Category Archives: Action-adventure

In the Company of Heroes

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I’m a former air medical (helicopter emergency medical services) crew member, so I love helicopters and have met and flown with some outstanding helicopter pilots. One of them recommended some books about the 160th SOAR, a U.S. Army special operations unit who fly helicopters in support of special operations forces. I started by reading The Night Stalkers: Top Secret Missions of the U. S. Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment, then I read Roberts Ridge. Both were really good, but I think In the Company of Heroes may be the best written Night Stalkers account yet.

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant (ret.) was involved in operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia (the operation that gave rise to the book – and movie by the same name – Blackhawk Down). His helicopter was shot down, he was seriously injured, and he was taken prisoner by the Somali National Alliance. He was held hostage for 11 days.

In the Company of Heroes does a great job of telling Durant’s story while filling in details of the Night Stalkers unit history and detailing other missions Durant was involved in (like Panama). It is well written and very readable.

I like reading books like this because they teach me lessons about perseverance, loyalty, and bravery. The Night Stalkers’ motto is “Night Stalkers Don’t Quit” (NSDQ), and that’s a great motto for life.

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Filed under Action-adventure, Non-Fiction

Deep Under Cover My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America

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Jack Barsky died at the age of ten. The REAL Jack Barsky, that is. Albrecht Dittrich assumed the identity of Jack Barsky as a spy for the Soviet Union, and thus another Jack Barsky was ‘born’.

Albrecht Dittrich was an incredibly intelligent and capable young man, attending the university in Jena (East) Germany, when he was recruited by the KGB in the 1970s. His training and career eventually led him to the United States where he worked as a bike messenger before earning a degree and becoming an IT specialist and executive at a major American company…all while being a spy.

His personal life was no less convoluted. He fathered a child out of wedlock, and also married and had another child in Germany, all while living a double life in the United States. Eventually, a marriage of convenience (yes, he was a bigamist) in the U.S. gave Jack Barsky two more children.

Shockingly, when he was called to ‘go home’ by the Soviets (“You must come home, or else you’re dead”) a twist of fate, combined with the love of his infant daughter, compelled him to find a way to unilaterally end his career as a spy and stay in the United States, forging a life for himself and his family pursuing the American Dream.

He succeeded at living a ‘normal’ life until the FBI caught up with him 9 years later. Through another series of miracles, Jack Barsky once again ‘started over’.

Now a U.S. citizen, a relatively new Christian, husband to a young wife, and father to a five-year-old child, Jack Barsky has finally REALLY found the American Dream.

A page-turner with surprising twists, Deep Under Cover is a well-written and fascinating read. Jack Barsky is a living, breathing miracle who has reinvented himself several times and, in the process, seems to have found his genuine SELF.  His is a story of grace, second (third, fourth, and fifth) chances, redemption and, ultimately, love.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Filed under Action-adventure, Autobiography, Non-Fiction

13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi

Riveting. This book puts you in the action on the tragic night of September 11-12 in Benghazi, Libya. I didn’t know much about what happened that night except for what is in the news. I wanted to know what really happened, without the political slant that all the news outlets seem to add these days.

Unlike the other book I read (Under Fire), this book brings the action to life in a edge-of-your-seat kind of way. Told by the author after intense interviews with the Annex Security Team, it gives you insight into what was going through the minds of the brave men (and women) who were serving the US Government that night.

Tragically, 3 operators and the Ambassador to Libya lost their lives in the assault on the diplomatic compound and the CIA annex. Heart wrenching as it is, their story is one of courage and bravery in the face of absolute hate.

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Filed under Action-adventure, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized