tv Dan Schilling Alone at Dawn CSPAN August 11, 2019 4:00pm-4:47pm EDT
and prose and welcome to p & p at the wharf. thank you very much for coming and for braving this evening of storm warnings and wind and rain. these evening are getting to be too frequent here in washington, dc. last august, john chapman, an air force combat controller, was posthumously awarded the medal of honor for his heroic actions atop a snow-capped mountain in afghanistan in early 2002. a few months of u.s. forces began fighting na the done. champman was the first airman to receive the medal of honor since the vietnam war. he had been attached to a navy seal team, assigned to establish a mountaintop observation post in connection with the major u.s. sweep against al qaeda and taliban forces forces and the vn
eastern afghanistan. approaching the site, the helicopter carrying the special operations unit, came under heavy fire, and one of the team members were thrown from the aircraft. returning to try to rescue their team meat, chapman and the seals batted al qaeda fighters, dug into the mountaintop. the seals, some of whom were seriously wind, were drew under intense fire and thinking chapman had been killed early in the battle. in fact, he hadn't been. and he continued to fight desperately trying to protect the lives of a rescue force of rangers who landed on the ridgetop not long after and also ran interest a similar ambush, tragically suffering additional casualties. took the u.s. military years to sort out all that happened that issue fated day. even though a predator drone
flying above the mountain captured the battle on video. it was grainy but government officials using advanced technology conducted a closer frame-by-frame analysis of chapmans own actions leading to the decision to award chapman the medal of honor on top of the air force crosby stowed. out in champ happy's heroism was recounted in full in a book called "alone at dawn," book that chapman's sister laurie co oed the dan chap happy. dan retired in to 16 as 30 years of military service, planning to spend this time skiing and climbing mountains, but then laurie approached him with the idea for the book, and he ended up agreeing to help write, not
only chapman's story but the broader story of combat control teams, an elite force little known by the general public. has had newman count bat and clandestine deployments, including the 1993 operation in somalia known as black hawk down, where he is credited with saving the lives of a ranger and a seal under fire. he later founded and then served as the first commander of two special operations squadrons. dan was going to be in conversation here this evening with a member of the administration from the department of health and human services who works on preparedness and response, but he stuck in new york because of the weather. so, i'm going to wing it with him, and we are going to have a conversation for a little while and then we'll open it to questions. so here we go.
>> welcome, dan. >> thank you for having me. >> that was a great introduction. the most comprehensive introduction i've had because you have some familiarity with the subject matter, having written about it as a journalist. >> that's right. was with the "washington post," i covered the pentagon at the time this happened, and two months after this tragic series of events i wrote a two-part series for the "washington post," but in retrospect i just scratch heed the surface now looking at all youuncovered since. >> this was artwear-year effort, writing seven days a week. the first year was research and interview through the air force and the dod which granted permission. the and then writing the book, a wonderfully misserrable way to make -- miserable way to make a living. it's a guaranteed means of a low probability of income in as
little as four years and that's been my approach, which is fine. i do enjoy having written, but what i really am after is i'm on a mission. this is what i teal people wherever i go, any interview i give in promoting this book. before i tell you what my mission is, i have a question for you audience par business pacing. ry -- participation if will say a word and say outload the first two words that comessed to mine. u.s. navy. >> seals. >> seals and ships. seals and ships that's what everybody says, and that's fine. that's a great marketing and incap layings of what in essence is that people would like to see. when i ask people that about air force, what they say is, pilots. don't seen applanes. that say loyalties -- pilots. so my mission is to change the american public's perception of
the entire united states air force with a book. that's my mission. it's not an easy mission because the air force doesn't do itself any favors. as you mentioned, the book is about john chapman, but it's also beyond the heroism of this liked identifiesed hi life on the altar ofburg brotherhood on the top of a mountain and these are the deadliy individuals to walk a battlefield in the history of human warfare. period. >> why don't we know much about combat controllers. >> you don't hear about them is because they have always existed in the seams and their role is to bee this expert on the battlefield that does things in conjunction with larger groups. they're integrated an individuals, but it's to an army special forms, a team, seal
