Interview with Michael Rauseo, US Marine Corps
Name: Michael Rauseo
Military Branch & Rank: US Marine Corps, Reserve Officer
Dates of Service: May 2005 – present (as of date of interview)
Villanova Degree: B.A., Political Science and Psychology, 2004
Date of Interview: October 16, 2023
Interviewer: Michael D. Brown
Audio Producer: Meg Piorko
Length of Interview: 52 minutes
Transcribed by: Sanaa Jett
Edited and annotated by: Meg Piorko
Audio URL: https://veteransvoices.library.villanova.edu/michael-rauseo-u-s-marine-corps/
MICHAEL D. BROWN (INTRO): Good morning. Today is Monday, October 16th, 2023, and we are here in the Rare Bookroom of Falvey Library. And today we’re joined by Mike, who is a Villanova graduate and is still currently serving in the Marine Corps Reserves. Thank you for joining us today, and we look forward to hearing your story.
MICHAEL RAUSEO: Thanks for having me.
BROWN: So before we get too far into the weeds, talk about where and when you were born and a little bit about growing up.
RAUSEO: Excellent. So I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1982. When I was three, we moved up to the suburbs, like everybody else in that time, and was raised in a pretty straightforward, suburban family to blue collar working parents. My dad was drafted in Vietnam, but actually was hurt in basic training, and never got a chance to serve. My mom’s side of the family had significant service in the Navy, and my father’s dad was in World War II as a medic. I feel like I was always drawn to sports, athletics, adventure, and as I was going through high school and performing fairly well academically, my dad came to me one day and said, “You know, you’ve earned every right to go to whatever school you could get into. The problem is that we don’t have the money to pay for it. So a scholarship would be something that you need to pursue, whether it’s athletics or academics.” And as sort of I culminated athletically in high school, I knew that wasn’t going to take hold in college. I started to look into service, the services, and somebody in my high school got me in touch with a Naval Academy candidate at the time. I think I was a freshman or a sophomore, and I ended up going down to the Naval Academy as a sophomore and did the summer seminar. And I love telling the story because it encapsulates me, I think, fairly well, is that I showed up to the formation like the second morning, and these guys in green shirts came out and said, and had USMC on it, and I had no idea how the services were organized at the time. And who wants to be a Marine? And nobody raised a hand. So I was like, shyly raised my hand up in the air, and a couple other kids followed me, and they took us out of the formation and just took us on a three mile run. And didn’t tell us what we were doing. It was about three miles, and we came back. And by the time I was done, I was going to be a Marine. And so I went through the process of applying to the Naval Academy, and thanks to a mentor of mine and my basketball coach, English teacher, his name was Kevin McDermott. Actually his daughter is a graduate from here too. He recommended I look into ROTC programs. And sure enough, Villanova was one of my top three choices. And I got in and got the scholarship at the same time. So when I did not get into the Naval Academy, I became fully engrossed in attending Villanova, which was probably the best decision that I think I’ve ever made, because I made the best use of my time here. And so that’s probably the best short description on how I got exposed to the military and how I grew up. I think my childhood was fairly unremarkable, other than the fact that I had two super loving parents, an older brother that picked on me and I was surrounded by tons of great people in our small little town.
BROWN: That’s great. I think it’s like you said, it’s sort of a typical in a way, but how you found yourself at the Naval Academy, and then at Villanova’s is interesting. So tell us, you know, for the lay person out there in the world, what is it like applying to the Naval Academy, and then also, you know, finding your way into an ROTC space as well. You know, the people out there listening might not have any understanding of what that process looks like.
RAUSEO: Okay, well, great. So I think it’s a, there’s two different sales pitches that are made to you as a high school student. The first being the service academy route, where I was sold the academies as the equivalent of an Ivy League education, but for folks who are drawn to public service and are fit. That’s how it was sold to me. And I think part of that is the Ivy Leagues are highly selective and so are the service academies. But if you’re not a valedictorian and, you know, the star player on a sports team or the debate club champion, if you are athletic and conserve, you have an opportunity to differentiate yourself by getting the nomination of a congress man or woman to separate you from the pack and then you become part of a smaller pool that could get screened for the service academies. So that was really the first major step in getting to the Navy in the Naval Academy pipeline. You know that and making sure that I had my extracurriculars in got the National Honor Society, but then I got, that got me introduced to the congressman at the time who was able to sponsor me for for an appointment to the Naval Academy, because that’s the first litmus test that you have to pass is getting in getting that appointment. And then once you are able to do that, you can fill out your application and then from there you can have direct ascension to the academy as a plea or you can go to the Naval Academy Foundation or to the Naval Academy Preparatory School, which is essentially an extra academic year for you to mature and go that route. And I actually got offered the Naval Academy Foundation and now I could have gone to a local prep school up in New England, close to home, whether it was Phillips Andover or Phillips Exeter, one of those two take some labs in chemistry and math and physics and round out some of my sciences before I went into the Bachelor of Science Program at the Naval Academy. On the other side of the coin, the sales pitch for ROTC is we can get you all of that and you get to have fun as a civilian. And so the only difference there is that instead of going to your congressman to get an appointment, you have to go to a standard recruiting station, a service recruiting station, whether it’s a marine officer selection office or recruit station or an army or whatever the service is. And then you get the application, you apply, but then you also have to do an interview with one of the officers who are at the officer selection office and take a physical fitness test. So that’s the equivalent to the appointment on the Naval Academy side. So I went up to New Hampshire in the middle of the winter time and I ran a physical fitness test with a couple other candidates and we did the three mile run, the pull-ups and the sit-ups in January weather in New Hampshire and sat down with a Marine Corps captain at the time and had a long conversation about what our goals were. And I walked out of there with about a month wait to hear back to say that I was, I was guess quote unquote, nominated. I don’t know what the term is for ROTC. And so then at that point, the secretary of the Navy was able to screen my package and say, whatever college you get into on this list of schools that you’ve applied for, we will pay your pay your tuition. And so my shortlist was Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, Villanova, and then it was Vanderbilt. And then I got into Holy Cross and Villanova and I did not get in the Vanderbilt. And so chose Villanova and then the department, the Navy and the Marine Corps and Villanova start to speak. The unit here starts so to speak and then you ascend as a midshipman and you would take an oath on day one just like you would as a plea by the Naval Academy. And then you basically run parallel midshipman tracks with the Academy folks during your tenure at the university.
BROWN: What was the deciding factor of Holy Cross vs Villanova? Villanova’s farther away from home?
