squat Meet the man behind the site that makes the military laugh

Paul Szoldra, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Duffel Blog served in the Marine Corps for eight years. (Photo courtesy Paul Szoldra)

by Eric Dehm

Paul Szoldra’s transition after leaving the Marine Corps was a tough one.

How tough?

Consider this: while Szoldra was attending the University of Tampa he was so concerned about his future that he considered doing something that would horrify his fellow Marines.

Something that would make Chesty Puller himself roll over in his grave, if not rise out of it and slap some sense into him.

He actually considered entering Army ROTC.

“I’m just like ‘ah, I’ll just go back into the military and be an officer, it’ll be great!'” Szoldra said during a recent appearance on The Morning Briefing. “I was actually exploring that. And then I had an interview with the MilitaryTimes…”

You see, Szoldra thought he had a great idea for a website, one that he thought would help veterans choose the right college for them. It was called CollegeVeteran.com. The now defunct website had a humor section that would be spun off and take on a life of its own. It was that new site MilitaryTimes wanted to talk to Szoldra about.

You know it as Duffel Blog, the humor/satire site that “announced” the commissioning of the USS Jane Fonda and covered the recent ISIS safety standdown following a failed terror attack in NYC.

From that interview, things took off with the site’s audience multiplying rapidly. That growth is still going on today as Duffel Blog continues to make people laugh, and think, about the nonsense dealt with by those who serve. As of today, about 300K follow the site on Facebook alone.

Some of those fans are in pretty high places. Perhaps the best example is currently serving as Secretary of Defense. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, often featured in Duffel Blog as a caricature of himself, is such a fan he put it in writing, though not how anyone might have expected.

duff1 Meet the man behind the site that makes the military laugh

SECDEF Mattis is often caricatured on Duffel Blog and is a noted fan of the site. (DuffelBlog.com)

“When he was at Stanford, he was a fellow at the Hoover Institution,” Szoldra says of his fellow Marine.

“He actually put it in his bio, made them put in his bio, that he’s been frequently satirized by Duffel Blog.”

So from not knowing what he was going to do with his post-Corps life, Szoldra has found his place and done some great things with it, but he’s not done. He says that he has plans to expand the Duffel Blog universe and while he won’t go into detail on just how, he says the audience should be prepared for some epic new stuff.

And hey, even if his story ended today, Szoldra says it would have a happy ending.

“I’m not in the Army.”

To hear the full story of Szoldra’s journey to the founding of Duffel Blog, what he thinks about the people who think the site’s stories are real, and much more you can listen to the full interview below.

Stream the interview audio by pressing “play” or click the share button and select “download” from the menu options to save and listen later. 

Connect: @EricDehm | Eric@ConnectingVets.com

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