4 out of 4 stars
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In civilian life, he was a postman delivering the daily mail. When called to serve, he became the man who made sure the fallen heroes were transported home to their families. No Tougher Duty, No Greater Honor, by Gunnery Sergeant L Christian Bussler, is a behind the scenes look at the duty of a Mortuary Affairs (MA) Marine.
Told from the first-person point of view, readers get a front-row seat to all the highs and lows of serving overseas. The book is divided into three tours of duty, and it was fascinating to watch the escalation in the conflict and the growth of Bussler’s character as he endured the growing tension. Before my eyes, he went from naïve reservist to war-matured leader.
Vivid descriptions were used to highlight the vast beauty of the Iraqi desert in contrast to the intensity of mortar attacks and gunfire. A concise history depicts the events that led up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. This history is interwoven with the trek through the foreign territory as the marines worked to complete their mission.
This book is packed full of emotions, and several times I was brought to tears by the passion that the MA Marines have for their responsibilities. Bussler tastefully shares the details of the search and rescue missions and uses medical descriptions when talking about collecting the remains. He shows his great respect for the “angels” as they came through his collection point, and I admired the tact with which he shared these stories.
It was easy to get pulled into the stories within this book because of the compelling voice of the author throughout the pages. He also included pictures of the men he served with and some of the locations that they toured. From light-hearted moments of comical shenanigans to the heart-wrenching scenes of combat, this book held my interest from start to finish. A few of the chapters in the third tour were a bit lengthy, but the contents were relevant to the progress of an MIA situation. When the remains of a fallen sergeant could not be found, a bit of mystery came to life as Bussler had to dig deeper to find the missing soldier.
This riveting tale of those who pay the ultimate price for freedom is easily a 4 out of 4. A few minor errors made their way into the pages, but the book was otherwise well-edited. Due to the use of frequent profanities and the nature of recovering the remains, this may not be a good fit for sensitive readers. It is, however, a good fit for those who enjoy history and memoirs of wartime.
No Tougher Duty, No Greater Honor
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