The Blood of Patriots: How I Took Down an Anti-Government Militia with Beer, Bounty Hunting, and Badassery

The Blood of Patriots: How I Took Down an Anti-Government Militia with Beer, Bounty Hunting, and Badassery

by Bill Fulton, Jeanne Devon


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When Bill Fulton arrived in Alaska, he was filled with optimism and big dreams. When he left, it was under FBI escort.

Bill was Army Infantry. When his knees gave out, he opened the Drop Zone, a military surplus store in Anchorage, and started hiring fellow vets. Sharpshooting hippies, crew-cutted fundamentalists, PTSD sufferers—all seeking purpose and direction. Alaska gave it to them.

The Last Frontier is vast. The perfect refuge for fugitives and the perfect place for vets itching for a mission, Alaska is a giant icebox full of people either running to or away from something. More than 400 fugitives would meet Bill and company on the wrong side of a gun, and he would learn many lessons along the way—like even tiptoeing through subzero snow can get you shot, and removing a gun from the butt crack of a 300-pound man is just as fun as it sounds.

Bill was enjoying the ride until, one day, the FBI asked him to go undercover, and his road forked. Schaeffer Cox was a sovereign citizen who believed no government had authority over him and a private militia commander amassing an arsenal and plotting to kill judges and law enforcement officers. Bill’s mission: to take down Cox and his militia without a shot being fired.

The Blood of Patriots traverses a wide swath of rugged territory. Raucously funny and stark, it depicts men, once brothers in arms serving their country, who now find themselves on opposite sides of those arms in a deadly test of the intricacies of liberty, the proper role of government, and the true meaning of patriotism. It offers a witty and unsettling look at political rhetoric gone haywire and a movement the FBI considers the single greatest threat to law enforcement in the nation—all set in the beautiful, terrifying landscape of our 49th State.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781944648077
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
Publication date: 09/19/2017
Pages: 300
Sales rank: 729,154
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Bill Fulton is an Army veteran with extensive and ongoing training in anti-terrorism; weapons and explosives; hazardous materials; nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; WMDs; public health and safety; emergency management; surveillance and operations; law enforcement; and military justice. He is also an adrenaline junkie who owned and operated a fugitive recovery service in Anchorage, Alaska, that took more than 400 criminals off the streets. During his career, he has worked with the Army Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, and other governmental agencies, while working undercover to apprehend domestic terrorists.

He currently works as an undercover operative with the FBI, and other Federal and State agencies. Bill lives in an undisclosed location with his wife, two children, and assorted pets. When he is not assisting governmental agencies in combatting domestic terrorism, he enjoys organic gardening, permaculture, reading, being a dad, and fine wine.

Jeanne Devon is a New York Times bestselling author, political writer, and the founding editor of the multiple-award winning blog, The Mudflats. Devon catapulted to national attention when Sarah Palin was nominated as the Republican candidate for Vice President, and The Mudflats became one of America’s primary sources of information for all things Palin. The Mudflats is a two-time Bloggers’ Choice Award winner for best political blog in the nation, and has also been honored by The Alaska Press Club, receiving multiple awards for best blog commentary across all media, including for her coverage of the Alaska militia movement in 2014. Devon is also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Her reporting has been featured on CNN, Daily Kos, and TruthOut. The Mudflats has been linked and cited by many media outlets including The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Salon, Politico, The Week, The Guardian, Wonkette, and The Los Angeles Times. She has been a guest on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Politics Nation with Al Sharpton, the CBC’s News Network, and many national, regional and local radio broadcasts.

A New Jersey native, she moved to Alaska more than two decades ago seeking adventure, and found it. During her time on The Last Frontier, she has sold radio advertising, hosted a daily radio feature, shot a halibut, owned a retail gift shop, blogged about politics, and raised two awesome kids.

Read an Excerpt



"There are strange things done in the midnight sun ..."

Robert Service,The Cremation of Sam McGee

The rat in the back seat of the U-Haul gave birth somewhere in the Yukon. White-knuckling the wheel through icy mountain passes, trying to corral two basset hounds and a fat orange cat with seventeen plastic bags of my prized and pampered tropical fish stacked across the dashboard heater, I was oblivious to the miracle of life happening two feet behind me. The cat bore witness alone. He'd managed to get his paw between the bars of the cage and enjoyed the fresh, warm snack delivery. He'd finished off all but two before he either got full or mama rat went into defense mode. Life was brutal on the open road, as it tended to be everywhere.

