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Back in Action

Publisher: Regnery Publishing • 2005 • 230 pages

In “Back in Action: An American Soldier’s Story of Courage, Faith, and Fortitude,” Captain David Rozelle tells the whole gripping story: from the day he said goodbye to his pregnant wife (it was Valentine’s Day 2003) and deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom, to the fateful day four months later when a land mine tore off his right foot — and beyond, through months of agonizing rehabilitation efforts to his final triumphant recertification as “Fit for Duty.”

Captain Rozelle’s injury was a victory for the forces of darkness and evil in post-Saddam Iraq. They put a price on his head. They stalked him. They did everything they could to disrupt his mission. Finally, when an anti-tank mine tore off his right foot, the warriors of jihad in Iraq thought they had successfully neutralized one of their most resourceful, determined foes.

But they were wrong. Refusing to let his injury stop him, Captain Rozelle roared back into action — ultimately returning to Iraq as commander of an armored cavalry troop. Just four days before the first anniversary of the fateful day he lost his foot, Captain Rozelle took command; two weeks later, he was on his way back to Iraq. He became the first amputee in recent military history to resume a dangerous command in the field during a hot war.

Rozelle, who has been awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Army Commendation Medal, speaks with brisk frankness about his post-amputation battles and the gritty determination that saw him through. He recounts his inspiring battle back through rehabilitation, as he learned to walk with a prosthetic foot and did his utmost to show he still had the stuff to be a soldier: completing five sprint-distance triathalons, an Olympic-distance triathalon, and skiing, snowboarding, and mountain climbing through Disabled Sports USA.

It’s an astonishing story of courage, determination, heroism, and bedrock patriotism. “Every now and again,” says Rozelle, “I would get the standard, ‘That is horrible, how do you feel about the war?'” The fearless captain would respond: “How do you feel about your freedom? If you aren’t willing to die for it, then you aren’t American.”

David Rozelle was willing to die for it, and he is still willing to put his life on the line for it, despite the injury he has already suffered. Back in Action is a bracing reminder of the commitment that every American should have to the cause of freedom, if we hope to continue to enjoy that freedom — and an extraordinary and inspiring story of devotion to duty overcoming all obstacles.

Meet David Rozelle, American hero:

  • Why the Iraqi jihadists were so afraid of Captain Rozelle that they offered $1,000 to anyone who could kill him
  • With the American troops in Iraq: dust, scorpions, and unremitting danger — all met with quiet patience, courage, and faith in God
  • “Captain, there are men in town who are planning missions in our mosques”: hard facts about Iranian and Syrian involvement in Iraq
  • Captain Rozelle’s instructive and inspiring reaction to the 9/11 attacks
  • “Duty in combat calls for levels of self-sacrifice and dedication that are just not present at any other time”: how Captain Rozelle practiced what he preached long before he lost his foot
  • “To the president of the United States. . . . To the commander in chief!”: the patriotism and conservatism of our Armed Forces — which the media establishment does its best to conceal
  • How Captain Rozelle’s earlier tour of duty in Kuwait left him with an enduring love of and fascination with the Middle East
  • A long tradition of patriotism: the Rozelle family’s meritorious service record throughout the history of our country
  • Captain Rozelle’s common-sense insights into how to keep troop morale high while so many forces are determined to drive it as low as possible
  • Mrs. Rozelle: the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of an Army wife — in her own words
  • “Along the roads were thousands of people waving and blowing kisses”: behind the media distortion, the real story of the American campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein
  • Inside a camp of the Iraqi Republican Guards: painted images of American flags burning, U.S. flags emblazoned with the star of David, and graffiti including “Down with U.S.A.!”
  • Heart-stopping accounts of Captain Rozelle’s adventures at the head of American troops that were the first to enter many cities of Iraq, just as the Saddam Hussein regime was falling
  • Why the American psychological operations (PSYOP) mission in Iraq was doomed to fail from the start — and how the American forces won some unlikely triumphs anyway
  • Blood for oil? How American troops in Iraq occasionally gave away fuel to Iraqis, if they had no money to purchase it
  • Why Captain Rozelle chose in Iraq to work with some Iraqis with shady backgrounds — and how he protected himself and his men from a possible ambush initiated by them
  • How, despite occasional chaos, Captain Rozelle and his men built the dangerous Iraqi city of Hit into the model city in the Sunni triangle
  • “Taking my foot does not mean taking my life”: Captain Rozelle’s gradual adjustment to the loss of his foot — and how he overcame his initial collapse into self-pity and despair
  • Why Rozelle longed to return to action even after his debilitating injury — and how his desire to return was misinterpreted in widely circulated media reports
  • Captain Rozelle’s humble and down-to-earth reaction to his new status as an American hero
  • Heartening evidence of how much America’s response to veterans has improved since the dark days of Vietnam
  • How Captain Rozelle was able ultimately to convince Army officials that he was indeed “Fit for Duty”


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