Happy 4th of July everyone. For me the fourth is a very important day. I am very proud to be an American, and many of my closest friends have and are fighting for our country. I take great pride in being a free nation, even with our faults, America is a beautiful place to live.
Today on the blog I have indie author Bob Tanner. Tanner is the author of Memoirs of an Outlaw: Life in the Sandbox. I asked Tanner to talk about his service in our military and how it lead to writing his book, it’s truly captivating and for me and anyone who knows a Marine, very emotional.
I am so very proud of every man and woman who has served for this country. May God bless you and may I thank you for all you have done.
It’s been nearly ten years since I last stepped foot in Fallujah, Iraq. Since that time, so much has happened in my life, both good and bad, but my time spent in Fallujah with the Delta Company Outlaws shall remain with me forever.
The Delta Company Outlaws, part of the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, were a ragtag bunch of Marines that were hastily thrown together to form a company that was to deploy to Fallujah, Iraq. We were all pulled from various companies within the battalion to help fill out Delta Company so, while some of us knew each other, for the most part, we were a motley crew and it showed.
In February, we deployed to Iraq with 158 Marines. Over the course seven grueling months, we came to be not only a well-oiled unit but also a close-knit family. This bond was formed through the blood, sweat, and tears of every single Marine in the company. In September, we arrived back in the States with approximately 136 Marines left in the company. Eight fine men were killed in combat. Another 20 or so were sent home due to various, severe wounds. Others in the company were wounded but were able to remain in the fight. All in all, there was a one in four chance that you either were killed or wounded during the deployment. I’m not sure many civilians understand the enormity of that statistic. Each day, we went out on patrol wondering which one of us might fall within that 25% threshold. It was like playing Russian Roulette with your life every day.
After we returned home, I stayed in the Corps another nine months before my time was up. I got out and began finishing up my last year in college. The problem that I had was that I couldn’t let go of the experiences I had in the Marine Corps. I left a great family behind and had very little to fill its place. Mentally, the anxiety took a mental toll on me. About halfway through the first semester, I was given advice to begin writing down my experiences one by one to help relieve some of the anxiety. It just so happened that NaNoWriMo had just begun so I took it as a challenge and began writing a memory each day. By the end of the month, I had written well over 50,000 words or so. But, I came to an abrupt stop after the month was up. I still had some many more memories to write about but there were certain memories I didn’t want to relive, namely the passing of friends, so I just quit writing entirely.
Years came and went. I finished my undergraduate degree and went on to complete my MBA. I got married to my wonderful wife Melissa and we had two beautiful boys, Joshua and Gavin, together. In the background, though, the book and the chapters I had already written were still lingering in the back of my head, calling for me to finish it. If it weren’t for my wife and a few friends I served with encouraging me to finish it, I never would have had the courage to do so.
So, in the early summer of 2012, I began reliving some of the memories that I was hesitant to think about. While at first it hurt to write about some of the tragic events, I soon began to notice that I felt a sense of relief overwhelm me as I began to write more. I realized that what I was doing was immortalizing the ones we lost while at the same time cementing the Outlaws place in history. That thought is what helped me get through the remainder of the book. It was my own little piece of motivation.
By November of 2012, I had finished the entire manuscript and gone through it several times to fix the errors I could find. Shortly thereafter, I worked with some folks at CreateSpace to help fine tune the manuscript and bring it up to industry standards. In April 2013, I was glad to finally have a finished product that went on sale and did wonderful for the first few weeks, hitting #1 in the Hot New Release for books on the Iraq War on Amazon as well as getting into the Top 5 for books on the Iraq War in general.
But, regardless of what accolades and awards my book gets, the best part of getting our story published is when I hear back from one of the guys I served with and they tell me how it helped them start the healing process. That’s when a tear comes to my eyes. That’s when I’m truly proud of what I accomplished. Our grandchildren will be able to read our stories years down the road and realize the sacrifices we made for our country. We were the Outlaws and our story has been told.
About the Author:
Robert M. Tanner is a former infantryman in the United States Marine Corps. During his time in the military, he was assigned to the Delta Company Outlaws, Second Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Second Marine Division. Tanner’s travels have taken him from the Mediterranean and Kosovo to Djibouti, the United Arab Emirates, and Fallujah.
Following an honorable discharge from the Marines, he went on to complete his bachelor’s in business management from Rowan University, his MBA from Georgian Court University, and finally, another bachelor’s in web design and development from Full Sail University. He began his civilian career as a contract specialist for the United States Army and has worked his way through various positions to finally end up as a business systems analyst with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Tanner lives in Toms River, NJ and is happily married to his wife, Melissa. They are the proud parents of two little boys, Joshua and Gavin.