ONE BULLET AWAY by Nathaniel Fick
Nathaniel Fick is a 1999 graduate of Dartmouth who went through the Marine PLC program. He had finished TBS, Infantry Officer Basic School, and been in a unit long enough to make a routine "Float" deployment to Westpac in the Fall of 2001. In fact he was aboard USS DUBUQUE which was the ship I went on Frequent Wind on in 1975. They were enjoying liberty in Australia on 9-11. A deployment to Afghanistan ensued, with his unit securing airfields in Pakistan, and seeing some combat which was very confidence-building, a lot of which supported Army spec ops troops.
Following that deployment he went over to Recon and attended SERE school and intense water survival training that absolutely cured any fears he had of water. This is a good point to remark on his descriptions of the physical discomforts, pain, and insane difficulty of much of the training an individual such as Fick undergoes. From the pain of carrying logs at OCS and being run by a Sean Connery RM Colour Sergeant on loan to the USMC, to making a boat trip in freezing conditions training, to being about 100 percent convinced the interrogation at SERE school is real, he describes it all, very well.
No offense to the Airborne guys (no, I could not have done it!) but Airborne School at Benning was not much after his other training.
His unit was one of the first into Iraq. The description of power point presentations and other new ways of fighting a war are real eye openers. His palpable respect and concern for his Marines is evident on every page.
He relates his feelings about unconcerned leaders; poor combat leaders, and there are a few 0-3 and above in his book. In one case they took an airfield, having been assured it was held by hostile forces. It had been abandoned, and they fired on children, mistaking shepherds' canes for rifles in the dark. A commander would not wake the Battalion CO to authorize a medevac for two badly wounded girls, and it took the USN LT Battalion medical officer and platoon corpsman to drop them off on the CO's doorstep to get it done.
Marines carrying 175 lbs. of gear... Fighting almost dead on their feet, the fog of war, it is all there, painting a revealing and frankly very eye-opening picture of the great young men we have today, fighting for our country.
Fick left the Marines after making Captain. Everyone from his platoon made it back, though two were lightly wounded. It is plain from his book that he has at least a touch of PTSD. His comments about not liking for people to "thank him for his service" are a bit surprising, as is his reasoning, but it does make sense and may explain why some vets are uncomfortable with that phrase.
I highly recommend this book.
Last edited by Griff Murphey; 07-19-2012 at 04:37.
Please check out your next to last sentance, don't quite understand who he does not like!
Thank you - hurrying to finish before work! Apologies!
Well I am uncomfortable with that also, while a Korean vet (AF) I did not experiance any combat and it makes me feel that they think I was some kind of warrior.
Last edited by dave; 07-18-2012 at 11:22.
I feel a bit the same way but you know what, at least I went. As far as I know every male in my neighborhood and year group avoided it.