Today’s guest is Jesse Holder to talk about his humorous military novel, Chutes, Beer, and Bullets: Not Your Grandpa’s War Story.
Holder (1986) was born in Valdosta, Georgia. He quickly became known as a
“class-clown” throughout his school years. After putting college on
hold, Jesse joined the United States Army. He graduated United States Infantry
and Airborne School in the spring of 2006. He served in the 173rd Airborne
Combat Team in Italy from June 2006 to July 2009. He has completed two combat
tours, the first being a fifteen month deployment in Afghanistan with the 173rd
ABCT; the second being with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. Jesse is very
passionate about friends, family, food, beverages, traveling, and University of
Beer, & Bullets: Not Your Grandpa’s War Story is Jesse’s first novel. It is
a trail-blazer as it introduces a new genre to the world of literature,
Military Humor. It has been described as an un-cut comedy/war film. Some say a
hint of Tucker Max, with a dash of Joe Galloway.
Please tell us about
your current release.
& Bullets: Not Your Grandpa’s War Story gives an in-depth look at what
the Sky Soldier does for training, entertainment, and how close soldiers become
with each other. Chutes, Beer, & Bullets: Not Your Grandpa’s War Story
is a humor-filled narrative that takes place during the peak of The War on
Terror. It is an uncut and unscripted adventure that leads you
through United States Army Airborne School, Europe, and ultimately to Operation
Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. It is assured to have you laughing, sighing,
looking away, and possibly even shedding a tear as you connect with the real
life characters within. “It is a story of men fiercely loyal to their
country – some are drinkers and smokers, some are drug users and prostitute
seekers. Although they are not your father’s patriots, they are all real
soldiers. America, this is your army.” –Editors Note, Dallas Cowne.
write this book?
gave me a journal right before I joined the Army and said to write down as many
memories as possible. At first it seemed a little weird, writing to myself, but
I did start doing it in Afghanistan. It started as a way to pass the time.
Division we worked 12 hours on and 12 hours off. We were there to help everyone
get out during the big drawdown. When you weren’t working; aside from eating,
showering, and hitting the gym there wasn’t much to do. So I thought hey…why
not write a book? Toying around with the first chapter got me rolling. I worked
on it a little bit every day until the next thing I knew I had twenty two
chapters and was writing the conclusion. The journal, pictures, and memories I
had came in handy!
upwards as the hot Georgia air poured into my nervous lungs. The continuous
bump of the aircraft was not helping the situation…the sting of diesel
nipping at my nostrils. The Black Hat yelled, “Thirty-Seconds,”
holding up his index finger and thumb. We all replied
“thirty-seconds” as was taught to us for the past three weeks. I
could feel my right hand tighten around the yellow rip cord. The only thought
circulating through my head since I hooked up was, “Is the yellow cord
really going to open this parachute that some nut packed?” This was by all
means a new experience.
“Standby!” the Black
Hat barked, and the number one jumper turned to face the rustling Georgia
Pines, pissing his pants as he did so…the Black Hat stepped back. I was the
#4 jumper, or the fourth person that would jump from the plane. I was just
close enough to the door to see the ground zipping by. The planes altitude hit
1,200ft and all I could think was, “What in THE HELL am I doing
here?” “Green light go!” The Black Hat responds in a roar, and
like ducks following a seemingly retarded mother, we all exited the aircraft.
What I confused for the wrath
of God was actually the prop blast from our C-130, throwing my ragged body
through the air much like your cat does with a cheap toy. I felt my T-10
Parachute opening, “Praise the Lord!” too bad Jesus didn’t warn me of
the opening shock on my gonads. The straps dug into my legs, and the risers
were twisted behind my head. As I am bicycle kicking through the open air to
untangle my straps, I see the Georgia clay approaching with terrifying speed.
Which way am I supposed to pull the risers again? As I am looking toward the
horizon, I hear my 1st Lieutenant yell in agony accompanied by a sickening pop,
which was his femur snapping. I try not to focus on the ground, staying as
loose as possible. Feet and knees together! Then, as if the entire world is
quiet except for the breeze though the pines…I hit like a ton of bricks
thrown from the Empire State Building. Hey that was easy; only four more jumps,
and I’m a paratrooper!
After one more jump that day,
we run back up to the Airborne barracks at Fort Benning, Georgia. I’m in Delta
Company 1/507th. Having just graduated Infantry School on good ole Sand Hill, I
am with at least a platoon size of my buddies. One in particular, Clark, is a
character from Seattle, Washington. The guy had nothing better to do than join
the Army and see where that took him. In between serving time for high-speed
chases across Washington State, and almost getting killed by his own dad for
walking into the family business un-announced (AHEM…meth lab), he figured why
not try something a little less dangerous.
Being from Georgia myself, I had my own vehicle there at Airborne School. A
black 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee named “darkie”, my first ride. Clark
and I often took it for a spin to my hometown on the weekend or around Columbus
to see what kind of shit we could get in. Clark is notorious for getting to
drunk and making outrageous claims about spaceships or how he can beat you in
any event you think of. Plus, he likes to walk out on tabs…so usually Captain
Shitstorm finds us.
