The Chosen Few

A Company of Paratroopers and Its Heroic Struggle to Survive in the Mountains of Afghanistan


By Gregg Zoroya

Foreword by Admiral William H. McRaven

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The never-before-told story of one of the most decorated units in the war in Afghanistan and its fifteen-month ordeal that culminated in the 2008 Battle of Wanat, the war’s deadliest

A single company of US paratroopers–calling themselves the “Chosen Few”–arrived in eastern Afghanistan in late 2007 hoping to win the hearts and minds of the remote mountain people and extend the Afghan government’s reach into this wilderness. Instead, they spent the next fifteen months in a desperate struggle, living under almost continuous attack, forced into a slow and grinding withdrawal, and always outnumbered by Taliban fighters descending on them from all sides.

Month after month, rocket-propelled grenades, rockets, and machine-gun fire poured down on the isolated and exposed paratroopers as America’s focus and military resources shifted to Iraq. Just weeks before the paratroopers were to go home, they faced their last–and toughest–fight. Near the village of Wanat in Nuristan province, an estimated three hundred enemy fighters surrounded about fifty of the Chosen Few and others defending a partially finished combat base. Nine died and more than two dozen were wounded that day in July 2008, making it arguably the bloodiest battle of the war in Afghanistan.

The Chosen Few would return home tempered by war. Two among them would receive the Medal of Honor. All of them would be forever changed.




There's a definite pucker factor when the door opens on a C130 jump plane at 1,250 feet. The sudden roar of the outside airstream has a way of instantly focusing the mind, sending tremors through the nervous system right down to the balls of the feet. The amygdala of every young paratrooper-in-training is lighting up with the same neon-blinking message: your destiny is a raging void of air and sky. Just outside the open doorway of the airplane that is bucking up and down in the turbulence is a small ledge bordered with a white stripe marking the last footfall before thin air.

Paratroopers never forget the first jump.

Jeddah Deloria, who used to catch rattlesnakes for fun while growing up in Rancho Cucamonga, California, had a palpable case of the jitters when he stepped onto that ledge. Like so many who would become part of the Chosen Few, he hated heights yet was compelled to push the limits of that fear by volunteering for the US Army Airborne. When the moment finally came and the Philippine-born Deloria stood second in line approaching the door, the patchwork pattern of the earth below looked almost artificial. And when he jumped, it wasn't at all the way he thought it would be. The warm, loud airstream sucked him up and away so that a fraction of a second later he was floating under a canopy in utterly peaceful silence. That stutter step of terror followed by absolute serenity was thrilling.

Only a three-week course at Fort Benning, Georgia, separated earth-bound soldiers—"dirty legs," paratroopers called them—from the ones in the sky. The Fort Benning "black hats," trainers who cruised the instruction lanes in their black T-shirts and baseball caps to turn service members into paratroopers, cranked out fourteen thousand of them a year. Fort Benning had been making paratroopers since 1940.

The Chosen Few trickled through airborne school at different times, depending on when each entered the Army. In a few cases they went through side by side. The hulking wrestling champion, Pruitt Rainey of Haw River, North Carolina, wound up rooming with beefy Iowa-native Jonathan Albert, and they became lifelong friends, both destined for Chosen.

It was literally a ground-up training program. The first week was devoted to parachute orientation—what it looks like, how it fits, the way it's worn. Jumping during that first week was limited to stepping off a two-foot-high platform and practicing how to hit the ground. They learned the up-36-out-36 drill, jumping up three feet and out three feet to acquire some distance and separation once they squirted out of the metal monster that would be traveling well over one hundred miles per hour.

During the second week trainees entered an area of Fort Benning that looked like something out of a Universal Studios theme park where there were 12-foot stands with swing harnesses and 34-foot platforms with zip lines attached—all to recreate the feel of descending under a canopy at 16 feet per second—and there were soaring 250-foot towers dominating the skyline. From these a soldier dangling from a parachute was lifted high into the air and dropped. A definite white-knuckler. The point was to teach the trainee how to control the parachute's descent by tugging down on risers—the straps connecting him to the canopy—in the face of a wind.

Then in the third week they did it all for real. Each had to successfully complete five parachute jumps to pass the course.

When Jon Albert, who enlisted at age twenty after getting a cold call from an Army recruiter, woke up in the barracks on the morning of his first jump, the reality of what he was about to do hit him in the face like a bucket of cold water.

