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From Sea Level to C Level with Whiz Buckley



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Gary Pinkerton hosts Whiz Buckley, former decorated Navy Fighter Pilot, a Top Gun graduate, and founder of Top Gun Options LLC. Whiz goes through his time in the service and how he transitioned into starting his own company. He explains that many veterans, based on their training, are in a better situation than they realize. The leadership qualities and their ability to learn to make military veterans great for business.

Jason Hartman 0:11
I’m Jason Hartman and I’d like to invite you to our very first two day conference in beautiful Hawaii. Many of our attendees are making a vacation out of this event, you will learn the most innovative strategies for real estate investing available today. We have helped thousands of people invest in properties around the US, and we can help you do it too. So I hope you’ll join us and happy investing.

Announcer 0:52
Welcome to the heroic investing show. As first responders we risk our lives every day our financial security is under attack. Our pensions are in a state of emergency, a single on duty incident can alter or erase our earning potential instantly and forever. We are the heroes of society. We are self reliant and we need to take care of our own financial future. The heroic investing show is our toolkit of business and investing tactics on our mission to financial freedom.

Gary Pinkerton 1:26
Hello, and welcome to Episode 152 of the heroic investing show. This is a podcast for first responders, members of the military, veterans and anyone looking to improve their financial future in some freedom worth their time. So what does it look like when we leave the military? When’s the right time to leave the military? Well, we try to solve that. And I think today’s interview with math whiz Buckley is a good one, I think it gets us far down that path. So Wiz was a Navy fighter pilot, right around 2000. And well 911. immediately before 911, he tells a great story about his history and how he ended up doing what he currently does, which is teach corporate america the lessons of the military, on how to improve their organizations, how to get a vision, how to work efficiently, how to have an organization that’s all moving in the same direction. And like I said, Get efficiency back. He’s been wildly successful about it. And he’s written a book from C level ca level two sea level as incorperate level. So from sea level to sea level, please go check that out. You can get it Amazon, he very graciously sent me an autographed copy. It’s an awesome book. I really enjoyed it. Hey, my favorite part about it was if you’re listening in is that you chose to put an appendix and, and the only thing in the appendix is a Message to Garcia. And that is an amazing motivational story. You had to memorize it at the Naval Academy. And it has done wonders for me. My kids, I will admit hate it. They hate the idea of a Message to Garcia. They come and ask me something and I say you remember a Message to Garcia. And they just look dejected and walk away but it’s starting to rub off. I think my teenagers are getting it. So you know this interview with Wiz is awesome back to how he ended up doing what he did. Well, I won’t ruin the podcast episode for you. But right at the time of 911, he was headed off to do what a lot of military pilots do. And that was to become an airline pilot. His timing was amazing. They were hiring like crazy. Everything was perfect. But you also remember what happened in 911. But his story is much better than just those that thought they were going to be a pilot and ended up getting furloughed. His is very exciting. When you talk about what he did on 911. And what many other patrons did on that day, most of us who are in the military, or at least were in the military at 911. Remember every bit about what they did to try to help serve in combat that at the time invisible unknown enemy. It was crazy and all of us have a story we’ll never forget about it, which is really good. You know, he’s a very typical extroverts, Navy pilot, and somebody you’re really gonna enjoy talking to hearing from please reach out to his and get a copy of his book. Thank you really appreciate it. And if you’re running a company out there are thinking about running a company or you just a veteran like myself and first responder looking for what it would be like to jump and looking for somebody who can help you out with that. No doubt was will talk to you. You’ll enjoy the conversation and you’ll come away a little bit more energized than you were before. Hey everyone, my distinct pleasure to bring to you with Buckley Matt with Buckley and the author of sea level to sea level you’re gonna love this

