About Me

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I'm the author of four books: Warrior SOS (Sept 2015), The Work of Death, Together Forever, and Leaders Wanted. I'm in the doc film Please Remove Your Shoes. I've blogged for The Washington Times, and I write for Guns.com. I've worked for the high-profile U.S.-led Roadmap to Mideast Peace in Israel and Palestine. I've also worked as a SWAT team leader, a Federal Air Marshal and a sole-source training instructor on a classified contract with a U.S. government customer. My master's degree is in Military Studies and terrorism. I'm a former noncommissioned and commissioned Army officer, with service in Iraq. I've been Scuba diving and skydiving; I have trained with members of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and I'm an FBI-trained crisis negotiator. My interests lie in helping others and in strengthening America through inspiring moral courage, government fiscal responsibility and accountability, and maintaining principles that have made--and will continue to make--the United States of America a blessed and prosperous country. I'm a father of six, a husband, and a police officer. I reside in Utah, and I'm a Mormon. See www.Jeffrey-Denning.com.

February 13, 2015

President Roosevelt's Prayer on D-Day, June 6, 1944

President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

In this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer....
Almighty God..... Our sons , pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor.... to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true.... give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness to their faith.
They will need Thy blessings.... They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest.... until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violence of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and for tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home.... fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters and brothers of brave men overseas....whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them.... help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice....
Thy will be done, Almighty God..... Amen

February 10, 2015

Warrior SOS: Insights and Inspiration for Veterans Living with PTSD

I'm excited to announce that Warrior SOS, the book, is getting published by a publishing company.  A meeting commenced and a slight alteration on the subtitle was suggested.

The new title for Warrior SOS, the book, will be:

Warrior SOS: Insights and Inspiration for Veterans Living with PTSD

The book will be offered in both hardcopy and electronically.  Currently, it is estimated for a September 2015 release.

Now that I'm under contract, I've removed the link on Amazon for the ebook I self published.

Thanks a million for everyone's help an interest in this great project.

Stay tuned!

January 29, 2015

There Stands A Man - by Austin Cloninger


Yesterday, on January 28th, I learned that the book publisher I submitted the Warrior SOS manuscript to made me a conditional offer.  I was thrilled to learn that Warrior SOS will be published! What makes it even more exciting is that Jan 28th is the birthday of John Cloninger.  I dedicated the book to him.  He would have been 45-years-old.

John is the reason I created and wrote Warrior SOS.

His son Austin, now 17-years-old -- the oldest of six children -- wrote a tribute to his dad.  The words of the song are below and a video of Austin singing the song are below.  What a great song!  I know his dad, who's watching over him from heaven, couldn't be more proud of his oldest son.  What a great kid!

Here are the words to the song, There Stands a Man:

There stands a man my dad

I remember the deployment to Iraq
Momma cried as you packed up your rucksack
I could only imagine the hell to come
Those months were pretty tough

I remember those BDUs and combat boots
Medals, awards, and those war stories too
A soldiers service inspired a boy like me
To stand up for freedom and the weak.

A soldier willing to fight for what's right
A captain who was used to sacrifice
Where ever you are where ever you've been
I know there's one thing to be said
Forever and always there stands a man

Mmmm ya a fightin' man

I remember the car ride home
Mom told me the news and it wasn't so good
Before I knew it the chemo set in
Stage 4 cancer left me on the rim

I remember you fighting strong no givin up
I remember you pushing through like it wasn't much
A husband's love for his family
Taught me to never mix my priorities

A fighter of a husband who loves his wife
A father striving to raise his kids right
Wherever you are, wherever you've been
I know there's one thing to be said
Forever and always there stands a man

Mmmm ya a family man

I remember the day you passed
My heart skipped a beat and things stopped moving so fast
I'm gonna miss you everyday
But I'll carry on watching for our family

A soldier a father a man of God
Taught me so much to forgive learn and love
Wherever you are wherever you've been
I know there's one thing to be said
Forever and always there stands a man

Mmmm ya that's my Dad

Can't wait to see you again.