platoon, australian sas. controllers work with the best force from around the world in a way nat nobody else does. >> they have to be able to fight with them and then they do something more. >> that's right. in fact that's what -- that's a perfect segway into what it is a combat controller does that is different. foundationally, a combat controller's training pipeline is directly comparable to what you see a seal going through. they do everything that a seal does, tactically, they jump, they scuba dive, combat died, demolition, weapons, small unit tactics, the foundation of modern special operations warfare, but to that foundation they add a technical expertise that is not resident in special operations. i we're in a gunfight and you went to be a green beret or sale
seal. >> seal year, that's what everybody says, you're a seal, i'm a combat controller. this is the mongol and they're coming for us and we have to protect the politic and prose poster. you hear gun and you're going to reach out and point it at people and you're going to think in two dimensions, near, far, left, right, and connect with one bullet from you to that gentleman there, and that's how you kill people, one -- not dave but the guy behind him. and you're going shoot people. as a combat controller don't think in two dimensions. i live on the battle space and occupy a four-dimensional world, near-far, left-right, up, down, and time. four dimensions and i view the battle space around me very much in that way, because what the combat controllers dot that that make the deadly u.s. people in the history of human warfare is this. they wield that precision power that comes from the air in a
manner that nobody else can do because they -- one thing about being combat controller on the battlefield, i have tomorrow all the call signs of all the air kraft in my area of operations. have to understand the two dozen types of allied and u.s. aircraft, they're capabilities, limitations, how they employ themselves and the 200 types of ordinance on top of that and when i have a battlefield that goes sideway, which is where heroism comes from and this story is no different from that. i have to be able to control them and wield them like a symphony conductor wielding an orchestra and it's a symphony of death and nobody can wield that bare -- people can call in astrikers but nobody is quad -- they go through air traffic kole school. so they're training pipeline is longer, more intellectually challenging, more complex, most costly, than any other special operations training force in the
world. >> how far back do they goo. >> founded in 1953 and they were born of the catastrophes that came from poorly executed air born operation airborne operations in second world war. when the air force became a separate service in 1947, the air force realized we want this capability because one problem they had is the mayor didn't give it due diligence and aircraft were misdirected, they were being shot done by friendlies friendlies and the air force realized it why control these things things and combat -- they predate the seals and green beret counterparts. >> let's get to to the battle of tacker gar, the name of this mountaintop in afghanistan where the battle took place. apart from the heroism of john chapman, why is this particular battle porsche and why --
important and why its also embarrassing for the military? >> it's important because it's a great example -- there's a well-articulated article on the pitfalls technology and how as a commander, if i'm far removed and i'm looking through an intelligence isr feed, we call it, which comes from predator drone or some other remote vehicle, i think i really understand what is happening but it's a soda straw. you don't what is happening and you can overrely on that and try to overrule the man on the ground. that's a fatal mistake welash over and over again that's the biggest takeway when it comes to tactics and lessons learn at a strategic level. the battle itself is important for a couple of reasons. first of all, statistically it is probably the most valorous battle in the history of the united states. 25 americans were on top-this
mountain at 6:00 in the morning, and of those 25, 18 would earn a silver star or above. now, that is an amazing statistic and that's the heroism that was on display that day by everybody on the mountained. there was nobody on the mountain who wasn't a hero and nobody on the mountain who didn't do the base they could and these were the best in the world . but to lead into john chapman's journey, and the end of his life -- >> i also asked, why is this battle turning out to be embarrassing for the military? it's true, so many acted so courageously on the top of the mountain but there's question whether they should have been sent there to begin with, right? >> i maintain as a subject matter expert, no, they should not have -- they should have been sent to the top of takergar but pot delivered ahelicopter.
