Travel Plans

Update, as of 9jan23:

10 Jan Dinner / get-together, 6pm, Cliffside Park NJ

Tomorrow , Tuesday 10 Jan, we’ll be at the Villa Amalfi restaurant in Cliffside Park NJ, at 6pm. 3/2 vets are coming from NJ, NY even PN, and I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone. Should be a great time! Be advised the restaurant asks for ‘smart casual’ dress, which I take to mean wear a jacket. Wives and partners invited as well. Ryan Masterson has pulled this together, so a big thanks in advance to him!!

11 Jan, Naval Academy, Annapolis MD

I’ll be talking about the book at the Naval Academy on 11 Jan. Which is a distinct honor. Capt Thomas Cofer (once a grunt in 3/2) now teaches history there, and invited me to present to his midshipmen.

11 Jan, dinner / get-together, near Severn, MD

Time is likely 7pm. Location is still being decided… More info soon…

12 & 13 Jan, Quantico VA

No definite plans yet here, but we’ve got reservations to stay in the actual town of Quantico, which is surrounded by the USMC base… Stay tuned…

14-20 Jan, Camp Lejeune NC,

Exciting things are developing! Master Gunny Tim Hanson (from Kilo Co, 3/2) is arranging a full slate of things here, including : 16 Jan, get-together with vets at the VFW hall. 17 Jan, visit to 3/2 HQ and comments/Q&A session with India Co. Marines… Visit to Ivy Hall and School of Infantry… More info soon…

21-23 Jan (approx). We’ve been graciously invited to stay in a 3/2 vet’s guesthouse in the Charleston, SC area. So will be trying to arrange some kind of get-together in that area.

Update, 16dec22:
Our plans in the Camp Lejeune area are starting to come together. We’ve got reservations from 14 Jan – 20 Jan, on Lejeune, at a cabin on Onslow Beach. Our main POC while we’re there is Master Gunny Tim Hanson (still on active duty at SOI), who will help me set up an event or two while we’re there. More info soon…


We’re about to launch on an overland adventure trip, out to the East Coast. We’ll strike out from St. George on 28 December, heading east. Destination for the first leg is Brooklyn NY, to spend time with family. On the way, we’ll be spending time in Albuquerque NM, Tulsa OK, Chattanooga TN, and an overnight stop in/near Harrisburg PA.

We’ll be in the NYC area from 4 Jan until 10 Jan. So, while I’m there, I may be able to meet some of the guys I’ve interviewed and written about. That would be awesome.

Then on 10 Jan, we’ll be heading south with the main targets being the Quantico, VA area on or about 12-13 Jan. Then pressing on to Camp Lejeune and the Jacksonville NC area. In both those areas, we’re working to set up something. Either book signing events, presentations or maybe just get-togethers at a restaurant or something.

At this point, our plans are very tentative. After 10 Jan, we’re still trying to nail down dates and locations. The plan is still very flexible. But at this point I think its a good idea to let folks know, so that if we’ll be in the general area, there’s a chance we could meet up.

As things solidify or change, I’ll update this page so people can see the latest. For now, here are maps with general locations and timeframes.

Two podcast appearances

I had the privilege of appearing on two podcasts this week, to talk about the book. The first is hosted by Matt Gundlach, who ran the Marine Corps Shooting Team for several years, until his retirement a couple of months ago. Well-known in the competitive shooting world, Matt is a champion 3-gun competitor, and recently started his own podcast called “3GIQ”.

Matt is also one of the 3/2 vets I interviewed. In 2005, he was a machine-gunner in Kilo Company and figures prominently in a couple parts of the book. He actually had me on his podcast twice, first in a short ‘promo’ episode that aired a couple weeks ago. Then came this week’s full 2-hour-plus episode along with two other vets, Chris Ieva and Sean Gregory, the commander and 1st Sergeant of Kilo.

Go here for the ‘promo’ version, which gives a good summary of what the book is about.

