Bill Voorhies is an Assistant Chief for a department in Metro Atlanta. He lives in the county he works in, which makes for a very interesting speech he gives to new recruits about "protecting my crap" and something about "making damned sure they know what they're doing." He's worked in Operations for most of his 20 years, and is now Chief of Staff.
He was born in Atlanta and attended both the University of Georgia and Georgia State University. His Bachelor Degree in Film and Video has proved to be a collosal waste of money, time, (and let's be honest) very little effort. You know that famous pig movie "Babe" that was nominated for Best Picture? Well, he worked on the other pig movie that came out that year; the abysmally bad "Gordy." (Look him up on IMDB) He worked for the prop department, but his arm and right side of his face have starring roles in the movie.
After about 5 years working in the film business and becoming incredibly disillusioned, he decided to give firefighting a chance. It was something he wanted to do for a long time, but hadn't really given consideration to. He thought, "no one wants to be a firefighter," and figured when he showed up to offer his services, that the Fire Chief would gratefully welcome him, hand him a helmet, and give him a seat on the truck. After over two years of applying to various metro Atlanta departments, he finally got an offer from the county where he had spent most of his "growing up" years.
Shane thinks that Bill makes things overly complicated. And for someone who has a film degree, Hatch and Pabel think that Bill sure does seem to hate a lot of movies. The photo above was taken very close to the end of a fourteen hour endurance challenge that he completed with Shane and Pabel. Read what you want into the fact that he thinks this picture of him absolutely beaten down is the pic that best represents him. And he was pretty disappointed when he learned the Twitter handle "@Combustibill" was already taken.
Bill has a rungu
So I got an email from Jon Cannon. The name didn't ring a bell, and I initially thought it was some kind of spam. The subject of the email was "Assist - Mailing Address," and I didn't really look at it. But a day or two later I started thinking about that name and it was familiar. That's when I realized that Jon Cannon is one of the authors of a leadership book I recommended on my reading list (Leadership Lessons of the Navy SEALs). When I actually read the email, Mr. Cannon had asked for my address, mentioned that it's been a while since he wrote the book, and, most importantly, said that a friend had forwarded the words I wrote about his book to him. "Oooooohhhh, crap."
Now, two things worried me immediately. First, I was worried that his friend only forwarded the first half of what I wrote about his book; and the first half only talks about how hesitant I was to read the book because I thought it would be a book that traded off the Navy SEALs name. Second, I was worried about the fact that he is actually a Navy SEAL. I was suddenly consumed with visions of this operator showing up at my home and throat punching me when I opened the door.
I replied back to him after a few days of worrying and explained that I hoped whoever forwarded him my words had included the part where I spoke about how much l liked the book; about how surprised I was at how great it is. He was very cool about it, and said he had read all of what I wrote. I couldn't help myself and took the opportunity to ask him what he would recommend for leadership reading. He took some time to type something up and sent me back a list of a few books (which I bought solely on his recommendation.) Then I replied and thanked him for taking the time. And that was it until a few months later.
I figured I might get a signed copy of the book. But in a package that looks a little like it has been around the world (it had) I get what you see in the pictures below with a handwritten note. It's called a "Rungu" and the note reads:
"Bill - I was talking to a local boss about your challenges. He recommended this, a 'rungu.' A Swahili club used for tribal raids, mostly for cattle or vengeance, and he went off and brought this back. Enjoy, Jon Cannon."
Words really fail me trying to describe just how flattered I am that this Navy SEAL Lt. Commander took time to have this made and then shipped it around the world. I don't know what I did to deserve it, but the honor is not lost on me. It's really one of the coolest gifts I've ever received.