Why am I reviewing this? Because even Pastors need a break from heavy theology.
Jimmy Blackmon. Pale Horse: Hunting Terrorists and Commanding Heroes with the 101st Airborne Division. New York, NY: Saint Martin’s Press, March 8th, 2016. 368 pp.
I’ve appreciated those involve with the US Army combat aviation after reading this book in ways that I never did before. There doesn’t seem to be that many books on combat helicopter pilots so I imagine this book would have staying power as books recommend for military officers’ professional reading. If this book isn’t in any professional reading list yet I think it should be soon as recommended reading at some level of the military.
The author of this book was the former commander of Task Force Pale Horse, an Army aviation unit from the 101st Air Assault Division. The task force was named after a biblical passage in Romans of one of the Four Horsemen in the book of Revelation. The Pale Horse brings about death. This book tells the story of the task force’s war in Afghanistan in 2009. They were assigned to one of the most dangerous area in Afghanistan in the Kunar valley and Nuristan. These areas witnessed some of the most intense fight in the whole US-Afghan war. It’s the region where Lone Survivor takes place. It’s the area where combat post Restrepo is located at, which itself is the subject of a popular documentary. It’s also the region where most American service members was fighting in that was awarded the Medal of Honor.
I love the way the author told the stories of his men. I didn’t feel it was a focus on his own pride and prestige. Rather the author did a good job in giving us a window of the lives of his soldiers and pilots. I realize that at times those who are in the infantry can make of those who are not grunts; I think grunts and former grunts should read this book to appreciate the men and women who go above and beyond their limits in providing close combat air support for those down in the ground. There are so many stories of pilots getting shot up in their aircraft going back into the combat zone because they couldn’t let the infantry down. This book was also very emotional to read with accounts of those injured, wounded and killed. I appreciated how the author has had many combat deployments in Iraq and elsewhere before his deployment to Afghanistan. With his experience and background, for him to describe how the combat was more difficult in Afghanistan than his previous deployments made me realize just how horrific their combat was in Afghanistan. One of the points that stood out to me as I read this book was the author stating more than once of how surprising it is that soldiers handle the deaths of comrades. Some soldiers seems like they would handle it well but it turn out otherwise. Meanwhile some soldiers seems like they are going to totally breakdown turn out that they handle it much better than expected. I also appreciate the book discussing the emotional draining moments of bringing an intense deployment to a close. This book was emotional for me to read. I salute those who are in the Air Calvary and those involved in close air support. Of course that appreciation for these guys wouldn’t have been possible in a deeper way if it wasn’t for this book.