What the hell did I get myself into? I'm deathly afraid of heights…

His stomach churned as he waited with the other trainees on wooden benches inside a warehouse-size staging area, each of them trussed up tightly into a harness with a parachute on their backs and a reserve chute tucked against their bellies. They sat staring at a plaque tacked up on the wall for inspiration. It was shaped like the jump wings they would earn if they graduated. Then came the single-file hike onto the aircraft, and soon they were airborne and ten minutes from the drop zone. Heart rates quickened, and they stood up in unison, hooking up their static lines and checking the harness, helmet, and straps of the soldier in front of them, sounding off if everything was okay. Then the door was opened.

Any refusal to proceed at this point meant automatically failing the course, something that only happened about once every six months.

When Jacob Sones, an eighteen-year-old Texan, was walking out to the plane for his first jump, a trainer nearby trying to put the fear of God in him yelled out, "Shit, Airborne, there's something wrong with your parachute!" Sones fired right back, "Fuck it, Sergeant Airborne. I've got a reserve." The trainer laughed, but Sones couldn't help but keep asking anyone standing nearby if his parachute looked okay.

Planes always made the same approach to the drop zone during training. Flying over the Chattahoochee River, they were one minute out. Over a paved road, they were thirty seconds away. And then there would be the green light, a tap on the rump by a jump master, and blue sky.

For Alaska-raised Kyle Silvernale, who would later become a Chosen Company squad leader, the shock of the airstream sucking him away in the midst of his up-36-out-36 felt like divine retribution.

Like getting smacked out of the sky by God. That's the only way I could describe it.

Jason Baldwin, who turned eighteen one week before basic training, closed his eyes during that first jump—exactly what they tell you not to do.

Oh my God, I'm going to die.

It was straight out of the paratrooper joke guide, the one that says everybody does a night jump the first time because they always do it with their eyes closed. Every one of them found the experience when the chute popped open and they floated soundlessly down to earth exhilarating.

When Mike Denton, the Florida son of a paramedic, first launched himself out of an airplane, his chute popped opened and he was terrified to find that his risers were twisted above his head. He somehow managed to follow protocol and start bicycling his legs like crazy to spin himself out of it.

Scarier than hell.

New Jersey native Chris McKaig, son of a mail carrier, thought his heart was pounding its way out of his chest when they opened the aircraft door and he could hear the rush of air. When they all rose to their feet to hook up static lines, his legs were shaking. And when he jumped, McKaig actually skimmed the side of the aircraft. He wasn't hurt, but when the chute popped open, there was so much adrenalin coursing through his veins, McKaig couldn't help but yell, "THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME!" so loud that the black hats could hear him down on the ground.

"Shut up, Airborne!" one of the hats hollered into the sky through a bullhorn. "Quit screaming up there!"

When McKaig touched down, he desperately needed to relieve himself and did so soon afterward, the birth of a ritual. From then on he would christen every drop zone.

It was only about sixty seconds from chute-opening to ground, and trainees quickly found that not everyone was created equal when it came to falling out of the sky. Truly, the bigger they were, the harder they fell. Mike Denton, at six-feet-one, 190 pounds, dropped like a rock.

Almost like a B-movie script for a vintage war film, the troopers who would fill the ranks of Chosen Company hailed from literally every corner of the country. Jason Bogar, the son of a Baptist minister, was raised in Seattle, Washington; Sergio Abad, whose mother abused heroin, grew up in Miami. Jonathan Ayers was from Georgia and vacationed with his family on the Atlantic at Hilton Head, South Carolina; and Matt Ferrara from Southern California and Jonathan Brostrom from Hawaii were Pacific surfers.

For twenty-nine-year-old Chuck Bell, a country-born child of the Ozarks, the first airplane he ever flew on in his life was the commercial flight the Army paid for to take him to boot camp in Georgia. The second airplane he ever rode on he jumped out of.

Every one of them had volunteered, their portal into the military usually a local recruiting office tucked into a strip mall with other competing office space taken up by the Marines, Air Force, or Navy. Often what sealed the deal were the videos a recruitment officer would slip into a VCR—"Here, son, take a look at this"—of soldiers jumping out of airplanes or crawling through mud, looking aggressive and heroic.

