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Archive for the ‘Memorial Day’ Category

In light of Memorial Day.

Jocko Willink.  Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.  New York, NY: Saint Martin’s Press, October 20th 2015. 320 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

How well do you own up to your own fault and flaws?  Do you often blame other people and your circumstance when you should be admitting your own fault?  This was a good book on leadership by a combat leader in the Navy SEALS.  It wasn’t only just a good book on leadership; it was also a good book of how to be under leaders as well.  The title of the book captures the subject of the material well; it is a book on taking personal responsibility of what you do.  Taking responsibility is a big important mark of a good leader versus a bad leader.

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I’m going to post this ahead of the Memorial Day weekend as a book I immensely enjoyed that is very appropriate for the weekend as part of my nonfiction leisure reading review…why?  Because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading…and also to appreciate the generations of people who have served in the past in the military and have given so much.

Chester Nez.  Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII. New York, NY: Berkley Caliber, September 6th 2011. 310 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This is an incredible book on the legendary Navajo Native American who served in the United States Marines during World War Two.  Apparently this is the only memoir of the original first group of Navajo “Code talkers.”  The book is about the life and service of “Code Talker” Chester Nez who co-authored it along with Judith Avila, a historian of these incredible Marines.  In the beginning of the book Avila noted that at first Chester Nez was reluctant to write this book since he felt that others also have done their duty and also because he feared people would not find his life interesting.  Avila disagreed and encouraged him to tell his story.  I’m in agreement with Avila; Chester Nez and other “Code Talkers” lived an interesting life both in the Marine Corps and outside the Marine Corps.  I’m really glad this book was written.

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This Memorial Day I took a bit of a personal memory lane.  A part of that was recalling other past Memorial Day.  And it got me thinking about one of the most powerful coverage on American service members’ death and their body coming back to their family that I have ever read titled “Final Salute,” a photo essay by Jim Sheeler of the Rocky Mountain News.  It was the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize.  I don’t know when it happened but my old link to the PDF that Rocky Mountain News posted no longer works but I found a way you can still see the photos and read the story here.  If you haven’t seen and read this before, you got to do it.

 

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It’s Memorial Day Weekend.  If you are looking for some good books to read over the three day weekend here’s my recommendation from among all my readings of things military and military history between 2016-2017.  The only exception in the list is the first book which I read in 2013 but remains among the top book I think of when someone I think of a quality work.

I picked these books on the basis that they made me appreciate what those in the military have done.  Each book is linked to my original review.  Let me know which ones sound interesting to you or there are other books you would recommend!

We begin with the first one:

Review: Fearless: The Heroic Story of One Navy SEAL’s Sacrifice by Eric Blehm

Purchase: Amazon

This is a story of a SEAL Team Six operator who is also a Christian man.  He was killed in action before the Bin Laden raid.  The story of his faith, his battle with sin and his courage is very moving.  As shared by the author at the end of the book Adam Brown’s life moved the author to reconsider Christianity.

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Note I am reviewing this book in light of it being a Memorial Day holiday.  I am thankful and indebt to the men and women who have died defending our country.No Hero Mark Owen

Mark Owen. No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL.  New York, NY: Penguin Group, May 20th, 2014. 304 pp.

The author was among the SEALs who participated in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.  I have previously read and reviewed his earlier controversial book titled No Easy Day that gave his firsthand account of the famous raid.  In this second book the author moves beyond Operation Neptune and covers his story including his personal childhood growing up in Alaska and his determination to be a SEAL at an early age.  The book also covered his decade plus experience of being a SEAL operator.  This is a book that will make the readers appreciate the fact that there are men defending our country and stand in the line of fire against evil men around the world.

The book opens up with a prologue titled “Forty Names.”  Here he tells us about him being home and hearing about the helicopter containing another squadron of SEAL Team Six that was shot down  not too long after the Bin Laden raid.  I thought this opening was a sobering reminder that what one is about to read is not just some fictional adventure but true stories of the men who risked it all in defense of our country.

