Jesse Holder (1986) was born in Valdosta, Georgia. He quickly became known as a "class-clown" throughout his school years. After putting college on hold, Jesse joined the United States Army. He graduated United States Infantry and Airborne School in the spring of 2006. He served in the 173rd Airborne Combat Team in Italy from June 2006 to July 2009. He has completed two combat tours, the first being a fifteen month deployment in Afghanistan with the 173rd ABCT; the second being with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. Jesse is very passionate about friends, family, food, beverages, traveling, and University of Georgia football.
Chutes, Beer, & Bullets: Not Your Grandpa's War Story is Jesse's first novel. It is a trail-blazer as it introduces a new genre to the world of literature, Military Humor. It has been described as an un-cut comedy/war film. Some say a hint of Tucker Max, with a dash of Joe Galloway.
Please tell us about your current release.
My book, Chutes, Beer, & Bullets: Not Your Grandpa’s War Story gives an in-depth look at what the Sky Soldier does for training, entertainment, and how close soldiers become with each other. Chutes, Beer, & Bullets: Not Your Grandpa's War Story is a humor-filled narrative that takes place during the peak of The War on Terror. It is an uncut and unscripted adventure that leads you through United States Army Airborne School, Europe, and ultimately to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. It is assured to have you laughing, sighing, looking away, and possibly even shedding a tear as you connect with the real life characters within. "It is a story of men fiercely loyal to their country - some are drinkers and smokers, some are drug users and prostitute seekers. Although they are not your father's patriots, they are all real soldiers. America, this is your army." --Editors Note, Dallas Cowne.
What inspired you to write this book?
Well, I never set out in life to write a book. My brother gave me a journal right before I joined the Army and said to write down as many memories as possible. At first it seemed a little weird, writing to myself, but I did start doing it in Afghanistan. It started as a way to pass the time.
When I got to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division we worked 12 hours on and 12 hours off. We were there to help everyone get out during the big drawdown. When you weren’t working; aside from eating, showering, and hitting the gym there wasn’t much to do. So I thought hey…why not write a book? Toying around with the first chapter got me rolling. I worked on it a little bit every day until the next thing I knew I had twenty two chapters and was writing the conclusion. The journal, pictures, and memories I had came in handy!
The door of the C-130 Hercules flew upwards as the hot Georgia air poured into my nervous lungs. The continuous bump of the aircraft was not helping the situation...the sting of diesel nipping at my nostrils. The Black Hat yelled, "Thirty-Seconds," holding up his index finger and thumb. We all replied "thirty-seconds" as was taught to us for the past three weeks. I could feel my right hand tighten around the yellow rip cord. The only thought circulating through my head since I hooked up was, "Is the yellow cord really going to open this parachute that some nut packed?" This was by all means a new experience."Standby!" the Black Hat barked, and the number one jumper turned to face the rustling Georgia Pines, pissing his pants as he did so...the Black Hat stepped back. I was the #4 jumper, or the fourth person that would jump from the plane. I was just close enough to the door to see the ground zipping by. The planes altitude hit 1,200ft and all I could think was, "What in THE HELL am I doing here?" "Green light go!" The Black Hat responds in a roar, and like ducks following a seemingly retarded mother, we all exited the aircraft.
What I confused for the wrath of God was actually the prop blast from our C-130, throwing my ragged body through the air much like your cat does with a cheap toy. I felt my T-10 Parachute opening, "Praise the Lord!" too bad Jesus didn't warn me of the opening shock on my gonads. The straps dug into my legs, and the risers were twisted behind my head. As I am bicycle kicking through the open air to untangle my straps, I see the Georgia clay approaching with terrifying speed. Which way am I supposed to pull the risers again? As I am looking toward the horizon, I hear my 1st Lieutenant yell in agony accompanied by a sickening pop, which was his femur snapping. I try not to focus on the ground, staying as loose as possible. Feet and knees together! Then, as if the entire world is quiet except for the breeze though the pines...I hit like a ton of bricks thrown from the Empire State Building. Hey that was easy; only four more jumps, and I'm a paratrooper!
After one more jump that day, we run back up to the Airborne barracks at Fort Benning, Georgia. I'm in Delta Company 1/507th. Having just graduated Infantry School on good ole Sand Hill, I am with at least a platoon size of my buddies. One in particular, Clark, is a character from Seattle, Washington. The guy had nothing better to do than join the Army and see where that took him. In between serving time for high-speed chases across Washington State, and almost getting killed by his own dad for walking into the family business un-announced (AHEM...meth lab), he figured why not try something a little less dangerous.
