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Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander's Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery [Kindle Edition]

Mike Steere , Nick Popaditch
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 6, 1986: Nick Popaditch arrives at the Receiving Barracks, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California.

April 9, 2003: An AP photographer captures a striking image seen around the world of the Gunny Sergeant smoking a victory cigar in his tank, the haunting statue of Saddam Hussein hovering in the background. Popaditch is immortalized forever as "The Cigar Marine."

April 6, 2004: The tanker fights heroically in the battle for Fallujah and suffers grievous head wounds that leave him legally blind and partially deaf. The USMC awards him with a Silver Star for his valor and combat innovation.

April 18, 2004: "Gunny Pop" comes home to face the toughest fight of his life-a battle to remain the man and Marine he was. This is the central drama of Nick's inspiring memoir, Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander's Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery.

Readers in and out of the military will stand up and cheer for this valiant Marine's Marine, a man who embodies everything noble and proud in the Corps' long tradition. Never has modern mechanized combat seemed so immediate and real, or the fight in Iraq seemed so human and worth believing in.

At first, Nick fights to get back to where he was in Iraq-in the cupola of an M1A1 main battle tank, leading Marines in combat at the point of the spear. As the seriousness and permanence of his disabilities become more evident, Nick fights to remain in the Corps in any capacity, to help the brothers in arms he so aches to rejoin. Facing the inevitable following a medical retirement, he battles for rightful recognition and compensation for his permanent disabilities. Throughout his harrowing ordeal, Nick fights to maintain his honor and loyalty, waging all these battles the same way-the Marine way-because anything less would be a betrayal of all he holds dear.

The real triumph in Once a Marine is its previously untold, behind-the-scenes tale of the day-to-day life of a career Marine noncommissioned staff officer. In most books and movies, a "Gunny" is little more than a cardboard character. Nick's portrayal is a man complete: a husband and father, as well as a warrior and a molder of young warriors. He reveals himself completely, something no memoirist in his position has ever done before. This includes our very personal introduction to his wife April, whose heroics in the story equal Nick's, together with dozens of others who, as Sgt. Popaditch writes, gave so much, so selflessly and freely, to him. Like the man himself, Once a Marine is full of gratitude and refreshingly free of false bravado and braggadocio.

All Americans, of all political persuasions, have a duty to meet this courageous and admirable fighting man, an exemplar of all our military men and women who give so much out of love for their nation. Meeting Gunny Sergeant Popaditch through the pages of his inspirational memoir offers up new reasons to be proud and shoulder our own responsibilities as Americans.

Once a Marine will instantly take its place among outstanding combat classics. And once you read this remarkable and uplifting book, The Marine's Hymn will never sound the same.

FINALIST: The Indie Book Awards, Autobiography / Memoirs 2009


" Nick Popaditch's transcendent memoir of military service and its personal consequences should be read by every one of our nation's political leaders-to help them understand the incomparable quality of those who fight on the front lines. Read this inspiring story, recommend it to friends-and send a copy to your member of Congress!"

- Ralph Peters (Lt. Col., ret.), New York Post columnist and author of Looking For Trouble and Wars Of Blood and Faith

"Retired Gunny Sergeant Nick Popaditch's narrative will burn through your heart, and then settle deep in your gut. . . . Readers will shed a tear, and simultaneously burst out with eagle, globe and anchor emotive-pride....

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The autobiography of a retired marine gunnery sergeant, invalided out from wounds received in Iraq, is, first off, sheer good reading for anyone fond of portrayals of committed warriors. Popaditch wanted to be a marine more than anything else in the world, and tried to stay in even after being hit in the head with a rocket. During his 15-year career, he specialized in armor, and he throws a good deal of light on the marines who fight in tanks, the like of which is often missing in other, more infantry-oriented accounts. He and his freelance-journalist collaborator also provide rare exposure of how the corps looks from the perspective of a noncommissioned officer whose loyalty to it doesn’t blind him to its vices and limitations. Collections with strong military holdings will want to add this for the sake of both Iraq War and Marine Corps coverage. --Roland Green

Product Details

  • File Size: 741 KB
  • Print Length: 313 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1932714472
  • Publisher: Savas Beatie; 1st edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002R0JXMM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #364,563 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once a Marine book trailer! October 9, 2008
Length: 3:38 Mins
This is a Hollywood-style book trailer for "Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander's Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery," by Nick Popaditch with Mike Steere (Savas Beatie, October 1, 2008).

Make sure you watch to the very end for a "special" photo message from "Gunny Pop" Nick. I know you will appreciate seeing him.

Nick "Gunny Pop" Popaditch is a former marine Gunnery Sergeant, a Silver Star winner, a 15-year veteran of the USMC, and was widely known around the world as "The Cigar Marine:" (Google it.). His tanks captured Firdos "Saddam" square in April 2003 and pulled down the hated statue. Nick was severely wounded one year later with an RPG to the head, which was captured live by a media news crew. He had to fight his way through an incredible odyssey of turmoil, heartbreak, and bureaucracy to recover everything he had lost. His website is [...]
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, great book October 10, 2008
I've read a lot of books written about and by Marines and I rank this as one of the best. In the first place, it's very well written and edited so as to make it a great read that's tough to put down. In the second place, Nick's story is told with candor and humor that will strike a familiar chord with any former Marine. It reads like you're in the same room with him. Lastly, it paints a vivid picture of Nick's ordeal to recover from his wounds and drive on. Not many of us will ever have to endure what Nick has, thanks to him and thousands of other brave men and women who put their lives on the line for our Freedom. This book gives us a glimpse of their world and will make us more thankful for their sacrifices. I highly recommend this book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN AMAZING PRESENCE, AN AMAZING STORY October 17, 2008
I met Nick Popaditch at Book Expo America (the largest book industry trade show in the USA) in Los Angeles last May. Imagine the vast halls of a major convention center jammed with people hawking books. Banners and balloons fly, people run to meet celebrities, bands play. It's wild. Nick and his lovely wife, April, happened to be down the aisle from my publisher. I was wandering around the halls with the herd and ran into their booth.

