Retired from military service, Heath Trost now trains others
For 27 years, Concordia native Heath Trost put his life on the line for his country. As a member of the vaunted 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-DELTA, Trost took the fight to America's enemies during 10 combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
All total, Trost spent almost four full years in active war zones. Oftentimes stationed in the epicenter of terrorism - Baghdad, Iraq - Trost's duties included hunting down suicide bombers, the bomb-makers and their jihadist leaders, and the 'Deck of Cards' - the terrorists at the top of the military's Most-Wanted list.
On October 24, 2005, Trost nearly lost his life when a terrorist detonated a suicide vest inside an Al-Qaeda safe house.
In his military career, Heath Trost would be awarded four Bronze Stars for heroism and bravery under fire.
It has been a little over three years since Trost retired from military service, but his training days are far from over. In fact, training is his life now.
Trost spends about six months a year training Army and Navy Special Ops soldiers in Advanced Military Freefall. This is more than just skydiving; these soldiers make jumps anywhere from 6,000 to 18,000 feet in the air utilizing oxygen and night vision.
Trost trains at sites in Eloy, Arizona, and De Funiak Springs, Florida. To date, he has tallied 3,372 jumps. About a third of those jumps have been at night.
Trost also works as a shooting instructor at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
In August 2018, Trost formed Innovative Techniques & Tactics, a veteran-owned company that promotes positive instruction for pistol and rifle marksmanship, high intensity physical conditioning, and civilian skydiving and tandem training. Trost is also a motivation speaker, with a Special Operations flavor.
Trost incorporates many aspects of his military experience into Innovative's concepts for civilian training. He devotes a large portion of his civilian work to proper gun safety.
"People often purchase a weapon for personal protection," Trost said. "They need to be informed and understand what is the appropriate weapon for their personal protection; the proper use and storage of the weapon, and its proper placement in the home."
As of October 30, 17.2 million firearms had been sold in the United States in the year 2020. Five million individuals were first-time gun owners, a 28% increase from the previous year. Many gun owners cited the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason why they purchased a weapon.
"My company focuses heavily on the basic fundamentals of firearms safety and training," Trost said.
Personal training was not something Trost planned on doing after he retired from the military. "I was sought out to do this," he said. "As more and more people approached me for personal training, my interest peaked. Now I really enjoy teaching others."
The four men assembled on a brisk Saturday morning at John Mastin's range are an advanced group. "These guys have been training with me for two years," Trost said. "They compete in competitions."
On this day the group worked on long-distance shooting, with accuracy up to 300 yards, and Advanced Scenario training, in which each individual traversed a live-fire course.
The men were relaxed, but serious, and worked hard on their live-fire technique. They used a variety of weapons, including AR-15s, and handguns utilizing .45, .40, .380, and 9mm ammunition.
"The training is kind of like martial arts," said Luke Hood. "No matter how much you train, there's always something to work on. You can always get better."
Hood feels fortunate to be able to train with someone like Trost. "Our country - our town - is lucky to have men like Heath Trost. He's a hero, and he's come back home."
Trost is proud of the work he does, and looks forward to new challenges in the future.
"Five to ten years is the same length of time give by senior chain of command in the military, and what I said to my subordinates. When I envision that time frame, I plan on hanging up my parachute and exchanging it for a private pilot's license."
Trost wants to earn a multi-engine pilot's license, for private use only. He has no plans to become a flight instructor.
"I want to hold bimonthly shooting expos and conduct quarterly 'Leadership and Motivation' seminars."
Always working, always training, always striving to achieve new goals. Heath Trost - a Concordia native son, and an American hero.
YOU CAN REACH HEATH TROST ON HIS FACEBOOK PAGE - Veteran Owned: Innovative Techniques & Tactics