on July 30, 2008
Few people have been involved in as many significant US military operations over the past three decades as has LTG (ret.) William G. "Jerry" Boykin. From being a founding member of the Delta Force to commanding all US Army Special Forces he shows that a person can be a committed Christian and a soldier.
Co-written by New York Times best selling author Lynn Vincent, Never Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom gets your interest on page one and keeps it through the entire book. The book's structure helps with the presentation. It is divided in thirteen sections. Each section covers one of the stages of Jerry Boykin's life or a major US operation he was involved in. Each section is divided into short, action-packed chapters.
The book tells story after story of how famous military operations went down. The Iran Hostage Crisis, Sudan, Grenada, Panama, Waco and the Branch Davidians, Columbia, Somalia, the Balkans and more give great insight into contemporary US military history.
Jerry Boykin is a born-again Christian. The role of his faith is very tastefully woven into each story. You will not feel preached at, but rather have an appreciation of how his belief in God sustained and directed him through the years.
One of my favorite stories in the book involved Panama, the playing of loud, rock music and Manuel Noriega. The media thought the US Army was using the loud music as a psychological weapon against Noriega. The original intent of the music was to keep the media from being able to eavesdrop on the conversations between Boykin and the Vatican embassy where Noriega was hold-up.
The most insightful section was on Mogadishu, Somalia. It gives the real story that the movie Blackhawk Down omits. Boykin was the leader of the mission. He had to make the tough decision of leaving a man down in order to save others. He said that was the worst thing he has ever experienced.
Boykin has never been afraid to admit he is a Christian. Some things he said during the most recent war in Iraq upset people. He said that he believed God put George Bush in the White House. The news media quoted that statement. What the media didn't quote was that he continued by saying God put Bill Clinton and every other American leader in their positions. Boykin was pretty much beat up in the press over this. He was completely exonerated by internal military investigations.
I highly recommend the book. It provides fascinating insight into military tactics and life behind the scenes of Delta Force. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler, July 2008.
on August 10, 2008
I'm a bit biased as I served in the same unit as the author although at a later date, but this is a proud and extraordinary account of one man's career in Delta Force and his strong personal faith. LTG(R) Boykin seemed to be a magnet to our nation's most sensitive "black" ops, tempted death on two different battlefields, and shares details of missions many of us in my era knew very little about. Boykin also shares his obvious respect and admiration for GEN(R) Peter J. Schoomaker, the 35th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, who for many years was just as "black" as Boykin. Even if you have read Beckwith's DELTA FORCE and Haney's INSIDE DELTA FORCE, don't miss Boykin's eye opening and awe-inspiring work. Well worth ten times the cover price.
on July 14, 2009
Jerry Boykin was a, well, different type of soldier. Reared in Wilson, North Carolina, big for his age (six feet tall, 180 pounds in seventh grade), he worked his grandparents' tobacco farm during summers and played in a folk trio at the World's Fair in New York. Entering Virginia Tech on a football scholarship and inducted into Army ROTC, he was heavily influenced by two coaches of considerable Christian faith and example. During college, he married and became a father. Following graduation and commissioning, he reported to Fort Benning and told his assignment officer, "I want to go airborne, than Ranger training, then Vietnam."
Everything seemed perfect for Boykin - until the scope of his responsibility as a new platoon leader began to weigh on him. He rummaged through a box and withdrew his Bible. He turned to the Gospel of John, and the words jumped off the page to him: "I am the light of the world," Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Yet, he was experiencing a deep spiritual emptiness. Then he failed an Infantry Officers Basic Course night patrol. Until that moment, Boykin had trusted God as a sort of spiritual insurance policy. "But when I failed that patrol, I suddenly understood I had been relying too much on myself and not enough on God. For me, that was the beginning of a life lived relying on God moment by moment."
