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Meet Vic Ruble: Marine-Turned-Storyteller Behind the Podcast 'Scuttlebutt'

Host of popular Marine Corps Association podcast shares advice for aspiring storytellers

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Vic Ruble (center) conducting an interview at the Modern Day Marine Expo
Vic Ruble (center) conducting an interview at the Modern Day Marine Expo

“Stories matter,” says Vic Ruble, a former US Marine and American University MFA Creative Writing alumnus. As the host of the Marine Corps Association’s podcast Scuttlebutt, Ruble brings to life the everyday stories of Marines and civilians who are making a difference in the world. The popular weekly show has hundreds of followers who tune in to hear tales of honor, history, current affairs, and humanity. 

When Ruble first joined the Marine Corps Association as a deputy editor, he didn't expect to become a podcast host. He was a former Marine officer with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, who retired in 2018 before earning his MFA at American University and a degree in Religion and the Arts at Wesley Theological Seminary. His journey into podcasting began in 2021 when he volunteered to help launch Scuttlebutt and work behind the scenes. Instead, he became the voice behind the mic. “I agreed to do it temporarily until they found someone permanently. And here we are three years later, and I’m still doing it!” 

“Everyone has a story,” Ruble says. “Storytelling helps us understand who we are and connects us with the world around us.” This philosophy shapes Scuttlebutt, which focuses on narratives that might not make headlines but are equally compelling. From a former Marine machine gunner turned author and attorney, to a husband-wife team who run a sustainable regenerative farm, Ruble says, “There’s a story here! You did something that mattered. Let’s find that narrative thread, let’s find what’s compelling, and let’s talk about that. That’s the approach I take to the podcast.”

Writing and Character

While studying creative writing at American University, Ruble honed his storytelling skills and learned the power of narrative. “When I first arrived at AU, I came in like everyone does, thinking that everyone was going to love everything I wrote. I quickly learned that I had a lot to learn, and I embraced everything that people were trying to teach me,” he says.

One of Ruble’s advisors during his time at AU was award-winning poet and essayist David Keplinger. Keplinger says that Ruble’s writing and character always stood out. “Vic’s integrity and faith mixed uniquely with his imagination and world building—and in his podcast work and personal essays, too, that moral stance crosses over.”

Ruble says that it was during the MFA program that he learned that everyone has a narrative that is interesting and exciting, and it’s just how you tell the story. He carried these beliefs with him to his current role at Scuttlebutt. “So, from a podcast standpoint,” he says, “I wanted us to latch onto the stories that matter, stories from everybody who had experience in military – you don’t have to be the person who shot Osama bin Laden or was the commander of some super high-speed task force for your story to have mattered.”

Looking Forward

Ruble is working on his first novel, a speculative fiction work that interweaves Biblical themes that he studied during his time at Wesley Theological Seminary. He says he is continually inspired by his fellow American University MFA cohort members, like Emily Smith, whose recent publication of You Always Come Back: A Novel (Crooked Lane Books, 2023) has reignited his focus on fiction writing.  

Professor Kyle Dargan, one of Ruble’s thesis advisors at AU, says that he always admired how Ruble reached for an ambitious story for his MFA thesis. “Some people get too focused on succeeding within their comfort zone rather than chasing something that will force you to grow during and after the MFA,” he explains. “And it is great to hear that Vic is still working on it, and still taking inspiration from his peers.”

When asked about lessons learned and guidance for aspiring writers and storytellers, Ruble offers up one caveat, “I don’t always follow my own advice! But find time to write, even if it’s just five minutes a day. It adds up. A page a day means you can have a couple of chapters completed in 45 days. Also, writing is a long game, so be patient and persistent.”

Tune In to Scuttlebutt

Tune in to Scuttlebutt for a weekly dose of inspiring stories.