The Top 17 Most Operator Pics of the GWOT

May 26, 2019Marty Skovlund Jr.
Coffee or Die Photo

Individually, they’re SEALs, Rangers, Special Forces, Raiders, PJs, and Controllers. But collectively, we tend to call them operators. Technically that term should be reserved for those who’ve made it into the ranks of the elite Tier 1 units, but it’s become so commonplace we’re not gonna fight it.

Either way, they’ve got the sexy gear, the most baller missions, and their beards have inspired even hipsters to add a little face-armor to their look. We don’t get to hear much about what they do when they’re out bangin’ hammers, but every once in a while a picture will leak and we get a peek behind that top-secret curtain.

So without further ado, we’ve compiled a list of the most operator photos of the Global War on Terror. These guys, regardless of unit, have come to define the public image of what it means to be an operator. Here’s our top 15 most operatin’ operators, in no particular order:

1. That one special forces guy that you’ve seen everywhere but have no idea who he actually is. We salute you, famous special forces guy.

2. The Army Ranger doin’ a little aerial recon in Afghanistan. T-shirts and beards go together like whiskey and ice!

3. That one Australian dude with a righteous mustache who is *very* happy about that thug life!

4. Rob O’Neill, the SEAL who popped Bin Laden, right after sticking a bayonet throw … into bin Laden’s face.

5. A U.S. Air Force PJ out on a little mountain walk in Afghanistan with ol’ glory strapped to his back. He’s just so … beautiful!

6. Marine Raiders, aka the original Sons of Anarchy. We’d like to think that at least one of them said “autobots, roll out!” during this mission.


7. Tom Spooner, a former Delta operator, out operatin’ in Iraq. We *almost* feel bad for the guys on the wrong side of his rifle.

8. That one SEAL who casually hangs out around raging infernos with a drum of ammo in his carbine. Because sometimes 30-round mags just aren’t up to the job.

9. A majestic Special Forces operator in the wild. Notice his freshly pressed khaki pants, single grenade on his belt, and complete lack of fucks.

10. This is Jason Dahlke, an Army Ranger who was killed in action in Afghanistan while bringing the fight to the enemy. He was damn good at his job and looked good doing it. One for the Airborne Ranger in the sky!

11. If James Franco joined the Marines and became a Raider, this is what he’d look like. Notice the hand tats, custom BDU pants, and ammo drum.

12. We don’t know who this guy is or what unit he hails from, but this one just about brings a tear to our eye. In the world of special operations, this pic is a work of art.

13. I’m a little biased because I took this photo, but “Able” was definitely operatin’. Here we see him ordering up a round of bombs and close air support just as easy as he’d order a Big Mac, all while ISIS was peppering his position. The only thing he was annoyed about was that he couldn’t wear his Crocs out on this mission.

14. The operator all other operators want to be like when they grow up. This tea-drinkin’, brass-ball-swingin’ SAS trooper stormed a hotel under siege all by himself and then walked out victorious a short time later — no prisoners taken.

15. Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Kapacziewski, the Army Ranger who lost his leg in combat, got a prosthetic slapped on, went back into combat, got his new prosthetic leg shot off, but still kept charging toward the probably terrified enemy. RLTW!

16. The only thing scarier than this Special Forces operator’s beard is that pissed off look in his eyes. This guy is definitely king of the 1,000-yard stare!

17. This is Special Forces operator Nick Lavery. Nick took shrapnel from an RPG, got shot in the face, and got shot in the legs four times over the course of four deployments. Then, in the most operator move he could make, he went back for a fifth deployment, sans leg!

Honorable Mention: Spc. Matthew Tattersall was never an operator, but this paratrooper gets an honorable mention for doing his last jump in the Army with his pet Siamese fighting fish “Willy MakeIt” in tow — and having the presence of mind to snap a selfie during their descent! Enjoy that DD-214 bro, you’ve earned it!

Marty Skovlund Jr.
Marty Skovlund Jr.

Marty Skovlund Jr. was the executive editor of Coffee or Die. As a journalist, Marty has covered the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota, embedded with American special operation forces in Afghanistan, and broken stories about the first females to make it through infantry training and Ranger selection. He has also published two books, appeared as a co-host on History Channel’s JFK Declassified, and produced multiple award-winning independent films.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

Ouija Board aircraft carrier
Low-Tech ‘Ouija Boards’ Have Helped Aircraft Carriers Operate for Decades

Since the 1920s, a low-tech tabletop replica of an aircraft carrier’s flight deck has been an essential tool in coordinating air operations.

Army vs. Navy mascot
The Navy Goat vs. the Army Mule: Mascot Origin Stories

For nearly as long as the Army-Navy football rivalry, the academies’ hoofed mascots have stared each other down from the sidelines. Here are their stories.

ukraine long-range weapon
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Has Developed a Long-Range Weapon, a Day After Strike Deep Inside Russia

Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel the weapon was produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries but gave no other details.

7 of the Best Movie Ambush Scenes of All Time

Ambushes make for great action scenes. Here are seven of the best to ever grace the big screen.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, reportedly named Ju Ae, review the honor guard during their visit to the navy headquarter in North Korea
North Korea Launches Missile Toward Sea After US Flies Bomber During Drills

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved