If you’re like me, and you scan the same channels on cable over again and again – you may end up on History, Discovery, Animal planet, maybe some news sprinkled in. You may have also stumbled across a survival show with a guy smoking a pipe. That guy, is Team Sergeant Terry Schappert.
I reached out to Terry and inquired about his pipe smoking and he agreed to sit down with me and share some of his busy schedule with us to talk about pipes, and the show. So strap in!
How long have you been smoking a pipe?
I started smoking a pipe in high school – that was back in 1983. Damn, times flies…
Ok, how did you get into it?
My buddies and I were D&D players, and I had read The Lord of The Rings in 8th grade and was a huge fan. Pipes were a big part of those books , as well as Tolkien’s life. If JRR Tolkien saw something magical in smoking a pipe, then I needed to try it..
Wow, proof that D&D nerds can become bad-asses in later life. Speaking of Tolkien, have you seen the latest Hobbit Movie yet? Thoughts?
Just saw it yesterday with my nephew. Pretty good, although I think too long. I feel like there was too much use of CGI in the Hobbit – I don’t like watching a movie and thinking, “Ok, CGI…” I felt like Lord of the Rings never got that response – all I could do was watch it while my jaw dropped.
What’s your favorite blends?
I tend to like milder stuff like WO Larsen’s Old Fashioned, since I’m usually smoking around other people and don’t want to piss them off! GL Pease just sent me some great English Blends, and I gotta say I”m digging them as well – Six Pence and Gaslight are pretty damn great.
Let’s talk about your background – 9/11 was a turning point in your life?
I graduated from UNCW in 1988 with a degree in Anthropology, then I made my Dad happy [he was not happy about this originally actually] and enlisted in the Army… I was an active duty guy for almost 9 years (82nd Airborne and 10th Special Forces Group), then I got out in June 1997 and attended Circle in the Square Theatre Conservatory. Yes, that was quite a life change…
I had a pretty cool acting career developing in NYC, but then 9/11 happened. I had to ask myself – what do I do now? Go on auditions or get back in the fight? It wasn’t a hard question — by October I had signed back up, and in March of 2002 I was in the Middle East again.
I’m still a member of 19th Special Forces Group. I’m a Team Sergeant, which means I am the senior ranking enlisted guy on an A team. Since 19th Group is National Guard, I have two lives – Green Beret and D-list cable star. Not bad…
Don’t sell yourself short, you’re C list for sure 🙂 On a serious note, what made you decide to do Special Forces ? For the layman Army Special Forces and Green Beret are interchangeable correct?
Yes, they are interchangeable, although in our community, we don’t call ourselves Green Berets – that term is used to explain to outsiders who we are to delineate from the other special operations forces. We call ourselves SF. I read a book that a friend of mine had in college about the Green Berets in Vietnam. I took it back to my room and read it cover to cover. When i finished it, I knew that’s what i wanted to be. As soon as I graduated, I enlisted in the Army- -and so it began..
How old were you when you re-enlisted and how had things changed for you in the re-enlistment?
I was 35 years old – no spring chicken, but I had stayed in good shape during that four year break. First time I got back from a deployment post 9/11, my Mom was there to greet me, and she said, “I’ve never seen you look happier.” As I thought about it, I answered her – “Well, I’m back with people I love.” I think what’s different with me now is my awareness of how politics is intertwined inextricably with what we do. It IS what we do. When I was a younger guy in SF back in the nineties, I was more into being the best and being with my team. I’m much more politically aware and engaged than I ever was back then.
Getting back to the idea about love — I tell people that, although most Green Berets won’t articulate it, the reason we do what we do is one thing – LOVE. We love our country, we love our families, and in the end, we love each other more than ourselves. It’s going to be hard for me to leave a community of such men. It really is.
What else are you doing aside from being a professional bad-ass?
