FORT LEWIS, WA. (USASOC News Service, Jan. 16, 2007) - As I drove to my Thursday morning combatives session at zero-dark-thirty recently, my cell phone rang.

"Hello'"

"We ready, bra," came a gruff Hawaiian-accented response tainted by early morning fog and a touch of jet lag.

"You don't have to BJ," I told him. "You gave a two-hour session to our best grapplers yesterday. This morning is just our normal workout."

"Yeah I know. Let's do it," he replied, as professionally as any Officer I'd ever met.

On Pearl Harbor Day, BJ Penn, voted one of the best pound-for-pound fighters ever by Elite Fighter magazine, gave his own time and expertise to some Green Berets at Fort Lewis, Wa. simply because he wanted to contribute to the war on terror. At his own expense and with his younger brother Reagan, also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, in tow, BJ spent two days with the 1st Special Forces Group sharing his vast knowledge of submission grappling...twice. Displaying true character and dedication, BJ not only conducted a two-hour seminar with Soldiers from across the Group, but he also took another hour to train with members of the Headquarters the next morning. For a man who nominally garners up to $5,000 an hour for his services, this was a tremendous gift.

"My time is nothing compared to saving a life," BJ offered. "If I can show them a skill that they use in combat or something that helps get them out of a bad situation, then I'm happy to do it." With over five hundred documented cases of hand-to-hand combat since the war on terrorism began, it's likely that this scenario could happen.

For his time and effort, BJ was treated to a static display of Special Forces equipment and received familiarization training on several different weapon systems. Not only did he donate his time to teach grappling skills, but he was equally as generous with his personal time, having breakfast with the troops in the Group dining facility and sharing dinner at a local restaurant with ten Soldiers, some of whom recently returned from Iraq. During his visit, BJ never hesitated to give one-on-one instruction, take a picture, shake a hand or sign an autograph.

"Actions speak louder than words," Group Commander, COL Eric Wendt said as he presented Penn with a "Special Forces Brotherhood" certificate. "He did this out of his own pocket just to show support for us. He's a warrior who will always be welcome in First Group."
By the time BJ and Reagan left, the legendary northwest fog finally lifted and Mount Rainier came into view. "It's not Hawaii, but I like the Northwest," BJ admitted. "I could definitely come back."

Page last updated Wed January 17th, 2007 at 10:31