Captain Howard Snyder


Howard Snyder 300dpi
Caption Howard Snyder

Today CN Salutes Captain Howard Snyder, first pilot of the B-17 Susan Ruth. His son, Steve Snyder is president of the 306th Bomb Group Historical Association and author of SHOT DOWN: The true story of his father, Howard Snyder, and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth. Howard Snyder was a 1st Lieutenant in the 8th Air Force, 306th Bomb Group/369th Bomb Squadron and after returning to the States, Snyder achieved the rank of Captain.

It is an honor to have Steve Snyder share his father’s heroic story of his miraculous survival and his time MIA, hiding from the Germans after the B-17 Susan Ruth was shot down over Belgium on February 8, 1944.

Howard & Steve Snyder at WW II Memorial in Washicnton DC in 2004
Howard and Steve Snyder at World War Two Memorial in Washington D.C.

What were his duties?

He was the first pilot and commander of the B-17 Susan Ruth and its crew.

What was the training and prep for his MOS?

After volunteering for the Army Air Corps in June 1942, he went through pre-flight training at Santa Ana Army Air Base in Santa Ana, CA where he qualified to enter pilot training. He then went through the three phases of piloting training; Primary Pilot Training at Santa Maria, CA where he soloed; Basic Pilot Training at Lemoore, CA and Marana, AZ; and then to Advanced Pilot Training at Douglas, AZ where he graduated and received his pilot’s wings and his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in April 1943. From there, he went through transitional training where he learned to fly a four-engine B-17 bomber at Pyote, TX and then to Operational Crew Training at Dalhart, TX where the various members of the crew came together and learned to operate as a team. Finally on October 21, 1943, the crew reported to the 306th Bomb Group at Thurleigh, England.

What did he like most about serving?

Until he got into combat, it was the excitement of being part of a great cause and seeing new places. Back then, the U.S. was more of a rural country and many young men, many only boys, had never even been out of their own town or county. All of a sudden, they were sent to bases all over the country to train and then halfway around the world to serve. As my father wrote in a letter to my mother, “We are having a good time. If it weren’t for the fact of being away from you, Princess, I would not miss this for the world. I suppose I will wish before long that I was back home, but right now it is pretty exciting, not knowing what kind of country we are going to fly over next. The suspense of the unknown is exhilarating. After being a home boy for so long and finally having something like this happen is like a book, only I wish it could have happened before I met you.”

What prompted him to serve?

He enlisted in the Army in April 1941 as a result of President Franklin Roosevelt’s implementation of the first peacetime draft in U.S. history in the fall of 1940. After a year of being in the Infantry at Ft. Lewis, Washington, My father volunteered to join the Army Air Corps. He did so to make more money to support his new bride and baby on the way. If he could make it through Pilot Training, he would become an officer and make a lot more money than a private’s pay in the Army.

The greatest challenge he faced?

While on a bombing mission to Frankfurt, Germany, the B-17’s bomb bay doors were hit by flak (anti-aircraft fire) and the crew could not get them back up. This caused a drag on the plane, and it lost air speed. As a result, the plane fell behind the B-17 bomber formation heading back to England, and it was singled out by two German Focke-Wulf fighter planes. In the ensuing air battle, the B-17 Susan Ruth was shot down.

The plane was named after his first born daughter. How did that come about?

As the first pilot and commander of his B-17 bomber and its crew, he had the final say on what their plane was named. Of the ten man crew, only three were married, and he was the only one who had a child. I assume the crew mutually agreed that it would be fitting to name their plane after his daughter, Susan Ruth. My mother’s name was Ruth.

When he got to his first station in England, he talked about nose art on the planes. Did this make a plane stick out in anyway in the air? Did it make American pilots more of a target?