And here’s the full one, with lots of stories and discussion from Chris Ieva, Sean Gregory, Matt Gundlach, and his podcast partner Frank Goa.

Matt and I also appeared on the “Former Action Guys” podcast, hosted and produced by Justin Kramer, another Marine. Justin’s podcast is well-established, with a substantial and growing audience. He’s an experienced and excellent host, who puts you right at ease and gets the conversation going.

We took the conversation into a wide range of topics, and I really had a good time with it. Here’s that link:

A reminder on the Marine Corps birthday

Here’s a reminder of why Marines are awesome, why their birthday is awesome, and in particular why 3/2 (and 3/6) Marines did awesome work in Al-Qaim… That last point of awesomeness is a bit intricate, but here’s the short version:

In mid-2005, 3/2’s India Company started a tentative partnership with a local Sunni tribe. When 3/6 Marines replaced 3/2, they built that partnership into a full-fledged alliance.

By November 2005 (soon after the Marine Corps birthday btw), Sunni tribesmen had helped the Marines defeat AQI in Al-Qaim and stabilize the district. In a landmark ceremony that month, Marines, Iraqi troops and a Sunni tribal militia (the Desert Protectors) celebrated their success.

A major theme of Bastards & Brothers explains how India Co and 3/2 got that ball rolling, and then how 3/6 expanded and accelerated it. Before the 2006 Awakening in Ramadi, there was an awakening and dramatic turnaround in Al-Qaim… Thanks to a bunch of awesome Marines.

Desert Protector tribal militia celebrating in Husaybah, November 2005

Promo Podcast with Matt Gundlach

Just had the privilege of appearing on Matt Gundlach’s 3GIQ Podcast, which was quite a treat. This was my first time on a podcast, so was a little nervous about it, but it went great and Matt handled it all like a pro!

Matt was one of my earliest interviews for the book, and as I mention here helped me see the direction the book should go in — with more emphasis on the personal feelings and emotions of these men. He has just recently retired, after many years running and gunning with the Marine Corps shooting team.

This is actually just a short intro for the book, to set up for a fuller podcast we’re going to do in a week or so. That should be really fun.

H.R. McMaster endorsement (full version)

H.R. McMaster is a retired 3-star General, former National Security Advisor, decorated Iraq and Gulf War veteran, and an influential author. Having his endorsement for Bastards & Brothers is a major honor.

Here’s his full endorsement for Bastards & Brothers:

This book should be required reading for NCO’s, junior officers and senior leaders. Ajax Trueblood describes in compelling detail tactical level actions and tough decisions that had strategic consequences. Our troopers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Ninewa Province, fought adjacent to Marines of Third Battalion, Second Marines and Regimental Combat Team 2.  We monitored each other’s operations and situation reports.  Our cavalry troopers and the Marines of 3/2 took the offensive against a brutal and determined enemy.  The author brings readers into the command post for campaign planning and into the streets for house-to-house fighting in Western Iraq. This is a study of command and combat leadership at all levels.  And it is a fitting tribute to those who fought and sacrificed for the mission and their fellow Marines.

–H.R. McMaster, 71st Colonel of the Third U.S. Cavalry and author of Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World.

McMaster’s new book, Battlegrounds: is a groundbreaking reassessment of America’s place in the world, drawing from his long engagement with these issues, including 34 years of service with multiple tours of duty in battlegrounds overseas and his 13 months as National Security Advisor.

McMaster is a fascinating guy, and real soldier/scholar/intellectual. As a young captain he led a brilliant attack during the Gulf War, in the Battle of 73 Easting, and was awarded the Silver Star for his combat leadership.

He then wrote the best-seller Dereliction of Duty, about U.S. generals in the Vietnam War. He is now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, and hosts an outstanding podcast.

Humbled by your responses

The response to my announcement yesterday has been great! A lot of people have sent in their ‘pre-order-requests’, which is awesome. Clearly there is pent-up demand for the book.