Boykin didn't immediately get his wish to fight in Vietnam. Ordered to Korea as an aide-de-camp to a general officer, he nearly lost his boss's dog, but finally arrived in South Vietnam in 1972, until the cease-fire cut short his combat tour. Returning to For Campbell, Kentucky, and resuming life as a garrison soldier and family man, he was confronted by a junior officer who said, "I've never been able to figure out how you can be in the Army and be a Christian. Lieutenant Boykin, how can you believe it's okay to go out and kill people?" Taken aback, and without a ready answer for his subordinate, Boykin sought the advice of his Pastor Bob, who said, "What you need to understand is that God ordained this nation to be a place where people could worship freely, and a place where other nations could look and see the foundation of that freedom is the belief that it is God who grants freedom to all men. He's called this country to be a light in a world of darkness. And He didn't create a country where believers could have freedom with the expectation that unbelievers would defend it. It's not only right for Christians to defend this nation, it's their responsibility. If God calls you to defend this country, He's not offering you a job, He's calling you to service."
Boykin heeded this call to service as one of the initial cadre of Delta Force special operations soldiers to places like Desert One in Iran, Panama, Mogadishu and the Balkans. Along the way, he was divorced from his first wife and fell into despondency. Rescued by a woman who would become his new wife, Boykin eventually rose to three stars and assignment as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence in Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon. There, he became embroiled in controversy when NBC News accused him of having a track record of hating Islam. The reporter, Aram Roston, tallied the "evidence" against Boykin:
"You've made a statement to a Somali warlord that your God was bigger than his."
"You've made statements like, "God put George Bush in the White House."
"You've said that this is a Christian nation."
"You're an evangelical."
Boykin had indeed made all these statements, all of which were taken out of context by the national press. Asked by Rumsfeld how he should respond to reporters' questions, Boykin replied that he'd never cast the war in religious terms and was on record, in print, as saying that this was not a war between Christianity and Islam. Yet the furor in the mainstream media was unabated. Boykin finally called for Rumsfeld to appoint an inspector general's investigation. Boykin turned to his Bible and found in Psalms 13, "How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" Realizing that a lifetime of prayer and service had called him to this point, prepared him for this battle, he engaged the fight for his reputation. Yet he would soon experience "the lowest moment of my Army career" when Commander-in-Chief Bush said, "General Boykin's comments don't reflect the administration's comments...He doesn't reflect my point of view, or the view of this administration." Bill Press of WorldNetDaily called Boykin "the American echo of Osama bin Laden."
Soon, the IG filed a preliminary report citing five charges surrounding Boykin's public speaking engagements at churches, two of which were criminal violations. "Lord, I don't understand this, but it's in Your hands," Boykin said aloud. Eventually exonerated, Boykin not only weathered the storm by virtue of his Christian faith, but by following the Special Forces dictum: Never surrender.
I found Never Surrender to be an exciting, witty, and deeply moving chronicle of a life spent as a Godly and good man in the service of his country.
on March 18, 2009
LTG(R) Jerry Boykin's autobiography is not just an insider's guide to Delta Force's tactics, techniques, and procedures. Nor is it simply a contemporary chronicle of Delta's exploits in the Global War on Terrorism. Instead, it is one man's account of serving at the crossroads of faith and freedom... combat and Christianity. In his 36 years of service in the U.S. Army (15 of those with Delta), Boykin finds himself at the tip of the spear, facing off against sworn enemies of the United States during the 1980s and 90s.
But his battles do not end there.
Never Surrender is the inspirational story of General Boykin's struggles not only against those enemies - all vicious, most dangerous, and a few even sociopathic - but also against those individuals found on our own soil who would condescend to question his motives. And those who would find fault with his faith.
Sadly, in the waning years of his career, Boykin fights to defend himself against accusations that he is a religious fanatic intent on characterizing America's global war on terror as a holy war pitting Christians against Muslims. There were also those who believed (and who may still believe) that he was using his senior position in the Pentagon as a bully pulpit to proselytize and gain converts. A careful analysis of comments he made as a speaker in these religious gatherings easily refutes these allegations made by overzealous reporters typically representing left-leaning national news media. His words were clearly taken out of context. (Incidentally, Boykin was later exonerated by the U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General.)
