FOWLER:Tell us a bit about Tyler and Flip — what class were they in?
MERRITT: Tyler and Flip were classmates at West Point, and their class motto was “Never Falter, Never Quit.” But this is more than just a motto — Tyler and Flip live by this term. And even after more than 100 surgeries, Flip continues to fight on. He has overcome some of the most physically and mentally tough challenges, and he seems to do it like it’s just another day.
Tyler is an Army captain, currently a SOAR Special Operations pilot for the elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which was credited with delivering SEAL Team 6 to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The “Night Stalkers,” as it’s known, is not Tyler’s specific unit, but he’s among the top 1 percent of Army pilots.
FOWLER: Flying helicopters?
FOWLER: And what’s your military background?
MERRITT: I am an Army captain who just got off eleven years of active duty. Today I am a civil-affairs officer with the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), which is based at Fort Jackson, S.C.
FOWLER:So you are helping Flip by creating and selling cool duds. Tell us about that.
MERRITT: We started out by selling TEAM FLIP Shirts for Flip’s wife, Jessica. We wanted to raise money to offset their increased living expenses due to the fact that she had to quit her job to be by her husband’s side full time. We then decided to go a step further: We created an apparel line and trademarked our brand and logo. Nine Line Apparel is a great-looking apparel line. Our product line is “Wear Your Cause,” and we make everything from polo shirts, t-shirts, and bags to caps and many other items. We have been helped out greatly by the military community, but we need to branch out. Our goal is to turn Nine Line Apparel into a household-name brand known for giving back to the military community and wounded service members.
Nine Line Apparel looks good, and a portion of every sale’s revenues goes to a great cause. Nine Line Apparel is proud to be sponsoring its first of many service members to come — Flip. We are also finalizing the start-up of The Nine Line Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that will be run by Alyssa Fischer, a dear friend. Nine Line Foundation will be doing monthly fundraisers around the country to support TEAM FLIP and the Klein family. Our motto is “No Mission Denied,” and when our mission is complete with Flip, we’ll move on to help another brave warrior who needs support.
FOWLER:Give me the website and address for Nine Line so NRO readers can get themselves some righteous clothing.
FOWLER: And here’s the Friends of Flip Facebook page so the good folks of NRO can learn more about this amazing American.
MERRITT: They’ll be shocked by how courageous one man can be.
FOWLER: So let’s wind this up by hearing about another dear friend of yours. Give everyone a clue about how Captain Daniel Merritt knows the folks at National Review, and feel free to share any story you might have about anyone named Merritt or Buckley who you might know from Stamford, Conn.
MERRITT: First off, I want to thank National Review. This is the magazine that I grew up with as a child. I knew about it because my father, Dan Merritt, was best friends with both Christopher Buckley and his father, Bill — whom I always called “Mr. Buckley.” I grew up in Stamford, right down the street from Mr. Buckley, and it is a well-known fact that I am the favorite godson of Christopher.
Anyway, I have a particularly fond memory of Mr. Buckley that not many people know. I was a young kid, about 13 years old, and I made my way down to Yacht Haven, the marina in Stamford, where Mr. Buckley’s boat Patito was docked. I was fishing off the boat all alone — or thought I was — smoking one of Mr. Buckley’s cigars. As I was fishing, the boat rocked back and forth, and Mr. Buckley appeared out of nowhere, catching me, a 13-year-old, in the act of smoking his cigar. I thought I was in big trouble. But he just looked at me and said, “Are you enjoying that cigar?” Scared, I said, “Yes, Mr. Buckley.” He said, “Good. They are expensive.”
— Jack Fowler is the publisher of National Review.