Reading List

The AFSPECWAR books you need to read. Click each picture for an affiliate link direct to Amazon.


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

John Chapman’s incredible display of valor–first by saving the lives of his SEAL teammates and then, aware that he was mortally wounded, single-handedly engaging two dozen hardened fighters to save the lives of an incoming rescue squad–posthumously earned him the Medal of Honor. Chapman is the first airman in nearly fifty years to be given the distinction reserved for America’s greatest heroes. Drawing from firsthand accounts, classified documents, dramatic video footage, and extensive interviews with leaders and survivors of the operation, Alone at Dawn is the story of an extraordinary man’s brave last stand and the brotherhood that forged him.


Guardian Angel provides a rare glimpse at a PJ’s mind-blowing adventures. You follow Sgt. Sine’s trek across exotic lands and share his encounters with mysterious cultures. Learn what it takes to lower from a helicopter onto the slippery decks of storm-tossed ships to rescue dying sailors. Feel what it’s like to be caught in the middle of a bomb blast so powerful that it tears high-rise buildings in half, and flattens armored vehicles hundreds of yards away. Soar high above towering jungle trees and experience the danger of swinging on a slim cable below a helicopter while performing a mid-air rescue of a pilot, dangling from his chute a hundred feet above a mountain slope. Go to war in Afghanistan and parachute onto a nocturnal battlefield surrounded by land mines to help a mortally wounded soldier. 


From award-winning journalist and combat veteran Michael Hirsh comes the thrilling inside story of the Air Force’s pararescue operations in Afghanistan. Unparalleled access to the PJs, as well as to the courageous men and women who fly them where they have to go, often under enemy fire, allowed Hirsh to uncover incredible stories of courage.


On September 29, 2010 Mark Forester was killed in action while fighting terrorists in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. His heroic legacy of being shot down while preparing to rescue a fallen teammate began long before this tragic day.
An Apache aviator said of Mark’s final battle: …”I have never witnessed such an act of heroism in my three years of fighting in combat.”
This book highlights one hero, SrA Mark A. Forester, and also helps recognize many other men and women who volunteer to fight for our freedom.


Never Quit

Never Quit is the true story of how Jimmy Settle. After being shot in the head during a dangerous high mountain operation in the rugged Watapur Valley in Afghanistan, Jimmy returns to battle with his teammates for a heroic rescue, the bullet fragments stitched over and still in his skull. In a cross between a suicide rescue mission and an against-all-odds mountain battle, his team of PJs risk their lives again in an epic firefight. Jimmy will have to risk everything to get back into the battle and bring back his brothers.


This is the gripping and unforgettable true adventure of an astonishing rescue at sea — a tale of the unparalleled courage and skill of men who endured a record-breaking fifteen-hour, nonstop helicopter ride through bone-jarring turbulence to carry out a mission on the ragged edge of impossibility. It is the story of a unit of the New York Air National Guard, the 106th Rescue Wing, which includes the famed PJs, the Pararescuemen, whose training is so rigorous and standards so high that only a dedicated handful qualify to join.


That Others May Live is the thrilling story of Jack Brehm and his love affair with two things: the PJ way of life, and his wife, Peggy, the mother of his five children.  That Others May Live is a vivid, compelling account of Jack’s twenty years as a PJ. We see him and his fellow PJs climb mountains and battle storms to save lives, struggle with their emotions as PJ friends die, wait anxiously to hear if they are called to war in a place such as Kosovo or the Persian Gulf, and try to keep their families together despite the enormous pressure of the job.


Drawing on the gripping first-hand accounts of their battlefield experiences, Steve Call allows the TACPs to speak for themselves. He accompanies their narratives with informed analysis of the development of CAS strategy, including potentially controversial aspects of the interservice rivalries between the air force and the army which have at times complicated and even obstructed the optimal employment of TACP assets. This first-ever examination of the intense, life-and-death world of the close air support specialist will introduce readers to a crucial but little-known aspect of contemporary warfare and add a needed chapter in American military history studies.


