Tag: Military

POW/MIA Recognition Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in 1979 by a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter. Since then, each subsequent president has continued the tradition, commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

A national ceremony is held on every National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the Pentagon featuring members of each branch of military service and the participation of high-ranking officials.

In addition to the national ceremony, many observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day can be found across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools, veterans’ facilities, homes, and private businesses.

No matter where they are held, these National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies share the common purpose of honoring those held captive and returned, and those who remain missing.

According to the Department of Defense, approximately 83,114 Americans are still missing today.

In past years, I have seen Missing Man Honors tables set up in restaurants I have visited on this day. It never fails to bring a lump to my throat.

Missing Man Honors

Let me take a moment to explain the significance of the Missing Man Honors to those who may not understand. This is how the table is typically set at military and veteran clubs, and private businesses and homes.

The tables I have seen are typically set for one, with the single empty chair representing all missing American servicemembers. It will sometimes be done with a setting for six, with each chair representing the missing Americans from each of the services, including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and civilian.

There is great symbolism in how the table is set.

The table is round to symbolize our everlasting concern.

The table cloth is white and represents the purity of motive in answering the call to serve.

A single red rose is placed on the table to remind us of the lives of these Americans and their friends and loved ones who keep the faith.

The yellow ribbon represents our continued uncertainty, hope for their return, and determination to account for them.

A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured or missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of the missing and their families.

The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return.

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

The glass is inverted, symbolizing their inability to share a toast.

The chair is empty … because these great Americans are missing.

Traditions such as these honor those who fought and sacrificed so Americans today can live in Freedom.

Freedom is such a precious gift, a gift paid for by blood during the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and other conflicts.

Politics is for politicians. The American fighting men and women put the politics aside and just do their job. All Americans should remember the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call and served in defense of freedom, and it is especially important to remember those who have not yet come home.

I will never forget …

A day that is forever seared into my memory.

I still remember driving to work at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and hearing Phil Williams, a local radio celebrity talking about a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. I remember thinking … what a horrible accident … those poor people in the plane.

I was thinking a small private plane had accidentally hit one of the towers …

But Phil kept talking, and I could not believe what I was hearing. Then I remember thinking, it must be some kind of a practical joke! But it would have been a horrible joke. I just could not fathom what was happening.

Then, when I got to work and entered the Student Center, I saw that crowds were gathered, staring at the many TV monitors located throughout the lobby area. I saw the second jet hit a tower. It was a day that changed my life forever. It was an attack on Freedom … and the American way of life.

Americans are certainly not perfect, but the ideals America was founded on are …

America is not just a country. It is an idea, and it is an idea that is worth fighting for … the Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. These are more than just cool-sounding words from the Declaration of Independence. These are the core values that are then enshrined and protected by the U.S. Constitution.

It saddens me how many Americans today have no understanding of, or appreciation for, the gift our Founding Father left to us. Far too many spend their time caught up in perceived petty grievances and playing the victim card and miss out on the fantastic opportunities that only this country provides.

September 11, 2001

That day created a patriotic fervor that was shared by many across this great country. In me, it has not lessened since. It reminded me, like nothing else ever had, of the oath I took on July 17, 1979.

I, Darren C Gilbert, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

I just went back and rechecked … that oath has no expiration date.

The United States of America has been a force for good for most of its 244 years. While mistakes have been made, no other county sacrificed so much for the betterment of mankind around the globe. Any errors that have been made are due to the imperfect nature of Americans being human, and that is something we should all be able to forgive.

I will end my post with two of my favorite quotes by William Wallace from the movie Braveheart.

Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!

We all end up dead, it’s just a question of how and why.

William Wallace, Braveheart

God Bless The USA!

I hope you will take a few minutes and check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here!

And, if you like reading an award-winning action & adventure thriller, check out my newest novel, Montagnard. It also got a great review from Kirkus Reviews!

Just Stories, Part 2

A word about characters … and character.

Characters …

Many readers who have reviewed Montagnard have made comments about the story’s characters. Here are a few examples.

The action is incredible, the characters are amazing, the storyline is astonishing. It all feels so real, the men, the action, the times, the war.

DD Gott

The story has believable characters (including strong women and a dog that I loved). It draws the reader into the story, a story that covers five decades. The Bangkok bar, Obsession, is a hoot.

Lee Boyland, Award Winning Author

My husband , who is not really a reader finished this book in three days. That being said decided I needed to see why he thought this was such a good read. After I started this book I understood. Characters are so real you become concerned about them. Loved this book.

