This musician became an Army Ranger after playing in the biggest bands of the 90s

Jason Evergreen (center) with Nirvana band members.

A former musician for Nirvana and Soundgarden would eventually become one of the famous horseback-riding Special Forces soldiers to go into Afghanistan.

Jason Everman was a far cry from a soldier in the late 1980s- shaggy hair, a dour expression and a cloud of morose listlessness about him.

According to a 2013 article posted in the New York Times, the future operator was born in a remote location on the brink of the Alaskan wilderness, living there for a few years before he and his mother left for Washington.

A member of a dysfunctional family, Everman often found himself off the rails -to include blowing up a toilet at school- before he was exposed to music during a visit with a psychiatrist.

“I’d have to say that was the first defining event in my life,” he told the Times. “In punk there’s an extreme kind of conformity to all the nonconformity. You realize in all this rebellion that everyone’s doing the same thing. But in a weird way, that’s what kind of lets you eventually forget the rules, and you can be yourself.”

Suddenly, Everman’s life made a turn for the better- he started playing in bands, visiting his estranged father and learned to be self-sufficient. By the time he graduated high school a semester early, he had earned $20,000 in wages made working during his high school years.

Then one day, Everman got his big break. When a childhood friend told him a band called Nirvana was looking for an extra guitarist, he linked up with Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, setting into motion a domino effect of shows and adventures.

Jason Evergreen (center) with Nirvana band members.
Jason Evergreen (center) with Nirvana band members.

Initially, Everman was welcomed by the band, who all could relate to Everman in some way or another. He was known for his giving spirit, paying for the recording fees for the band’s album Bleach from his own pocket.

“Jason was very generous,” Novoselic said. “And he’d had a job. . . . So he had, like, bucks, O.K.? You know how it said it was recorded for like six hundred and something bucks on the back of the record? Jason paid for that.”

However, as road shows became more common, the dynamic between Nirvana and Everman began to turn sour. Known for becoming very withdrawn from the group. Novoselic and Cobain wanted Everman out of the band. Ultimately, Everman was out. The band cancelled their tour and drove 50 hours from New York to Washington in complete silence.

Cobain would later go on to boast about never paying Everman back for Bleach, dismissing the generous musician as a “moody metalhead” and a head case. Cobain would later fall into a funk of his own years down the road, ending his live with the pull of a shotgun’s trigger.

Suddenly, Everman found himself playing with Soundgarden, a band that had really taken off commercially. He loved the band and they loved him.

“We knew things ended with Nirvana on less-than-ideal terms,” said guitarist Kim Thayil. “He didn’t fit with Nirvana? Big deal. That’s them. We’re Soundgarden. We’re a different animal.”  Now with a new band, he toured the US and Europe at only 22 years old.

Still, Everman’s moods were bringing the band down. “He was funny and witty, and then a cloud would come over him,” said road manager Eric Johnson. “He would sit in the bus and be really mad with his headphones on all the time. I felt bad for the guy, and I feel even worse now, thinking about somehow he was suffering and nobody really knew how to address that.”

When Soundgarden returned stateside, the band called a meeting. In the blink of an eye, Everman was fired again.

In 1993, Everman was living in a group house with another band when he decided he wanted a challenge. Secretly slipping out to meet a recruiter, he secured a fast track program to the Rangers, with a possible segway into Special Forces. Working out in the hours his bandmates still slept, he got himself into shape for the training ahead. Leaving without notice, he took a flight to Manhattan and enlisted, ending up at Fort Benning a few weeks later.

“I was a little nervous,” Everman said. But I knew.”

While at Fort Benning, Everman kept his identity a secret. However, during basic training in 1994, a Drill Sergeant was reading an article about Cobain’s suicide when he noticed a familiar face.

“Is this you?” he said, demanding an answer from Everman as he pointed at the photo in the magazine. “Is this you?!”

Everman paused and sighed. “Yes, Drill Sergeant.”

From then on, the Drill Sergeants made Everman’s life hell. Through basic training and Ranger school, Everman was continuously pushed to the brink. Despite this, he never gave up. Everman would eventually graduate, being assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington.

Everman would first taste combat during covert operations in relation to the War on Drugs, something he declined to speak about when he was interviewed. Everman found solace in the military, noting that the bond was greater than when he was performing onstage with a band.

“The bond of locking shields with each other, working together to defeat a common enemy, it’s a heightened state,” he said. “Everyone looks around and you know –you know–  something cool is going on here. I knew this was it. This is living.”

Still unsatisfied, Everman re-enlisted to join the Special Forces. Near the end of his training, the 9/11 attacks occurred, securing Everman a slot in military history. “I saw the video of the plane impacting the tower and kind of innately knew we were going to war,” he said. “I don’t believe in fate or destiny, but I did feel a strange sense of kismet, which was probably more of just the right place at the right time. I guess I knew it was on, and I hoped that I would be prepared when it was time to go.”

Jason Evergreen in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Jason Evergreen in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

Shortly after, Everman found himself riding into Afghanistan on horseback, scouring the war-torn nation. When he wasn’t in Afghanistan, he was in Iraq, bearing witness to -as he put it- “the gull might of the U.S. forces.”

Soon enough, Everman realized he had found his happy place on the battlefield. Hopping from battlefield to battlefield, he was loved and well respected by his teammates. He travelled the world, performing in world-renowned events as well as secret ones. He met dignitaries, developed new techniques and made good use of pyrotechnics. In short, he had become a rock star.

Everman now He lives in an A-frame cabin near Puget Sound in Washington, pursuing a degree in philosophy. When asked if he was going to use his unique resume to pursue a career as a teacher, he shook his head.

“No way, man, I don’t have the patience. I’ll probably just be a bartender somewhere.”

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