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Combat Story

Oct 30, 2021

Today we hear Part I of the Combat Story of Ray McPadden, a former Army Infantry Officer who survived four deployments that included leading troops in one of the most dangerous valleys of Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division and as a Ground Force Commander in the Ranger Battalion.

Listeners really appreciate our interviews with Special Operators and it’s easy to see why. Many listeners have asked to hear a few more stores from the conventional side of the house. Today’s episode focuses entirely on the conventional side of Ray’s career and fighting that his Battalion Commander at the time promised would be harder than anything he would go on to do in the Rangers.

Ray’s experience in the Pech and Korangal Valleys will be eye opening to many who had no idea forces were fighting in this unforgiving terrain and in these isolated conditions. Many have seen Restrepo and the Hornet’s Nest and can appreciate just how difficult that fighting was. Ray and his men fought to build the positions and fortifications that would later become the backdrop of those movies and books.

We use Ray’s own fantastic book - We March at Midnight - as a guide to walk through the first half of his career and will pick up in part two with his time in the Special Ops community. I hope you enjoy this first of two Combat Stories and his fight in what was known as the “Valley of Death” as much as I did.

Find Ray Online:

Instagram @raymcpadden1
Book We March at Midnight

Find Ryan Online:

Follow on Instagram @combatstory
Follow on Facebook @combatstoryofficial
Send us messages at
Learn more about Ryan
Intro Song: Sport Rock from Audio Jungle

Show Notes

0:00 - Intro
1:11 - Guest introduction
2:03 - Interview begins
5:10 - Reenacting Sniper (the movie) as a kid
12:54 - Texas A&M and learning from NCOs for the first time
18:50 - “Actions not words” and leading by example
21:14 - Mood in the Army in 2004-2005 starting out
24:05 - A life in the mountains
25:12 - Donkey and mule training
35:43 - The real side of a military spouse - “They go to war with you”
39:30 - Afghanistan and the Pech Valley
42:00 - First Platoon Sergeant - “The key person” for new LTs
45:22 - Reality of Mountain Warfare
47:22 - Combat Story #1: First big fight
1:21:40 - Combat Story #2: The counterattack
1:27:37 - The Korongal (Korangal aka Korengal) Valley and Restrepo and Operation Red Wings environment (Restrepo Info for those interested
1:30:01 - Combat Story #3: Initial fight in the Valley
1:44:04 - “War is Freedom”
1:50:13 - Delivering some of the hardest news possible
1:54:29 - Combat Story #4: The Last Firefight - “War is horrible”
2:02:10 - Conventions vs Special Operations
2:03:25 - Listener Comments and Shout Outs