January 13, 2015

The Army should keep the 9mm -- Here's why

I recently wrote an article on Guns.com about what caliber I'd pick for the new Army round. Here's the link: http://www.guns.com/2015/01/13/opinion-my-pick-for-the-new-army-pistol-caliber/

Like a knucklehead, I wasn't thinking much about the crazy laws and political goofiness surrounding changing rounds.  While I did opt to stay with the 9mm, I suggested going to a 147g JHP.  But, even without going to a hollow point, I'd still opt that the conventional military stays with the NATO 9mm.

When I realized that suggesting a JHP round had a lot more to it, I decided to go to an expert.  I'm not going to go into John Talbot's background, but suffice it to say, he's squared away and knows what's up.

On Facebook (or as one man I know called it, FacePlant), I asked John, "am I wrong about using a JHP round because of international military law? I didn't even consider that. Ugh." Here's John's reply to my Facebook inquiry:

Jeffrey Denning...long and short is that the Hague Convention of 1899 prohibits the use of expanding ammunition. The convention consisted of a number of separate conventions and declarations. The ones that concern us are Hague II Annex, Article 23, which prohibits the employment of "arms, projectiles, or material of a nature to cause superfluous injury;" and Declaration III, which prohibits "the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with incisions." We are not Hague signatories but that's irrelevant since its become customary international law and, as such, applies to us. The US understanding of the rule, however, pertains to the use of such ammunition to increase suffering of the enemy, i.e. superfluous injury. Of course we use all sorts of hollow point ammunition today but the purpose, for example with boat tail hollowpoints, is not to cause unnecessary suffering, but rather to increase accuracy. Our interpretation of Hague is that we can use any round as long as the purpose is not to increase suffering. In fact, every type of modern rifle ammunition going back to pre-WWI days, flattens and fragments inside the human body. It is arguable that the use of hollow point handgun ammunition would be permissible following the same underlying logic as that which supports using the boat tail hollowpoint. In the case of a JHP round the supporting reason would be that its actually safer in urban combat situations, where noncombatants are often in close proximity and even mixed in with combatants. The JHP is less likely to overpenetrate a bad guy and in the event of a miss less likely to penetrate through common building materials and injure or kill a noncombatant in another room. 

Not that's the argument for, but the law as applied by US forces would forbid that. As I see it that is more of a policy decision than an absolute legal requirement. But for now it is what it is and the bottom line is that no one in authority has the political stones to make the change. However, one interesting alternative would be the use of Expanding Full Metal Jacket ammunition, EFMJ. I believe there are rounds from Federal that they call EFMJ and something else from Hornaday that uses some sort of plastic plug in the otherwise hollow tip of the round. While these expand and/or flatten easily, they are certainly not employed to cause unnecessary suffering. So, again, like the use of HP rifle ammunition for increased accuracy, it would take someone with chutzpah to decide that we were going to depart from Hague 1899 for reasons that are acceptable. Its doubtful that anyone would expend the political capital necessary on a handgun round.

I will point out that many of our allies, including 22 SAS, have been using FMJ 9mm NATO ammunition to kill bad guys for a long time. So has the US Navy SEAL community with their SIG 226s. I personally think the handgun ammo debate is a red herring. Outside of the special operations forces in the US military, almost no one is properly trained to employ a handgun. They can't perform with anything approaching what I would consider mediocre shooting with the 9mm they have now. The .45cal will not improve this situation unless the military commits to abandoning its nearly primitive handgun training methods and follows civilian competitive shooters and the law enforcement community and actually trains its personnel to use handguns. 

What I find amusing is that Soldiers will show up at a handgun match...once. After they are thoroughly embarrassed by the 55 year old lawyer and a number of other competitive shooters far better than me, including those with no military or LE training or experience who shoot far better than they do, including overweight guys, young kids, female shooters, etc., most Soldiers never come back. They think they can shoot and they find out that they don't know what they don't know. The issue isn't the hardware as I commented before, the gun and the bullet are fine. The issue is training. And with the inept training that the vast majority of Soldiers receive on handguns, the .45 will only make things worse. So I agree that 9mm is the way to go, but I depart from you in that I believe that whether they use NATO FMJ ammunition or a HP round. is irrelevant 9mm remains the way to go. 

