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Oct 5, 2020

Chris Stricklin ejected from the F-16 he was piloting during a Thunderbirds air show. In this interview, we talk about the crash but more importantly, we talk about living life with intention. Furthermore, Chris shares how the crash transformed his life. Consequently, he initiated a journey of healing through gratitude, growth, and giving. 

Chris co-authored the book Survivor’s Obligation with Joel Neeb. Chris ejected from his plane. Joel was diagnosed with a rare and often fatal cancer. Against the odds, both survived. Chris and Joel met years after their individual life-changing events and discovered they both had a desire to share their stories to help others. 

Consequently, they resolved to fulfill what they call survivor’s obligation—a responsibility to live an intentional life—for themselves and their families, and in honor of those who didn’t get a second chance. Finally, you can apply what you learn by listening to this interview in your life and live intentionally. 


Episode Highlights:

  • First, Emily welcomes Chris and asks him to explain how he met Joel Neeb.
  • Then Chris explains and why he and Joel co-authored the book Survivor's Obligation.
  • Emily and Chris talk about the importance of sharing stories and how we all can learn from each other's stories.
  • After that, Chris talks about what it takes to be a Thunderbird pilot and how they train.
  • Chris explains that the week of his crash was one of those weeks where everything went wrong.
  • Chris explains why the Thunderbird pilots were nervous of the day of his crash.
  • After take off, Chris knew he did not have enough altitude to finish his maneuver.
  • Furthermore, Chris explains that he had trained for this very moment and describes how his training paid off.
  • Chris said it took him years to deal with the crash. 
  • Also, he and his wife didn't talk about it for 13 years.
  • The Air Force did not require Chris to get counseling after the crash.
  • Chris didn't think he needed counseling and was confident counseling couldn't help him.
  • He soon learned that he actually did need counseling and he was suffering from PTSD.
  • Chris talks about his injuries and how he discovered he was over 2 inches shorter after the crash.
  • What does being successful mean to you? Chris and Emily discuss their answers to this question.
  • We all have a calling and we need to figure out what that is.
  • Fighter pilots are taught to compartmentalize so they can be on their game every day.
  • Consequently, compartmentalization tends to expand to other parts of their lives.
  • Chris explains that the crash was pilot error and he made sure the book states that.
  • The Thunderbirds and Navy’s Blue Angels made changes to their procedures to prevent a similar crash from happening again.
  • Chris explains why he thanked his maintenance crew for changing the ejection seat in his plane the night before his crash.
  • Finally, Chris explains how the crash changed his life and the importance of living intentionally telling his story to help others.


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