Montgomery Elite Marshals: Pick 3 + 1

“Who, who, who, who…”

Dateline:  Montgomery, AL

I’ll tell you the first time I did something like this…random/freestylin’ interviews,


I was a Feature Reporter at KFSN-TV in Fresno, Calif. I was the newest guy in the newsroom so I got stuck working on Thanksgiving.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING was going on around Fresno, yet we still had a newscast to put together. There were two reporters and two photogs working that day…another new guy handled the hard news…me…I had to find a story.

On Thanksgiving.

And Google was no help since both Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were just 10 years old this Thanksgiving.

So I went to pre-Google, the phone book, and I started looking for a story idea…and guess what, I found it.

Random/freestylin’ interviewing began Thanksgiving 1983.

I grabbed one of the photogs, a cool dude named Gary Brooks, I think, and all I told him was this…I have a story…and here’s the address.

Nothing else.

We get to the address; I knock on the door, Gary is standing behind me with the camera rolling, a huge blue RCA monster with an equally heavy 3/4-inch video tape deck hanging off his shoulder,

and the door slowly opens,

laughter from inside the house spills out as well as the smell of turkey and all the fixin’s,

standing in front of me are a man and a women,

Gary flips on the big light on top of the video camera, and I say exactly this:

“Hi, I’m Don Barone from Channel 30 Action News…”

And they are just staring at me…they have no idea why I am there…I never called to say I was coming…it’s Thanksgiving, they are with their family, and an Action News crew is standing on their front porch.

And then I say exactly this:

“…are you Mr. & Mrs. Pilgrim…”


“…great, because I would like to have Thanksgiving dinner with the Pilgrims.”


Back at the station, when looking at the tape in editing, you could see the camera jump up and down as Gary started laughing when he heard me ask the question.

You would also see 20 some minutes of my Thanksgiving dinner with the Pilgrims…and their entire family.

They opened the door, they let us in, they served us a meal, and we became friends…and they made the 6’o’clock news throughout the San Joaquin Valley,

that Thanksgiving night.

To this day, I remember their faces, their kitchen, their table, their talk of family, handshakes, laughter, green peas and mashed potatoes.

They were complete strangers.

And yet, we became family for a few hours that Thanksgiving, 1983, Fresno, California, in the great San Joaquin Valley.

It was journalism on the loose.

It was a random thought.

It was news, freestylin’.

And in the copy I wrote for the story, I ended it exactly like this:

“We are all strangers, until we take a tiny moment in time, to meet, to listen, to care, and when that happens, then we all become family.  Happy Thanksgiving, Don Barone, Channel 30 Action News.”

I believed it back then, I believe it now.


And once again I’m going to try and prove it…this time with random picked Marshals for the Elite event in Montgomery, Ala.

In case you don't know, a Bassmaster Elite Series Marshal is the dude who sits in the boat with the pro angler. His job is to make sure the angler follows the rules. But the in process he gets to spend a full day watching one of the best anglers in the world, fish. For nine hours.

It’s a PICK-3…but this time I add one more…

…PICK 4 at the Alabama River Charge presented by Star brite.

“…well, who are you…”

America, she came a knockin’ today at the door of B.A.S.S.

Normally, we ring the doorbell of those amber grains and shining seas.

But today, US of A, came to us.

Men and women, young and old and a bunch in the middle, they came from Alabama, they came from Georgia, they came from other states, they brought with them in their speech a tinge of North, a tinge of South, they came in all the shades of mankind.

Humans exchanging smiles, stories, handshakes – all brought together by a fish.

I’m betting, only on Earth is it possible that one species can bring another species together.

Random picks, journalism on the loose,


Kurt Dove and Derrick WestonMeet commercial real estate broker and somewhat (possibly over the top) University of South Carolina Gamecock fan Derrick Weston.