the guy who was running the operations was delta force officer who is very dear friend of mine, pete blave me and running the operation his enemy lines in support of operation anaconda, the backdrop for the story and the regular army could brave taliban forces against the mountains and then hammer and anvil them. the concept. kind of operation that the army really embraces. pete's job was to put the best special operations forced behind enemy lines which were delta force operators, seal team six operators to call air strikes to destroy the taliban. so the delta force guys and seals there are but their mission is a combat control mission. people don't know about that. what pete did very well, understands history and strategy and tactics very well. he is a great combat leader, if
wore going to do this we have to sneak in behind enemy lines. went about n by foot and atvs and and moved by foot. no helicopters was his edict. because if you have a helicopter at the top of a mountain behind enemy lines, like everybody knows you're there that's not rocket science. and what you were eluding to is the navy decision to force the issue. they pushed the issue because they wanted more gaiers in the fight which is a combat decision. but it has consequences and this case and they delivered these guys to the top of the mountain, which happened to already be occupied by two dozen hardened check knean fighters that -- chechneyan fighters fighters whd through pakistan to get it on with the american troops and they built the bunkers on the mountain. so, when the helicopter arrived with six seals and john chapman can the helicopter came under fire and was shot down, and a
seal named nealert roberts fell out and the helicopter crashed. if you're john chapman and the she'lls you have a choice but not really. we lost a guy, what are you going to do? you go back. you have to go back. and that's what they did. their long range reconnaissance behind enemy lines mission is now an assault on this summit where they know they will be outnumbered, the bad guys know you're come bag took direct your guy who they'd already killed so the strip down the gores, let's go. they get -- >> that's an important point. the bad guys knew that this was usmo. helicopters, i, i. >> helicopters in. >> host: no we go back to and get those left behind. >> they knew we were coming back. and so when the next helicopter came back with five surviving seals and chapman, they land on the mountain and they're under
fire immediately. there's a youtube video we created, i posted ten days ago, had 3 million views. just google first medal of honor it will populate. this shows fro cia predator drone footage john's action. the first video capturing a medal of honor in the course of being earned. but the events are, they get off the hospital. john chapman on his own, charges into the machine gun nest at 10,000 feet, knee-deep snow, straight uphill, into an enemy bunker on this withering point blank expire them at a distance from me to twice you, ten feet, and saves all the seals' lives and eliminated the most freed threat. and he dieses on his own. seal were behind him. the charged ahead of the seals. remarkably courageous and the right decision help got shot, was mortally wounded.
the seals under fire had an untenable decision and the team leader make the decision to retreat. a decision that happen on the battlefield and it was his decision. they didn't check john chapman but the team leader believed john was dead. we now know he was not. and so when the seals retreat they left a man behind and he was incapacitated. didn't move for 20 minutes and they retreat off the mountain. so, john chapman recovers, finds himself alone on the mountain. still dark, 5:00:20 in the morning, sunrise is not for another 40 minutes. and he is in this bunker, and the enemy realizes there's an alive american in there and they start trying to displace him by killing him. >> how many enemy. >> two dozen. so one man mortally wound. he is bleeding out. he is going to die. and john makes this stand.
he survives several charges, fights hand to hand, we know this because i have the forensic pathology, the autopsy, i know more but this battle than any person on the planet earth if can said they authoritatively. he has -- in the autopsy he has contusions on his hands, scalp, face, nose, neck, all anti-more tell. he got shot twice and then received schapp nell wounds 16 times. >> what help did he have. >> an m 4, so he had? a suppressed m4 and recovers and fines himselfs on the receiving end of rocket propelled grenade and fights hand today hand, kills a number of people and survives until sunrise. now he's occupying this bunker which came to be called bunker one, that he has had for 40
minutes. and in the sunlight because it's now dawn the gunship that refused to leave the gun fight, they were refusing to abandon the man on the ground. they finally ran out of gas and had to leave but they're flying in sunglasses. john chapman is mortally wounded no advantage, shot eight to ten times, here's the helicopter, a third helicopter, laboring off the mountain, and there's only one place it's going to be going, takergar. >> the helicopter with the ranger force, rescue force. why are they going back into the same place where all this trouble had just occurred? hadn't anybody told them? >> everybody told them. they knew they were going into a hornet's nest. did not have all the facts and that is the business of warfare. it's an ugly, chaotic, unpleasant, experience that you carry for the's of your life.
