“No Room For Complacency: John Morato”
Why did you decide to join the military, specifically the special operations community?
“Joining the military was always something I had an interest in. I have a supportive family and siblings who served prior to me joining. Ever since I was young, I was always driven to be the best at whatever I was doing. For instance, that applied to sports in school, and I think it pushed me to want to be around the best that the military has to offer. For that reason, I chose to pursue a career in the 75th Ranger Regiment.”
What separates Ranger culture from the rest of the Army? Why did this appeal to you?
“I think the thing that separates Ranger culture from the rest of the Army is the fact that there is no room for complacency. In Regiment, they truly instill the mindset that everyone is a leader regardless of rank and hold Rangers to the highest standard. Rangers also operate at a higher op-tempo than the conventional Army does which really appealed to me. I knew I would be going on multiple deployments throughout my career.”
What was your job in the military?
“When I first arrived at Delta Company in 3rd Ranger Battalion, I was placed as a litter bearer as I was new to the squad. As my career progressed, I was fortunate enough to move into weapons squad where I started off as an assistant gunner (AG). My task as an AG was to keep our gun running smoothly and assist the gunner in spotting targets while maintaining accurate round counts. When I changed companies, I became a machine gunner. Towards the end of my career, I was also asked to fill in various positions of leadership when needed.”
Who are some of the Soldiers you worked with that had an impact on your service?
“It’s tough because I obviously met and served with a bunch of good guys. One person that impacted not only my service but my life was coincidentally one of the first guys I met when I got off the plane in Atlanta to go to Fort Benning for basic training. From there we progressed to Airborne School, to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP) and were ultimately stationed together in 3-75. Knowing that someone who was injured was able to maintain the standard that led him to graduate and join 3-75 with injury shows you that you could push through the pain. Some of the other soldiers that definitely had an impact on my service were the guys that I grew up with in my platoon. My buddy Ryan was another guy who has definitely made an impact on me. We grew up in the same platoon, and when they began to shuffle guys around, we ended up together again. Ryan was great at calling me out when I needed an extra kick and vice versa. We really fed off each other’s energy.”
When you hear the term “leader” who is the first person that comes to mind?
“I was fortunate enough to serve under some great leadership. The 75th Ranger Regiment really has a knack at producing some of the toughest and most intelligent leaders, but the first person that comes to mind is my first squad leader. He was one of those guys that you didn’t fear the consequences of messing up or not performing, but rather feared disappointing him. He was a great leader in the field, and it translated seemingly when we got off of work. He knows how to get the best out of his guys, and it led to us have the top performing squad during our graded events. The workouts he would put us through were grueling with the goal in mind of getting at least one person as he would say “calling to the dinosaurs” which meant vomiting.”
What skill-sets gained from the Army have you taken to the civilian world?
“The most important skill-set that I learned from the Army is attention to detail. It is something that is instilled in you from day one. Attention to detail will save lives while in the service, and it also allows you to excel past your peers. It translates to care of equipment, and in Regiment, it is really instilled into you. When applying attention to detail to the civilian world, it gives you a really analytical approach to things. It makes a world of difference as a student veteran.”
Describe to me your most profound experience while wearing a uniform.
“I immediately think back to graduating RASP. It was the first time I got to place the tan beret on. I remember the day vividly; I had chosen my father to place my scroll on my left shoulder. I felt as if I had accomplished something that my father truly admired and respected and to me that meant the world.”
What should the average civilian know about the military?
“The most important thing that the average civilian should know about the military is that there is still a war going on. There are still troops in harm’s way, and I think it’s easy to forget about if you don’t have a direct connection with anyone in the service. The media does a good job of not talking about it. I especially feel that with the current climate in America we should all come around with support for our brothers and sisters.”
How has your military service changed you?
“The military has definitely calmed me down some. Not that I was wild by any means, but I definitely would get worked up about things that didn’t really matter. The countries I deployed to showed you how good we have it back home. These countries have been destroyed by radicals and years of war. That time away lets you disconnect from some luxuries and give you a perspective of what to really value.”
Tell me about your best day in the Army. Tell me about your worst day.
“I have so many fond memories from my time in the Army, from goofing around with the squad off work or making the best of a shitty situation. I would try to make jokes when we had to do things that people wouldn’t be excited about to try to change the morale. From walking for what felt like forever to sitting in the cold pouring rain. But my best day had to be this last year when we were doing some training before one of our large exercises. We were out doing some vehicle training; it was a chance for newer guys to get familiar with some operating equipment and vehicles they wouldn’t have had normally. During this time my buddy and I thought it would be a good idea to take a ride on the mini-bikes attempting to hit some jumps. My worst day was the morning in Afghanistan that I was woken up to a knock on my door that regretfully informed me that we had lost 2 Rangers. I immediately felt helpless and nothing but remorse for families and men who were on the ground with them.”