Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Road to Unafraid

How the Army's Top Ranger Faced Fear and Found Courage Through Black Hawk Down and Beyond

by Jeff Struecker

Published by Thomas Nelson (2006)
232 pages

"The difference between being a coward and a hero is not whether you're scared, it's what you do while you're scared." Captain Jeff Struecker

U.S. Army Rangers aren’t afraid. At least that’s what they would like you to believe. In this book Captain Jeff Struecker shows us a very human side of a man who shows unbridled courage, even in horrific situations.

That fear is exemplified by an incident in 1993. An elite military force was sent into Mogadishu, Somalia to rein in a warlord’s abusive control over the population and ruination of what should be a beautiful nation. On October 3, 1993, a Sunday afternoon, they received word of an opportunity to capture two of the warlord’s (Mohamed Farrah Aidid) top aides. What resulted was eighteen hours of trekking through bullet and RPG (rocket propelled grenade) laden streets in an attempt to rescue troops from two downed Black Hawk helicopters, an incident we know today as Black Hawk Down.

While the Black Hawk Down incident dramatically represents fear, Struecker doesn’t stop there. He writes about experiencing terrifying nightmares as a child—nightmares that went away when he became a Christian. He tells about his fear of being a good enough husband and father, when the family he’d grown up in was terribly broken. He tells about the fears of sharing his faith with his fellow soldiers—a group comprised of tough men, many who would claim that reliance on God is a weakness. How could he be a Christian and still garner respect from the men he leads? When he felt God’s call to the ministry, he feared the change.

But through it all, he was obedient to God’s call, and went forward despite his very human fears, and is now ministering as a Chaplain in a Ranger unit.

***Captain Jeff Struecker is a decorated member of the U.S. Army Rangers. He was featured prominently in the book, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, by Mark Bowden, and was represented in the movie by the same name. In 1996 he, along with partner, Isaac Gmazel, won the competition for Best Army Ranger, an event far more difficult than Hawaii’s famous Ironman triathlon. He is currently a Chaplain ministering to 1,000’s of troops serving in hot spots around the globe.

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