-- the rest of your life, a great example of that. they're going for the same reason that john chapman and the seals win back to get neil rabbits deash it was rangers an air for t a kp, and and a combat controller named gabe downthe only information was you have to rescue some ceylonese mountain. >> they didn't know about chapman. >> nobody knew but chapman. >> and didn't know the seals had left. >> no because the seals weren't communicating with anybody and that's the breakdown that happened and these things have cascading effects. so this is at the force coming up the mountain. 18 men including the air crew from 160-inch smith operations regiment. this about pilots in the world bar none as many people can attest to in this audience and i'm one of them. he awaits the decision dirks
can't say what the thought but john chapman, bleed ought in shock, heavy blood oh, having fought for 40 minutes alone, alon on a mountain for an hour, makes the decision to climb out of the bunker, and start aggressively attack thing enemy in three different directions. when you watch the video it's almost heart wrenching. i have been dealing with the material for these years and sometimes when i watch it i go to pieces. he's defending the helicopter he knows has to land at this one spot, and he basically sacrificed himself on the altar of brotherhood to protect to the guys and did. got shot down, but they couldn't displace immigrant, put a heavy us-mexico gun in there or robert propelled grenades and the pilot did an exceptional job of hand thing helicopter down upright and then was shot. in the course of the battle john chapman was shot through the heart from behind and his blood pressure dropped to zero and he expired and the last things he would have seen was the battle in front of him.
>> so, the air force did ultimately award him the air force cross, which itself was a huge honor for a combat controller. >> it's a huge honor for anybody. their highest award you can get from a military service is a service cross for the airs force. it's the air for cross and was a big deal. that medal, interestingly enough, only three documents were used to award that medal. and they were the three witness statements from presurviving sales who stated john chapman saved our lives. i he had not done what he did we would all be dead. now, john chapman, also maintained as a submatt commander expert, earned two medals of honor that day. he was only awarded one last august at the white house conferred by the president to john's widow, valerie but the second medal was earned when he made the decision to climb out of the bunker.
>> why did it take 16 years to get in the medal of honor. >> his air force cross was awarded in 2002 in very rapid order and everybody recognize him for the hero he was, and in fact, the navy seals put his name at the seal team six on the seal team six memorial, the only air force member at the time. only nonseal to be on that wall. that's what you do when you recognize a very important hero. and the war win on. air force cross is a big deal and it's an incredible honor to have that because he earned it. in 2015, then-sect of the air force debby james is reading an article in the air force times -- a testamentment to the power of journalism and the title of the article was he saved 80 lives, another combat controller who was wounded saving 80 lives. why no medal of senator what does it take, the question was begged in this article, for an
airman to heron he metal of honor and the secretary james in her office and is like, that's a damn good question. so the asks the question from some colonel who has to work for her and when he secretary of the aforce a asks a question it's mobilizes an army after people and it started the process which is go back and look, see if we have missed anything and if there's any medals, silver star, air force cross, the two highest words in the country outside of the medal of honor. let's see if with missed anything and the air force came back and said, yeah, we only used three witness statements. nothing from the other combat controller call owning the radio, the gunship guys. we didn't use thing and there's some missing stuff here because the footage had been displaced, i'll say, for years, and it resurfaced, and for some people that was a great thing, senator people that was not a great thing because people wanted
those stay the way it was. and the air force -- >> host: you mean the navy. >> i mean some individuals. you can't convict the navy of that. it's note navy. but there were people who wanted those stay buried. and they're not that important to me. my book is not what those people. my book is john chap morning the greatest hero we have indiana 50 years the brotherhood of deadliest individuals you never heard of but the process began and they reported back to secretary of the air force, we have something here, and i'll spare you the details because it's administrative and boring, but at the end of the day, john's package ended up at the white house with barack obama, and the waning days of his administration, and there was not enough time to award it. already been approved and when you change administerings, all personwork like this goes back to where -- paperwork goes back to where it came from and starts over and took another two years and an august 23, 2018, john's
