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Alone at Dawn  By  cover art

Alone at Dawn

By: Dan Schilling,Lori Longfritz
Narrated by: Kiff VandenHeuvel,Betsy Foldes Meiman
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Publisher's Summary

The astonishing true account of John Chapman, Medal of Honor recipient and Special Ops Combat Controller, and his heroic one-man stand during the Afghan War, as he sacrificed his life to save the lives of 23 comrades-in-arms.

In the predawn hours of March 4, 2002, just below the 10,000-foot peak of a mountain in eastern Afghanistan, a fierce battle raged. Outnumbered by Al Qaeda fighters, Air Force Combat Controller John Chapman and a handful of SEALs struggled to take the summit in a desperate bid to find a lost teammate. Chapman, leading the charge, was gravely wounded in the initial assault. Believing he was dead, his SEAL leader ordered a retreat. Chapman regained consciousness, alone with the enemy closing in on three sides, beginning the most difficult and exceptional fight of his life. 

John Chapman's incredible display of valor - first by saving the lives of his SEAL teammates and then, aware that he was mortally wounded, single-handedly engaging two dozen hardened fighters to save the lives of an incoming rescue squad - posthumously earned him the Medal of Honor. Chapman is the first airman in nearly 50 years to be given the distinction reserved for America's greatest heroes.

Alone at Dawn is also a behind-the-scenes look at the Air Force Combat Controllers: the world's deadliest and most versatile special operations force, whose members must not only exceed the qualifications of Navy SEAL and Army Delta Force teams, but also act with sharp decisiveness and deft precision - even in the face of life-threatening danger.

Drawing from firsthand accounts, classified documents, dramatic video footage, and extensive interviews with leaders and survivors of the operation, Alone at Dawn is the story of an extraordinary man's brave last stand and the brotherhood that forged him.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Dan Schilling and Lori Longfritz (P)2019 Grand Central Publishing

Critic Reviews

"The men who serve in Combat Control whose incredible story is presented in this book aren't asking for recognition. No late night talk show, video game, or film could possibly begin to convey the intensity of the experience, the fear, the sense of duty and valor, the bonds that unite these men and, above all, the inner feelings and motivation of someone who has stepped up and accepted the challenge of this toughest of Missions." (Jeffrey "Skunk" Baxter, musician, national security specialist)

"Alone at Dawn is riveting and powerful. This stunning account reveals for the first time one of the most extraordinary acts of valor and courage in the annals of US history. With this book, USAF CCT John Chapman now rightfully takes his place as an iconic hero of the Afghanistan War. All Americans should honor and enshrine the memory of such undaunted self-sacrifice and valor." [Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, USA (ret.), author of On Killing, On Combat, and Assassination Generation]

"As one of our nation's most elite special operations forces, Combat Controllers not only jump, dive, shoot, and maneuver with the best, they uniquely combine these skills with absolute mastery of three-dimensional battlespace to deliver lethal and precision airpower, making them the deadliest force on any battlefield. Among even this exceptional and select brotherhood, John Chapman's heroism on Takur Ghar is without equal in America's longest war." [Lt. Gen. Donny Wurster, USAF (ret.), former commander, Air Force Special Operations Command]

What listeners say about Alone at Dawn

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wasted chance to honor a hero.

As a Green Beret who has worked closely with CCTs I had VERY high hopes for this book - but... The author seemed intent on proving how badass CCTs were rather than focusing on Chapman and his story. I do like how he pulled no punches on the BS the other players pulled - but again - it just seemed like he had an personal agenda other than to tell Chapman's story.

Narrator was really bad - had me rolling my eyes several times.

135 people found this helpful

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One of the Most Accurate and Compelling Account

Alone at Dawn, is clearly one of the best accounts of the history of the Combat Controll Community. Having served with this community for over 30 yrs and supported this mission during these events. This is the most honest and truthful accounts of the missions and the herosism both on the top of that mountain and across the battlefield.

John Chapman was an incredible leaders. He treated support community as a part of his team. I have never know a person who had a bad word to say of him. The specific story of his caring about those who he cared for in school, well that man never level of caring never left him! He was that guy!

The presentation of the MoH, had hundreds of amazing friend from John's youth, his dive coach, childhood friends, and teammates was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. John's life was incredible, and his MoH was the same way, That ceremony was one of the only one of the White House Ceremonies that was concluded in Whistles and Cheers along with Valerie lifting the Medal of Honor and holding to the sky!

