A couple weekends ago a whole lot of people got together to remember Pat Rogers. This is our report. Mad Duo
Memories, Meat Eaters, and Shenanigans at “Friends of Pat”
A while back we wrote about the future of EAG Tactical and what would happen to the company in the wake of Pat Rogers’ passing.
On August 20, 2016 in Alliance, Ohio, the first annual celebration of Rogers’ legacy was held to commemorate Pat, his training, and the camaraderie of an expansive network he nourished and fostered. This was an opportunity to celebrate the ideals of Rogers by collecting some of the best instructors and educators in the industry in one spot, exposing active military, LEOs, and civilians to a breadth of training otherwise unavailable.
Chapman coordinated the majority of the “Friends of Pat” gala through a Facebook event. Attendees who were fortunate to sign up before it reached capacity were then provided details about what the weekend would entail. Contrary to popular belief, you did NOT need to have attended an EAG class in the past, nor know Rogers himself. In fact several attendees were heading to Alliance for the first time.
I knew I’d come to this event regardless when I first spoke to Chappy, but lurking in the back of my mind was the sneaking suspicion that if attendance was even half of what was expected, it would turn into a “I loved Pat more than you” contest. I really hoped that wouldn’t be the case.
With the logistics of class slot signups a little nebulous, we were left wondering how this whole thing would operate. We knew that there would be first-come-first-served class slots based on the schedule Chappy had provided beforehand. We knew parking would be limited and there would be shuttles. We knew we needed a variety of gear if we wanted to participate in different types of classes, as well as lounge gear and snacks for downtime. All of that created a bit of tension for students who didn’t want to miss out on training with the likes of Presscheck Consulting, Matt Jacques, Ernest Langdon, Jeff Gonzales, Steve Fisher, and of course, everyone on the EAG staff.
Start time on TD1 was 9am. I figured if I got to the facility a few hours in advance I would be able to sign up for the classes I wanted (Gonzales and Jacques in the morning and afternoon). Not wanting to pull the media card and try to get preferential parking, I left the hotel around 7am, drove the 10 minutes and parked in the shuttle lot. To my surprise, I was not the first one there. Not by a long shot.
The shuttle consisted of a converted bus owned by Weyer Tactical. While in theory it was a great way to move folks around, trying to get a bunch of guys on a bus with all of their gear, ammo cans, food, chairs, etc was painful. Perhaps next year they can figure out a way to shuttle people and gear separately. A minor quibble to be sure, but one nonetheless.
Once inside the gates, the landscape of the Alliance facility I had come to know had changed significantly. There were two enormous Lightweight Maintenance Tents (LME) setup for shade and gear storage. The temperature was going to be in the mid-90s, and every bit of shade helped. Signups for class slots was a little haphazard as expected, with large poster boards denoting the classes and people hastily inserting their names trying to plan out their days. Folks who arrived late or had trouble with the shuttle may have missed out on classes they wanted.
After folks had settled in Chappy started the day with a welcome message and overall rundown of events, Zach Hoernschemeyer offered a blessing, and suddenly the event was in full swing.
I was trying to cover the event as a photographer, as well as get some trigger time, and quickly found it impossible to be everywhere at once. I soon gave up on shooting as a student. There were shoothouse primers, CQB sessions, long range classes, breaching techniques, concealment work, a modified navy qual, low light classes for pistol and rifle, low light CQB, gear overviews, theory sessions, and medical briefings. It was like being at FAO Schwartz for gun guys and having unlimited store credit. Lunch and dinner were provided for a minimal fee, laughs were abundant and EVERYONE pitched in to help keep the day moving however they could.
With overloaded classes in my sessions, some instructors were running multiple relays of up to twenty students per relay. That slows the pace of learning way down. HOWEVER, to their credit, I could not believe the efficiency with which ALL of the instructors worked to keep the entire day on schedule. I floated between many classes and regardless of class size or location, there was not a single glitch in timing.
