After Action: The True Story of a Cobra Pilot’s Journey, by Dan Sheehan

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Open the cover to get a pictoral view through a Marine pilot's magnified optics from the front seat of a killer Cobra helicopter.

His dangerous job is well done, but you feel the internal and lasting conflicts that come from the fight.

This third generation military aviator vividly portrays the details of external and internal carnage that transpire when a human assumes the role of warrior and "bears the burden of peace." Well paced action and reflective insight balance out into an incredible read.

The author chooses analogies to help others find their way who also wear the deep scars from a kill or be killed combat experience. Sometimes there are no exact answers for killing in the line of duty, but Sheehan shares coping mechanisms that work. Dan does a great job relating how to understand, adjust, carry on, and succeed after war. AFTER ACTION has my highest recommendation. It is a remarkable human battle story and a healing tool.

Reviewed by: Hodge Wood (2014)


Author's Synopsis

Not all wounds are visible.

Dan Sheehan is a third-generation military flyer. He was eager to test his skills as a Cobra gunship pilot in the theatre of combat – and then he got his chance, first, in East Timor, then during two tours of duty in Iraq.

The scenes in Dan’s military memoir crackle with tension and excitement as we follow his path into battle. Bullets pierce their Cobras as Dan and his buddies struggle to separate enemy fighters from civilians - ultimately deciding who lives and dies. Through blinding sandstorms, the smoke of battle and chaos of low-altitude firefights at night, Dan puts us in the front seat of the Cobra - where we white-knuckle our way through barrages of enemy fire - and into his head as he makes split-second decisions that carry lasting consequences.

But there is far more to Sheehan’s story than this – an important reason why he wants us to understand what military men and women experience on the front lines of war. And what they bring home.

After the adrenaline rush of combat, something inside Dan would not turn off. He was a warrior, willing and proud to serve his country and he was fortunate to come out of battle whole, time and again. But he had not escaped Iraq untouched. 

The subtle agitation he felt continued to grow into - restlessness - wariness - the hyper-vigilant sense that he needed to be always on guard. Even as he struggled to ignore it, the edginess grew, trailing him long after the action was over. Eventually, it began to intrude into his personal life, his intimate relationships, and threatened to hurt those he loved the most.

What Dan Sheehan learned, and what he exposes so bravely and frankly in his writing, sheds light on the invisible marks left on the soul of many warriors. As he shows us, admitting those marks are there is the next step in a veteran’s journey after action.

If you are a warrior …or know one… you will want to read this brave and moving memoir.