The Unexpected Storm Review
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“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy, forget in time that men have died to win them.” FDR

The Unexpected Storm is the story of one soldier's journey from the moment he and a friend made the decision to join the military, to the quiet beach where he found peace at last.

Steven Manchester joined the Army while still in high school. Later he transferred to the 661st M.P. Company, a National Guard unit out of Massachusetts. Normally the National Guard isn't sent into battle, but Saddam Hussein made life anything but normal in 1991. Sergeant Manchester found himself destined for Iraq, leaving behind a wife to deal with a work-related injury and financial difficulties.

He arrived under the most beautiful sky he had ever seen with a little bit of fear and a heck of a lot of courage and determination. He wasn't fighting for oil as some would have him believe; he was fighting for all the women, children, and men who had suffered under the cruel hand of a sadistic leader. Sergeant Manchester's heart was in the right place.

The long grueling months in the hot desert took its toll. Hours turned to days, days to weeks, and weeks to months. He witnessed children blown apart by landmines, the twisted metal and burned soldiers in the aftermath of technological warfare, and senseless deaths. He dealt with a platoon sergeant who wobbled on the edge of insanity, and he was constantly sick from the inoculations and “preventative medicines” shoved upon him by the US government. And, though the war was over, Sergeant Manchester still felt as if he were living on borrowed time and dodging the Grim Reaper.

I felt as if I were a ghost shadowing his every step, seeing what he saw, hearing what he heard, and feeling his emotions. I laughed, I cried, I smiled, but above all else I was touched beyond measure. In the end, Sergeant Manchester sacrificed almost everything for his country and the Iraqi people. He returned home to a hero's welcome but also to a government that shoved him out the door and left him to fight his physical and mental pain on his own. Finding peace within him proved to be a cruel battle in its own right.

I recommend you read The Unexpected Storm, and then you'll understand why I continue to thank Sergeant Manchester and soldiers like him with every breath I take.

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