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Alone at Dawn: Medal of Honor Recipient John Chapman and the Untold Story of the World's Deadliest Special Operations Force Kindle Edition
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In the predawn hours of March 4, 2002, just below the 10,469-foot peak of a mountain in eastern Afghanistan, a fierce battle raged. Outnumbered by Al Qaeda fighters, Air Force Combat Controller John Chapman and a handful of Navy SEALs struggled to take the summit in a desperate bid to find a lost teammate.
Chapman, leading the charge, was gravely wounded in the initial assault. Believing he was dead, his SEAL leader ordered a retreat. Chapman regained consciousness alone, with the enemy closing in on three sides.
John Chapman's subsequent display of incredible valor -- first saving the lives of his SEAL teammates and then, knowing he was mortally wounded, single-handedly engaging two dozen hardened fighters to save the lives of an incoming rescue squad -- posthumously earned him the Medal of Honor. Chapman is the first airman in nearly fifty years to be given the distinction reserved for America's greatest heroes.
Alone at Dawn is also a behind-the-scenes look at the Air Force Combat Controllers: the world's deadliest and most versatile special operations force, whose members must not only exceed the qualifications of Navy SEAL and Army Delta Force teams but also act with sharp decisiveness and deft precision -- even in the face of life-threatening danger.
Drawing from firsthand accounts, classified documents, dramatic video footage, and extensive interviews with leaders and survivors of the operation, Alone at Dawn is the story of an extraordinary man's brave last stand and the brotherhood that forged him.
"Alone at Dawn is a stunning portrayal of a true American hero, from an unknown unit of unsung acclaim, and consisting of unassuming patriots. John Chapman, Medal of Honor recipient, exemplifies all the traits of the most decorated wing in the U.S. Air Force."―Lt. Gen. Kurt A. Cichowski, USAF (Ret), former Assistant Director, CIA
"A blend of military history, wartime drama, and the incredible true story of Sergeant John Chapman-the first Air Force Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War-Alone at Dawn delivers blood-pumping action, heart-warming kindness, and an insider account of the most courageous individuals on the planet. Dan Schilling makes epic military heroism come alive and reminds us what true purpose is all about; and Lori Longfritz, John's sister, offers a poignant perspective on her brother's life, which was extraordinary long before his heroic one-man stand."―Deborah Lee James, 23rd secretary of the US Air Force
"Alone at Dawn is riveting and powerful. This stunning account reveals for the first time one of the most extraordinary acts of valor and courage in the annals of U.S. history. With this book, USAF CCT John Chapman now rightfully takes his place as an iconic hero of the Afghanistan War. All Americans should honor and enshrine the memory of such undaunted self-sacrifice and valor."―Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, USA (Ret.), author of On Killing, On Combat, and Assassination Generation
"A long-overdue account not just of one hero but an entire force of heroes. Documenting Chapman's final mission, Schilling and Longfritz recreate the blood-soaked, desperate battle in all its dramatic detail, then fearlessly delineate the most terrible choice combat can demand. It's a story that will upset some and inspire many, but will leave no reader unchanged."―Jim DeFelice, coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestselling American Sniper
"Alone at Dawn is inspired by the life and heroism of Medal of Honor recipient John Chapman. The genius of the book is that readers will also learn what a Combat Controller does, and why every team of Delta, SEALS, and Green Berets want their Air Force Special Tactics professionals with them whenever they engage in battle. The men on Takur Ghar, where seven Americans were killed in action in service to their country, were doomed by classic examples of senior military incompetence and inter-service rivalry. That terrible tragedy will never diminish the bravery of those who fought on and above the mountain in March of 2002, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, especially MSgt John Chapman, USAF."―James G. Roche, 20th secretary of the Air Force
"A brave book about a brave warrior and the long overdue acknowledgment of the history and the contributions made by the men of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron (aka Air Force Combat Controllers)."―Pete Blaber, former commander Delta Force and author of The Mission, The Men, and Me
"This is a story of heroism of not only of one man, John Chapman, but a heroic breed of American warriors-Air Force Combat Controllers. It is a gripping account of Chapman's last moments and pays homage to a brotherhood dedicated to keep America safe and free."―Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response, Former Deputy Staff Director, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Special Assistant to President George W. Bush
