From Gangster to Marine Hero
At the age of seventeen, Marco Martinez was a thug—a gun-toting, car-stealing gang member.
At the age of twenty-two, he was a hero—the recipient of the Navy Cross, the second-highest honor a U.S. Marine can receive, for extraordinary heroism under fire in the Iraq War. Hard Corps tells the story of his incredible transformation and of his experiences on the front lines of the War on Terror.
Writing with passion and candor, Martinez brings us back to his gang days, detailing experiences that make him “shudder in shame” to remember. And he recalls the moment that changed everything for him, when he spotted a barrel-chested U.S. Marine Corps recruiter at his high school. Immediately, he saw an opportunity to alter the course of his aimless life.
Martinez takes us with him through the grueling ordeal of Marine boot camp and the even-more-punishing training at the School of Infantry to show just how warriors are made. He reveals how he and his fellow grunts prepared tirelessly for battle, seeing combat not as a burden but as a privilege, the ultimate baptism by fire.
For Martinez, that baptism came in Iraq. In Hard Corps, he unfolds a warrior’s tale as riveting, harrowing, and immediate as any ever written. He takes us onto the narrow, treacherous streets of Baghdad, where enemy fire rains down from all directions; alongside his Marine squad as they patrol through the most dangerous war zone imaginable; and into a brutal terrorist ambush that calls upon reserves of ferocity and courage none of the Marines could ever be certain they possessed and that proves the value of every moment of their torturous training. Martinez also recounts stunning reminders of why we fight: the Iraqi man he met whose tongue had been chopped off for speaking out against Saddam Hussein’s regime, the ghastly evidence of human experimentation that Martinez’s squad discovered at an abandoned Iraqi military barracks, and the horrifying mass graves the Marines unearthed in the Iraqi desert.
Hard Corps gives us a visceral sense of what it means to know that you are ready to die for your brother Marines and that they would do the same for you. It tells us how it feels when words like duty, honor, and country are not an empty slogan. And, ultimately, it captures the traditions and ooh-rah spirit of the U.S. Marine Corps and the valor of all the Marines, sailors, soldiers,
From the Hardcover edition.
- The Crown Publishing Group, September 2007
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