RAUSEO: Yes. So there’s a little bit of fun here. I think that I was, for whatever reason, I had this crazy desire to get out of New England. And I don’t know why at the time. I think I do now. But I did not want to follow all my high school friends into the local college teams. I felt like I wanted to go see the world. And while Philadelphia is not that far away, to me, anything outside of New England was far away. And I felt it was awesome because when I showed up at Villanova, my freshman year was in Dwyer Hall, was one of those small dorms here on Main Campus. And everybody was from New Jersey, Virginia, New York, or Pennsylvania. And they all thought I had the craziest accent to which I said, you all have the crazy accent. But I think I was the most unique. And so I made some friends quick. But I also think that it exposed me to four or five other parts of the country that I had never experienced. And I loved it. And I think I trusted my gut. And it was 100% right was to experience as much of the core population that I wasn’t exposed to, which is what I wanted. And I ultimately got and then was able to expand, obviously, in my service.
BROWN: So when you get to Villanova, in the pitches, you can have fun as a civilian. But what’s a typical day? Are you up at four o’clock in the morning and doing PT? And I don’t think that is very much fun. But so talk to me a little bit about that midshipman experience once you get here.
BROWN: So what year is that when you get here?
RAUSEO: Okay. Yeah. So this, that’s a great question. So we’re now talking, I graduated and walked in my high school graduation May of 2000. So now we’re talking August of 2000. And freshman year is much like any other freshman or plea bare at a service academy is that you kind of have to earn your stripes. Literally and figuratively on your shoulder boards you were in the stripe after your freshman year. But you have to get indoctrinated just like kind of any, any cool club that you’re going to get, whether it’s a sorority or fraternity or service. And so you’re under, we do a six week indoctrination at Villanova. And I still, I think they still do it. And I think the last time I was here, I think our unit was fairly big at the time too, a little bigger than it is now. And we graduated close to I think 55 or 60 people, which is roughly the size of the unit now. And so we were roughly at about 200. So it was there was a lot of midshipmen that were overseeing us as freshmen. And we run through a six week program right after our freshmen orientation starts. And it’s it was Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, every morning we got up and we either drilled, which was two days a week over at, over at the parking lot in Saint Augustine Hall. Yeah, Saint Augustine Hall at the parking garage. And then or we did physical fitness two mornings a week. And it was everything that we could possibly think of just the drilling for good order and discipline and just to become, you know, kind of become one out of a group, you know, of money as one, and then kind of set the standard for physical fitness to make sure that you had that ingrained in you. And then also we were learning all the navy and marine terminology that we needed just to have a strong baseline for us to take naval science classes and ascend and matriculate through the summer training programs that we were going to experience as freshmen, sophomores and juniors before commissioning. So that six week period was really intense because you’ve got a whole bunch of type A personalities that don’t want to fail and we come from all walks of life. And so it was fun because it’s a rite of passage. You’re serious for those few hours each morning or two hours each morning. And then, you know, when you saw your upperclassmen on campus, we had to greet them. But we still had the flexibility of making friends and enjoying the dining halls and all the sports games and stuff. But, you know, we were always on the lookout to make sure that we were on our best behavior and dressed appropriately because we were building our reputation of being able to hold a standard. And then we also had study hall every night. And I don’t know if they do that anymore, but that was something that I needed because I needed to establish the proper study habits, which was seven to nine Monday, Tuesday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. We did study hall seven to nine here at Falvey Library. And as I was walking up the stairwell, that smell came back. I mean, everything looks new in the library, but I got into the hall to the stairwell and I said, like that brought me back. But yeah, so we studied and did our work for two hours. And it was another opportunity for us as freshmen to kind of be together, knew that we could lean on each other and build those relationships. And we also got introduced to some upperclassmen who were helping just monitor and make sure that they were available for us if we had questions about campus. So it was certainly not as intense as the morning sessions, but definitely something that I remember vividly as helping build a reputation with our class. We did that for the entire first semester. If we achieved the first certain GPA, then we got off study hours. And then we basically went into our second half of freshman year as just any other midshipmen as part of the battalion and participated in all the activities.
BROWN: Sure. What else did you do on campus? Were you a part of any clubs and or, you know, intramural sports, anything like that?
RAUSEO: I did not start my freshman year. No, but throughout my time at Villanova, I did. We had a within the ROTC as a unit. I was part of the color guard. And I was also on we put together an intramural basketball team that we would compete against some of the other units. It was about two or three times a year. They would do these drill meets where there was silent drill competitions. There were color guard competitions. And then there was some track competitions and basketball competitions. Those were the two main sports. And so we put together a basketball team and intramural basketball team that was fun where we would sneak out a couple of mornings during PT would be dedicated just to basketball practice. So we’d get our little workout in and then we had one of the instructors kind of serve as our quasi coach and would run us through some drills and we got to build some core or do a basketball.
BROWN: Yeah, that’s great. So, your first year is 2000. Life in the world is pretty calm and normal. Start of the fall semester things in the world change. So talk to me about the Villanova experience post 9/11.
RAUSEO: Yeah, this is a good one. So one of the secrets of the ROTC program, which I confirmed talking to somebody a few months ago is still in play, is that you don’t actually sign your commitment to serve on active duty and reserves through the ROTC program until the start of your sophomore year, which is that first year is essentially can be free if nobody really tells you that. So after freshman year, we did our summer tour crews, which was you go and spend one week at each warfare designation for the Department of the Navy. So we spent a week with the Marines, a week with surface warfare down in Norfolk, a week with submarine warfare and a week with aviation at Oceania. And for most people, it didn’t change anybody’s mind. It just solidified the route that they wanted to choose, the aspiring pilots, one of the pilots, the Marines, one of the Marines, et cetera, et cetera. I think what you got was some Navy folks who were like, wow, subs are really interesting. I’m pretty smart. I think if I could do nuke, that would be a lot of fun because that was a cool experience. But then we all came back and sophomore year kicked off just like any other year right before Labor Day was all great to see everybody. And then that signing day for us was that first Monday, first full Monday after Labor Day, because everybody was back off leave for the unit. The admin person was there and we all showed up and signed our paperwork.
BROWN: On the 10th of September.
RAUSEO: I did not realize that until I was putting my commissioning package in a few years later when I was going back through the dates and I had seen 9/10/2001, I signed my commitment. So I signed up the day before 9/11 happened.