Nose art did not have any effect on planes being shot down. The enemy was well educated and trained to identify American planes. The 8th Air Force flew high altitude, daylight, precision bombing missions over occupied Europe and Germany using B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators which flew in combat box formations comprised of hundreds of planes. The Germans had radar stations set up along the continental coast of Europe and were well aware when these formations were coming.


He ended up fighting the war even MIA with the underground resistance. A brief summary of this. Did he still have relationships with those who hid him?

After the B-17 Susan Ruth was shot down on February 8, 1944, my father was missing in action for seven months, but he evaded capture. He was hidden by numerous members of the Belgian Underground for a few months but then got tired of hiding and joined the French Resistance called the Maquis. As a result of his year’s training in the Infantry, he knew how to fight on the ground. The Maquis were small independent groups of guerrilla fighters who harassed the Germans by disrupting communication lines, sabotaging railway lines, attacking German convoys, and assassinating German officers. When U.S. General George Patton’s 3rd Army came up through France after D-Day, my father met up with them in the village of Trelon, France on September 2, 1944 and made it back to England.

My father did keep in touch with most of the Belgian people who helped him through letters and Christmas cards. He and my mother also made several trips to Belgium and visited many of his helpers with the highlight being the dedication of a memorial to the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth in 1989.

When your father was missing in action how did your mother get through it?

It was extremely hard for my mother, Ruth. During the time my father was missing in action, Susan Ruth was one year old and my other sister, Nancy, was born. So there my mother was with a one year old and a newborn not knowing if her husband was alive or dead.

Getting a loan from her parents for the down payment on a small house in Pasadena, CA, she lived off the money my father sent home. Ruth had been an elementary school teacher for about 6 months before Susan was born, but back then a pregnant woman wasn’t allowed to continue teaching.

She probably received some help from her parents and my father’s parents who all lived fairly close by. I know my dad’s father helped her out around the house and ran errands for her. She also had 4 siblings who gave her much needed support as well. Ruth also had a strong Christian faith which gave her comfort and strength.

What was his most rewarding experience?

Making it back to England in one piece and returning to his family back home which then included a second daughter, Nancy, who was born while he was missing in action.

Did your father have any advice to someone thinking about serving their country?

My father was very proud to have served his country and fought to preserve freedom. Like all World War II veterans, he was very patriotic and loved his country. He believed that when duty called, everyone should serve.


SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth

Be sure to check out the full story in Shot Down! I highly recommend this book. It is both a tribute to courageous soldiers and a great read of a piece of history during World War II. Steve’s website is


Belgium … February 8, 1944 … Shot Down and Alive

For the first time, the full and complete story of the B-17 Flying Fortress Susan Ruth is shared in unbelievable detail. Author Steve Snyder’s story of his father, Lieutenant Howard Snyder, and the Susan Ruth crew, provides in-depth details about many aspects of World War II few understand or know about including the:

• separation for young families as men went off to war;
• training before heading to foreign soil;
• military combat operations;
• underground and resistance and what Lt. Snyder did when he joined it;
• German atrocities toward captured crew and civilians;
• behind-the-scenes stories of the Belgium civilians who risked all to save American flyers who were in the air one moment, spiraling down in flames the next;
• creation and dedication of the monument to the Susan Ruth and its crew located in Macquenoise.





Chief Petty Officer Robert Sullivan

It’s an honor to once again hear from Chief Petty Officer Robert Sullivan as he shares his experiences from the early days the Navy SEAL Teams were establish. Thank you Chief Petty Officer Sullivan for your service and thanks to those who served beside you.



By CPO (SEAL) Robert F Sullivan USN Ret ( ST-1 Plank Owner )

During this past fifty years, it’s been repeated over and over on how, when, and where the SEAL Teams came into existence, so I’m going to start somewhere during our first weeks

During the third week of February 1962, while members of newly established SEAL Team One were chasing around the hills of Camp Pendleton, The word went out for CPO Robert F Sullivan and HM1 Donald C Raymond to report to the SEAL HQ on NAB, ASAP.

