FINALIST FOR AUTOBIOGRAPHY / MEMOIRS, 2009, THE INDIE BOOK AWARDS
WINNER, 2009, MILITARY-WRITERS BOOK OF THE YEAR
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.
“ 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. That, I guarantee!"
--Leatherneck Magazine (USMC)
“America has always been blessed by wonderful, patriotic, and often anonymous men and women who have sacrificed so much in defense of liberty and freedom. Once a Marine, Gunny Sergeant Nick Popaditch’s heart-wrenching and inspiring memoir, puts a name and a face on this sacrifice. Every American should read this book to remind them of what these brave warriors of freedom endure on our behalf.”
― Congressman Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
“Gunny Popaditch’s story is as inspiring as it is dramatic. This wounded warrior suffered grievous injuries ― an RPG to the head! ― but refused to give up on life, even when his wounds forced him out of the Corps. Once a Marine is a ‘must read’ story of one of today’s real heroes.”
― Jerry D. Morelock, PhD, Colonel, U. S. Army (Ret.), Editor in Chief, Armchair General
“Author Gunny Sergeant Nick Popaditch, a Silver Star recipient and the subject of the world-famous AP photo, has penned what must surely be classed as among the best personal memoirs of any combat soldier in recent memory. Once a Marine is an in-your-face blast of raw emotion and realism that will strike a raw nerve and keep you up at night. This autobiography of combat, courage, and recovery should be required reading for every American, young and old, who yearns to grasp the true cost of freedom.”
― Caspar Weinberger Jr., Military and Current Affairs Columnist
“A riveting and inspirational story of the consummate professional warrior. It is impossible to read Once a Marine without being proud of our military and grateful that our Nation produces men like Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch.”
― Michael F. Nugent, Major, US Army (Ret.), co-author of One Continuous Fight: The Retreat From Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863
"Only a few books leap off the shelves and demand to be read- and "Once a Marine" is one of those few…a spellbinding story…the type of book that the reader will devour in an evening".
The Midwest Book Review, 12/2008
“Gunny Popaditch’s story makes me incredibly proud to have worn the same uniform. Without intending to, Once a Marine articulates life in the modern Marine Corps more clearly than anything I’ve read. No blindly loyal fanatic, Popaditch candidly acknowledges the bullshit, yet artfully captures the inimitable spirit of camaraderie and commitment that makes the Marine Corps unique. Extraordinarily motivating and compellingly honest book, it made me pine for my own long-finished Marine Corps career.”
― Jay A. Stout, Lt.Col. USMC (Ret.), author of Hornet’s Over Kuwait
“Gunny Pop” Popaditch’s courageous memoir of his life in and out of the Marine Corps is intelligently written and imbued with a brazen honesty rarely found elsewhere. His personal courage―and that of his wife, April―gives the term “home of the brave” an entirely new meaning.”
― Sgt. Michael Volkin, author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook: Tips, Tricks, and Tactics for Surviving Boot Camp