What happens to former Special Ops when they leave the service?
Friday, November 8th, 2019

Yes, there is life after the military. Just as they made major contributors in uniform, so they do as civilians. Two men that I had the privilege of meeting were kind enough to answer questions fr me, letting me know that going from combat to civilian life can be stressful. This can be said for Ethan Caine, the hero of FINDING REDEMPTION.

Meet Ethan, combat-hardened, Special Forces-trained, still dealing with the nightmares of battle. His usual dress is a shirt with the sleeves rolled up, sweat ants and athletic shoes (“They’re comfortable,” he says to anyone who asks.)But as others like him, when he is needed, he answers the call. He shucks of the invisible wall he’s barricaded himself behind and steps up to the plate.

Just like all the men of Special Forces.



“How much do you know about the Quintana Roo jungle in Mexico? Ever heard of it?”

Lisa frowned. “A little bit. Why? What does that have to do with Jamie?”

“Quintana Roo is a state on the Yucatan Peninsula. Ecotourism is the hot new market, it seems, and the Roo is cashing in on it.” He made a face. “Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun, is the jumping off place for tours into the interior. But more than one third of the state of Quintana Roo is a tropical forest—more like a jungle—with vast undeveloped areas that are difficult to reach.”

“And?” She leaned forward, the tension in her body stretching her like a guy wire.

“I think one of those groups snatched Jamie and someone has him in the Roo. I don’t know why, but Charles had too many visits there for this all to be just so coincidental. If someone is hiding Jamie, what better place could they find than a plantation hidden away from civilization?”

“My God.” Lisa whispered the words. “That means…there’s still a good chance he’s alive. Jamie could be alive.”

“Don’t get too excited, Mrs. Mallory.” His voice was flat. “We don’t know anything for sure. Yet.”

Her stomach tightened again and bile rose up in her throat. “Someone could have him locked up all this time? Who? Why? Why not give him back?”

Ethan’s eyes never left her face. “Could be someone wanted a child and decided yours fit the bill. If that’s the case, they could have taken any child and not gotten involved with a messy ransom demand.” He rubbed his jaw. “I felt from the beginning there’s something here that’s not quite right, and I want to find out what it is.”

No one said anything for a few moments. Then Ethan shook his head, reached for the carafe and refilled his mug. “Well, drink up. I have more preparations to make before I can get there and check it out.”

“What do you mean?” Lisa scowled at him. “What kind of preparations? Why can’t you just get on a plane and go?”

Ethan Caine watched her with his hooded eyes.

Josh’s hand closed over hers, giving it a gentle squeeze, and she forced herself to take a deep breath. “All right. I’m sorry. What is it you have to do?”

He spoke to her as one might explain something to a child, his tone a mixture of frustration and forced patience. “The Quintana Roo is a very unfriendly place. And these thugs I’m looking for don’t play nice in the sandbox. I know you want me to head for the airport now. But I’ve got to take a week to fix what I’ve done to myself since…since the last time I was out. If I’m out of shape, it won’t do anyone any good. And after all this time, a few more days won’t really matter.”

She stared at him. “Let me get this straight. You can’t go because you’re a wreck?”

A muscle jumped in his cheek. “I have other arrangements to make, too.”

“And after your week at a gym?” Her voice was filled with venom.

“I go to Mexico. Find the place where Las Tormentas hang out. Identify their leader and a foot soldier I can turn for information. Once I know for sure they’re the ones who took him, I can squeeze for answers.”

Lisa began drumming her fingers on the table. Why were they just sitting here talking instead of going to get Jamie? “So when do you start?”

Ethan pushed his coffee cup away and let his eyes rake over her face. “The minute I leave here.”

Lisa took another sip of water. “What if they kill him before you can get there? Wait.” A chill raced over her. “What if they’ve already killed him, but no one has found the body? Oh, my god.” She swallowed hard against the nausea bubblng up in her throat.

“If they were going to kill him, they’d have already done it,” Nick interjected. “A week won’t make a difference. I also don’t believe he’s already dead. Guerillas tend to brag about kills, reminding people what they can do if they are crosssed in any way.”

“But I gave them the money,” she cried.

“Exactly why we’re sure he’s still alive. It would be bad for business if they killed off hostages after the payoff. No one would hire them.”

Josh put his hand on her arm again and looked at Ethan. “What’s the plan?”

