Songs that Remind me of the Marines, my Silent Heroes

Songs Remind me of Silent Heroes

Music evokes vibrant images and these three tunes are only a few of the songs that remind me of the fighting Marines, the main characters from my book Silent Heroes.
I mostly do my writing in a quiet space, listening to the words playing in my mind, but every so often I turn to music for inspiration, for its regular or progressive rhythm if I must describe a battle scene, or for the emotions it stirs when I am faced with a life-and-death situation.

Five Finger Death Punch – ‘Wrong Side Of Heaven’

This is a heart-wrenching musical video about the futility of war, its real, hideous face and the reality we choose not to acknowledge: that wars change – for the worst – the lives of all those involved in them, soldiers too. It was also one of the songs that also inspired me to write Silent Heroes.

‘Arms wide open
I stand alone
I’m no hero and I’m not made of stone
Right or wrong
I can hardly tell
I’m on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell
The wrong side of heaven and the righteous side,
The righteous side of hell ‘

Songwriters: Ivan Moody / Jeremy Spencer / Kevin Churko / Thomas Jason Grinstead / Zoltan Bathory
Wrong Side of Heaven lyrics © Sony/ATV. Find the lyrics here.

The White Stripes – ‘Seven Nation Army’

Although this song is about how shallow gossip is, I like the feeling of loneliness it evokes, the solitude of those caught under the spotlight. I think that soldiers, through the nature of their occupation, are under the spotlight, permanently in the news, yet very few spectators grasp the real meaning of their sacrifice.

‘And I’m talking to myself at night
Because I can’t forget
Back and forth through my mind
Behind a cigarette
And the message coming from my eyes
Says leave it alone.’

Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group. Find lyrics here.

Another one of the songs that inspired me when writing about the Marines in Silent Heroes is:

Prokofiev – ‘Dance of the Knights’

I listened to this song often when working on my battle scenes, although it is part of his Romeo and Juliet ballet. I found it strongly related to death. The loud, rhythmic beginning is very war-like in a dignifying way. The second, pianissimo part, speaks of the Angel of Death, but of the soldiers’ loneliness on the battlefield as well.

‘Dunn turned his head to respond. That’s when his whole body disappeared into a deafening blast of rocks, leaves, smoke, and blood.
That day it rained with dirt.
Conde felt his body thrown to the ground and he landed on his back, dirt in his mouth, dust all over his face. The wave had gone right through him.
Behind him, everyone threw themselves around looking for cover, weapons at the ready.
The dust was still settling on the road ahead when Conde jumped to his feet, yelling Dunn’s name.
“Medic, over here!”
He could taste blood and it smelled like charred flesh.
Was he talking? He couldn’t hear himself, just a constant ring in his ears.
“Medic, over here!” he yelled, again and again, wiping dust and water from his eyes and looking all over the ground for Dunn. The acrid air made him choke. It smelled of burned tyres and ammonia.
Focus, Conde. Focus!
Just ahead of him Dunn was laying on his back, legs sprawled, not moving. Conde felt his body freeze in panic. Was Dunn dead? Please, no! He forced himself to move ahead, his mind racing in circles, remembering what had to be done in a first aid combat situation. That’s when he heard Dunn moaning.
Blood was sipping through his left leg. Dunn was trying to feel it, but his left hand was missing its fingers. Tourniquet! It flashed through Conde’s mind and his body snapped in motion, the Marine having tightened the first tourniquet around Dunn’s left leg before their medic arrived on the scene.
“Easy, buddy, stay with me,” said Conde trying to see if Dunn’s eyes were open or closed but the blood and dust caking the fallen Marine’s face made things difficult. Conde felt like he was in a dream, the one where he would try to open his eyes as large as he could, still no image would form. Eventually, the white of Dunn’s eyes shone through.
“We got you, buddy. We got you,” said the medic, feverishly wrapping combat gauze over the Marine’s hands. The white bandage looked like show balls against the bloody background. But not for long.
“Don’t give up. I’ll beat you up if you dare giving up, Sarge! You hear me?!” Conde’s voice came out croaky.
“Easy, Conde,” someone said nearby and Kent kneeled, helping hold Dunn’s hands upright.
“Nice and easy.”
“We got you, Dunn.”
“Someone call MEDEVAC!” Conde yelled.
“Easy, buddy. Already done. They’re on their way.”
“Where’s a landing strip over here?”
Conde wiped dust and water from his eyes again, leaving strikes of blood behind.
“Damn rain!
“Where are they going to land, Sarge? There is no freaking landing area here, only freaking trees! Damn trees!” the Marine panicked.
“It’s okay, man. They’ll drop a cord for us, said Kent” ‘

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for. Songs-Remind-Marines-Silent-Heroes
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

These are the songs that remind me of the Marines depicted in Silent Heroes. Next time I’ll tell you about the songs I listened to to stir emotions rooted in the lives of the Afghan people.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

Which songs inspire you? Which songs you find yourself returning to?