My new wife Stacey's mortal fear of flying was what you might call a "newlywed discovery." We'd had lots of those considering we married only thirty days after we met at a strip club. That sounds like the beginning of a "What was I thinking?" story, but it was really more of a "What was she thinking?" story. I could tell she didn't want to be there. She looked like a fish out of water. And no, I did not save her from a seedy life on stage taking off her clothes for a bunch of jackass drunk guys. I was the one on stage, and she saved me. I thought it might be fun, so I was moonlighting from the Army and making a few extra bucks on the side. So while the other women at the bachelorette party were stuffing my Gstring with bills and shrieking, all I could see was this beautiful, awkward, uncomfortable girl with a sweet face and dark hair who looked like she wanted to be anywhere else on the face of the earth than in a strip club with her rowdy coworkers. I tried to talk to her after the show. She wanted nothing to do with me. At all. But luckily for me she had gotten a ride to the club and the driver had no intention of leaving early. She finally talked to me, and I was thunderstruck. Like in the movies. I absolutely had to marry this girl, and all I had to do was convince her she had to marry me too.

I don't want to call what ensued "stalking," per se. But it did involve a lot of roast beef and cheddar sandwiches from the Arby's where she was the night manager, and flowers, and pouring out my heart over the counter. And whatever I did, it worked. She said she'd go on a date. And then another. And then she said yes. I didn't want to question my unbelievable luck, but I swore I was going to do everything in my power not to fuck this up. I would go to the ends of the earth for this woman. And her terror of flying meant that I'd be going to the ends of the earth in a rental van. And so we left my Army post at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and headed out for Fort Richardson, Alaska. Nothing says "I love you" like a cross-continental drive with a traveling zoo. That's the way I thought of it, anyway.

The simultaneous launch of our marriage and the 4,000-mile odyssey into the unpaved and unpopulated arctic took place in December. Don't believe anyone in Georgia who tells you a vehicle has been "fully weatherized" for a road trip to Alaska in the winter, because they're full of shit.

The U-Haul truck that would be our home on wheels belonged to a fleet with one of fifty designs painted on the sides — a different illustration for each state of the Union. We'd be sporting the gigantic blue horseshoe crab, touting the unique and magical marine ecosystem of Delaware.

Turned out the horseshoe crab was not a fan of the northern tier, and daily breakdowns of one kind or another had already turned our seven-day trip into a twelve-day trip, and probably took at least that much time off the end of my life. Christmas Day was supposed to be enjoyed in the bosom of my new wife's family in Prince Rupert, B.C. Instead, we woke that morning in a Super-8 motel in Vancouver, nine bags of fish on the motel heater; litter box, rat cage, and dog breath replacing the oxygen in the tiny room; and Stacey, on our first Christmas as husband and wife, looking tragically unmerry.

We packed up the animals to spend Christmas Day on the road. We'd be a day late, which was better than two. I revved up the truck to make sure it was warm before the daily ritual transfer of the fish. The heat was slow coming up. Really slow. Really, really, way too goddamn slow. After half an hour, I knew it wasn't coming. We'd be stranded at the Super-8 for another night unless we could fix the heat.

U-Haul. Those bastards ... As I sat in the meat locker of a truck, fuming, it occurred to me that for quite some time I'd been directing my mental rage directly at a U-Haul logo. It was the sign across the street — a U-Haul rental place right there, with several trucks just like mine, fifty feet away. My thick frozen fingers stabbed at the tiny buttons on my Blackberry until I got the number right, and a Gwendolyn picked up the phone. After a "Merry Christmas" and a "Can I help you?" and my explanation of exactly how she could help me, I began to get a regretful legal review of why U-Haul America and U-Haul Canada aren't really the same entity, technically, and that she'd definitely call the US entity on the 27th, because tomorrow was Boxing Day in Canada and, of course, they wouldn't be open. Surely I understood.

"Hello, sir? Are you there?"

"OK, here's what we're going to do, Gwendolyn. I'm sitting here right now, looking at a truck in your lot that's just like my truck. I'm betting it's got the same defroster. You're going to send a guy over here to help me get the heater out of your truck. And then I'm going to leave you the heater from my truck. And then we're going to put your heater in my truck, and I'm going to drive away this afternoon in my newly winterized vehicle that your people promised me in Georgia, more than five breakdowns ago. And then the U-Haul international family can get together and figure this all out after Boxing Day, and have a big group hug. OK? So that's what's going to happen now."

"Sir, I'm sorry but we simply can't do that. U-Haul Canada is not affiliated ..."

Forty-five minutes later Gwendolyn got another call.

"Hi, Gwendolyn. It's me again. I'm over here in your lot, and I'm holding this heating unit I've managed to pry out of my van. I'd really appreciate a little help before I move on to your van. Is that possible? ... His name is what? Jerry? OK, I'll keep an eye out for him. Thank you, Gwendolyn. Merry Christmas to you too. And Happy Boxing Day."

Sometimes confidence and balls will get you places that good manners will not. The key is knowing when to employ each strategy.

