The more I live the more solid I am in the belief that life is the single most beautiful gift we are ever given. With that beauty can often come great pain. For some, that pain becomes insurmountable. It casts a debilitating grey over the otherwise splendid color of being alive. Last week my good friend and fellow Ranger Antouine Castaneda, after serving honorably in both Iraq and Afghanistan, succumbed to that grey, leaving behind two young daughters.
I had the privilege of being Castaneda’s medic for most of my time in 3rd Ranger Battalion. I wrote Lest We Forget so that people outside of our small community could know the kind of person guys like Cass are. So that they could see for themselves the kinds of sacrifices he made. A photo I took of Cass during the search and rescue of four Navy SEALs on Operation Red Wings is featured in Lest We Forget.
Later, I wrote On Assimilation for two reasons. First, was to let guys sitting in that dark place know that they are not alone, that other guys are struggling with them, and that the bravest thing you can do is ask for help. Second, was to show the people outside of the veteran community how much of a struggle it can be returning from war. I wanted to provide some insight and understanding into the mental state of our combat veterans. In essence, I wrote On Assimilation for Cass. I’m not sure if he ever had the chance to read it before taking his own life.
These are as much his books as they are mine. The motivation behind writing both of these books has never been financial gain. I wrote them with the hope of making a lasting positive impact on our community. So I will be donating 100% of my royalties from both of these books this month to the young daughters that he left behind. Help make as big of a donation as possible while simultaneously honoring the memory of a truly great man.
Lest We Forget