What's the worst thing about this is that the Army that is firing Soldiers left and right, decorated and experienced combat veterans, officers, NCO's, combat leaders, is prepared to spend in excess of $350 million and likely a lot more, probably in excess of half a billion dollars, to get a new SECONDARY weapon that they then won't properly train people to use or maintain. As a taxpayer and retired Soldier I think this is sheer insanity. Instead we should keep some personnel for the inevitable fight with ISIS and Islamic terrorists and teach our trainers how to use dry fire and other methods to get Soldiers proficient with the tool they have now. Software not hardware. New toys is the lazy man's way. I just don't support it. Getting a Glock or S&W is not a magic bullet that is going to make every Soldier an Operator level shooter. It won't even make them competent. Striker fired triggers are especially prone to negligent discharges for those with poor gun handling skills. The FBI had a huge issue with it when they went to Glocks. I love my Glock and carry it every day, at work and on my own time. 

Most Soldiers I saw in nearly 22 years service have about as much business carrying a Glock as I do playing in the NFL. Zero. What will happen after the also inevitable rash of negligent discharges is that instead of employing a training solution the Army will do what it always does...write and adopt some draconian and tactically debilitating "safety" rule to prevent negligent discharges, like you can only carry your Glock w/ the magazine inserted but no round in the chamber. Then they will fail to train people how to properly draw their Glock and put it into operation with an empty chamber from the draw, further handicapping the already poorly trained Soldier from successfully defending himself when he or she most needs that handgun...when an enemy is w/in 25-30 meters and literally fractions of a second separate life and death. 

Anyway just my 2 cents. Stay w/ 9mm NATO hardball and the handgun you have now or the proposed M9A3 and train, train, train to learn how to properly employ it. I realize that I'm in the minority here. So be it. Sorry this was so crazy long.



Thanks John. I couldn't have said it better, and I totally agree with the training aspect, and everything else, for that matter.

Check out my articles at http://www.guns.com/author/jd/

January 9, 2015

Patton on Fear

If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows not fear, I have never seen a brave man.  All men are frightened.  The more intelligent they are the more they are frightened.  The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on.  Discipline, pride, self-respect, self-confidence, and the love of glory are attributes which will make a man courageous even when he is afraid.

Gen. Patton, War as I Knew It

January 1, 2015

Daughter uses father’s story of survival during WWII to teach true heroism



Eugene Nielsen in 2004 talked about how he survived a brutal massacre at a prisoner-of-war camp in the Philippines on Dec. 14, 1944. The fact he survived led to the rescue of 500 other prisoners of war. He died in 2011. (Picture KSL-TV)