Age 40, married to Carolyn since 2006, from Woodstock, Georgia, self-made, no college (born in Columbus, S.C., hence the Gamecock fandemonium), no kids, Dad was a school teacher, Mom worked for the federal government, likes country music, “Darius Rucker…”

“I made it through the real estate market collapse; I worked harder, did with less.”

Sounds familiar.

Still works 55 hours a week. “Then fishing when I can.”

Derrick kept telling me that he wasn’t all that interesting, “just a normal guy,” except for one small problem, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “normal” human being.

We are the only species where some of us walk on the moon, and some of us panhandle on the street.

No normal, not buying it.

So I ask Derrick this exact question, “Suppose I gave you a million bucks to do your dream…what would you do, what is your dream?”

There was no immediate answer, Derrick thought about his answer for several minutes than said this, “I would start a marina in Florida. I love to fish, my wife loves to fish, it’s something we do together, brings us closer together, I would do that.”

Dude could have picked a Ferrari.

Dude could have rattled off a two-page bucket list.

Dude could have just said, “Give me the cash,” and then made a break for it, and a new life.

But, instead, he picked something that he loves that he could do with the love of his life, his wife, Carolyn.

So then I asked this, “If you opened a saltwater marina, you would need a big boat to go fishing…what would you name the boat.”

Derrick thought for a moment, then looked at me and said, “Cocky after the University of South Carolina Mascot.”

Oh well, can’t be perfect…

“…oh, who are you…”

They came in jeans.

They came in khakis.

They came in fishing pants and shorts.

But one came in something entirely different.

CW4 Darrin Gibson and Dennis TietjeOne came in fatigues.

Army fatigues.

Came, in active duty.

“Sir, my name is Darrin Gibson.”

PICK 3 + 1…and Darrin Gibson is the + 1 I added.

If a man who defends our country stands in line to be a Marshal, I pick them, as I would a cop, a fireman, a first responder, a nurse, a teacher, if I see them standing in line it will always become a PICK 3 +1.

I believe it is the honorable thing to do.

Darrin Gibson, Chief Warrant Officer (CW4) in the Alabama National Guard. Age 45, married 17 years, wife’s name is Hope, born in east Texas, Baytown to be exact. Joined the Marine Corps first, Special Ops/Anti Terrorism Unit, then after getting out of that branch, went back and joined the Army where he achieved Expert Infantry on the first try.

Only a small percentage of Army grunts get the EIB Badge, it is awarded once a year with pass rates only being about 10%.

Know this, before CW4 Darrin Gibson sets foot as a Bassmaster Marshal in an Elite anglers’ boat, he has already served his country in the Marine Corps and the Army by being in Desert Storm, Iraq, Panama, Kosovo, Haiti and several others he didn’t want to mention.

Been protecting us most of his life…25 years and counting.

When he has the chance, he likes to hunt and fish, “…and spend as much time with Hope as possible.”

I asked him what’s on his bucket list and he didn’t think a minute before saying, “…pretty much doing it.”

Me:  “Tell me about yourself.”

CW4 Gibson:  “Not much to say, I’m patriotic.”

I got that, and I’m thankful for that as well. 

Let me set the scene: It is after the registration meeting, it is only me and the PICK 3 + 1 guys left in the huge hall.  We are sitting at a round table…Derrick Weston is next to me on my right…across from me is CW4 Gibson…next to him is a 25-year-old cement worker…next to him, on my left is a 23-year-old University of Alabama MIS major.

My next question: “Why are you patriotic, why have you spent most of your life protecting us here at the table?”

CW4 Gibson looked at me, glanced quickly at the others around the table, looked down at his hands for a second, and then looked up and straight into my eyes. He never blinked, and this is the note I wrote to myself as he looked at me, “the eagle speaks.”

“Sir, I do it to help people, help keep people safe here in America, but also as important, to help people in other countries AT LEAST have a chance to have the kind of freedom we have in America…they can choose it or not…but at least they need to get the chance to choose.”

I never asked him another question.

