Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Spartan Race for Spec-Ops Warriors
“Though one were strong as seven,
      He too with death shall dwell,
  Nor wake with wings in heaven,
     Nor weep for pains in hell”
- Algernon Charles Swinburne,
“The Garden of Proserpine”
If you're cash-rich and time-poor and would like to skip all my maundering and just kick in a couple of bucks or quid in support of my Spartan Race for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, click on this bad boy.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides full college scholarships to every child who has lost a parent serving in the U.S. Special Operations Command. As I've written many times elsewhere, our special operators are truly the very best of our very best – they train like professional athletes, perform like minor Gods, and lay it all on the line every day in defense of freedom and decency – and on our behalf.

Most of them have been deployed over and over and over again, nearly incessantly, for the past 13 years. Their losses have been many times those in the conventional forces – because their jobs are absurdly hard and dangerous, and they have to be done, and nobody else can do them. You can read about how the operators saved my life and why I personally owe them a huge debt. Though of course we all do. We all do. Here are just a few of the fallen:

The Spartan Race is for civilians whose lives are too damned cushy and sedentary, and allows maniacs like me to go out there for a day and crawl through mud and jump over fire and throw spears and get pummelled with pugil sticks. On the last day of this month, I am running the Spartan Race South London Super (*) and I am doing it in support of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. You can read more about the crushing training regimen I'm on to get ready for this. Here's what the race is going to be like:

If you've heard and seen enough to make you want to kick in something – no amount too small (*), any support at all is just fantastic, and really, really appreciated – then go ahead and click on this bad boy. Otherwise, read on!

The fallen special operators video up there saved me a lot of time. But it's important to me to mention just two of these fallen superheroes by name.

Adam Brown was a small-town boy from Arkansas who overcame his own demons to rise to the most dizzying heights of the U.S. military – DEVGRU, or Seal Team Six. He did this after having his right eye pretty much shot out in a training accident, and having his right hand crushed and pretty much destroyed when his vehicle rolled over on it in Afghanistan.

It's very hard to give any sufficient sense of what selection for Team Six (Green Team) is like. It must suffice to say that 1) only a tiny fraction of the tiny fraction of people who get through SEAL Selection (BUD/S) make it in Team Six; and 2) they do so (mainly) by moving, shooting, seeing, and communicating better than all but a tiny handful of people on the planet. And Adam Brown taught himself to shoot with his off-hand, and with his off-eye – and then made it through Green Team that way. Picture a right-handed quarterback forced to throw with his left arm – and then making it as a starter in the NFL – and you begin to get the picture. Except with one eye. And people shooting at him.

But nothing would stop him. The book about his life is one of the most amazing things I've ever read.

In Afghanistan, Adam was tormented by the sight of Afghan children going around shoeless in winter. So he asked his wife to skip the care packages, and send kid's shoes instead. He personally distributed over 500 pairs – plus socks – on one deployment alone. He kept a notebook where he marked down their sizes.

He was shot and mortally wounded on a raid into one of the very most remote and forbidding valleys of Afghanistan – after having volunteered, instantly, to go into harm's way to protect his teammates. He was a husband and father first, and is survived by his wife Kelley and his children Nathan and Savannah. The photo to the right was taken outside the gates of the base, in his last moments with his family before his final deployment.

Master Sergeant Bob Horrigan was a Delta operator who served under McChrystal as part of Task Force 121 in Iraq. This was the unit that – incontrovertibly, and whatever else you think about the Iraq War – absolutely DEVASTATED al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), inflicting on them a complete and total battlefield defeat. They did this by building a smart, adaptive, high-tech organization; doing excellent intelligence work; and, mainly, sending out men like Bob Horrigan night after night, on kill-or-capture raids of AQ guys. In fact, they went out several times most nights. This ended when they had more or less taken down every single al Qaeda guy in Iraq. Seriously. (Read this book, or this one, if you don't believe me.)

MSG Horrigan served honorably for 19.5 years, much of it in the only spec-ops unit to rival SEAL Team Six (and the one I'm personally even more in awe of; also the one you know a lot less about, because they're still the “quiet professionals” NAVSPECWARCOM can no longer claim to be). He was two weeks away from returning home to start his retirement process, when he was shot and killed in Al Qaim – alongside his friend and fellow operator MSG Michael McNulty. (In his memoir, General McChrystal wrote that these long-time Delta veterans “had children who played on the same soccer teams; their wives were close friends.”) Horrigan was on his fifth combat deployment since 9/11. McChrystal concluded that Horrigan's loss “made the danger very raw. If a man and an operator like Bob Horrigan can get killed, the unavoidable reasoning went, so can I.”

He left behind his wife Denise and his daughter Courtney. They almost got him back. Instead, they sacrificed him – for us.

So, I haven't asked anyone for money since I did that Help for Heroes Walk in 2010. I know the economy is still a bit of a shambles, and (frankly) there are more needy people out there, and probably more worthy causes. But this is one I care about. If we can raise $250 for SOWF, I pledge to run the Spartan race shirtless. If we raise $500, I pledge not to. Go ahead – click on that bad boy.

Update: Really just looking for $10 here or $15 there! The big contributions are embarrassing me! (But thanks!!)

  spartan race     9/11     charity     running     spec-ops     the long war     the military  
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.

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my latest book
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple by Michael Stephen Fuchs
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