Shadow of the Sword: A Marine's Journey of War, Heroism, and Redemption
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Awarded the Navy Cross for gallantry under fire, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Workman is one of the Marine Corps’ best-known contemporary combat veterans. In this searing and inspiring memoir, he tells an unforgettable story of his service overseas–and of the emotional wars that continue to rage long after our fighting men come home.
Raised in a tiny blue-collar town in Ohio, Jeremiah Workman was a handsome and athletic high achiever. Having excelled on the sporting field, he believed that the Marine Corps would be the perfect way to harness his physical and professional drives.
In the Iraqi city of Fallujah in December 2004, Workman faced the challenge that would change his life. He and his platoon were searching for hidden caches of weapons and mopping up die-hard insurgent cells when they came upon a building in which a team of fanatical insurgents had their fellow Marines trapped. Leading repeated assaults on that building, Workman killed more than twenty of the enemy in a ferocious firefight that left three of his own men dead.
But Workman’s most difficult fight lay ahead of him–in the battlefield of his mind. Burying his guilt about the deaths of his men, he returned stateside, where he was decorated for valor and then found himself assigned to the Marine base at Parris Island as a “Kill Hat”: a drill instructor with the least seniority and the most brutal responsibilities. He was instructed, only half in jest, to push his untested recruits to the brink of suicide. Haunted by the thought that he had failed his men overseas, Workman cracked, suffering a psychological breakdown in front of the men he was charged with leading and preparing for war.
In Shadow of the Sword, a memoir that brilliantly captures both wartime courage and its lifelong consequences, Workman candidly reveals the ordeal of post-traumatic stress disorder: the therapy and drug treatments that deadened his mind even as they eased his pain, the overwhelming stress that pushed his marriage to the brink, and the confrontations with anger and self-blame that he had internalized for years.
Having fought through the worst of his trials–and now the father of a young son–Workman has found not perfection or a panacea but a way to accommodate his traumas and to move forward toward hope, love, and reconciliation.
away at the chicken. Levine’s laughing as hard as I am. Vigilance. Maintain security. We’ve done this so much now with nothing but animals and corpses to be found inside these houses, it is impossible to keep our alert level pegged for long. But today, we’ve already slid. I need to get everyone back to a hundred percent. “Okay, come on, we’ve got a job to do.” Smokes takes one more whack at the chicken and gives up. The fowl squawks angrily from under the sink. Obviously, we’re in its
know wanted to shake my hand. Have I fallen that far? “Workman, I don’t know who you think you are.” Shelby’s shouting right into my face now. His jowls are swaying with every word. I want to break his face. “You come here, and you pull a zero. You failed us.” My fist. I see my fist slamming into his nose. I want to feel the gristle as it splinters from my blow. I want to hear it crack, and I want to see him double over in pain. Then I’ll hit him again and again until he’s nothing but a
James Phillips regard me in cold silence. Hillenburg’s temple is shattered by a bullet wound. Blood leaches from it and trickles down his cheek. His eyes are black as coal. I want to reach for them and scream I’m sorry. I’m sorry I could not save you. I’m sorry I have stolen your valor. “… By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Corporal Workman reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval
position across the street must have been hammering away at us by accident. “Allah Akbar!” I pop up on one knee and start shooting. I can’t see anything or anyone, but I pepper the smoke with my M16. Snell starts shooting as well. Kraft and the others behind us lay down suppressing fire. Muzzle flashes, like fireflies on an Ohio summer’s night, dance in the smoke. I see at least six or seven at once. “How many motherfuckers are up here?” Snell screams. “Shitloads! Pour it on them!” Kraft
weapon. My eyes are open, but I don’t see anything but a brilliant orange light. My hand strikes cold ABS plastic, and my fingers confirm I’ve found the stock of an M16. I pull it close, but the effort leaves me dizzy. I still can’t breathe. The sounds of battle grow faint. The gunfire drifts away into a low background noise, like the hum of a stereo left on. The shouting fades until it merges with the sound of my heartbeat in my ear. Soon, that sound is all I have to tell me that I’m still