Whiz Buckley 4:38
short story long when I got off active duty in 2000 to go be one of those rich airline pilots. I literally got the lottery ticket I got hired by American moved to Fort Worth and also got hired by the hunters Strike Fighter Squadron 201 which was a reserve Hornet Squadron. So that was the stereotypical hit the lottery ticket well Not really because the morning of September 11 2001 was supposed to be my first flight from Dallas to Miami, Miami to Cancun as an American Airlines pilot. My wife came in and said, I’m packing and I still it’s in my guest bedroom. My American Airlines uniform is still in the plastic. I never she said You better come out and see the TV and I said, whatever package She said, No, no, somebody hit the World Trade Center and it ain’t a small airplane and it ain’t bad weather like he said. So I go out there and I see you know, big smoking hole beautiful day and as I’m going through my mental aviation checklist of how that could happen you know, boom second plane hits. Yeah, immediately. immediately knew we were under attack, ran into the bedroom, push the plaster you know the uniform out of the way throw my flight suit, didn’t even tie my boots. I almost broke my neck running out of the house. I had an old 89 Porsche and I think I was 130 140 miles an hour out to the house down I think I broke the land speed record got out to the air station, just as they closed it and went to was thread con Delta they closed the air station. And I made it out with one other FAA team buddy of mine gruff and Lieutenant Commander McGrath also an American guy. Next door was the the Tang, the Texas Air National Guard, the spads they flew us sixteens we called up and they said hey man, get over here. We got four of our guys out here. And their command post was tied into NORAD. So they had a brigadier general there and as we ran over there we stopped by maintenance control we told the chief chief What do you got? He’s like Sir, we got four jets. I said get them up. The Air Force is going to give us some missiles and some bullets get them ready for combat. So we went over to the spads we briefed to start flying a combat air patrol for 16 and two Hornets and as we’re sitting there brief in the Pentagon got hit it was surreal so I went from possibly flying in an airliner that day to to shooting one down to maybe even shooting down a squad are made because I mean even our Skipper he was a Delta guy at the time. Everybody was airborne except for a couple of us you know, imagine being ordered to to not only shoot down an airliner full of your countrymen but you know, one of your bros that you flew over Iraq with. So it was surreal. It was it was crazy. The next couple days were just a blur. I remember coming in the next day, September 12 and reading the A to the air tasking order for the United States. Only time I read an ATL was in the Persian Gulf you know and it had you know the rules of engagement and fire in Washington, New York free fire zones it was it was crazy. What I’m getting at is since I was in the most junior guys in American Airlines, you know, a week later I got like a when I got hired by American I got a colored stationery and signed by the chief pilot in ink. You know, welcome aboard. And, you know, a couple days later, I get this photocopied letter like off centered from American human relation, saying dear crew member you’re furloughed. So in the blink of an eye, I hadn’t had a lot of money saved up. We lived in base housing, we use it to buy our first house. That was it man lost my health care, lost my pension lost my career. You know, in the blink of an eye, we lost everything. So you got a scramble. My wife was at one point she was a waiting tables at Bukit pepo in Southlake, Texas. But I started to apply myself to my trading even more, you know, it was kind of a hobby in the background. Now it was go time. Fortunately, I could go into the squadron and reserve bum and we actually ended up getting mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom. So there were 3000 other Americans who didn’t even have a life anymore. So I stopped feeling sorry for myself and scrambled. But what happened, Gary was, I started doing some business consulting, I started going into businesses and just teaching them that the stuff that we all think is like breathing like debriefing or contingency planning or so I did some business consulting. And as luck would have it, one of the events I did ended up being for one of the largest options trading firms in the world up in Chicago. So on the briefing call with this company, they’re like, Well, you know, we’re an options firm. And an option is I’m like, I know what an option is. I’m going to Apple long call diagonal. And I’m, you know, I’m sure at Amazon right now or whatever, and they’re like, Oh, my God. So I ended up going up and doing this like two day event, business consulting event, and I must have snowed them somehow, because they were very impressed. And they they went mafia on me and made me an offer. I couldn’t refuse. I swear to God, I felt like Valentine and Trading Places. I mean, I here I am this little retail trader and they asked me to come up and essentially help run the place. So I did that for about three or four years and no offense to anybody from Chicago, but I I initially, the people, the food’s good, but walking from the from Union Station to the Board of Trade in February is like a survival situation.

Gary Pinkerton 9:42
Yeah, it’s seriously cold. I grew up near there.

Whiz Buckley 9:45
Oh, yeah. We lived out in Naperville. naper tukey. So at that point, I’m like, you know what, I dragged my wife to some pretty crappy Navy bases. She was from Boca Raton, Florida. So I said, You know what, I think I can do this on my own. So I will He’s had the idea kind of running around my head, like, why don’t I just teach people how to do this. And we moved down here to South Florida and eight years ago, we I started Top Gun options. We teach mom pop stay at home moms, you anybody had a trade equity option? So it’s a, it’s been an interesting journey to say the least.

