The Military Men at Mixer Direct
We took the Blue Line out of Washington DC towards Virginia. As the frequent stops began to get more seldom, the train crossed the river and respectful silence settled in. I looked up at my dad. He was focused on something outside the train. I looked at my mom whose eyes seemed to be replaying some sad story. The train crawled to stop, and the computer voice came on over-head.
We walked out from the station and I saw them: thousands of whites stones that stretched beyond the horizon each representing a soul that had given their life for my freedom. I didn't know what to say. I still don't.
Monday is Memorial Day, the day when we remember those who gave their lives for the United States. Though the two men who work at Mixer Direct who also served our nation were not called to make that ultimate sacrifice, we’d like to take this opportunity to honor their service by recognizing them.
Bart Anderson, our COO, was a US Navy test pilot. That’s right. A test pilot. He was one of the guys they would put in the plane, shut the door, and say, “Well, we hope this works!” Well, maybe not quite like that but something close.
For Bart, some of the most exciting time he spent as a pilot wasn’t flying jets whose wings may or may not stay on. It was flying helicopters. With a plane you can be going Mach 2 but since you are so high, the relative speed at which you’re traveling is fairly slow. Helicopters however are flying low to the ground going about 150 MPH. As an added bonus, helicopters don’t have to bother with air control towers and all that jazz. They can just fly at the tree top level underneath all the hubbub above them. In fact, one time Bart remembers flying with his commanding officer when they came up on a small mountain range. He looked over at the officer who said, “You see that gap right between those two hills? Got through that.”
After Bart finished his time as a pilot where he had gone on four tours of duty, he was selected to go to the Naval Post Graduate School to earn a Masters of Engineering. After that he spent time as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer (AEDO) managing the manufacturing of the mayhem makers. He later would spend time on the Aleutian Islands managing the installation of a RADAR system that could see all the way down to Japan. You might think of it as the Godzilla-early-warning system.
For Bart his entire military experience continues to serve him today. His time as a test pilot was instrumental because it was the technical side of test piloting that was his “bridge into industry.” He recognizes that when he was a pilot he was just a kid. He was given “an enormous responsibility” to pilot machines worth millions of dollars, and the weight of that responsibility shaped who he became. Today Bart manages the operations side of Mixer Direct. It’s easy to see how Bart’s time as an engineer and manufacturing manager helps him at Mixer Direct as his expertise with managing machines, systems, and people is constantly on display.
Jorge Medina, our quality control manager, was a US Army mechanic. He worked on tanks, humvees, and MRAPs (mine resistant ambush protected vehicles). Essentially, if it was a machine that broke other guys’ machines, Jorge could fix it. After his time as a mechanic, Jorge went on to join the Army Rangers and became what everybody wanted to be after they played Call of Duty for the first time: a special forces sniper.
Jorge was then stationed in Freiburg, Germany. On September 11, 2001 after the attacks on the World Trade Center, Jorge was told that he would be heading to Afghanistan to be a part of some of the first units on the ground there. After a year and a half, Jorge went back to Germany. In 2002 Jorge was sent on another tour of duty, this time to Iraq.
Jorge spent the first part of his second tour of duty setting up surveillance and clearing IEDs. In late March of 2003, Jorge was told to prepare for a special operation. After spending the week in training, Jorge went with his unit to Nasiriya, Iraq. On April 1, he provided cover from an adjacent building for the rescue team that retrieved Jessica Lynch and five other prisoners of war.
In 2004 Jorge returned to the United States and was stationed in Fort Knox until he left the army and returned to Louisville. He recognizes that the time he spent in the army developed his character and values that make him the man he is today. His experience with everything from mechanical repair to IED removal to special forces gives him the adaptive skills to accommodate all the changes that come with working for a growing business.
We are thankful that these men who courageously served the United States Armed Forces work here at Mixer Direct. It is a blessing to be around such skilled men who work with integrity, discipline, and humility. We thank God for men like them and for those who gave their lives to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”