Pensacola shooting victim saved countless lives

I came across an incredible story today in USA Today and simply had to share it.

During the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, an unbelievable story of courage has emerged.

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, recent
graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

One of the sailors there — shot five times — left the safety of cover to tell the first response team where the shooter was located, which indirectly saved many lives.

But what’s even more shocking is that this sailor, Joshua Kaleb Watson, was only 23, and was a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Watson, who was the officer on deck at the time of the shooting, was shot at least five times, but he still somehow decided to exit cover and flag down first responders, giving an accurate description of the shooter and pointing out the man’s location.

Watson’s father, Benjamin Watson, said that his son “died serving his country.”

His father also said that his son had dreamed of becoming a Navy pilot and had only reported to Pensacola for flight training the week of Veterans Day.

Somehow, for me at least, this makes the story all the more tragic. That Watson had pursued his dream to fly and had that dream cut short because of circumstances beyond his control.

But at the same time, it also makes the story all the more impressive. I’m pretty sure a lot of young officers might have thought, “That’s not my job. And I’ve already been shot five times. I’m going to stay in here and try to just stay alive.”

But Watson didn’t. He left cover, he showed incredible bravery, and he ultimately sacrificed his life in the service of others.

I know the men and women of our military REGULARLY show incredible bravery and courage, and it would be impossible for me to document them all. But let’s never take these kinds of sacrifice for granted in our increasingly selfish, self-centered world.

Please keep the family of Watson in your thoughts, and let’s never forget his sacrifice. Try to tell someone else about the actions that he took. Either today, or even months or years from now, if you’re talking to some young kid or future grandchild. Such courage and sacrifice by service members like Watson should be properly honored.

Semper Fidelis,

Stan R. Mitchell

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Stan R. Mitchell, a prior infantry Marine, is the author of ten, fast-paced novels. He’s sold more than 70,000 books and his favorite authors are Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King. If you’re looking for an independent artist to support, look no further. You’ll love Mitchell’s books. Click the link below to check out his books.

The Battle of Mogadishu

On Twitter today, U.S. Army Special Operations Command tweeted a link out about the Battle of Mogadishu. (See below.)

That tweet brought back some memories.

I was finishing high school when this battle happened, and I can distinctly remember cutting out newspaper clippings and stuffing them in a file folder. In the weeks leading up to this, I wanted to know everything.

Where troops were positioned. Information about the raids. And eventually the infamous 18-hour battle. All of this nearly caused me to drop my childhood dream to become a Marine and join the Army instead, with the hopes that I could eventually become a Ranger myself. (Especially since my Marine recruiter was saying they had no guaranteed infantry slots…)

But this battle — and the horror of seeing Americans dragged through the streets — infuriated me. And the visuals and nightmares of this hellacious firefight would push me and my men to train as hard as we possibly could once I finally made it into an infantry platoon.

Besides motivating front-line troops like myself, the battle also motivated the Corps and Army to take more serious their urban tactics. Long term, the battle probably saved lots of lives. But for those who lived it, that’s probably little comfort.

Did this battle make an impact on you? Do you remember seeing the horrendous footage of the American dead dragged through the street? Or of Mogadishu civilians bouncing on helicopter blades from a crashed helo?

It might have just been me and my tightly-focused world, but I’m betting this battle impacted many of you as well.

If it did, comment below. I’d love to hear about it. And if you personally knew of anyone who served in it, sound off with their name below. Let’s honor them.

And whether the battle did or didn’t impact you, let’s never forget the sacrifices made on that day. Roughly 160 Americans fought thousands of Somali fighters on that day, in some of the most brutal combat seen since at least Vietnam.

Semper Fidelis,

Stan R. Mitchell

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Stan R. Mitchell is the author of ten, fast-paced novels. He’s sold more than 70,000 books and writes military action and mystery genre, mostly. He’s also a prior infantry Marine, who LOVES writing!! If you’re looking for an independent artist to support, look no further. You’ll love Mitchell’s books. Click the link below to check out his books.

The ‘Mexican Heat’ in real life may exceed my own imagination

Terrible reports drifted north this weekend, as news emerged of a battle in Mexico that almost defies comprehension.

Mexican forces arrested one of their biggest targets: El Chapo’s son, Ovidio Guzmán Lopez, who they planned to extradite to the United States. So far, so good.

But then the Sinaloa Cartel responded before the government forces could exfiltrate the target area. The Sinaloa Cartel captured eight members of the military and reportedly even took families of some of the soldiers hostage, according to The New York Times.

The Washington Post summed the battle up brilliantly: the operation proved that “in parts of Mexico, the government can be outmanned, outgunned, and outsmarted by drug cartels.”

In the end, the Mexican forces released Ovidio Guzmán Lopez and retreated from the city, running for their lives. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suffered a humiliating embarrassment with the raid and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds.

For now, his response seems (to me) absolutely ridiculous.

“You can’t fight fire with fire,” he said of the decision to hand Guzmán back to his cartel. “We do not want dead people, we do not want war. And this takes a lot to understand.”

In the end, seven people died, including one civilian, and sixteen others were injured, the Times reports.

I only share all this because it brought up some old (sweet) memories of a fictional book that I wrote a few years back. The book begins with a simple plot of the United States sending armed forces to deal with the cartels. Initially, it’s a group of Navy SEALs. This attempt fails badly in my hypothetical book (almost like the raid described above), and America is at a loss for what to do.

In the end, the U.S. President sends in a contractor, off-the-books force led by my infamous character Nick Woods, who first showed up in Sold Out.

When I wrote the book (Mexican Heat), I worried I pushed the limits of believably. I describe the cartels attacking police stations, the presidential palace, you name it. I even have them led (through part of the book) by a vicious, Uzi-toting character who likes to hack up prisoners with a katana (Japanese sword).

The book boasts huge amounts of action and tension, and is epic in scale, in my opinion. (Almost Tom Clancy-like in scope, in fact, as the Mexican government is on the verge of collapse and the entire economy is on the brink of disintegrating.) Not to mention, there are loads of battles and probably two-hundred-plus folks killed in small unit action.

Really awesome stuff if you’re into action books like me. 🙂

But as time has gone by, since I published the book in 2014, I’m no longer convinced that the book is outlandish at all. Or at least not by much.

In my book, there’s an escape from the “country’s most-secure prison,” as I call it. Yet in real life, El Chapo escaped from a federal maximum-security prison TWICE.

In my book, the Mexican President is paralyzed by the violence and threats to his government. Yet just three days ago, the forces of the Mexican President surrendered to the cartels and fled a city of more than 785,000. Did I mention above that Culiacán is also the capital of the state of Sinaloa? (I know, it’s almost impossible to believe.)

At any rate, it seems the ‘Mexican Heat’ in real life may exceed my own imagination. Or maybe not. Judge for yourself, if you choose.

Okay, here’s my sales pitch so I can pay the bills. If you want to read a really fun book, that’s a hell of a ride (and where no one really dies), pick up a copy of Mexican Heat. Or if you want, just keep up with the news coming out of the south in real life and it might be just as entertaining and hard to believe.

Semper Fidelis,

Stan R. Mitchell

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New front page graphic 2Stan R. Mitchell is the author of nine, fast-paced novels. He’s sold more than 70,000 books and writes military action and mystery genre, mostly. He’s also a prior infantry Marine, who LOVES writing!!

If you’re looking for an independent artist to support, look no further. You’ll love Mitchell’s books. Click the link at right to check out his books.