Sullivan and Raymond had received orders for the first SEAL Team One operational deployment to Vietnam. These orders were different than the normal orders for a TAD detachment of enlisted men.

The orders read:

1 Mar 1962 Proceed to Honolulu Hawaii, upon arrival report to CINCPACFLT HQ in connection with naval matters for a period of about one day. Upon completion and when directed, proceed to Saigon Vietnam and report to Chief MAAG Vietnam TEMADDCON with naval matters for a period of about six (6) months Travel by Commercial Air Civilian Clothes Required Advance Per-Diem Auth.

What is not in the orders is that a current Passport w Visa is also required. This item mystified us. Since when do enlisted men need passports??

SEAL One’s new commanding officer Lt David Del Giudice had us in his office for a briefing, only it was more of a pep talk, our briefing would come in Honolulu. He did reiterate the subject that was paramount in the team briefing on the day we were established. He said to remember our concept is highly classified, and information about it is not to be told to anybody.


Don and I caught a United Airline to Honolulu and checked in at Nav Sta Pearl Harbor and were taken by staff car to CINCPACFLT Headquarters. A Staff Car?? WE find out that we should be at COMNAVCINPAC the offices of Admiral Felt.

(CINCPAC) There our briefing starts with a civilian that tells us what might happen if we breach security (CIA security). This is the first that we know who we will be working for. Next a Commander explains that in the (Remote) chance that we get captured, there is this thing they call deniability , in other words, “They don’t know you” He explains that Admiral Felt has a personal interest in this experimental program and will talk to us about it. Next we have a short meeting with Admiral Felt. The Admiral is very cordial. He asked how our families felt about this sudden change. He being from the old school Navy, said he thought we would be Bos’n mates. I explained that UDT was a career change for many ratings, and responsibilities went to those that were most qualified. Don Raymond and I were both qualified Diving Supervisors. Admiral Felt said he was planning a visit to Vietnam, and he wanted an opinion on how well the host Vietnamese were to work with, and what improvements we felt should be made. He reiterated that our country’s involvement into North Vietnam was a very fragile thing, and it could become compromised easily. He did visit Vietnam but we never saw him.

From our briefing at CINCPAC, we were to catch a PAM AM to Manila, and transfer to an AIR FRANCE Airliner for the last leg to Saigon. The reason for the change to AIR FRANCE was the Geneva Convention Committee had put quotas on how many military advisors each country could have in South Vietnam. The International Control Commission (ICC) was stationed at the Saigon Airport checking the passengers from each plane. Honolulu told us to look like tourists. When we reached Saigon, We got in alright because they were only checking American air craft, but believe me, Don and I could never pass for French tourists.

Checking in at MAAG was interesting since our orders read report to MAAG for TAD, and nothing else. We ended up in front of the Commanding Officers desk looking ignorant. He had never heard of SEALs, and in Honolulu it was made emphatic that we not mention CIA to anyone, and Navy Captains were not an exception. The Chief Yeoman suggested they call Combined Studies that has an office in the compound. Navy Chiefs seem to know where the secrets are kept.

Combined Studies sent a Mr. Kennedy to collect us (All names of the civilians we will meet are probably not their real names) this is SOP for this type of work. We

get our important stuff taken care of like drawing our advance per-diem, and we get hustled off to a fancy French Hotel (Majestic) where we are allowed to sign for everything. Don and I had our first eight course dinner that night on the CIA. The next day we get acquainted with some of the people we will answer to. We have a brief meeting with Mr. William E Colby who is the CIA Station Chief for Saigon. Mr. Colby will become Director of the CIA in 1973-76 He tells us of a conference that he had with Admiral Felt and General Westmoreland, where one of the problems discussed were Swatow Gunboats, and how they were creating havoc with the South Vietnamese fishing fleets. He said Admiral Felt told him that we had a solution to this problem. He stated that it was South Vietnamese that would have to make the trip into North Vietnam to solve it because The United States was still not considered a belligerent in this action. Remember this was 1962 and the war was still in the shouting stages .That term “deniability” comes up again.

