Due to the success of this company and our podcast a lot of people have wanted to know more about me. So this is for the thousands following us, listening to our podcasts and especially for those of you training with us at Protection Plus Tactics.
My name is Don Ratkowski, here is my lineage. I am a descendant of Peloponnese, my father served in the US Army during Viet Nam. While he was in Viet Nam my mother and I lived in Woodland California with my grandpa. My grandfather was a german orphan brought to America after WWI. He eventually joined the Army Air Corps and fought in WWII as an air crew member of a B25. While my father was in Viet Nam my German orphan WWll Veteran grandfather taught me some of life’s lesson and helped me to become the man I am today.
After my mom and I moved to Woodland to live with my Grandfather it was time for me to go to a new school, Beamer Elementary. I was the new kid and on that first day I got beat up pretty bad by a group kids. When my grandfather saw what happened to me he took me to an old Hispanic boxing gym in Woodland and turned me over to an old man who began teaching me to box, I was 6 years old. I continued boxing every day after school for the next 2 years.
When my father returned from Viet Nam we moved to Folsom California where I began to study Shotokan Karate at the Jr. High in a youth program. After a short time my sensei introduced me to the coach of the freestyle wrestling team. I began wrestling at 9 years old. Soon my wrestling coaches introduced me to a young man, who was the national youth judo champion, he also wrestled and had just moved to Folsom, I was soon studying Judo to go with the Boxing, Karate and wrestling.
I continued to train and compete in tournaments until I was 17 at which time I joined the Marine Corps in 1983. My MOS is 6017 F/A-18 Plane Captain. I was eventually attached to the Third Marine Airwing, Mag-11 VMFA 323 fighter attack squadron. While attached to the Death Rattlers I received, several meritorious masts and promotions, including a Meritorious Unit Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy for achieving a milestone in Marine Corps history by receiving the Hanson Award three consecutive times which had never been done by a Marine Corps Squadron before. I am very proud of that award and the part we played in achieving it.
While attached to VMFA 323, we spent time on the USS Coral Sea, from 1984-85. Interesting note, while on the Coral Sea we collided with an oil Tanker “The Napo.” Both ships were severely damaged. I saw many things while on that ship that I will never forget, sailing through a hurricane, jets crashing into the deck, helicopters spinning out of control. While on that deployment to the Mediterranean sea aboard the USS Coral Sea, I received my first combat decorations for the part we played in bombing Libya in 1985 under the direction of the President of the United States.
Shortly after reenlisting In 1987, while deployed on a WESTPAC (Western Pacific deployment) that included time in Japan, Korea, Australia, and the Philippine Islands, I was selected for Jungle Environmental Survival Training (JEST). It was there I met the great Grandmaster Harry Greene, a Special Forces jungle fighter from the Viet Nam war. As a young marine with a history of martial arts training he took interest in me as I was able to pick up the techniques fast. While in JEST we learned evasion and survival skills based on the jungle environment and blade combative techniques. I also attended Counter Terrorism Training, ship board firefighting and desert survival. Grandmaster Harry Greene was a great influence on me and my career as a marine. He is one of the best knife fighters I have ever trained with and I have been blessed to be able to train with some great ones including my colleague Blaise Loong, whom we fly up to teach our hand and knife combative classes at PPT.
After returning back to the states I was selected to become an instructor so I was transferred to VMFA 314 Black Knights to await my orders and transfer date. While waiting for my transfer, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait so we were mobilized and we arrived in country on August 16th 1990. We were now a part of IMEF and the first 5000 Marines in country. While in Iraq, we operated at a forward operating base. Our post was attacked multiple times a day with rockets and missiles, a SCUD missile detonated about 600 yards from the tent I called home. While performing my duties in the Iraq war operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I received multiple decorations and awards, including a Navy Unit Commendation on behalf of the President of the United States.
I am very proud of the time I spent in the Marine Corps and the things I was able to accomplish when given the opportunity. Those are special times for me that helped shape and mold me into the person I am today. I am a combat veteran, like my father and my grandfather before me.
After the Marine Corps I began training with Max Joseph, another former Marine who served during the same time as I. Max, who was a former Recon Marine, started a company called TFTT (Tactical Firearms Training Team) out of Southern California. I was invited to train advanced pistol tactics and executive protection with TFTT. Learning from Max and his team was some of the best pistol guidance I have ever received and I’m grateful for the invitation. Shortly after that I began providing security for several clients mainly in the precious stones industry. We were protecting high profile jewelers while they traveled with expensive pieces or collections to see clients or attend trade shows in New York and Las Vegas.
I also studied under Paul Castle training in Center Axis Relock (CAR). Paul Castle developed a gunfighting system that has influenced many techniques employed today and has been considered revolutionary in the progression of pistol tactics. I am grateful for the things those two men taught me about pistol and exec protect tactics. I have trained with many men from various backgrounds and disciplines with an understanding that lineage is important. With a lifetime of martial arts experience I was able to incorporate their teachings into my martial arts and weapon knowledge. I have studied knife and hand combative techniques from Grandmaster Harry Greene and I studied Cho Li Fut and Bak Sil Lum from the great Lai Hung. I have dedicated my life to the study of martial arts and combat. I am grateful for the knowledge I gained from these great men and I am committed to sharing this knowledge.
We have trained security agents who handle some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, including Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Anthrax, Tool, CEOs, dignitaries, royalty, athletes, actors and entertainers from around the world. As the name indicates Protection Plus Tactics has been providing protection, weapons, medical and tactical training to various agencies and civilians for years. I created this company because the people I chose to teach and train told me I have a gift for teaching and needed to share it with the world.
I am a man, a father, a Marine Corps combat veteran, a business owner, an author and a leader in the community. I am a member of the Marine Corps League and VFW. I volunteer for the Auburn Area Honor guard performing burials, marching in parades, and conducting ceremonies such as flag retirements and functions honoring veterans. I serve as the armorer caring for the weapons we use when performing the final burial ceremony for veterans who served this great country. It is truly a gratifying experience to provide these services for the heroes of our nation so their families can experience the militaries final honor, I am proud to be a part of it and have been for the last 7 years.
I take pride in all my accomplishments both in and out of the military but I am mostly proud of the things I have accomplished since the military. I love my children, my daughter attending college in Santa Barbara and my son who works beside me everyday, they are what I am most proud of. I am also grateful for the work I do, and the services we provide for the community we live in. People from across this country train with us because we do not teach you how to shoot a gun, we teach you how to fight with a weapon.
Semper Fidelis to all my brothers and sisters with special recognition to Lt Col. D. Stevenson and Col. D. Huxtable for being there with me through some crazy times both in and out of the Corps.
Grandmaster Harry Greene
Master Lai Hung