From Navy Seal to Secret Service

Today I’m grilling my good friend Jones. He’s a local bud of mine whom I met on a fantastic canoe trip! We bonded with his group of friends and mine and had a great time. Since then we’ve kept in touch and he’s let me pick his brain for the 411 about his two high profile careers. Thanks so much for this opportunity! I cannot include a pic of him but he is a handsome man.

In high school did you have aspirations to be involved in politics? If not what were some of your dreams back then and what caused them to be pushed aside for a more lucrative future?

I never thought back then I would be today where I am at. Back then I was your typical high schooler. Played sports, chased girls, partied, and was prom king.

Did you know in college you’d choose such a coveted profession?

I wanted to be an archaeologist since history has always been my passion.

I went to Florida Stats on a football scholarship for 1 year. Due to some adverse family issues I had to come back to KC. I transferred to UMKC and that’s where things started to get interesting!

How did you decide on the military?

I started dating a real “winner” so to speak. She’s the reason I joined the military. I had to get away from her because the relationship got so bad there was no other option left!!!

Did you go in with the desire to be a Seal or did you apply for it later on down the road?

I figured if I’m gonna join I might as well go all the way. So after boot camp and A school I got sent to Coronado California for some “fun in the sun.” Believe me it wasn’t fun and sometimes sun! Looking back on training it’s basically designed to make you fail. It’s more mental but yes physical too. You will question your sanity sometimes! It happens to everyone!

That’s why we have a motto which is “the only easy day was yesterday”

Can you tell the norm day of being a Seal?

I’m back. Everything we did was designed to break us mentally and physically. We were always cold, wet, and tired. But that’s what it would be like under combat situations. You still would be expected to operate at peak performance even after 2-7 days of minimal to no sleep. We would run a minimum of 10 miles a day. When we weren’t running we would either be in the water or on the beach doing brutal exercises. One would be with heavy ass logs running up and down the beach with your boat crew. If your crew fucked up they had a special log that was heavier than all the rest. Carved in it were the words “Ole Misery” and we would carry that bastard up and down the beach! So you never wanted to screw up or come in last! We call our training cycles “evolutions” it was always the next evolution for the BUDS.

Can you share team dynamics? Or If you still have contact with the team you were on?

Then came HELL Week! And yes it was hell! We got harassed, abused, no sleep, constantly moving. Hell week is designed to weed out people who don’t have the “stones” to make it through training. Guess I had the stones huh? After hell week they loosened up a little after that because training shifted from weeding people out to getting more hands on and in depth with shooting, demolition, escape and evasion, unarmed combat and team based dynamics. I forgot to add you were assigned a swim buddy. They changed several times due to guys washing out or being rolled back medically. Except for explosives, shooting, scuba, and parachuting, they would only show us 1 time how to do things and you were expected to know how to do it from then on. It taught you how to pay attention to details.

When I started BUDS we had 70 guys and when I graduated we had 26. After BUDS I was sent to a series of specialized schools to learn a lot of various skills in which I would need in Somalia. I initially was put into Seal Team #1 then sent to Somalia. Let me tell you Somalia sucked, sucked and sucked some more!

Can you share any job assignments not classified or tell us what your responsibilities entail?

Generalize maybe 🙂

I can tell you generalizations about Somalia because what we did there is still classified for another 35 years. One thing I don’t miss there is the literal shark infested waters off the coast where we operated in. I was there for 1 year and don’t ever care to go back! The most demoralizing thing was finding out my dad died 7 days after he passed away because we were running an in country operation. Then after that 2 months later I found my mom had a brain tumor. Wasn’t a high year for me but like life I found out nothing stays the same forever we can only move forward not back. It’s just another evolution. That’s pretty much about it for my military days.

Next up is my Secret Service days!

So sorry to hear about your family

Thanks Doll! I’ve come to learn everyone has problems and adversity in their lives and I’m no different. You just have to learn how to handle and deal with them! Adapt and overcome is what I was taught so that is how I try to do in theory but it doesn’t always work that way 🙂 ! Anyway after I got out after the military I went back to school and finished up in Archaeology. I toiled around with trying to get a job as a geologist and as an archeologist with the local colleges but they had no openings. So I applied to the County Sheriff’s Department and got hired. I worked there 2 years being “super cop.”

Did you one day just wake up and go… I think I’m going to apply for a position at HLS?