It was surprising how many of them signed up after simply driving past a recruiting station and pulling into the parking lot on a whim just to see what the military was all about. That's exactly what Justin Kalenits did. Living on the outskirts of Cleveland at twenty-one, he wound up joining the Army almost as an afterthought. Life after high school had turned aimless, and the idea of a sudden and dramatic shift into the Army had strong appeal.

I need to get out of here. My life isn't going anywhere. I'm kind of a punk. I need discipline.

He was twenty-two when he joined Chosen Company. At five-feet-six and 140 pounds, he wound up being one of Chosen's smallest, even while carrying one of its biggest guns, the squad automatic weapon (SAW). His big, loopy grin and ears that stuck out like jug handles gave him an impish look, like he was always up to mischief.

Tyler Stafford was working as a waiter and bartender at a Champps Sports Bar in Denver in 2005 when he got drunk one night at his buddy's birthday party and the two suddenly made a pact to join the Army "before we miss the war." Stafford was the youngest of three children to middle-income-earning parents living in suburban Parker, Colorado. He'd lettered in basketball, football, baseball, and track at Ponderosa High School, and his dream was to fly aircraft. But he blew out his knee playing pick-up basketball shortly before starting basic training for a Marine ROTC flight program, and after that his life lost some direction. The Army offered a course correction. He enlisted at twenty-one.

For many of the Chosen Few, signing up was a chance to exorcise, once and for all, that feeling that they had become perennial disappointments to their parents.

"I know very well that I haven't turned out to be the man you might have wanted me to be," Joseph Lancour wrote to his mother, explaining his decision to quit his job at a Burger King and join the Army. He penned the letter from boot camp in Fort Benning in early 2006. "I always allowed myself to accept second place. But that's not going to be good enough anymore. I'm not going to settle for first loser anymore.… I won't let you down."

Joe was the only son of Rob and Starla Lancour, a native of Michigan who grew up near Lake Michigan. His parents divorced when he was five, and Joe spent a childhood shifting back and forth between households during the week.

Joe was five-feet-nine with a narrow build, olive-colored skin, and dark brown eyes. It was after graduating from high school and living in Flint, Michigan, working the grill at a Burger King, that Joe felt the need to turn things around by enlisting in the Army. His father was stunned by the transformation after Joe graduated from boot camp. He seemed confident and mature, and loved the structure, discipline, and camaraderie of the Army. After finishing paratrooper training, Joe Lancour was sent to the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

During the fall and winter of 2006 and the spring of 2007 Chosen prepared for war in eastern Afghanistan with a stew of seasoned combat veterans and brand-new recruits. The roughly 150-man company was, like much of the Army infantry, predominantly young and white. The largest minority was Latino, a little more than 10 percent. There were about ten African Americans; two members of Chosen were born in the Philippines; one was half-Thai, half African American; and one was a full-blooded Native American.

No one stayed with Chosen Company forever. The new company commander in 2006, West Point graduate Matthew Myer, could be expected to remain in charge for the one combat rotation of 2007–2008 before moving on to another assignment and a likely promotion to major. Chosen Company platoon lieutenants like Matthew Ferrara and Devon George could very easily follow the same pattern. Senior enlisted officers like Company First Sergeant Scott Beeson or Platoon Sergeant Matt Kahler and Shane Stockard were probably "lifers" for whom the Army would be a career, but even they would be expected to rotate out of Chosen.

Further down the ranks squad leaders like Staff Sergeant David Dzwik from Michigan or six-feet-three Kyle Silvernale might be just as likely to make the Army a career as go back to civilian life. That was even more true for sergeants who led teams within the squads—because they had even less time in the Army and might be more uncertain about their futures.

But most of the GIs who made up the Chosen Few were young men barely out of their teens. For them the Army was just one doorway on a life path still in search of a destination. Most of them joined for reasons that had nothing to do with a career.

Ryan Pitts just kind of drifted into it. It was early 2003, the nation was at war, Iraq was about to be invaded. Serving his country would be a good thing, Pitts thought, though he was certain all the real fighting would be over by the time he got into uniform.

He was only seventeen, and Pitts's mother had to approve, and he knew she would never agree to him joining the infantry. The Army recruiter had an idea. He suggested Pitts ask his parents to let him become a forward observer who calls in artillery and air support.

Hey, it wasn't infantry.

She agreed to sign.

Mike Denton was resolved to serve just as his grandfather and older brother had served before him. These were the wars of his generation, Denton believed, and it was time to step up.

