In my life, there has always been one man I have always looked up to. This man has trained me to fight and defend myself for years with Mixed Martial Arts. Taking MMA classes with this man was a lot of fun yet super intense, considering he was a Navy Seal. After being assigned to interview a veteran, I knew that this guy was the person to go to, and that man’s name is Alex Wilkie.
When I was assigned to interview a veteran, I knew that Wilkie would the best person to ask. Unfortunately, Alex is located in central New Jersey by my hometown, so I had to interview him through the phone. When I dialed his number, he picked up and immediately and I started the conversation with “Hey Big Al! Its Alex Trani from Mondays and Wednesdays MMA ground fighting and thai boxing classes!” Without hesitation, Wilkie screamed back at me “Hey killer! Hows it going!” Wilkie and I have known each other for a long time, so being informal to one another wasn’t an issue.
The conversation started with catching up with Wilkie. Alex Wilkie for about 20 years has owned his own personal MMA academy where he teaches MMA classes. On every day of the week, there are different types of classes, spanning from thai boxing to knife self defense and weapon disarms. Wilkie loved his job so much that his age never got to him, being almost 60 years old and still training men and women half his age to fight! I asked Wilkie how much longer he would still be running his training facility, and he responded word for word with “Until I drop dead!”
After catching up with Big Al, I brought up interviewing him about his time he served as a Navy Seal for a class assignment. Before asking any questions pertaining to the Seals, I first asked him if this was an okay subject to talk about- in case the subject is extremely personal to him. Wilkie told me that he would talk to me, but would limit himself on some topics if they were brought up. Therefore without further hesitation, I began with my first question, asking him “Do you believe that the services you did for this country was worth the pain, if any pain?” Wilkie stayed silent for about 10 seconds, and then responded with “Without a doubt, I would die for my country, my brothers in war, my family.” After that remark, he went on to talk about how when going into war, you don’t just go to fight, you go to better yourself and “mature.” Alex Wilkie had a heavy belief in dedication and commitment.
The next question I asked Wilkie was “Have you ever had an operation where you felt it was not right and that there was too much of a risk of dying?” Wilkie kept this answer very brief with a response of ” Yes, but I can’t speak anymore about operations. Every operation is classified. Some operations were way more dangerous than others, but it wasn’t like we had a choice.” From the tone of his response, I felt a little discomfort off of him, so I moved onto another topic.
“Did you go into the Navy by yourself? Or did you and a friend make the decision to go together? Did you go with a group?” With a more uprising tone, Alex responded that he went into service alone. He felt that he needed to devote time for the security of the United States. He wanted to “give back.” After this question, the conversation was at around the 25 minute mark in length. I wanted to ask him about if going to war has changed/shaped him into a different person and if any PTSD was present; however, I felt I got enough information from him, and that it was a touchy subject to hit.
When the interview started to come to close, I brought up to Alex that I will see him soon at the end of this college semester for fighting classes. Wilkie loved me, especially since I was named after him according to my mom! (True Story!) Getting to know more from his time in service was extremely fascinating. In conclusion, my interview with Alex Wilkie, Ex Navy Seal and current owner of Wilkie’s Mixed Martial Art’s Academy, was not only informative, but joyful since I haven’t seen and talked to him since the Summer.