My boss was an ex-marine and he turned me onto my current job. He came to me and told me that the SS was hiring. I really didn’t give it much thought at first and I really didn’t want to leave the state but he kept badgering me about it. So one day I was like what the hell I have nothing to lose so I contacted them. They sent me a 40 page application that I filled out. The application process isn’t that hard but tedious.

Can you share some of the process with us? Testing, psychological, physical, anything else?

The hiring process takes about 6 months to a year because it is after all the government and they move at a snail’s pace! After I filled out the book called an application and sent it back to them they contacted me to come out to DC to take a TEA exam and an interview depending on if I passed the TEA exam. Since I passed I did an initial interview panel made up of 3 people. They ask about everything and I mean everything about you, your family and your application.

They kinda belittle you in a way but since I’d already been through that in the military it really didn’t bother me. After all that I went back to KC and waited for further instructions in the process. Next up was the drug test and medical which sucked. Don’t really like people poking and probing me unless it’s a girlfriend lol! Needless to say I passed both no problem!

After that came the polygraph, which is no fun at all. The polygraph is 100% psychological and they screw with you the whole time to get you to start doubting yourself. It’s roughly a 6-7 hour process. The questions aren’t that hard except for 3 and those are the ones that are designed to trip you up. They use every psychological ploy to get you to trip up and doubt yourself. I even got accused of lying when I knew I told them the truth.

Did your major in college help you? The fact that you were a Navy Seal? – Must’ve come in handy although they went way back to your pre-teen years lol.

After all of that was done they did a complete background investigation on me which took 3 months. They went back to my grade school to even talk to my teachers! After all that was done I got hired and a report date to our training facility out here. The training story comes next!

I spent 2 weeks at our training facility in Beltsville Maryland then off to Glynco Georgia for FLETC training for 10 weeks then back to Beltsville for 10 weeks. Training wasn’t nearly as hard as the military because it costs the government $45k per person to hire and train. So they really don’t want to lose people. Training encompasses a lot of different things. We did a lot of shooting because of the close proximity that we have with the President, VP, their families and foreign leaders. We have to make every shot count if it ever came down to it.

Also learn a lot about counterfeiting and financial crimes. Most days were split up with classroom instructions and physical exercises to include congeal tactics. It was a new area for me because I was used to causing as much mayhem as possible and taking targets out quickly with the Seals to actually having to have more situational awareness due to the closeness to a protectee. I went from “shoot and loot” mentality to a “shoot, subdue, and secure” mentality. Wasn’t hard to do but I liked shooting and looting better. Guess it has to do with the caveman in me lol! Training was fun this time around because I wasn’t getting my ass kicked on a daily basis!

Although classroom instruction bores me! Working for the SS is not all that different from Seals in that you have to work as a team and if you don’t alit of people could die! I got a story about that later on!

After training was over I got assigned to VPPD in 2000 at the very tail end of the Clinton/Gore administration. Didn’t really get to know Gore because he was here so briefly when I got here. I was on VPPD until 2004 and got to know Cheney pretty well. Nice guy and so was his wife. From 2005- 2009 I was assigned to PPD with President Bush and 1 year with Obama. Know both men fairly well. Both pretty cool. Bush was an early riser and Obama keeps more bankers hours. From 2009 til now I’m back with VPPD currently assigned to Biden. He’s pretty cool personally too. Have a talk with him every now and then.

Are you supposed to be telling me this much?
It’s no telling  so much that I’m assigned to them. I’m assigned to the detail that is part of being assigned to them. Hence our name for me Jones.

Can you recount an assignment that impacted you the most?
One story I can tell you that I was going to mention earlier was that I was in Georgia Republic in 2005 when a live grenade was thrown at President Bush. None of knew that until after we left. I didn’t know it at the time but I was 15 feet away from it. Coulda been a bad day for me! The only thing that kept it from exploding was that the guy wrapped the towel too tight around the grenade which kept the spoon from disengaging. Georgia is a very interesting and very old city. The other concern I had there was that just over the mountains was Chechnya. The Chechen rebels are well known for their brutality and torture. For the first time in my life I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home including my military days. I’ve cheated the reaper several times in my life and that was one of them. So as I stated earlier the only easy day was yesterday!

How dangerous is what you do? Scale of 1-10 if I may ask.