RAUSEO: And then the next day, 9/11 happened and it was it was the strangest morning because even in Philadelphia, it was the most beautiful morning from like a clear blue sky, nice cool weather, crisp and cool. I was up early for a morning class because as Marines, we would PT we still PT four days a week and we would eat in the morning and Tuesday was a uniform day because we always had our naval lab. So I was in my whites. I went to my eight o’clock class and I came out and the campus was just almost dead silent and it was strange. And I came back to my dorm at Sheehan Hall and I’m walking in through the ground entrance there and one of my midship and buddies had a room on the ground floor and his door was always open because he was on the ground floor. And I walked by and there were about five guys in there watching the TV and I saw the smoke coming from the towers and walked in and that’s how I got exposed to 9/11. So we sat there for a couple hours and kind of watched the whole thing unfold and it was strange because I don’t think at the time most of us knew what was going on. We were still too young I think at the time to really put two and two together that this was a massive terrorist attack and that we’re likely going to go to war in the Middle East. That calculation was not was not made right off the bat. And then later on that day we had our naval lab and all the instructors who had obviously been serving for a while kind of started to get their head wrapped around what this was about and what was going on. And was able to sort of express to us what we thought was going to happen. And then that changed the whole course of my life as I knew it because everything after that point especially on the Marine Corps side was your training and by the time I graduated we knew exactly what our fate was. Going to TBS get your designation do your MOS school and you were going to go to Iraq or Afghanistan over and over and over again. So yeah it was a very strange year but certainly helped us focus and I mean it was it was I don’t think I would have had it any other way because the bonds that we built through that time and the– what was that stake I guess not the bonds because that was really down the road but what was that stake was clear as day to us and there was no mistake of what we were on the hook to do and I think we were all excited to be able to do it.
BROWN: And so you keep moving through do you do this summer you know trip every year as you go through the ROTC program and you go to the same place as you do in different things.
RAUSEO: Yes so each for the Marine Corps so I was a marine option and even though the way that it works for the lay person is that there are three departments in the military there are there’s the Department of the Army, the Department of the Air Force, and the Department of the Navy and then there are essentially four services and then you had the Coast Guard is five but they’re in the service of the Army, the service of the Air Force, and then the Navy has two which is the Marines and the Navy. So the Department of the Navy still owned me and I was a midshipman but I was a Marine option. And as long as I passed all the Marine specific classes and I passed Officer Candidate School then I could get a commission in the Marine Corps and then I would be off the rolls of the Navy and in the Marine rolls. But we all still reported to the same civilian secretary for civilian oversight which was the Secretary of the Navy. On the Marine for the Marine pipeline after the freshman year which we did with all of our Navy brothers and sisters sophomore year. I did a Marine exercise called “Combined Arms” exercise out in 29 Palms California so I went out there for two weeks and what happens is you get attached to an infantry unit and they just shadow you you’re kind of like a camper essentially you know that you have your midshipman rank and you get assigned to a squad with another Marine and with another Marine option and then that squad leader and platoon commander look over you and just allow you to observe and participate where you can. Because the Combined Arms exercise is a capstone training event for all Marine units as they work up for deployments and it’s one of those events where they put everything together. Where a full Marine unit will be moving and they’ll be being having supporting fire from tanks and machine guns and aviation assets. And so it’s basically taking all of your individual training events and putting it together to one exercise where you’re going against an enemy and you’re constantly coordinating fires from airplanes, from again mechanized assets like tanks and then moving a unit through, what is a fairly arduous and desert-like environment, out in 29 Palms. So that was my first exposure to sort of how the Brig Marine Corps works and that was sophomore year. And then junior year between junior and senior year is where you actually go to officer candidate school where every Marine regardless of what your ascension is will go through some variation of OCS. And so we did what was called the six-week Bulldog program all Marine options ROTC students go through it and they break it up into two sessions first and second. Me and one of my classmates here went to the first session and then the other two Marines went to the second session and we went through six weeks of officer candidate school to earn our eagle […] anchor. And we could then finally call ourselves Marines even though we were still midshipmen at the time we had earned the right to say hey we went through OCS so we’re officially Marines. And then we went through our senior year and graduated and then it was off to Quantico and TBS.
BROWN: How many folks total were in the were in your units on campus at the time?
RAUSEO: Yeah so I think it was roughly about 250 to 200 and there was probably about 50 or so midshipmen per class. My class graduated five Marines. There was one gentleman who was a year ahead of us but did a master’s program he got approved to do a fifth year. So he graduated with us and went to TBS and then there was four of us four other Marines out of like the 45 or so midshipmen total midshipmen.
BROWN: And so you know things are happening in the world obviously it’s post-9/11 you’re headed to Quantico. Do you know at this point what your job is going to be in the Marine Corps yet or when do you figure that out?
RAUSEO: Yeah, not yet so another kind of interesting thing between the Navy and the Marine Corps is that most of the Navy folks knew their designation after they graduated. Upon graduation there was a designation day our senior year where they say “Hey you’re gonna go” or “You have a navigation contract and it’s approved” or “You’re gonna go surface warfare”, “You’re gonna go submarines” or “You’re gonna go naval special warfare”. All the Marines graduate and end up going down to Quantico to then compete for a military occupational specialty known as an MOS. And the basic school down at Quantico is a six-month school where you’re in a company of about 200 other lieutenants and it’s six months worth of classroom training practical application. A whole bunch of physical fitness and then and field exercises and everything there is graded everything in the classrooms graded. All your physical fitness events are graded and then you assume leadership positions throughout the time there and even those are graded. And what happens is that then your average grade goes into all those get calculated into one main grade and then that bumps up against all the other students who are there. And then based on the manpower knees at the time they’ll have specific specialty spots for each of the specialties or number of spots for each of the specialties, and then they quality spread that throughout the entire class. So, if there’s five intel positions they’ll spread those intel positions out to the first third, second third, third third so that the top the top people don’t all choose intel and then the bottom people are all going logistics or supply or infantry or whatever. And so there’s a little bit of gamesmanship that happens at TBS but otherwise it’s still just another grade school to learn and apply to make mistakes to grow and then as a result you get you put down your top choices. And then you get assigned an MOS out of there and then you go to a marine a military or a specialty school which is anywhere between two months to six more months. And then you go to your first unit once you get your special. Because the Marine Corps prides itself that every Marine’s a rifleman and so that every Marine officer needs to be able to be a rifle platoon commander. And so they train you as that first and foremost and then they train you in your specialty.
BROWN: And what were you hoping to do and what did you end up doing?