That evening we decided to go
to The Chop house in Columbus. Clark and I frequented this establishment. I
heard the food was amazing, but we went for the beverages. The bartender, whose
name has slipped my mind, was a hipster kind of guy. He wore a red goatee and
one of those damn hemp necklaces, and he drove a 1979 Blue Chevy. Mr. Barkeep
claimed he obtained a degree in bartending from one of the wacko colleges that
specializes in such things. The steak house was small and sat in the corner of
strip mall across from the fabulous Sheraton Hotel, where I had vomited many
times in the past and even jumped in the hot tub with my clothes on, but that’s
a different story.
Clark and I sat there drinking
a beer. He preferred German beer; I’m a Coors Light man myself. A shot was
sitting in front of us, Jaeger-bombs no doubt; Clark would stroke the side of
his shot glass like some perverted serial killer until it was time to drop the
Black Death into Red Bull. I swear God smites a kitten every time one of those
is drunk. Conversation in the establishment was entertaining as usual. Clark
was trying to hit on a waitress who was way out of his league, hell out of his
division; Clark wasn’t much of looker back then, even less so now.
An unusual cat sat down beside
us with jet-black hair slicked back and stripped polo on. He obviously knows
the bartender as they exchange words, slaps, punches, and play grab ass a
little longer. Meanwhile Clark is eyeing me, like “If you so much as slide
a hand on me that’s going to be it!” I have been known to throw a few
lisps on my words to make the gayest man seem straight. Rex, the gelled-Guido
grab asser, turns to us and says, “What are you soldier-boys havin?”
Now I may have looked young, 19 at the time, but Clark was by no means a boy.
Clark, in his usual forward manner, “Well…what are you buying?” I
had another Coors, the grab-asser and Clark did shots of Johnny Walker…talk
about a lush.
After some interesting
conversation, we found out that Rex was a geologist for some institute that was
going out of business, and I thought the business of being a rock whisperer was
booming! Of course Clark in his infinite wisdom knew all there was to know
about geology from volcanic ash to the sand in his vagina. Then as if Gabriel
himself blew the golden trumpet, Rex and Mr. Barkeep looked at each other and
wink. Rex turns to us, “Hey…do you guys play poker?” Now I am a
hell of a rummy player, I use to beat one of my best buds every Sunday
afternoon but I have never played poker; much less gambled for it. As I am sure
you are imagining now, Clark once again in his most matter-a-factual tone,
“Oh I’ll murder ya…my knowledge of the game and the quickness of my
hands…c’mon.” I sat there pondering on the meaning of Clark’s statement.
It was too late though, the gauntlet had been thrown. “Well come on over,
Mr. Barkeep will be joining us. I have ten beers and Kevin will be there
too.” Rex informs us.
I don’t know who keeps the
count of beers in their fridge, or who the hell Kevin is but before I could
swipe my handy-dandy debit card, we were out the door, already at a BP gas
station picking up a twenty-four pack of Bud Light; neither one of us keeping
in mind that we have to do two maybe three more jumps tomorrow. No that never
occurred to us. What a grave miscalculation.
Clark and I arrive at Rex’s
one-story brick suburban home. One of the older models you saw built in the 70′
and 80’s, a nice home for a Guido bachelor. The back door opened up into the
outdated kitchen, a large wooden dining room table was in the dining room to my
immediate right. The table should have given Rex plenty of room to count his
beer on. Speaking of beer, low and behold, ten nicely arranged Bud Lights in
the refrigerator. I’m no doctor, but I think someone had a touch of O.C.D. Only
about five minutes had passed when Mr. Barkeep arrived. Rex had given Clark and
me the grand tour of his lair, surprisingly not brandishing a plate of Fava
beans and a nice bottle of Chianti.
What exciting story
are you working on next?
however embarking on a book tour across the United States. I will hit Valdosta,
Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, and Annapolis
consider yourself a writer?
I had the time to write in Iraq in 2010 and 2011 so I wrote. I do have a few
short stories I have done, but we’ll see about publishing those. I suppose
though if the right person read my book, and was willing to pay me to write
another one I would.
full-time? If so, what’s your work day like?
If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to
Army. I am stationed in Savannah, GA at Fort Stewart. May starts at 5:30 am and
ends at about 5:00pm. At the moment, I have been focusing all of my time trying
to get my book title out there, and putting together my book
tour. I have found it takes a good deal of money and connections to get your
title out there in the world!
your interesting writing quirk?
I do write I only write in the morning. I have to get up, workout, and get some
coffee to start writing. I tried doing it in the afternoon, or after having a
few drinks, but that did not work out so well. I also like to listen to music
that I remember listening to while whatever it is I am writing about was taking
place. I think it helps the memories come back.
you want to be when you grew up?
that, I am looking at getting into the culinary world, or maybe professional
speaking. The sky is the limit!
you want to share with the readers?
dedicated to my best friend, Jacob Lowell, who was killed on June 2nd, 2007 in
Afghanistan. It is also dedicated to the other 41 Sky Soldiers we lost in
Operation Enduring Freedom 8. Each name and rank is listed in the Foreword.
what makes my book special, aside from any other military genre book you have
read is that most military books are written years after a conflict by people
that were not there and have tons of co-authors. This book was written by an
author that lived it. This book also shows the public what really happens in
the military. It isn’t all drill sergeants yelling, training in the mud, and
shooting a gun; that’s only about 10% of it. Most of it is like your college
campus, but the backdrop is Europe. Sex, drugs, and living like a rock star
without the Spandex.
Readers, Jesse is giving away 3 signed paperpack copies of Chutes through Rafflecopter: