Ein Nachruf von Andy Stanford
In Memoriam — Paul Gomez
By Andy Stanford
Paul Gomez was one of the ten greatest firearms instructors who ever lived. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I can back up this assertion with hard facts.
But first, I’d like to discuss Paul the man. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was a great father to his kids. Divorced and living away from his son and two daughters, he drove hours and hours every other week to spend quality time with them in his native Louisiana. I know they must’ve absorbed at least some of his unique personality. I guarantee it will serve them well. Our condolences to them all.
Yes, unique. Paul was nothing if not unique. Not too tall, bald on top, with a Cajun accent, he did not fit the Hollywood stereotype of a warrior. But he WAS one, having served in both the U.S. Army and as a full-time police officer. More importantly to me personally, he was a true gentle man. Gentle. By-God Gentle. Not surprisingly, Paul had a fetish for man skirts. He was often seen wearing a kilt—taught class in one on more than one occasion—or when “off-duty,” a sarong. He had eclectic tastes in literature and music, and an open minded, progressive political anarchy.
His food preferences were perhaps the only thing ordinary about him. Want to know the recipe for poison gas? One part bread, one part cheese, one part ground beef, one part Diet Coke. Mix thoroughly in Paul Gomez and stand your distance or suffer the consequences. Yeager tells me his diet had improved of late due to his affiliation with Patriot Nurse. Someone please let me know if this attenuated his flatulence to any significant degree.
Paul was often the quiet observer with a mind like a steel trap. Just as often he would debate the topic at hand with equal parts logic and passion. Paul was the encyclopedia and duty historian of practical firearms training. When Paul died, we lost a good part of our archives. This is NOT trivial.
Funny Paul stories. The time when, as a teenager, he joy rode his parent’s car across multiple state lines. To teach him a lesson, his social worker father had him committed to a mental institution. Paul being Paul fomented a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest style insurrection among the patients. That’ll teach ‘em! Or maybe the time he watched an artillery barrage tripping on LSD while on maneuvers in the Army. Apocalypse Paul. Yup.
I truly cannot overstate Paul’s intellect. Lots of memory and a powerful processor. Knew much about much, and the wider implications as well. A voracious reader, he quoted someone or other when he first saw the stacks next to the bookshelves in my house, “You’re out of book space. All my friends are out of book space.” He was relentlessly curious and analytical. Which is part of why he gets my Top Ten trainer vote. And he was a pioneer in the field, though perhaps not as well known as others.
Paul was one of the first guys to understand and advocate the use of the Kalashnikov as a rifle of choice. He developed a well-thought-out gunhandling system for this family of weapons, and documented it in a book that, according to Paul, was plus percent complete. Had he pressed on and completed it, he would’ve been widely known as THE AK GUY. Some subconscious Achilles’ heel kept him from finishing it. Maybe we can fish it out of his computer and get it published posthumously.
He also pioneered a state-of-the-art combat handgun handling system—taught in his Robust Pistol Manipulations (RPM) course. Paul finally convinced me of the merits of practicing equally with each hand. He experimented with and codified combat-worthy methods of one-handed malfunction clearances and reloads that represent true progress in the field. I invite graduates of the RPM class to get your heads together and formally document it to the best of your abilities. Viva Paul!
As noted previously, in addition to being a prolific innovator in the area of gun handling, Paul was the resident historian of the tactical training community. Knowing where you’ve been can keep you from duplicating efforts, and shed light on current endeavors. Every thing old is new again. It takes a significant investment of time and energy to develop a mature understanding of any subject. Paul paid his dues many times over in learning about his chosen profession. Few—very few indeed—have even come close to this level of study and research.
Paul spent many, many training days as Craig “Southnarc” Douglas’ assistant, uke, and—Craig’s word and high praise considering the source—muse. I wince to think of how many times Paul was hit in the head by Craig, or shot with Simunitions at point-blank range. (The former being by far the more severe blow.) This did give Paul a high-level understanding of close quarters combat, and undoubtedly a high-level of pain tolerance as well.
Last but not least, Paul was very interested in tactical emergency medicine. The past several years I haven’t seen Paul as much as when I lived in Florida, but I do know from phone conversations that he put a fair amount of focus on the topic. He undoubtedly sifted through a myriad of systems and derived his own from the best of the best. In fact, I’d make a sizeable wager on this and be confident of winning.
Paul had modest needs. For a time he was content with the bottom bunk in the corner of the Tactical Response team room. I think this is the result of living a very rich mental life, finding interest in whatever was in front of him. He was generally happy, and was pleasant to be around. He was a great friend. He led a full life, and did what he wanted to do a significant fraction of his time on earth. Good for him!
His legacy is his children, the other lives he has touched in person, and the wisdom he has contributed to defensive and tactical firearms doctrine. Thanks to the internet, a good bit of the latter continues to live on YouTube. And there is one final blessing he can bestow upon all of us. His death in his early-forties can serve as a reminder that no one has promised us tomorrow. Carpe Diem. Paul would approve.