RAUSEO: Okay so that’s uh that’s always that’s always a key question. I’ve had some really blessed moments in my life and this is one of them. And to sort of just build out your question of what was going on is TBS was a really interesting experience because this was June of 2004 to December of 2004. The invasion of Iraq had happened, um the whole set of events with Toro Bora in Afghanistan had already transpired, and we were settling into the long conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan was also settling in as well. Our instructors at the basic school were all just coming back from those initial pushes into either Afghanistan or Iraq which was wildly interesting. Um it’s an amazing experience to be a brand new green second lieutenant with like a national defense ribbon, standing in a formation where some F-18 pilot is coming off of a deployment to be an instructor at your school and he’s getting his end of tour award and they’re reading the details of it. And things like doing an F-18 gun run in the middle of a sandstorm with troops in contact is just you’re and you’re learning about what all this means you’re just going “Holy cow!” You know this guy’s this guy’s the real deal and then he’s teaching us how to call for fire you know a couple months later. So you have these wonderful experiences of all of this knowledge is coming back to the school house to be uh to be passed on to you and you’re getting exposed to all the different specialties. Um I was always interested in intel as an as a marine as a specialty and um and so it turned out that I wanted I put one of the intel specialties as my first choice which was um intel is broken into ground intelligence, human intelligence, and air intelligence. And then signals intelligence and my platoon commander at the time the captain who was in charge of us it said “You need to go infantry. You’ve got a good […] of fitness and you’re a good leader. And you need to go infantry.” And I was like okay sir I’ll put infantry down he’s like, I was like but “I think I want to put human intelligence first”. Because it’s kind of seemed like the most sexy appealing cool MOS out of all the ones that were given to us or we were exposed to. So, I put human intelligence first, I put infantry second, and then I forget what I had third. I think I made it like artillery and combat engineers or something. And uh I graduated sixth in the class. And the guy behind me who graduated seventh, our GPA was separated by something like a few hundredths of a point, and we were sitting next to each other. And they were reading out all the MOS’s and he goes “You’re the guy” I’m like “Yeah I’m the guy that got the one human spot.” So I got it by a few hundredths of a GPA point um, and so I became one. Then after TBS I went down to Dam Neck Virginia and I was in Marine Corps intelligence school to become a human intelligence officer.
BROWN: And what are the dates of your arrival at that school and how long is that school?
RAUSEO: Great yeah so I graduated from TBS in December of 2004 I reported to uh Dam Neck in February of 2005. And I graduated there in May of 2005 it was about a four to five month school.
BROWN: Sure, and now you’re off to a real unit on a real base. And what are your thoughts going into that and where are you headed?
RAUSEO: Yeah, okay so it’s now May 2005. Um at that point we had all successfully achieved our security clearances and we were assigned to a unit while we were at that school. So sometime between spring of 05 I got assigned to first intelligence battalion out of Camp Pendelton California. And there was another lieutenant out there who was sponsoring me made contact with me and started to tell me everything that was going on what to expect. Um you know where I could get an apartment just to settle in um, but not to unpack my bags because we were going to be on the on the we’re on the deployment cycle now. At this point they were going like every five months it was you would do a six-seven month tour come back for five months, six-seven-month tour. So I got done in May of 05 drove up to Boston my old man and I packed a U-Haul and we just drove out to California. And I checked in sent my dad home on an airplane, and immediately was into the training cycle for the deployment. That was going to happen in the beginning of 2006 because deployment cycles tend to be about five to six months at a time. So I got checked into California at a pretty fortuitous time because it was everybody was just coming off post-deployment leave, and so we were getting into that like five month work cycle of getting ready for the next unit or the next deployment. And what happens on the intelligence side is that you’re in smaller sized units but then you get attached to the infantry units. And so I had a team of five other enlisted marines who were all sergeants and above whom were also trained human intelligence specialists. And we got attached to third battalion fifth marine regiment up in Camp Nelson. So we were actually fortunate to be on the same base so we got attached to them and got integrated into their training plan and then we deployed with them in January. It was like January 3rd of 2006 that we got on a plane to fly to Kuwait. And then we were in route to our final destination which was Fallujah so we got to Fallujah like January 6th of 2006 and there I started my first deployment with three-five.
BROWN: So Fallujah everyone I think in the military sectors know Fallujah. But you know for the lay person um, tell us a little bit about Fallujah and what your responsibilities are at that at that point once you get there.
RAUSEO: Okay um so January of 2006 was probably about five months post the second push through Fallujah. So, I think it was 2003 or 4, where us forces cleared Fallujah the first time, and then in about early 2005 I think they cleared it the second time. And the interesting thing is that the folks that we deployed with as part of three-five, a lot of them are combat veterans from the push through Fallujah so we had a lot of institutional knowledge and combat experience for that particular area. But Fallujah is situated about 12 to 15 miles west of Bagdad. And at the time the marine corps had all of western Iraq. So, the way that geographically works is that you get Bagdad a main highway that shoots directly west, passes through Abu Ghraib, and we all know about Abu Ghraib with the prison debacle there with the army. And then it started Fallujah and then Ramadi and then you get out to the real desert area as you’re on your way to the Jordanian border. So the marine corps had all of that space. And so our unit was stationed just outside of Fallujah and there was one other infantry unit, that was responsible for the city. And then the unit that I was attached to, we were responsible for everything west of the city and south of the city of Fallujah. And at the time all the residents had moved back into the city and that was the beginning of the reduced amount of direct contact with enemy and more of the IED threat, the Improvised Explosive Device threat. So, by the time I got there we had all knew that we were going into a scenario where we were in the armor Humvees. Most of our patrols were going to get hit by IEDs and then we would dismount and foot patrols were going to be less common and probably more the exception not the rule. Um but again we still had to pass through Fallujah every time we needed to get to our battle spaces, and the real mission at the time was to ensure that the residents were getting back to normal life. While also rooting out the network of foreign fighters that were in the areas as well as the locals who are being recruited to do all the dirty work. And the interesting part for us was that, as a human intelligence officer, we were in the mix on a daily basis in regards to that. Because we were responsible for the informant networks that were informing on all the bad guys and giving that information to the general intelligence officer. And to tell the infantry unit to go ahead and try and round those folks up so we could speak to them. And try and get more information and essentially just kind of root out the bad guy network. So we would collaborate very closely with all the intel resources of the units that were inside Fallujah. And then obviously we owned like I said the spaces that we owned west and south of the city. And it was basically a whack-a-mole game for six months. We would roll people up and interrogate them and either send them on their way or send them to a larger prison. Because there were clearly foreign fighters that we were rolling up and we knew we had I guess evidence you could say but we had enough information for the rules at the time and the justice system at the time to put them in prison. So they could be tried in Iraqi courts or we let them go back out and continue their lives. And sometimes we see them again sometimes we wouldn’t. But we also were trying to build the best relationship possible with the local population to ensure that they could endure. That what we called “fence sitters” would fall on the side that was more friendly to the United States and coalition forces than the bad guys. Um and that was an interesting deployment because you know there was, we were constricted a lot by our movement. But also the amount of combat that we saw was pretty significant still because there were still enough people who were upset about losing their city. And there was enough inflow foreign fighters that they could actually mount some coordinated attacks against us as well and it was fairly easy and cheap to just throw IED’s out into the road and it disrupted us big time. We moved responsibility quite a bit in camp Fallujah or within the Fallujah area. Our unit was never responsible for Fallujah alone, but we ended up taking responsibility for everything west of the city all the way to Ramadi, which was the other hot city at the time. There’s a lot written about the battle of Ramadi. One of the famous navy seals talks about it on his podcast all the time, he was there. And so we were the bridge unit between Fallujah and Ramadi. Which was very interesting because bad guys were passing all the time and we ended up taking the space over from an army national guard unit that wasn’t backfilled by the army and so we then were stretched very thin. We had all of south of Fallujah down to this town that was called Ferris town which was about five or six miles south of the city and it was engineered by Koreans back in like the thirties so it’s a perfect square. The middle of the city is actually the connection of four different grid squares on an actual terrain map which is wild. It had a working Ferris wheel which is why it was called Ferris town. They had apartment buildings and it was actually wildly more contemporary than the rest of Fallujah, which was a bunch of mud huts but we were responsible for all of that. And then all the way out to Ramadi which was just wild because there was a lot of interesting things that happened between Fallujah and Ramadi that we were responsible for. And in between that there was the big airbase between those two cities that was the big airbase that we all flew into which was called Al-Taqaddum. So we were responsible for securing that road, making sure people could get in and out. And at the end of that deployment we sat back and looked and said ‘man we did not have one of the cities which was you know, if you compared it to size wise it would be like a golf ball.’ The city we had probably had like an entire basketball size worth of battle space that we were responsible for so it was an interesting deployment to say the least. So I deployed there from January to July 31st of 2006 and then came back to the United States to basically get ready to do it all over again.