The Swatow Gunboat is a Chinese-made vessel that forms the backbone of the North Vietnamese Navy. It is 83-ft. long, heavily armed, cruises at 28 knots and carries a crew of 30. A trio of Swatow’s was thought to be harbored on the Gianh River about 40 kilometers north of the demarcation line between North and South Vietnam. The 17th parallel

Raymond and I traveled to the South Vietnamese Naval HQ at NaTrang, where we were to screen 18 Navy men that had taken some UDT training in Taiwan. After two weeks of scrutiny, we settled on the four best SCUBA swimmers. Their training was in open circuit SCUBA only, and that is the only equipment we will have to use for a Limpet mine attack on the Swatow’s. Obtaining closed circuit gear and training the Frogs in its use, is out of the time period planned for the completion of the operation.

The Limpet mines will be put together at the CIA lab on Okinawa. Since the Swatow’s have wooden hulls, the mines will be modified to attach to the hull by firing a nail into it much like a carpenters gun. They will have a two pound TNT load with a delay clock mechanism.

We will need an isolated area in order to practice compass swims and attaching the limpets to wooden hulls. By using Helo recon, we found a long isolated beach

south of DaNang. On the northern area of the beach between a river that runs parallel to the beach and a road that runs into DaNang is a small fishing village with a collection of huts and fishing boats. The name is My Kye. A mile south along the beach is a single room house that is used by a French family during their summer vacations. Combined Studies makes arrangements for us to turn it into our training site. A Quonset hut type shed is built to house a cook and his cooking stuff plus store the diving gear and HP compressor. Training for the limpet attack becomes a nightly exercise using fishing boats from the village as targets. Combined Studies has a compound in DaNang, and all arraignments for hiring of boat crews, our interpreter, and a cook were made by the people from the compound. We were told they were all cleared by the agency’s Vietnamese counterparts.

Approximately two weeks after we started training a Special Forces (Hoa Com) camp about 7 kilometers inland from our beach was hit by the VC. Sergeants Frank Quinn, George Groom, Specialist James Gabriel, and Sergeant Wayne Marchand were captured by the VC. Gabriel and Marchand were then executed with their hands bound behind their backs because they were unable to walk due to wounds. The VC were withdrawing in the direction of Laos and kept Quinn, Groom and 30 Vietnamese prisoners to use as hostages in bargaining for the release from prison of high ranking VC officials. Quinn and Groom were released on May 1st, a communist holiday, as a propaganda ploy. This was significant to Don and I because we had been drinking a few beers with Quinn and Groom a couple of nights before they were captured. We had use of a ¾ ton truck, and had given them a lift back to Hoa Com

The capture of the Green Berets brought home to Don and me the fact that we had no security besides ourselves, and our beach was a known drop off point for infiltrators coming from the North. We only carried hand guns, a 38 and a 45, because we would drive into DaNang after nightly practice swims, and eat dinner at the local soup and noodle joint and have a few beers. We high tailed it over to the C. S. compound and checked out 5 of the new AR 15’s, a 30 cal BAR, and a box of grenades. We arranged a day at Hoa Com to get us and our Frogs checked out by the S.F. in our new arsenal. We weren’t much but we’d sleep better.

