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Paul Harding’s Militaryflashespatches.co.uk http://www.militaryflashpatches.co.uk/index.php interviews author Simon Chambers. Paul Harding
Simon how did you get into writing military themed books?
35 years in the Army with a very interesting life as a Para and Air Dispatcher. I remembered so many incidents, some funny and others more serious. Then the next 7 years as a Contractor in Iraq with more interesting stories. I had always been good at telling stories so in my down time I decided to write a diary. It snowballed a bit and became the groundwork for a series of seven books. Two Three of which have been written and the rest are in note and rough form.
How do you stand out from other authors?
What plans have you for the future?
Iv written about my own experiences, the frustrations of continuing as a soldier in civvy street. The frustrations of trying to prove that an over forty something can still be a good soldier. Iv written about the troubles of getting the job and the trouble with keeping the job and then the numerous incidents I managed to survive that others didn’t. Remember all that Iv written about, is after Id already served 35 years as a soldier for the Queen and already survived four wars. So it started all over again with yet another war and this time as a civilian. I don’t think there is another author writing about Iraq or Afghanistan that has completed/survived that length of service and to start it all over again. I don’t think Im mistaken when I say at the time I was active on the ground in Iraq I was the oldest shooter out there. Everyone else my age was behind a desk. They obviously had more sense.
SYNOPSIS Keepers of the Gateway to Hell
I completed over 35 years in the Army as a Paratrooper, Commando, Air Dispatcher and finally as a Regular Army instructor to the Territorial Army. When I had finally completed my 22 years contract and left the Regular army I tried my hand at several jobs but couldn’t find the right one. I had joined the Territorial Army as soon as the ink on my demob papers was dry and this gave me the outlet I needed to stay sane. I spent my leisure time parachuting around the world with the Pathfinder Parachute Group and firing strange weapons for fun in equally strange countries. I missed my army life desperately and I missed the type of companionship and loyalty I had from my fellow soldiers.
The jobs I had been doing in the army excluded me from going to either of the Gulf wars much to my annoyance so when I heard about the job vacancies for people with my numerous skills working as bodyguards in the Iraqi theatre of operations I was ecstatic.
As it turned out is was not that easy. “Keepers of the Gateway to Hell” is about my own personal problems in getting the job and then surviving in it as an “Older soldier” in 2005. This is a factual story; all the places and incidents were recorded in my daily journal.
The story begins by explaining the many problems I had getting In-country. It then explains the interview and selection process, the physical and mental selection tests prior to being deployed into the Iraqi interior.
As my story unfolds I go into great detail on the strict and professional training we received from the company instructors in their efforts to get so many retired servicemen from so many different units up to the United States standard for bodyguards. The individuals I met during my training and the friendships I made are described. I explain my own personal problems being one of only a few Brits on the team of predominantly South Africans Police Task Force members.
Once the team is ready and moving I explain all the problems we had getting into Iraq, the red tape. The story then moves on a pace with first impressions of Iraq, the people, and the combat situation, moving into a safe house in the Mansour district of Baghdad and getting ready for battle. The issue of equipment and its preparation for moving to Tallil and supporting the US Corps of Engineers in their thankless task of rebuilding an ungrateful Muslim country. Getting attacked whilst in Baghdad and then finally our move through hostile country to Tallil.
I describe the camp, the daily trials and tribulations and the every day problems facing a bodyguard in Iraq. Command and daily incidents that occurred. The story then describes the constant problems on our day-to-day missions and how we overcome them. The story describes in detail all the problems we faced as armed civilian security in Tallil and its surrounding areas, our limitations and our successes. Finally I deal with the news of some of my old teams deaths and the near miss on one of my best friends of one of the worst types of IED’s in country at this time..
This should be a good read for anyone contemplating following in my footsteps. It gives the good and bad points of the bodyguard industry. I hope it shows the professionalism of many and the ineptitude of a few. It explodes the myth of “Easy money” and I hope it shows that the average PSD for what they are, soldiers in civilian clothing working under as many rules and restraints as the regular soldier, without the back up but with same constant daily threat of death or serious injury. Keepers of the Gateway to Hell by Simon Chambers
Ambush on the Road to Baghdad - A True Short Story
To find the book Click here: www.amazon.co.uk/Ambush-Road-Baghdad-Short-ebook/dp/B0070NSSHM
Keepers of the Gateway to Hell www.amazon.co.uk/Keepers-Gateway-Hell-ebook/dp/B0056U9PNM/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1/275-8463205-3495139
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