BROWN: And when you get back to the United States you’re going back to the same base, Pendelton is where you’re at, assigned to the same units. But like you said it’s sort of wash, rinse, repeat. And what is your rank at this point?
RAUSEO: So, during the deployment to Fallujah I got promoted the first lieutenant which was basically two years to the day. So, it would have been May or June or July of 2006 towards the end of deployment I got promoted to first lieutenant. And yeah we redeployed back to Camp Pendleton, and we were about two months ahead of the rest of our intel units battalion because they deployed with the main body we were an advanced unit because our infantry battalion deployed early we quote-unquote ‘off cycled’ is what we called it. So, we had a little bit of extra time back in the states. And then in March of 2007 we all redeployed again as an intel unit. And I had since been promoted and so my responsibilities grew. So I was then, instead of being responsible for just one human intelligence team directly supporting the combat operations, I was now a platoon commander that was responsible for several human intelligence teams. And I was not at the battalion level but I was at the regimental level. So I was supporting regimental combat team six, which was based out of Camp Lejeune North Carolina and the regimental combat teams were over there for about a year at a time. And then all the supporting resources like me and the other intel units would attach to them for about seven months at a time. So I redeployed in March of 2007. And again I was in charge of about five or six teams. And this time then it was all to Fallujah again. So I spent a second deployment in the Fallujah area. And so this time I was overseeing operations or humid operations in Fallujah proper, south of Fallujah, east of Fallujah, and then all the way out to Ramadi again. And it was an interesting time. Because by the time I had left in the summer of ‘06, by the time we got back, the tide had really shifted a lot of the work that we had done to build trust and confidence with the local population was starting to take hold. Thankfully we were successfully training Iraqi soldiers and they were getting out in the streets and doing joint patrols with us. So local residents were seeing Iraqi soldiers with us in patrols which was nice. Maybe because of our persistence they just said ‘we might as well just be friendly with these guys because they ain’t leaving’ [laughs]. So it was a much different deployment. The amount of times that the units were in combat was severely reduced. I do remember one time driving through the streets of Fallujah during that deployment and seeing an actual gym. And there was a guy like bench pressing on the sidewalk in a regular gym machine. I’ve never seen that. Going ‘That wasn’t here last year.’ Which was kind of interesting. And so you know a lot of the senior officers who were responsible for that, you give them a lot of credit because they made a lot of investment decisions that were starting to pan out. And Fallujah was starting to come back as a city which was interesting. Also with more of the bad guys that we rounded up and that we spoke to during that deployment they were more sophisticated conversations because the information we got that they were actually planning stuff at this point. Because it was not so easy to just get out and throw things out because we had basically figured out how it worked. So our nation building was working at the time at least on the local level. It was a fairly straightforward deployment for us. Guys were in contact every so often. But we basically went out there and we did our, we made our contributions and we deployed in October of 2007 back to Camp Pendleton without much fanfare it was a lot different of a deployment than it was in 2006.
BROWN: So more responsibilities, similar posture but different sorts of you know, tasks. And a different environment frankly it sounds like, and so you’re back in Pendleton. And is it still sort of that same cycle? Or are things starting to slow down a bit? Like what’s going on from the Marine Corps standpoint?
