One of the most highly regarded Tier One Delta Force operators in American military history shares his war stories and personal battle with PTSD.
As a senior non-commissioned officer of Delta Force, the most elite and secretive special operations unit in the U.S. military, Command Sergeant Major Tom Satterly fought some of this country’s most fearsome enemies. Over the course of twenty years and thousands of missions, he’s fought desperately for his life, rescued hostages, killed and captured terrorist leaders, and seen his friends maimed and killed around him.
All Secure is in part Tom’s journey into a world so dark and dangerous that most Americans can’t contemplate its existence. It recounts what it is like to be on the front lines with one of America’s most highly trained warriors. As action-packed as any fiction thriller, All Secure is an insider’s view of “The Unit.”
Tom is a legend even among other Tier One special operators. Yet the enemy that cost him three marriages, and ruined his health physically and psychologically, existed in his brain. It nearly led him to kill himself in 2014; but for the lifeline thrown to him by an extraordinary woman it might have ended there. Instead, they took on Satterly’s most important mission-saving the lives of his brothers and sisters in arms who are killing themselves at a rate of more than twenty a day.
Told through Satterly’s firsthand experiences, it also weaves in the reasons-the bloodshed, the deaths, the intense moments of sheer terror, the survivor’s guilt, depression, and substance abuse-for his career-long battle against the most insidious enemy of all: Post Traumatic Stress. With the help of his wife, he learned that by admitting his weaknesses and faults he sets an example for other combat veterans struggling to come home.
“The Greatest Failure is the Failure to Try.” Tom Satterly CSM(Ret)
September 2004 Yusufiyah, Iraq
The Blackhawk helicopter hovered in the dark above the house on the outskirts of Baghdad while eighteen Unit operators slid down ropes forty feet to the roof. The small arms fire my troop and helos had been taking since our arrival a few minutes earlier intensified as the last man landed and joined the others.
Directing the assault from a field thirty meters north of the target house, I watched through my night vision goggles as the aircraft began to pull up and away. At that moment, above the fierce barking of assault rifles and machine guns, I heard the all-too-familiar whoosh and saw the red trail of an RPG as it was launched skyward.
The grenade struck the Blackhawk on its rotor blades and exploded. The elite Night Stalker pilots had been through it before and knew they wouldn’t make it to back to base. They aimed for a field five hundred meters from the house to put the injured bird down.
The Blackhawk hit hard but remained upright, intact, and didn’t burst into flames. But the pilot and crew immediately came under heavy fire from the enemy who were running in all directions from the house.
I thought, “here we go again.” Just thinking of the words, I was about to radio over the command station sent a chill through me. “We have a Blackhawk down!”