Tuesday, August 30, 2011

En Excerpt from “Burnt Yellow and Red”

In this scene, Kyle and his family have just arrived to their new house located on the grounds of their new school in rural Oklahoma.

In front of the house was a large moving van, and men were unloading the furniture that the family had shipped from their California home. Father drove around the school one time, exiting on the southern end and turned right returning to the intersection over the dirt road and then turned right back onto the pavement. Continuing slowly, checking out his new charge, he turned right again, back into the entrance, then left through the open chain link gate and the driveway leading up to the house. The kids piled out of the car, Kyle and his brother headed straight to the play ground.

The grass on the play ground was dry, thick and ankle deep making it difficult for Kyle to run. His brother tackled him as they cleared the rusty steel pipe and Kyle rolled over the grass and onto the red dirt, his lungs burned from the dry heat. The smell of the grass made him sneeze twice so he sat there for a minute, trying to catch his breath as his brother ran in circles taunting him.

Soon Kyle caught his breath and headed for the swing set. It was the tallest one he had ever seen. The chains were rusty and the seats were made of leather so it made an odd creaking noise as he set the apparatus into motion. Higher and higher he went until his brother grabbed his feet on the back side of the swing and spun Kyle around, twisting the chains. Kyle held on for dear life, his knuckles lost what color they had turning completely white as he spun out of control forward into the air.

It took several swings before he came to a stop. Crying he tried to catch his brother who out ran him, taunting him with laughter which made Kyle madder than hell! So Kyle found a piece of old cement that was shaped just like a foot ball next to the cinderblock trash point and prepared to heave it at his brother who was now running away.

It was as if his brother were running in slow motion. Kyle hurled the man made projectile in a perfect spiral as it arched its way towards his older brother. With a loud thud, it knocked the air out of his brother’s lungs when it impacted perfectly between the shoulder blades bringing his brother to the ground in a series of summersaults through a patch of sand burrs.

Kyle leaped in the air laughing, as his brother shrieked in pain, the sand burrs digging into his skin through his cotton t-shirt. It was game on after that and their parents just ignored them, letting the two of them fight it out until they were both exhausted and called a truce.

Their chests heaving heavily, out of breath they sat on the old rusty pipe, hands on their knees, faces down, they were covered in dirt. Taking notice, mother called them over to the house and had them stand there while she hosed them down with a water hose she had retrieved from the truck.

The two of them stood there, the cool water and breeze felt great in the hot dry heat on their first day in Oklahoma. It didn’t take long for them to dry off but it would soon be dark so they stayed close to the house and watched the only Television channel they could receive. They turned it on to see Walter Cronkite signing off, “And that’s the way it is, this 18th day of June, 1968.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review and Endorsement by my Team Leader! :)

CWO3 Tom Merrill, Special Forces (Retired)

I remember the day S.B. (Steve) Newman came to Special Forces Operational Detachment A-724. He was a wide-eyed, red-haired, red-faced kid who was ready to take on the world. He left in the afternoon the same way he came in every morning - with a smile on his face. He was one of the guys who volunteered for everything he could get his hands on. Like a kid in a candy store, he was exactly where he wanted to be: on an A-team that was trained in high altitude free fall parachute infiltrations.

Being a former radio operator, I watched him as he made contacts back to the states from our deployed location. At that time, the number of radio contacts made by a team could make or break a mission in the eyes of the chain of command. I asked him if I could help out with the contacts. He got a big smile on his face and handed me the Morse code key and said "It's all yours, sir! Between the two of us we made more contacts than anyone else. But once he got to military free fall school, there was no holding him back.

Through the time we served together, he honed his skills as a communicator as well as a leader. The next time I saw him was when he got transferred to Panama, just previous to the invasion. He also served in combat in other places that, under the rules of the time, weren't acknowledged as combat. But by the time it was his turn to take charge as an operations sergeant, he was ready.

When I read his first novel, "The Night Eagles Soared" I saw a great deal of the same Steve Newman I knew twenty-five years ago, but with a wiser edge to him. He had taken the lessons he learned from A-724 and built on them with a bent of his own. The guys you read about in that novel weren't A-724 or A-781 or any other. It was a melding of all of the guys on all of the teams he served with.

Steve Newman's latest novel, "Burnt Yellow and Red," is a real break through in stories about the U.S. Army Special Forces (SF), The Green Berets. He shows who they are and how they work through the eyes of a Air Force Special Operations Command airman who understands the mission but has to gain an understanding of the SF operational detachment. This distinctive point of view shows a side of SF that is seldom seen – the view of the outsider. Newman crafts a tale, based on his own SF career as a Green Beret. This unique novel shows Special Forces soldiers and Special Operations airmen for who they really are: the guys who grew up next door and went on to become something extraordinary. I recommend this book to the long-time veteran, the guy who is looking to go to Special Forces School, or any American who wants to understand the greatest soldiers who ever walked the face of the earth.

CWO3 Tom Merrill, Special Forces (Retired)