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)

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