Meet the Military Team on ‘Ultimate Survival Alaska’

Ultimate Survival Alaska II

National Geographic Channel premieres season two of its Ultimate Survivor Alaska Series this Sunday at 9pm ET/PT. The reality competition show features four teams, each based around a particular set of survivalist skills. Team Endurance, Team Mountaineers and Team Woodsmen face off against Team Military, featuring former Green Beret Grady Powell, former SEAL Jared Ogden and former Marine recon sniper Rudy Reyes.

Ultimate Survival doesn’t offer a cash prize at the end of the series and the whole thing seems more real than the “reality” that a lot of these shows offer. There’s not a lot of solo confessionals into a camera and Nat Geo makes a big point of letting us know that everyone stayed out in the wild for the entire three-month shoot and that no one checked into a hotel between legs of the competition.

We talked to Powell, Ogden and Reyes and asked how they got involved with Ultimate Survival Alaska.

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JARED OGDEN

I was down in Baja Mexico driving a chase truck in the Baja 500 and I got a LinkedIn request from Nat Geo producers.  And I accepted it and what ensued was a lengthy email from this guy.  And I thought it was a big, elaborate hoax from some of my Navy SEAL friends trying to set me up for some kind of survival TV show, something that I would like.  But I thought that it was them playing this very elaborate joke.

So I called the producer up and after a couple phone calls I knew it wasn’t bullshit.  I knew it was real.  And essentially what had happened was show had a military guy fall out 48 hours or 72 hours before they started.  And so production was in a huge scramble trying to find the third military guy.  They found some speech that I didn’t even know was on YouTube that I did for my senator and they contacted via LinkedIn.  And, you know, 36 hours after being contacted, I was up in Anchorage for their orientation and to go do this survival adventure race.  So it was not something that I was seeking.  It’s something that kind of fell into my lap.  And as a result, I met a lot of great people along this journey.

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RUDY REYES:

A gentleman by the name of Kevin, producer for National Geographic, he had seen some of my other shows I had done in the realm of survival and military and shot me an email and told me a little bit about the show, not too much about it.  And he kind of put the thermometer out there to see how keen I was to it.  And I was like, yeah, great challenge.  The outback of Alaska with some other teammates?  So I said, yeah, sign me up.  Let’s do it.

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GRADY POWELL:

I’m more or less kind of a mixture between the two of them.  I was on a TV show about two years ago and one of the producers from that one happened to talk to a National Geographic producer when he was looking for a military team member.  And I was down in Florida on a family vacation with my girlfriend and seven days prior to production got a call from the producers.  And they was asking, hey, do you want to go spend three months in Alaska?  And I said, hell yes.  So – well, first I had to ask permission from my significant other and then agreed to it and ended up going up to Alaska and spend three months with these yahoos.

So I’ve seen the first two episodes and I guess you guys can speak to the fact that this show is a lot different than the other reality programs you appeared on before. 

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Rudy: Okay, well, I was just going to say there is just this visceral, immediate, and realistic danger in our show.  I mean sometimes our production crew, you know, their life and limb was on the line as well.  The arduous conditions, man, they really, really pushed us.  Stuff that even looked kind of like it was going to be a cakewalk, it really wasn’t.  So much fast water, so much cold water, extreme, extreme conditions with mountains and the glaciers.

Do you remember, guys, that time when we were just like doing a movement from one part of the glacier to the other to the rocks?  Like they wanted to get some rocks.  And the glacier, the ice, was so freaking slick, we could barely even freaking stand.  I mean everything about the country – everything about the outside world there in Alaska was so freaking tough.  And I think it comes across on film.

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With Jared and Grady, I mean, you know, Green Beret, Navy Seal, Recon Marine, these are – my two teammates are veterans and they just brought a skill set and truth, a real truth to what was going on out there.  And I think that’s the most solid thing about this show.  If you look at all the teams, the credibility that they bring from each of their respected disciplines, it gives credibility to the show as a whole.

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Grady: As you were saying, it’s a lot different than a lot of the old survival shows.  And it absolutely was.  And you see with Bear Grylls and the, I don’t know, two man survival teams, they’ve been getting a lot of flack from the media about being seen in hotels.  We did not have that luxury one bit.  We stayed out in the woods the entire time we were in Alaska, which, in my opinion, is a lot more enjoyable.  I mean I’m an honest guy.  I like to challenge myself and I don’t want to be portrayed as, I don’t know, as this hard survivalist when I’m sleeping in a hotel room.

