Nate Fick’s story is especially close to my heart. Like my son, Zach, Nate was a Marine officer. He served in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Talking to Nate, I could sense the enormous toll war takes on the minds and souls of the courageous young men and women who serve our country in the military. The lucky ones, like Nate and Zach, have found ways to reconcile conflicting feelings about their wartime experiences. Nate wrote a wonderful book, One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer. My son chose to produce, write, and direct a film, The Western Front.
After graduating from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Nate became CEO at the Center for a New American Security(CNAS), an independent, nonpartisan research institution established in 2007. As CEO, Nate leads others as they delve into the nation’s most significant military issues and problems, helping to shape the national security policies that affect not only our troops but each and every one of us every day.
The heart of the Nate Fick story, however, isn’t about policies or white papers; it is about integrity, courage, compassion, and a profound decency. Rudy Reyes wrote this about his commanding officer when he reviewed One Bullet Away: “A Recon Marine always gives more than he takes. With this said, I respectfully thank and honor Capt. Fick for his private and revealing book about idealism, loss of innocence, and the Mask of Command. Do leaders regret, do they feel, do they disagree? Yes, the legit ones do. One Bullet Away reveals Fick’s secret heart and the violence it bears and also the man’s truth and compassion gained by combat.”
This is a story of a young American who, through the inferno of war, was forged into a leader for the twenty-first century.
As Nate said, “We have a duty to take what we saw and what we learned and try to make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again. To preserve what was good—a sense of purpose, unity, and justice: Make that the hallmark of whatever we do. It’s a sacred obligation.”