A Nightmare’s Prayer: A Marine Harrier Pilot’s War in Afghanistan by USMC Lt.Col (Ret) Mike Franzak

I highly recommend “A Nightmare’s Prayer” by Mike Franzak. It is a wonderful memoir of the early days of the Afghanistan campaign. You get the feeling you are with him as you go through the deployment from Yuma, AZ to Bagram.

I was shocked to learn that the Harrier cannot take off vertically about 5,000 feet elevation. His description of the scary take off from Cherry Point, North Carolina had the hair standing up on the back of my neck. I loved the Blues Brothers call signs of Jake, Elwood, Blues, and Joilet. I was floored at how they aircraft struggled to stay above 400 KPH with a load and at altitude. It will provide a profound reminder of how lethal mines are … and how they don’t know who they are killing.

I shook my head at the policy makers since that speed is the maneuver speed needed to avoid the Surface to Air Missiles (SAM). When reading the book I jotted down a couple of things that caught my attention. First was “The generals and policy makers had grown so risk-averse, they tied the hands of those charged with enforcing the policies”. The second was when he was landing at night and wrote, “I saw the base, but not the runway…” That was pretty profound. The tiny IR lights had been obscured by the generator powered lights of Bagram Air Base. So much for night light security.

The chapter Prayers and Promises is riveting, heart-pounding and action-packed. And you too will see after reading that chapter that “This time God had answered a Nightmare’s Prayer.”

The book is wonderful. It will making a lasting contribution of the literature and history of the Afghanistan War. You get Mike Franzak’s story. And the story is gripping. It will have you cheering the Nightmare’s actions and shaking your head at the big picture decision makers. Mike Franzak’s memoir will grip you and hold your interest. It will have you turning page after page. You get a nice picture of the soldier on the ground form the pilots point of view. Bravo Lt.Col (Ret) Mike Franzak for a telling you story. Recommended for all military history buffs and aviation buffs.  Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.

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