It’s not one of these hokey shows where they’re cutting and pasting and making everything false.  It wasn’t overproduced the way a lot of them were.  I’m just happy to have been a part of this show, not only because I love the adventure, but moreover because I wanted to be able to represent our Armed Forces.

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And I know Jared and Rudy feel the same way.  Represent our brothers and sisters in arms and show them that, you know, life is not over when you get out of the military.  There’s always an adventure.  I’ve known a lot of guys who get out and they get bored and depressed because they have nothing to do with their lives or they feel they have nothing to do with their lives, but there’s always something.  Always something.  Always another adventure around the corner.  You’ve just got to go find it.

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Rudy: That’s right, the mission continues.  And also to speak to Jared and Grady, their field craft was excellent and I learned a lot from them.  So it was a great freaking schoolhouse as well.  And I think the audience will get some of those takeaways from the show, because there is so much fieldcraft and there is so much firecraft.  These guys were fantastic on camera doing it.  I think the audience is going to be really, really pleased.  Definitely plugged in to being a survivalist and what it takes and what kind of mindset it takes.

Nat Geo TV continues to make it pretty easy to watch its shows. They’ve posted the entire first episode online and you can watch it before it premieres below.

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33 Comments

  1. Glockster20 says:

    This should be fun to watch. I like watching the series as it is.

  2. jnbowman42 says:

    This reminds me of the Discovery channel show, Eco Challenge. in that show they always hade one team that was made up of all current and prior special Op’s guy. The military teams never won the race. The creator of the race said that ” the race was designed to make all the members in the team have a say-so in the strategies used during the race, but the military will never win because only one person is put in charge and also the military guys tried to conduct the entire race with almost no sleep, causing them to make bad decisions and slowing down duel to fatigue”. I don’t know if these guys are going to make the same mistakes. I just hope they don’t embarrass the military.

  3. Bob Stephenson says:

    Rudy we know you are a badass but ditch the desert MARPAT, you know it’s unUthorized. Respect the EGA uniform bro.

  4. CwHuntley says:

    Great show so far with some really great competition. I am impressed with the teams and the diverse talents they bring. Being an army veteran I am pulling for the military team. You guys definitely represented well thus far.

  5. jenn says:

    Who’s not in a serious relationship?

  6. Nico says:

    This was painful to watch. The teams just happen on a rope traverse? And happen to find some old skis and the have the equipment to make bindings? And one guy has to swim across a cold lake because of what exactly? I’ve spent enough time in the wilderness to know that this is as fake as a three dollar bill.

  7. Angelique says:

    The Military Team is awesome to watch. Very educational. I respect all the guys.

  8. PJackson says:

    I agree with some of the other statements, I wish they had kept it real. I still really enjoyed watching the show. It is one of the better shows out there today. Despite the fakeness (which gave it variety) I still learned a lot that I can pass on to my kids. Like don’t shoot a fish while in a boat!

  9. Kim says:

    My kids and I get together with my parents to watch the show. We love the scenery, athleticism, and skills . We have great respect for the military team because none of them are from Alaska. They’re not used to the ice and snow like the other guys. Still, they’re the team to beat. Kudos to the unseen team of camera people who have to keep up while lugging around cameras!

  10. Zack says:

    Man I hope Rudy heals fast, or rather has healed. I hate to see him gone, Maybe we will see him next week, I hate to see the team down a member but they may prove to be faster. God Speed Bro!

  11. Ivan says:

    It would be awesome to see Rudy back at some point in the next episode. He took a hard fall and proved that he is as tough as it gets. To push himself so hard to finish in first place is freaking amazing. Mission first! Hope to see more of Rudy in other TV survival shows.

  12. Kitkat says:

    After watching the last episode, our 7 yr old, Alex, was so disappointed Rudy’s out of the game, he said, “Mom, I can make him a cane to use, so he can keep going”. Out of the mouths of babes, right?. With his Pop a C130 pilot, recently retired after 23 yrs., you can bet we’re pulling for the Military team to win!!!

  13. Bill & family says:

    There are so many fake shows today. Your show is great, honest and reminds me that there are
    some people that you can trust and will never give up their honor and pride to anyone person or
    group.

