"I left the Corps because I had become a reluctant warrior. Many Marines reminded me of gladiators. They had that mysterious quality that allows some men to strap on greaves and a breastplate and wade into the gore. I respected, admired and emulated them, but I could never be like them. I could kill when killing was called for, and I got hooked on the rush of combat as much as any man did. But I couldn't make the conscious choice to put myself in that position again and again throughout my professional life. Great Marine commanders, like all great warriors, are able to kill that which they love most-their men. It's a fundamental law of warfare. Twice I had cheated it. I couldn't tempt fate again." Words of wisdom from Nathaniel Fick. This is a book that gives us the realities of military and Marine life in particular, and written with a superb command of the language and the military mind.
Nathaniel Fick was a Dartmouth student who wanted to be a physician. He had difficulty with one of his science courses, and this changed the shape of his life. He realized he wanted to go on a great adventure, prove himself, and do something for his country. And that something was revealed in a lecture he went to about the Marines. He joined the Marines and went through one of the most difficult courses of his life,he thought at the time; Officers Candidate School. Not understanding that the real tests were to come. He became a Second Lieutenant and he went on to Recon school. Reconnaissance teams are the elite of the Marine Corps, if elite was a word in their military language. Recon teams go on the most dangerous missions of all- teams calling for emergency extracts and any form of mission that your mind can imagine.
"The Marines develop leaders who are not only skilled, courageous, and tough, but also humane" Lt Fick was one of these. His first orders were that of a platoon leader, and his first assignment was on a ship. He led some very dangerous missions into Afghanistan, and then the most dangerous mission of all; The Iraq war. "War for freedom, war for oil, Philosophical disputes were a luxury I could not enjoy. War was what I had. We don't vote for it, authorize it, or declare it; We just had to fight it." said Lt Fick. And fight it, he did with his platoon. He brought his men through some of the most dangerous of missios. The fact that all of the men he brought with him to Iraq, came home with him in one piece was Lt Fick's own particular mission. He and his men played a small part in the quick "win" in Baghdad. His experience, intelligence and superb actions as an officer won Lt Fick his promotion to Captain. However, this was enough of war. Nathaniel Fick knew he could not continue. He left the Marines and spent a year drifting. He realized that combat had nearly unhinged him. He channeled all his energies into applying to graduate school.
Nathaniel Fick is now in graduate school at Harvard University and the Kennedy School of Government. He has written this book about his life as a Marine, and he has written several articles discussing the military life and the Iraq War. One of his most recent lettérs is about the Iraq war and personal responsibility, and it is brilliantly written. The url is found at the end of this review.
"One Bullet Away" is a marvelous book and highly, highly recommended. Prisrob