BRYAN BENDER got his start in journalism as a writer for Inside the Army and as a military correspondent for publications such as Jane's Defense Weekly. He is the national security reporter for The Boston Globe, a job for which he has traveled the globe covering operations at military outposts and training bases, aboard submarines and warships, and in combat aircraft over hostile territory.
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Excerpt from book:
Almost from the day he was born, July 2, 1974, George Senseny Eyster V thought everyone's dad wore Army green to work. The first time he held him in his arms, in the maternity ward of the base hospital at Fort Carson, Colorado, George's father was wearing the uniform of a second lieutenant and the maroon beret of the Army Airborne Corps. The backdrops for George's baby pictures were the trappings of Army life: as an infant donning "Big George's" drab-green Army cap, or as a toddler grinning on his father's lap in the passenger seat of an Army jeep.
His mother, meanwhile, was the epitome of an Army wife. The former Ann Pate, with her southern charm and beauty-queen good looks, was the daughter of a retired Army Air Corps pilot who had been serving in the Pacific during World War II when she was born. She spent the first year of her life being taught to kiss a framed photograph of her poppa. George's father had been captivated by her when he met her as an ROTC cadet at Florida State University. They were soon married in the base chapel at Patrick Air Force Base on December 28, 1971. Ann, who had a son, Scott, and a daughter, Teri, from a previous marriage, quickly took to her new role, hosting coffees for other Army wives, coordinating sewing demonstrations, and organizing the unit Christmas party when her husband was a young company commander.
"Little George" was born just a few months after a historic shift in the American armed forces: the end of the military draft. Growing up an Army brat in the all-volunteer military meant coming of age in a largely closed society that only occasionally interacted with the outside world. The military was the Eyster family's life, which meant moving every few years to a different assignment, where there were sometimes as many old faces from previous posts as new ones. By the time George was eight, in 1981, the family had moved from Fort Carson to Stuttgart, Germany, to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Most of the kids George went to school with, and nearly all his friends and neighbors, also had parents in the Army. In addition to photographs of him blowing out birthday candles, the family scrapbooks were filled with shots of George standing awkwardly in front of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall, landmarks of the Cold War that he was learning was his father's duty to prevent from becoming a full-blown one.
When George was ten, he began to more fully understand what being a soldier meant. His father was flying helicopters in the Eighty-second Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and came home one day that fall to tell him he would be going away for a while. It was October 1983, and President Ronald Reagan was ordering American combat troops to the Caribbean island of Grenada, where a military coup backed by the Cuban and Soviet governments threatened American citizens living there. The family's tearful good-bye as Big George--Major George S. Eyster IV--went off to Operation Urgent Fury was a formative experience for Little George. The fighting only lasted several days and ended with an American victory over the military government. But nineteen U.S. soldiers were killed and 116 wounded. George would never forget the anxiety on his mother's face as she awaited her husband's return.
But it was not until the following spring, when George was almost eleven and finishing fifth grade, that he realized that the faint so
"[A] master-work of war and remembrance."
--The Washington Times
"The endlessly complex mechanics of each of JPAC's missions -- which can involve dozens of soldiers, specialists, anthropologists, and scientists, as well as local laborers to sift through dirt for dog tags, fragments of bone, and other pieces of evidence -- makes for transfixing reading...[A] unique, uplifting war story about sacrifce, dedication, and hope strung across decades and generations."
--The Boston Globe
"[Bryan Bender's] reporting is impressive, but the storytelling is what distinguishes this account of identifying the remains of military casualties decades after they died in war...Any reader who wonders about the significance of such a mission will have no reservations by the end of this well-structured, well-written book."
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Anyone who cares about honor and sacrifice should read this book. You Are Not Forgotten eloquently captures what it means to serve a purpose larger than oneself, and how that service ennobles us all. In his powerful and insightful telling of the twinned stories of George Eyster V and Ryan McCown Jr., Bryan Bender has delivered a gripping, at times wrenching, portrait of two heroes and of the nation that forged them.”
—Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Frozen in Time and Lost in Shangri-La
"Boston Globe national security reporter Bryan Bender takes readers through multiple generations of military history in this proud story about honoring the country’s defenders...Through interviews, journals, logs, letters, emails, and even instant message transcripts, Bender narrates the complex drives that drew both men to serve, the grueling demands of their time at war, and the twists of fate that ultimately bring their stories together."
--The Daily Beast
""Bryan Bender has written an epic drama of the journey men make back into the world, to their families, and to themselves, after great loss. This is poignant, exhilarating storytelling, reminiscent of the wrenching -- and redemptive -- search by James Bradley for his father in Flags Of Our Fathers, and Louis Zamperini's own homecoming in Unbroken. You Are Not Forgotten is gritty and emotional, bringing to life at least two major wars and speaking as much to a World War II generation as it does to all of us, men and women, today. This gripping tale reaches across decades with this offering: "Come home. Welcome home." This is history and reporting at its most engrossing."
--Doug Stanton, author of In Harm's Way and Horse Soldiers
“Bryan Bender’s You Are Not Forgotten is destined to be a classic. It tells an astonishing story of war, then and now, held in place by the pilot’s code. When a Charleston boy, Major Marion “Ryan” McCown, is lost during a terrible air battle over the island of New Guinea, his remains lie undiscovered on a jungle hillside until George Eyster V receives orders to find them. Ryan’s fate could have easily been that of the Great Santini; and George Eyster’s story is the story of all of us who have ever been touched by the storms of war. The morning after I finished this book, I drove to Charleston to place flowers on Ryan McCown’s grave. Bryan Bender has written a book for all seasons.”
– Pat Conroy, author of The Great Santini and Prince of Tides
"A spellbinding, inspirational tale of two impressive military officers -- one, a pilot who was shot down in the jungles of New Guinea in WWII, the other, an Army captain and Iraq War veteran who helps find the pilot's remains and, in so doing, discovers something in himself."
—David Petraeus, General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
"Bryan Bender has don