I think all soldiers can agree that one of the hardest parts of being in the service is remembering all the information you learn over the years. One officer, Captain Zachary Willey, came up with the solution to the problem: flash cards! Yes, those things you used way back when that had their very own carrying case and came in hundreds.
First about the man behind the business. Cpt. Willey is a graduate of the United State Military Academy, also known as West Point. In fact, his brother went with him and commissioned as an Armor Officer. They both were on the parachute team — Zack is a certified instructor and can even tandem from 12,000. What he is missing is Airborne quall, which is a running joke among his inner circle. In our interview, he told me, “I can jump from an airplane and freefall with another human strapped to my chest from 12,000 feet, but I can’t jump from a C-130 at 800 feet with a static line parachute ha-ha. There is no cool story to accompany my lack of Airborne status, other than the two units I’ve been in (170th IBCT and 10th MTN DIV) were not Airborne, so there was never really a reason to send me.”
However, he has found his way to many other schools such as Counter-IED, Route Recon and Clearance and Explosive Ordnance Clearance Agent courses, among others. Oh yeah, he’s also tabbed as a Sapper. In addition, he is fluent in Arabic after choosing to take it for some unknown reason as his required learned language while at West Point. Yes, West Point requires you to take a language. They also require you to take bites that can be swallowed with no more than three chews. You can earn “Big Bites” sometimes if the upperclassmen are nice, he tells me.
But let’s get back to the meat and potatoes of this whole deal… Army Flashcards. From idea to prototype, it took seven months. So, for all of you “I need it now” people out there, patience can be a virtue. From there it took another six months for what Cpt. Willey calls his first major sale. October of 2017 saw the launch of the Ranger School deck. A whole year after the prototype was created, retailers and distributors began to be contacted. As of February 2018, the cards were available from 10 retailers including US Patriot’s brick-and-mortar locations, and were picked up by two major distributors including the Exchange.
The flashcards contain terms and symbols that are important throughout the length of a military career. Of course, the Ranger deck includes thing pertinent to becoming a Ranger. You can also test your knowledge on their website with three different difficulty tests.
While he does to plan to test his flashcards by attending Ranger School himself, Cpt. Willey says there are plenty of cadets and LTs utilizing the cards, as well as some Rangers taking advantage of the Best Ranger deck – something he believes is just as much of a testament to the power of his cards as if he were to go to Ranger School himself. Now what about Sapper School? The course only sees about 400 soldiers a year compared to the thousands that Ranger sees, but he did admit that a deck would have been nice when he was in school.
While there are talks of many potential moves for the company, and possibly to other branches, I will leave that unsaid. There are many unsavory folks out there that would steal ideas. So, for that reason, I will let you all follow the company and watch as they grow. I grin as I write this because I know what possibilities are to come (insert evil laugh here).
Outside of the uniform, Zachary Willey, born in Honolulu, HI spends his free time with his two children, soon to be three, and wife playing at the park, going on walks, and being a family. He dabbles in skydiving (okay maybe not dabble since he’s full-blown certified), but he does dabble in rock climbing and weightlifting. If you really want to get on his good side, he says his palette is very loving of Sailor Jerrys. Since Army Flashcards has taken off, he has left some of his side business behind, one of which was freelance SEO work, something he picked up while helping his wife launch her photography business. Much of the work came thanks to UpWork, a powerful platform that connects skilled freelancers with clients in need of work, and is a great place for veterans to get moving in the right direction.
Disclaimer: All statements and opinions are solely that of Zachary Willey’s and do not represent the United States Government or United States Army in any way. The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.