In 2011…

Julian Stood wrote an informative piece of work entitled, Small can be beautiful. Why short, powerful stories can be more effective than novels in the learning process.

Stories and storytelling sit at the very heart of effective communication. Stories build rapport and empathy, creating and sharing ideas of shared understanding. They give understanding and knowledge in a structured and predictable way.

Our friends at Readers Digest built an impressive following based on the premise of the effective tool of communication we know as the “short story”.

I will share with you the powerful words my friend Les Stobbe said to me nearly three years ago. He said, “Jerry, I believe a book of combat survivor stories, some of them near death accounts, each story written in a format of say, 1,000 to 3,000 words can be a powerful means to inform and give honor to these heroes. Will you consider bringing these stories to light?”

My dilemma was simple. Comfortable in retirement, the first thoughts popping into my 72-year-old mind, were: “you are 72. What in the world are you thinking? Beginning a new career at the age of 72 may well be viewed by some as total lunacy!”

My dear wife Laura, ever helpful, wisely offered, “you are an engineer, have little concept of how to write, and even less experience in writing. Why would you ever consider that? Besides, you got a ‘C’ in English in college.”

Her true words rang in my ears, but I did have a lasting thought. Laura did pay attention in English class and got a good grade. Perhaps she can help me.

As I drove home, Les’ words rang in my ears. Then the thought hit me—where will I find a book of combat survivor short stories? Well, I do have one story of near-death survival—my own. That’s a start. With ideas floating in my head, brilliance attacked me.

“I will ask Rita, my friend from church. She works at the VA. I’m sure she knows some veterans with stories”.

God’s providence is so wonderful. A couple of days later, Rita offered: “well my cousin Ryan served in the Army Green Berets. He shared his story with us at the family reunion. It was exciting, to put it mildly. Let me ask him.”

Ryan’s story, The Ambush, the lead story in book one, was so good it snagged a publishing contract, and I was off and running, but that’s another story for a future blog. 


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Above, Jerry Barnes, Author of Combat Survivor Stories

Pinned down…

by blistering machine gun fire near Quoin Loi, Vietnam, our platoon fought for their lives as I grabbed the radio to call in fire support.

Our commanding general roared overhead in his helicopter, hurling orders to units on the ground, dominating the net, making it virtually impossible for me to put through an urgent plea for artillery support.

Let me be brutally honest. In the midst of battle, combat will make one say things they would otherwise never dream of.

The general bellowed: “why doesn’t someone call in artillery support?”

If you would get off thebleeping net”, someone will, I frantically responded.

“Roger that”!

A few seconds later, artillery rounds from the good guys silenced Charlie. My radioman said: “Lieutenant, do you realized who you just yelled at?”


You can read the rest of this terrific story and learn how John, in seminary to become a priest, ended up in the Army. Simply, order our book: When Heaven Visits, dramatic accounts of military heroes from Amazon, or order a signed copy from me (Jerry Barnes, the author). Click the “contact us” button and select “purchase a signed copy” from the drop-down list in the subject line and I will send you the details. If you choose the Amazon route and provide an Amazon rating for the book, shoot me an email at and I will send you a $3.00 discount coupon for our next book, Angels on the Battlefield.

Above: Photo of John with a copy of When Heaven Visits, which includes his story.