PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK TRAIL
Whenever I think of our United States soldiers, regardless of branch, five things come to mind: Bravery, courage, selflessness, honor, and the willingness to sacrifice one’s life to protect the ideals of the American dream. Through turmoil and immeasurable odds, our soldiers have succeeded time and time again and rarely ask questions or have doubts. I wonder if they have tasks to accomplish that are so overwhelmingly ridiculous, so ludicrous, so unbelievably difficult, that even with the grace of God, the chance of failure is still above 90 percent?
Enter Lions of Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds (2011), a novel that details the real-life events that took place in September 2006 during Operation Medusa involving the siege and defense of Sperwan Ghar. Told from the perspective of retired U.S. Army Special Forces Major Rusty Bradley with help from award-winning journalist and co-author Kevin Maurer, Lions of Kandahar gives a first-hand account of the insurmountable odds that thirty U.S Army Special Forces troops and fifty Afghanistan National Army (ANA) soldiers faced.
Tasked with the duty of clearing out Taliban forces and foreign fighters as well as diminishing their influence, re-stabilizing the local Afghan populace, and establishing a legitimate functioning government, Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 331 is one of five teams that directly participated in all phases of Operation Medusa, the largest combat operation ever conducted by NATO. This already monstrous undertaking was further made complicated by the massive presence of Taliban forces. Bred in southern Afghanistan, their purpose was to reclaim their strategic capital, the province of Kandahar.
Bradley (who was a captain at the time of the operation) was the commander of ODA 331. In this book Bradley put on paper every thought, insight, and action that crossed his mind. The well-detailed information and descriptive manner paints a vivid picture that leaves no rock unturned and every question answered. In this tell-all epic story, Bradley reveals the heroic actions of his American and Afghan comrades, the sacrifices they made, and the hellish firefights that turned lush green land into a war-torn graveyard during “the greatest battle no one ever heard of.”
Lions of Kandahar is an unapologetic novel that vividly tells what it is like to be thrust into the hell of war against incredible odds and to walk out alive and breathing. This is not a typical “War is Hell” military action drama novel, but a novel that sheds light on what it means to be an elite soldier and what it is like to be at the helm of U.S military forces and a foremost devout protector of the freedom that all Americans enjoy. Bradley and his team, as well as their families and the families of fallen soldiers, know that freedom is never free.
ABOUT MATTHEW R. BROWN
Matthew R. Brown is a 2017 Rutherford High School graduate where he earned an International Baccalaureate Diploma. He is a student at Gulf Coast State College and plans to major in English. Devoted to expanding his writing skills to become an established author, Matthew is currently writing a book entitled The Stories of Paul White: A Memoir.