Kathleen Palazzolo

Gilbert’s enjoyable sequel offers some rousing subplots … But this novel concentrates on fewer characters, such as the returning players Curtis, Mai, and Ajax.

Kirkus Reviews

… a thrilling novel … elevated by intriguing characters … an exotic location … danger around any corner.

Literary Titan

My editor, Beth, commented on the story’s characters several times.

“Great characters.”

“Really laughed a few times … when Pallie ‘is trying to wrap his head around the current situation’ in the club. Humor is authentic and genuine, not trying or forced. Truly funny. These are guys you want to hang out with.”

“Genuine movie potential. Love the secondary characters. Mai, Ellerson, the driver Hung, Hana, Hoa, Jum Y, Poh … like and care about each one of them. Peripheral layers to cast and story. Very well done.”

One of my beta readers also commented early in the editing process that my writing style is very “character-driven.”

So, what is the point of all this?

I lurk in several writers groups. I say “lurk” because I tend to listen-in more than I post. You can learn a great deal as a writer listening to comments and questions of other writers. One surprisingly common thread is, how to create better characters.

Here is my big character “secret!”

Are you ready?

You, as the author, have to love your characters … that’s it.

If your characters are simply “names” filling a spot in the story, you are not doing your characters justice. You have to actually see your characters as real people with real feelings, interests, faults, personalities, etc. I love each and every one of my characters (yes, even the evil bad guys. I love them because they are so easy to hate).

I have seen people posting that this is somehow hard for them to do. I have to admit that I really don’t get that. These are characters in a story you are writing. If you don’t love your characters, why are you even writing the story?

Here is what I do …

Sometimes I base a character on a person I know. I may even ask that person if he or she wants to be a character in my book and get their input on how they see themselves in that character’s role.

Pallie is one example of that. Pallie is based on a good friend, Joe, who worked as a bus driver in New York City until he suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Since he could no longer drive the living, he took a job chauffeuring the dead … a hearse. He said, “the dead really didn’t mind.”

Now, that’s Pallie to a T!

Joe is a boisterous, friendly, Sicilian man who is a great friend and would be at your side if needed, just like Pallie. When writing Pallie’s part in Montagnard, all I ever had to do is say, “What would Joe do here? Or, what would Joe say here?” How could you, as an author, not love that character.

One more example is Mai. Mai is a composite of several strong women that have left an indelible impression in my life. She personifies what I respected most in each of those women. How could I, as a writer, not love her character.

This same idea can be found in every character in my stories, even with the secondary characters, although perhaps to a slightly lesser degree.

And what about the Main Character?

JD Cordell is also a composite character. He is the result of combining the character traits I respect most in several men I have come to admire in my life, with some of the qualities I am proud are a part of my character. I guess I could also say that JD Cordell is my alter-ego … if I were Bruce Wayne, JD would be by Batman.

Now, a word about character …

To me, my stories are about character.

First, I guess I need to explain my understanding of character. To me, our character is what defines us at our core. To put it plainly, it is who we are when the “shit hits the fan,” and when no one is looking.

I also believe that too many people mistake learned behavioral tools as character traits. These tools are things like politeness, rapport, charm, or dressing nicely. To me, these are not character traits at all. They are simply tools people can turn on and off as needed.

Even Jeffery Dahmer could dress nicely, be charming, smile, and act politely when it suited his purpose. But I doubt too many of us would argue Dahmer was a man of good character.

Character traits are who we are at our core. They cannot be turned on or off at will. It would take a genuinely traumatic or life-altering event to change a character trait after we are set in our ways (about age 8).

Why does this matter?

It matters because, when you are developing your characters, they need to have consistency. Character does matter. And, sometimes people with good character are forced to do bad things for the right reason, to protect those they love or care about.

JD makes a reference to this near the end of Montagnard, when he says, “I am not a Bible thumper, but I know what I believe. I’m a sailor, and I’ve done a lot of things for which many people would be quick to condemn me. The things I’ve done … well, let’s say I am willing to stand before God and account for them.”

Here is one more example. Many readers have questioned why I did not have Mai kill the villain in the story. After all, I did kind of set it up to look like she might do just that. However, Mai killing the villain in the act of vengeance or retribution would be out of character. While Mai is undoubtedly capable of defending herself or her family (see Serpents Underfoot), she would not hunt someone down to exact vengeance. She would stand for justice and the rule of law.

This has become quite a long post, so I will stop here. I will just sum it up by saying that creating characters that people can identify with, respect, loath, or “hang out with” is a crucial aspect of writing a good story.