The chapters in the book were written in such a way as to impart to the readers lessons the author learn that was also relevant for everyday life.  As someone who was in the Marines and never liked height the best chapter that stuck with me is chapter three on fear in which Owen tells us of his rock climbing training in Nevada.  Owen is also someone who does not like heights and during the rock climbing exercise he experienced a moment in which he froze.  The civilian “billy goat” instructor climbed over to him and gave him an advice that changed his life: Don’t look at the things that he can’t control but rather stay “in your three foot world.”  Focus on the things that you can have some control over.  This helped him not only with his immediate rock climb but also other areas of life in the SEALs.  I thought this was very helpful for life in general!

I also enjoyed his chapter on the importance of communication in which he talked about after action report and how that helped the SEALs community to implement lessons learned.  He also had a good chapter about accountability and relationships.  I loved how he described the closeness of his SEAL team and contrasted that with the one mission he went alone with the CIA in Pakistan and just how much displeasure he had with the CIA’s culture of everyone for himself and the politics within that agency.

Also interesting was his chapter on compartmentalization towards the end of the book in which he talked about killing.  He shares about how after many so many deployments soon he was having difficulties sleeping when he came back home and felt the need to go to his SEAL locker cage to prep his gear for the next mission.  His account of being alert for danger and the messed up thing he saw is something other combat veterans could relate to and I thought it was important he shared this so that over veterans who were not with Special Operations Forces can realize that they too are humans (though of course tough ones).

Read this to appreciate the men and women who serve—especially those who were in combat and those in combat with Special Operation Forces such as the SEALs.

Purchase: Amazon

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Note: We post this review of this Graphic Novel in the week before Memorial Day so as to remember those who have served in the military and have lost their lives.  Also, this review is part of our . Harlem HellFighter Max Brooks

Max Brooks and Caanan White. The Harlem Hellfighters.  New York, NY: Broadway Books, 2014. 257 pp.

Ever since I read Gene Yang’s Boxers and Saints I have been trying to find Graphic Novels that are something of the same caliber: good storytelling with a good eye for historical details.  I admit it has not been easy find works that matches those criteria.  Fortunately The Harlem Hellfighters is one of them.  Max Brooks and his illustrator Caanan White presents to us a fictional account of the US Army’s 369th Infantry Regiment which was an African American unit during World War One.  I enjoyed the story telling of this Graphic Novel.  As a veteran I liked how the book also covered the build up with training up to the war.  As many veterans know, the military will always have logistical and supply nightmare and this book tells it as it is with the additional factor of being discriminated upon because the members of the 369th Infantry were Blacks.  From soldiers being beaten up in a town outside of the base they were training in at the south, to the lack of a New York parade send off that their fellow Infantry Regiments in the Division was able to participle in along with working as if they were a “labor battalion” instead of an combat unit in the beginning of the war, these soldiers faced an uphill challenge to prove themselves and when the time for combat came they performed beyond their call of duty and exceeded expectations.  From saving the French lines to being the first Americans to reach the Rhine, this Graphic Novel told their story well. Readers should not miss the author’s note towards the end of the book explaining the author’s attempt to put this story into film and the lack of interests from the film industry.  The end of the book also feature historical notes which shows us that much historical materials have shaped the Graphic Novel especially with the characters.  I thought the most interesting part here was how one of the character in the book was based upon the reality of a full blooded Zulu who did served in the US Army during the war. Purchase: Amazon

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Restrepo (2010)

In light of Memorial Day I thought I share with you a documentary about a platoon of US Army Soldiers in a tough valley of Afghanistan.  It is called Restrepo and it was released in 2010.

I must warn the viewers that the video has a lot of swearing and combat footage.  I thought it was worth sharing to show what some of our fighting men go through.

The name Restrepo is based upon the name of one of the soldiers in the platoon who was killed early in their deployment.  Later a small fighting outpost was built and named after that soldier.  The film is about the soldiers who manned and fought in Restrepo.

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