Meeting Nick and April was a shock. My dad was a member of one of the first UDTs--underwater demolition teams--in WWII. He was a highly decorated war hero. Running into Nick was like running into his reincarnation. The stance, the physique, the totally present mental attitude, the energy. I was raised by a warrior and finding another one right in front of me brought back lots. My father was killed by a negligent and probably drunk driver in 1964, surviving the war to be mowed down on the road. Thanks, Nick, for being who you are and letting me have that glimpse of my dad again.

This book is an introduction to the state of the warrior. The essential learning it offers is nonpolitical and of value regardless of how you feel about Iraq or the election. I write about spirituality and becoming who you really are--the flowering of your soul. I've got a couple of books out, on spiritual practice and a sci-fi look at the richest man in the world meeting a great Native American shaman. What I get excited about in a book is the spiritual teachings and lessons it imparts.

This entire book is a spiritual teaching. Watch Nick as he tells his story. He's right there, in the moment, as present as your own breath. (He's that way when you meet him in life, too.) Notice what he does as he prepares to ship out. "Getting straight with God.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once A Marine, Always A Hero October 8, 2008
This book was an excellent read. To hear Sgt. Popaditch's story of his life as a Marine is truly inspirational. His focus however is not on himself, but on the men he trained, trained under and served with. The injuries he survived and writes about, again focus on all of those who came to his aid, from his tank crew at the time of his injuries, up to the medical team at the "Blind Hospital," teaching him how to live life visually impaired. Throughout this book you read not only of "Gunny Pop's" heroism, but of the committment and sacrifice of all Marines. Reading a book about a selfless hero in a time when there is so much selfishness in the world gives me hope and thanks that there are Americans like Sgt. Popaditch spreading the values of the United States Marine Corps to all of us.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Read It. October 12, 2008
Readers will no doubt get an accurate, matter of fact point of view from Pop. He tells it like it is. Always has, always will. Semper Fi.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True American Hero October 15, 2008
I want to recommend a great book about a true American hero to you. Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1986 and served his country with great honor for 18 years. A photographer snapped his photo in Baghdad in 2003, smoking a victory cigar, with the downed statue of Saddam Hussein behind him. He became known as the "Cigar Marine" as a result of that iconic photograph, which appears on the dust jacket of the book.

In 2004, while commanding a tank in Fallujah, Iraq, Gunny Pop, as he's known, stopped a rocket propelled grenade with his face and lived to talk about it. Although he was awarded a Silver Star for his valor that day, Nick lost an eye and was critically wounded, but he survived. He was medically discharged from the Corps in 2005.

Gunny Pop has written an amazing memoir of his ordeal titled Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander's Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery that was recently published by Savas-Beatie. Because of my relationship with Ted Savas, I've known about this forthcoming book for quite a while, and had the good fortune to read the manuscript before it was published.

I can't say enough good things about this particular book. Fast-paced and extremely well-written, Gunny Pop has written a simultaneously fascinating and incredibly moving narrative that details his military career and the ordeal of his wounding and recovery from that horrible wound. A husband and father, his memoir tells all about how that day in Fallujah affected his life and the lives of his loved ones. Gunny Pop represents the best that the United States Marine Corps has to offer, and we all have much to learn from the lessons of his life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a true honor meeting "Gunny Pop" in San ...
It was a true honor meeting "Gunny Pop" in San Diego after watching my brother graduate marine boot camp there as I did at one time. Mr. Read more
Published 18 days ago by justin Middleton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 months ago by phoenixxx
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Story.
A good book. Combat descriptions in Fallujah are accurate and told well. And as an old Marine grunt I can verify that tanks are frightening. Read more
Published 9 months ago by OldJarHead
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read. Interesting man. Interesting Marine.
Good descriptive writing and very good story. Once you read this you will begin to appreciate the Marine way of life and discipline. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Donald E. Kilgore
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will grab your heart
I came to know Gunny Pop and his beautiful wife April when Nick was running through Congress - other Marines helped me come to know these amazing people. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Once a Marine
Good book. I get angry for them when dealing with the system. He is truly a good man and his wife is to be praised for also dealing with what happens.
Published 11 months ago by brandy11
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw, Unvarnished Journey through Combat Disabiity (Kindle)
This is a very well written book, from the perspective that Savas Beatie has not edited the rawness out of Popaditch's Marine bluster as he struggles with his horrendous injuries... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank You!
Great read. I found it difficult to put down because I wanted to know what happens to Gunny Pop. A big thank you to Gunny Pop and all of our Veterans and active military for their... Read more
Published 12 months ago by T.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story of an exceptional man
Once I started reading this book, I had a really hard time putting it down. It's a wonderful insight into the heart and mind of a good man, not just a good Marine. Read more
Published 13 months ago by J. Burns
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
As the Mother of a Wounded Warrior this book was very enlightening for me. What Gunny had to go through and endure from paper pushers was horrible. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Tonda Marcum
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