Trapped Indoors? Catch Up on Some of Coffee or Die’s Greatest Hits

March 25, 2020Luke Ryan

There is a wide variety of stories here at Coffee or Die — from a diesel mechanic at the bottom of a boat during the Korean War, to an Afghan commando who sought refuge in the United States, to instructions on how to make coffee in rough places — we write and film the stories we’d want to see.

If you’re stuck at home due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, now may be the perfect time to catch up on some of the stories you missed.

The Valley Boys: How a Lone Special Operations Forces Team is Fighting ISIS in the Remote Mountains of Afghanistan”

If you’re looking for a good read, this may be the best place to start. This is a very personal look at the day-to-day operations of Special Forces soldiers in the field. We often hear of the huge battles and the moments of valor or grief, but if you’re also interested in the regular day of a deployed Special Forces soldier, this is the best place to start. And it’s all straight from the ground.

One Marine Corps Veteran’s Struggle to Keep His Family’s Ranch Alive

Photo by Marcus Cravens/Coffee or Die. montana ranch
Photo by Marcus Cravens/Coffee or Die.

Montana winters are no place for the faint of heart, and this story illustrates just that. This is the quintessential story of the American work ethic — a look at rough hands and subzero temperatures and generations of ranchers who have endured it all.

The Daring Exploits of Virginia Hall, World War II’s Most Notorious Spy

virginia hall

History is dear to our hearts at Coffee or Die, and writer Matt Fratus never fails to deliver. This story follows Virginia Hall, a spy with over 20 years under her belt with the SOE, OSS, and CIA. Known as “the lady who limps,” this woman was a force to be reckoned with. Check out here exploits right here.

Burning Man Through the Eyes of an Army Sniper

Photo by Nick Betts/Coffee or Die.

Burning Man: one might think of scantily clad women taking selfies for their instagram, hippies in drum circles, or some rich combination of the two. However, as with most things you only hear about tangentially, there is more to it than meets the eye. Former Army Sniper and contractor Nick Betts journeyed into the giant social experiment and was quite surprised at what he found. Not only is the story compelling, but Nick is an extremely talented photographer as well — his pictures here are otherworldly.

I Took a Road Trip Through Syria — And This is What I Saw

Photo by Kevin Knodell/Coffee or Die.

It’s one thing to hear a story from a direct interview, it’s another thing to hear it directly from the guy on the ground. Kevin Knodell has been writing on Coffee or Die as he’s been moving from conflict area to conflict area in the Middle East. His road trip to Syria gives the reader an on-the-ground perspective as to what the country looks like. Sometimes, between the major headlines and battles, it’s important to take a step back and just drive through a country to get a picture of what was there in the first place.

The Untold True Story of How Black Rifle Coffee Got its Start

Black Rifle Coffee: our parent company has had a long and wild ride to the success it sees today. Only a few years ago, CEO Evan Hafer was roasting beans in his garage — but how did that garage-based operation wind up grossing over $80 million in 2019? Check out our origin story right here.

The Harrowing True Story of a US Soldier Who was Shot 13 Times

There are stories that exemplify the strength of the human spirit and then there is this story. We follow U.S. Army Specialist Jay Strobino in Iraq’s infamous Triangle of Death in 2006, caught in a firefight that would forever change his life. Strobino was seriously wounded during this vicious fight, and his recovery would prove to be even more arduous.

“Surround yourself with positive people and feed off each other’s energy,” Strobino said. “Know that you’re not going to be able to do it alone, and it’s not going to be easy. But be sure to celebrate each small victory.”

The Hellfire Boys and the Race to Perfect the Devil’s Perfume

The brutality of WWI is often lost to the history books, but we revisit it here in the form of chemical weapons. As J. Robert Oppenheimer was to the nuclear bomb, the “Hellfire Boys” were to “the devil’s perfume” — lethal chemical weapons employed in the trenches of Europe.

How Hemingway’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ Provides Insight into Modern Special Forces

The primary mission of Special Forces soldiers is to infiltrate hostile territory, train indigenous personnel who are sympathetic to their cause, and — in some cases — to fight alongside them. The “how” is easy to research, but what does all that feel like? How are those relationships established and what’s it like being a part of them?

As it turns out, Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is a borderline perfect parallel to the mission of the U.S. Special Forces. Read the excerpts and explore the world of SF in this article.

From Factory to Fire: The Journey of an American Flag

Sgt. Michael Misheff, CH-47F Chinook helicopter chew chief for Task Force Flying Dragons, flies the American flag over southern Afghanistan Aug. 28. Task Force Raptor pilots and crew chiefs fly American flags to present with certificates to service members as part of aviation tradition. Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense.
Sgt. Michael Misheff, CH-47F Chinook helicopter chew chief for Task Force Flying Dragons, flies the American flag over southern Afghanistan Aug. 28. Task Force Raptor pilots and crew chiefs fly American flags to present with certificates to service members as part of aviation tradition. Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense.

This very personal, true story from our Associate Editor follows a single flag. It travels from the threads and gentle hands of the manufacturers, to the rough hands of an Army Ranger, to his death in combat. It tells the story of the flag’s recovery and where it remains today.

This is the journey of an American flag, and every step of it is true.

The Paramedics that Fought for Their Lives to Save an MS-13 Gang Member

Paramedics and other first responders have specific health considerations in relation to their jobs. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Paramedics and other first responders have specific health considerations in relation to their jobs. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The work of a paramedic is rarely easy, especially in a bustling city like Minneapolis. These men and women are literally going into harm’s way to treat those who have been wounded, to evacuate them, and to get them to a hospital. It seems difficult enough when that involves compliant, regular people — but what happens when that patient is a violent MS-13 gang member, intent on fighting the healthcare professionals like hell?

5 Pro-Tips From ‘Black Autumn’ on how to Survive the Next Apocalypse

Photos courtesy of Readyman.

We get it, American life has been very seriously upended, but it’s not the apocalypse just yet. Still, it can’t hurt to prepare! Garland Kennedy, our resident expert in all things outdoors, combines his own wisdom with the novel “Black Autumn” by career Special Forces soldier Jeff Kirkham and co-author Jason Ross. This isn’t a fear-mongering doomsday prepper course — they are simple but important ways to be prepared.

The Air Force Superfortress Suck on an Alaskan Glacier

There are countless undiscovered wreckages and ruins out there — some at the bottom of the ocean, some under a mountain of desert sand. One suck wreckage lay amidst an Alaskan Glacier: a nuclear-capable strategic bomber called a TB-29 Superfortress.

And guess what? There’s a nuclear bomb just sitting there, so we had to check it out.

Watch Coffee or Die, Season 1

Coffee or Die’s video content has taken Marty Skovlund, Jr. all over the world — he’s embedded with Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan, gallivanted across Europe during major military training exercises, traced the footsteps of the men and women at D-Day on the beaches of France, and sat in on the most patriotic bull bash in the country.

These videos are more than just an explanation of a couple military operations. They are an exploration into the cultures of some of the roughest places on earth. For example, Marty returned to Iraq for the first time since he was deployed there. He met with a man who runs a radio station, fighting against ISIS in his own way since the beginning. His “resistance radio” has come with success, popularity, and threats against his life — Marty sat down with him and got the whole story in his own words.

Luke Ryan
Luke Ryan

Luke is the author of two war poetry books, The Gun and the Scythe and A Moment of Violence, and a post-apocalyptic novel, The First Marauder. He grew up in Pakistan and Thailand as the son of aid workers. Later, he served as an Army Ranger and deployed to Afghanistan on four combat deployments. Now he owns and operates Four Hawk Media, a social media-focused marketing company.

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