The Story of OG (aka: My Story)

My name is Barney McClanahan. I grew up in Smallville, aka: Shelton, WA, in the 50’s and 60’s. It seemed like a great time at a great place. I often refer to it as the “Leave it to Beaver” era. Everyone seemed to know and respect everyone. Problems seemed to happen less and more easily resolved.

Barney McClanahan - circa 2018 or as we know him now.

Barney McClanahan - circa 2018 or as we know him now.

The Vietnam War was happening but it seemed so far away and something you just saw on the television every night. I turned 18 in September of my senior year of high school and was required by law to register for the draft. By May, I was required to report for my draft physical. It was apparent I was about to be drafted, so I tested for the Air Force, which my dad was a part of in World War II. I was accepted and entered the Air Force, early in September 1967. I was initially stationed in Texas for several months. Then I was sent to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam in December 1968, assigned to 12th Combat Supply Unit.

It was a very quick awakening. War is something that can’t be described. Try as you might, some things you can never forget or erase. I remember flying body bags back and trying to act tough like there was nothing in them. Witnessing death and serious injuries to Americans, civilians, and even the enemy. Today, I still remember the smells and sounds. As simply put by others: war is hell.

I was able to come home in December 1969 and I was so looking forward to it. I soon discovered being a returning Vietnam vet was not a welcoming, “thank you for your service,” experience. In fact, it was the opposite. I developed my own safe place and didn’t wear any military clothing off base. Trying to blend in, I guess. I formed my own cocoon to live in.

I was discharged in September 1971. I still felt that I wanted to be part of a structured organization like the police or firefighters. So, I became a police officer with the City of Lacey in March 1972. I am retired police officer, after 20 years. I currently own a Pawn Shop.

After a few years, I began having health problems related to Agent Orange and I am still working through them. I realize there are scars from war that reoccur and I tried to medicate myself for years with alcohol. I didn’t let anyone in my cocoon. I didn’t share what was happening with anyone which in part played a part in three failed marriages. Many years passed. I quit drinking. Still, something was missing.

A few years ago, one day seemingly out of nowhere I received an invite from Jason Brown, the president of Outdoors For Our Heroes (OFOH). He invited me on a pheasant hunt at Miller Ranch in Cheney, WA with two other disabled vets. I accepted. Jason and I arrived at the motel in the evening, the other vets didn’t arrive until later. We didn’t meet up until early the next morning for a little breakfast at the motel. The other vets were Afghan vets, young guys, Samuel Shockley and Daniel Fye. Sam is a double amputee and Daniel is a single amputee with his other leg badly injured. For me, it seemed uncomfortable at first. There wasn’t a lot of eye contact and not much was spoken. When we arrived at Miller Ranch we were welcomed and briefed on safety issues and on the hunt. OFOH had a track chair for Sam, then Daniel and I walked.

The first bird that got up, Sam shot quickly. The second bird I promptly missed. I don’t know how many I missed before Sam started in on me. Yelling “What’s the matter old man? Can’t keep up?” I thought Vietnam vets were tough and on and on. At one point I told him if his track chair had tires instead of tracks, I would let the air out in the middle of nowhere. Ahh, I love the smell of camaraderie in the morning.

As the day went on, all three of us verbally bantered back and forth, and without realizing it a bond was being formed. I had a discussion with Daniel. I shared some of my Vietnam stories with him and how when I came home, I wanted to be a firefighter or a cop. He told me he wanted to be a firefighter since childhood, but didn’t think he could make it now with his injuries. I told him he could do anything he wanted if he set his mind to it.

The Miller Ranch Hunt - from Left: Jason Brown, Sam Shockley, Barney McClanahan, and Daniel Fye

The Miller Ranch Hunt - from Left: Jason Brown, Sam Shockley, Barney McClanahan, and Daniel Fye

We had an awesome hunt with wonderful people. At the end of the day, the three of us were sitting together and sharing the moment. I remember Sam telling me thank you for giving him crap and not treating him like someone who needed to be pampered. I thanked him and Daniel for a great time and we all agreed to keep in touch.

On the way home, I was overwhelmed with emotions. For the first time in 49 years I was feeling.  I realized I had witnessed wounded people being taking away from combat but never got to see any form of healing, or how people live or cope with severe injuries. These two combat brothers were it and they accepted me into their world. I finally felt I was home and it was okay to feel again.

As Jason and I were driving back, tears began streaming down my face and Jason jokingly told me it was okay that Sam outshot me. I tried to laugh then I explained that this hunting trip with OFOH had changed my life for good, and that I wanted to give back, so other vets can take part in these moments. He asked “What do you have in mind?” And I told him I wanted to start a coffee business and donate back to OFOH. He laughed and said “So you’re going to change the world with coffee?” And I said “Yes I am.”

I have never stopped my pursuit since that day.  It hasn’t been easy with all the work that needs to be done and finding people who believe in you and your passion. I am surrounded by the best people in the world, who help and continue to motivate me. I am forever in debt to Dillano’s Roasting Company with their continued support and help. Our Glory is an awesome tasting coffee with a powerful mission to help my fellow disabled vets and first responders.

Sam, Daniel, and I keep in contact all the time and are looking forward to reunion hunts. Daniel graduated from Washington State Firefighters Academy. Sam is attending Ohio State University for Business. I am OG (aka: Old Guy) in Our Glory Coffee. Not bad for three vets meeting on a pheasant hunt on a clear, cold day in Cheney, WA and pursuing our goals.

Both Daniel and Sam are part of, and support, Our Glory Coffee and its purpose 100%.

I am writing this and asking you to help the mission. By buying our coffee you give other vets an opportunity to participate, and enjoy time together, like we have. Again, extending patriotism one bag at a time. Thank you in advance for your support.

- OG

Barney McClanahan