This is one of the greatest books I have read.

CMSgt Frank Dailey

64 people found this helpful

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  • N.
  • 10-18-19

At times both compelling and tedious

tl;dr - Gets dragged down by military jargon and finger pointing at times; but examines a life worth knowing and remembering.

OVERALL - 3/5 ("Pretty Good")
At the heart of the book is the story of a man who performed amazing, at times superhuman acts, for both his country and his brothers-in-arms -- ultimately at the cost of his own life. Heroism, determination and bravery are in no short supply here. 

However, neither are military jargon, a ton of needless acronyms (some parts are hard to follow as there are more military abbreviations than actual words) and a somewhat surprising amount of finger pointing. These, combined with a very redundant opening portion of the book where the author goes above and far beyond what is needed to express how elite combat controllers are, unfortunately make the book a little harder to enjoy. 

That said, it is still an interesting perspective and worth a read. If nothing else, it'll offer a different viewpoint than the numerous SEAL memoirs out there. 

PERFORMANCE - 2/5 ("It's Okay")
The narrator's performance often felt like someone reading off an official incident report of some sort or another. I suspect this has more to do with the writing than the narrator, but it still felt like a recital, not necessarily a conversational narration (which I tend to prefer). 

STORY - 4/5 ("It's Great")
There is a lot of history and context that needs to be set up before things really "get moving" so to speak. Sp while the actual meat of the story is a smaller portion at the back third of the book it doesn't take away from the incredible life and actions of John Chapman. 

Chapman aside, this also offers an intriguing look at how military operations are coordinated -- both the good parts and the bad parts. The flow of the story is at times uneven and jarring but when the focus is on Chapman it is always compelling. 

50 people found this helpful

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Don’t waste your points: poorly narrated, poorly written.

I chose this book based upon a preponderance of five star reviews overlooking one bad review. I wish I had done just the opposite: half the time I don’t know what the narrator is talking about. The narrator’s droning voice put me to sleep which is a shame because I need to stay awake while driving. Don’t waste your time or your points. A shame, really. Too darned wordy.

25 people found this helpful

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Must read!!

Endless great books written about delta & ST6. It’s nice to finally have Chappy and the wider STS community chronicled the way in which it deserved. Having chappy’s last heroic moments contextualized like this was heartbreaking yet largely inspirational. I loved this book👍👍

24 people found this helpful

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John was one bad@#$ MF'r

1. John was one bad@#$ MF'r
2. I've never served.
3. A lot of SEAL bashing but they might benefit from some humbling..
4. Yes CCT's are hardcore but they're not solely responsible for all of the success as this book seems to often suggest. Pilots, Rangers, Intel, technology, etc. Overall great book, thanks!

22 people found this helpful

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The author does the hero no favors.

Way over the top. The author butchers this attempt at making a hero out of John Chapman.

16 people found this helpful

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CCT story finally told during this incredible book

The story of John Chapman was well written and I am glad it was told. I am also glad this book covered what CCT life and training is like. I was a part of 93-001 (Balls 1) at the OL-H. This book brought back incredible memories. Thanks You!

11 people found this helpful

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Great Book from the CCT POV

Great. fucking. book. Period.

I have spent time listening to all of the other books concerning the events during and outcome of the Battle for Roberts Ridge, aka Takur Ghar, aka Operation Anaconda. Only one I enjoyed half as much of this was from Pete Blaber. CCTs are an unrecognized and absolutely integral part of modern day warfare and this book lays it out there for what they stand for and one of the single most documented MoH write ups to date.

11 people found this helpful

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Tediously Written

This story is naturally compelling. The actions of these men is astounding. That is what makes the tedious style of storytelling that the author chooses to use so especially painful. His attempts at using flowery language and engaging literary devices come across as cheap and unnecessary. Many things end up getting repeated several times, and it quickly becomes an exercise in patience to just get through the book.

The actual story is incredible. It does not need to be over dramatized or spiced up. Giving it an extra star for the subject matter alone.

