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. Listeners 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.
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