We've posted quite a bit about the 173rd Airborne in Afghanistan (and Iraq). Some of the B5 authors have been privileged to meet some of the heroes from that courageous group of paratroopers. And we've mourned too many of them...
A few years ago, I was honored to be the MC for the premiere of Restrepo in Chicago and host the Q&A after the film for director Sebastion Junger. I was even more honored to meet Josh Brennan's father. It was a remarkable experience. You can see video interviews of SSG Giunta here and here - these were done before he received the Medal of Honor.
So that brings us to Elise Cooper's own review of SSG Sal Giunta's memoir for BlackFive readers.
In a way, I think the title of the book should have been "Unbreakable"...it goes along with the Rock's reputation and, of course, the bond between soldiers in combat. It's not a criticism, it's just how I view those guys:
Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta, A Medal of Honor Recipient, with Joe Layden has written a memoir, Living With Honor. This is truly a soldier’s story where he allows the American people to get a glimpse of what it is like to be in combat with those who are at first strangers, but then become a fraternity of brothers and sisters.
He was stationed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the Korengal Valley, known as the “Valley of Death” for its insurgent stronghold. After being ambushed by Taliban insurgents Giunta engaged the enemy to rescue others from his unit. He administered first aid while he covered his squad leader with his own body, being struck by bullets a number of times. After realizing that his buddy, Sergeant Josh Brennan, was missing he searched for him, finding him being taken by two insurgents. He engaged them, killing one and wounding the other.
After this harrowing experience he told BlackFive.net that he does not understand why these insurgents are not held “accountable for their actions of extremism. Either we should be fully engaged and fight it properly or we should start sending people over there without guns and lets see if they feel safe.”
He wrote in the book that a soldier’s options are success or death with no margin for error and no opportunity to relax. He explained, “Decisions have to made in a split second. This will determine if you will live any longer in this world. The rules of engagement given to us are not for fighting in a combat country but seem more like what we do in America with people who are for the most part fair minded. ”
The most powerful parts of the book are the chapters about some of those who served with him. He regards those men and women as family who “came together under a common flag, the Red, White, and Blue. I wanted to give insight to the American people on who the soldier was. Our military is vast and diverse, but it is 100% united, bonded by combat.”
He also talks about his and some of his buddies’ experiences as they returned home. In one scene Sal tells how he would always tell his wife Jen that he was going to the bathroom. The reason he included this, “I wanted to show how a soldier must transition from one mindset to another. In combat everyone knows where you are at; otherwise, you might be in trouble. After returning home, it was a really strange feeling to be alone. I am very thankful that my wife is the stable part of my life.”
Living With Honor is a very candid, insightful, and riveting account of Sergeant Giunta’s experiences. It illustrates the empowering and invaluable lessons he learned about combat and life. He summarized his story, “I believe in the saying ‘the strongest medals are forged in the hottest flames and the flames of combat are insanely hot.’ We as soldiers have the strongest bond that is unbreakable.”
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.