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 31 2014

Seventy years ago, the Bing Crosby song "White Christmas" meant salvation for a Utah prisoner of war.
It climaxed Eugene Nielsen’s miraculous escape from a brutal prisoner-of-war massacre in the closing months of World War II.
Now Nielsen's daughter, Lorna Murray, is using her father's incredible experience to help high school students define what heroes are made of. The fact that he survived led to the rescue of 500 other prisoners of war.
At the beginning of World War II, Nielsen was young, in the Army and stationed at Corregidor in the Philippines.
In May 1942, Japanese forces closed in, capturing thousands of Americans. Nielsen was taken to a POW camp on Palawan Island in the Philippines and held captive for almost three years.
A Hollywood film called "The Great Raid" opens with a brutal massacre at a POW camp on Palawan Island. American soldiers scramble into air-raid shelters, questioning each other as to what was going on. Nielsen was in one of those bunkers on Dec. 14, 1944.
"Then they started pouring gas into the holes. I couldn't believe they were doing it," he said in a 1994 interview.
"I know a lot of this here is hard to believe. I don't know why so much of it happened to me," he said in 2004.
"It was really the worst day of his life and the worst event that could happen to anyone," said Murray, a teacher at Copper Hills High School.
Murray's class recently watched KSL-TV's two previous stories about her father's astonishing escape.
"They were firing rifles down in the hole, throwing hand grenades; a machine gun every now and then," Nielsen said in 1994. "I realized I had to make a break some way or another."
Somehow, Nielsen climbed out of the bunker, through barbed-wire, and jumped off a 50-foot cliff, catching a tree branch on the way down.
"It was just enough to break my fall. I just rode it down," he said.
Nielsen hid for hours on the beach and heard Japanese guards cheering as they killed, or tortured, American prisoners.
"There were guys up there begging to be shot," he recalled.
When he decided to jump in the ocean and swim, guards fired hundreds of shots at him.
"I got hit in my leg, and a bullet went up into my hip. I got hit right under my arm," Nielsen said. "I was in bad shape. I didn't think I had a chance."
Wounded three times, he just kept swimming. A big fish, he worried it was a shark, circled him for hours.
"I could reach out and touch it sometimes. It was so close," Nielsen said.
He later found out it was a dugong, a sea cow.
Thirteen hours later, he reached another part of Palawan Island. For the first two days of his 12 days of Christmas, Nielsen hid out in a swamp.
"(There were) lots of animals in there — mosquitoes, snakes, crocodiles," he said.
For 10 more days he marched through jungles, hooking up with anti-Japanese guerillas. They traveled through Japanese territory for days, on foot, on a sailboat, on water buffalos.
On Dec. 26, 1944, they walked into a camp where he met two American military advisers. They reported Nielsen's survival by radio, and the voice of Bing Crosby came back over the airwaves.
"He sang the first two lines of 'White Christmas.' I never heard it before," Nielsen said, voice breaking. "I never did forget it."
Nielsen's report of the massacre triggered one of the most daring rescues of World War II. Realizing the Japanese intended to kill all prisoners, Army Rangers mounted "The Great Raid." Sneaking 30 miles behind Japanese lines, they attacked another POW camp, killed the guards and rescued 500 American prisoners.
It might never have happened if Nielsen had just given up and died.
"He survived what a lot of people could not have survived," said Saige Martinez, a student in Murray's class.
Nielsen's daughter shares her father's story to teach that heroes usually don't look and act like Captain America. They are ordinary people who rise to extraordinary circumstances.
"We have to promise them, and we have to promise ourselves, that we will remember what they gave us," Murray told the students.
The Nielsen family celebrates “Free Day” every Dec. 14, and Nielsen was on the verge of tears every time he heard “White Christmas.”
Nielsen lived 67 years beyond that terrible day in 1944. He died in 2011, at the ripe old age of 95.

December 23, 2014

Valor: Unsung Heroes

A really great guy and very skilled, award-winning 3-gun shooter, Scott McGregor, recently suggested that I reach out to a Marine Corps MARSOC veteran named Buck Doyle who runs Follow Through Consulting, a firearms and leadership training company.  

In the course of searching out Buck online, I found this great article on Forbes.com.  Buck says he was hesitant at first to share his stories about being in combat, but after researching the author, he felt the guy (Mark Greenblatt) had pure intentions. 

Hopefully I can get together with Buck soon. He seems like a terrific guy, and, who knows--we probably know some of the same guys other than the aforementioned shooter who recommended I link up with Buck in the first place.

The Forbes.com article describing the book is well worth the read.  Here it is:

Three Lessons WeCan Learn From Returning Vets: A Q&A With Valor Author Mark Greenblatt


What can we civilians learn from the acts of valor that you detail? 
 Three lessons come to mind.
1.Perseverance.  One of the heroes I profiled, an Army grunt named Steve Sanford, saw a buddy get shot by a sniper and ran into the sniper‘s fire to save his fallen comrade.  Steve gave the man CPR while the insurgent sniper continued shooting at them from, literally, a few feet away.  Multiple bullets pinged into Steve’s Kevlar vest.  In our interview, I asked Steve what he was thinking in that moment.  Steve’s answer was, “Yep, I’m being shot,” but that didn’t matter.  He kept performing CPR, desperately trying to save his buddy’s life.  “I had better things to do,” he said, “than worry about pieces of metal sticking out of my vest.” That is perseverance.