Throughout the course of the day it got progressively warmer and the heat-driven fatigue was apparent. During downtime, or for folks who just wanted to escape the heat, the new classroom at Alliance was staged as a vendor area where attendees could check out products from a host of companies, talk to their reps, and purchase products on the spot.
Despite the temps, students took it upon themselves to rest when needed, stayed hydrated, and continue workimg well into the night. By the time folks rolled back to their hotels around midnight, the party was just getting started. The adult beverages began to flow and the next time I looked at my watch it was a little past 4am. That 6:30 alarm was going to be a bitch.
Day two consisted of a much more relaxed environment at a BBQ sponsored by Raven Concealment. With beer taps flowing, BBQ smoking, and egos properly leveled from the instruction on the previous day, Sunday was about laughing with friends, enjoying the sunshine and raising money through raffles. Prizes included everything from Glock 43 accessories to a PVS14 supplied by TNVC. The generosity displayed by the donating companies as well as the crowd was staggering. Some fortunate folks won multiple raffles, and most of them immediately placed their prizes on the auction block to give others a chance to win and raise more money for the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.
Amidst the post-BBQ food baby gestation period, Ashley Burnsed, the CEO of Blue Force Gear, alongside Stephen Hilliard, Director of Product Development, presented a plaque to the Alliance Police Training facility dedicating their new steel building to Roger’s memory. With Pat’s likeness prominently displayed, the plaque reads:
“Pat embodied the warrior spirit and like all great warriors he had a big heart and it was full of love: Love for his country, love for his Brothers, and love for his family and friends. May his passion for sharing knowledge carry on in the hearts and minds of his friends, students, and peers. ‘Life is Good.'”
Doc Spears then gave one of the most moving, somber, and comedic soliloquies about the life of Pat Rogers I’ve ever heard, and the only folks not moved to tears were those not in attendance.
At the end of the event folks lingered giving extending goodbyes and earnest hugs, not wanting to leave. I dreaded the 20+ hour ride home not because of the windshield time, but because I’d be saying goodbye to so many friends I see far too rarely. All of that “I loved Pat more…” shit I was worried about never even materialized, which is yet another testament to the quality of the crowd.
It would be wrong if I didn’t mention the tireless work of Joe Weyer and the entire Alliance Police Department to prepare the location, the EAG staff for coordinating the event, and the countless number of volunteers and instructors who sacrificed their time to pull this off. There were an astounding number of sponsors and companies who donated to the event, and I’m sure I will miss some, but those I recall were: Aimpoint, ATEi, Bravo Company, Beretta, Blue Force Gear, Austere Provisions Company, F3 Tactical, TangoDown, TNVC, Team Wendy, Gunsite Academy, Patriot Products, Raven Concealment Systems, Eleven 10, VLTOR, Velocity Systems, EuroOptic, Magpul, Robar Guns, Defensive Creations, and Unity Tactical.
Like I mentioned earlier, some extremely minor logistical issues could be cleaned up for next year such as the shuttles or the class signups or the class size limits, but those are trivial. All told this was as well run an event as you’ll find.
The planning for FOP 2017 has already started and there’s no doubt it’ll be just as stellar as this inaugural session. Just remember to bring sunscreen for your mandatory thick skin, and no matter what, don’t forget to push/pull that magazine before going hot.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
About the Author: When Matt Stagliano is not busy scoring with legions of Japanese girls who think he’s Chris Costa or character acting a bit part in cheap Westerns (he usually plays a syphilis-ridden cowpuncher or similar saddletramp) he can be found shooting some of the best photos and video in the tactical/firearms industry. A former Fortune 50 consultant who is (no shit) a former DJ with a degree in Physics he never uses, Matt is not only brilliant behind the lens but also a helluva nice guy with great taste in booze. Oh, and his dog has a fierce, unnatural love for porcupines. Learn more about Firelance online or follow them on Instagram (@firelancemedia). On Facebook here.