My next “Just Stories” post will tackle my thoughts on the theme of “Good vs. Evil,” which is also clearly a big part of both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard.

If you would like to read Montagnard, now is the time to buy. For a limited time only, the Kindle version is only .99 on Amazon.com.

A Labor Day Celebration for Readers

Okay, its shameless promotion time!

Being locked down over Labor Day weekend is no fun!

So, you need something good to read, something that will grab your attention and keep it!

Something that is so good, that you will not want to put it down!

Bravery, valor, honor, comradeship, revenge, and love with realistic combat and martial arts scenes kept this reader enthralled and turning the pages

Lee Boyland, Award Winning Author

A tightly focused and exciting second installment of a thriller series.

Kirkus Reviews

Gilbert has outdone himself in Montagnard. With its lightning pace, gripping storyline, and well-constructed action scenes … an absolute page-turner. Action thriller lovers will hate to miss this one.

The Prairies Book Review

D.C. Gilbert has crafted a taught military action novel that explores humanity at it’s most vengeful. This is a thrilling novel … elevated by intriguing characters … an exotic location … danger around any corner. A great continuation of the JD Cordell Action Series

Literary Titan

You want something that will cost you under $1.00 …

And here it is … Montagnard!

While this is Book 2 in the JD Cordell Action Series, it stands very well on its own as a great read.

After midnight on September 4th, Montagnard will be only .99 for 7 straight days … ending at midnight on September 11th.

Click the button above after midnight on September 4th or before midnight on September 11th, to get your Kindle copy of Montagnard at this fantastic price.

And you have done, please take a moment to let other know what you thought by leaving a review on Amazon.com. Thank you!

Just Stories, Part 1

Are your books just stories?

One friend recently asked, “Are your books just stories?” She went on to comment that I think you put your finger on a difference when recently you mentioned that redemption would be an ongoing theme in your new book.

She went on to say that my stories are brutal and that she squirmed through both of them … and that she usually quits reading a book when she’s “not having fun” with it. But she found in this last one, in the midst of all of Montagnard’s mayhem, a redemptive thread that wound through the story. This friend did like the way I handled that thread.

My short answer is … no, they are not just stories.

But the complete answer is not that simple. I will attempt to explain by way of an example.

I enlisted in the U.S. Army in July of 1979. The Vietnam War ended in April of 1975. So I missed it by several years, and I count that as a good thing. But I was old enough to later have several really close friends who were Vietnam veterans. And several of my Drill Instructors in Basic and AIT were Vietnam vets. I also served with a good number of Vietnam veterans during my four years of service. And frankly, I was aghast at how these veterans were treated when they came home from doing what their country sent them to do. These veterans were not “for” or “against” the war in Vietnam. A distinction like that only works for civilians and politicians. These soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors were just doing their job. I quickly became fascinated with the Vietnam War.

A war the soldiers won, and the politicians lost!

As I mention in the prologue to Montagnard, the truth is that the U.S. military defeated the North Vietnamese Army. The Tet Offensive was their last gasp. Later interviews with high ranking NVA officers revealed that they were stunned when the United States pulled out. The U.S. had won the war, but somehow the country didn’t know it. The American media had been feeding the American people a very different story, and far too many bought into it. Public support had dwindled. The American military won the war, but the media and politicians gave the victory away.

Sounds eerily familiar to me …

The Fake News is nothing new

Now there’s a controversial statement for you. But it is a fact. The Vietnam War is the first war where “journalists” were embedded with the troops. Some of them did a great job and honestly reported the facts. But, there were some with an agenda.

We all remember the village of My Lai and Lt. William Calley. The My Lai Massacre was pounded into our heads by the media. And I am certainly not defending that action. However, U.S. soldiers were not prepared for the kind of war we fought in Vietnam, and neither were the American people. This was a war where the smiling young lady selling you an RC and a Moon Pie that day would be trying to slit your throat while you slept that night.

The fact is that mini “My Lai massacres” occurred nearly every day in Vietnam, and atrocities were, sadly, committed by both sides. However, the vast majority of U.S. military personnel served honorably and professionally in a war that they were totally unprepared for and was unlike any war we had ever fought before.

The North Vietnamese Army and their allies, the Viet Cong, subjected the South Vietnamese and Montagnard peoples, and any U.S. service member they got their hands on, to savage brutality that makes the My Lai Massacre pale in comparison. But you would never know that from listening to the news media. I mean, after all, we had Jane Fonda over there being photographed with an NVA anti-aircraft battery and giving a secret message pressed into her hand by an American POW at the Hanoi Hilton to the prison’s commandant!