Dan Foster, another of the heroes profiled in Valor, was doing guard duty when his base came under attack from dozens of insurgents.  A huge truck bomb knocked Dan off his feet, but he regained his composure and fought back.  He, along with his buddy Nick, held off the assault and saved their unit’s lives.  Dan was injured in the fighting, but didn’t realize the extent of his injuries until he was back in the medical area and looked in the mirror.  He had lost more than a dozen teeth and substantial bone structure from his upper and lower jaws.  He had also lost hearing in one ear.   But – get this – Dan returned to the fight.  That too is perseverance.
So, whenever I’m ready to give up on some task – to throw in the towel because it’s too much of a pain – I actually think about Steve Sanford and Dan Foster.  If those guys persevered in those moments, how can I possibly give up when I face my first-world problems?
2. Loyalty.  Everyone of the heroes told me that what really motivated them was love for their brothers in arms.  They spoke of the special bond between people who serve together.  That bond is unlike anything I have ever seen.  They will do virtually anything to help each other, including sacrificing their own lives.  It’s inspiring to witness that level of dedication.

This sense of brotherhood was drilled into them from the beginning of their military service.  One man, a Marine named James Hassell, told me his drill sergeants would motivate them, not by warning that they would get killed, because “after a while, we didn’t really fear that.  What we feared was letting down our brothers.  We didn’t want to be the guy that gets one of your brothers killed.”

Buck Doyle, another Marine, received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for trying to save another Marine, Sgt. Nick Walsh.  Buck dismissed his Bronze Star Medal, explaining, “The award for me is the brotherhood.  If you are accepted in that brotherhood, that’s the greatest award you can receive.  For me, my award is having Nick’s parents regard me as part of their family – that’s a huge award – hearing that Nick spoke of me the whole time to his parents, that he regarded me as a brother.  That is the eternal reward that no colonel can think about giving me, so I regard that responsibility and honor of serving with those guys as the award.”

3. Poise in the Face of Adversity:  Another hero profiled in Valor, Army Ranger Chris Choay, was in a firefight against insurgents hunkered down in a bunker in an Afghan valley.  Chris led his squad through machine-gun crossfire to get within 65 yards of the bunker.   The insurgents didn’t know Chris was there.  If they just looked to their left, Chris would have been a dead man.
Chris was preparing to eliminate the threat, when he realized that he was completely alone – his men had not heard him when he initiated the assault. Chris was also severely outgunned – the insurgents had three machine guns and a rocket-propelled grenade.
But Chris kept going and he prepared to attack the insurgents by himself.
And then disaster struck: Chris’s rifle jammed.  “That,” Chris told me, “was the loneliest moment of my life.”

I don’t know about you, but I think I would have curled up in the fetal position and cried for mommy.  Or cursed loudly.
But not Chris.  He stayed calm.  He knelt down and fixed his rifle.  Then he stood up and proceeded to take out the enemy bunker by himself.
So when I’m about to lose my cool, I think about Chris Choay.  If Chris can stay poise in the face of such adversity, how can I fall apart when my Wi-Fi goes down, or when the line for my latte is too long, or when some idiot cuts me off in traffic?

What myths do you think exist about the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and what, if anything, should we be doing to correct those myths?
A few unfortunate and inaccurate stereotypes about our military veterans persist.  First is the caricature of the macho, rough-and-tumble guy who just likes to shoot things or blow things up.  I’ll admit that, when I first started this project, I expected the best parts of the book would be the bang-bang-shoot-‘em-up tales.  But the more I got to know the heroes as people, the more I realized their stories would be incomplete without getting into the backgrounds and their motivations – they are interesting, funny, smart individuals, with full lives.  With our all-volunteer military, few Americans know service members personally these days, so that meathead stereotype still exists.  One of my goals in writing Valor was to help bridge that gap.
Sadly, there is another caricature emerging, that of an on-edge person in the grips of post-traumatic stress.  I know that a sizeable number of veterans suffer when they return home, and we need to help them as much as possible.  More needs to be done to erase the stigma preventing veterans from seeking mental health treatment.  But I fear that this storyline has been overplayed by the media, such that every returning veteran is portrayed as a ticking time-bomb.  That’s just not accurate.  They are some of the smartest, most engaging, most capable, and highest-character people I’ve ever encountered.



A December quote for December 23rd

I have little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who had so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent.

—Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Number I, December 23, 1776