Joseph Kapacziewski. Back in the Fight: The Explosive Memoir of a Special Operator Who Never Gave Up. New York, NY: St. Martin Press, May 7th, 2013. 304 pp.
This is quite the autobiography of the only Army Ranger serving in direct combat operations with a prosthetic limb. The Army Rangers are a part of the United States Special Operation Forces which makes it no easy task for someone recovering from massive combat injuries and missing a leg. Sergeant First Class Kapacziewski tells this story because in his own words he wants to reach and encourage other wounded soldiers to continue forward and not give up. I think his story is worth reading even for those who were not injured—and even those that didn’t serve.
The first thing that struck me reading this book is the fact that this guy is my age. We both graduated the same year. We both joined the military around the same time. Both of us found early in our military career to be the point which we can point to and see we have grown up and became a man. But that’s probably where any similarities end since Kapacziewski is a much tougher man than I’ll ever be. I appreciated reading his story because here is a story about my military generation. The one who woke up one morning and saw 9/11 on TV and knew we have to do something about it. Kapacziewski represent the young Americans that goes against the grain of what people often associate with Millennials as being self-centered and self-absorbed: He has had more than his fair share of combat with ten combat deployments under his belt of which five deployments was after he has loss his leg from an enemy grenade. The guy was probably not even thirty years old when he started writing this book.
I appreciated the book having his wife share her side of the story as well. Especially the part after Kapacziewski was wounded in which she as an Army wife took care of him in the hospital. This was probably the hardest portion of the book—she’s a hero in my book in a day and age where talks of marriage commitment is cheap and the many no-fault divorces that proves it. It takes a special woman to be a wife of a service member—who live by the creed of “in sickness and in health.”
I learned a few things about the Army Rangers as well. I’ll be honest, I’m an ignorant Marine. Before this book I thought Ranger School was the same thing as the Ranger Indoc Program. I didn’t know that there were so few Rangers even though I knew beforehand that there are only three Battalions of them. I didn’t know the Rangers deploy typically for three months and it makes sense their shorter deployments with all the dangers they face in their late night raids of high value targets. I’ve appreciated Rangers before and now I appreciate them so much more after the book.
I’m glad that there are warriors like Kapacziewski who stand against those who are evil and radical terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. For Kapacziewski it is not about himself and his injuries but about being with something higher than himself and specifically the Rangers. I think the fact speaks for itself in that the author spent over half of the book discussing about the Rangers and his fellow soldiers before ever getting to the terrible combat injury that made him lost his foot. He spend more time talking about his pre-injury deployment in the book than he did his painful road of recovery.
What’s in it for the Christian?
As I am reviewing this book for a Christian blog one might ask what in it for the Christian to read this book. First off, this book will remind you that there are really such thing as evil men who wants to murder innocent people. Christians must never sugarcoat our view of reality and be reminded that wickedness is real. Secondly, Romans 13 talks about honoring those who are in Government. This is one way you can have a greater appreciation for some of the sacrifices elite Special Operators will endure to serve the country. Thirdly, there are passages in the New Testament that call Christians to serve God faithfully like soldiers. A book like this will give a glimpse of what that kind of radical commitment of soldiering looks like.
I recommend the book for all adults.