Never surrender: Three-star general releases book.

I will not go into my own connection to Fayetteville, North Carolina, a place where even the fat girls are choosey. What I want to talk about instead is painfully obvious to those of us who have worn the uniform. There is a night and day difference between a professional warrior and a rank and file soldier determined to advance his/her status and advance in rank. Very few can succeed at both.

LTG Boykin was a professional warrior; that means among other things that he was more at home deployed and more likely to get in trouble in garrison. He went through a few tight spots when he voiced opinions not held (or understood) by the PC desk warmers in the Pentagon. Our entire nation is stronger because we have men like him. Don’t get me wrong I understand we need some of you PC desk warmers in the Pentagon, I just don’t think we need so damn many. On a side note: for you professional warriors trapped among them-cover your six.

I have not yet read LTG Boykin’s book but I will. Frankly, I want to hear what such a man has to say.

By Henry Cuningham, 19 July, 2008, Military editor, The Fayetteville Observer
Jerry Boykin had lost 15 pounds in the grueling Delta Force selection process, but he faced one more ordeal: a one-on-one interview with an overweight Army psychologist.

“Could you spend several days alone in a sniper position with a homosexual?” the psychologist asked.
Boykin had to think about that one.

Finally, he replied, “If it was my mission, I could. But he’d better understand that I’m not like that.”
The story is from the retired three-star general’s book “Never Surrender: A Soldier’s Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom.” The book’s release date is July 29.

Boykin spent most of his Army career out of public view in the military’s most secret units — many of them based at Fort Bragg — but he became a figure of public controversy in recent years. The reason: He promoted Christianity and denigrated Islam in uniform at church gatherings — and got ripped by the Washington press for doing so.

“I really wrote the book because I have been so criticized and accused of so many things,” he said in a telephone interview. “Here’s who I really am. Draw your own conclusions. Let me set the record straight.”

These days, he still speaks to religious groups, but he wears a civilian coat and tie instead of an Army uniform with a bright red combat patch on the right shoulder. He plans to speak Sept. 7 at Manna Church on Cliffdale Road.

In his book, Boykin, the quintessential warrior, reveals his soft side. He writes tenderly of his wife, Ashley, who comforted him in his darkest moments when he came under criticism inside the Beltway. And Boykin the believer reveals the times in his life that he despaired, railed at God and even doubted God’s very existence.

Boykin was bedeviled for his religious views as far back as the interview with the psychologist in 1978. The psychologist told him: “Capt. Boykin, from my analysis of your test data, I believe you rely too much on your faith and not enough on yourself. I’m going to recommend against your being part of this organization.”

But Boykin won, and the psychologist lost. He persuaded Col. Charlie Beckwith, who was forming the counterterrorist unit, to let him become one of the first officers. He eventually rose to command Delta Force, one of the the world’s most famous top-secret organizations, in 1992.

Telling all — almost

Boykin has always taken a no-holds-barred approach to life and the military, and he is true to form in his autobiography. He discusses his secret assignments, his faith, his family — even its moonshining and alcoholism — the controversy over his religious remarks, and the pain of going through a divorce from his first wife, which became final in a Fayetteville courtroom.

Much of the action centers on Fort Bragg and assignments to units there. The writing is crisp and conversational. Some of his best description is applied to Beckwith: “a tactical genius with the personality of a porcupine” and “looking like the inside of a laundry hamper.”

He offers no apology for telling tales most insiders did not talk about for many years.

“The Army helped make (the movie) ‘Black Hawk Down,’” he said. “That is not considered by the Army to be classified.”

His book actually follows in a tradition of retired Delta leaders such as Beckwith, Lt. Col. Bucky Burruss and Command Sgt. Maj. Eric L. Haney in writing books about the organization often referred to by insiders simply as “the unit.”

“Is there anything in that book that has not been written about or discussed or broadcast on History Channel?” Boykin asked. “There are things I did not talk about. Some of them, you probably can figure out.”

A picture in an advance copy of the hardcover edition shows Boykin and Peter J. Schoomaker wearing Israeli uniforms beside the Sea of Galilee to mask their identity during operations in 1987. Schoomaker later became chief of staff of the Army.

Boykin said the picture probably needs to speak for itself and the rest should be left untold.

Hometown heroes

Boykin grew up in North Carolina before spending most of his Army career at Fort Bragg. He retains close ties to the Fayetteville community even though he lives in Virginia.

Dr. John Hedgepeth, pastor of Northwood Temple, said Boykin has been involved with the church since the days when he was a young captain sitting inconspicuously in the balcony.

“He would call me at different times from around the world in tight places and say, ‘John, I need prayer right now,’” Hedgepeth said. “I would never ask where he was.”

The book mentions former Delta operators who live in the Fayetteville area, such as Scott Perry, who was wounded three times by the same bullet in the 1983 Grenada invasion, and Mike Kalua, whom Boykin describes as “a huge delightful Samoan who spoke rapid-fire, island-accented English and always called me ‘Boss.’”

