Notes & Quotes: Scars and Stripes by Tim Kennedy

The following are my favorite quotes from Tim Kennedy's Scars and Stripes: An Unapologetically American Story of Fighting the Taliban, UFC Warriors, and Myself.

  1. Your life only gets better when you do a few things:
    1. Take accountability for it. It's your fault.
    2. Failure is going to happen. When it does, see number 1. If you want to fail less, see numbers 3-7.
    3. An ounce of prevention prevents a pound of cure. The best time to start preparing is right now.
    4. You cannot mass-produce elite people. They need to be forged from hard experiences. If you want to be one of them, you need to seek these challenges consistently.
    5. Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. For some people that means therapy. For some people that means yoga and a cup of tea or fishing with the family. For me that means embracing a constant struggle. Rejecting comfort makes me... well... comfortable.
    6. Surround yourself with good people striving to also improve themselves.
    7. Build goals and pursue them to the end of the earth.
  2. Do the right thing, even when there's negative consequences for your actions.
  3. My parents did what they always did in a crisis. They helped. People always told us that the Kennedys were good at death. And I guess they were right. When everyone else was mourning, or didn't know what to do, we took action. It's not that we didn't hurt. It was just better to be useful. So I learned from my mom and dad to always be useful.
  4. Suffering is the great equalizer. The cadre, the missions, the lack of food and sleep, and the elements bring everyone to a place where they no longer hide their real feelings. You might be my best friend in the world in real life, but so help me God if you fall asleep on that SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) one more time, I am going to murder you.
  5. I generally live by the rule that you don't rise to the moment but rather fall to the level of your training.
  6. I am very proud of being a sniper. I'm proud of the training I put myself through to be able to do what I do. I'm proud of our profession. We save a lot of lives, and I'm convinced I saved American and Czech lives that day, but there's something most people don't understand about our job. Our kills are up close and personal, even though we're often very far away. We see their last breath through that scope. We see their faces. It's one thing to kill a man who is actively shooting at you, or even to shoot a leader responsible for atrocities. I never lost any sleep about those shots. But these shots are awful. There is no satisfaction. There is no rush of knowing you quieted the gun that was hunting for American lives. This is just killing. With every trigger pull, I lose a little bit more of my soul.
  7. I wanted it to feel better when I killed these guys--these pieces of human garbage who used women and children as a shield. I desperately want my pain to be washed away, but it isn't. This isn't like the movies, where vengeance is the cure. Reality is awful. The pain of what I have done is overwhelming, so I descend into an emotional void. There is no Hollywood moment of vengeance and them getting what they deserve and me getting my hero moment. The kids are still wounded or dead. These deaths cure nothing. Help nothing.
  8. We're taught over and over again that a good hasty plan executed violently is far better than a flawless detailed plan executed with hesitation. We hit them hard with absolute violence of action and we destroyed their will to fight. We took them from "kill mode" to "flee and regroup mode." We aggressively took the high ground and key terrain features and cleared everything from that point to the main supply route (MSR). And if you were a man and you were outside, you are probably dead. It was absolute dominance.
  9. When you think about other people, you tend to take less risk. You don't want to get anyone killed, and you also realize if you get killed or injured, you put the rest of the team in a bad spot.
  10. Whether anyone likes it or not, in 2003 we simply do not have enough SF (Special Forces) guys to do the mission, so the 18 X-Ray program is needed. And the situation will keep getting worse. From 2012 to 2020 the average age of a Special Forces soldier will drop by seven years. That means the average team will lose eighty-four years of tactical experience in less than a decade.
  11. I could see his exactness and attention to detail in every range card, laying out the fields of fire for each weapon system. Seeing his signature on this beautiful setup made me proud. He whole-assed this job just like he did everything.
  12. There is a recurring pattern that is forming in my own life, and I don't like it. I don't necessarily run from my problems, but I'm definitely not addressing them either. I've always found a path around the thing that scared me, hurt me, or upset me. It is the same unhealthy coping mechanism that I have used ever since Jared died. Fireman problems? Cool, no big deal. I'll become a cop. Screwed up my chances of being a cop because I paintballed a kid? Cool, I'll go Army.
  13. Every dead man is someone's father, brother, or son. Every dead woman is someone's mother, sister, or daughter. Every time you kill someone, you create five new passionate enemies. 
  14. I decide as I board the plane to fly back home to Fayetteville, just as the UFC Fight for the Troops event is starting at Fort Bragg, that I am going to spend the rest of my career stacking the deck in my favor so the men around me will never have a liability in their midst. I will never live up to being the man I once thought I was. And I will certainly never be perfect. But I can be better.
  15. After three years of Hunting Hitler, I'll tell you this: Hitler probably didn't get out, but his ideology did, and that is how he truly escaped.
  16. If we do this right, we can hurt the big boys. We don't care about the local pimps. We want the power players who bribe politicians and serve the Harvey Weinsteins or Jeffrey Epsteins of this world, for lack of a better term. It's shocking to me our government doesn't have an organization who chases these cretins, but the more time you spend fighting trafficking, the more you realize how many wealthy and powerful people have a lot to lose by breaking the whole thing apart. The blatant manner in which power and money have been used to stop us from bringing these people down is appalling. I don't generally condone vigilante behavior, but if I ever lose it and go full "Punisher" mode, these guys are at the top of my list.
  17. Failure isn't final. It's necessary. It's the fuel that allows you to advance, to succeed.