Gary Pinkerton 10:20
Wow. Yeah, that is incredible how you transition that I mean, you don’t want to spend time in Chicago, you love trading options, you love the aspects of that. So how does that land you into starting a business like that?

Whiz Buckley 10:34
The consulting business was kind of the end, like I said, the speaking? Yeah, I mean, right now, I have tons of buddies who have their own individual companies, you know, from x operator, you know, I got a lot of seal buddies, fighter pilot buddies who are doing, just do this business consulting, all the stuff we take for granted, even in the, you know, the submarine for you guys, hey, we’re gonna do an exercise, we’re going to brief this exercise, we’re going to have what are called spas, single points of accountability, we’re going to debrief after this is over, and we’re gonna, you know, we’re gonna call it a nameless rank list debrief, we’re gonna get in the room, we’re gonna take our name tag off, or rank off, and we’re gonna rip each other apart, to make us better door opens up, we’re all best friends again. So all this stuff, I applied to the business world. And I got to be honest with you, um, a lot of the consulting, I just did an event recently for big biopharmaceutical company, and I’m sitting there with the heavies. And at one point, I looked at him like you guys make money in spite of yourselves. I’m like, this is a complete clown car. Because in the Navy, Gary, if I told you, Hey, man, I need you to do this by next Friday. If you said three words to me, I got it. Guess what, man? In my mind, it’s done. Right? Right. In the business world, I found out a Gary k does by next Friday, two Fridays, from now I found out you didn’t do it, there was no way in hell, you were gonna do it. And I ended up doing it. So the accountability and a lot of that stuff you go into into companies and try and even if they take 10% of what I say, it improves your execution, like you wouldn’t believe I mean, companies don’t debrief. And if they do that, here’s the funny term, they call it a post mortem. I’m like, Yeah, oh, wants to go to a post mortem, I think I’m gonna go to one in my life, and I’m gonna be dead for it. So you know, it already has this negative connotation. So that’s how it kind of lended itself was me going into companies and seeing that this is I can’t believe you guys make money and helping them get better. And then kind of as I was doing all that, traveling, literally around the world, Brazil, Thailand, I’ve given keynotes or done business consulting around the globe. But in the same time, in the back of my mind, I’m like, my passion really is teaching people how to trade because after being on Wall Street, I gotta be honest with you, they almost make it seem like it’s so hard, or were the smart money, those people put their pants or dress on the same way we do, man, and there ain’t nothing. If I could do it, anybody can do it. That’s the other thing about Wall Street did I couldn’t stand when somebody made it on wall street or made a lot of money or got promoted, they pulled the ladder up. And as you know, in the in the Navy, or the military man, when you make it, when I went to Top Gun, I didn’t come back to my Squadron with all this knowledge. And then just be Mr. Wonderful. I sit in the Red Room and for weeks gave lectures, and I accelerated everybody’s experience. So when you make it in the military, you put the ladder down, you help a buddy up, you put your arm down. So my time on Wall Street wasn’t pleasant. I mean, there was nice enough people but at the end of the day, it just, it wasn’t the squadron man. So Top Gun options, it is a little bit more of a squadron. We do live events, like twice a year when when I meet the members and stuff. And it’s as close to the squadron as I can get. And the you know, trading, when you think about it in our motto is trading is combat. Because when you think about it in a trade, somebody’s gonna win and somebody ain’t. So why wouldn’t you use the same methodologies and techniques that we use to win, you know, in the military in trading. So I owe it all to the Navy. And I essentially copied and pasted Navy flight training, a primary, intermediate, advanced and then I just kind of put the different options, stuff in there. Because as you know, I mean primary flight training in the Navy, I literally had a guy in my flight school class whose first flight was to flight school in an airliner. I think he went to school in like Wyoming or something. I mean, he had literally never, and in six months, this dude’s flying off the pointy end of an aircraft carrier. So the military training programs are designed for reason. So I I owe all of this to the Navy and the military, and I just kind of put a little different bow on it, to be honest with you.

