The Tip of the Spear: A Conversation with Marine Combat Officer John Francis Warren
Play • 1 hr 21 min

In this episode, Brian Beckcom speaks with retired Marine Corps Captain John Warren about his combat experience in Afghanistan. Brian and Captain Warren also discuss the leadership principles John learned during his time as the Deputy Director of the Infantry Officer School, where he prepared incoming Marine Officers for combat assignments in war zones. 

Captain John Warren served as the “Tip of the Spear” with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, leading combat operations in Southern Afghanistan immediately after September 11th; his Marine company was one of the first sets of boots on the ground following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Captain Warren then returned to Quantico to serve as the Deputy Director of the infantry officer school, teaching Marines how to overcome hardships, conquer tough challenges, and thrive in the face of adversity. 

In this episode, Brian and John discuss:

  • His upbringing and the life experiences that led him to a life of military service 
  • John’s formula for overcoming anxiety and climbing uphill battles
  • Where he was at the time of the September 11th terrorist attacks and the mental shift that took place when he realized that he’d be deployed into a hot combat zone
  • The most surprising thing that happened to him during deployment (a Christmas story)
  • What it was like mentoring young Marines, preparing them to survive, and equipping them with the skills they’d need to perform under the most hostile environments imaginable
  • His pivot out of the Marine Corps and into the construction industry where he began by building barracks and homes for other Marines
  • How to stay tough through the tumultuous times we’re living in
  • And other topics


Captain John Francis Warren was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Following graduation from the University of Texas A&M, John was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC. He became an infantry officer and served with the 15th Marine expeditionary unit, leading combat operations in Southern Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. Later, John was selected as 1 of 12 instructors at the infantry officer course to become the Deputy Director, a role where he essentially taught incoming Marines how to be Marines. After serving for nine years, John resigned his commission to work in the commercial construction industry, where he’s led over $1.3 billion in major construction projects. John is currently the HJD Capital president, a commercial construction company in San Antonio, where he lives with his wife, boys, and three dogs.

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