A fast-paced book co-written with Lynn Vincent, Never Surrender both entertains and edifies. Readers are treated to the character and uncommon valor of one of America's most elite warriors. As one of the original 3 officers to complete the physically and mentally punishing Delta selection course in 1978, General Boykin embarks on a fascinating career in special operations that takes him to the four corners of the globe.
Strap in for the ride!
From the desert expanses of Iran (Operation 'Eagle Claw') to the powdery white beaches and turquoise waters of Grenada ('Urgent Fury')... from the steamy, lush jungles of Panama ('Just Cause') and Columbia to the Mad Max-esque badlands of Somalia ('Battle of the Black Sea'), we follow Boykin and the men of Delta as they take down one petty despot and bloodthirsty murderer after another. These men are fearless and strike like lightning with ruthless efficiency as they fulfill the vision Delta's founder, Colonel Charlie Beckwith, set out for them - to be the world's most effective direct action and counterterrorism force. Page by page we learn new facts about how these missions went down without being inundated with operational details, many of which (thankfully) remain classified.
But there is much more to Never Surrender than mere war stories.
True to character, before each operation Boykin prays that he and his men are delivered through fire and horrific violence. His prayers are miraculously answered as time and again he wages war not against Evil, but against evil individuals. That this man should ask God for the strength to combat foes accused of murdering, torturing, and raping says a lot more about his compassion than it does about how he views the world. Asking God that both his men and America's imprisoned hostages be spared is a far cry from asking God to destroy the enemy - Muslim or otherwise. As Boykin ably points out, those enemies who hide behind a cloak of religion while murdering and maiming should not be confused with peace-loving, religious zealots.
Boykin's story is of a humble, God-fearing man who embodies Christian virtues and endeavors to live a Christ-like life. We even witness the author struggle with his faith as he loses good men on the battlefield and watches the national news media turn against him. Yet always he finds a way back to God while vowing again to never surrender.
This kind of faith is not controversial - it's inspirational!
It says much about the times we live in that a man of LTG(R) Jerry Boykin's stature and of whom we as a nation have asked so much should be second-guessed, even vilified. That his motives should be called into question, particularly during time of war, defies rational explanation. His term of service included enormous personal sacrifice: He was twice wounded and would eventually lose his marriage. Rather than doubt his motives, we should thank him. Is it not enough that this man for 36 years selflessly served his country and repeatedly risked his life while saving Americans and battling terrorists and criminals the world over?
General Jerry Boykin's life can be summed up by the following Bible verse:
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (ISAIAH 6:8)
We are blessed to have such men who willingly go into harm's way to serve the cause of freedom. We owe them a profound debt of gratitude... a debt that can never be repaid.
Thank you, Sir, for answering the call!
on November 5, 2009
General Boykin was one of the original members of "Delta Force", he was wounded at the invasion of Grenada, was there when Manuel Noriega was captured in Panama, he was on-site Commander in Somalia during the ill-fated "Black Hawk Down" incident and he served under Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush prior to his retirement. Boykin is a talented story-teller and gives the reader a great insight into his spiritual life as well, and how he came to be a man of strong faith. He became controversial when he spoke at Bible-based churches about his views on The War on Terror being, in his view, part of spiritual warfare between the forces of good and evil as described in scripture. These statements of faith sent the liberal media into a full-blown swoon. He was portrayed as dangerous and a hater of moslems. Boykin was investigated but completely exonerated. This is clearly a very honorable man, who had the courage not to retreat in the face of severe criticism. If you dislike the current culture of political correctness, this is the book for you. Boykin is a soldier's soldier who never surrendered, but kept the faith.