13Qs with Team 5 Foundation’s Eric Linder

When we met the co-founder of Team 5 Foundation, Eric Linder, for the first time last month at SHOT Show 2012, we knew instantly that we wanted to help support his team’s incredible efforts. Thanks to a quick introduction from our friend Craig Sawyer, and pulling together a quick order of Precision Ultra Lite WPi boots, Sparta Jackets, RD Nano Tec Polos and more, Magnum and Team 5 had forged a partnership rooted in helping others less fortunate. After many years of sacrifice and service to our country, it’s inspiring to see how dedicated Linder is to selflessly helping others in this capacity. So naturally, we thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about this New Jersey native, and share his mission with our customers, fans and friends.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I joined the U.S. Air Force right out of high school. As I was already experienced as an EMT with the New Jersey State Police Rescue Team, I became an Aerospace Crash/Fire Rescueman and later cross-trained to Security Police, where I was a member of the Emergency Services Team (SWAT). After being deployed for Operation Desert Storm, I joined the Las Vegas Metro Police where I was a detective, a tactical medic and earned a fellowship to Israel in counter-terrorism. While in Israel I joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and became an Israel commando in Pararescue, which is the combat unit for search and rescue behind enemy lines. I served two years in the Lebanon War and then continued to serve as a reservist for 10 years after.

After my two years was completed in Israel, I returned to Las Vegas Metro as a detective. There I taught local and federal agencies in counter-terror and profiling of suicide bombers. This was all pre-9/11.

When 9/11 occurred, I was recruited by the Federal Government to serve in the Federal Air Marshal Program to combat terrorism. After two and a half years, I moved on to the United Nations, where I held a command position as the Director of Major Crime for Kosovo. This was post-war era and right before Kosovo became a country, which was a very volatile time. War crimes and mass graves, along with assignations, were some of the top focuses of the position.

From Kosovo I was recruited to the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, where I am now the Director of Safety & Security for our aviation department, which is the largest privately owned airline in the world. Las Vegas Sands Corp. was also a strong supporter of building Team 5 Foundation.

Team 5 Foundation was built by a few of us who were prior Special Forces 18D, Pararescueman and SWAT Paramedics, as well as specialized remote doctors and nurses. We travel to the ends of the globe to find the most austere locations to give healthcare to those who have never had it, and are in dire need of it. The foundation is young and we have already proven that our deployments are successful and unique. Not only do we give care, but we educate the local doctors and nurses in advanced techniques, give midwives a real course and certification, and donate advanced and basic life support equipment for the villagers to be self sufficient.

Speaking of Team 5, when did you start the organization, and why?

Less than a year ago, Team 5 was created over a few beers between friends Andrew Cull and Tom Milne, who work for Remote Medical International, and myself. I had been doing medical missions for a few years with Tejas Missions from Texas and Medical Missions Foundation in Kansas, and wanted to bring another angle to missions. So we sat down, put our ideas on paper and decided we would like to get five of the Fortune 500 companies to sponsor our medical deployments to developing countries full time. The number five came up as we wanted an odd number in case a vote was needed for where we would deploy.

Our angle is simple: T5 is not based on any political or religious clout. We work with local organizations and healthcare providers, educate the local clinics, equips the locations with needed supplies so that they can be self-sufficient and not reliant on a return from the foundation.

We also incorporated military vets who served in the Special Forces as 18D’s, Pararescueman and ATP’s along with our normal crew of remote doctors, nurses and practitioners (RMPs).

What has the response been like so far for Team 5?

Incredible! In three weeks, our Facebook page had over 1,000 followers. In addition, our sponsors went from three to 14, which allowed us to focus more on the deployment rather than worrying about the funding and equipment. We now have almost 3,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter and are hoping for more sponsors.

On our last deployment to Guatemala, we were well-received and invited back to each village. As the Mayan villagers are weary of outsiders, we are told this is very special that they have invited us back to their villages. We appreciate the warm welcome.

