As the American culture shifts and convulses, generational differences are heightened. As the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers age and pass from the scene, some are concerned the country’s military history – and the sacrifices made in it – will fade from memories.
Perhaps, though, we are not giving enough credit to younger people, many of whom do remember to be grateful.
After all, they are the new warriors.
A new book by Col. Oliver North, “American Heroes: On the Homefront,” features stories so heart-rending, they will surely stay in the public’s consciousness long after we are gone. This latest effort from North is extraordinary, as he travels from the battlefield back home, where he shares the stories of men and women who have made life-altering sacrifices so the rest of us can live in freedom.
It’s just that simple.
Since 9/11, North and his team from Fox News Channel’s “War Stories” has journeyed to war zones around the globe to profile those in our military who keep us safe.
North also focuses on those who provide life-saving medical care. Speaking of those world-class folks at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, North provides detail of the many methods used to save our warriors: “Many of the grievously injured young Americans cared for in this hospital – and others like it – would not have survived in earlier wars. Thanks to advances in battlefield trauma treatment, rapid helicopter medical evaluation, forward field hospitals, advanced surgical procedures, and antibiotics, thousands of those who would otherwise have perished are alive today.”
It is the personal, individual stories, though, that are most searing. Take the example of Trey Humphrey, a Marine possessing transcendent courage, both on the battlefield and at home. Humphrey, you see, suffered gruesome injuries during a combat patrol.
Humphrey’s 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (nickname “Darkhorse”) sustained the highest casualty rates of any Marine Corps battalion in the decade-long War on Terror. They deployed to Afghanistan in September 2010. Assigned to Forward Operating Base Inkerman in the Upper Sangin Valley, Trey’s unit in the first month went on 20 extended combat patrols, 18 of which resulted in significant engagements with terrorists.
Of course, this book is not some cheesy movie, where unpleasant things are kept from the audience. North knows that war is hell, and his descriptions are such: “Once [Humphrey] arrived at the battalion aid station, he was hit with morphine. He was loaded on a helicopter and during takeoff saw a large needle being plunged into his thigh. His life flickered. He had not yet escaped death. Twice his heart stopped on the chopper ride off the battlefield. He remained unconscious on the C-17 ‘Nightingale’ flights all the way from Afghanistan to Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, and eventually to the medical center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he awoke weeks later.”
It was touch-and-go as medical personnel fought to save Trey Humphrey. His sheer will to survive and maintain a successful post-service life is astonishing, and is just one story from “American Heroes: On the Homefront” that makes this book a treasure for any American family.
North is also effective in featuring the families of servicemen and women who return home traumatized in body, soul and mind. Consider North’s description of Humphrey’s wife, who possesses the same gritty courage her husband used during his deployment and beyond: “If you saw her sitting at an outdoor café in Beverly Hills you would assume she’s a Tinsletown starlet, but Lindsey Humphrey is no celebrity; she’s a hero. There’s a difference, even if too few people understand the distinction. Like the Marines who carried Trey’s fractured body to safety, she remained by his side through the surgeries and rehabilitation even when he wasn’t so easy to love.”
In the glossy pages of “American Heroes: On the Homefront,” readers will read scores of such stories, but strangely, though much of their stories is tough to hear … each story is incredibly inspiring. Dozens of photos, too, chronicle a story that defines America.
This beautiful hardcover memento of American sacrifice is a frequent reminder for the reader that freedom isn’t cheap.
As Bill Jurney says in the book: “We’re not asking anybody to feel sorry for us. … Most spouses of United States Marines are pretty dog-gone strong-willed and independent. They have learned to adapt and live their lives and raise our families in our absence.”
Thank you, sir, and thank you to all the men and women and their families who do what they do.
A special thank you, too, Oliver North. Your chronicles of these amazing people will help keep America strong.