Story originally featured January 31, 2016 in Colorado Gazette
January 31, 2016 Updated: January 31, 2016 at 9:21 am
The legendary Lt. Col. Robert K. Brown, founder of “Soldier of Fortune,” lives right here in Colorado. The numerous stories and exploits of this Boulder man, as recounted in the biography “I Am Soldier of Fortune,” make the reader believe Hercules and Achilles were most likely real and human at one time.
Soldier of Fortune magazine is a staple for military, law enforcement, veterans and Americans who like to read about mercenaries and Special Forces straight from the hardened men themselves. The biography “I Am Soldier of Fortune” demonstrates the rumors that have long circled around RKB are not only true, but only a small piece of this great man’s life.
Author Vann Spencer’s personal respect and admiration for Brown is evident in his description of RKB as no saint, but a man of character and principles – a rarity in today’s culture of compromise. The author explains how “The Colonel,” one of the toughest of Coloradans, is sometimes overcome by grief and silence, such as when he learned of the loss of famous sniper Chris Kyle. “The side of this business I dread the most is when the normally devil-may-care, boisterous RKB goes silent, and I know he is grieving. I will never get used to it and it will never get easier.”
In 1953, RKB enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve. In 1954, he enlisted in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps and, although he had been promised a life of intrigue, found himself pushing pencils. He resented the bait and switch. “I went in, mind you very respectfully, and on being called to account, explained that ‘With all due respect, I attribute my poor performance to the fact that I had been promised one thing [exerting great restraint in not going off on the Snake Oil Salesman the Army had pimped out] and forced into another – that I had purposely passed up getting an Air Force ROTC commission because I didn’t want to be a paper pusher.’ ”
Anyone who has served in the military can appreciate how many times recruiters sell you on a job as the next Captain America only to make you a janitor.
RKB’s status as a “mustang” (an officer who was previously an enlisted soldier) makes him credible to every level of the military. The officer route being the only way out of his pencil pushing, RKB went through Officer Candidate School. But even as an officer, he was still searching for his true calling.
It found him when he happened upon a book about guerrilla warfare. “ ’150 Questions for a Guerrilla,’ was going to be of great value, I just knew it. I didn’t have a clue what it was at the time, but I soon saw the light. My mission became to translate this manual that revealed the techniques – primitive though they may have been-that helped Castro seize power.” In the 1990s, RKB discovered, because of his connections to Cuba, the CIA had considered him possibly involved in the JFK assassination.
As you read the book, you will stop to remind yourself that “I Am Solider of Fortune” is nonfiction and not an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. RKB has led an incomparable life. From wanting to sell guns to Cuban rebels, to his time in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Africa, Southeast Asia, Grenada, Pakistan, Russia, Lebanon and every other country that has had a war since the 1950s, the book will grip you from page to page.
With the United States short on leaders who aren’t worried about political correctness, we should be proud to know we have a hero in our backyard who stands up for our veterans when so many thank them for their service and then forget them.
“It’s been a hell of a ride and as long as tyrants continue to pollute the environment, and I am still kicking, I march on with my mission. I have a few regrets and made a lot of mistakes but make no apologies. I will continue to follow my long time motto: ‘Slay Dragons, Do Noble Deeds, and Never, Never, Never, Never Give Up.’ ”
I pray “The Colonel” keeps kicking. We need him now more than ever.
Josh Hosler served in the Marine Corps from 2007 to 2011 and completed tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the president of Colorado Reuse, a recycling firm. “I Am Soldier of Fortune: Dancing with Devils” is available at Amazon.com.