It’s hard to know where to begin with this review. Maybe it’s with Flo Groberg, one of the authors whom this book is primarily about. Perhaps it’s with the our war in Afghanistan. Or maybe it’s with the Gold Star families and our brave soldiers. All intertwine, and Groberg, along with Tom Sileo create a powerful retelling of Groberg’s experience as a soldier in Afghanistan, of those we’ve lost, and of coming home.
I attended a USO benefit recently, 8 Seconds of Courage was given out at each seat, and Groberg was one of the keynote speakers. His charisma and energy had the large audience completely rapt. Hanging back after the dinner was over to catch up with people, over walks Groberg, so I asked him to autograph two books, and we spoke for a few moments. This young man has enough positivity and drive to power a rocket; and genuine excitement for the future. As he demonstrates in the book, his care for his fiance Carsen is endless, and he mentioned their engagement to me. So, I knew the book was jumping to the top of my “to be read” pile.
Groberg was born in France and moved to the United States as a 12-year old. He describes in the book the closeness with his Uncle from Algeria who became a soldier and his love of playing with toy soldiers. Both of these play a critical role in his drive to become a U.S. soldier. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 gave him steely determination to follow through, and after college he ambitiously enlists in Officer training and Ranger school with the United States Army.
Groberg and Sileo describe his months during his first tour of combat duty in Afghanistan’s Pech River Valley near the border with Pakistan; in almost constant skirmishes and ongoing battles; of learning to live in a constant state of alert. The incidents he chooses to share in this book are remarkable, including a very rare visit to an all girls school in a village he regularly patrolled and extremely close calls with his life that due to a bit of skill and a lot of luck, turned in his favor.
Groberg’s second deployment was running security detail for U.S. and Afghan military officials - no easy task as these officials on diplomatic missions were prime targets for the Taliban. The book’s title is derived from this tour, and marks the last time Groberg experienced battle. He was on a detail mission, plans had changed, they were attacked. It was terrible. Groberg displayed incredible courage to save those entrusted to him with complete disregard for his own life. He spent the next two and a half years in and out of Walter Reed military hospital. Eventually, Groberg was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2015 by President Obama. And all the while has asserted that the award is really in honor of those who lost their lives with whom he bravely served and their families.
I had many teary moments reading the book. With Sileo’s help, Groberg puts himself out there. And thanks to him for that. Leaving politics aside, this is a soldier’s story, and thanks every one who protect us every day.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Vickie’s rating: 5 stars