The Green Berets Who Traded Bullets for Bourbon

Their covert mission into Afghanistan inspired a book, a movie, a monument and now, an award-winning bourbon.

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Entrepreneur Staff
Editorial Director
2 min read

This week's episode of Get a Real Job focuses on a group of brave men who have chosen action over safety for their entire lives.

In the days after 9/11, while many Americans were watching the news in a state of shock and horror, a team of 12 Green Berets covertly entered Afghanistan and waged war against the Taliban ... on horseback.

Riding horses as they penetrated the forbidding landscape of Afghanistan wasn't part of the plan. But almost nothing about their mission, code-named Task Force Dagger, had a plan anyway. They were dropped in-country and basically told to figure it out as they went along. 

Despite being outnumbered 40 to one and having little-to-no contact with their command headquarters, these men, The Horse Soldiers, fought in a series of intense battles side-by-side with militia allies and successfully captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif from the Taliban, a strategic stronghold.

The Horse Soldier's story inspired a book, a movie and a monument that can be seen at the 9/11 Memorial in New York. Nearly 20 years after Task Force Dagger's success, retired Special Operators Scott Neil, Rob Schaefer, Mark Nutsch, Bob Pennington, Tyler Garner and John Koko, along with Elizabeth Pritchard-Koko, found a new mission: they founded American Freedom Distillery. The all-American company's signature offering is the award-winning Horse Soldier Bourbon, which is sold in bottles pressed in molds made from steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site. 

Related: How To Get Into The Whiskey Business When You Don't Know Anything About the Whiskey Business

Neil, Nutsch and Pennington came by the Entrepreneur office to discuss their lives and their business for this week's episode. We hope you enjoy and feel inspired. And to the Horse Soldiers, and all military men and women listening, we thank you for your service.

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