How I ended up in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
The short and boring answer to this is...
In early 2021, I came across a job posting in a Facebook Group that is for current and former Rangers only. The only details posted regarding what the position was read, "If you are in the LA area, Infinity Ward is looking for guys with our experience, send email to so and so and let them know you are interested." I was curious, so I sent an email, waited a few days, and received an email with some instructions..."Take a look at these videos below, film yourself doing them, and send back to me". So I did just that, and received an email back almost two weeks later... It read something like "how tall are you and how much do you weigh?", I responded," I am 6'2", 245 lbs of all that is man" and BOOM!!! That's all she wrote, they let me know the job was mine if I wanted it, and I was in the studio a few weeks later putting on a skin tight outfit covered in little sensors. Fast forward almost two years to date, the game has been out for several months now, many of you enjoy playing it or know somebody who does, and there are a few of you out there whining and complaining because that is likely what you do best.
The lengthy and more colorful answer is...
Everything I have been doing my entire life led me to the opportunity. As a kid, I grew up playing team sports and was a very active individual. I played baseball, and when I wasn't at practice or a game you could find me skateboarding all year round, playing street hockey with the other neighborhood kids, riding my bike, snowboarding, or bodysurfing at the beach. I really grew up doing it all. There was no cell phone or tablet or any electronic device that could keep me from enjoying the outdoors. This lifestyle continued through high school, where I found a love for football.
I was hooked IMMEDIATELY after my first practice on the football team. I was drawn to the contact of the sport, the first and only position I had interest in playing was linebacker. I was so set on progressing and getting better that I slowly started spending less and less time doing all of the other things; I figured I did not want to take any chances getting hurt, because I would not be able to play football. I worked hard in the classroom, because you couldn't play if you had bad grades. I wanted to do nothing besides get better and be better on the football field. Looking back, I have much thanks and appreciation for my teammates, coaches, family, and friends. You all played a critical role in helping me become better, as a player and individual, and for that I will be forever thankful.
I had great Junior and Senior Years in High School, both on the field and in the classroom. There was a very high level of competition on our team as well as the opponents we faced. I consider myself lucky to have experienced what I did during this time. These experiences presented me with opportunities to continue to play football at the D1 level...and then I got injured. The full ride scholarships disappeared, and for the first time in my life I discovered what it meant to try to "bounce back" from an injury. Needless to say, I was unable to do so despite my efforts trying to redeem myself and fulfill the dream of making it to the professional level; once it became clear to me that a future in football was no longer possible, I had no desire to continue my education and just thought I'd get a job.
From late 2004 through late 2006, I spent most of my time working (as a bouncer at a nightclub), drinking, and fighting. I could tell a bunch of stories that you probably wouldn't believe (I will revisit this sometime, likely best as a video), had tons of experiences both good and bad, learned quite a bit about myself and found that if I didn't change my path, I was heading in a direction that would have for sure ended with me being in serious trouble. After doing my due diligence and researching my options, I decided to join the Army with an "11B option 40" contract. In early 2007, this meant that I joined with an opportunity to be in the 75th Ranger Regiment if I could make it through Airborne School and RIP (this stood for Ranger Indoctrination Process, now known as RASP).
Upon completing OSUT at Fort Benning, GA (OSUT is the fancy acronym for One Station Unit Training, comprised of Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, or AIT) with an 11B MOS, I went through Airborne School, graduated, then went to RIP Holdover. I remember RIP Holdover being pure hell, I recall not being able to wait to start the next available RIP class, as dudes were being dropped left and right or they just quit because they could not handle what those wonderful days had in store for us (plenty of fun stories here I will save for the future).
Going to do my best to breeze through this next part, I have told this next story many times, and will likely tell it many more. I will include links at the end of this post where you can listen to a couple of podcasts I've been on if it strikes you to do so.
First day of RIP, I collapsed with a 107 core temperature, having to be rushed to the hospital. I was unconscious from the moment I fell, until I woke up in the hospital hours later with an IV running and a catheter, that thing was so uncomfortable I remember it being the size of my pinky finger...OUCH!) I was so mad when I woke up, I remember thinking "I failed, I am a failure, I am not going to be a Ranger". These were the thoughts I was having over the next few days, while the doctors and staff informed me that I had suffered from a heat stroke, concussion, and was on the brink of liver and kidney failure, prior to being sent home on "Convalescent leave" where I was supposed to recover and regain my strength to potentially come back and give it another shot. Let me be clear there was no rest or recovery on my 30 day visit home. I drank copious amounts of alcohol, I did not train once, and I returned back to Fort Benning.