RAUSEO: Yeah, so there was no change to the deployment tempo. Everybody was still planning to go for the next cycle in 2008, but I was up for changes in station orders. I was up for PCS orders when I got back. So as we were redeploying back, I had asked, I was the second most senior lieutenant in the company at the time. And I wanted to become the company XO. And so I asked my boss. I said ‘Hey sir I’d like to put my name in the hat to be your XO for the next deployment’. Because I know that I’m PCS-ing in 2008, so I won’t deploy. I’d love to be there main behind CO and be your XO for the workouts because I think I can help you out. So he held a little mini board meeting between me and the other lieutenant. And I was able to get that position. And so I deployed back to Camp Pendleton to become the company executive officer. And in that role I was the sort of the mentor lieutenant to all the other lieutenants that were coming in. Whether they had one deployment under their belt or they were the new guys. And then I was responsible for the training plan for the entire unit as they were getting ready to get chopped to the different infantry units and do all the training. So I got a really good set of exposures with the enlisted guys that were supporting me to how all the stuff under the hood works and how you train a unit to deploy. Because I was traditionally just used to showing up to these events because I was just going to where we were told and do our training. And then to build our unit cohesion and then just get out the door. So that was interesting because I got an opportunity to do some of the other Marine Corps stuff that helps the Marine Corps run. For example, I was trained as a casualty assistance officer which is one of those jobs that is one of the most important jobs in the military. But one of the ones you hope you never have to do. So it was me and the guys were trained as casualty assistance officers we were the family readiness network for all the families that were associated with the guys that were actually deploying. And then it was also making sure that the guys that had done their deployments and were getting ready to change units as well were getting their training schools in so that they could be prepared for promotion. So I was doing a lot of fitness report writing, remediation of Marines to try and get them up to where they needed to be. We had a lot of guys that spoke foreign languages so it was ensuring they had the time and the space to stay current on their languages. So it was a lot of administrative work which was awesome because you could help see these guys careers continue on. And so I sat down with our battalion commander, who was a lieutenant colonel at the time, and he was like ‘Mike what do you want to do?’ But I had a long conversation with him and said ‘I just don’t know. Like I don’t know if I want to get out or I don’t know if I want to stay in?’ I’m like ‘But I do know one thing is that I want to go to graduate school.’ And he said ‘Well what do you think that looks like?’ And my initial reaction was that I don’t know if I want to continue this cycle of deployments.’ Because the Marine Corps was just over and over and over again. And he said ‘Well let me give you a piece of advice.’ he said I think you should stay in and I think you should go to a b-billet, a service billet where you could go to Quantico or Washington DC or somewhere else where you can be in an office and provide a supporting role. And then you can pursue your degree. And he said ‘You might as well do that and get a guaranteed paycheck if you’re not sure you’re gonna get out and do that.’ I said ‘All right great.’ So I looked at what was open. And Washington DC the Navy Annex right outside of the Pentagon was open. And Quantico was open. And so I made a hard push to go to DC because I was single, and I wanted to live close to the city because I wanted to have access to all that. And some of the graduate schools that were up there, whether it was Georgetown or George Mason. So I hadn’t figured that out yet. But I just knew I wanted to get there. And so I was afforded the opportunity to go serve at headquarters Marine Corps, which is the service headquarters element of the entire Marine Corps. So the way it works is as a service, the service chief’s responsibilities is the commandant of the Marine Corps. The four stars’ responsibility is to organize, train, and equip the service for deployments. And so I was then at the actual headquarters element as a senior first lieutenant, about to be promoted to captain. Which was awesome because I was kind of like the little man on the totem pole. So I was just told to do it. I just did what I was told and learned. So I did that. I went to uh, that would have been May of 2008 that I PCS’d I basically had May 2008 off I checked in in June 2008. And immediately went to the capstone intel officer school for the Marine Corps, to back down in Virginia Beach. I did that for about 10 weeks and then I came back August of 2008, and started my time as a staff officer for headquarters Marine Corps within the human intelligence staff position. So I was one of the policy officers to the director of intelligence for the Marine Corps.
BROWN: Sounds like a pretty cool gig. Less deployments gives you some time and space to breathe a little bit. And you’re talking about grad school. What did you want to study and where did you end up doing that?
RAUSEO: Okay so the interesting thing was that the pace of the Marine Corps was still so high that they were always plucking individual augmentees to go do you know Afghan or Iraqi engagement deployments. And they were pulling people from these units from these b-billet units and I must have been in place for three months when I had been promoted to captain. So I got promoted to captain in July of 2008 and they needed a captain to go to Afghanistan. And they had said you know, ‘Uh Mike you’re on the shortlist. Go see the Durant, (who’s the one star general), and he’s gonna talk to all you guys and figure out which one’s gonna go.’ So I said ‘Oh my grad school plans might be put on hold’. And so I went in and fortunately I had done both recent deployments. So I was the first one to be eliminated thankfully and I didn’t go in that deployment. I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do actually. So I spent about a year just asking my mentors around the unit, some of the senior officers, like what they recommended. And learning about Georgetown business school and the national securities program there and at GW and started to realize that there was more to the education outside of DC that I could pursue. So I kind of put grad school on hold while I was continuing my job at the headquarters Marine Corps. And then because I decided to separate from active duty in 2010 after two years of serving in that role at the headquarters Marine Corps. And because what I wanted to do is… I was thinking about going back home to New England for a little bit of time. In 2008 my dad had passed away and so I was fortunate enough to be on this coast when that happened so I was able to at least go home for a little bit. But I wanted to kind of press the reset button a little bit. All my friends had started to get married and started families, I was still single. Because my entire life in my 20s was training. We’re deploying right, so I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And so I separated from active duty and went back to Boston for about a month and a half. And I applied to Tufts to try to go to grad school there. Did not get into the Fletcher school. I actually started after I got accepted to Villanova to do the MPA program. And I came down in the fall of 2010 to start that program but I suffered a small injury which I had to have a little surgery for and so I withdrew from the semester. But then, as I was recovering, I got offered a job back in DC for a consulting firm down there. And it was a pretty good deal. Got me back down to DC as I had a network there and at the same time I got accepted to George Mason’s public administration program. So the stars started to align. I got accepted by the reserve by the secretary of navy to have a reserve commission. So I officially moved to the reserves in January of 2011. I got a job in January 2011, and then I got accepted to grad school shortly after. So all those stars started to align and brought me back to DC to do consulting work for Deloitte consulting in support of the pentagon, I was doing a lot of good policy work. And then I was able to join my first reserve unit in the pentagon to start that side of my career as a captain.
BROWN: So, again for the layperson, what’s the differences between a reserve unit in the marine corps and an active duty unit?
RAUSEO: So because of 9/11 there really became a blurring of the lines between the active duty and the reserves. And I think that was common across all the services. But the marine corps is by far the smallest service and it was even more of a blur. And I think even to this day in 2023 there’s a lot of reservists that are interwoven and integrated with active duty units at all levels. It’s really impressive. But traditionally speaking, reserve units are you’re attached to a reserve unit as a whole. And that reserve unit trains as a reserve unit one weekend a month, two weeks a year, and then we’ll go augment the active duty forces in some fashion. Whether it’s a deployment or an exercise. And then you deploy back as a unit. But the marine corps and the intelligence side of the marine corps, has another program called Individual Mobilization Augmentees, are called IMA’s. So essentially instead of being part of a unit, you’re attached to a unit, but as an individual you’re assigned to an active-duty counterpart. And so I joined an intel IMA unit right off the bat and I stayed there for a couple years and I was just supporting pentagon policy work. And so again the war just kind of ran on from 2010 to 2015 all the way up to 2020, nothing really changed. You had full-on marine reserve units that were deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan that were fighting alongside the active duty units. And to that end, during my deployments, when I was in my second deployment when I was overseeing teams, there were two out of five infantry battalions were reserve units. And I mean there was no difference the only thing that was different was that you had a guy with gray hair as a captain, as a company commander, instead of some you know guy who was 26 and doing an active duty. So it was very unique to see the integration of the reserves in my deployments. But then when I joined the reserves nothing much had changed. And the Marine Corps really had professionalized the reserves by that time. A lot of the software systems that track you and require you to do things were coming online. And that was a huge benefit to us because we could stay relevant, stay trained. The biggest difference was I had to take off that like war fighting hat, and say ‘I’m not the main effort anymore. I’m a reservist and my job is to be ready’. And so it took me about two or three years like 2011, 2012, 2013 to kind of figure that out. But then once I was able to do that I realized sort of what my role as a reservist was. And it was about staying relevant with my professional military education. Participating, volunteering to do things, and just putting yourself where needed. And that’s how the reserves kind of work, whether you’re an individual person or part of a larger unit.