Gary Pinkerton 14:46
Yeah, I’ve seen the same thing. I’m helping a friend who’s got a great company, but they’re training for the pointy end of the spear people who I’m proud to call myself one I have is not great. You know, and It was great while he was doing the training, but then kind of when it handed off to, you know, other individuals running as the company got bigger, it’s really just falling apart. And they just don’t have the focus on training people the way we do directory and and it’s so easy, right? Like, like I mentioned, you know, one thing would be very vital, I’m being very, you know, just tiptoeing around because it’s not my company, and he didn’t like, you know, hire me to to come in and drop a hammer yet, so. So it’s you know, it’s like you know one of the things that might be really good, I’m suggesting this to like the head of operations is maybe after the person gives training or maybe like you, you have somebody check their abilities before they go give the training. And then afterwards, maybe you spend a couple minutes and give them some feedback about how to get better. And you’re like, Oh, my God, that sounds awesome. I’m like, it’s hard to believe, you know, they’ve been so ingrained in us for two decades, that that’s just not obvious to other people. But like I say the word hello to a friend. And they’re like, what, you know, they’re so excited, I have to remember that a lot of this is just our language and our culture. But But you’re right, it’s not hard to adapt. And I think for the audience out there, it’s just a really great way. Just another great reminder, a good example, for how marketable and valuable they are, you know, I had a great guest on recently who just, you know, said kind of the obvious, but it’s nice to hear it. And I got a lot of feedback from listeners, that man, I was really glad that he said that, you know, gave us confidence. And really what he said was, listen, just the fact that you’re in the military, a lot of people think that, you know, our skills are not translatable well out into the real world He’s like, but just the fact that you get up on time, you showed up to work on time, or, you know, he’s like, in your home life is put together. So you’ve married a spouse that knows how to do stuff without you around. He’s like, actually, your your skills are that they’re not you know, whether you know how to weld correctly or not.

Whiz Buckley 16:44
That’s exactly right. Even if you don’t know how to weld, you can be taught, that’s the good thing about the military background is you’re teachable. Every executive that I’ve talked to or worked with, they say they love hiring veterans, because it’s the intangible leadership qualities that we have. I mean, I remember getting my first fleet Squadron, I’m like, Hey, man, where’s my Hornet? And the skipper is like, yeah, that’s your fifth responsibility. You’re the avionics division officer, you know, that sailors under arrest. This one hasn’t paid child, you know, I’m like, holy crap. I’m like, I’m in charge of 22 sailors with 22 chiefs. Who were my dad’s age who were like sailing off the coast of Libya, when I was playing soccer when I was a kid. I mean, so you’re thrust into a leadership role. And businesses would rather have somebody who can be a leader than somebody who knows how to weld Really? Well, I can teach you how to weld Really? Well, exactly. So that’s the intangible. And the one drawback and it’s sad to say, is we have to throttle back a little bit in that transition from the military to the business world, because some men and women I tried to help, they’re frustrated, because they do get to a bit. I’m like, Hey, man, it’s almost like I don’t want to tell you this. But I have to, for your survival, throttle everything back by about 50%. Because if you’re in a business, meaning going, are you kidding me, we’re not going to debrief this and Steve, Steve, everybody knows you wound up on this project, or you’re not going to admit, I mean, it can get pretty ugly. So you have to tread lightly, because I’ve seen I’ve seen guys bottle rock it out pretty quick in the business world, because they’re just stunned that. Like I said, there’s some of these companies make money in spite of themselves. But if you pace yourself, and kind of release your military knowledge and coolness at a good clip, you’ll do great.

Gary Pinkerton 18:29
Yeah, now that that’s great advice. And the other thing that I’ve learned is that it takes a softer skill, I think, is really what you’re saying, you know, a softer approach to people, but I find it that it makes me elevate my game, not really so much, you know, initially like your, your way of interacting with people just slowing down your response time, that is certainly a throttle back. I think it actually makes me perform at a higher level. Because these people don’t have to do this, right? It’s not, you know, it’s very easy for me to tell my crew of 150 people what to do. And I didn’t care so much whether they liked it in some cases. But, but that’s not true when you’re in an all volunteer world, right. And in reality on my ship, I was in a non volunteer world, too. They could I mean, they may not be able to walk till after the contract. But if I want to retain young officers, and like you said, I want to pay it forward and have somebody replaced me who’s competent, and the top of his game, you don’t want to be watching those people out with bad leadership. So it’s, it’s somewhat similar. But, you know, again, and this company that I work with just paradigm life, it’s an awesome company. But all of us are essentially independent business owners that work together, collectively towards the same goal. And none of them have to stay right so to to build what we want to build. It’s got to be Win win. And I think that’s actually harder, but you’re right is a whole lot different.

