“YES, PAT.” A FRIEND REMEMBERED.
Pat Rogers 1946 – 2016
We lost a great America yesterday. Pat Rogers was a mentor, teacher, friend who claimed so many as family. The news of Pat’s death came through in a two-word text message: “Pat passed.” I held the phone and stared at the screen until it went blank. The magnitude of the words stretching from a paralyzing pin prick to a debilitating void. Then the dull stillness of shock began to erode and the sharp barrage of memories surged.
“Pat embodied the warrior spirit. And like all great warriors he had a big heart and it was full of love. Love for his country, love for his Brothers, and love for his family and friends. We are deﬁnitely diminished and I will miss him greatly.” – BCM Remembers Pat Rogers Pat was a grand story teller. That was one of his signature traits. I was asked to tell the story of how I ﬁrst met Pat the other night on the P&S Modcast 57. But honestly, I couldn’t get through the tale. This loss is too raw and the swell of emotion to great. So I’ve put it down in writing to add to the masses doing the same. We will only further immortalize his legacy. So here is the story of how Pat Rogers took a chance on a woman he had never met, with a product he had never seen, and changed my life forever.
Like so many before me I met Pat on the range. He had invited me to a marathon of shoot house classes to ﬁeld test the ﬁrst working prototypes of a new reactive target system I had designed. At our ﬁrst handshake in Alliance, Ohio he said, “I’ve got high hopes, Kid. And low expectations. Impress me.” As his guest I was told I could take notes, evaluate how the targets performed, and if all went well I might be allowed to walk behind and shadow a live-ﬁre run through the shoot house. The fact Pat Rogers, John “Chappy” Chapman, John “Doc” Spears and Steve Fisher would even consider allowing me on site was an honor I didn’t take lightly. This wasn’t my world and I was being allowed a rare glimpse into theirs.
That weekend was my birthday and in typical Steve fashion he hijacked my factory stock Smith & Wesson M&P AR15 riﬂe, which I had been told to bring, and disappeared with Pat behind his massive black SUV. Ten minutes later they emerged with big grins and presented me a “new” carbine now equipped with one of Pats signature BCM EAG HS uppers. Apparently the Happy was written all over my face and Pat pulled me aside, still laughing at my child-like glee.
“So I’ll tell you something but you can’t tell anyone…” Which, I later learned, meant that half the population of the world already knew. But hey, he made you feel special. Taking a step closer explained in a tone so soft no one else could hear; “You want to know what HS stands for?” I nodded, of course. “I spec’d this upper for my wife, Ellen. It’s a ﬂat, soft shooter. HS stands for Honey Sweetheart.” And in one blow this terrifyingly intense little man won me over heart and soul. He could have chewed me up and spit me out and it wouldn’t have changed my opinion of him. “Time you had a respectable riﬂe!” He winked, smacked me on the back and walked oﬀ. Soon thereafter he gathered the students together into what was then just a shabby, cluttered garage at the Alliance Police Training facility to kick oﬀ the class. Still reeling in new-gun-bliss I took my spectators seat by the door and watched Pat kick oﬀ the class. One by one he invited each student to state their name, profession and where they were from. The credentials of those that ﬁlled the room ranged from a few highly experienced and vetted civilians, to law enforcement, FBI, Marines, agencies I had never heard of and those who quietly dulled down their job titles. I went last. Fully prepared to introduce myself as a Mom from Maine and industrial designer. But, before I could open my mouth, Pat chimed in; “This is T. She’s the owner of ID Target Systems
One by one he invited each student to state their name, profession and where they were from. The credentials of those that ﬁlled the room ranged from a few highly experienced and vetted civilians, to law enforcement, FBI, Marines, agencies I had never heard of and those who quietly dulled down their job titles. I went last. Fully prepared to introduce myself as a Mom from Maine and industrial designer. But, before I could open my mouth, Pat chimed in; “This is T. She’s the owner of ID Target Systems who’s targets we will be shooting. Give her feedback, that’s why she’s here. Oh… and she will be joining the class.” Wait. What? Glee turned to icy shock. I felt the blood drain through my feet. Was I prepared for this? Oh, hell no. Up to that point I had taken only a handful of square range carbine classes of merit. The Shoothouse was a magical house of horrors that I hoped to one day be good enough to learn in. For whatever reason Pat decided to toss me head ﬁrst into eleven days of immersion learning. That over used ﬁre-hose analogy? This was it. Better swallow the terror and performance anxiety, keep calm and take full advantage of this opportunity of a life-time.
Throughout the week he kept a close watch. His instruction was crystal clear. His corrections and scrutiny were highly motivating and peppered with profanity. Mid-run through the house he would yell obscenely loudly or slide up close and whisper in a terrifyingly eerie calm such things as:
“Take your hand off the gun one more time and I’ll cut it oﬀ.” “Do me a favor. DON’T FUCKING EVER do that again.”
“Hey, T! Don’t fuck up.” …or my personal favorite, “Un-fuck yourself” To which the only answer was, “Yes, Pat.” And God love you, with every ﬁber of your being, you made sure you didn’t repeat those mistakes.
A compliment from Pat went something like this:
“What the fuck! That was fucking beautiful!”
“I’ve got nothing.”
Or the ultimate nod of approval that nearly brought me to tears at the end of day 4: “Sister, you can come play in our sandbox anytime!”
During Doc’s TCCC portion of the program we were to locate on a partner the space between ribs where we would insert the needle to receive air should they suﬀer from tension pneumothorax. Being the only female in the room Pat volunteered to be my partner. “Be gentle.” He snickered. As Doc had demonstrated I felt down from his collar bone to where the right spot would be only to ﬁnd the space unusually squishy. I pulled my hand away, jumped back and shouted, “OH MY GOD!” Pat instantly roared with laughter. “Heh! That’s my ticker!” Apparently the look of horror on my face was worth the prank. Catching his breath and wiping a tear away he said; “Fuck that was good. Now do the other side so you don’t fuckin’ kill me.” Over those eleven days Pat turned a wide-eyed infant into a viable teammate, speaking a new gun language, engaging as opfor for force on force, riding in MRAPS, climbing ladders into second story windows and throw-ing ﬂags bangs into crack houses. Day eleven on the ﬁnal night run, right before my team hit the house, Pat threw an arm around me and said; “You know this just doesn’t get to happen. You got the E-Ticket Ride! I’m proud of ya. Now, don’t fuck up.”
“You know this just doesn’t get to happen. You got the E-Ticket Ride!
I’m proud of ya. Now, don’t fuck up.” Once you gained his approval, you were in. He wanted to see what any teacher wants in their students – total humility, commitment, willingness to fail, and recovery from each fall. His unmatched foul mouth and sense of humor vetted the thick-skinned from the thin. He was a master of ﬁnding your weak spots and relentlessly poking you there until you were made stronger through “repetitive demoralizing failure.” If he believed in you there was nothing he would not do to make you better. His knowledge was yours for the taking and he oﬀered it freely. Those that knew him were fortunate, those who trained with him were lucky, those he called a friend were blessed. Like all of us who loved him there are the unmet hopes to learn more about all things gun and all things life. There are the unrealized invitations to join him as his AI, the dreams of one more CEC class with “The Family”, and ask the list of questions saved for his next road trip “Windshield time” three-hour long phone call. Those calls were gold. His name would pop up on caller ID, you’d drop everything you were doing, and answer to hear his wild NY Irish whistling voice say; “Hey, T! It’s Pat…” What I’d give to answer that call now, tell him I loved him, and thank him one more time for the E-Ticket ride.