We have now been contacted by organizations in Philippines, Belize and India for new deployments. We are always welcoming any assistance to make these deployments possible.

There has to be a lot of preparation before you leave for a mission. Can you tell us what medical tip everyone should heed?

Do your homework. Know what is the risk for the location you are going to and plan for it. If your destination has malaria, typhoid, yellow fever or poisonous reptiles, know what to take as a prophylactic and find the nearest location for anti-venom. Be a leader, not a follower.

What’s the one thing you never leave home without, and why?

A blow out kit. I always pack a personal kit that has waterproof matches, Mylar blanket, first aid supplies, a 14g needle and water purification tabs. And a good attitude, because if you need this kit, you’ll need to be positive if you want to survive.

When you’re not working or on a mission, what are your hobbies?

Hiking, kayaking, SCUBA, reading and of course, travel.

List three misconceptions that people often have about you.

  1. I’m a hard ass. I am actually just focused and highly driven, as I don’t know how to fail.
  2. I don’t smile. I do, but they are not for free… If I am smiling, you earned it.
  3. I don’t look like a tough guy… but I’ll shred you in pieces if you want a title fight. I have a 2nd degree in Kung Fu and a Master in Krav-Maga.

We were fortunate enough to meet you through the Tactical Insider himself, Craig Sawyer. How do you two know each other?

Sawman and I go back about 10 years… He was my supervisor in the Federal Air Marshal Program after 9/11. We quickly became friends and even teach together for a private company on occasion in executive protection and tactical medicine. He is not only inspirational, but he is exactly what you may think – a badass warrior who is not only focused but determined, and wears his heart on his sleeve. He is one of my closest friends and consider him family.

OK, time to get serious. If you could build the ultimate sandwich, what would it be?

It would be called the “Hammer” (a nickname given to me in Kosovo for bringing down war criminals; initially, Hebrew Hammer). It would be guacamole, turkey breast, provolone, tomato, full slice of onion and some hot sauce on rye!

Who helped and supported you to be the person who you are today?

That’s easy. As a kid I was dyslexic, partially deaf and had ADD as they call it today. So instead of writing me off, my mom did what every mother should do, figure it out and don’t make excuses for it. She got me tutors for the learning disability and straightened out the dyslexia, had surgeries on my ears to fix the hearing, and then signed me up for every adventure camp, kung fu class and activity she could think of. I did it all and when I told my Jewish mom I wanted to go in the military, she wasn’t pleased but backed up my dreams. Same for going in the police, fighting for Israel in the Lebanon War. Basically with any life-changing decision, she is a backboard for me. I would never be who I am today without her, no doubt about that.

What other plans are in the works for Team 5 this year?

We are planning a return to Guatemala in July with a small team of 5-6 to really get deep in the jungles. We want to shadow our students that just graduated and also see patients who did not get a chance on last visit. Also we are planning to head to orphanages in the South East part of India in October.

What is your favorite Magnum product?

I really like the RD pants and was surprised how fast the Precision Ultra Lite WPi boots broke in. I normally get blisters on my feet, but the Magnum socks fit perfect, wicked away the sweat and dampness of the jungle. I was able to hike hours without a problem! One thing we didn’t think about was the yellow bearded vipers all over the place. We would most likely look at a boot with a higher cut for next mission in case of a snake attack.

Anything else you would like to add?

I have to say, Magnum walks the walk! I hear all the time that companies want to help and sponsor, but sometimes they don’t come through. You geared our team without hesitation and we put it to use.  We really appreciate the help you have given us, as well as our other solid sponsors, and hope to continue our relationship with future deployments.

One last quote to leave you with: “In order to be involved, you must show up.”

Take a minute and head over to Team 5 Foundation’s website. And while you’re at it, give them some Twitter and Facebook love — just be sure to tell them Magnum sent you.

Posted in: 13Qs