Meet Dillon Caldwell

Dillon Caldwell interview by Krystal Shannan (Copyright by KT Bryan 2012)

As I sit down Katie Couric-style on a couch across from Dillon in my living room, I notice that he’s very nicely dressed in form-fitting jeans, a white Oxford shirt all tucked in, and some kind of cool looking California sandals. Since I’m in Texas, I was kind of hoping he’d be wearing cowboy boots, but a girl’s gotta take what she gets, and if I wasn’t married, I’d take this man every day of the week. I almost sigh out loud but since I am married, (and so is he) I try not to blush.

I’d heard somewhere that the Navy SEAL rules went something like this:

1. Look very cool in sunglasses.

2. Kill every living thing within view.

3. Adjust speed to Mach 10.

4. Check hair in mirror.

The first rule is absolutely true. This guy is smoking hot in aviator sunglasses. As for the second rule, I hope not, especially since I really love my family and my dog. Number three would probably be fun, but I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t lose my breakfast. As for four, well, I can’t imagine this humble sounding man being in any way egotistical. I almost ask him if he is, but I don’t want to start out sounding rude. Totally not the Texas hospitality I’m going for. Still, maybe I’ll save that one for later.

So, time to get the ball rolling. “Dillon, thank you for coming to talk with us today. Can you share a little about your background in the military?”

“Hi, Krystal, and sure, I’d be happy to. Up to a point, of course.”

As he removes his sunglasses, he winks at me and I try not to get flustered. After all what woman can resist a wink from a hot guy? I clear my throat and say, “Of course.”

“First,” he adds, “I’d like to say thank you for inviting me into your home. It’s almost as lovely as you are.”

Oh boy, I think. I’m going to have to watch this one. What a charmer, and it’s not even noon yet. “Thank you,” I say and try even harder not to blush.

“So, to answer your question,” Dillon picks up his iced tea and studies it for just a moment before turning those ice blue eyes in my direction. “For an average guy, I was lucky enough to graduate from the United States Naval Academy with high honors. I also served in the Office of Naval Intelligence. From there it just made sense to me to become a Navy SEAL.”

“That’s a pretty elite background, wouldn’t you say?”

For a flash of a second he looks sad, but he gathers himself quickly. “I come from a humble background, regular parents, regular family. I guess, most of all, I wanted to make them all proud of me.”

“And I guess they were.” I know his background, know what happened to his family, and it makes me hate Sanchez for the pain I saw, even for a second, in this kind man’s eyes.

He nods, and I decide it’s time to move past the sadness. “How long have you been an EDGE operative?”

He gives me a wide grin. I smile back. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” Suddenly the grin disappears. “ No really. Not kidding here.”

His words make me wonder exactly what kinds of things he’s done. My smile dims, but doesn’t fade completely. After all, who doesn’t like to solve a mystery? And this man is shrouded in some kind of mystique so thick I wonder if his wife even knows. Part of me doesn’t think so.

I push on. “Do you find your work fulfilling?”

Dillon takes a sip of tea, then sets his glass gently on a coaster. “Before or after Sanchez wiped out my entire family?” He raises a hand in apology and shakes his head. “Sorry. That was off the cuff and sounded totally smart assed. My apologies. Let’s just say that for now I’m dealing. I’m sure there’s some sort of regulation that requires that all Navy SEALs must be Superman. Only we’re not. We really are just regular guys with some kick ass training.” He shrugs. “Some days are better than others. Teaching helps. Plus it keeps me home with Sara and the baby who, as you know, are my world.”

What I see in his eyes, I’ve seen in my husband’s. All consuming love. It’s almost too personal, too intrusive, to take in and I try not to divert my gaze. I tuck my feet up under me and ask, “If you couldn’t be an EDGE operative any longer, what would you do with your life?”

“That’s easy, I’d take Sara and Ellie and sail around the world.”

“Not worried about real life pirates?”

A hint of mischief shines in his eyes. “Nah. Another Navy motto is ‘go to sea, drink lots of coffee, and when danger strikes, deploy the Marines.”

OK, so I decide not to ask the egotistical question after all. Not to a nice guy with a decent sense of humor. “And if no Marines are handy?”