In order to investigate the units’ lifestyle, work ethic and techniques, Drury spent the 1999 climbing season with the parajumpers, or PJs, of the 210th Alaska Pararescue Squadron. Here Drury relates several of their hair-raising missions, interspersing his stories with background details about the unit’s history, the PJs’ rigorous training and thumbnail biographies of the individual members of the squadron


Part memoir, part military history, No Room for Error reveals how Carney, after a decade of military service, was handpicked to organize a small, under-funded, classified ad hoc unit known as Brand X, which even his boss knew very little about. With Operation Just Cause in Panama, the Special Tactical units scored a major success, as they took down the corrupt regime of General Noriega with lightning speed. Desert Storm was another triumph, with Carney’s team carrying out vital search-and-rescue missions as well as helping to hunt down mobile Scud missiles deep inside Iraq.
Now with the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, special operations have come into their own, and Carney includes a chapter detailing exactly how the Air Force Special Tactics d.c. units have spearheaded the successful campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.  


The pararescuemen and combat control technicians are the elite forces of the United States Air Force.  Their training is intense, exciting, and before this book, little known. Now for the very first time, their powerful training techniques are brought to light in this profusely illustrated and documented presentation.  Includes sections on: stretching, weight training, calisthenics, running, swimming, rope climbing, entrance requirements, plus special dramatic coverage of water survival training, from both above and below the water line!  Over 200 pages. Loaded with photos.


Terry Laughlin, the world’s #1 authority on swimming success, has made his unique approach even easier for anyone to master. Whether you’re an accomplished swimmer or have always found swimming to be a struggle, Total Immersion will show you that it’s mindful fluid movement—not athletic ability—that will turn you into an efficient swimmer. This new edition of the bestselling Total Immersion features:
-A thoughtfully choreographed series of skill drills—practiced in the mindful spirit of yoga—that can help anyone swim more enjoyably
-A holistic approach to becoming one with the water and to developing a swimming style that’s always comfortable
-Simple but thorough guidance on how to improve fitness and form


After examining the incredible impact of a few true warriors in battle, On Combat presents new and exciting research as to how to train the mind to become inoculated to stress, fear and even pain. A fresh and highly informative look at PTSD details how to prevent it, how to survive it should it happen, how to come out of it stronger, and how to help others who are experiencing it. On Combat looks at the critical importance of the debriefing, when warriors gather after the battle to share what happened, critique, learn from each other and, for some, begin to heal from the horror. The reader will learn a highly effective breathing technique that not only steadies the warrior s mind and body before and during the battle, but can also be used afterwards as a powerful healing device to help separate the emotion from the memory. Concluding chapters discuss the Christian/Judeo view of killing in combat and offers powerful insight that Lt. Col. Grossman has imparted over the years to help thousands of warriors understand and come to terms with their actions in battle. 


(Video series) The elite Combat Rescue members of the U.S. Air Force, Pararescuemen, or PJs, have one mission: rescue American or Allied forces in extreme danger. Whether their targets are shot down or isolated behind enemy lines, surrounded, engaged, wounded, or captured by the enemy, PJs will do whatever necessary to bring those in peril home.
For the FIRST TIME EVER, camera crews embed on a deployment to Afghanistan with this elite rescue team, as they fly day and night, in any weather, to save those in danger on the battlefield.


Brothers In Berets, The Evolution of Air Force Special Tactics 1953-2003 (pdf)

brothers in beret cover

While the Battlefield Airmen concept encompassed several specialties under the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and others found in conventional units, this book narrates the evolution and contributions of the former; hence, the title, Brothers in Berets: The Evolution of Air Force Special Tactics, 1953–2003, refers to the Battlefield Airmen assigned to special tactics units.  The AFSOC special tactics community—a small brotherhood of highly-trained and equally-dedicated warriors, consisting of special tactics officers and combat controllers, combat rescue officers and pararescuemen, and officer and enlisted special operations weathermen—has proven itself as a force multiplier time and time again throughout its history in places like Somalia, Serbia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.