widow, valerie, who is just the loveliest i'm and so bomb proof received the medal on john's behave it and was a great day for john and a great day for the air force. >> dan, the way you told this story, rather quickly, is riveting but let me tell everybody here, it's even more rifting when -- riveting when you read it blow by blow. you wanted to read something from the book? >> i think we might run of our time because there's a couple of points i'd like to make and we can spare the audience my reading from my own book. >> okay. >> my gift to you. [laughter] but thank you for coming. >> there's really a lot more in this book so don't think you have heard the whole story because you haven't. any other points you want to make. >> a couple of things the thing but the combat controllers is,
in america's longest running war, the history of the nation, they comprise .1% of the u.s. air force. .1% but they are over half of the air force's silver stars, two-thirds of its air force crosses, and its only medal of honor from .1%. the most decorated wing in the united states air force has no pilots. there is where i'm trying to change the american view of the air force. these guys are more capable than seals in inflicting damage. you're a seal, we already determine that. you're shooting one guy at a time. >> honorary. >> the passage bag about a man named calvin markam who took the capital of kabul with a single special forces a-team and killed 3500 people. that was just his first trip to
afghanistan, folks and he is a great hero and a very humble man. the final thing i'd like to make a point of is. the combat controller are the deadliest individuals to walk a battlefield. some people might argue and i'm happy to argue back but they have this dual role that is unique and that is this. they kill more people by the score than anybody, but when the world has a global level catastrophe, they are the first of the world's first responders often. i'll give you prime example. in 2010 haiti was destroyed as a nation by an earthquake. everybody remembers this. the first individuals on the ground were eight combat controller led by a master sergeant who has a knife kill in combat. a legitimate dude. name tony travis, very humble man, embarrassed i mention his name and tough shit. combat control advertise we can get your international airport
up and running in 30 minutes or less. like ordering a pizza. he and seven other combat controllers armed with two atv four-wheelers and a folding card table were the first people to respond to haiti and the stepped off the plane, started his stop wpa and 28 minute laser with two full minutes to spare, they were prepared -- they cleared it, established it, marked it, and established procedures and were ready to receive airplanes in under 30 minutes and they ran the haiti airport for two weeks. they exceeded the capacity, the maximum amount of planes you can put on the runway by 1400%. the president of haiti gave tony travis an air force master sergeant, letter giving him sovereignty over all of the nation's air space. that is the other power of this force that they wield for good, and americans don't know about it, and it is my mission to
ensure they do from now on. >> sounds like some days we would use those guys at our airport here in the states. >> they're trained air traffic controllers. something the air force takes seriously. >> that's it. i'd like to open it up to questions. ill usually find those are more fascinating. >> i'll put don my moderator's mic and pick up the audience mic i'll pass around and if you have a question, raise your hand. >> you can ask any question. do marriage counseling. if you want to share that with the group we can solve some problems. >> who is first? >> dan, so, aside from the book that we're all going read and enjoy, i know, you deployed to somalia and were involved in operations in somalia, and i would like you to just tell a little story about a fast rope. that's what i'd like you to
tell. >> a loaded question from a former friend of mine as of right now. so, i was a combat controller in what you all knows black hawk down. to me it's operation gothic sir spent to the dealt to forces, if a rate -- aviateows that's what we know it us a. one story that came out that hawpeed me, fast-roping is a tithe of insertion method we use to slide down a fire-pole size rope out off a helicopter to insert on a target, and on -- some somalia we were conducting raids and on the day that became blackhawk down we inserted and had been direct ily higher headquarters -- back to your be about, what is important in combat and decisions -- that, when you're on the objective, when you incertain with the fast ropes the helicopters chop they were away and the fall to ground me and helicopter escapes.
