American Warrior: The True Story of a Legendary Ranger

For Chief Warrant Officer Gary O’Neal, he “wasn’t born a warrior”—life made him one.

Part Native American, O’Neal was trained in both military combat and native ways, combining his love for freedom with respect for the enemy and his technical fighting skills with a fierce spirit.

And for nearly 40 years he’s fought America’s enemies, becoming one of the greatest warriors this nation has ever known.

His at-once shocking and moving stories are chronicled in American Warrior: The True Story of a Legendary Ranger, the brand-new Book of the Week here at TheBlaze Books.

And they’re reminders of what it means to be a true American hero.

From his first tour in Vietnam at 17 to fighting in both Gulf wars, O’Neal kept battling even when wounded, refusing to surrender in the face of nine serious injuries and even being left more than once.

He’s earned countless military honors:

  • as a member of the elite Army Rangers corps
  • a founding member of the legendary first Department of Defense anti-terrorist team
  • a member of the Golden Knights Parachuting Team
  • and more, devoting his life to training the next generation of soldiers.

Check out this video introduction to what being a warrior means to O’Neal:

The following excerpt from American Warrior delves deeper into the heart of O’Neal’s uncommon life code:

I have sat on the mountaintop and seen the eagles soar. I sat on that same small staked-out piece of land where Sitting Bull and Black Elk, Red Cloud, and other great chiefs had sat long before me and looked outside to find themselves. I sat there all alone for four days and four nights, and I said my prayers and sang my songs and asked the elders to guide me to a peaceful place. For a time, my spirit flew with those eagles, but when they went to nest, it came home to me. When I came down from the mountain, only I knew what I’d left behind.

I know who I am. I know what I’ve done. I know who I did it for. I don’t pretend to be anything but what I am. I’m a soldier; I’m a warrior. I am an American fighting man. For the last half century, wherever American soldiers were fighting an enemy, some piece of me was there. If I wasn’t there myself, someone I’d fought alongside or trained to kill silently or taught to survive was there. It didn’t matter if it was a jungle, a forest, a field, or a desert, if Americans were on the ground, some part of me was there. I’ve got plenty of wounds to prove it, although sometimes I think the deepest ones are those you can’t see.

My reputation is pretty direct. At Fort Bragg it has always been possible to find experts in almost every kind of warfare: shooting any type of weapon, all the martial arts, surviving on the land, there is always someone there who can teach the best way to do it. When my name was mentioned there, people would respond, “If you want to know about combat, go see O’Neal. He’ll teach you how to kill.”

Every man is born with the skills of a warrior, but it is the circumstances of his life that put him on that path. When you have to fight to survive, you fight; and if you do survive, then you remember those lessons. The fighting makes you a different person, a harder, tougher person. Then you continue the journey by training your heart, your mind, your body, and your soul to be better prepared for the next time. The next time always comes.

Fighting fills my soul. I’ve spent my life walking the path of the warrior. I’ve got nine bullet holes in me, and I’ve been left for dead twice. I’ve been cut and stabbed more times than I can count. I have served my country, and I killed the enemies of my country. I killed a lot of them, more than I ever counted. That was my job. It was what I was trained to do, and so I did it to the very best of my ability. I did whatever I needed to do to survive; I didn’t think about it, I didn’t worry about it, I just did it. I used whatever weapon I could find. I killed the enemy from a long distance, and I looked him right in the face from a few inches away and I killed him.

I got damn good at it.