Perry is now president of the Defense Security and Technology Accelerator in Fayetteville.

During the Grenada operation, Perry was 23 years old when most of his colleagues in the unit were 27 and older and Vietnam veterans.

“He was a great commander to work for,” Perry said. “I learned a lot working with him. He was an honorable person. I enjoyed the times we spent together.”

Maintenance crews counted 54 bullet holes in the helicopter in which Boykin and Perry rode into Grenada.

Eager warrior

In 1968, when many men of his generation were looking for ways to avoid combat service in South Vietnam, Lt. Boykin was bugging the Army to send him there. He ended up in South Korea.

Ten years later, he jumped at the chance to try out for the secret organization that was just being formed at Fort Bragg. It promised no more than “a medal and a body bag.”
-A recruitment slogan made famous by Col. Charles Alvin Beckwith

There was no playbook for that type of unit, and it was Delta’s job to write it. Other countries had similar forces, and the terrorist threat was growing in the Middle East.

As Delta was finding its way, Iranian militants took hostages at the U.S. embassy in Teheran in November 1979. The U.S. military was not ready to launch a long-range hostage rescue into an unfriendly country.

The Delta operators never even reached the Iranian capital. The mission was aborted when a helicopter and C-130 cargo airplane collided at a desert refueling site, killing eight men.
Boykin was on the team.

Delta had its first success in supporting Sudanese soldiers to rescue hostages. The rescue carried out Beckwith’s vision of low-key assistance to other nations and set the stage for U.S. support of future operations such as the rescue this month of hostages in Colombia.

In October 1983, Delta participated in the Grenada invasion, its first combat mission since the Iranian debacle. After Boykin’s arm was shredded by gunfire, he had a miraculous healing, which he attributes to God. People at his church in Fayetteville prayed for his recovery, he wrote.

The faith that was strengthened then came under fire in 2003 when NBC News broke the story that he had told a religious group that his god was “bigger” than the god of the Muslims. A Defense Department investigation later determined that Boykin violated internal regulations, basically because he failed to clarify that the views he was expressing were his personal ones.

High-profile missions

That was a tough time in a career that has been marked by successes, controversial events and tough decisions.

Boykin was the mission commander of the rescue of CIA operative Kurt Muse during the December 1989 Panama invasion. It was Delta’s first successful rescue of a U.S. hostage. Muse still calls him every Dec. 20 to say thanks.

He played a central role in the 1993 battle in Somalia, chronicled in Mark Bowden’s “Black Hawk Down.”
In his book, Boykin tells the story of the battle of Mogadishu from his perspective.

His hardest decision was not to send a helicopter to pick up a wounded Ranger during the height of the urban battle of Somalia. The second toughest thing he had to do was to enter the morgue tent containing the bodies of his soldiers who died in the battle.

He also writes of his role in the 1993 standoff at Waco, Texas, and tracking down drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Other stories may remain untold. Boykin said he does not plan to write another autobiography. He is working on a fiction book about a young Special Forces sergeant who becomes a hero in Afghanistan and is recruited to try to penetrate a terrorist camp in Pakistan.

The action novel has characters based on people he worked with, but “the story line is purely my creation,” he said.

Boykin teaches ethics, leadership and an introduction to national intelligence at Hampden-Sydney College, six miles south of Farmville, Va.

He does some consulting with military contractors and has a ministry. He and the Rev. Stu Weber are involved with Kingdom Warriors, an evangelical ministry designed to spread the New Testament teachings of Jesus. Its Web site is

“I absolutely love teaching,” he said. “I like writing. I’m not sure I could do it full time.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Christians under attack, Fighting Back, Military, Radical Islam

6 Comments on “Never surrender: Three-star general releases book.”


    This is the kind of guy we need to handle the enemy-not the likes of Rice a Roni and others of the Kumbaya ilk.

  2. Anne Says:

    What will we do when these men are gone? Men with guts, integrity, determination, and brains that know the price of freedom and are willing to do what it takes to enable people at Berkley and San Diego to insult them for their devotion. Men such as General Boykin give us a glimpse of what that word “MAN” should mean, instead of the idiotic commercials we see on TV that do all to demean, belittle, and insult the term. I for one am proud of him and those of his kind, who know what America was founded to be instead of the insulting diatribe spewed forth by the media and people who never lifted a finger to defend the freedoms they take for granted as their right. Thank you General. There are no words to convey to “our guys” how much we right-winged, Christian, fundamentalist Americans appreciate your sacrifice for our sake.

  3. ldh400 Says:

    This man has been at the “point of the spear” on every major U.S. operation since the Iranian hostage crisis. We can learn much from his teaching and experiences.

  4. James A. Strickland Says:

    I know Gen. Boykin, and he is the quintessence
    of what an AMERICAN soldier should be, a TRUE hero.
    Thank you, sir,for your service to our BELOVED
    country. May THE LORD give you a good retirement.
    You deserve it………
    Jim Strickland
    Fayetteville, NC
    WWII Navy Veteran

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