* * *

I knew exactly what to expect when we got to Alaska — big sky, big mountains, lots of open space. I was raised on a Montana ranch. Been there, lived there, done that. But a land mass that could swallow four-and-a-half Montanas, with lush rainforest, barren tundra, fjords, mountains so numerous most didn't even have names, three species of bears, most towns (including the state capital) inaccessible by road, one person per square mile, and four lakes for every human being, redefined my notion of big. Alaskans like to taunt swaggering Texas tourists by informing them that if they cut Alaska in half, Texas would be the third-largest state. "Everything's bigger in Texas," my ass.

Alaska didn't take much time proving to me my own lack of knowledge. They even had a word for people like me. A "cheechako" is a newcomer, a greenhorn completely ignorant of the land, the wildlife, the culture, the people, the terrain, the weather, the driving conditions, and basic arctic survival skills. After seven years, if you make it that long, you get to lose the "cheechako" moniker and become an honorary "sourdough." After fifteen years, they start to take you seriously. After thirty, it's as good as it's ever going to get without the ultimate badge of honor: "I was born here."

Once we made it through Canada, after our delayed holiday visit, and crossed the border back into the US, where the local license plates were stamped blue on gold with "ALASKA — The Last Frontier," the mercury sank to twenty below zero, and the rumbling metal horseshoe crab took even a second of my inattention to make a suicidal beeline for the guard rail or skitter toward the ditch across a patch of invisible black ice. The entire steering process felt more like a suggestion than a command, and I'd spend hours on end with the copper taste of adrenaline in my mouth.

Although we were now technically back in the United States, a feeling of familiarity never came. This was an alien land. The twenty hours of frigid darkness pressed down like a weight, my nose hair crystallized into needles with every inhalation, and when I went outside to piss, I swore it would freeze before it hit the ground. We'd planned our trip segments between off-season motel and off-season motel, connecting the only dots we could find in the travel guide. Polyester bedspreads, watercolors of wolves and mountains bolted to the wall, rust-stained sink drains, bad paneling, tiny crappy coffee makers with tiny crappy Styrofoam cups began to blend into the same never-ending room. Every morning that the engine of our truck groaned to life with metallic cries of protest felt like a victory. Again and again, Stacey and I would begin our sleepy ritual in the dark, feeling our body heat dissipating into the biting air. She scraped the thick frost from the inside of the windows where the moisture from our breath and yesterday's coffee had condensed and frozen, and I got the outside. One foot on the front tire, my body stretched reaching over the windshield, I shoved the plastic ice scraper across the glass.

"Hey, babe? Did you know that 'Alaska' is actually an ancient Eskimo word for 'Fuck you'?" She looked up just in time for her face to meet a cascade of streaming frost from my scraper that settled on her eyelashes and the dark brown fringe of hair that peeked out from under the tight knit red cap that framed her heart-shaped face.

"Alaska," she said with a half-smile, holding up the middle finger of her Gore-Tex glove as she rubbed her wet cheeks. I loved that woman.

The first ray of the sun had just peeped up over distant mountains like a single-pointed yellow laser. Four and a half hours later, after a half-hearted journey skimming the treetops, it blinked out. My eyes, dry and burning and losing focus, had finally had enough and started playing tricks. The blackness began to pulsate and flicker, and the snow looked almost green at times. Clearly I'd spent too many hours of my life in the eerie, two-dimensional greenish glow of night-vision goggles, and now I was paying for it.

"Oh, my God!" Stacey had her cheek pressed against the passenger-side window and was looking straight up. Her hand shot out and she tapped my upper arm, never breaking her gaze at the sky.

"Pull over!"

It wasn't my eyes. The aurora borealis — the northern lights — were out to play. We got out. Even this frozen piece of meat, this sunlight-starved, grumpy U-Haul chauffeur who was counting the miles until the next cheap motel bed and dribbling shower, stood speechless. It didn't matter that my analytical brain knew that molecules in the upper atmosphere were becoming excited as solar particles from a magnetic eruption on the sun reached Earth. Standing under these pulsing ribbons of light that stretched from the mountaintops to the right, over our heads and across the open tundra to the left — green, and red, and pink — rippling across the blackness, moving like a thought, in and out of existence, crackling with a sound that took up the whole sky and came from nowhere, could make you believe you were witnessing magic.

"Oh my God ... oh my God ..." Stacey's whispered mantra rode on frozen puffs of breath over the rumble of the engine we dared not shut off in case it would never start again. Only genuine fear of frostbite eventually got us back inside. Alaska was not going to be ordinary. Message received.