Others, like Chris McKaig, were lured for the reasons a lot of young boys become enthralled with the military, playing at it for hours in the hills and forests of their childhoods and developing a growing fascination with guns and shooting.

Still more were like Jon Albert, who found himself living at home in Cedar Rapids after graduating from high school with no plans for his future as his dad, Dave, prodded him about where he saw his life heading. Jon was ripe for some direction when that cold call came from an intrepid Army recruiter. A video of soldiers in action against a hard-charging musical score did the trick.

A large number of the Chosen Few came from broken homes and arrived in the Army without a father figure or at least none who had been around full-time. Some were like lost boys searching without realizing it for a surrogate family after a childhood of abuse or neglect.

Jacob Sones was one of them. He was born in Waco, Texas, and had one sibling, a younger brother who died in infancy. The tragedy strained the marriage of Phillip and Teri Sones. The couple divorced when Jacob was just a young boy, and he went to live with his mother.

Teri was a free-spirited woman, a new-age parent who taught her son to question authority and encouraged him to read contemporary literature. His father was the opposite—practical and clear-eyed, believing that only sacrifice and hard work led to success. When his mom remarried and moved to Connecticut, Jacob shuttled back and forth between there and Texas. He dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and did a poor job of trying to make it on his own. He was drifting. At his father's urging, Jacob joined the Army after obtaining his high school degree equivalency certificate and chose Airborne. He was eighteen.

After Fort Benning, troopers in Chosen Company were sent to Italy for additional training before their deployment.

When he reached Camp Ederle near Vicenza, Italy, in mid-2006, for the first time in his life Sones felt really safe—like he had finally caught up on a pathway that had meaning and he was no longer a screw-up. It was an achievement and he could be proud. And Sones loved Italy, in no small part because the Italian drinking age was eighteen. This fed his reckless streak and before long, Sones earned a reputation for acquiring more punishments for misbehavior—Article 15s—than any other soldier in Chosen Company: missing formation, showing up drunk in formation, having military police escort him back to the base. It usually meant a loss of rank and pay as well as extra duty. By the time they later deployed to Afghanistan, Sones was still a private first class. His profligacy lead to one of the more famous bits of Chosen Company lore when he passed out on the grounds of Camp Ederle after a night of drinking. He could feel someone prodding him with a boot and instinctively rolled over and reacted.

"Fuck you."

It was Lieutenant Colonel William Brian Ostlund. And it was another Article 15.

The officer standing over Sones would lead him and the 2nd Battalion into combat in May of 2007. Ostlund had taken command of 2/503 (2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment) the previous June at the age of forty. He was a focused, fiercely driven officer as comfortable—when at war—at raining fire and death down on the enemy as he was laboring to strike an accord with recalcitrant tribesmen over cups of sweet tea. He was also a child of divorce, born in Park Rapids and raised in Detroit Lakes, a vacation area about fifty miles due east of Fargo, North Dakota. As someone of Native American descent, he was fascinated with the local Indian community; he built friendships there and fought beside them with his fists when white boys threw insults. His was a childhood spent outdoors camping and playing hockey; he earned his spending money recovering golf balls and cleaning fish for vacationers. The family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, when Ostlund was fourteen, and by then he was determined to become a Marine infantryman. When a hapless Marine recruiter put him off, the Army won him on the rebound, and by age eighteen, Ostlund had earned a spot with the prestigious First Ranger Battalion, turning nineteen in the Army's arduous Ranger course. He served more than four years before shifting into the Nebraska National Guard and attending ROTC at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to become an officer.

Ostlund was a platoon leader in the 101st Airborne when he deployed to Desert Storm in 1990. The battalion he was part of was eventually commanded by then-Lieutenant Colonel David Petraeus. It was during a live-fire exercise with Ostlund's platoon in 1991 that a soldier tripped and fell and accidentally shot Petraeus through the chest with an M16. Then Brigadier General Jack Keane, the deputy commanding general of the division, was standing next to Petraeus when he went down. When Ostlund ran up, Keane said, "Hey, Lieutenant, your battalion commander has been shot. Treat him, medevac him, and get this range opened back up. Great live-fire."

Ostlund had to cut off Petraeus's gear and called over some infantrymen who had upper-level medical training to give aid, with Petraeus muttering all the while, "This is great fucking training."

In the intervening fifteen years before Ostlund was named commander of the 2nd Battalion, he earned a master's degree and taught American political and international security studies at West Point. He served a tour in Iraq after 9/11 as an operations officer for the 173rd Airborne Division.