10 people found this helpful

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  • G. KELSO
  • 07-24-19

It will be a great read but the performer lets this down

I was enjoying the book but Kiff VandenHeuvel has driven me to the decision to return this title on Audible. Firstly, there is no ‘W’ in February. Secondly, with a simple google check he could have found out that the word ‘Aussie’ was pronounced ‘Ozy’ NOT ‘arsey’. Hearing him miss pronounce just these two words has driven me mad.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-17-19

aweful narrator again. Over the top american

just so typical narrator spoiling it and then it's the typical American line "combat controllers are the best of the best of the best of the best. blablabla. I couldn't listen longer than 5 minutes sadly.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David Batchelor
  • 05-16-21

A powerful and tragic story of gallantry and rank stupidity

The narration is excellent, the story powerful and the individuals at the heart of this are humanised and their efforts burnished by fine research and sympathetic re-telling.
It’s also about the idiotic mess and needless sacrifice that military egos sometimes bring about when they move from the tactical to the strategic, even when they represent elite warriors.
It is not unpatriotic to criticise these people even if their actions are more greatly good. It’s clear from ‘Alone At Dawn’ that these egos went to some lengths to obfuscate and distance themselves from subsequent enquiries into this operation.
John Chapman deserves the MOH. He also deserved better.
A great book, a great man, a great shame.
RIP M/Sgt J Chapman.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-16-20

Interesting tale about people you never heard of.

Very interesting tale of a team of people who work along side the most trained people in the world yet we have never heard of them ! great read without waving too many flags and rubbing patriotism in your face.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Luke Monteith
  • 03-12-20

amazing

absolutely amazing it needs to be made in to a movie
such a great story

1 person found this helpful

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  • MooneFace
  • 06-06-22

A Must Read

Not only are accounts of CCTs rare but the level of detail in this book is phenomenal. I was led to buy the book having watched the IR drone footage of Chapmans battle on Robert's ridge and having read Robert's Ridge prior. What he did is clear and there is recorded footage, how he did it, god only knows. I had similar emotions reading this as to those I felt reading Black Hawk Down and the account of Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon. Bravery beyond measure. I will keep this in my library but it's a hard read considering the litany of errors that led to the events taking place.

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  • Gary T.
  • 04-28-22

Interesting

This book is not about the main character it is about how he got into the CCT and when he went to Afghanistan but then it becomes like a crime thirler until the end then it goes into praising the CCT as being the best in the US and the world maybe more should be written so people can decide.
On that note I would recommend as there is some big FUBAR that goes on but you will have to listen to the book or read it.

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  • Stu
  • 03-18-22

Awesome

Loved this, once you start listening you cannot stop. Brave handling unbelievable things behind enemy lines

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  • Jeremy Shaw
  • 10-27-21

Excessive acronyms

If you love acronyms then this is the book for you. It gets very confusing. The style is extremely oo-ra and over the top glorying the killing of people.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sandy
  • 06-02-21

Amazing story.

I read 'Robert's Ridge' years ago and recalled John's name. Of course the full extent of his valour that day had yet to be full realised, or made public. I'm glad his actions received the appropriate recognition.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-14-20

Brilliant - Emotional - Tragic

A great true story of special forces and the reality of human management which when it goes wrong always creates casualties

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-24-20

Awesome Storyline, 👍

Awesome Storyline, I highly recommended, this book,

Gives a very detail overview of the role of Combat Controller

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-20-21

Review

Loved the listen. Book was well writ with lots of feelings and was conveyed well

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  • Ettienne Cronje
  • 09-03-21

Respect!

Respect, to the soldier, his family, friends and brothers in arms. Thank you, to the author and the narrator. Well done. I honestly enjoyed the book and got ridiculously emotional for ALL reasons.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-18-21

Excellent

The ultimate Warriors....and to all our veterans and serving members thank you......for your service

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-05-21

A disgrace, made right

I thought I knew the story of the battle of takur ghar. I didn’t.
The actions and last hours of Chapmans life are heartbreaking but inspiring. I wouldn’t say the same about the seal team, or their head shed. Hindsight is 20/20, and I get that to go and clear his body in a firefight where the initiative was well and truly with AQ, and the most vicious fighters they had: the Chechen mujahideen, was probably a bad move.
But to lie about it, repeatedly, have a member receive a MOH, then try to interfere when the Air Force rightly fought to upgrade Chapman’s award, is something that’s unbecoming.
At the end of the day, what matters is the man received what he rightly deserved, and his actions reflect his life. But I understand the negative view of the author regarding the seal element.