Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
2008.04.06 : Greater Love
British and American Ways of Heroism
"Are you one who looks on? or who sets to work? – or who looks away, turns aside . . . For what is freedom? That one has the will to self-responsibility."
- Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
"And each man stands with his face in the light of his own drawn sword. Ready to do what a hero can."
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it."
- Thucydides
"In valor there is hope."
- Tacitus

As winter yields to spring and the Earth renews itself and you and I walk peacefully through the lengthening days – doing our work, raising our new children (there seem to be a lot of those lately!), toasting our friends – others remain toiling in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq. They are American and British (and Australian and Polish) men and women, and they are working and sweating and fighting and dying on my behalf, and on yours – and on behalf of millions of people they'd never before met, but who now have a chance of freedom and self-determination and prosperity and peace, after decades of knowing only tyranny and war. And they fight over there so that we won't have to face violence here. And they sacrifice for the success of a great and difficult and noble enterprise. And, I expect, most of all, they fight for one another – pledged to one another's well-being, and that each of them might come home safely to their friends and families.

     Royal Marine Matt Croucher was on a four-man night-time patrol outside the town of Sangin, on the way to search a bomb-making factory, in the notoriously dangerous Helmand province. One of the team stepped on a trip-wire booby trap, releasing a live grenade into the midst of the group. Lance Corporal Croucher shouted, "Grenade!" – at which, the patrol commander threw himself to the ground, and another man managed to get behind a wall. But one man froze completely and was still standing when the grenade detonated.

However, by that time, Croucher was covering the grenade – with his own body. In an extremely savvy and blessed turn, though, he thought to fall onto it with his back – and thus his heavy daysack took most of the explosion. The pack sailed thirty feet and sent a flaming radio battery flying through the air. And the back plate in his body armour saved his life. He had shrapnel in both the armour plate and in his helmet, and was suffering from a bleeding nose and shock, but was basically okay. "All I could hear was a loud ringing and the faint sound of people shouting 'are you ok? Are you ok?' . . . It took 30 seconds before I realised I was definitely not dead," said Croucher.

Of course, there's no way he could know that the explosion would be survivable. And, without his heroism and sacrifice, at least one of his comrades would pretty definitely be dead. Lance Corporal Croucher has been put forth for the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest citation for valour.

     Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor – an elite Navy SEAL – will definitely be receiving America's highest citation for valor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. However, his family will be accepting it on his behalf at a White House ceremony the day after tomorrow.

Monsoor was part of a sniper security team in Ramadi with three other SEALs and eight Iraqi soldiers. They were under heavy small arms and RPG fire when Monsoor and two other SEALS took up a position on a rooftop. Shortly after, an unseen enemy threw another grenade, this one striking Monsoor directly in the chest before falling in front of him. Monsoor had an exit and could have escaped the blast. But, as he immediately realised, his two teammates could not. He had a clear choice between saving his own life, or saving his comrades' lives. Without hesitation, he threw himself on the grenade. "He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it," said a 28-year-old lieutenant, who suffered shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. "He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives, and we owe him."

Monsoor was twenty-five when he died. He had already received the Silver Star, the third-highest award for combat valor, for his actions pulling a wounded SEAL to safety during a May 2006, firefight in Ramadi. The SEAL qualification and training course (BUD/S) has a drop-out rate of about 80%, and is one of the most gruelling and challenging experiences a person can undertake. Michael Monsoor passed it on his second attempt. (*)

Go to AnySoldier.com Go to SoldiersAngels.com Go to WoundedWarriorProject.com

  america     the long war     the military     the uk     spec-ops  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
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