He saw the 2nd Battalion as a jewel of a unit to lead and was thrilled when he was finally named commander.

The US Army is built on tradition, carefully enshrining what happened in the past for the purpose of enabling and inspiring what happens in the future.

Units of any size can boast a nickname freighted with symbolism: the "All Americans" for the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division, or 1st Infantry Division as the "Big Red One." The 101st Division "Screaming Eagles" are composed of brigades with such nicknames as "Bastogne" in honor of that unit's heroism during World War II or the "Rakassans," the word the Japanese used in wartime dispatches to describe the unit as it fought in the Pacific Theater—it roughly translates to "falling down umbrella man."

When freshly minted paratroopers arrived in Italy, they found themselves part of a fighting group with its own fabled past. The 173rd Airborne Brigade activated in 1963 took as its nickname the words Nationalist Chinese paratroopers used to describe the unit: tien bien, or "Sky Soldiers." The brigade was assembled from battalions such as the 2/503, which had its own proud history as one of America's original parachute infantry units formed in 1941 when that war-fighting concept was still in its infancy. The next year the battalion conducted the first combat parachute jump in US military history into Algeria. In 1943 the paratroopers made the first US combat jump in the Pacific theater of war, dropping into New Guinea. They later fought in the Philippines, earning their moniker, "The Rock," by recapturing the Philippine fortress island of Corregidor that carried the same name.

The Rock was where US soldiers in 1942 had held out against a Japanese siege for nearly five months after Pearl Harbor. The 2/503 parachuted onto the two-square-mile island on February 16, 1945, and spearheaded taking it back. The victory earned the battalion a Presidential Unit Citation, the equivalent of awarding each soldier in the unit a Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest award for valor.

Twenty years later the unit was part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which became the first Army combat unit committed to the war in Vietnam. The paratroopers fought in some of the bloodiest battles of that conflict and conducted the only major combat parachute jump. The battalion earned a second Presidential Unit Citation for the Battle of Dak To and the assault on Hill 875 in November of 1967. The 173rd Airborne Brigade was deactivated after Vietnam and then reactivated in 2000.

A third Presidential Unit Citation would be waiting for a new generation of Rock paratroopers in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Rock Battalion contained six companies: Able, Battle, Chosen, Destined, Fusion, and, lastly, Black Sheep, the headquarters unit.

Chosen paratroopers came up with their own mascot, the Punisher, from a Marvel comic character first created in the 1970s and whose trademark was a skull. The comic-book Punisher was a former Marine turned vigilante who, unlike other superheroes who refrained from taking lives, was not afraid to kill his enemies. The skull emblem found its way onto uniforms and gear, and a five-feet-high plywood version would be posted to the company headquarters building in Afghanistan.

The Chosen Company that prepared for war in Italy had a mixture of experienced soldiers and rookies; many were veterans who had deployed with Chosen to Afghanistan in 2005–2006, including a small number who had been with the unit since its first combat tour to Iraq in 2003. But the majority who went to war during the fateful combat tour of 2007–2008 arrived as new recruits in 2006. And then there were a few who joined Chosen in Afghanistan as necessary replacements as that violent combat tour unfolded.

Pruitt Rainey and Jon Albert had gone through basic training together at Fort Benning. They were roommates during airborne school, and both got tapped to go to Italy and join the 173rd. They had become fast friends, and when they stood together in a formation of new recruits on a parking lot at the Army Garrison in Vicenza and an officer began to arbitrarily assign each soldier to one of the two battalions, Albert took matters into his own hands.

Rainey got picked for the Rock Battalion and Albert for its sister unit, 1st Battalion. So as the crowd of recruits began to split up to form two lines, Albert just eased over to the Rock line and nobody seemed to notice. He got to stay with Rainey and they wound up in Chosen Company together. It was a small violation of the rules, but it profoundly changed the arc of Albert's life.

Young paratroopers fresh out of airborne school like Kyle White, Tyler Hanson, and Scott Derry were utterly intimidated by the veteran members of Chosen Company after arriving in Vicenza in 2006. Chosen Company had just returned from twelve months of combat in Afghanistan, and the recruits had been nowhere near a battlefield yet. They were in awe of platoon sergeants like Shane Stockard and Matt Kahler, who had already been to war twice—the first time jumping into Iraq and the second time fighting in Afghanistan. And the company sergeant, Scott Beeson, seemed almost larger than life.

