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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

*** As a preface, this note was written on 7/19/2021. In this business, we work far in advance for future issues. I want to express how strongly I feel about the terrible handling of the Afghanistan pullout that we witnessed. Looking back on this note, published in our Sept/Oct 2021 issue, it is almost chilling how spot on it was and still is, now seeing the disgraced exit and heart-breaking loss of life after this note went to print, I feel even stronger about my feelings towards all of this. It angers me even more now given what happened. For the sake of not becoming enraged, I will leave it at that.

I dedicated this issue to the men and women that selflessly responded to the terror attacks of 9/11, the victims of the attack, and those who served in the subsequent war. But I would like to add, post-script, the dedication of the issue specifically to the 12 Marines and 1 Navy Corpsman who lost their lives do to this mismanaged exit.

I can not stop thinking about their short years on this planet, their families, and especially the young mother who now will raise her child without a father.

As a man who grew up without a dad, this one hit me especially hard. This did not need to happen. We most likely will never meet, but be sure to tell your child of the honor and dedication to this great country his or her daddy had. His bravery in the face of danger. And his love for his fellow man – so much so, he was willing to die for them.

If there is any reminder of why we honor our flag and national anthem, this is it. No matter where you stand on social issues, the flag will always stand for freedom. It stands for you, you stand for it.

Remembering 9/11, 20 years later.

I can remember it like yesterday. I was in Mr. Herring’s tenth grade history class when a teacher from a neighboring classroom frantically ran in and told him to turn on the news. The old-style television fluttered with broken lines of static as our country changed forever. The second plane hit the World Trade Center. I am getting chills just thinking of it. I don’t know if any of us have words for that moment. Terror, anger, sadness, absolute confusion, or just a combo of all of those, perhaps.

That moment not only changed our country forever but shaped my generation. I can’t believe it has been 20 years, but it doesn’t matter if it was 100, I will never forget. I dedicate this issue to the victims of that horrific event, the families they left behind, the first responders who selflessly responded and worked until they couldn’t any longer and then dug deeper to keep going, to the men and women of our military who without hesitating took up arms to bring revenge to the SOBs who did that to us, and the families who lost a son or daughter, brother or sister, mom or dad fighting to bring us justice, and to the fallen, still to this day, as this war drags on.

I am not sure quite how I feel about our withdrawal from that sandy hellhole, but I still get angry just thinking about it all. I get it that we aren’t getting anywhere at this point, that politics have gotten in the way of our boys doing their jobs, the costs of fighting, and frankly, that we are now fighting the sons of the terrorists that we killed years ago, but if it was up to me, we’d keep dropping bombs until there wasn’t even a memory left of al-Qaeda or whatever they are calling themselves now-a-days. The mere mutter of the name Bin Laden would render them the recipient of a 500-pound payload of American firepower.

But that is why God never made me to be President. I guess Toby Keith and I will just keep playing “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” as loud as we can, every chance we get.

I want to salute Steve Ciasullo, owner of Signal 11 Lures (Editor’s Pick). Steve served the Newark, New Jersey, Fire Department for 26 years and was working when the tragedy occurred. He responded selflessly.

Never Forget
Personal image provided by Steve from his time serving at Ground Zero.

“Early the next morning, we had the next crew relieve us, and we piled back into our personal vehicles and drove directly to Ground Zero and worked on our own time for weeks trying to rescue and eventually recover victims,” Ciasullo says. “We only left Ground Zero to go back to work at the firehouse for our shift and then went directly back to New York City. We didn’t go home to our families for quite some time. When I finally went home, I felt so guilty for being at home that I grabbed a few firefighters, and we went back.”

To be honest, I am tearing up just typing this. What a hero, patriot, and man dedicated to his fellow countrymen.

Never Forget
Steve (Left w/ flag in helmet) responding to the 9/11 attacks.

Do you remember September 12th? I am not sure many of us do. On this 20th Anniversary of 9/11, think hard back to it. It didn’t matter if you were a fan of President Bush or not. We were united. Singularly focused on saving as many as we could and kicking someone’s ass. We donated blood to each other, our American flags still waved proudly even at our lowest moment, and we all held hands at candlelight vigils—we were one nation. Never forget 9/11, but forever hold 9/12 dear, and by God, let’s get back to it.

That is their goal remember: United we stand, but divided we fall.

God bless America, our first responders, and our military.

Freedom will forever ring no matter how hard they try—both foreign and domestic.

In Honor of All Those Lost,

John J. Radzwilla


hook and barrel editor john radzwilla signature


  • John J. Radzwilla

    "It is painting the picture of the great outdoors as it applies to the modern outdoorsman. That lifestyle can be illustrated by the clothes that we wear, the vehicles we drive, the drinks that we drink, the places we travel to, the gear that we own, and ultimately the hunts that we participate in." — John Radzwilla, Editor-In-Chief

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