The Making of a Marine Officer
If the Marines are “the few, the proud,” Recon Marines are the fewest and the proudest. Nathaniel Fick’s career begins with a hellish summer at Quantico, after his junior year at Dartmouth. He leads a platoon in Afghanistan just after 9/11 and advances to the pinnacle – Recon – two years later, on the eve of war with Iraq. His vast skill set puts him in front of the front lines, leading twenty-two Marines into the deadliest conflict since Vietnam. He vows to bring all his men home safely, and to do so he’ll need more than his top-flight education. Fick unveils the process that makes Marine officers such legendary leaders and shares his hard-won insights into the differences between military ideals and military practice, which can mock those ideals.
In this deeply thoughtful account of what it’s like to fight on today’s front lines, Fick reveals the crushing pressure on young leaders in combat. Split-second decisions might have national consequences or horrible immediate repercussions, but hesitation isn’t an option. One Bullet Away never shrinks from blunt truths, but ultimately it is an inspiring account of mastering the art of war.
About the Author
Nathaniel Fick was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1977. He graduated with high honors from Dartmouth College in 1999, earning degrees in Classics and Government. While at Dartmouth, Fick captained the cycling team to a US National Championship, and wrote a senior thesis on Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War and its implications for American foreign policy.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps upon graduation, and trained as an infantry officer. Fick led his platoon into Afghanistan and Pakistan only weeks after 9/11, helping to drive the Taliban from its spiritual capital in Kandahar. After returning to the States in 2002, he was invited to join Recon, the Corps’ special operations force. Fick led a reconnaissance platoon in combat during the earliest months of Operation Iraqi Freedom, from the battle of Nasiriyah to the fall of Baghdad, and into the perilous peacekeeping that followed.
Fick left the Marines as a captain in 2003 and is currently pursuing a masters degree in International Security at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and an MBA at the Harvard Business School. 60 Minutes, the BBC, and NPR have featured his work. Fick’s writing has appeared in newspapers across the country, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The International Herald Tribune. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.