R.J. Julia fully supports local and independent authors and takes pride in their success. For over 25 years we have presented high-caliber author events and currently hosts more than 300 events each year. It is our pleasure to dedicate this evening to three local authors, each unique in their writing styles and stories. Please support our local writing community and join us for a wonderful evening of story-telling and friendship.
With just two weeks’ training based on outdated and irrelevant materials, no language instruction, and few cultural tips for interacting with his battalion of Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Yazidis, and others, Zacchea arrived at his base in Kirkush to learn his recruits would need beds, boots, uniforms, and equipment. His Iraqi officer counterparts spoke little English. He had little time to transform his troops—mostly poor, uneducated farmers—into a cohesive rifle battalion that would fight a new insurgency erupting across Iraq.
In order to stand up a fighting battalion, Zacchea knew, he would have to understand his men. Unlike other combat Marines in Iraq at the time, he immersed himself in Iraq’s culture: learning its languages, eating its foods, observing its traditions—even being inducted into one of its Sunni tribes. A constant source of both pride and frustration, the Iraqi Army Fifth Battalion went on to fight bravely at the Battle of Fallujah against the forces that would eventually form ISIS.
The Ragged Edge is Zacchea’s deeply personal and powerful account of hopeful determination, of brotherhood and betrayal, and of cultural ignorance and misunderstanding. It sheds light on the dangerous pitfalls of training foreign troops to fight murderous insurgents and terrorists, precisely when such wartime collaboration is happening more than at any other time in US history.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Zacchea (USMC-ret.) led the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis of the Iraqi Fifth Battalion and their US advisers. He won two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and Iraq’s Order of the Lion of Babylon. A veterans’ advocate with VoteVets.org and elsewhere, he has appeared widely as a public speaker; in several documentaries, including Thank You for Your Service (2015); and on NPR and CBS News, among other news outlets. Zacchea is currently director of the UConn Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities. He lives in Connecticut.
While she is the widow of a now deceased Vietnam veteran, both her daughter and her son also served as professional military aviators. She worries that the all-volunteer military service has driven traditional family elements apart and both civilian and military families suffer accordingly.
One is reminded of Sybil Stockdale, recently deceased widow of Admiral James B Stockdale, who became a model for military spouses across the armed services, demonstrating that military families often bear as much of a burden as our professional warriors. Read Victoria's poetry, it will take you back to Vietnam and introduce Iraq, Afghanistan, and other conflicts from the Middle East.
"My book is my biography as a typical baby boomer born after the second world war. Growing up in the '50s and early '60s were my happy times, which would end with my enlistment in the Marines! My book ends with the political fallout from the war."
Books will be available for purchase at the event.