Whiz Buckley 19:40
It’s so true, man. And and it’s sad. But if businesses executed, the way we execute the military, I mean, our economy would be going through the roof. But, you know, no matter how hard we try, businesses are still businesses and you nailed it walk with a little softer touch then.

Gary Pinkerton 19:55
Yeah, so I was just gonna do a little bit of transition here. So but it’s not that much. I I was reading in a fascinating thing about how many marine leaders, Marine Corps leaders, succeed as CEOs and presidents of companies in America. And it’s been that way since the 1920s, or 30s. And having had the opportunity to work with a lot of Marines, and the reason I’m circling this end is because you come from Marine, a marine family, right. And you just mentioned to me that your son wants to be a marine.

Whiz Buckley 20:21
Yeah, I dropped him off Sunday up at Norwich University in Vermont, where he’s in the Corps cadets, you know, I jokingly say, I guess I dropped him on the said, because I was a Navy fighter pilot, he wants to be a Marine Fighter Pilot. So he plays hockey, it’s a great Division Three hockey school, but I know he’s doing a little frazzled man, but he grown up, you always got to look towards it, because I did a three year tour and marine and a marine f 18 Squadron in a year and El Toro before they closed it, and then down to Miramar. So you know, he was born in Bow Bow and Naval Hospital. So I have a lot of very close friends that are Marines. Actually one of my top gun options members, I went through Top Gun with him. And he’s, he’s going to be the skipper of VM x one, which is the marine testing evaluation Squadron. So he’s going to get to fly the JSF, and Hornets and stuff like that. So he always, you know, looked at the Marine Corps, a little bit more elite and stuff like that. So I couldn’t be very proud father moment. Yeah, absolutely.

Gary Pinkerton 21:16
Yeah. So that I mean, I think that’s why why Marines are such great leaders out in the real world. And then I’ll stop my love affair with Marines here. But, you know, as I was getting ready to leave the Naval Academy, I was I was scoring between Marine Corps, and submarines. You know, both of them have marine and then but that’s about it. Because I mean, the total opposite in the spectrum is, but what I like about both of them was the small unit, cohesive camaraderie. That’s there, right, esprit de corps, they call it and the same things. They’re in Submarine Force, and everyone walks around with a chip on their shoulder. It’s not because of our abs, sadly, in the submarine force. But they’re both small unit communities doing stuff that most people wouldn’t do

Whiz Buckley 21:55
tight, very tight knit.

Gary Pinkerton 21:56
Right. And I think that’s even when you bring that to a company, you inspire people, you raise a culture of, Hey, you know, that might be okay for the competitor. But we’re better than that, you know. And so I just think that that stuff comes from anyone who’s been in the military who understands camaraderie, and winning, doesn’t come from burning the people below you, you know, it comes from inspiring them. And so many great leaders have come with that inside them. And

Whiz Buckley  22:20
it’s interesting, you bring up the Marines because here’s the deal, their cohesion, it really comes from the fact that they’re a marine. He could be an aviator, you can be an artillery, you can be a lawyer, you’re not, you’re a marine. First, you know, whether it’s going through Parris Island, or when Matthew gets commissioned, he’s going to TBS man, you go to TBS for six months before you get near in a helicopter or a jet. So it all starts in that it’s a unit cohesion. And yeah, it takes a different type of person to be kicking down doors and collusion. Man, that’s Yeah, you get pretty tight with those folks, you know?

