey, and writer Ethan Rocke, Lacz constantly reminds us that a love of competition is the one quality all Navy SEALs share. And it’s not just limited to training. In Lacz’s telling, a SEAL’s drive to be the best of the best is most apparent on the battlefield, where combat is sought after and kills are tallied like points in a dart game.
When it comes to pop-culture allure and romanticized brutality, Stanley Kubrick's “Full Metal Jacket" is arguably the most influential of all Vietnam War movies. R. Lee Ermey's iconic portrayal of the sadistic Gunnery Sgt. Hartman has served as a de facto recruiting mechanism for the Marines since the film's release in 1987. I remember watching the same VHS copy of “Full Metal Jacket" about a hundred times before I enlisted as a Marine combat correspondent, choosing the same military specialty as Private Joker. During the 10 years I served in the Corps, it was a rare occasion to find a Marine who didn't love the film.
I had the privilege of interviewing award-winning author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger a couple weeks ago, and something he said stuck with me. He talked about ownership. Junger has reported on conflicts all over the world, including the war in Afghanistan. When I asked him about the civilian-military divide, he said this: