User menu

Main menu

Running and Gunning With Maximum Warrior 4

We incited 10 members of America’s most elite fighting forces to compete at Maximum Warrior 4. Then we got the hell out of the way.

Photographed by Brandon Dill | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

“I’ve been deployed to several war zones, and sometimes I miss being in those shit holes,” says Raj Chowdhuri, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces and Special Operations Command and cur­rent instructor at T1G, an elite tactical training facility hidden down a dusty road in Crawfordsville, Arkansas. “You’ll come through a moun­tain pass and the landscape can just be fucking gorgeous. But mostly I miss being in those places because you’re with your pals and making a difference—”

Raj is cut off by the sound of a loud explosion, followed by the sight of an off-road vehicle doing an end-over-end cartwheel 10 feet away from us. Without missing a beat, Raj darts into action to make sure the people inside aren’t as mangled as the vehicle’s outside.

Photographed by Brandon Dill | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

The driver, a Marine, pops up from the wreckage with a bloodied face and calmly asks, “Can I get another vehicle? Or just fucking run the rest?”

Welcome to Maximum Warrior.

Photographed by Brandon Dill | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

This is the fourth installment of Maxim’s competition that pits members of America’s Special Ops branches against one another in 10 challenges of strength, tactics, and insanity. The winner will walk away with $10,000 in cash and a truck­load of high-performance gear. We’re at the Rally Biathlon Challenge, where Warriors have been tasked with completing two loops of an off-road track while engaging targets with their rifles, getting harassed by a chase vehicle, weaving through a simulated minefield, and dealing with not-so-simulated explosions.

Photographed by Brandon Dill | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

“It’s typical of training,” says Rob French, a Marine Force Recon vet and T1G instructor, of the crash. “The only way to get better is to know your limit. How do you know your limit if you never actually find it? That’s what that guy did.”

Pushing the limits and dealing with the unexpected is what these Warriors live for. Representing Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, Marine Force Recon and MARSOC, and USAF Pararescue, this year’s contestants have all been in situations that go from bad to really fucking bad in a heartbeat.

Explains Jamie (MARSOC), “In the Marines we always talk about Murphy’s Law. You can have the best plan, but you always have to be ready, because Murphy is going to show up at some point and just fuck things up, and you’ll have to think of something else on the fly.”

Photographed by Brandon Dill | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

Derek (Marine Force Recon) echoes that. “Special Ops guys just have a tough mind-set, and we’re not willing to give up. You don’t have to be the strongest or the fastest; you just have to be able to think on your toes and not quit.”

“Every op I’ve been on—I don’t know how many countless American lives we’ve saved by taking a bad guy off the street,” says Eagle (Navy SEAL). “We’re capable of doing it, and I love doing it. It’s the equivalent of having a football team: Do the players want to sit on the sideline, or do they want to play in the Super Bowl? And every day out there is the Super Bowl.”

Photographed by Brandon Dill | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

You may think that rooming 10 com­­bat specialists competing against one another in the same barracks would lend itself to some, let’s say, impolite interactions, but, in fact, it’s the opposite. Donnie (Army Special Forces), whose hand-to-hand and edged-weapons expertise earned him the nickname Bruce Leroy, explains what many of these guys echo over the course of the week. “Yes, we’re competing, but we’re all brothers. In the military, out on missions, it’s all about the guys to your left and right. It’s camaraderie and a brotherhood few can really understand.”

Rob (USAF Pararescue) tells me, “In my line of work, I get great satisfaction when we’re able to take guys off the battlefield, and all my brothers here are fantastic. I would hate to have to pick them up, but if need be, I would do everything in my power to get them home.”

Photographed by Brandon Dill | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

Among this year’s competitors is Dakota Meyer, a returning vet from Max­i­mum Warrior 1 and a Medal of Honor recipient. He’s here to help promote the great work he is doing with Hiring Our Heroes and because, well, it’s fun. “It’s great to be around these guys, competing and helping each other out at the same time,” he says.

Looking back at his 13.5 years in the Army Special Forces, Jared tells me, “I look forward to the time in my life when I am a dad and I can sit down and tell my kids about the heroes I knew.”

Ret. Special Forces Sgt. Maj. Karl Erickson, the inaugural winner of Maximum Warrior and the twisted bastard who now designs the challenges, says, “The guys have all been friendly and helping each other out with the gear, but make no mistake: They’re all fierce competitors—they all want to win.”

And true enough, when word comes to the barracks for the Warriors to head to the Afghan village for a hostage extraction, the warm, fuzzy feeling in the room vanishes. Rifles are grabbed, body armor is affixed, game faces are put on: In a flash these Warriors are ready for anything.

Check out the Maximum Warrior 2014: Week 5 Rally Biathalon and What Not to do in the Recruitment Office.