He poured more coffee into his mug from the carafe on the table and added three packets of sweetener. “Fly into Cancun and scope out what cantina these thugs hang out in. Figure out which one to pay off for information so I can pinpoint Jamie’s location.”

“The right group?” Oh, god. She felt lightheaded. “You mean—”

“He means,” Nick said in an even voice, “the kidnappers could be someone Charles met there but isn’t from the area. Or a dealer in Switzerland who does jobs for the cartel there. Or someone who works for the cartel and doesn’t like Charles.”

She looked at Ethan. “Is that true? Are you chasing a ghost here?”

His face was devoid of expression, but irritation flamed in his eyes. “Anything is possible, but every source I tapped into said this is the goup and this is where it happpened. And believe me, those sources were checked six ways from Sunday.”

“There’s a slimmer than slim chance any of those other possibilities exist,” Nick assured her. “This was too well-planned for it to be carried out by someone who just showed up to do business. And if it was a grouop that wanted to express their hatred for Charles, they would not be silent about it. The body would already have been found, setting an example.”

Lisa relaxd a fraction. Everything Nick said made sense. She’d just have to hold on to that.

“So.” Ethan patted his mouth with a napkin. “Once I get what I need, I’ll head for Playa del Carmen and start to work.”

Lisa stopped drumming her fingers and curled her hands into tight fists. “I’m going with you.”

All three men stared at her.

“Are you nuts?” Ethan was the first to speak, his voice like a sharp knife cutting the air. “Out of the question.”

She glared at him. “He’s my son. I’m going with you. That’s the end of it.”

“Or what?” He raised an eyebrow. “You’ll tell me to peddle my papers elsewhere?”

Lisa felt as if every nerve and muscle in her body was stretched to the breaking point. Gritting her teeth, she leaned forward. “Jamie is my son. I can’t just sit on my hands and wait to see what happens. I’m going, with or without you, so it might as well be with.”

“Lisa…” Josh’s voice had a warning note that said Don’t argue with this man.

“This is a very dangerous undertaking,” Nick pointed out. “And you’ve had no training.”

“Ethan can train me. I’m a fast learner.” She looked around at everyone, stopping at Ethan. “What’s your…what do you call it…cover? Who will you be?”

“A gringo tourist bum looking for some night life.” His lips curled in a mock smile. “I fit the part, don’t you think?”

She took a deep breath and plunged ahead. “Wouldn’t it look less suspicious if you’re part of a couple?” She gave a short laugh. “Maybe honeymooners?”

“She’s got a point there,” Josh admitted with reluctance.

“Please,” she begged. Then, to her utter humiliation, tears leaked from her eyes and flooded down her cheeks.

Josh tightened his arm around her, and she leaned into him until the storm subsided. She grabbed napkins from the holder on the table and wiped her face.

“I apologize.” She took a long drink from the water glass in front of her. “I don’t usually fall apart like this in front of strangers.”

“No problem.” But Ethan’s eyes looked at her as if she were a lab experiment. “But that’s a good enough reason for you not to go. The jungle is rough, these people are rougher, and there’s no place for emotion. Stay home where you belong.”

“No!” She slammed her hand on the table. She was so ready to jump out of her skin she was shaking. “I belong on this trip. I’ll do whatever you tell me, but I have to go with you.” She drew in a deep, shuddering breath and let it out. “Don’t let the tears put you off, Ethan Caine. I’m a lot tougher than I look. I had to be to survive all those years with Charles Mallory. I can think on my feet, I’m good in a crisis, and I’m a crack shot.”

Ethan’s eyebrows rose, and he looked at Josh.

Josh nodded. “She’s telling the truth. I’d say she’s a natural with a weapon.”

“I bought a gun the day after Charles was killed,” she told him. “I went to a range and learned how to use it.”

Ethan turned his gaze back to her. After a moment he sighed, a sound of resignation. “All right. I know in my bones I’ll regret this, but we’ll go as the loving couple.”

“I hate to admit she’s right about the cover,” Nick interjected. “Couples are always less consicuous. Less threatening.”

“Thank you—”

“Don’t thank me yet,” Ethan growled. “There are ground rules, and they’re not negotiable. I won’t have either the time or inclination to be your babysitter.”

She nodded. “Whatever you say.”

“That’s the first one. Whatever I say goes. No arguing. I mean it. This is my playground, not yours. There’s no room for amateur mistakes.”


Ethan looked at Nick. “You’re the point man, right?”

He nodded. “This will all be on the downlow. Along with everything else I’ll get burner phones to you. Don’t use any of them more than once. And you’ll have a sat phone. Cells don’t work in the jungle.”