BROWN: And you’re still in the reserves today. And have you during that time, from you know 2010 and until today, have you done anything interesting? Like, what’s your, you know, that’s what, 12 years of time? What does that time look like?
RAUSEO: Yeah, it’s a great question because ultimately the answer is yes. Which is why I’m still active in the reserves. And I intend to stay as long as the Marine Corps will keep me right until I’m 30 years service and they force me out. So my first tour was not, it was just a staff tour. And then I applied to be a reserve attaché, and so I got selected in 2014 to be a reserve attaché. And I got to spend five years doing that in an attaché program. And the attachés are, um I’ll try to explain this for the lay person, is at every embassy, US embassies around the world, there’s the state department side and then there’s a department of defense side. And the state department side has all the foreign service officers and consulate officers that most people will be familiar with. But then every embassy also has a department of defense side, which is a bunch of attachés. And also security cooperation elements to it. And so the department of defense at these embassies are responsible for helping train local nation forces in security, and how to fight, and how to procure equipment. And then there’s also attachés which are an overtly intelligence collection function. And every country knows it. Every attaché that comes to the United States and their nation’s embassy is doing intel collection. And we know it and every time we go there it’s no secret right. And that’s your primary function. But as an attaché, you’re there to build relationships. And so um that program is run out of the defense intelligence agency over a Bowing air force base. Having been at headquarters Marine Corps I knew the defense intelligence agency very well because we were a conduit to them for a whole bunch of intelligence policy responsibilities. So I applied to the attaché program and I got into it which was fantastic. So I spent, um I spent a couple of years using my human intelligence report writing experience. Essentially being a reports officer and helping get a lot of attaché reports published for the broader intelligence community to consume. And that was a really interesting time because there’s always something going on regardless of where you are in the world. Whether it’s in the Pacific, whether it’s in Africa, even South America, and obviously the Middle East. I was mainly focused on the South America region. And I also did one of my summer two-week tours out to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. Which was really cool. That was 2019… it was July 2019. The Jamaican defense forces were modernizing and growing and so everything that they had was basically getting bumped up one level. So every battalion was going to a regiment, every company or every platoon was going to a company and every company was going to battalion. And then on the navy side their coastal defense force was broadening as well. And so you had these Jamaican naval officers who were essentially the equivalent of an 04 Lieutenant Commander, which had then become like common. Which is like going from an 04 to 06. It’s like skipping a whole rank. And um, and so there was a whole lot of engagement with them to you know, get them introduced to our professional military education, get them applied to our schools to modernize their training programs, and just finding out who’s who in the zoo right. In their scenarios because there were young officers and young enlisted folks who were growing up really fast and we needed to know who they were to make sure that they were going to get trained and equipped to be able to modernize their forces. And that was really interesting because that played into the bigger counter drug mission that the U.S. has in the Caribbean. So a small mission maybe insignificant, but like as soon as you got there I could quickly see how that could impact what was going on and that was really cool. And I got to do a couple U.S. embassy functions– formal functions. I was there for Canada Day, so we had a big celebration at the Canadian House which was cool. And then I got to go see the Jamaican defense forces at the ports and just got to kind of hang out with some of the Jamaican navy guys. Which was cool, and some of their marine equivalents, just cool guys and got to meet them. And then in 2019, while I was there I continued to do my marine corps education. So I did command and staff college. I was promoted a major in 2014… summer of 2014 and so I did command and staff college and so I was on my way to get to be ready for lieutenant colonel. In 2019 I had to change units and I applied to go out to marine forces Europe and Africa. Which is the marine corps service component to European command and Africa command for those two continents. And I got assigned in the G-2 operations office as the counterpart to the active duty G-2 operations officer. And I’ve actually been there ever since and had some really cool experiences. Because while I had been there, the war in Ukraine kicked off and there was a lot of activity in the public domain. We all, everybody knows that the Russians and the Chinese are very active on the African continent. And so there was never a shortage of work to do for both of those two continents. So my time out there was very much engaged in those missions. And primarily I worked–so this is summer of 2022–this would have been 40 days. So with this unit I basically do all my reserve service in one deployment. So I go out there for 40 full days. And I spent the last three summers, I spent the end of May and all of June into July at the unit. And so the summer of 2022 was about five months after the initial invasion of Russia in the Ukraine. And the, you know, the stalemate and the line had been drawn in the […] at that time. And so I was–when I got out there– there was so much work that needed to be done. They just threw me in as the marine corps representative to EU com. And to help out with one of their task forces supporting everything that we were doing for Ukraine on the training front. And the assure mission and the deterrence mission that we were overtly supporting for the Ukrainians. And that was um, that was really awesome because we got to talk to Ukrainians every day. We got to see their folks come through our training programs. We were updating general officers on a weekly basis. We had a lot of distinguished visitors come through at that time because it was still such a new conflict. The Secretary of Defense came through, Secretary Austin, Chairman General Milley came through and several other senior executives came through. Dr. Hicks came through, who is the deputy secretary of defense for our teams and depending on what shift they came in, got to brief them on everything that we were doing and supporting and it was really cool because you actually felt like you were contributing to something that had real world impact. And sure, you could see it in the Times and the Post every day– yeah that’s pretty cool.
BROWN: That’s good. And you say you know your plans are to stay until you’re forced out. What else are you doing in, you know, your day-to-day life? You’re not just a marine, you’re still consulting in the DC area. You see yourself staying there for a while?
