Honoring two veterans on Memorial Day; add your special name, too.

Hey guys,

Since it’s Memorial Day, I wanted to honor two special people who gave their lives in service of our country.

The first one was a big reason I ended up joining the Marine Corps.

Bobby Fisher, who retired as a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps, was a man I looked up to as a young boy. He was probably the only Marine I really knew before joining, and I recognized and respected how different he was. He was a quiet man, who always stood tall and pulled his share of the load, while never boasting or talking big.

Gunnery Sergeant Fisher served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and while he survived the combat, he’d struggle with and eventually succumb to a blood disease related to Gulf War Syndrome. (Some may quibble and say he didn’t die in service or combat, but this man left Grainger County a strong man and upon his return, soon found himself struggling with an undiagnosed disease, losing weight and strength and unable to work or do anything physical. He’d die at the young age of 47, and believe me when I say his last years were miserable. I don’t care what anyone says, this man was killed by the war no differently than someone who took a bullet over there.)

The second man I’d like to honor is Lance Corporal Andre Foster, who I served with in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. Lance Corporal Foster died in a dangerous stream crossing we were doing as part of our training at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa.

Lance Corporal Foster died on April 10, 1999, while Alpha Co., 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment conducted highly dangerous jungle training in Okinawa. Foster drowned while crossing a roaring stream in full combat gear.
Lance Corporal Foster died on April 10, 1999, while Alpha Co., 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment conducted highly dangerous jungle training in Okinawa. Foster drowned while crossing a roaring stream in full combat gear.

I’ll post a tribute one of his close friends wrote about him below. But just like with Gunnery Sergeant Fisher, I can say I knew Lance Corporal Foster and he was a great man.

Finally, I wanted to end by saying that one of the reasons I felt compelled to write this post is that a quick Google search barely turned up anything online for either of them. (In fact, I happened to search them both after thinking of them on this special day, which is what led to this last-minute, Memorial Day blogpost.) As such, I wanted to write this small tribute to them so that anyone who searches their name in the future will easily find information about their service and sacrifices.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that though there’s not much written about either of them, both died within the past couple of decades, when the internet was fully alive and should have captured more. But there are thousands and thousands who died in previous wars, whose names probably aren’t recognized or easy to find online.

Therefore, I wanted to offer everyone the opportunity to honor peopleLCPL Foster they knew who died in service to our country. Thanks to the support of so many, this site is ranked well with Google and all the other search engines. Thus, if you know someone who’s sacrifice may have been forgotten, or perhaps their information is online but difficult to find, you can post a comment with their name and branch, as well as rank if you know it. Also, feel free to talk about them some.

It’s not much, but this will help preserve their great sacrifices online, in a way that will benefit future relatives and friends.

I know that Gunnery Sergeant Fisher and Lance Corporal Foster are without question no different than the other nearly two million who have died defending our country, all of whom deserve our gratitude and respect. (Note: Please be respectful in the comments. Any inappropriate comments or political statements will be deleted, and you can be rest assured that I will continue to monitor this page for years to come as a small way of keeping a living memorial up for my two great friends, as well as any others honored in the comments below.)

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Let’s remember and honor Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler

I wanted to take a moment to do my small part to honor a warrior and true American hero.

Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler was the first American to die in combat in Iraq in four years, and he was a highly decorated Delta Force member who was killed taking part in a joint raid to rescue 70 hostages held by ISIS.

The hostages were expected to be executed within hours, after morning prayers. In fact, their graves had already been dug.

Thus, a joint, night-time raid was launched with Kurdish commandos.

The fighting was fierce and scary, as evidenced by this helmet camera footage dug up by the Washington Post. You can just feel the fear and confusion in the video, as a fire burns, people scramble, and bullets snap past.

And going beyond the call of duty in this battle was Master Sergeant Wheeler.

The Kurds were trying to blast a hole in the outer wall to breach the compound, but were unable to do so, according to The New York Times.

Wheeler, just one of many Delta Force operators advising the Kurds, rushed to the front of the line to fix the charges. And when the hole in the wall was blown, Wheeler led the way through it.

“When you blow a hole in a compound wall, all the fire gets directed toward that hole, and that’s where he was,” said a former Delta Force officer, who once led Wheeler and was briefed afterward about the mission.