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5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Humanity of U.S. Marines

5. Birthday Cake made of a soldier's meal ready to eat, MRE - heartbreaking in its humanity.

While researching for my latest book, contemporary fiction Silent Heroes, I discovered five secrets which I later revealed in my novel: one of them about the U.S. Marines’ true sacrifices. The other four secrets involve a hidden underground fortress, the hush-hushed holes in the military chain of command, a secret too dangerous to even be researched and shared, involving the Taliban, and one inconceivable in the 21st century, involving women’s rights.

Secrets revealed: U.S. Marines’ lifestyle in a war zone forward operating base, FOB

secrets revealed U.S. Marines Silent Heroes
Secrets revealed: U.S. Marines’ humanity and lifestyle at war

So many simple things we often take for granted, like the song of a bird, the peace of the early morning, or a birthday cake. These are all highly-priced commodities in a military base in Afghanistan. The smaller sized bases often don’t have a cook (or didn’t used to, at the very beginning of the War in Afghanistan), thus food reaches the soldiers in form of meals ready to eat, MREs.
MRE First Strike is provided to soldiers when they go on a mission outside the base. These include three meals in one pack, enough food for an entire day. The MREs have numbers, each number corresponding to a different menu.

A First Strike MRE contains enough food to last a U’S. soldier for an entire day. There are, individually wrapped: a bag of tuna, beef sandwich, tortillas, crackers, apple sauce, lemon pudding cake, dessert bar, corn nuggets, cheese spread, mayonnaise, pepper sauce, nut & raisins mix, various flavors energy bars, instant coffee, lemon-flavored powder beverage in a level-marked waterproof bag, also a tropical punch one, coffee creamer, coffee, sugar, salt, chewing gum, moist towel, napkins, matches, and a trash bag. All this amazing information was sourced from (but not limited to) Crazy Russian’s Hacker’s video. Have a look, he is extremely entertaining. It was my son who first introduced me to Taras Kulakov’ videos 🙂

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices

More secrets revealed regarding all Marines’ sacrifices.

Birthday Cake made of a soldier’s meal ready to eat, MRE – heartbreaking in its humanity.

When one of your platoon mates turns 21 and you are all deployed in Afghanistan, no way to source a cake with blue and red icing – what do you do? You improvise the best that you can:

‘Right now, the two fellow Marines were assembling a surprise birthday cake for Seb by stacking together prepacked slices of pound cake, peanut butter cookies, Rice Krispies treats, jams and dessert bars, all saved from their military rations. Although FOB Day had a pretty good cook, birthday cakes were not part of the Marines’ menu. It’s been Dunn’s idea to fashion this MRE-sourced cake.
“After all, one turns 21 but once in his life,” he said.’

Silent Heroes

Imagine those U.S. Marines, away from their homes for three, six months at a time, having little means of communications with the family left behind, saving their rations to put together a single serving of birthday cake. Because it is their mate’s birthday and they want to celebrate it, to bring some home-feel to the cruelty of war. Create an oasis of serenity in the midst of the battlefield.
You can celebrate this birthday alongside the U’S. Marines fighting in Silent Heroes. They would surely appreciate your presence, as it will bring that home-feeling to a war-torn, sun-blazed piece of land that no one knows, anymore, why they still fight over.

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices. family

Are you ready to delve into the secrets revealed in Silent Heroes, involving the U.S. Marines, their bravery and sacrifices?

Silent Heroes. secrets revealed U.S. MarinesAmazon 5 Stars Review:
“Silent Heroes will prompt you to pause and think several times. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing, long-term struggles these people have endured under the Taliban and how lucky many of us are to live our lives as we want. You will feel both pride and sadness as you read about the Marines and the experiences of their teams. But you will also feel joy and hope about the sacrifices that are made for us each day.  Silent Heroes is an incredible novel that I highly recommend. Regardless of your usual preferred genre, this is an excellent read that is realistic, full of well-developed characters, and will stay in your heart and mind long after finishing.”

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices
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5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Taliban’s Secret Lair

Taliban's secret lifestyle in their Hindu Kush hiding - too dangerous to be researched or shared

I enjoy the excitement, the thrill secrecy puts in a novel. To me, dark mysteries always improve a book’s plot, especially when they add that ultimate twist to the story. And when that bit information is slightly out of reach, the enigma surrounding it is so much more appealing. In my latest book of contemporary fiction, Silent Heroes, I revealed such an obscure enigma: Taliban’s secret lair.

In Silent Heroes I wanted to portray both sides of the War in Afghanistan: the soldiers fighting the battles and the civilians caught in it. The U.S. Marines and their allies, but also the Taliban insurgents.