So what does that have to do with my books?

As I mentioned before, I had several good friends who were Vietnam veterans. I don’t know if it was my personality, my role as a martial arts instructor, or what, but people have always opened up to me. I guess I am just a good listener. Over the years, I learned about some of the things my friends experienced in Vietnam and how they felt about it afterward. And I saw, first hand, how much the betrayal by their own country when they returned home, hurt them.

So, when I read or hear a comment about Serpents Underfoot, by a Vietnam veteran saying something like, “It was so nice to read something that actually portrayed the brutally of the Viet Cong for a change, instead of simply hating on U.S. soldiers,” I feel really good about that.

I don’t feel like I embellish the violence or that it is gratuitous. But, on the other hand, I do not shy away from presenting violence in its “naked” state. I guess you could say I am not very politically correct. If so, I wear that proudly.

Real stories from real people …

One Vietnam veteran in particular, became a really close friend and fellow martial artist. He died a few years ago, succumbing to health issues stemming from several tours in Vietnam. I still stay in contact with his daughter and her family.

Scenes in both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard are based on stories he told me of his time in Vietnam, where he served as a medic on Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRP) along the borders with Laos and Cambodia. Another of his stories will be a basis for part of the next installment in the JD Cordell Action Series I am calling Reciprocity.

While I am sure the stories have truth at their core, I do allow for a little literary license on his part to make the stories more entertaining for the telling.

But this is just a piece of my story’s puzzles …

I will share more in a couple of upcoming posts. In the meantime, if you love reading a great action-adventure story, check out Serpents Underfoot, or its award-winning sequel, Montagnard.

Oh yeah!

In celebration of Labor Day, the Kindle version of Montagnard will be on sale for only .99, so if you are interested in reading it, it would be a great time to buy it! And, should you enjoy the book, please take a moment to leave an honest review on Amazon.

Thank in advance!

Kirkus Strikes Again!

A tightly focused and exciting second installment of a thriller series

– Kirkus

I am seriously on a roll here, and it almost has me worried … LOL … when is the Sword of Damocles going to fall?

But, Montagnard just received a fantastic review from Kirkus Reviews, and I am feeling quite blessed. Both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard have received fabulous reviews from Kirkus … the mother of all book reviews!

Kirkus does have a reputation for being brutally honest, and just to verify this for my self, I perused a few other reviews on their site and saw the evidence of that. I guess I must be doing something right.

Here is a snippet from the review:

Like the series’ first installment, Gilbert’s enjoyable sequel offers some rousing subplots …

But this novel concentrates on fewer characters, such as the returning players Curtis, Mai, and Ajax.

JD’s story also evolves as the well-established hero suffers more than one loss.

Kirkus Reviews

If you are interested, you can click here to read the entire review.

On a slightly different note …

I would like to “second” a message a fellow author … the author of Leora’s Letters, Joy Neal Kidney, posted on Instagram a short time ago. Reviews are crucial to authors trying to establish themselves and build a reader base. And, by the way, Leora’s Letters is a terrific read! You will want to check it out. I highly recommend it.

Twenty reviews will help get the ball rolling. Another milestone is the 50 to 70 review mark. And, even if you did not purchase a book from Amazon, you can still review it there as long as you have an Amazon account.

Here is Joy’s Instagram post … I don’t think she’ll mind if I share it here.

I would appreciate it as well!

And, if you do love a good action-adventure story, check out the novel, Montagnard, by award-winning author, D.C. Gilbert; and don’t forget to take a minute to leave an honest review!

Simple! Just sign up for my newsletter …

I mean, how many award-winning authors do you get a monthly email from?

Well, if you are a fanatical reader, I guess it could be several. But, you could still give my newsletter a try. I promise to do my best to keep it concise and interesting, with updates on current writing projects, book reviews, and upcoming events. And, I promise not to spam you!

My newsletter comes out on the 25th of each month. One email … and you can unsubscribe at any time. Of course, I will try to keep it interesting enough so that you will not want to.

There might also be an occasion email announcing a special event or offer, but I will keep those to a minimum. Like you, I hate getting spammed.

And … it is so easy!

Just click here to go to my newsletter sign-up form. You will recieve a thank you email with a link to download the EPUB version of Adirondack Bear Tales.

An EPUB file can be read on a PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Nook, Nook Color, Nook Tablet, Sony Reader, and many other devices.

And, should you ever decide to unsubscribe, just click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any newsletter email, and you will not get it again. But you will still have my gratitude for giving it a try … and still you get to keep the free ebook!

