CPT (r) Tyler Merritt
January 21, 2020
At a time when people get rich being “influencers” on YouTube or Instagram, and political discourse is mostly conducted on Twitter, it might be easy to overlook the achievements of “quiet professionals.”
Away from the TV cameras and podcasts, far away from the comfort of shopping malls, buffets and microbreweries, there’s a segment of our population discreetly and diligently going about their business in service to their team, their family, their community.
Quiet professionals always put their mission first. They understand the value of hard work, and would never ask someone to do something they wouldn’t do themselves.
Sometimes they work quietly because their work must be done in secret. Sometimes it’s just because they’re humble.
I was honored to be among quiet professionals when I was accepted into the Army’s 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment, flying Blackhawk helicopters in support of Rangers, Delta Force, Special Forces, and Navy SEALs. I was fortunate to fly with some of the most talented pilots, supporting the most elite fighting forces in the world. While these missions remain classified, they stretched between Iraq, Afghanistan, South America and the Arabian Peninsula.
They were quintessential quiet professionals, but they were also salt of the earth guys who I knew would have my back should my aircraft go down — just as they knew we would be right there in the thick of it, guns blazing, if they needed air support.
It was this sense of brotherhood and selfless service that inspired me to create the Nine Line apparel brand. What started out as a project in my garage, printing morale shirts for my unit, the Rangers, and a few other military organizations, has grown into a 60,000 square foot facility and nearly 200 employees.
Around about the time I started Nine Line, Tim S., one of my fellow Night Stalkers, also started a company. Tim and I served together in the same unit of the 160th, where he was air mission commander. He ran many operations in the U.S. and elsewhere involving organizations like the CIA in some of the most high profile missions.
Now, Nine Line Apparel can be pretty overt in our patriotic support of our flag, our American values and those who wear a uniform to protect and defend. I wouldn’t call Tim’s company, F3EA, covert to Nine Line’s overt, but let’s just say, among quiet professionals, F3EA is extra quiet.
F3EA is a private defense contracting company specializing in training our most elite special operators in the Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and of course the 160th. It has grown from obscurity to over 90 full-time employees and 1,000 contractors.
I am insanely proud of Tim’s achievement and his success in boosting American jobs and helping grow the economy. You won’t find much about Tim or his company on Pinterest or Facebook, but that’s exactly as it should be, as it has to be.
There are countless quiet professionals among us, doing incredible things for our communities and our nation, but because of the nature of the business, they’re not able to talk about it.
But I can!
Congratulations to my buddy Tim and everything he has accomplished.
It sometimes seems like people forget we live in the greatest nation on earth because of the protections afforded to us by our quiet professionals — police, fire-fighters, and warfighters, whether active duty or working quietly behind the scenes. People like Tim and his team.
It’s our mission at Nine Line to ensure they are not forgotten and we will always be their voice and lifeline in their hour of need.