Anchorage, the state's largest city, was our final destination. It's thought of as "Seattle Lite" by the rest of the state, but that's not meant to be a compliment. In a uniquely Alaskan brand of reverse elitism, only "the frontier," made up of rural areas, many in the vast and isolated interior, is considered the "real Alaska." Bragging rights in the forty-ninth state come from hardship, from endurance, from making do and living off the land, from knowing how to handle yourself, from near misses, from survival. Go to Alaska as a tourist and expect to impress anyone with your expensive shoes, or your Italian sunglasses, or your Rolex watch, and prepare to be branded a complete and total douchebag. You're the weak member of the herd. You're the one they'd eat first in an emergency. Nobody has to outrun the bear; they just have to outrun you.

Despite the mockery Anchorageites endure from the rest of the state for living a comparatively coddled, out-of-touch city life, it's a place most of the country would consider rugged wilderness. Residents regularly deal with a half-ton bull moose in the driveway or bears rummaging through the trash; they can go fishing for all five species of Pacific salmon, backpack or bike remote mountain trails, ogle the tallest peak in North America on the morning commute, and ski world-class runs, all from inside the city limits. And even though half the state's residents call Anchorage home, its population is only 300,000 people. The rest are scattered across a land mass that, if superimposed on a map of the lower forty-eight states, would see San Francisco mark the end of the Aleutian Island chain; Jacksonville, Florida, the tip of the southeast panhandle; central Minnesota would overlap Barrow, Alaska's northernmost settlement; and Anchorage would be somewhere in Texas. And the Anchorageites wouldn't like that at all.

The strategic geography and readily available space means a large military presence in the state, with nine bases. The civilian population is a strange mix of oil-field workers, adventurers, commercial fishermen, federal employees, naturalists, bush pilots, environmentalists, hardscrabble wilderness survivors, entrepreneurs, those looking for second chances, those fleeing the law, and a large indigenous Native population of 229 federally recognized tribes whose history spans 10,000 years. It is a tug-of-war between those who want to develop and those who want to preserve; those who want to find themselves and those who don't want to be found.

In a state that has leaned politically at various times in its history to the left and to the right, a strong libertarian streak unites both sides of the aisle. Alaskans don't need anyone telling them what to do or how to do it. "We don't care how they do it Outside" is an almost trite expression. And "Outside" is always capitalized. This is a land where Democrats carry guns. Because Democrats also don't want to be eaten by bears, and do want to eat moose. Firearms are an elemental part of a world that is quite literally "eat or be eaten," and where defense of home and property often falls to the owner, especially in remote areas.

Those in the "Lower 48" may be accustomed to federal regulations and programs designed for urban dwellers who possess modern conveniences and infrastructure, and can't fathom a world where a working generator, the right extra pair of boots in the back of the truck, a bear gun at the ready, or remembering to file a flight plan when you go moose hunting can mean the difference between life and death. They don't understand only being able to travel to the state capital by boat or plane; or rural schools hundreds of miles apart from the nearest neighboring school; or needing to know how to fix an engine, or a heater, or a generator, because there's no one around to call to fix or replace things that get broken. Alaska may as well be a series of small, sparsely populated islands — geographically, politically, and sociologically. And to most Americans, it may as well be another planet — one that nobody in his right mind would ever want to live on. And that's OK, because Alaskans don't want you to live there, anyway. They're happy the wildness weeds people out. They'd just as soon keep the place to themselves.

As the big blue horseshoe crab and its menagerie thrummed up the snow-packed highway, north and north and north, all I knew was that this was my assignment. This is where my country told me to go. And there were only five bags left on the dashboard, so I'd better get there fast or it was going to be a complete fish genocide. As the miles passed, the idea of being in the Army in Alaska began to feel real, and I found myself smiling out of the blue — like a kid anticipating a grand adventure.


Excerpted from "The Blood of Patriots"
by .
Copyright © 2017 William Fulton.
Excerpted by permission of BenBella Books, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The Blood of Patriots is one hell of a read. It's a page turner that combines the thrilling elements of a Richard North Patterson novel with the hard hitting gonzo reportage of the late Hunter S. Thompson. It's publication couldn't be more timely. I salute Bill Fulton. This book taught me what patriotism really means."

Jason Leopold, Buzzfeed

“A crazy book, but good crazy. If this were a novel, you’d love the rocking read. But it’s for real, and that really makes it rattle your cage. A brilliant, quirky keyhole into the armed and dangerous brains of America’s fringe—which is no longer fringe.”

Greg Palast, New York Times bestselling author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

“Knowing Bill Fulton during the timeframe presented in this book, I can attest that saying ‘Bill took one for the team’ is an understatement. His humor and constant redirection of credit away from himself, does nothing to change the stress and real danger that he and his family went through. True to Bill’s character; he found a problem, analyzed the problem and possible solutions, intervened to fix the problem and prevent even greater problems, and then faced the backlash without reward. Today, there are innocent people still alive because Bill Fulton wasn’t just willing to do the right thing, but also because Bill Fulton was willing to be prepared to do the right thing."

Kenneth Blaylock, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) and martial arts instructor

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