It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Author Interview

D.C. Gilbert Author Interview

Thanks to Thomas Anderson over at Literary Titan for the great author interview. It is such an honor to be featured in an interview by this prestigious literary organization.

An excerpt:

To Regain A Purpose

Montagnard follows an ex-Navy Seal into the seedy underbelly of Ho Chi Minh City to rescue his mother. What was the inspiration for the setup of this exciting novel?

From my standpoint, going back to find her lost Montagnard brother is simply something that a strong woman like Mai Cordell would feel she had to do. First, she would feel she owed her adopted brother a considerable debt. And second, after losing her husband to cancer, she would be looking to regain a purpose in her life. Anytime you have an internal struggle in a country such as the war in Vietnam, there are bound to be unsettled scores and hatreds. Look at our own Civil War in the US. If her Montagnard brother were the fierce warrior and ally to the American Special Forces serving in Vietnam described in the first book in the series, an old feud such as the one in this story would likely exist. Then, what kind of Navy SEAL, retired or not, would not attempt to rescue his mother in such a situation, where diplomatic channels would be all but useless.

JD Cordell is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Okay, so I have to admit that JD is a composite character made up of some of the character traits I have that I am proud of, and some of the character traits I admire in others and wish I possessed. While not a Navy SEAL, I am a combat arms US Army veteran and served with the 101st Air Assault Division. I have 35 plus years of martial arts training and graduated from the top private bodyguard school in the US. I have good friends who were Vietnam Veterans, and I have met a few former Navy SEALs. This background gave me a broad framework from which to develop the character of JD Cordell. I mostly pulled the best from all of these resources to mold the kind of man I wanted my main character to be.

You can read the rest of the interview by clicking here!

Please will take a few minutes and check out some of my other interesting blog posts by clicking here!

And take a look at my new award-winning novel, Montagnard, on Amazon.com! It’s getting great reviews!

Kirkus Review: Serpents Underfoot

In for a penny …

My original plan, at the suggestion of my editor, was to submit Montagnard to Kirkus Reviews; which I did. A few days later, I got an email from Katerina at Kirkus, suggesting that, since Montagnard was a sequel, I should let them also review Serpents Underfoot so they would have a better picture of the story as well as me as an author.

While it made sense, anyone who has looked into Kirkus knows that 1) they are brutally honest, and 2) they are expensive. That is because they are the gold standard for book reviews and a good review from Kirkus can open doors and reach a large number of influencers like publishers, agents, foreign publishers, film executives, librarians, and booksellers.

I was hesitant because, while I know Serpents Underfoot is a pretty darn good read (its gotten lots of good reviews), it was also self-edited, and I was sure I would get raked over the coals. It seems, though, that this was not to be the case! Anyway, to make a long story short, I ponied up to have Serpents Underfoot reviewed as well. That was on June 16th. I received the “review completed” notification email today!

Here are a few excerpts …

Resonant characters propel this consistently gripping terrorist tale.

In this debut thriller, a Navy SEAL tries to uncover a terrorist plot.

… Gilbert’s action-oriented tale is dense with characters and personal histories … myriad subplots and backstories are often enthralling.

… All of the story characters are well developed, producing genuine shocks when certain individuals die. The author writes in an unadorned
prose that keeps the plot moving at a steady beat.

… the finale is … exhilarating.

Kirkus

Combine this with the Literary Titan August 2020 Gold Book Award notification on August 3rd, and my feet may not touch the ground for the rest of the week!

Anyone who would like to, can read the full Kirkus review by clicking here!

Serpents Underfoot can be found at Amazon.com

Please will take a few minutes and check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here!

And if you have read Serpents Underfoot, check out its sequel, Montagnard, on Amazon.com! It’s even better!

Literary Titan: Montagnard

It must be shameless self-promotion week!

However, I can’t help it. My editor suggested I send Montagnard to Literary Titan, which while not yet as big as Kirkus, is fast becoming a leader in literary reviews and awards. So … I did.

And 45 days later, this was the result …

Here are a few highlights:

Montagnard has all the elements I look for in a good action-adventure story.

… This is where the novel really shines. JD Cordell is electrifying … I really enjoyed the depth of JD’s character.

The action in this novel is relentless and well detailed.

Literary Titan

If you would like to read the entire review, you can click here!


And I promise, my next post will not be a Montagnard promotion!

I hope you will take some time to check out some of my other “non-promotional” blog posts by clicking here! But, if you do enjoy reading a great action-adventure story, please consider checking out my new novel, Montagnard, on Amazon.com! It’s getting really great reviews.