    Thanks, Bill & Family

  14. Francesco P. says:

    1° season rocks!

    2° season suffer a bit of “Bear Grill Sindrome”…

    …It still a freaking good show but some time (seem at last) they get to much hazard in my opinion…

    • Mike says:

      I agree season one was awesome. They all helped each other out, even though they broke into teams. This season it’s too much competition, and they too much risk for being out in the middle of nowhere,
      Alaska.

  15. Carol McCay says:

    Love it all ! Like the teams but pulling for the military first and the mountain men second . We’re really enjoying all the different Alaskian sceneries. Play safe and God speed to Rudy! Hope to see him back soon.

  16. ROCKEtt says:

    im okay with staging some stuff, but lets be honest, this is being staged soo much after last nights episode.…the endurance had a least a couple hours head start while the other team search for the lost memember, yet somehow they all meet and race to the finish.…that was rather insulting to the viewers intelligence.…. and with three episodes left.…there is no way the endurance team is going to get eliminated by another team winning.…they will win the next two episodes , so the final episode is manufactured hype of all three teams tied at 3 wins each, and the last episode has them all coming down to the end trying to win.….. i do enjoy the scenary and the characters, but for a race in the wilderness, that takes into account survival, as season goes on, its becoming much more staged and too noticible

    • Aaron says:

      I thought the same thing. Endurance had an 8 mile lead / 12 hours + on all the teams. I am so irritated, I am almost considering not watching the rest.

  17. carol says:

    Last night’s episode was gripping.….then again every episode is gripping. The Military team lost 12 hours hiking time looking for a member of Team Mountaineer and in the end Team Mountaineer won the race! Clear case of nice guys finish last! Impossible that all three teams wound up at the extraction point at virtually the same time. Trudging through the swamp should have taken days and by the way it appeared yesterday The Mountaineers made it to the LX point in 10 hours.…impossible!.. I miss Rudy, hope he gets well soon, he was a brilliant trekker!

  18. paperpushermj says:

    How’s Rudy’s ankle doing, anyone have an update

  19. Terry says:

    Military did great. I don’t care that they didn’t win, they pushed harder than anyone. Always proud of our men and women who wear the uniform. Way to go guys!

  20. Hallu says:

    Rudy’s ankle wasn’t injured, none of them were injured. In the same way they didn’t let the 2 military members left paddle down a glacier stream that led straight into a moulin. All is staged I’m afraid. Entertaining, but staged. They actually travel only a couple of miles per journey, easy to spot if you know the places and have a map. It’s a dangerous show for our kids because it shows that you can do crazy things and still get out ok… I wanted it to be real, so desperately that I ignored the signs (first season : “they’ll have to paddle 200 miles downstream” 200 miles ?? yeah right…). Some people believe the real deal would be boring. Well let’s do the real deal first and see then ?

    • Guest says:

      If you follow Rudy on Twitter you would know his ankle IS injured and he is rehabbing it. He has been updating the progress on his healing.

  21. Mark says:

    For all you couch potatoes, yeah some of it might be rigged, however this show is grueling and it’s a really hard journey. So if you think its so fake then go watch the Kardashians. Really fu:)ing stupid responses from people who haven’t done anything in their life, I also like the fact I can sit down with my ENTIRE family and watch it. Damn fine show and great for Nat Geo. Whether or not its real is so irrelevant. Just like all the bands today, all filler music and not one artist with a speck of talent. Pick much rather watch a boat flip over then most crap on tv today. Not directed at anyone here but really who are we kidding?

  22. Mike says:

    FAKE!! Would be nice to see one of these shows be actually 100% realistic

  23. daniel says:

    What is the name of Rudy’s backpack?

  24. Nancy says:

    In the Over the Falls episode, the Military Team used a square stern boat at beginning and end of trip, but through a regular canoe over the falls! Where did they get a different boat? Very fake show– disappointed in national Geographic.

  25. Nancy says:

    Threw-sorry

  26. jwsgtvictory says:

    I also noticed the same thing. I Like the survival stuff I hope its not turning into a bullshit Bear Grills show

  27. Rod says:

    Nice catch, I’m sure there are many other scenes like that. There are no real and true “reality” shows on TV. They would probably be too boring. They’re all shows after all. I still enjoy watching it though.

  28. Murphy O' Myer says:

    I’ve watched USAlaska a few times, I can see the urine wine coolers in the near future.