The rangy, six-feet-three first sergeant actually had two stars on his jump wings, almost unheard of among conventional forces. He had parachuted with the 82nd Airborne into Panama in 1989, and he had jumped into Iraq with the Rock Battalion in 2003.

A native of Indiana who grew up in the small town of Greenfield about twenty miles east of Indianapolis, Beeson was the second of four children. He had barely finished airborne school when he jumped into Panama and then did an uneventful combat tour during the Persian Gulf War. He left the Army and for a time worked on a factory assembly line making fenders and hoods for Ford while serving in the Indiana National Guard. In 1994 he went back to the regular Army and became one of the original Chosen Few when the company was activated in 2001. By the time he parachuted into Iraq, he had forged this reputation as the apotheosis of a combat warrior. The new recruits idolized him, even though the reputation surprised Beeson himself.

Everybody thinks I'm this super-crazy war monger.

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  • "Historians and journalist have penned many books about what Tom Brokaw dubbed 'the greatest generation' those men who came from simple lives to the battlefields of World War II and left a sense that those kinds of men no longer walk among us. Zoroya makes the case that that assumption is entirely incorrect, that we indeed have a new generation of heroic men who fight to overcome the overwhelming odds that are thrown against them."—My Big Honkin Blog
  • "A searing account of war in Afghanistan...A remarkable story, whose telling raises myriad questions without resorting to polemics. It is unlikely that those who read it will ever utter the phrase, 'Thank you for your service,' quite the same way again...A gripping, exhaustively reported account of modern warfare...[Zoroya] cuts through the fog of war...Zoroya delivers the adrenaline of combat right to the reader's easy chair. His prose is direct and clear, and never upstages the action. He also brings the warriors to life, chronicling their trials and triumphs."—USA Today
  • "The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now producing their own volumes, and this is one of the better ones...Well-researched...The book does an excellent job of telling the entire story of the action...As one of the most highly decorated units in Army history, these men, many of them from broken families and rough backgrounds, are worthy successors to Band of Brothers from previous generations of American fighting men." —New York Journal of Books
  • "Riveting and heart-rending...Highly recommended for both personal and public library collections."—Midwest Book Review
  • "The gripping, often heartbreaking story of Chosen Company's time in the Waygal Valley...In a style reminiscent of Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers, Zoroya takes readers beyond the blood and sweat of close combat and into the hearts and minds of the soldiers themselves. The result is an intensely personal and heart-wrenching tale of courage, love, and loss...a vivid portrait of America's war in Afghanistan...brutally honest in the telling, in a way that will affect readers deeply...The Chosen Few is an exceptional revealing as it is enthralling. For military readers, The Chosen Few is a 'must read'; few books are as insightful, especially with respect to the character, courage, and commitment of those fighting for the future of Afghanistan. For readers with preconceived notions of what it means to engage in the 'forever war,' this book is a necessary addition to the bookshelf."—Military Review
  • "A vivid military story [that] needed telling."—Midwest Book Review
  • "[Zoroya] has given life to Chosen Company's story. His book...offers a personal look at what the Army soldiers endured in Afghanistan's remote Waigal Valley."

    West Central Tribune
  • "Reveal[s] much about the chaos of close combat and the brotherhood of men under fire."
    Military Officer
  • "Thoroughly researched...As the war in Afghanistan enters its 17th year, The Chosen Few is an admirable reminder of the brutality at the front."—Military Periscope
  • "Zoroya, like so many great authors in the past, perfectly describes the fighting spirit of America's warriors...Zoroya pulls the reader in...The combat descriptions, as told to Zoroya by the men who experienced it, are gripping...Zoroya's writing is magnificent and powerful...A refreshing change from some of the books on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that Zoroya is not all rah rah U.S.A. He subtly points out the mistakes and deficiencies of American commanders...A gripping and enduring tribute to the men of the 'Chosen Few.'"—Collected Miscellany

On Sale
Feb 14, 2017
Page Count
400 pages
Da Capo Press

Gregg Zoroya

About the Author

Gregg Zoroya is an award-winning journalist at USA Today, where he has written about the impact of war on troops and issues related to the care of veterans. He has traveled nearly twenty times into war zones in the Middle East and South Asia and recently joined the editorial board for USA Today. Zoroya lives near Washington, DC.

Learn more about this author