Believe it or not my job can be pretty mundane. We get paid for what we might have to do unlike the Seals you get paid for having to make an “impact” on some very unsavory people. Law enforcement is more reactive and military is more active. Anything could happen at any given time so there always are very real dangers lurking out there. I try not to dwell on that because it would cause me to be paranoid. I am a realist too and know my life isn’t going to last forever as much as I would like it too. That’s why we train and try to take the necessary countermeasures to keep us and our protectees alive.

So I can’t really say how dangerous my job is. It depends on a lot of factors. Somedays I would rate it a 1 other days could be 8 or a 9 depending the circumstances. Most of the time a 1 because of the fact I’m locked in a compound all day. When I travel it could be any number.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part of your job?

Least favorite part of my job is campaign year because I’m hella busy with non-stop travel most of year. I’m not looking forward to 2012 at all!!! I like to travel but it’s getting to that point that it’s just not as enjoyable as it used to be! You do get sick of living out of a suitcase, hotel rooms, and airplanes. I was really worn out after 2004 campaign because I was on the road for almost 90 days straight. 2008 wasn’t as bad but still wore me out! That’s why I’m trying to get back home. So I can have a less busy life. Plus all my family and really close friends are there too.

( He’s always fb’ing me from the airport or about to get on a plane.)

You have lived a very active life. I forgot to ask you at what age you think you’ll retire lol and what your plans are for after SS what does SS stand for btw? –
SS stands for Secret Service. I would like to retire at 50 but if I’m still here I’ll retire at 57 which is mandatory. I did buy a retirement property in Tonga which is an island south east of Fiji in the South Pacific. I plan on building a house and moving there but things always change. Who knows in a year or 2 or 10 I may be married or something! Anything in this work is possible! I thought about selling it and retiring to Florida since it’s closer to my family but as you know sometimes far away isn’t far enough lol!!!

I will gladly come visit you in Fiji!

BTW I had like a duh moment cuz I knew what SS stood for 

Oh! Do you get frequent flier mile perks? For Traveling?
I don’t really get perks other than air miles and hotel points. Not going through airport security too! That is nice because of not waiting in line :)!!

And now the meat and potatoes:  His words….not mine 

Does what you do make it impossible to settle down and have a family? Or are you just waiting for the perfect lady?

What can I say about my personal life? My job hasn’t really interfered with my personal life up to this point. Some days when I’m down I’m glad to come home to an empty house and there are other times I wish someone would be there to share my day and their day with. I guess that’s how most people are too. Just because I had a crappy day doesn’t give me the right to take it out on someone else but just the same it would be nice to have a special woman there to share my time with. I was close to getting married twice in my life.
Once 16 years ago in Japan and the other was 3 1/2 years ago. The job had nothing to do with it. My ex was cool with me being gone from time to time. It was the fact she was from India originally and in Indian culture she was the oldest daughter and had to be married 1st. So she put a lot of stress on me to get married and I just wasn’t ready at the time.

Since I do travel some people and women have the misconception that i’s some sort of a male who’re which is preposterous I may add. I’ve always been a one woman type of guy and don’t cheat. Sure I’ve had a one nighter here and there but that was between girlfriends. In fact after my ex and I broke up I didn’t date anybody or have any encounters for 2 years. I could meet a lot of women but I’ve been on my own for so long and seen some bitter divorces from friends of mine so I guess I have some cold feet too.

I totally understand that. Its common knowledge that the military careers or types of careers divorce is the highest statistic.

Now about work and personal relationships—

Getting back to your original question about work and personal relationships… When I first started working out here I partied a lot because it was a new city and a new beginning. Went out every night with some coworkers and wasn’t ready to settle down probably for the first 5 years. As the years went by some of my good friends left and went home and then, I kind of stopped partying. Even to this day I don’t really go out here anymore.

I save it for home and when I go on vacation or travel. The last 5 years I think I’ve become more domesticated and have been looking to settle down but haven’t been looking real hard because I don’t want to be hurt either.

It’s amazing I know I can go through a warzone have a grenade thrown at me and work for the most powerful man in the world but can be a social retard when it comes to women lol!

(Jones the right one will come along and you and she can retire on Fiji together and enjoy the island paradise.)

Which leads me to my ex 3 years ago and current lifestyle. I was sure she was the one but as time progressed my ex and I grew apart because of the whole marriage thing.

So I did the one thing I usually do which is worked ungodly hours drank beer and travelled a lot.

