Review Alone at Dawn: Medal of Honor Recipient John Chapman and the Untold Story of the World's Deadliest Special Operations Force


Formerly Known as Freefalling
SOF Support
Sep 8, 2006
Not Afghanistan
BLUF: This is a badass book written by Dan Schilling, retired Combat Controller and STO.

If you don't know who John Chapman is and you're on this board...haze yourself. We have a thread out there that I'll add to this post in a bit. Short version, Chappy was a CCT who lost his life on Takur Ghar (Robert's Ridge) in March 2002 during Operation Anaconda. I won't recount his extraordinary tale becuase it is in the thread that I'll link.

The book is great, well written, and well researched. Schilling and co-author Lori Longfritz did an incredible job of tracking down the participants in the battle including the myriad of Controllers who were in and around Takur Ghar during the fight. The description of coordination, including some radio transcripts, is excellent. The book is a great companion to Not a Good Day to Die and Robert's Ridge, also excellent books.

Alone at Dawn covers Chapman's life and career while also covering some CCT history and explanation of their jobs. It understandably is favorable to The Unit while not so favorable to ST-6's leadership or the award upgrade debacle from a few years ago.

Chapman's last stand on Takur Ghar is covered in excrutiating detail thanks to declassified ISR imagery. The chapters dealing with the aftermath, memorials, etc. were very hard to read, understandably emotional. Interviews throughout the book were sourced and not the standard "couldn't talk because they are not allowed which means they shouldn't talk" crap.

Great book, go buy a copy.

ETA: Tech. Sergeant John Chapman To Be Awarded The Medal Of Honor and the thread about Slabinski: MoH to be awarded to SOCM Slabinski


Dec 10, 2012
This has been sitting on my nightstand for a couple months now. I have yet to crack it because I've been so busy and I know that when I finally do, I won't be able to put it down. Hopefully, I can change this in the next week or two.


Verified Military
Nov 3, 2015
Durham, NC
I would LOVE to read it. That said, the event, and the two aforementioned books (Not a Good Day to Die and Robert's Ridge, I have them both) piss me off when I read them. The only connection I have to any of it is that I know a guy who was there, lives in Fayetteville. He is as mild-mannered and even-keeled as you can get...until he talks about this. Then he wants to slit throats.

We have to keep reading these books and keep memories alive, and to prevent the same bullshit from happening again.