RAUSEO: Oh yeah. So I’ve been with the same consulting firm now for 10 years. So I’m with another company called Red Horse Corporation. And we do digital transformation work for the national security sector. So I’m a liberal arts guy. I’m more into policy work. But I understand the DOD inside and out. And so I got smart at working with engineers and data scientists to help develop solutions for different national security problems. And that’s really awesome because you know, if you, when you look back at military history, they talk about three different offsets. The first offset being maneuver warfare back in the 20s, where it was tanks and force on force and maneuver warfare as fast as you could, that led into the, you know, the big war of World War II where it was all maneuver warfare. Whoever could out maneuver the other. You know how armor there with mechanized units would win and then the second offset was post- World War II, which was nuclear proliferation. Whoever had the most nukes had the technical advantage. And the superiority to, you know, impose their will on the global world order. Um, then that lasted a long time, well into the 90s. And then 9/11 happened and the wars kicked off. We were focused so much on the global war on terror. But then, you know, when deputy secretary Bob Work was the deputy secretary, he started to explicitly and frequently talk about the third offset. Which was technical superiority. And now you see the race for machine learning AI capabilities. Which at the end of the day is really data science. Applied data science in support of, you know, mission need. And that’s what my company does. And it’s been really cool to see that kind of come to fruition. And be part of some really cool success stories for intelligence community customers in the pentagon. Really just making better decisions because we’re serving up all this data that’s coming in, that they don’t know what to do with. We’re making it, we’re cleaning it, we’re making sense of it, and we’re serving it back to them to make more informed decisions. And we’re talking about basic stuff. Whether it’s investment, divestment, allocation, reallocation. And then sometimes there’s operational significance to it. Like do I move unit X. Or do I move unit Y. And oftentimes we’re getting to the point now where that’s actually impacting current operations. Which is really cool. So I have not left, you know, the service aspect of my life. Since being a consultant my family and I are kind of up for anything. So we’ll do this as long as we’re having fun. I don’t like to shoehorn myself in and just let things present themselves as they can. But if I get promoted to colonel, which I I’m hoping to do in the next couple years, and I get my next school in, I would love to activate again. Because I feel like I have a lot to offer. And I would love to activate for the marine corps. You know either as lieutenant colonel or colonel. And fill critical billets, you know either in DC or overseas as needed. Because like I mentioned the integration of the reserves in the active duty is so intertwined at this point. In my unit in Europe, probably 30 percent of the staff are activated reservists. Because there’s so much going on in the world and the manpower, people it can’t keep up with it. And then you’re training Marines as fast as possible, training sailors as fast as possible. But people are still retiring every year and getting out. And it’s hard to keep the ranks as strong and healthy as possible. So the reservists are very much tapped into.
BROWN: Well great. Well I think, you know from your story, I think what we learned is that you are someone who kind of sort of fell into the human intelligence world by the skin of your teeth. But because of that, you’ve really, I think, grown into a really awesome career of doing cool sexy stuff. But you’ve sort of continued that and want to continue that so I think it speaks to you and your character. I love hearing that side of you. And you’re gonna stick around until they force you out. What are some parting thoughts on your side as we wrap up this story. And you know someday your kids might want to hit play. So what is you know… what do you have to say as we wrap this up?
RAUSEO: I love the idea that, and it’s hard to tell, and I think you and I have talked about this a couple times since I’ve got to know you. Like there’s a lot of young veterans that are in the program now and even our kids. You can’t force them to make a decision you can’t impart wisdom on anybody. You can only kind of explain to them how the world works in your eyes and your experience. But they’re going to experience the world how they see it and make their own decisions. And you can’t go back on your decisions. But at any given point in your life there’s probably five or six things that you can do. And you can decide to try to be as informed as possible. And then make a decision and go with it. And then that’s going to open a whole bunch of other doors, I mean if I didn’t do what I did I would have never met my wife. I would never have my family. If I didn’t work really hard and try for human intelligence, I wouldn’t have got human if I was an infantry officer… gosh knows where I would have been, what would have happened. But so take what you can. Be thankful for those things that you get, but even when you don’t get something or you experience something that you don’t want, or you experience a loss, like you have to just keep moving forward and making decisions, because at a at a certain point things are going to come together for you. And you need to be prepared to take advantage of those times when they present themselves. Otherwise, I mean my perspective is that you’re going to be miserable. And it’s really one of the only true ways to just kind of take life as it comes at you. Because regardless of what you’re doing, whether you’re just a plane engineer working at a plant, or whether you’re deploying overseas with an embassy as a state department person or the military, life’s going to come at you and you just got to be able to be prepared to do it– to take it. And I would recommend everybody take the opportunity and try and serve. I know that that’s something that’s difficult this time that more and more folks who are doing the military are products of military families. It’s getting harder and harder to recruit new people in. But I wish I could try and get that to change and participate in any programs that are doing that. Because it’s a great experience, it really is. And you can’t replicate that no matter how hard you try. And there are other great programs out there. Whether it’s like Teach for America or joining the Red Cross or doing something else where you’re just getting out there and doing something meaningful in the world. The service is the same way. And I would encourage anybody to do anything like that as they’re going through an undergraduate program trying to figure out what’s next. Because I mean, you can hear, you hear stories from entrepreneurs all the time. They’re like ‘I was in school to be an English major, and then I realized I could–that there was a need to do something. And I developed this app. And now I’m a CEO at this tech company. And I fell into it.’ Right, like you need to be aware of those situations when they present themselves. And seize them and just go with it. Yeah, so that was my parting thoughts.
BROWN: Well good. I think it’s great to hear those thoughts and I appreciate you taking some time to travel up to Villanova from DC to tell your story. And hopefully it was a good experience for you as well.
RAUSEO: Thanks for having me! And again, I appreciate everything you’re doing for the veterans here because it’s awesome. This program is and was wildly successful thanks to you. Thanks.
BROWN (OUTRO): I appreciate it. Well have a great day and we’ll see everyone on the flip side.
 A conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 20 April 1975.
 The U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD. Military college founded in 1845.
 United States Marine Corps
 Reserve Officers’ Training Corps
 U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation
 Phillips Academy, Andover, MA; Phillips Exter Academy, Exter, NH
 A naval cadet in the U.S. Navy.
 Physical Training
 Grade Point Average
 The September 11 attacks, commonly known as 9/11, were four coordinated terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda against the United States.
 The Basic School
 Military Occupational Specialty
 CAX, several hundred Marines playing a war game against a fictitious enemy in which group troops, armor, artillery, and aircraft engage enemy movements simultaneously.
 Marine Corps Brig, Quantico was a Level I facility military prison operated at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Virginia.
 Inaudible word
 Arms Officer Candidate School
 Began the Iraq War, a protracted armed conflict in Iraq from 2003 to 2001.
 A United States Navy Fighter Pilot
 Inaudible word
 Al-Fallujah is a city in Iraq and the location of the bloodiest battle of the entire conflict for American troops.
 Prison complex in Abu Ghraib, Iraq.
 The Battle of Ramadi was fought during the Iraq War from March 2006 to November 2006.
 Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
 Permanent Change of Station
 Executive Officer
 The George Washington University, private university in D.C. founded in 1821.
 Master of Public Administration
 Inaudible phrase
 European Commission, provides access to information about the European Union’s political priorities, policies and services.
 Lloyd James Austin III (b. 1952) is the 28th and current United States Secretary of Defense since 2021.
 General Mark A. Milley (b. 1958) served as the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
 HON Kathleen H. Hicks (b. 1970) is the 35th Deputy Secretary of Defense since 2021.
 The New York Times; The Washington Post
 Department of Defense
 Robert O. Work (b. 1953) former United States Under Secretary of the Navy.