He shrugs. “I’d do what SEALs do best and blow the pirates back to where they came from.”

Easy for him to say. And, I realize with a thump of my heart, it probably is. “After you make them walk the plank, of course.”

“Of course.” His grin’s contagious and I smile.

“Tell us about Sara. When did you meet her? Where? How? What do you love about her the most?”

“I think I’d need a lifetime to explain Sara. The first time I saw her I thought she was a complete pain in the ass.”

I feel my eyebrows go up and ask, “How so?”

“I’d just gotten home from a covert op in the Middle East. Details of the mission got leaked and the press was in a frenzy. At the time, Sara had been working on her master’s degree, an up-and-coming very determined reporter. That’s when the thumping started.”


“With her microphone. We were giving a press conference at the Hyatt in San Diego, I hadn’t gotten up to my room to shower and shave yet, my hair was long and dirty, and I must’ve looked like a refugee from some third world country. She said something, but I couldn’t hear past the pounding in my ears. Just as I was thinking how beautiful she was she thumped me on the chest for the second time, and told me to move aside, that I was blocking her way, and she need to get to Commander Caldwell.”

“So she had no idea who you were.”

“Nope. None.” Those icy blue eyes of his turned warm with the memory. “So I folded my arms across my chest, stood my ground and said, ‘I’m Commander Caldwell.’ Damned if she didn’t thump me again. She got all annoyed, kept trying to look over my shoulder at all the uniforms in the front of the conference room and said, ‘Right, and I’m Barbara Walters. Now please move.’ Regally cool and snotty as hell I thought.” He shook his head. “Good thing she has great legs.”

I couldn’t stifle a giggle and leaned forward as he continued.

“So I said, ‘Nice to meet you, Ms. Walters,’ and raced up to my room. Took the fastest shower in history, shaved and put on my dress whites. Fifteen minutes later I was back in the conference room, name tag shining. I’d gotten mobbed and she was lost in the crowd. When I finally found her again, I asked her out to dinner and gave her an exclusive.”

It’s obvious, even to me, the guy had been toast.

“You asked what I love about her the most, but I think a more apt question would be what don’t I love about her. And the answer would be not a single thing. She can eat enough candy bars in one sitting that would kill a grizzly, she’s got an amazing brain, a smart mouth, and a vulnerable look in her eyes that when I’m not careful, breaks my heart.” He crossed his legs at the ankle. “And she can drill a cluster in a target no wider than a silver dollar.”

“Her weapon of choice?”

“Smith and Wesson .357.”

“That’s got some kick.”

“She’s got some kick.” His smile goes crooked. “Although too often it’s her foot, my ass.”

“I, uh, can only imagine,” I say trying not to laugh. “This next question might be a little hard, but what was the first thing that went through your mind when you thought she had been killed?”

I watch as Dillon’s mouth becomes a hard line.

“It’s not so much what I thought, it’s more what I knew. Sanchez was going to die, and I was going to make that happen.”

“What was the first thought when you knew she was still alive?”

“Before or after my knees nearly buckled?” He rubs at the spot on his thigh where he’d been shot. “Actually, I couldn’t comprehend it. But then I, well then I looked into her eyes and I knew. And since a Navy SEALs knees can’t literally buckle, you know since we’re all tough and macho, I felt my heart grow into this big giant mushy mess. And if you repeat that, I’ll deny it with my last dying breath.”

I make a zip-the-lip-motion. “How do you think your experiences in THE EDGE OF TRUST brought you closer to Sara?”

His eyes soften. “The thing is, we were never really apart to begin with.”

I swear to myself that I won’t tear up, so I ask, “What was the hardest part of the story for you, Dillon?

“I’m guessing that would be when Sanchez had a weapon trained on Sara’s forehead.”

“Was there a point where you considered giving up?”

“SEALs don’t give up, not even ex-SEALs. Besides, the admiral would’ve kicked my ass, right after Sara did. It’s a no brainer. I wanted my wife, my child, and my life back. I won.”

“If I told you Sara was listening to this interview, is there anything you would like to add for her benefit?”

“I’m the luckiest man alive.”

I think Sara is pretty lucky too.