Taliban’s secret lair – too dangerous to be researched

I revealed Taliban's secret lair in Silent Heroes
I Silent Heroes I reveal Taliban’s secret lair

Somewhere in the Hindu Kush mountainous range of Afghanistan, the Taliban lies in hiding.

‘They are the Taliban warriors and their leader, the man with a scarred face, is Davron. There is a 400 000 U.S. dollars prize on his head. His men are proud to fight under his command. Davron sees himself as a saint, Allah’s chosen one. Once he even forgave a man who tried to assassinate him. Thus, he must be a saint.’

Silent Heroes

There is limited information available regarding Taliban’s lifestyle. Where they hide, how they pass their time, how they connect with each other. Do they have families? Children? Do they have fears, beliefs?

Silent Heroes. I revealed Taliban's secret lair

While researching for Silent Heroes I was lucky to discover such information, to glance behind enemy lines, to see these bearded men without their faces covered, hear them pray together and catch a glimpse at the laughter of their children. But also feel my skin crawl while listening to their banter and reasoning behind their killer war.
In Silent Heroes you will have a chance to meet the Taliban for yourself, face to face.

Dare join me while I reveal Taliban’s secret lair?

In Silent Heroes you can read a detailed description of Taliban’s whereabouts, from their day to day activities to their songs, their prayers and their philosophy of life and war.

revealed Taliban's secret lair

5 STARS Amazon Review:
“Silent Heroes will prompt you to pause and think several times. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing, long-term struggles these people have endured under the Taliban and how lucky many of us are to live our lives as we want. You will feel both pride and sadness as you read about the Marines and the experiences of their teams. But you will also feel joy and hope about the sacrifices that are made for us each day.  Silent Heroes is an incredible novel that I highly recommend. Regardless of your usual preferred genre, this is an excellent read that is realistic, full of well-developed characters, and will stay in your heart and mind long after finishing.” 

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

Have you read already about the previous two secrets revealed in Silent Heroes?

5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Military Chain of Command

5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. A Mysterious Underground Fortress

Two more secrets included in Silent Heroes will be revealed soon. One is unthinkable for a the 21st century lifestyle, the other one heart-warming in its humanity. Subscribe to my newsletter and be sure you won’t miss them!

revealed Taliban’s secret lair
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5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Military Chain of Command

Political secrets revealed in Silent Heroes

Books that reveal stories shared in a whisper, confidential political decisions with a major global impact, or secrets in the military chain of command always excite me. As a reader, I tend to pick them from the shelf; as a writer, I create them. My first novel including such hush-hushed military secrecy is Silent Heroes.

The rules of engagement and why they are a hush-hushed secret

5 serets hidden in Silent Heroes, secrets-military-chain-command
Silent Heroes: secrets in the military chain of command

Few civilians are aware of what a chain in command entails in a war situation. While researching various details of the War in Afghanistan, from its history to the various political fractions involved, from the origins of nation-building to real-life scenarios, I learned about the rules of engagement. These are “the internal rules or directives among military forces that define the circumstances, conditions, degree, and manner in which the use of force, or actions which might be construed as provocative, may be applied” (Wikipedia).

The War in Afghanistan enters its 18th year. Those who were born when it started can now legally fight in it, as soldiers. During these near two decades, just as the means of fighting a war have changed, so have the rule of engagement.

Did you know that what sets aside a Taliban soldier from an Afghan civilian is only the weapon a Taliban carries? Once he sets the weapon down he instantly becomes a civilian and no allied soldier can shoot him, such are the rules of engagement nowadays.

The secret holes of the military chain of command

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg

The second piece of secret information I discovered was the hols in the military chain of command that has to be followed in certain war situations.

As collateral damage is a big concern for U.S. Military and U.S. politicians (and with understandable reasons). For this reason, if Taliban fighters shoot from mosques, ignoring their holy ground symbolism, the U.S. soldiers and their allies have to pass an entire chain in command, ask for permission to shoot back and even wait for clearance before they can defend themselves and answer to fire with fire.

‘Marcos remembered the time a huge wave caught him by surprise and it took him with, rolling him over and over until he felt each bone in his body crushed while the roaring of an express train resonated through his ears. Then all was dead quiet. When he opened his eyes he was lying down at the feet of a minaret. He was sure he’d seen a Taliban fighter at its top, yet he knew he can’t just open fire; he had to call up the chain of command and request authorization to fire back, since that was a mosque. The Taliban fighter was looking down at him laughing, and Marcos couldn’t do anything about it, he had to wait for the chain of command to clear him. He knew he will probably become another casualty while lying there, waiting for permission to shoot, so he tried to get up and run for cover. But he couldn’t, his shoulders were glued to the ground and the forest was growing all around him while he was still waiting for clearance to shoot.’