Jumping right back into training with the rest of the RIP Holdovers, it was awful and I remember it feeling as though I had lost every bit of strength and endurance I had worked so hard to build, in just 30 days. Combine sheer will, heart, and a hatred for the thought of failure and that's what I was. The RIP cadre fought hard to give me the boot and send me to worldwide or to be medically chaptered out of the Army because, well, apparently a heat stroke was no joke, and now I was deemed more of a liability than I was a potential asset. With as hard as they fought to have me gone, I fought my hardest to stay. The RIP cadre during this time frame (July 2007-October 2007) were hard as nails, and I remember everyone around me fearing them, myself included. These were men you did not want to notice you, because standing out was not a good thing. I was on everyone's radar as "PV2 Lopez, the dude who is a heat cat and isn't going to make it through *wink wink*". I had wait now to jump into the class, because I had been a heat casualty, I could only attempt to go through again during the winter (which was September's class, 07-09). I busted my ass and got back into shape during that August, trying to come back stronger than I was before. I started that September 2007 class, ready again to give it everything I had.
Nothing was much different from when I had collapsed just two months earlier, maybe it was 10-15 degrees less I really don't remember, everything else was the same: The grueling physical activity, the mental aspect of being pushed harder and further than you think is possible, and the very little rest. The first week back the NCOIC at the time, SFC B, spotted me in formation and told one of the cadre to physically walk me to sick call (This dude was known as the East LA cholo, IYKYK). He walked me to the door where I entered myself, one thing going through my mind: SICK CALL was a hard no, it was your guaranteed way out of RIP, I knew it would mean I'd be going home or being assigned to another unit (I wanted neither of those options, I came back to make it through and that is what I was going to do no matter what). I never signed in to sick call, I waited until that cadre was out of sight before I rushed back in the RIP barracks, grabbed my ruck, and snuck back into formation. That day we were doing a formation ruck, I do not remember the pace or distance really but it was fast, and it was one of those mandatory events you had to do to make it through. The sun was rising as we finished and I remember SFC B spotting me and screaming for the cadre "SSG V!!!! I thought you said you took Lopez to sick call?!?!?!?!?!?!". He responded, "Roger, I did" to which SFC B asked " Why the f#$! is he in my formation then?!?!" Oh, I knew I was in trouble, I thought for sure I was done, and I would be dropped immediately. SSG V took me off and smoked the hell out of me, he was pissed and rightfully so because of what I had done without his knowledge. During this smoking session, I was doing every exercise you can think of until failure, over and over again... I'd do pushups until I'd fall flat on my chest, he would make get up and do squats until I could barely stand, then I would be doing flutter kicks until I couldn't hold my legs off the ground...then repeat. Over and over again.
I do not remember much of what SSG V was yelling at me during this time, but I am almost certain he saw something in me, maybe seeing a glimpse of my will and desire to be a Ranger. Sometime shortly after the torture ended, I found myself in a room with both SFC B and SSG V, standing at parade rest and answering a bunch of questions. I wish I could fully remember this conversation, maybe one day it will all come back to me. Whatever happened here was the pivotal turn in my life: I ended up being able to give RIP another shot, and I made it. I graduated RIP in October 2007, and had decided to stay in Benning at 3/75. We were offered to choose which Battalion we would be assigned to (Still to this day I am unsure if our choices played any role where we were placed). With 3rd Battalion as my first choice, I remember my family being concerned considering I had just had a heat stroke only a few months prior, which I still feel was due to the outrageous humidity there, and never having experienced that sort of weather growing up in California. 3/75 was my choice for two reasons: One, I planned on going through Ranger School at some point in my time there and felt that already being there would give me time to acclimate to conditions I would need to face to earn my tab. Second, I knew it was going to be a challenge: I felt crazy for wanting to stay there, but it just felt like something I needed to do despite what had happened just a few months earlier.
I was assigned to Delta Company at 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in October 2007. D Co was just being formed, with every RIP graduate of that class being initially assigned to D Co. To the best of my memory, this is what was going on across each Battalion at the time. D Co 3/75 is where I would call home until I ETS'd. I deployed four times from 2008-2011 to both Afghanistan and Iraq, I completed Ranger School in May 2009 and earned my Ranger Tab, I had many great experiences during this time as well as grief I still do not have the words for to this day, met many great men who I had the privilege and honor of fighting alongside, all of which have led me to this moment in sharing with you all.
I will continue to dive deeper in the near future into what I have experienced which has ultimately led me where I am now. Since I have been out of the military, I have gone back to school and earned my MBA, becoming a member of the international business honor society "Delta Mu Delta". I started this company, American Savage, in 2016 and with all of your support I have been able to continue to serve the Veteran community through " Project Resilience" (a link will be provided at the end to learn more). It has been an honor to share with you guys and I am looking forward to sharing more. You can find me on Instagram @american.savage.inc, and on Facebook by searching "American Savage, Inc".
Link to Project Resilience page: