Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book Review: "Dustoff 7-3" (Erik Sabiston)

Newsweek called it "one of the most decorated missions in aviation history." The mission in question? The near-constant flights of Dustoff 7-3 during Operation Hammer Down, which took place in Afghanistan in June 2011.

Despite a November 12, 2012 spread in Newsweek about the missions undertaken and the unbelievable rescues achieved by the Dustoff 7-3 crew, few people knew the inside story, so to speak, about what had happened during those firefights. Fewer still, among those who did know, were interested in the limelight.

Now, one of them has stepped forward with an offering meant to open the eyes of those who remained stateside, under the protection of those at war, to what happened during Operation Hammer Down, and meant to reveal, plainly and without arrogance, the incredible selflessness of those under fire who fought those battles and succeeded.

Even the very first line of his soon-to-be-published work sets the tone: "I am not a hero."

With great honor, allow me to introduce to my readers the soon-to-be-published memoir Dustoff 7-3: Saving Lives Under Fire in Afghanistan by United States soldier Erik Sabiston.

Sabiston is an unassuming soldier, proud to be a member of the United States armed forces and counted among those who ensure that we civilians stateside get to sleep peacefully at night. His memoir speaks for itself as he highlights precisely what he and his crew managed to achieve, despite adverse circumstances and looming impossibility, during some of the worst fighting to take place in Afghanistan in the war.

His tone is more formal than mere conversation between friends and less exacting (but no less precise) than a work of nonfiction, as befits the accounts he relays with dispassionate focus and a certain blase matter-of-fact slant. He is simply telling the facts as they exist, and whether anyone likes them or not is not his concern. He is unapologetic, a little self-deprecating, and refreshingly able to lace even the tensest moments of his account with dry wit, making Dustoff 7-3 a remarkably approachable read.

The memoir is indisputably pro-military, as it should be, given the circumstances through which Sabiston and his dedicated crew worked, tirelessly and without concern or regard for their own well-being, to perform more than a dozen rescues during the heaviest fighting in late June 2011.

A line from the work itself speaks volumes to the devotion with which medevac units approach their work: "The cargo we flew on medevac missions was America's most precious asset: the nation's soldiers, the sons and daughters who depended on us for rescue and prompt medical attention" (163).

The unbelievable selflessness, sacrifices, integrity, and honor of those Sabiston fought alongside, worked with, rescued, and recovered represents just a microcosmic glimpse of the enormous work of the United States military and its members, every one of them willing to lay down his or her life on behalf of another and to toe the fine line between danger and safety, friendly and enemy, life and death.

Dustoff 7-3 is a work you'll be proud to have on your shelves and in your hands, and one that may remind you not only to be thankful for those who work to keep us safe and out of harm's way, but also to take pride in the greatest military force in the world.

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Author: Erik Sabiston
Title: Dustoff 7-3
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1dWnW2I

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


  1. Erik generously sent me an advance copy of this book and I cannot say enough good things about it. Put it at the top of your to be read list today. It is a well written, edge of your seat account of heroics that boggle the mind and it reminds us just how blessed we are to have such fine young men and women serving in our military.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I was in the exact same frame of mind. I haven't read a book so well-written and so unbelievably tense (in all the right ways) in a very long time. I can't recommend this book highly enough!


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