Near the end of April it was determined that the Swatow’s were nesting somewhere up the Gianh river but out of sight from the Ocean. We needed to know if our guys could operate in the rivers current, and how far up the river the Swatow’s were. We wanted to check it out by air, but Saigon said No ! Crossing of the 17th would be treated as an overt act of war. We learned that with the agency, after listening to the “Powers Set Policy”, they start looking for another way to solve the problem. At first it was thought that a fishing Junk could get the needed info, but if they are stopped they are bound to tell what they came to find out and that will blow the program. We said a Submarine would be the best way to recon the river mouth and still stay covert. The Submarine Catfish was a Sub used by the agency in North Korean waters, and it was in Subic Bay at that moment. Bringing a Sub into DaNang harbor might be too obvious, so we grabbed a hop to Cam Ranm Bay and picked up the boat there. We continued to play the role we were given by the agency while aboard the Sub and Don and I made a recon of the nesting place of the Swatow’s just like we would if it were in San Diego Bay. “A piece of Cake “ It was also nice to get a couple of meals that didn’t have noodles or rice in them.

We set up a plan that took the Frogs as far as the river mouth by fishing Junk, then transferred them to a skiff with an outboard (common for the area) they would go upstream of the Swatow’s, swim down river with the mines, and get picked up by the same skiff below the nest on their way back to the Junk waiting outside the mouth of the river. There would be three swimmers, each with a mine and one Frog and two crewmen to stay with the skiff.

The order for the attack on the Swatow’s was set for late June, about a month before the monsoons come to that area. After the monsoons start you are out of business.

The attack was not 100%; we sank one Swatow and damaged another. Two of the Frogs were KIA and two Frogs and all but one of the Junk crew were captured. The third Swatow chased the retreating Junk and caught it before they could get across the 17th. The whole group were put on trial in Hanoi and Mr. Bob and Mr.

Don ( The only names the Frogs knew us by ) were broadcasted all over South East Asia as having a 10,000 piaster reward on us.

Our boss got us out of DaNang and into a “Safe House” in Saigon awaiting Mr. Colby’s return from the states so he could be at the debriefing.

Approximately twenty minutes after Mr. Kennedy left us in this huge house called a “Safe House”, we were in a taxi headed for downtown Saigon. We wanted a Steak and something instead of warm beer.

After the debriefings where we suggested a whole shopping list of things needed especially a fast boat with armaments because Junks just aren’t any good against a Swatow. We heard that some Vietnamese politicians were unhappy with us. Not everybody in South Vietnam was happy with the Americans being there. I wrote in the report we made that would eventually be seen by Admiral Felt, that we didn’t care for Monday Morning Quarterbacks. We came to help and not to get seconded guessed. It must have gone through just the way I said it because it came back with a note that said “I concur Chief I think you did well “Felt.

We stayed around and helped get some Junks armed with 3.5 rockets fired with a hell box and 50 Cal machine guns concealed under mats. We also helped train some of the air drop personnel, we even made practice jumps with them. I was Already jump qualified and Don got qualified along with the Vietnamese agents by making more than the required five qualifying jumps. SOG had trouble on several trips into the north when at the last minute the agents refused to jump, so since it could be claim as pilot error, ( For Denilibility) it was decided that Americans Jumpmasters would go along on air ops into the north. All agents jumped after we started going along. After we returned to Conus The last plane Don and I flew on crashed into a mountain top with two Special Forces Jumpmasters and a training class of agents ( No survivors ) It was a C 54 with a Chinese Nationalist crew.

A lot of information of the actual operation ( Vulcan ) and capture came from the Frogs and crew after their release from prison camp in the late 70’s. Author Dale Andrade and Ken Conboy interviewed them after their release and published it in “The Soldier of Fortune Magazine” in May 2000.

This is extra, and FYI

We received letters of commendation from The Secretary of Defense, The Chief of Naval Operations, and from Admiral Sides. CINCPACFLT. We received them with his letter from Admiral Yeager COMPHIBPAC. at a ceremony at COMUDU HQ in December 1962

On the 20th of February 1997 We were awarded the Navy Commendation Medal/w combat V from the Secretary of the Navy. In a phone call from a Navy Commander stationed at the Pentagon, I was told that the medal was held up until after Mr. Colby’s death and his papers were made public. He said that the NCM ( or it’s like) was the highest combat award given to individuals when the United States was not a Belligerent in the action.

