A brief, between-the-lines memoir by a former government operative living with memories of covert missions he doesn’t talk about because he’s still sworn to secrecy.
Now approaching 70, debut author Gregory is, by his own account, the sole survivor of 18 elite special team members handpicked by the military and extensively trained in survival techniques, covert action and the lethal arts. Details of what he and his teammates Marlboro and DR did on these missions are necessarily vague, but they seem to have been carried out in the mid to late 1960s into the 1970s in Southeast Asia and in Central and South America. Between missions, Gregory—an Indiana native who dropped out of college to enlist at a time when the war in Vietnam was raging and many in his generation were doing everything they could to oppose it or avoid the draft—became a successful entrepreneur and worked variously as a salesman and business owner. He also emerges as a daredevil, a not-so-merry prankster and a fairly heavy social drinker able to make friends and decisions fast. At his core, though, is a single-harness loner most at home in the wilderness. A subtheme of the book is that it’s impossible to know whether the older guy quietly living next door once did extraordinary things; maybe you don’t really want to know. Readers are also asked to understand that, in Gregory’s case, these things were done for this country and always to the perceived benefit of people elsewhere trapped in horrific circumstances. “We knew without anyone saying it that we would be able to make a difference in the lives of people who no one else could help,” he writes. And if the job was done right, no one would know they had even been there. Gregory has no regrets, he says, but he goes to bed after 3 a.m. to avoid dreams of bad guys and memories of how they looked the moment they realized what was about to happen to them. He’s a strong writer, using Hemingway-esque terseness but also showing a fondness for jocular understatement that barely conceals the violence of which he is capable.
A riveting glimpse of extraordinary measures; ethically speaking, the reader will be the judge.