As we head to San Antonio, my birthplace, I'm increasingly asked about eerie parallels between "Heroes Proved" and current events: a deadly terror attack and a White House cover-up aimed at deceiving the American people. When I say, "It really is a novel," or "I started writing it more than a year before Benghazi," the response is usually: "Yeah right."
Our book signings at Fort Campbell and Fort Benning were packed with family members of deployed Soldiers. At Benning, a seven-year old girl handed me a drawing she had made of her father, a U.S. Army sergeant now in Afghanistan. Her carefully penned caption: "My Daddy is my hero." She asked me to inscribe a copy of "Heroes Proved:" "Merry Christmas. Lauren misses you."
At the Eglin Air Force Base Exchange, a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant handed me a pair of mangled sunglasses and said, "I think you dropped these on the "ex-fil" (exfiltration) during a DEA-SEAL Team raid in Afghanistan. I was the JTAC (Joint Tactical Air Controller) on that operation. I'll trade you these for an autograph." The lenses were scratched and the frames bent beyond repair.
"Where did you find them?" I asked.
"Well, sir," he replied, "I was the last one off the LZ after we blew up that opium lab. I guess they fell off your flak jacket when you were running for the helo." It's embarrassingly true. He got the autograph. I told him to keep the glasses.
In Orlando, the father of U.S. Marine hero Sgt. Ken Conde, Jr. met us at a Barnes & Noble. In 2004, our Fox News team was embedded with Sgt. Conde's unit when he was wounded in Ramadi, Iraq. A little over two months after he told our audience that he refused medical evacuation because "that's what Marine sergeants are supposed to do," he was killed leading another patrol through the deadly city.
In Panama City, a DEA special agent, with whom I spent some very exciting days in Afghanistan, came to a bookstore with his wife and two young daughters. I told them, "Your daddy is a hero." The youngest girl smiled, snuggled up against him and said, "Yes. And he's going to be home for Christmas."
Reviewers constantly ask where I get the inspiration for books like "Heroes Proved." It's easy when you keep company with real heroes like these.
Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "Heroes Proved." Join Oliver North in Israel by going to http://www.olivernorthisrael.com. To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.