This was amended by President Kennedy so all medals could be awarded for actions after 1963.

Also printed in Blast Magazine ( NSW – Periodical )


CN Salutes Madi Olsen, who happens to be my niece. She recently wrote an essay profoundly stating what freedom means to her. Thank you, Madi, for reminding us all what it’s all about!


What Freedom Means To Me

by Madie Olsen, 8th grade Colton, Oregon

When you hear the word freedom what do you think of? Do you think of eagles and the flag? Or maybe you think of the freedom to speak and say what you feel. Personally I think of all of these  things but I also think of so much more.

Freedom to me means being able to express yourself, such as wearing what you want, and not being told to change. Expressing how you feel is also freedom to me. Everyone should have the freedom to wear what they like and say what they’d like. People shouldn’t be judged for what they wear or how they feel, because everyone’s free to express themselves.

I feel that freedom means having equal rights. Such as having both men and woman voting. Also some people think that only men should play football, but it’s a free country, so they can’t stop girls from playing it too:

When I think of freedom I also think of the soldiers who fought for our freedom, and are still fighting to keep us free and safe. Freedom is a very precious thing, and I’m so thankful to have an army that realizes that.

To be free is an amazing feeling to me, and I get this feeling whenever I go hunting with my dad. Hunting is something that takes my mind off of everything else going on at home. When I’m with my dad in the great outdoors, I can see the sun rising and hear the birds chirping, also I breathe in the chilled air. At that moment I can just see the word “freedom” in my mind. Freedom to me means being able to enjoy the little things without worrying about war or anything else, and also enjoying these things with the ones I love.

Freedom means everything to me.

Thank you to all our veterans out there who were part of persevering the freedom we all share today!

CN Salutes Constitution Day

Photo of the Constitution of the United States of America. A feather quill is included in the photo.The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America and is the oldest codified written national constitution still in force. It was completed on September 17, 1787.

On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created.  The celebration of the signing of the  Constitution demonstrates Love for the United State of America and the Blessings of Freedom Our Founding Fathers secured for us.

CN Salutes Our Founding Fathers:

Baldwin, Abraham, GA

Bassett, Richard, DE

Bedford, Gunning, Jr., DE

Blair, John, VA

Blount, William, NC

Brearley, David, NC

Broom, Jacob, DE

Butler, Pierce, SC

Carroll, Daniel, MD

Clymer, George, PA

Dayton, Jonathan, NJ

Dickinson, John, DE

Few, William, GA

Fitzsimons, Thomas, PA

Franklin, Benjamin, PA

Gilman, Nicholas, NH

Gorham, Nathaniel, MA

Hamilton, Alexander, NY

Ingersoll, Jared, PA

Jefferson, Thomas, VA

Jenifer, Daniel St Thomas, MD

Johnson, William Samuel, CT

King, Rufus, MA

Langdon, John, NH

Livingston, William, NJ

Madison, James, VA

McHenry, James, MD

Mifflin, Thomas, PA

Morris, Gouverneur, PA

Morris, Robert, PA

Paterson, William, NJ

Pinckney, C. Cotesworth, SC

Pinckney, Charles, SC

Read, George, DE

Rutledge, John, SC

Sherman, Roger, CT

Spaight, Richard Dobbs, NC

Washington, George, VA

Williamson, Hugh, NC

Wilson, James, PA



A friend of mine passed this video along to me. When my son-in-law and daughter were stationed in Japan, the Gary Sinise band came to entertain one 4th of July.  They had a great time. Gary Sinise has a real heart for our service men, women, and veterans. All that he does is greatly appreciated! CN Salutes Gary Sinise and his sincere support of our heroes!


I was so moved by this tribute to our Vietnam Vets sent to me by Marc Yablonk,  I had to share it with you! It is so worth five minutes of your time to watch. For all those who served during this very difficult war thank you for your service!



