173: Butch is a former 11 year Army Apache helicopter pilot who helped to protect the ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He went from the Battlefield to the Backcountry in co-founding Kryptek, an outdoor apparel company. This guy is the real deal!!

October 16, 2020

Butch Whiting  

Why was it that pushed today’s guest butch Whiting to go into the military at a young age? “I was inspired to go into the military by my grandfather on my dad’s side. He was the first sergeant in the 81st Airborne in World War II. So, from the age of four years old and on I was hell-bent on becoming an officer in the Army because he constantly told me, you need to become an officer.” 

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Butch Whiting, CEO of Kryptek Outdoor Group, talks about his grandfather’s influence in his pursuit not just the military, but also his education. “He was obviously a senior NCO. He also saw the advantages of having a college education, which is not always a prerequisite if you do green to gold. But somewhere along that route you need to get an education as well, and I think that was really what he was driving for. I was one of the very first family members to actually go to college and I got an Army ROTC four-year scholarship and went to Gonzaga University.” 

What You Will Learn:

What got Butch Whiting excited about helicopers? “The helicopter aspect of it was later on. I didn’t go to college now, hey I am going to go to Army Flight School and become a helicopter pilot. I was actually introduced to that when I was a sophomore at Gonzaga University and we did an air assault on a local guard unit in Hueys, and it was super, super exciting for a young guy like I was in college. I started talking to the pilots after we did this mission and they basically started to explain to me, you can go to Army Flight School. You have to be selected. But it is an option and an opportunity.” 

Butch Whiting expresses the passion he felt about helicopters at the time “I became consumed by Apache Attack Helicopers because it fit my mentality of benign basically a hunter and I was super enamored with what is the most lethal weapons platform on the battlefield, and so you have to hold your breath, because you don’t know what you are going to be assigned, what branch you are going to be assigned when you come out of college.”

What was Butch’s path to Army Flight School? “The OML is based on your performance, your leadership capability that gets evaluated the summer after graduation, your GPA. There are a whole bunch of factors that come in to generate that OML, and they just start to fill in the quotas. So, you might have a year where they need  a project that they know they need 50 commissioned officers in Army Aviation. They start to fill those in and once they get to 50, then you are going to go to your second choice. So, for me I put down Army Aviation, Armor, Infantry, and fortunately I was able to get a slot in Army Flight School. Then you are back to competing again.” 

What was the reason Butch Whiting left his role in the military in 2008? “At the end of the day, the reason why I separated was not because I didn’t love what I was doing. It was because I was gone so much from my family. At one point I had my oldest daughter who was 6-years-old. I was gone four out of her six years, and my youngest was 4-years-old and I was gone three out of four.”

What was it like being in the cockpit of an Apache Helicopter? “We were forced back in to use these techniques that really hadn’t been employed since Vietnam. Running fire. Diving fire. High-energy tactics is what that was called and it was simply because you didn’t have enough power to do what we were trained to do before 911, before we went into Afghanistan.”

Kryptek Outdoor Group

 What were the inspirations for Butch Whiting’s company Kryptek Outdoor Group? “The war on terror accelerated everything across the entire spectrum for war fighters. So, from weapons to communications and just systems in themselves, platforms, vehicles, body armor, you name it, there is just this giant snowball of improvements that are starting to happen, including into apparel. The lead on the apparel improvements was really happening at the spec ops level that then would spiral down. But we saw a lot of those improvements that were happening and going, dude, that would be epic to have in the backcountry elk hunting.”

Military-Inspired Hunting Apparel

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, “We saw pocket placement that was designed simply for guys that are sitting like we are now in an aircraft and you need to access certain things which is no different from a guy sitting in a tree stand or a deer blind. How smart would that be to have in the hunting market?”

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