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December 29, 2015
Posted at 11:48 am

Chapter 65

Typo in Chapter 64; I have learned the difference between wreath and wreathe. Thanks. Fixed.

Early readers noticed that the book was marked as finished. That was an error, on my part. It's been fixed. For everybody's information, however, we are nearing the end. The Epilogue will be the equivalent of Chapter 71.

Chapter 65 is the whole Medal of Honor thing. It has been almost three years since the fight at Outpost Whiskey, and now the Army comes calling. Where have they been until now? Why has this taken so long? This is obviously not the end of the story. Much will become clear in Chapter 66.

One item I learned was that it is not at all uncommon for errors to show up in the 214 form. Many young soldiers are so eager to leave the service they don't pay attention to their 214, which can differ from their 201. This can lead to problems getting benefits down the road, and is a real pain to fix.

As I was writing this story, I always had it in my mind that Grim would get the MOH. I concocted all sorts of fanciful combat scenes for this, but ended up doing what I should have done all along. I went to the actual narratives and commendations for those who have received the MOH. Several recipients rescued fellow soldiers by going outside their lines to do so, and the final scene, where Grim called in artillery on his own position, was taken directly from Audie Murphy. PS: Grim's marksmanship is taken directly from Alvin York, another MOH recipient.

One question occurred to me while writing this story. At one point I asked, 'Just how rare is the Medal of Honor?' I Googled that question and got some strange answers. One number which repeatedly showed up was 11,000 to 1, which simply made no sense. I did the numbers old school. We have had about 2.5 million service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, and currently have a count of four in Iraq (all posthumous) and thirteen in Afghanistan (three posthumous.) That works out to roughly 150,000 to 1, with a 40% chance of dying, and a 100% chance of being seriously wounded/maimed/crippled. Your best method of earning the MOH? Jump on a grenade, but even that isn't a guarantee, and the odds are that you won't survive.
FYI - A lot of these guys have some serious PTSD issues. Almost to a man they will describe that specific battle as the worst day in their lives. Then, when they actually have to have it all dredged up again and put on national television, it is like ripping a scab off an ugly wound. Some have attempted suicide. Grim's PTSD is relatively mild for some of these recipients.

- rlfj