Staff Sergeant Lucas Dyer

CN salutes Staff Sergeant Lucas Dyer who enlisted into the Marines in 2000. Dyer served a little over 13 years total as an infantry Marine, 0311/0369. He deployed four times, the first deployment was July 2001 – Feb 2002 to Okinawa Japan. The second deployment was April – November 2003 to the Middle East for OIF 1. Dyer’s third deployment was from November 2007 – May 2008 on ship and his last was May – December 2009 to Helmand Afghanistan. He has received multiple service decorations for combat action, Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal x  two, to name a few.   Lucas Dyer is currently a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps Reserves and has recently become a bestselling author with his book A Battle Won by Handshakes: The Story of Alpha Company 1/5. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminology/Criminal Justice and is finishing up his Masters degree in Information Resource Management. He is married with one son and lives in Orange County, California.

What are your duties? My first duty station was in Hawaii with Bravo Company 1st Battalion 3rd Marines. I then went to Quantico, VA and did three years as a tactics instructor. In 2006 I went to California and served with 1st Battalion 5th Marines and then went to School of Infantry West and served as a Squad Leaders Course Instructor until 2013

What was the training and prep for your MOS? Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island and then off to Infantry Training Battalion to learn the basics of being an infantry Marine. Further higher/advanced training was Squad Leaders Course, Infant Unit Leaders Course, Marine Corps Combat Instructor, Martial Arts Instructor Trainer 2nd degree, Military On Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) course, and Enhanced Marksmanship Training.

What do you like most about serving? Traveling, seeing the world, being a part of something bigger and combat.

What prompted you to serve? This was actually a “dare” / “bet” from two of my friends from school in 2000 who dared me to join the Marines. It was a wild, last minute, left college, rash decision that seemed like a good idea.

What are some of the greatest challenges you faced? Questioning myself every 4 years (end of contract) if what I was this was the best choice for my life. It was difficult to serve and move every 3-4 years. It was often hard to maintain solid friendships and relationships. It wasn’t until I left the Marine Corps in 2013 (went to into the reserves) that my relationship really blossomed.

What was the most rewarding experience? Serving in combat and knowing that I am protecting my Marines to my left and to my right.

How does serving affect your family? Do they find their part of service rewarding? As mentioned it is difficult at times. My wife and I met in 2011, which I was currently on a non-deployable duty station so it was easier for her in a sense. She experienced long days and weekends away training, but never a seven month deployment.

What is your advice to someone thinking about serving their country? I think everyone should serve at least four years. For a young 18 year old kid to serve his/her country and come out at 22 it only sets them that much further ahead. In most jobs throughout, it is possible to obtain your degree while serving for free. You can’t beat that!



Lucas Dyer is a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps reserves and has recently become a bestselling author with his book A Battle Won by Handshakes: The Story of Alpha Company 1/5. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminology/Criminal Justice and is finishing up his Masters degree in Information Resource Management. He is married with one son and lives in Orange County, California.

“As a US Marine, Lucas A. Dyer engaged in combat with the Taliban in Afghanistan’s heroin capital of Helmand. He fought in the Battle of Khanjar while participating in Operation Enduring Freedom from May 2009 to December 2009. He was one of the four thousand Marines who fought under Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson as a member of the Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which also included 650 Afghan soldiers.

As a small unit leader and platoon commander leading Marines in battle, he fought terrorists and their allies on their home turf, witnessing unspeakable violence in the process. At a certain point, however, he and his fellow Marines realized that an eye for an eye would not accomplish their objectives; that marked a turning point for them, and a basis of true success began to unfold.

Relying on counterinsurgency operations, they began shaking hands one at a time—and that was how they ultimately drove the Taliban away. Day by day and week by week, they proved that a small fighting force could work together with Afghans to become brothers-in-arms.

In this memoir, Dyer recalls the events of his time in Afghanistan, sharing true stories from the front lines of how his company was able to win their battles through handshakes.”