Also, many of the comments I’ve received have been so encouraging and validate my reasons for pursuing this for so long. Here are a few examples:

Thanks for doing this, I didn’t know what we were doing at the time was important enough for a book.

Thank you for telling our story, this honors our fallen brothers and gives everybody the opportunity to read their stories.

Ooh rah! I would like a signed hardcover please, I would like to pass this on to my kids and grandkids

I am a 70’s-80’s Marine. My son served in 3/2 India. I would like to pass along to him a piece of Bastards history as a Christmas present.

LCpl Adam Johnson Crumpler was my nephew… Thank you for telling the story of these Marines. They will NEVER be forgotten.

I was present at the ‘hell house’, and was wounded but survived the trak hitting the IED on 11 May. I’d love to get any info about that time since I spilled blood there and my brothers sacrificed their lives. Thank you for writing this.

Such comments humble me to the core, and remind me how important it is that these stories get told to as many as will hear.


It’s Almost Here!

At long last, Bastards & Brothers is about to be published. We are in the final stages of getting a hardcover, paperback and e-book ready for release. The target ‘release date’ is 10 November, the Marine Corps birthday.

My Marine friends and contacts have been waiting a long time. I’m sure some of you have been frustrated at how long it’s taken (me too). A while back, I decided to stop talking about it until I could really say when it would be published. Well, it’s almost here…

But now I’m ready to start building a ‘pre-order’ list, by which I mean gathering names and contacts for those who will want to place an advance order. The publisher should have that link ready in the next week or two (or so I’m told). I’ll use the list to let you know when that link is ready.

For now, go to the Order page to get your name on the list.

About the title

Update: I just bought and registered the domain name. So that worked out! Quite a while ago, I changed the book’s title to “Bastards & Brothers” because of feedback I got directly from several 3/2 vets.

My initial working title was “Stormquellers”, which had specific meanings behind it. For a time, the battalion motto was “Quell the Storm. Ride the Thunder,” which comes from a famous speech by Theodore Roosevelt (the “Man in the Arena” speech). And for me, that imagery of quelling a storm — the oncoming storm of violence from AQI and foreign fighters streaming in from Syria — had significance I could build on. Certainly one way to understand 3/2’s role in 2005 is to see the battalion as holding off AQI’s onslaught until more coalition resources arrived.

“Stormquellers” is also a very unique word, which I felt would be memorable and could help set the book apart. I’m also partial to one-word titles, which you can tell from many of the chapter names.

But after talking to several Marines (particularly Jon Maines and a couple other WarPig vets), I could tell that being “Betio Bastards” was a deep point of pride, tradition and unity among 3/2 vets. That needed to be highlighted.

Getting “Betio” into the title was tougher since that word is completely foreign to most readers — even military ones. It’s also basically un-pronounceable to 99% of people, so it putting it in the title was a no-go. (BTW, it comes from the battalion’s WWII history, and it rhymes with “ratio”).

But putting “brothers” in there was a natural choice, and carries a powerful message. One of the big themes that has come across from many Marines I’ve spoken and chatted with is the deep connections they had, and still have, with each other. They truly consider themselves as brothers and use that word often with each other. There are many parts of the book that reflect that.

So, soon the URL of this website will be changed to


Shockwaves – 11Apr05 suicide attacks

On 11 April 05, Al-Qaeda in Iraq mounted a vicious “complex attack” against Camp Gannon and 3/2’s India Company, with three large suicide vehicle bombs in rapid succession. For several minutes it seemed like Gannon would be overrun. But through fast reaction, toughness and sheer courage, the Marines beat the enemy back. What happened (and didn’t happen) that morning determined the course of the next crucial months for 3/2. Those that were there will never forget. The chapter covering that day is called “Shockwaves”.

The famous video of the attack, made and broadcast by AQI

Maps from Ch 11. Shockwaves:

3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines and the fight for Al-Qaim, Iraq