“I’ll need aerial and topographical maps of Quintana Roo,” he reminded Nick. “A list of contacts in the area and someone to meet me with the required equipment.”

“Consider it done.”

Ethan turned his head to look at Lisa. “Like I said, I’ll be leaving in a week. I have to get in shape, and if you’re going, so do you.”

“W—What do you mean?” She frowned. “What kind of shape?”

He grimaced. “Mexico is hotter than hell. We might be hacking our way through a jungle, maybe sleeping under a tree. Doing God knows how much walking. Not to mention evading plenty of guys who would cut your throat like nothing. So that gives me one week to teach you the basics of survival. Self-defense. And despite what Josh says, make sure you know how to shoot a gun without killing yourself.”

“Like he said, I can shoot.”

“We’ll see.” Ethan fiddled with his mug, then gave her his penetrating stare again. “Last thing. If we plan to accomplish all this in such a short period of time, you have to move into my house.”

At that, Josh burst out laughing. “You want her to come live at your house? You really are crazy. It’s barely habitable for you.”

“Yeah.” Nick managed a grin. “I second that.”

Ethan glared at him. “This isn’t a social visit. Like I said, we don’t have much time. She’s gotta be there twenty four/seven to make this work.”

“Ethan’s right,” Nick told them. “I’d be against you going, too, Lisa. But if you’re determined, Ethan has to call the shots.”

“Fine. I’ll do it.” The fierce determination in her voice startled them. “When do we start? No, Josh.” She held up her hand as she saw him about to object. “This is my son and my decision. So forget whatever else you were going to say.”

Ethan shrugged. “No time like the present to get started. Let’s go by your house so you can pick up whatever you need. And remember, we’ll be traveling light.”

“I’ll need my car, too.”

“No. You won’t be leaving my house until we head for the airport. Leave it in your garage.”

Lisa took a deep breath and let it out, steadying herself. So be it. She’d wade through hell with the devil himself if it meant getting Jamie back. And maybe that was exactly what she’d be doing.

“Fine. Let’s get going.”

They all slid out of the booth, and she watched Ethan dump some money on the table. He waved to Manny as they filed out the doors, Lisa first and Nick bringing up the rear.

As Lisa turned to ask Josh a question, a sharp crack split the damp morning air and she heard the sound of glass splintering.




SEALs make the best heroes-but Delta Force is up there, too!
Thursday, November 7th, 2019

SEALs and Delta Force Part #2


Although my recent heroes have all been SEALs, I also have written with a lot of Delta Force heroes, such as in the Attack Force series. Plus, Mark Halloran, the hero in Jungle Fever, The Phoenix Agency #1, was a member of Delta Force. So here’s some information on how they work together.

Ever since the Osama bin Laden raid, America has gone bonkers for US Navy SEALs and Military Special Operators in general.

Putting 100 thousand troops and countless private support personnel on the ground in any given country — sometimes referred to as “nation building” — is a costly strategy. Putting a boot or two on Osama bin Laden’s door arguably cost more in political currency — Pakistan wasn’t too happy — than actual currency.

Though it was the SEALs who performed that raid in Abbottabad, it’s worth noting there are quite a few more SpecOps units in the US than just SEALs — Green Berets and Marine Snipers, etc. — so we here at Business Insider have made things easy by assembling a comprehensive list of all the SpecOps units we could find.

The United State’s Special Operation Command (SOCOM) counts over 70,000 personnel drawn from elite units in the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. At times it virtually resembles a fifth service of the U.S. military with its own aircraft, boats and support services.

Special operations forces are employed for high-risk missions where use of blunt conventional firepower is constrained by political or tactical factors, and where finesse and discretion are required. That includes ‘direct action’ missions such as hostage rescue and capture or assassination of critical enemy personnel, as well as communicating with and training regional allies, and performing reconnaissance deep inside hostile territory.

Members of special operations undergo extreme tests of physical and mental endurance as part of their training. Culturally, special ops units place greater emphasis on smarts and individual initiative, and eschew being labeled ‘soldiers’, instead calling themselves ‘operators’ or unit-specific titles like Raider, Ranger or SEAL.

U.S. special ops units fall broadly into two categories. Tier 2 and 3 units are usually assigned to service- or region-specific commands, operating only under the auspices of SOCOM when coordinating with other special forces units.