I’m actually a pretty lazy guy. I like to read a lot and walk my old dogs. My wife and I rescue senior dogs and cats, and they are our family. I try to train as much as I can in the martial arts, and I really like scuba diving. Oh yeah, and sitting on my back porch smoking is a pretty good option also!
Best place you’ve done scuba? Or Favorite?
I think the Maldives were amazing – sea turtles, sharks, and other great wildlife. I learned to dive in a freezing cold quarry in Ohio.
How did Dude you’re screwed come about?
It came about as a concept with High Noon television. I had done a series with them for History Channel called, “Warriors with Terry Schappert,” and we were good friends and really respected each other. Hudson and I are the original guys from the initial concept.
You’re in the 2nd season of Dude You’re screwed, what was surprising about filming that?
Just the fact that we got a second season was surprising! Best part of that show is the laughs that me and the guys have – we’ve really become great friends. Traveling all over the world ( and not getting shot at) is also something that I’m grateful for.
Speaking of getting shot or being in dangerous situations – were you worried in Africa when Matt found civilization in Tanzania and it was a possibly “not so friendly” tribe?
A little. We knew that he would potentially encounter Maasai, so we were ready, but you’re still nervous when that moment happens that you know could head south quickly!
You guys certainly have some fun, can we look forward to a Season 3? We sure hope so! We won’t hear anything for awhile, I think. Animal Planet will air the second season sometime this early Winter. It was originally an Animal Planet show, actually.
What are you usually smoking when on camera? Like when you were in Africa?
That was a Fabio Larocca pipe, with “Evening Stroll” blend from Oxmoor tobacco shop in Kentucky. I now have some really great custom pipes by Grant Batson and Chris Morgan, but most of my field pipes are not particularly expensive. They get lots of use, though.
I’ve heard you mention Grant Batson a couple times – how did you get connected with him?
He reached out to me, and we hit it off. He’s crafted an amazing pipe tailored to my army experience, which I used in the show.
Have you tried one of the Briar Cigars from Chris Morgan yet ?
They are a very cool invention for the pipe smoker who is out at a bar and can’t deal with a fully loaded pipe. the pipe cigar satisfies, and your can pack it back up and get back in the bar.
So when traveling you’re bringing the pipes that aren’t as “nice” per say. Thought about doing some “product placement?” with specific pipes ? 🙂
Yeah, I gotta think about that…any pipe people want me to get their pipe on a show let me know – Grant’s pipe is in the series. Chris Morgans will be on next year if we get another season. When people hook me up, I will hook them up as well. [Aside:Take note pipe makers!]
Your bio page for the show you have a picture of you shooting a bow, do you enjoy archery?
I love shooting a bow – haven’t hunted with it yet, just lots of target practice. keeps me sharp.
What is your view of weapon craft, just a tool kit? Or do you have some favorites?
Weapons are indeed tools, but the anthropologist in me is fascinated by how they developed culturally, socially and economically. Weapons are the reflection of a society and all of it’s facets.
Back to pipe smoking, what do you enjoy about smoking a pipe over another form of tobacco?
I think the ritual of smoking is a big piece of it. We all have our own rituals and habits. Smoking slows me down and I need that. I get some good thinking done.
You’re also a voracious reader, what are you currently reading?
Carnage and Culture by Victor Davis Hanson. You have to read this book.
Taking it a step further and tying it to the show, what are some suggestions for good survival books that the average joe should consider picking up and reading to get a better understanding of surviving in the wild?
My buddy Mykel Hawke wrote a great Green Beret Survival Guide:
Lastly, for my own curiosity, how many languages do you speak?
I speak Czech pretty well, with some German and Spanish
I think I speak for the entire pipe community, and my army buddy (who watches every episode religiously) when I thank you for your service, and your love of country. You are a true patriot sir.
I appreciate that! Happy New Year to you and yours, and fellow pipe smokers!
James Foster goes by the online handle of Pylorns in the forums, and he is the creator of an app for keeping track of your tobacco cellar inventory called The Pipe Tool and serves as the President of the Austin Pipe Club.