All I did was reach across the table, and shake his hand.

“…oh tell me, who are you…”

He is the same age as my shoes.  23.

Nick Carlyle ... Keith Poche was out in the boat working on tackle.Meet Nick Carlyle, University of Alabama student majoring in MIS and minoring in CS.  From Madison, Ala., Dad is in real estate and stone counter tops, Mom is a nurse.

“So what do you want to do when you get out of college?”

“Get a job and pay off my student loans.”

Seems Nick has a dog in the fight, his parents have paid some of the college bill, he’s borrowed the rest. “I’m lucky, MIS grads can get jobs, most others are not so lucky.”

Honestly, I don’t know what more to ask…he’s 23…I’ve had 23 year olds live in my house….my 23 year olds…I’ve heard their answers…so as I’m trying to save this PICK 3 thing, across the table CW4 Gibson says that he has to leave, we say goodbye, and he takes off.

Me, I go back to mainly looking at this kid hoping I get a brain bolt from the questions gods when Nick looks at me and says, “I really appreciate the soldiers (he nods in CW4 Gibson’s direction) because of them our rights are set in stone, because of people like him I’m free to become whatever I want to be and that society will pretty much be the same, the same bedrock, allof my life, that’s pretty cool.”

I think the kid will be able to pay back the college loans, pretty quick.

“…who are you…”

“I’m just a blue collar guy.”

Me too.

Zachary Sapp and Steve KennedyMeet 25-year-old Zachary Sapp, “I blend the materials, rocks, sand, water, fly ash and cement to make concrete.  I also dispatch concrete.”

Three years of college at Tennessee Wesleyan where he was a scholarship athlete in cross country and golf.  Not married. His dad is a youth pastor, mom is a surgical tech, he lives in Augusta, Georgia, “Dude, you golf, do you get to play at Augusta National Golf Club….”


Didn’t think so. Not the kind of place that invites concrete blenders to play the front, or back, nine.

“So dude, why you here?”

“It’s my birthday, I’m giving myself a birthday present.”

Good for you my friend, good for you.

We talk some, it is just me and him left at the round table. He tells me about how to blend stuff into concrete, most of it just goes over my head, it sounds tough, physical, dusty.

It hasn’t aged him, yet. He is 25, looks 18 at best, will probably be carded until he’s 30.

Blue collar, blue collar values. When CW4 Gibson left the table, Zachary looked up at him and said exactly this, “Thank you, sir, for your service.”

So, alone just the two of us, I ask him, “Dude, why did you say that to the Army guy?”

“I always do. Always thank them.”

I look at him and smile, I’m thinking, here it comes, don’t be judging a man by the concrete he mixes…

…and does it come, a strike high and inside thrown right at me.

“It’s about respect, Mr. Barone.  Just think, that man there is putting his life on the line so a kid like me can be free, free to be President or free to mix concrete.  How can you NOT respect that?  Every time I see a service person, they touch my heart, and I have to thank them.”

'”…come on, come on…”

PICK 3 + 1…just 4 of the Elite Marshals of Montgomery.

Derrick Weston rides today with Kurt Dove.

CW4 Darrin Gibson is on board with Dennis Tietje.

Nick Carlyle with Keith Poche, and Zachary Sapp is riding with my friend Steve Kennedy.

I believe that if you take a little part of each of these people, what you come up with…is us.

We are the sum of each other.

We have loved ones, we have dreams, we care about and love where we live…it is the DNA of the crowd.

If there are 100 Marshals there are 100 stories.

If there are a couple of billion of us in the crowd, there are a couple of billion stories waiting to be told,

waiting to be heard.

To the stories yet to be told,

to Mr. & Mrs. Pilgrim and their family,

thank you for letting me do freestylin’ news,

and for telling me, about you,

but most of all, for showing me, how same we all are,

and how easy that is to find out,

if all we do, is ask,


are you…

“…cause I really wanna know.”

“Who Are You”

The Who


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