Meanwhile, Tier 1 units, also known as Special Missions Units, are directly commanded by the national-level Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which undertakes critical, classified missions approved at the highest level. For example, JSOC has organized task forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to hunt down senior leaders of Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban.


SEALS make the best heroes-but don’t count out Delta Force
Wednesday, November 6th, 2019


About Delta Force

The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D), commonly referred to as Delta ForceCombat Applications Group (CAG), “The Unit”Army Compartmented Element (ACE), or within JSOC as Task Force Green, is an elite special operations force of the United States Army, under operational control of the Joint Special Operations Command. The unit is tasked with specialized missions primarily involving counter-terrorismhostage rescuedirect action, and special reconnaissance, often against high-value targets. Delta Force and its Navy counterpart, DEVGRU (SEAL Team 6), are the U.S. military’s primary Tier 1 Special Mission Units tasked with performing the most complex, classified, and dangerous missions directed by the National Command Authority.

Though Delta Force is primarily a tier-one counter-terrorist unit, specifically directed to kill or capture high value units (HVU) or dismantle terrorist cells, Delta Force remains extremely flexible and can engage in direct action missions, hostage rescues, and covert missions working directly with the Central Intelligence Agency, as well as high ranking protective services of our senior leaders during visits in war torn countries.  Delta is under operational control of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) though administratively supported by the Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).

The U.S. Military launched the beginning of Delta Force as the first officially recognized, full-time counter-terrorism specialized force.

Colonel Charlie Beckwith was a key member in helping create CAG.

He reported his findings to the U.S. Military after serving with the British Special Air Service during the Malayan Emergency.

When he returned home Beckwith acknowledged that the U.S. Armed Forces could serve to benefit from a highly specialized unit.


Ethan Caine, the damaged hero of FINDING REDEMPTiON, was a member of Delta Force. His last mission left him in a very dark place. Can he pull himself out of it to run one last mission that only he can do?

SEALs make the best heroes #9
Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Comment for a chance to win a copy of Protecting Amy, Desperate Deception or SEAL Undercover.

Eric T. Olson

He was the first Navy SEAL to be appointed to three-star and four-star flag rank, as well as the first naval officer to be USSOCOM’s combatant commander. Admiral Eric Thor Olson was in charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) from 2007 to 2011.

Michael A. Monsoor

Michael A. Monsoor is the American hero and a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his ultimate sacrifice in Ramadi, Iraq. Monsoor used his own body to shield his fellow soldiers from a hand grenade thrown by an insurgent in a 2006 combat engagement.

Scott Helvensten

He joined the United States Navy at 17 and became the youngest person to complete Navy SEAL training. Working the private sector, he appeared on a variety of reality TV programs and was a personal trainer for Hollywood celebrities such as Demi Moore (for G.I. Jane). Helvenston was also featured in the reality shows Combat Missions and Man vs. Beast (in the latter, he completed an obstacle course faster than a chimpanzee). He also starred in a reality series called Extreme Expeditions: Model Behavior months before he left for Iraq.

Helvenston was killed in Fallujah, Iraq along with squad members Jerry “Jerko” Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague while working as a security contractor for Blackwater.

Chuck Pfarrer

Charles Patrick “Chuck” Pfarrer, III is a former U.S. Navy SEAL from Biloxi, Mississippi, USA. He became an author, novelist, and screenwriter after he left the Navy. Some of his screenwriting credits include Darkman, Hard TargetRed Planet, and, of course, Navy SEALs.

He spent 8 years in Navy SEALs and ended his service as Assault Element Commander at the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), formerly known as SEAL Team 6.

William H. McRaven

From 2011 to 2014, Navy SEAL William H. McRaven served as Commander of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), which oversees the Special Operations of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.

The most recognizable operation of his career probably was Operation Neptune Spear. He is credited with organizing and overseeing the execution of the operation, the special ops raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011

Marcus Luttrell (my persona favorite: please, please read Lone Survivor and watch the movie.

Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell was the only man to survive from the four-man Special Reconnaissance element with SDV-1 in Operation Red Wing in June 2005. He detailed his harrowing Afghanistan combat experience in best-selling book Lone Survivor. The book was later turned into a hit film with Mark Wahlberg playing Luttrell.

For his actions during Operation Red Wings, he was awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart. Marcus Luttrell was a Hospital Corpsman First Class by the end of his eight-year career in the United States Navy.

