Due to the nature of Mark’s book, there were many sensitive details from his military life that needed to be checked. I voluntarily asked AFSOC (Air Force Special Operations Command) to review my manuscript to ensure I didn’t publish anything inaccurate, incriminating, or that would cause harm/danger to Americans and our military. There were many areas to consider: call signs, team names, specific # of deaths, etc. They were great to work with—very responsive and closed out the case within a few weeks.
They gave me a list of about 13 spots in the book to change or remove. They actually never said “do not print”. They called them “areas of concern/suggested changes”.
I’ve never talked about the details of their list, but want to address one here. It’s important because if I’d taken it out–as they suggested–it would have prevented readers from seeing another example of Mark’s personality while down range.
In Ch. 11, page 143 of “My Brother in Arms”, Mark is with his teammate Ish, who is on his final mission of that deployment. Mark was there to take Ish’s spot as it was time for him to head back state side. He was a seasoned, 13 year veteran and more than adequately taught Mark what he needed to know in those short few weeks they were together. FYI, Ish is the recipient of two Silver Stars from the War on Terror—he ain’t scared and was able to inflict maximum damage to our enemies.
When all their work was done and it was time to head back to base, Mark requested over the radio for their air support to do one last flyby in honor of Ish’s last mission (Mark loved requesting flyovers from Apache’s, A-10’s, and F-18’s, as you can see in the video from his helmet cam above). The pilots obliged and “buzzed our line”. After that Mark got back on the comms to say thanks and then declared (full of irony), “I’ve been consoling Ish for the last 24 hours because he’s no longer the primary JTAC at Cobra.” I can easily hear Mark saying that.
To most people, there is no reason this would be sensitive. However, AFSOC viewed it as such due to sequestration and budget cuts (remember this was 2010 when it happened and 2013 when published). Basically, it could appear wasteful with the air assets and fuel.
I appreciate Ish sharing this story with me. He had a lot of experience from his multiple deployments and he willingly shared that knowledge with Mark. There is only so much he could teach him in a war zone. I’m sure Mark had to learn many things on his own, as with most situations in life.
You can read more about Mark’s time with Ish, as well as his remaining five months while deployed. Just look to the right and preview or purchase the book.
I really appreciate AFSOC’s review and support. After all, they didn’t have to review it for me, especially as quickly as they did.
Do you agree I made the right call by leaving this story in the book?