ONCE A MARINE: An Iraq War Tank Commander’s Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery.
If anyone might dare to compare the toughness, courage or commitment of today’s modern Marines to their historical predecessors, we encourage them to read, “Once a Marine.” Medically retired Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch’s touching memoir will serve to allay any of your fears, while causing a surge of Marine Corps pride. Our trigger-pullers in the global war on terrorism are up to any historical comparison of our Corps’ extensive warrior tradition.
“Gunny Pop,” a Silver Star winner, served in Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. Tank commander Popaditch rode boldly into Iraq during Desert Storm astride his M60 tank nicknamed the “Bates Motel.” He and his crew destroyed three enemy tanks, five armored personnel carriers and copious Iraqi infantrymen. Between wars, then-Sergeant Pop served as a DI, having held all three coveted drill instructor billets: third, heavy and senior.
In his first tour during our current Middle East conflict, he was photographed atop the cupola of his M1A1 main battle tank, smiling and clutching a cigar while the grandiose statue of Saddam was toppled. This widely circulated photo gained him the moniker, “The Cigar Marine.” After returning home to serve with the 1st Tank Battalion, Gunny Pop was redeployed to Iraq. During his second tour, he won a Silver Star for his action during the slugfest Battle of Fallujah. He also suffered a devastating head wound. Miraculously, the gunny survived a well-aimed rocket-propelled grenade to his tanker’s helmet. By the miracle of modern military medicine, and fortified by his leatherneck training, he not only survived, but he prevailed.
This book is less a story of battle than it is the remarkable story of the grit Gunny Pop needed throughout his long and dark road to recovery. This ghastly injury caused the gunny to lose his right eye, and it drastically impaired his vision in the other. But Gunny Pop would not go gently into the good night! He owes his remarkable recovery to excellent doctors and nurses, his loving family and loyalty of his leatherneck brothers.
After all, a Marine never quits! In his book, the gunny encourages all disabled or disenfranchised veterans to make an aggressive fight for suitable treatment, and always stay on the attack!
Gunny Pop’s legendary account takes us back to the days when ships were made of wood, but the Marines who served in them were made of cast iron. In this touching but tough-minded volume, Gunny Pop’s “always faithful” heart beats with every turn of the page. This is the inspirational story of a hard-charging combat Marine on his new and unanticipated mission, seeking justice, redemption and recovery.
Forced to separate from his beloved Corps, he continues to be an example of why leathernecks oft roar: “Once a Marine, Always a Marine!” Readers will shed a tear and simultaneously burst out with eagle, globe and anchor-emotive pride. That, I guarantee!
Retired Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch’s narrative will burn through your heart and then settle deep in your gut. Ralph Peters, author, columnist, and spot-on geopolitical analyst, wrote: “Read this inspiring story, recommend it to friends—and send a copy to your member of Congress.”