"As one of our nation's most elite special operations forces, Combat Controllers not only jump, dive, shoot, and maneuver with the best, they uniquely combine these skills with absolute mastery of three-dimensional battlespace to deliver lethal and precision airpower, making them the deadliest force on any battlefield. Among even this exceptional and select brotherhood, John Chapman's heroism on Takur Ghar is without equal in America's longest war."―Lt Gen Donny Wurster, USAF (ret), former commander, Air Force Special Operations Command
"The men who serve in Combat Control whose incredible story is presented in this book aren't asking for recognition. No late night talk show, video game or film could possibly begin to convey the intensity of the experience, the fear, the sense of duty and valor, the bonds that unite these men and, above all, the inner feelings and motivation of someone who has stepped up and accepted the challenge of this toughest of Missions."―Jeffrey "Skunk" Baxter, musician, national security specialist --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
LORI CHAPMAN LONGFRITZ is the second of four children born to Gene and Terry Chapman and shares the "middle child" slot with John. She was a longtime advocate for his Medal of Honor and is proud to share the story of her brother, who lived his life the way he died . . . on his terms and in service of others. She continues to write and enjoys speaking about John and the qualities that led to his final and selfless heroic act. Lori, her husband, and son, John, live in the "Forever West" town of Cheyenne, Wyoming. --This text refers to the audioCD edition.
- ASIN : B07HF3CN5G
- Publisher : Grand Central Publishing; Illustrated edition (June 25, 2019)
- Publication date : June 25, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 43773 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 353 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,739 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on July 29, 2020
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I agree completely with this statement and Schilling should never have written this book.
Its more than 329 pages long and the actions on Takur Ghar do not start until page 213. That means that Schilling used the first 2/3 of the book to do nothing but try to convince the reader that CCTs are the best special operators ever created in this world – better than any other special operations force from any other nation, better than the Rangers, better than Delta Force, and absolutely better than the Navy Seals. After all – on page 245 Schilling accuses the SEALs of abandoning Chapman and leaving him behind.
Schilling obviously has an axe to grind – and he chose this particular battle – and the heroic actions of Chapman to publicly grind that axe. Schilling has a perspective that the CCTs are better than everyone else – and that no other force and no other individuals can do what a CCT does. I do not argue that CCTs are highly trained. The Armed Forces are a Team – each depending upon the others to do their jobs. Schilling is in love with himself and spends the first 2/3 of this book trying to convince everyone else that CCTs are the epitome of all things relating to special operations.
After Schilling’s 212 page egotistical dissertation asserting that Combat Controllers are the only special operators that know what they are doing and his diatribe against all things SEALs and Delta, he honors the memory of Petty Office Neal Roberts (Navy SEAL) – by generously expending one half of a page (page 213) to his actions as he fell from the first attempted landing and found himself alone and fighting for his life on the mountain top. Of course, Roberts was only a SEAL so he only rated half a page. How generous.
Schilling waits until Chapter 19 (page 225) to finally start writing about the actual actions that resulted in Chapman’s demise on the mountain top. For the next 13 pages, Schillings purports to repeatedly tell you what Chapman was thinking. How could Schilling consider asserting that he knows what was going on inside Chapman’s mind? Ridiculous. Schilling continues this fallacy through Chapters 19 and 20 – continually telling the reader what Chapman was thinking, how Chapman was feeling, how much pain he was in.
Beginning with Chapter 22, Schilling writes about the actions of the Quick Reaction Force. CPT Nate Self and his Ranger team. Schilling was extravagant here – he devoted 16 pages to outlines the actions of the Rangers – a battle that raged over for over 17 hours and cost the lives of five additional servicemen. I read this portion with particular interest – as Nate Self was a friend of mine and a fellow comrade in arms. How utterly disappointed I was. In true Schilling fashion, he spent the vast majority of those 16 pages on the actions of one man – CCT Gabe Brown. He completely ignored all of the heroic actions of the Rangers, and the eventual storming of the bunkers by the Rangers. He also glossed over how the Rangers responded to subsequent attacks to the casualty collection point and the emotional turmoil that Nate Self suffered when repeated requests for medical evacuation were denied.
