Tangent — I Like You, Chris Ryan

I know recent articles on Chris Ryan are all part of the Strike Back hype, but the effect on me is not producing a liking for more Strike Back (I already like it plenty) but rather a liking for more information on Chris Ryan. He’s just one likable fellow. I wasn’t kidding when earlier I said he feels like a buddy. Oh, I realize the press may not give an accurate account of him, but he seems to be honest. He doesn’t seem to think he’s superman nor seem to be hot on himself. My understanding is that John Porter is a somewhat autobiographical character, and in the book I don’t see him as all prettied up for our consumption, and if he comes out the hero, could that be Chris Ryan wanting a redo — even if it may only be in his head?

What’s interesting about this article and others I’ve read is that although Chris Ryan is a decided Alpha, as he gets older he’s learning to appreciate his Beta. I just hope he never has contempt for Alpha but puts it in perspective and really learns to appreciate it in a way that maybe no young man can ever do. Any man who gets that right is about as sexy as they come.

Maybe I need to break down and read more of his books to see if he’s already there. Not sure which one to begin. Perhaps his first, The One That Got Away.

I challenge you to read this article and come away not liking Chris Ryan or worse just dismissing him.

SAS author Chris Ryan: I fear for mental health of veterans of Afghanistan

May 12 2010

CHRIS RYAN is enjoying the spoils of war – the former SAS soldier has used his frontline expertise to become a best-selling author.

Decorated with a Military Medal for his exploits in the first Gulf War, which he survived against the odds, he has also appeared in testosterone-fuelled TV shows, including the aptly titled How Not To Die.

One of his books, Strike Back, has just been turned into a major new drama by Sky One, starring Richard Armitage as John Porter, a burned-out special forces soldier haunted by the past.

Like much of Ryan’s fiction, it’s something he writes about from first-hand experience. And for all the success he’s had as a writer since leaving the SAS in 1994, the memories of battles fought and fallen comrades remain with him.

He said: “There are always regrets. Usually when somebody was killed, wishing you’d done something differently. But that’s the gift of hindsight, which is invariably right.

“It’s always there but you can’t undo time and you just have to live with the decisions you made.

“As you get older, you look at it differently. You look at yourself and you are greyer, wrinklier and a bit heavier.

“The guys you lost never get older. You think of them as you last saw them and, as time goes on, as you push through the years, the reality of that is sadder.

“You just think, ‘What a waste of life’.”

Born near Newcastle in 1961, Ryan now spends most of his time in America, where he has interests in the security business.

But during his 10 years in the SAS – or “the regiment”, to those who have been part of it – he became part of its legend.

He took part in the disastrous Bravo Two Zero mission to Iraq in 1991, led by his fellow soldier turned author Andy McNab.

Four members were captured by the Iraqis and three died – two from hypothermia as temperatures plummeted to below zero.

Ryan was the one who got away, enduring the longest escape and evasion exercise in SAS history.

He trekked 200 miles to Syria over eight tortuous days with no food and little water. He lost 36lbs in body weight, his toenails fell off and he had sores all over his body.

Ryan puts his survival down to many things – SAS training, the thought of his then two-year-old daughter, Sarah, and that basic human instinct, fear.

He said: “An SAS soldier is trained in escape and evasion. I knew the process of getting out by hiding during the day and walking at night, but it was fear which got me home.

“It wasn’t just fear of bumping into the Iraqis, it was fear of the winter they were having – two of my colleagues had died through hypothermia – and of not seeing my daughter again.

“She was just two and I desperately wanted to see her. In fact, in the latter stages of my escape, I was hallucinating and I saw visions of her.

“Fear is a great motivator, especially if you think you are going to die. I had never pushed myself the way I did in Iraq – and that was only due to the fear and adrenaline which drives you on and keeps you going.

“It’s coming up for 20 years now. I can remember every day but there are bits that are hazy.

“It’s like toothache. It feels like the worst pain you’ve ever felt at the time, then a week later you can’t remember it.”

Although he remained in the SAS for a few years after Iraq, Ryan suffered from post-traumatic stress, which manifested itself in sudden bouts of rage.

It’s a condition he afflicted on Porter in Strike Back, and one which he is convinced will be a problem for many of the soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

He said: “I don’t think we have seen anything like what we have witnessed over the last 10 years, the amount of stress our young men are being put through.

“My brother is in the Parachute Regiment and tells me stories about guys who are out on foot patrol and see their colleagues vapourised. Over the period of a six-month tour, they are losing 20-odd men.

“Think about it. You go to your office and know that, out of a couple of hundred of colleagues, in six months about 27 of you are going to die. You are going to see a few of them go and a lot of you are going to come back without arms and legs. It would freak you out.

“I don’t know how these young lads are bottling it up. It’s got to come out somewhere.

The rest here.

Oh, and I would put up a picture, but I don’t have permission (didn’t take the time to get it). I’m just enjoying this picture. Hopefully, the owner will not pull it since it appears to be for public viewing. If the owner happens to stumble on this blog, I would love to embed this picture, but sometimes WordPress is a bully. :D