we are ruin offing fast ropes because we can't get them from supply from the united states. if you're on an objective you should pick up fast ropes and it's the biggest gun knight my life and the biggest gun-phile in -- gunfight in america but i see a fast rope in the street. it became a hollywood movie scene and there are bad guys and rocket propelled grenades going off and people are getting shot. a friend of mine had gotten shot and tried to recover him and i see this fast rope in the street so i'm like, they set get them so i ran out in the open, grabbed this fast rope, which weighs hundred pounds and drag it across the street and throw it in he back of my vehicle. then, i to there's another one ski think shy get that and a friend of mine who who is a seem like two guys would be better than one. help me with this and he is
shooting people and shops and look maze and goes what the hell are you talking but no i realize i just risk its my life for $20. but you goo what you're developed and that's one thing about the military, you swear allegiance to the constitution and you do what you're told. you don't have a choice. that's what we do. thank you for asking that question, dave. >> so, in research -- >> we're recording this for c-span. you're now famous. >> so in researching the book, what was the biggest or most difficult thing you -- to find out? what it bureaucracy that was it slugdown down, information you didn't know how to get. >> i can clean threw bureaucracy like a bullet. i i'm not a journalist. i'm part of the family and i am a writer now and i want to do this he right.
the book went through declassification review and everything. but the most difficult thing for me was the week i spent writing john's death. i live on a mountain of 9,000 feet and i have 11,000-foot peaks around the house and i tend to go up and ski or speed-supply do things that keep me centered and we all eave our issues. writing that i would just go to pieces. i would literally go and rage against the mountain. i mean, rage against this mountain. because his heroism, and courage, to climb out of this bunker, he is frozen, he's in shock. heels got so much blood loss. he's in the process of dying. to do that, which i could reconstruct by the second because i have it on film, was devastating to me personally and i'm very honored to have been able to be able to be the person to chronicle his sacrifice. this is the most important thing
ever write in my life. >> did the film. >> there should be some hollywood people here. they're not here yet but a they're very busy. they're with me at the pentagon today. the movie is actually -- screenplay is written. two very wonderful gentlemen approached me through my hollywood agent which i can't believe i have a hollywood agent, two years ago i hadn't seen start writing the book yes. i had written the process shall was purchased by grand central the publisher and they were so submitted to the project and knew how important it was knew what a combat controller was which nobody does which is why i'm writing the book. and they came onboard right away and i knew they were the right people and very fortunate to be part of that. i got to help write to men draft the screen play. there's professional screen
wrighter who wrote it named michael gunn and the movie is well on the way. screenplay was done before the book came out which never happen's hollywood. out out for casting, can't sigh new, new top secret hollywood clearance level i have and i'm part of the movie which imhonorred because i want to shape this movie. it's a very important movie. it's a love story. not a war movie. it takes place in combat but it's a've story between john and his wife, who they dearly loved each other, and john's love of the brotherhood no people he was in combat with and love done get thrown around on the battlefield but it's a very appropriate word. i've had a lot of guys i've been in war with. there's a air force cross resip gent from the battle i was asked about in somalia, and there's no greater love than to risk your life over and over again for people that you may not even
barely know or people that you consider to be a true brother, stronger than blood relations in many okays. >> dan, say more about how chapman ended up in the military and some of his life before this battle. >> thank you. that's a great question. john chapman was empathetic, almost to a fault. you could not pick a b.e.t.ar -- better poster child, evened a hollywood hair. one of hi favoriting a anyone dotes from the co-author lori and john's first day of kindergarten, five years old, everybody's first day of kindergarten, there's new kid, first day in town, first day in kindergarten, and this boy is getting bull yesterday by this girl. -- bullied by this girl john chapman at age five step inside between them and is like, not so fast. i'm not going to allow this to happen.