What are my credentials and the basis for my statements? I was there. I was in the Combined Joint Task Force Mountain Tactical Operations Center (CJTF Mountain TOC) at Bagram. I was with MG Hagenbeck, BG Harrell, as well as many other representatives from the Special Operations community as we watched the video feed from the Predator in real time. We watched the Predator feed that Schilling describes. I was there and heard the repeated radio calls from Nate Self and the Ranger Quick Reaction Force begging for medical evacuation to save lives. I personally witnessed MG Hagenbeck agonize over the decision and ultimately deciding that it was too risky to send in a Medevac bird.
I have read many books related to Operation Anaconda and particularly the Battle of Roberts Ridge. I agree that Schilling provides the best documentation of Chapman’s actions – documented by the overhead Predator feed. His failure though is his audacious assumptions regarding Chapman’s thoughts and feelings.
If you want to read a much better account of this particular battle, without have to suffer through all of the CCT Alpha Male love fest, I recommend “Roberts Ridge” by Malcolm MacPherson. A better accounting of Operation Anaconda (of which Roberts Ridge was a part), I recommend “Not a Good Day to Die” by Sean Naylor. Finally, for a perspective of the Battle of Roberts Ridge from the Ranger QRF perspective, I recommend “Two Wars” by Nate Self.
1. The American people believe that we can fight a limited war with minimal enemy casualties. That we should fight a "moral war" where nothing bad ever happens. As a result, troops second, third and fourth guess themselves as Leavenworth is never far from their minds. If you've never served, don't say you support the troops. You don't. You'll throw them under the bus in an instant.
2. Politicians care more about what the American people think than whether or not service members come home or if wars are won or lost. To them, your children who choose to serve are nothing but cannon fodder. If it were not so, battlefield commanders would be given the autonomy to fight and not have to wait until they are in imminent danger to defend their own lives. While our enemies are prosecuting wars, OUR troops often have to wait until their lives are literally on the line to engage when they could neutralize the threat before it becomes imminent. No politician who endorses "rules of engagement" support the troops.
3. General officers far removed from combat consistently make poor decisions that cost American lives because they think they know better than the battlefield commanders seeing the action in real time. Imagine if Alexander the Great had tried to lead battles while sitting in his Lay-Z-Boy in Macedonia, guessing at what his generals in Persia were facing and disallowing his generals to adjust to battlefield dynamics. It would have been a slaughter. That's precisely what our troops face in every battle. The generals who made the decisions that got these men killed bypassed the man who had the intel on the battlefield precisely because they thought they knew better than the man who knew what was happening and who told them that they were wrong in their decision making. But they were generals, so their hubris cost many men their lives. When it was clear that they messed up, they tried their best to throw the lowest ranking enlisted man under the bus to cover their mistake. So...what happened to these general officers?
George Bush promoted one to Lieutenant General, then to Ambassador and Chief of Counter Terrorism. Talk about promoting your incompetent.
We hear the press talk about war crimes. The worst of the crimes is what the politicians (and most general officers are just that) hamstringing our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines and making them tie an arm behind their back to fight an enemy who wants the whole of the USA destroyed. The men and women that they don't get killed, they turn the leftists and their hit squad of "reporters" on to assassinate their character.
We either need to get into the business of war and embrace it, or get out of it entirely. Trying to take a delicate balance between the two is an untenable position. And our young men and women are paying the ultimate price for it.
Top reviews from other countries
I knew these combat controllers existed, but I never in a million years realised the scope of what they do and what they have to attain to get there.
As with all books of this nature, a good chunk of the start is building up, giving an insight into the roll of CCT and the people involved, but it’s worth it because when you get to the operation itself you have such an investment in the guys going into the thick of it.
All of those guys were hero’s, but when you read about what John actually did, and try and understand what must have been going through his mind at the time, it is truly mind blowing.
I can honestly say I have never had chills and a lump in my throat from reading a book before.
Chapter 21 will leave you in utter disbelief and chalet 24 will have you welling up, guaranteed.
You absolute have to read this book!!