The New York Times wrote an impressive tribute to Wheeler, who leaves behind a wife and infant boy, plus three sons from an earlier marriage.

Incredibly, Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler had been on 14 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan since joining the Army, and he had already earned 11 Bronze Stars.

I’m not sure it’s possible to explain those kinds of numbers to someone who’s never served.

In my four years of service, I merely did two measly, six-month deployments, and only spent two days in harm’s way, and it COMPLETELY changed my life. This man may have spent as much as 10 years (or more) in harm’s way. (The math on that is that at one point Army deployments were as long as 13 months, assuming your unit wasn’t extended. Truthfully, we’ll probably never know the real figure, since the Army doesn’t even admit to Delta Force’s existence).

Nonetheless, you can’t really put 14 deployments into words. For instance, both of my deployments had major training work ups (one lasting six months), and these are exhausting and dangerous in their own right. These super-intensive training exercises are far more dangerous than more typical, peace-time training — we actually lost a great Marine during this kind of training, when Lance Corporal Foster died on April 10, 1999, while my company — Alpha Co., 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment — conducted highly dangerous jungle training in Okinawa. Foster drowned while crossing a roaring stream in full combat gear. (Photo by Cpl. Conwell.)

Additionally, there are also air alerts periods for units, where you can’t go far from the base and have to be ready to deploy within hours. (These air alerts involve drills, which are launched by surprise — usually at night or on the weekend! — and you have no idea if they’re real or not until the exercise is ended.)

I say all this because there’s probably no way to accurately measure how much time Master Sergeant Wheeler spent either on air alert, or impossible-to-describe training, or on dangerous deployments into harm’s way.

This man spent the better part of nearly 20 years in the complete, full service of our country. He was away from his family. He was away from comforts, such as a bed, a shower, a TV, or any of the other things we all take for granted.

And even when he didn’t have to be up front, when he could have taken his foot off the gas — he was planning to retire soon — he moved to the front and freely accepted the most dangerous position.

My former platoon leader Captain Eaton said it best.

“This guy had 11 Bronze stars. Even if the ‘plan’ is for foreign fighters to take the lead on a mission, U.S. Commandos will not be mere observers once bullets start flying. They are neither physically nor morally capable of just standing by.”

I wish we had more Americans like Master Sergeant Wheeler, who are neither physically nor morally capable of just standing by.

This man was a warrior. He was a hero. And his record of service and sacrifice should inspire us all.

And while not all of us can serve as Master Sergeant Wheeler did, we can remember that we still have a war going on. We still have troops in danger every single day. And we can do far more to support them.

Furthermore, we can remind our kids that real heroes don’t play on the football field or on the basketball court. They sleep in mud. They deploy thousands of miles away. And they rush through holes that they don’t have to.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About meStan R. Mitchell writes some of the most action-packed, fast-moving gunfighter novels around. Tired of slow-paced, investigative novels that take 300 pages to excite you? Look no further! Stan is the best-selling author of 5 novels in 3 different time periods. He’s also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a former journalist who spent ten years in the newspaper business, learning how to hook the reader, cut out the filler, and just tell the story. In short, Stan is knowledgeable, he’s fast, and his books will blow you away. Don’t forget to subscribe for email alerts to keep up with his latest works.

Improving the U.S. military. Some thoughts from two vets…

Being a prior enlisted member of the military, it’s quite common to spout off your views on all things military. From playing Monday morning quarterback regarding current combat operations, to discussing how the Army or Marine Corps could do things better, nearly every enlisted member that I’ve ever met complains and gripes, while also suggesting how things could be better.

I’ve learned this doesn’t end when you get out, and I’ve of late been increasingly talking all things military with a guy I’ll just call “Lee.”

Lee served four and a half years in the Army, with most of his time in the 75th Ranger Regiment. Lee served two combat tours during that time and he knows about ten times more about weapons than I do, and well, that’s saying something.

Several times in the past six months, we’ve talked about things we’d change if we were in charge and we finally decided it’d be fun to throw these things out there for discussion purposes, and even better, to hear all the other ideas floating around out there.

Here were some ideas we had…

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