VIDEO: The Making of Make Peace or Die

I couldn’t watch this with dry eyes…

While I was home for the book launch, dad and I sat down for a short video interview discussing the project and what it was like writing a book together.

Veteran Gets Emotional After Writing Book with His Son

Meet Charles Daly, the 93-year-old veteran who wrote a book with his son, Charlie. In this short film by Persistent Productions and Charlie Hoehn, see how th…

Special Thanks to Scribe Media, Persistent Productions, Charlie Hoehn, Adam Hacker,  Meghan Shea, and Mike Rogers.

Chuck Daly and his son charlie raise the American and Marine Corps flags
Photo by Adam S. Hacker

Make Peace or Die: A life of Service, Leadership, and Nightmares is available through Amazon and Indiebound, or you can ask your local bookstore to order it. 

An early draft was featured on Jocko Podcast episode 196

Veterans’ Week Cape Cod Community College – What Can I do for my Country Now?

On Veterans’ day, 2020, dad and I sat down with Josh Maloney, Iraq War veteran and  President of the Student Veterans of America chapter at Cape Cod Community College.

4Cs Celebrates Veteran’s Week with Charles U Daly

Joshua Maloney Cape Cod Community College Veteran Club President speaks with Charles U. Daly. Mr. Daly, now 93 years of age, discusses his service in the mar…

Josh and my dad compared notes on the student veteran’s experience and the G.I. Bill. They talked about the challenges of coming home from deployment and the importance of self-advocacy.

Josh and I talked about how families can support loved-ones with PTSD and what it’s like having a Marine combat veteran for a father. It could be the reason I’m a morning person…

Our discussion was part of series for Veterans’ Week at 4Cs that included an interview with a Vietnam Vet about mental illness and coming home, an interview with an expert in treating sexual assault survivors in the military, and panels about VA education benefits and other veteran’s services.

Thank you, Josh, for everything you do to support student veterans and the veterans’ community on Cape Cod.


Make Peace or Die: A life of Service, Leadership, and Nightmares is available through Amazon and Indiebound, or you can ask your local bookstore to order it. 

An early draft was featured on Jocko Podcast episode 196

JFK Library Virtual Event

On February 9, 2021, dad and I sat down with MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle to talk about Make Peace or Die in a virtual event hosted by the JFK Library. You can watch it here:

A Look Back at the Life of Chuck Daly

Join former Kennedy administration official Chuck Daly as he recalls his life with his son, Charlie Daly. Daly served with JFK in the Senate and the White Ho…

From jfkibrary.org:

On Tuesday, February 9 at 6:00 p.m. EST,  join former Kennedy administration official Chuck Daly as he recalls his life with his son, Charlie Daly. Daly served with JFK in the Senate and the White House, and holds the special distinction of serving as both JFK Library and Foundation director. His new memoir tells the story of an Irish immigrant who came to America and would eventually lead a Marine Corps platoon in the Korean War. Daly would live President Kennedy’s call to service throughout his life. He would go on to serve as an advocate for peace in Ireland and report from the field on the AIDS crisis in Africa. MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle moderates the discussion.

Chuck Daly and Charlie Daly do a podcast


Make Peace or Die: A life of Service, Leadership, and Nightmares is available through Amazon and Indiebound, or you can ask your local bookstore to order it. 

An early draft was featured on Jocko Podcast episode 196

Boston Globe: Father-son duo team up in quarantine to write ‘Make Peace or Die: A Life of Service, Leadership, and Nightmares’

From a Boston Globe feature, Jan. 7, 2021, on Make Peace or Die by Grace Griffen:

Chuck Daly sat in the White House Mess, eating lunch during his workday as a member of President John F. Kennedy’s West Wing staff. The year was 1963 and the White House seemed unusually quiet that week — the president had traveled to Texas with many of his assistants. As Daly ate and anticipated the weekend ahead, presidential assistant Jack McNally entered the mess with distressing news: Kennedy had been shot.

Following Kennedy’s assassination, Daly, now 93 years old, began documenting his experiences, anticipating their historical significance. Now, the story of that day and many others are told in Daly’s memoir, “Make Peace or Die: A Life of Service, Leadership, and Nightmares,” coauthored with his son Charlie Daly.

“I tried to write down the truth, even though the truth was tough on me and on many other people,” Chuck Daly said.

“Even if this never became a book and it was just a series of fireside conversations, this would have been the most rewarding experience of my life,” Charlie Daly said.

Continue reading in the Boston Globe.


Make Peace or Die: A life of Service, Leadership, and Nightmares is available through Amazon and Indiebound, or you can ask your local bookstore to order it. 

An early draft was featured on Jocko Podcast episode 196

Gear Review: The Osprey Skarab 30, a Light Pack for Light Loads

I don’t like writing negative reviews. For one thing, I don’t like complaining (I actually have the words “never complain” tattooed on my arm). I don’t like nitpicking or sounding spoiled.  But most of all, I don’t like being wrong. A lot of homework goes into selecting gear, especially when it comes to essentials like boots and packs that need to last and have the potential to hurt my joints if they’re no good. So usually, by the time I make a purchase, I already know I’m likely to be happy with what I’m getting.

With the Osprey Skarab 30, I did my homework and ended up with a pack that fell way short of expectations. I ended up returning it and picking up a pack from good old REI.