Gary Pinkerton 22:55
Absolutely. You know, and, you know, circling back to what you said about, you know, when you go to your Squadron and looking for the jet, you know, same thing, right, we’re a naval officer, first, we’re an Air Force officer first or, you know, a member of a squad enlisted member of the squad, but that’s not reinforced as heavily in the other services. And so we could certainly do a better job, but it’s all there. And the basics are there, we’ve kind of gotten away from it. You know, we consider ourselves a technical expert. It’s

Gary Pinkerton 23:19
Sundra. Now I got to make fun of the Air Force. I mean, they’re barely on our side anyway. But I remember I’d go into fight, you know, an Air Force Squadron. They have a lot of officers man running around, like voting officer, the weather officer, I’m like, Hey, man, in my fleet Squadron, I’m seven officers. Well, that goes back to the Navy in the Marine Corps on Look at you, man on a boat, there ain’t that many spots. So whether you’re a carrier or a sub or even in a marine unit, there ain’t that much room. So we don’t have nine extra officers to take care of all of the ancillary duties. You are the ancillary officer, so to speak, right? Yeah, I like to raise my Airforce buddies about that and begrudgingly over maybe their fifth beer, they’ll admit that, but they actually kind of rub that in their face. Like, would you rather have just a pilot for your entire Navy career? I’m like, Yeah, no, man I enjoyed. I have sailors that I still keep in touch with that all those life experiences. And another subtle dig at the Air Force. When they transition. They didn’t have that everything you just said they were only a pilot and they weren’t the maid. They have their own maintenance squadrons. I’m like I was the maintenance officer. I had 220 sailors and marines under me at one point. So I love our sister service. I’m just giving them grief but there. I will say the Navy and Marines are a little more elite. I’ll leave it at that.

Gary Pinkerton 24:38
I’ll let you drop the mic on that one. So how can they find out more about your company about trading options if you want, or just you know about? Yeah, they’ve written a couple books, you know, kind of pass that to them.

Whiz Buckley 24:49
Yeah. If you had to go dot Top Gun options comm slash book, you’ll see the book I wrote. And you’ll also there’s a bunch of speaking clips on there. An example of me Think Yeah, it was McKesson McKesson is the what fortune seven company. And actually, I’m on stage with john hammer grin who’s the highest paid CEO? Last year 140 5 million bucks. This guy made. I’m standing on stage. I’m like, dude, you got 50 bucks. I can. But yeah, go Top Gun options.com slash book. And the book I wrote is called from sea level to sea level. I actually came up with that.

Gary Pinkerton 25:26
And that’s a catchy Yeah,

Whiz Buckley 25:29
it kind of hits everything we talked about man each chapter I give business and military examples. It’s a pretty cool book. But if you’re interested in learning how to trade options, man, just go to the main page Top Gun options.com and you can scroll around there and and find out stuff. I do a daily market video. You know, most of my members call it a rant because I just I get going especially with what’s going on now in the country and everything like that. You had to go dot Top Gun options comm slash CIT Rep. And that should sound familiar to us. I call it the market CIT rep so it’s my Dale it’s a free video, just name and email and it gets pushed you daily when I shoot it so go Top Gun options comm slash book and if you order the book on there, I sign it you know, I’ll put it in the mail today. I’ll sign it to whoever and I’ll send you one to get thrown in the mail for options trading Top Gun options calm and then if you want that daily sitrep it’s go Top Gun options.com slash sitrep

Gary Pinkerton 26:29
that’s awesome way as well. Thanks so much you’ve shared been very kind sharing a lot of time with our audience here today. any parting shots man?

Whiz Buckley 26:36
I think this is the most I’ve talked to a submarine guy my life Yes. There you’ll find this funny man we were doing rimpac whatever it was 96 we were the orange for whatever there was some sub out there that was still not sunk yet. We’re coming into the break overhead the Kitty Hawk and I look in the wake and there’s three miles behind the ship I’m like oh hey man, look at that whale my leads like no dude that’s it was this whatever the US has whatever was like in the wake of the Kitty Hawk trying to take pictures and I said Hey boss in the air boss I’m like I think there’s a sub behind us these like what they they suspended flight ops and sent the you know the Hilo over and drop zone. Yeah, so apparently they were the subscribers too busy taking pictures or something like that, that they didn’t get a torpedo shut off and allegedly we shot him before. So I got I got to get the Emerald the next day on like two ships TV was like they called her scotch and VS fa 94. We put the anti submarine in there. So I only think that was the only sub I’ve seen in my life, man. But no thanks for your service that it was a pleasure talking to you. And looking forward to hearing from your folks if they have any questions go.

Gary Pinkerton 27:45
That’s awesome. Well, we will be in contact. Man, thanks so much for joining us and get your shots into the submarine force.

Jason Hartman 27:53
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