I think the ungodly hours is such a guy thing. Avoidance by absence…

So after our split as you know I really didn’t look for anyone. In fact I promised myself she would be the last one because I wasn’t going to put myself through this ever again but as the saying goes… never- say- never. Well as you know I met a great girl and had an awesome time with her. I wasn’t looking for anyone when we met. But after we did I always looked forward to doing things with her. I think I should have done some things differently but overall I felt good being with her. Right now I’m trying to get back to it just being me again and not looking anymore. I still like the one who got away… and you never know what the future holds. I hope everything turns out well for her and have no regrets!

So in closing— I know I haven’t had a boring life personally but relationship wise not so much experience because I choose to immerse myself into my job and not get too serious except for the last 5 years. You can always make time when the one you meet matters. It’s definitely a balancing act between work and a relationship.

I’ve learned the job will always be here but people won’t be. So I’d rather cherish my time now and come back later. I guess that’s me being 38 and learning a lot because 10 years ago I wouldn’t have given a second thought about anything. It took me all these years to realize this! So like I said I will see what the next evolution in life will bring me. If you need anything more from me let me know Hales? Try to see you next time I’m home!

Thank you Jones sooo much for being here!


About mahalia2010

Mother, Sister, Friend, Author

Posted on March 17, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. What an interesting interview, Hales. I have a family member who works in a similar type of job. He’s extremely secretive about what he does. I commend the people who serve in the special forces. They are brave and committed individuals. It was great to learn some inside information from a man who works in such an honorable post. Only the best and most trustworthy people are selected for the SS and other federal jobs.

    Nice to meet you, Jones. Thanks so much.

  2. What a very interesting interview, Jones. I like your motto. I wanted to be an archeologist when I was thirteen but discovered it was too much like work. LOL I wish you well in all your endeavors.

  3. A really fantastic and interesting interview…Both are such interesting jobs….Life must never be boring…

  4. Thank you ‘Jones’ for such an interesting insiders look at what you do! One of my fave movies is Guarding Tess, with Nicolas Cage as a SS in charge of the former president’s wife (Shirley McClain). Is that anything like your job, or is it like most Hollywood movies, over dramatized? I also liked Demi Moore in her portrayal of a SEAL. Are there very many women who become SEALs? I could go on and on, but I know you have better things to do than answer questions about your jobs. Besides, you gave just enough to leave the mystery there for us, and just enough to add reality to a writer’s hero. 🙂 My daughter wanted to go into the USAF in EOD. I was very relieved when she missed out on her opportunity due to a farewell fling with a germ encrusted hot tub which resulted in an allergy rash. When she refused a 2-week medication in favor of 24 hr Benadryl the AF gave her position to someone else. They wanted her to sign up for MP and she told them to stick their offer where the sun didn’t shine, it was EOD or nothing. But in her defense, her HS sweetheart-turned-fiance had just been murdered before she signed up for the military and she was on a personal death wish mission. Nearly ten years, and a husband and 2 beautiful babies, later she will finally admit what Mom knew all along.

    I hope you come back and talk to us again one day. Maybe when you find that ‘someone’ (and with your attitude about relationships I’ve absolutely no doubt you will find her, or she you!) and she changes your life in a drastic way? Until then, may God watch over you and bless you.

    Thanks for introducing us to Jones Hales! Great interview.

  5. Thanks for sharing. Fascinating interview! I see lots of plot bunnies. Best of luck in all your endeavors.

  6. THanks Hales, and Jones. Cool stuff. One of my hubby’s best friends (in fact, he’s the one who introduced us when I was 14 and the hubster was 16 LOL) was a SEAL for years, now he’s married and just had his 1st baby (well, his wife actually birthed the baby, from what I hear haha) and he’s 43 so its never too late!!
    @Calisa, I’m pretty sure there are no female SEALs. I don’t think there are many (if any?) women in the special forces at all. But I suppose Jones would know for sure. And I’m glad your dau is doing well, what a blessing.
    *hugs* Hales!!

  7. Amazing and insightful interview Hales and Jones! I actually read it twice! *smiles* Take care Jones and hope to hear more from you!

  8. Denise Golinowski

    Thank you, Hales, for havinc such a fascinating guest. And Thank You, Jones, for your past, present and continuing service to our country. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experiences and getting a tiny peek into a very, very different world. I admire you and all the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect this country. Thank you and be careful out there.

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