Osprey skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30 packs down nicely. (Photo by Charles Daly)

The Good

When I write a negative review, I try to make it one of those “most helpful” negative reviews. The things I couldn’t stand about this pack might count as advantages to a different sort of backpacker. If you wear translucent windbreakers and eat from a spork that weighs like 2 grams, this is an excellent pack.

Sleek design

Even fully loaded, the Skarab has a streamlined profile with no unsightly bulges or dangling attachments. This would be a good choice for skiing, bikepacking, or any activity where having a low-profile matters. This also makes it an excellent carry-on. Not only does the Skarab comply with carry-on size restrictions for most carriers, but it doesn’t have the big bulky backpacker look that might get the attention of a gate agent. This is a slim, slick-looking pack that gives tacticool bags like the GoRuck GR1 a run for their money.

No swamp back

The back panel is reasonably breathable, at least when carrying a light load. The straps are light, breathable, and fit like a harness. I didn’t notice any hot spots or pressure points when carrying less than 20 pounds.

Intuitive pockets

Top-loading packs get no love in gear reviews, but I prefer them. Easy access means easy access to pickpockets too. There’s nothing more simple and reliable than a sack with a flap over the top.

Osprey skarab 30
The well-organized lid of the top-loading Osprey Skarab 30 (Photo by Charles Daly)

The Skarab 30 doesn’t have a ton of pockets, but the ones it has are well thought out. The lid contains an organizer pocket with a key ring, and there’s a soft pouch for sunglasses or ski goggles tucked into the lip of the main compartment. You’ll also find generous hip pockets and two roomy side pockets that stay nice and flat when they’re empty.  A shovel pocket in front, secured with compression straps, can easily hold a jacket or a pair of running shoes.  There’s a rain cover stashed in a dedicated pocket on the underside of the pack. It’s there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t.

The Bad

As with the Osprey Daylite, this is a fantastic backpack for light loads. But unlike the Daylite, this bag has the capacity to fit much more than its straps can comfortably distribute. According to Osprey, the Skarab 30 can comfortably carry 10 to 25 pounds*. Given the capacity of the optional 2.5-liter hydration sleeve,  you’d be creeping up on the lower end of that range with your water and pack weight alone.

When I read the weight limit, I scoffed. As someone who packs heavy and routinely rucks with 35-40 pounds at a jogging pace, I planned to overload this pack just like all my others and suck it up like a beast of burden.

It turns out I was totally unprepared for how poorly the Skarab performs. If you go an ounce over the suggested weight range, you’re in for a world of hurt. I learned this the hard way, not on a through hike or a climb but walking from the curbside check-in to my departure gate on a recent flight. Loaded with 25 pounds, the Skarab 30 is barely up to the task of serving as carry-on luggage. It was no more comfortable than a travel pack and a lot less spacious.

30-ish liters

Osprey claims this is a 30-liter daypack. From what I was able to find online, it looks as though 30L includes the side pockets, which add a few liters of capacity each, provided you’re not using them as water bottle holders (more on that in a second.)

I bought this bag for OneBag travel and the occasional overnight on the trail, but it hasn’t got enough room for either of those tasks. Its capacity makes the Skarab an obnoxious stopgap between a day bag for short hikes, like the Daylite, and something bigger.

The Meh…

Some of the features were neither good nor bad, just pointless and gimmicky…

Water bottle access

Osprey clearly intended this to be a hydration pack, which I get, but water bottle holders would have been nice. That said, the side pockets have enough room for a Nalgene and manage to keep it from falling out, which is more than you can say for many packs. Unfortunately, carrying a water bottle means sacrificing one of the side pouches and with it your 30L capacity.

osprey skarab 30 water bottle pocket
The side pocket of the Skarab 30 holds and Nalgene bottle and, most importantly, doesn’t drop it (Photo by Charles Daly)

Sternum strap magnet

For this latest generation of the Skarab line, Osprey has done away with the whistle and added a magnetic clip to the sternum strap. It seems to hold okay. But why?! This seems like over-engineering and a case of “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” To say nothing of the havoc, it may wreak with compasses.

Osprey Skarab 30 sternum strap with a magnetic clip
Osprey Skarab 30 sternum strap with a magnetic clip (Photo by Charles Daly)

The Field Test

When I arrived at my destination, I decided to put the pack through its paces. Maybe I had misjudged it. Maybe it would carry better on a ruck run than it had in the terminal. I tried to keep an open mind. With 35 pounds on my back, pacing a 13:00 mile, I set out for five miles of suck. It was impossible to get the straps right. The hip belt did nothing to lighten the load. The Skarab can’t handle a real load on a real hike.

Rucking in Chatham MA testing out the Osprey Skarab 30
Taking the Skarab on a Ruck (Photo by Charles Daly)

The Bottom Line

Unless you’re carrying a light load, this bag is a bad time.

The Osprey Skarab 30 isn’t a bad bag. It’s just a bad bag for me. Like everything Osprey makes, the build quality is outstanding, the features are well thought out, and the design is gorgeous. If I were sticking with Osprey, I would go for one of their more robust models. But if their weight guidelines are to be believed, Osprey doesn’t offer a pack that can handle more than 25 pounds until you get into the 60-70 Liter range, at which point, you’re no longer dealing with a daypack or a potential carry on.

I ended up replacing mine with the REI Traverse 35, which I’ll review soon.

*Expedition standards suggest a max pack weight of 30% of body weight (source: Come back Alive by Robert Young Pelton). REI suggests 20%.