William Sheperd

William McMichael “Bill” Shepherd is an American former Navy SEAL, aerospace, ocean and mechanical engineer, and NASA astronaut, who served as Commander of Expedition 1, the first crew on the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut William Shepherd qualified to become a Navy SEAL in 1972 after finishing BUD/S, serving on the UDT, two separate SEAL teams, and Special Boat Unit TWENTY.

Rudy Boesch

Survivor contestant Rudy Boesch was one of the very first Navy SEALs. He earned a Bronze Star for his actions in the Vietnam War, during which he participated in 45 combat missions, including raids, ambushes, rescues, and intelligence operations.

During his time in SEAL Team Two and later, his results were set as physical and operational standards for the team.

Chris Kyle (probably the most famous to most of us; if yo have not read American Sniper or seen the move, do so. Please!

Chris Kyle became the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history over four tours in Iraq as a Navy SEAL. Before he was killed in Texas, he co-wrote American Sniper, a bestselling account of his exploits which ultimately led to Hollywood where it served as the basis for the box office powerhouse that starred Bradley Cooper as Kyle in blockbuster American Sniper.

He was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat including one Silver Star Medal, four Bronze Star Medals with “V” devices, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and numerous other unit and personal awards.

On February 2, 2013, Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas. Their killer, Eddie Ray Routh was sentenced to life in prison without parole.


Come back tomorrow for another post.

SEALs make the best heroes #8
Monday, November 4th, 2019

Comment for a chance to win a copy of Protecting Amy, SEAL Undercover or Desperate Deception


Open-circuit System

An open-circuit system is the typical breathing system, where the diver breathes air from a supply tank and exhales exhaust into the water.

Closed-circuit Oxygen Systems

With this type of system, the diver breaths 100-percent oxygen, and his exhaled breath is recirculated within the apparatus, where it is filtered and turned back into breathable air. This system is useful for working in shallow water.

Oxygen time is reduced as the water gets colder. For diving in extremely cold water, SEALs must wear dry suits and a specially adapted version of the Dragger LarV rebreather — a larger oxygen canister allows the diver to breathe underwater for a longer period of time.

Closed-circuit Mixed Gas System

This system is similar to the closed-circuit oxygen system described above, but the oxygen is mixed with air to maintain a certain “partial pressure of oxygen” (PPO2) level. This increases the depth to which a SEAL can dive and the length of time he can stay there.

 SEAL Jumps

Fast rope
Fast rope

When SEALs arrive from the air, they are often going to extremely difficult-to-reach places. In this case, they may jump from a plane into the ocean with their Zodiac, parachute into the area, or use fast-rope and rappelling techniques.

When parachuting, SEALs use either static-line or free-fall techniques. Free-fall techniques include High Altitude/Low Opening (HALO) jumps and the more difficult High Altitude/High Opening (HAHO) jumps (see Navy SEALs.com: Air Equipment to learn about these types of jumps). High-altitude jumping requires oxygen and special equipment to ensure that the chute opens in the event the jumper blacks out, which is not that uncommon for high-altitude jumps. Goggles can shatter from the cold, and eyes can freeze shut, making the fall even more interesting. A device called an FF2 will automatically activate the jumper’s rip cord if the chute hasn’t opened at a preset altitude.

HAHO jumps, where chutes are deployed just a few seconds after the jump and SEALs form a “stack” to stay together, keep the SEALs in a tight group when they land. This is a difficult maneuver that requires a lot of training as a team. The lowest man in the formation uses a compass and landmarks to steer them to their destination.

Fast-rope and rappelling techniques require helicopters to drop SEALs by way of a rope to their location. Fast roping is a drop technique whereby a 50-to-90-foot (15-to-27-meter) rope is dropped from the helicopter, and SEALs slide down the rope using a Swiss seat harness. To brake, they apply their hands in a towel-wringing motion — using their feet to brake would damage the rope.

Navy SEALs on Land

Once SEALs are on the ground, their equipment, like their clothing, must suit the particular environment. Mountain-climbing gear, snow shoes, land-navigation equipment, and the right vehicles are all critical to their success.

Camouflage netting for desert environments where there is little-to-no natural concealment can keep SEALs from becoming an enemy target. Dust goggles keep them from being blinded by flying sand, and CamelBak water packs allow them to drink while still having use of their hands.

Operations in jungle or wooded areas necessitate machetes to clear dense foliage as well as special netting and hammocks to ward off potentially lethal insect bites.

For all types of environments, SEALs carry a map, a compass and a handheld GPS receiver.

Come back tomorrow for the next installment.