and he did that throughout his life. there's an iconic photo of him which i wanted for the cover of the book, and we went if the -- that shows john chapman holding a baby it's an afghan baby in a village. i don't know how many afghan villages you have hundred out in but i like to compare this -- and worked will with the mothers in crowd. here's the comparison. glory your home one night in a snowstorm with your family. your kids, your husband. and seven armed afghan guys with beards, who smell bad, roll into your house and say, we're here to take over your home. we're going to stay here during the storm. no sweat. how likely are you to put your two-year-old baby in the lap of one of those guys? you going to do that? there's no way in hell you'll do that but john radiated this kindness. you seek it in his eyes. the iconic photo of his life and you'll find it in the book and you should buy many copies of the book. and you can just see that he
disarmed people wherever he went and he was just a generous person. and he was remarkable in that capacity. far beyond what you would find in most people. >> ooh -- other questions. >> you need to use the mic, sir. >> i've always considered the cct organization an element, quiet warriors, now obviously done a good job letting people know exactly what they are, who they are, quiet warriors and the 9-1-1 before a lot of other organizations in military yuans. that's my comment on them. >> that's a great comment. thank you. i can tell you, the best thing ever did in the military was to good save people from a flooded town. in fact tony travis, the guy i talked but from haiti. a comment in the book but suppressed this to me and i put it in the back. he has began lot of combat and she save you don't know if what
you have done and the damage you inflicted -- you don't get any direct feedback. you don't 0 know if you solved any problems and don't know the outcome. when he went to haiti he said i felt like i knew immediately i impacted people's lives in a positive way and the feedback was immediate. and one thing he says is very poignant was, combat controllers bring order from chaos when nobody else can. and they do it autonomously. no directs hem. just turn them loose. and it's amazing. just -- i built on miscomment there sorry to hijack you. issue in else? we have time for more questions if. >> as much as you know now about what happened there is any part of this that remains a mystery to you, you could not answer? >> no. for my purposes for the book, i understand everything.
if if didn't know what it was i tracked it down other. booked that have covered the topic, some well, some okay, left lot of these things that were mysteries, john was a mystery. john is a mystery that no one ill ever know. now we know. so i wanted to up earth the mystery its knew i needed to solve to accomplish my mission which is help americans understand john chapman and combat control so no stone was left unturned but i knew where to go. >> did you run into re sis stance in the military -- resistance in the military? >> the u.s. military, right? of course. but you overcome that stuff and like i said, if you know these people and -- the air force wanted this story out. the air force wants this movie to be made. i've had nothing but great support from the air force. they understand what we're trying to accomplish with the book and movie.
it's an audacious goal. i plan to change in the american's view of the u.s. air force with a book. it becomes self-evident like any new thing you learn. >> anybody else? >> this could be another loaded question. >> i was wondering if you could tell us about where you were when you first heard about john's death and kind of the emotional process and then when you decided to write the book. >> so john was the first combat controller we lost in combat, and i didn't know him well. only ever met him twice so wasn't really a friend of mine. and i was actually standing up at another unit that i became the commander of, and so i remember being devastated in the sense that we have lost our first person of the war and more to follow. the answer to your second part
of your questions i renicer 2016 and live on mountain and i ski and speed fly and write novels and hang out with my wife every da which is the best thing could i hope for, to be able to hang out with her every day because we both served forever, and mutual friend of my koepp author and i, john's sister, throw -- introduced us and said she's trying to write book. can you help. i said i'm not interested in writing this book. not going do it but i'll talk to her. introduced her to my agent and i can help her with her proposal and send her on her way. for the next two week is didn't sleep, and so i called her back and said, i'm in. we should do this book together. and i'm a controller so i kind of like steam rolled some things. she wanted to tell john's story and i said to lawyer russian -- laurie, what i more important
here -- your brother wouldn't want a book about himself. i didn't know your brother like you did but he wouldn't want a book about himself. with would like a book about his brotherhood and i saved we reveal john's story in parallel with revealing come bat and control to american public in the way they never had the opportunity, we will have accomplished much more than that and that's the book we wrote. but if you read in the acknowledgments, i did not want to write this book. i'd rather write novelses. anybody else? >> ready to sign some more books? >> i live for that. >> okay. [applause] >> copies of dan's book at the checkout desk and he'll be here at the table signing.
thank you again, dan, can't wait for the movie. >> me, neither. booktv continues now on c-span2 television for serious readers. >> now on booktv we want 0 introduce you author bassey ikpi, her book is called "i'm telling the truth but i'm lying." where does the title come from? >> guest: the title of he book comes from a refrain that kept showing up in the essays, and what it did was emphasize the idea that a lot of times when you're trying to collect memories you know there's an aspect of truth and reality to it, but you can't be 100% sure, and when it comes to trying to mask, let's say, emotional or mental unwellness, the idea that you're constantly