Silent Heroes (Quote on secrets of the military chain of command)

Waiting for clearance from the chain of command, no matter how it endangers the life of a U.S. or allied soldier, is the real-life situation of the War in Afghanistan, yet how many of us are aware of these secret holes in the military chain of command?

In Silent Heroes I piled such real-life situations on top of my U.S. Marines and their British allies too. They will have to improvise to save their skin. How? And will they make it out unharmed?

News update

Lately, the US involvement in Afghanistan made the news’ headlines.
First was the publishing of the Afghanistan Papers, both “a revelation and a confirmation” – for “many who served in the Afghanistan war” revealing “years of deception by senior U.S. officials, who assured the public that progress was being made — when it wasn’t.”
I admit, I was not surprised by this as, during my research, I came across such information – and revealed it in my book, Silent Heroes.

‘Our friends didn’t have to die’ (said a US soldier who served in Helmans province in 2010)

as quoted by The Washington Post

Then there was an opinion piece in The Guardian, The Afghanistan war is more than a $1 trillion mistake, by Ben Armbruster, underlining what the Afghanistan Papers already revealed, that “a lot of people were killed, injured and subject to years, if not lifetimes, of psychological trauma and financial hardship because a bunch of men – yes, mostly men – in Washington didn’t want to admit publicly what they knew privately all along.”

A tragic aspect of the war in Afghanistan, emotionally and respectfully detailed in Silent Heroes.

And then there was the opinion piece in Al Jazeera, The Afghan war: A failure made in the USA written by Ahsan I Butt, Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University: “the US-made mess in Afghanistan has much to do with its failed policies and shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude.”
This is incredible to read, as it is exactly the result of my research on the war in Afghanistan, and you can read all about it in my contemporary fiction book Silent Heroes.

Silent HeroesSilent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for

Amazon Reviews:

Have you read yet 5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. A Mysterious Underground Fortress? And there are three more secrets to be revealed. You can subscribe to my blog and never miss a post.

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5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. A Mysterious Underground Fortress

5 secrets hidden silent heroes - Qala-e-Bost fortress

I love books with secrets. Especially enigmatic locations kept hidden from the general public. While researching for my latest contemporary novel Silent Heroes, I uncovered five secrets and revealed them: one mysterious fortress buried underground, one hush-hushed by politicians, one too dangerous to be researched and shared with the world, one inconceivable in the 21st century, and one heartbreaking in its humanity.

Qala-e-Bost, Afghanistan’s secret fortress now featured in Silent Heroes

Unbeknown to many, near Lashkar Gah, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, rises the great fortress of Qala-e-Bost, an 11th-century castle that overlooks the life-giving Afghan River of Helmand. This is the mysterious fortress whose secrets are ready to bury the Silent Heroes. But will they give in?

Qala-e-Bost fortress, Afghanistan, a mysterious location in Silent Heroes

“The stones of Qala-e-Boost have seen wars as well as the joys of celebrations. They have known wealth and ruin. Early hymns of the Zoroastrian religion, one of the oldest religions in the world, were once performed here. One of them was the Nowruz, the famous ceremony dedicated to the Sun and marking the Iranian New Year and the Spring Equinox. Along the years Bost fortress has been used as a guard post for the traditional caravan trade from Iran to India. The Mongols, then the Persians have been here too; the Arabs, even the Russians. Leaders and warriors came here as attested by the terracotta figurines, the inscribed seals, and the many coins discovered here, and then they left.
Still, Bost remained.”

Silent Heroes
Qala-e-Bost fortress secrets andquote from Silent Heroes

Qala-e-Bost, a mysterious fortress hidden underground

The fascinating and less known detail about Qala-e-Bost fortress is that its five levels are underground and few visual images are available, let alone descriptions of its deep buried secret chambers: “the heart of the fortress, its well, going five levels underground. The well is a maze of corridors, stairs, secret rooms, and side entrances” (Silent Heroes).

So I threw my soldiers in a fight in the dark belly of Qala-e-Bost fortress. The idea that there are concealed, less-known meanings behind things in plain sight always fires my imagination.

Who dares enter the belly of the beast?

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for Patricia FurstenbergSilent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for is a work of contemporary fiction inspired by the War in Afghanistan.

Amazon 5 Stars Review:
It is clear that the author did an amazing amount of research for this book. Over the last few years I have read many, many book written by our soldiers. All of these books were based on each soldier’s experiences. The author of “Silent Heroes” has captured the experiences of our military men and women. I highly recommend this book and I plan to read more book by this author.

Silent Heroes

You can BUY Silent Heroes now from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

Four more mysteries will be revealed soon. Subscribe to my newsletter and never miss a post.

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