A flat tire…

on the lead vehicle could not have come at a more inopportune time.

 Pinned down, in the middle of a planned trap, intense enemy fire, rained on James and his buddies.  Caught in the “staged firefight trap”, James and his unit struggled to free themselves.

With the lead vehicle disabled by a flat tire, something, someone had to do something or matters would get worse, much worse!

“Can you guys cover me while I change the tire, James yelled over the radio?”

“Got your back man”, one yelled over the radio.

The friendly fire int intensified as his buddies gave precious cover for James to pull the truck to the side of the inoperable vehicle. A few minutes later, the tire was changed.  James, back in the wrecker, yelled “Let’s get outta here!”

Enemy fire suppressed, the lead vehicle pulled away and the convoy headed to the base.

I write about these heroes in our new book, “Angels on the Battlefield”.  Thirty-one stories of combat survivor heroes are told for the book, headed to a Fall ‘20 release.

Check the author web site and place your orders at CombatSurvivorHeroes.com

 

 

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Beuterbaugh

 

When I set out…

to bring each combat veteran story to the published page, I did so with these humble goals: 

—Describe the realistic combat veteran experience with realism, compassion, and care.

—Never overdramatize combat. Write realistically.

— Bring healing to the veteran and their families, as they see their (or their loved ones) experience expressed in the written word.

—Donate proceeds from book sales to worthy veteran causes that help veterans heal from scars of war, such as New Freedom Farm, which uses “rescue horses, bound for the slaughterhouse, to rescue veterans with PTSD”.

Jerry Barnes, Author of When Heaven Visits

 

When the US…

moved from the draft to an all-volunteer force, there was some fear and reservation. Wise advisors stated we will be able to fill all our needs through volunteers. Time has proven them absolutely correct.

There was no need to fret. Despite any misgivings, the military services are all filling their ranks with the cream of the crop and now have waiting lists for even most combat ranks. Why my Marine friends have transformed the idea of volunteering into a powerful motivation by implying “who will step up next and be allowed to enter the elite ranks of the toughest fighting force on the planet?”

So why do people volunteer? Is it for recognition? Inclusion in a cause for good? To give of themselves? To serve others? I imagine there are as many reasons for good people to volunteer for difficult or challenging assignments as there are reasons not to.

I think of the spirit of the volunteer whenever I go to New York and walk to the site of the World Trade Center. One morning while standing at the entrance, I could see the brave men and women of NYC Fire and Rescue companies rushing out of Engine Company No 10 and other companies nearby, some pulling their gear on as they ran headlong into an inferno of debris, fire, dust—-and death. Why did they volunteer that morning?

I am glad difficult, perceived “impossible” assignments are always out there for us to ponder. They give us reasons for striving, imagining, dreaming, and most of all, finding if we have the mustard to achieve something great with our lives. Every person I interviewed for “When Heaven Visits, dramatic accounts of military heroes” was a volunteer. Some came home scarred for life, but not, and this is the important part, NOT defeated!

Virginia Veteran Reservists Whose Stories are Featured in When Heaven Visits.

 

When I listened…

to combat heroes tell their stories for “When Heaven Visits,” one thing became readily apparent… many heroes are still hurting, some in silence, others by the situation. Knowing they were sharing with a fellow veteran seemed to build trust and allowed them the freedom to open up. Several heroes gave me their stories by video connection on the cell phone. Whether face to face or electronically connected, I could “feel” the emotions of combat as they shared.

Some talked fast, their voices reflecting the horrors of combat as they shared. Others grew silent and somber when discussing what they had experienced. One hero became nauseous while sharing. When asked “do we need to stop”, he quickly replied, “no, I must tell you this.” I gained an appreciation for the care these heroes are receiving while wondering, “can I do more to help them?”

Carlos Showalter – 18 year old Marine When Heaven Visits– “Saipan” and “Iwo Jima”. Rest in Peace, 2020.

 

My wife and I …

served in five locations during our career in the Army. The first was Norfolk, VA home of one of the largest naval bases in the world.

Opportunities abounded for getting to know and helping encourage others.

Naval operations normally occurred on six-month rotations. When a carrier battle group left town it normally took ten to twelve ships, including the carrier and 8-10.000 naval personnel, many of the men.

That often left mom to keep home fires burning, shuttle kids to soccer practices, patch up scraps, administer discipline, keep cars running, and washers washing, while working a job, just to make ends meet. Needless to say, she was always busy.

While dad was away for six months, roofs still leaked, cars stopped running, washers stopped washing, dogs ran away, kids got sick at school and needed to be picked up. I can’t tell you how many times we just listened, and did what we could to help, as these young moms struggled, wanting to see her mom and dad, perhaps a thousand miles or more away. Sometimes, we cried with them. After all, we were just kids ourselves.

Looking back, we made it through, richer for helping encourage someone in their time of need. My dear wife did much of that encouraging and helping. The retirement check we receive each month is just as much hers as it is mine. In fact, she probably worked way more hours than I worked. She is certainly a key part of our team-perhaps the key.

Author, Jerry Barnes with Wife Laura