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John M. Scanlan

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Lieutenant Colonel John M. Scanlan, USMC (ret.) “was born in Columbus, Ohio, on August 8, 1959. After growing up in rural, southern Ohio as the oldest of eight children, he graduated from Logan Elm High School as an honor student with letters in football and wrestling. John graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, on May 25, 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a varsity letter in Rugby. He accepted a commission into the United States Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant.

Lieutenant Colonel Scanlan retired from the Marine Corps in 2003 with approximately 3000 hours in the back seat of tactical, fighter-attack aircraft, specifically the F-4S Phantom II, and the F-18D Hornet.  Then he commenced a second career as a writer and currently resides on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.” Lieutenant Colonel John M. Scanlan is the author of Speed Is Life, More Is Better and Dink-Gadink.

According to the book description of Speed Is Life, More Is Better, “Bama - the testosterone - is the best pilot in a Marine Corps F-18D squadron. He desires nothing more in life than to shoot down a Russian Mig, and then become an instructor at “Top Gun”. However, he constantly confronts Buick - the alcohol. As the best back-seater in the squadron, he disagrees with Bama’s methods.  Although depicting the squadron as it enforces a NATO no-fly zone imposed over Bosnia in the mid 90’s, Speed is Life, More is Better is timeless. It explores how men “cope”, and could just as easily have taken place in Vietnam as Iraq. Speed is Life, More is Better is a modern day Catch 22, simultaneously possessing the excitement and drama of Top Gun.

Speed is Life, More is Better begins on a Monday, with an unknown narrator reminiscing about his former F-18D squadron. On Tuesday and Wednesday, from a humorous perspective, the narrator entwines Bama’s quest with the depression, loneliness, danger, depravity, boredom, and frustration experienced by the likes of fellow aviators Ghost, Pope, Dago, Joisey, Hick Boy, Spine Ripper, Butt Munch, Hollywood, Shitscreen, and others. Thursday explodes with five tragic and unforeseen events within the squadron, all of which complicate Friday’s deadly offensive air operations.  Speed is Life, More is Better ends years later with a “where are they now?” epilogue, where a pensive and reflective narrator reveals his identity.”

One reader of Speed Is Life, More Is Better said, “This book shows you a week in the life of a fictional Marine air fighting squadron. The author is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He also has extensive air combat experience in the "Top Gun" school and also had time in Operation Desert Storm. The flying squadron that is portrayed in this book is enforcing a no-fly zone over Bosnia. This novel show how crew members deal with being members of the squadron. On Monday an unnamed narrator reminisces about his former F-18D squadron. Tuesday and Wednesday shows the emotions felt by the crew members. The crew members are Ghost, Pope, Dago, Joisey, Hick Boy, Spine Ripper, Butt Munch, Hollywood and other members. Thursday has five very tragic events which causes complications for offensive air operations on Friday. The book ends with a where are they now epilogue. This was a well written book on the history of this air squadron.”

One reader of Speed Is Life, More Is Better said, it “rings with authenticity, looking at the daily life of Marine Aviators assigned to combat air patrol over hostile territory. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and believed every moment of what I was reading - from tense standoffs in the air, to bull sessions at chow to dealing with the personalities of your squadron-mates. The book swings from suspense to action to personal drama to high humor without missing a beat, and you're right there with the characters the whole way.

Throughout, you get the sense that its been written by someone who's spent a lot of time in military aircraft, observing fellow aviators at close quarters. As it turns out, the author was a Marine Aviator, and was shot down over Iraq. He's obviously drawing on his own experience. I learned a lot about the F-18D in this book, and gained new sympathy for the men of Marine Aviation. Like most non-pilots, I always presumed that Fighter pilots and "Backseaters" flew along in air-conditioned comfort with nary a care, and slept peacefully at night in comfortable quarters.”

By contrast, in Speed is Life, More is Better, the unit is deployed in a Tent City, set up right next to the runway, flying nonstop day and night missions. The men are tired, saddle sore and frustrated by the rules of engagement and the trivialities that accompany military life. Even so, they're doing their duty, and earning their pay in a tense environment that pushes them and their equipment beyond the breaking point. I felt real fear for the characters' fates, and was particularly struck by an incident near the end of the book that reminded me of a tragedy that occurred in an old unit of mine.

This view into this side of Military Life was one I never had before. I think any aviator, history buff or aircraft enthusiast would enjoy the book, and that anyone in the military would empathize with it. As a former enlisted man, I'd recommend it to anyone whose ever been in any branch of service, but also particularly to Cadets at the Service academies and ROTC students. It would open their eyes, and give them a sense for the sacrifices - and the rewards - of real military life. If there's any justice, "Speed is Life, More is Better" should be in every "Stars & Stripes" bookstore, library and PX/BX at every military post in the world.”

Speed Is Life, More Is Better
John M Scanlan  More Info

John M. Scanlan  More Info

According to the book description of Dink-Gadink, it is “based on real events and personal experiences yet presented as comical military fiction Dink Gadink depicts a week in the life of seven Plebes at the U.S. Naval Academy. Struggling to survive in an institution that constantly overwhelms them on a daily basis, these seven Plebes are as unique in their personalities and goals as they are similar in their struggle to survive. Told from a humorous perspective in vivid detail, Dink Gadink boldly takes the reader inside the hallowed walls of the U.S. Naval Academy. It depicts the hilarious and mischievous escapades of Homecoming week, leading up to a climactic football game against Air Force on Saturday. Finally, on a lazy Sunday morning, it reveals a priceless lesson about the true meaning of real world friendships that are formed in a crucible like the U.S. Naval Academy. Dink Gadink is as close as any reader will ever become to actually being a Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy.”

One reader of Dink-Gadink said, “First let me say this is an enjoyable book. It gives a side of midshipmen life that is not normally seen. I've been associated with many aspects of the Academy and seen many friends and then sons go off to their plebe year and so much of how these young men think and react is so accurate and well it should be since it was written by a former Midshipmen. (I omit women, because so does John Scanlon, even though they were present during his years in Annapolis)

Despite the moans and complaining there are the thoughts, that do occur, that in 3 ½ years they could be asked to lay down their lives for "the greatest nation on earth". Those young men that I have witnessed go through this 4 year molding usually do feel that they have been given an opportunity to become better than they actually are; but as `Dink-Gadink' is mostly made up of - it is the sometimes seemingly absurdities of especially plebe (1st) year. The Dink-Gadink is the ever present clock in Mother B - Bancroft Hall where all the midshipmen live, and that is the sound those synchronized clocks made. The humor is done admirably with the exception of the extraordinary lengths Scanlon goes to insult NIS, the Naval Investigative Service (now better known to the TV watching public as NCIS). Believe me most services have no love for their investigative services, but the absurdities that Scalon writes of are ridiculous. The NIS men drop guns and badges and use slipping wigs and over glued mustaches. It's really beyond insulting, especially if we are to believe the end where they uncover an illegal scam run by some upper classmen. Hopefully not to give away plots I also wonder where the selling of exams went. It seems to be forgotten as well as the ramifications of a non- reported honor code violation when plebes discover one of their friends is married (a huge honor code violation).

Despite my complaints this would be an interesting book to have any military incoming student read and probably one that would bring huge smiles and reminiscences of anyone who has attended any military academy.”


© 2006 - 2010 Raymond E. Foster, Hi Tech Criminal Justice Degree