Being from Georgia myself, I had my own vehicle there at Airborne School. A black 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee named "darkie", my first ride. Clark and I often took it for a spin to my hometown on the weekend or around Columbus to see what kind of shit we could get in. Clark is notorious for getting to drunk and making outrageous claims about spaceships or how he can beat you in any event you think of. Plus, he likes to walk out on tabs...so usually Captain Shitstorm finds us.
That evening we decided to go to The Chop house in Columbus. Clark and I frequented this establishment. I heard the food was amazing, but we went for the beverages. The bartender, whose name has slipped my mind, was a hipster kind of guy. He wore a red goatee and one of those damn hemp necklaces, and he drove a 1979 Blue Chevy. Mr. Barkeep claimed he obtained a degree in bartending from one of the wacko colleges that specializes in such things. The steak house was small and sat in the corner of strip mall across from the fabulous Sheraton Hotel, where I had vomited many times in the past and even jumped in the hot tub with my clothes on, but that's a different story.
Clark and I sat there drinking a beer. He preferred German beer; I'm a Coors Light man myself. A shot was sitting in front of us, Jaeger-bombs no doubt; Clark would stroke the side of his shot glass like some perverted serial killer until it was time to drop the Black Death into Red Bull. I swear God smites a kitten every time one of those is drunk. Conversation in the establishment was entertaining as usual. Clark was trying to hit on a waitress who was way out of his league, hell out of his division; Clark wasn't much of looker back then, even less so now.
An unusual cat sat down beside us with jet-black hair slicked back and stripped polo on. He obviously knows the bartender as they exchange words, slaps, punches, and play grab ass a little longer. Meanwhile Clark is eyeing me, like "If you so much as slide a hand on me that's going to be it!" I have been known to throw a few lisps on my words to make the gayest man seem straight. Rex, the gelled-Guido grab asser, turns to us and says, "What are you soldier-boys havin?" Now I may have looked young, 19 at the time, but Clark was by no means a boy. Clark, in his usual forward manner, "Well...what are you buying?" I had another Coors, the grab-asser and Clark did shots of Johnny Walker...talk about a lush.
After some interesting conversation, we found out that Rex was a geologist for some institute that was going out of business, and I thought the business of being a rock whisperer was booming! Of course Clark in his infinite wisdom knew all there was to know about geology from volcanic ash to the sand in his vagina. Then as if Gabriel himself blew the golden trumpet, Rex and Mr. Barkeep looked at each other and wink. Rex turns to us, "Hey...do you guys play poker?" Now I am a hell of a rummy player, I use to beat one of my best buds every Sunday afternoon but I have never played poker; much less gambled for it. As I am sure you are imagining now, Clark once again in his most matter-a-factual tone, "Oh I'll murder ya...my knowledge of the game and the quickness of my hands...c'mon." I sat there pondering on the meaning of Clark's statement. It was too late though, the gauntlet had been thrown. "Well come on over, Mr. Barkeep will be joining us. I have ten beers and Kevin will be there too." Rex informs us.
I don't know who keeps the count of beers in their fridge, or who the hell Kevin is but before I could swipe my handy-dandy debit card, we were out the door, already at a BP gas station picking up a twenty-four pack of Bud Light; neither one of us keeping in mind that we have to do two maybe three more jumps tomorrow. No that never occurred to us. What a grave miscalculation.
Clark and I arrive at Rex's one-story brick suburban home. One of the older models you saw built in the 70' and 80's, a nice home for a Guido bachelor. The back door opened up into the outdated kitchen, a large wooden dining room table was in the dining room to my immediate right. The table should have given Rex plenty of room to count his beer on. Speaking of beer, low and behold, ten nicely arranged Bud Lights in the refrigerator. I'm no doctor, but I think someone had a touch of O.C.D. Only about five minutes had passed when Mr. Barkeep arrived. Rex had given Clark and me the grand tour of his lair, surprisingly not brandishing a plate of Fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, currently I am not working on any projects. I am however embarking on a book tour across the United States. I will hit Valdosta, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, and Annapolis
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I do not really consider myself a writer. As I said earlier, I had the time to write in Iraq in 2010 and 2011 so I wrote. I do have a few short stories I have done, but we’ll see about publishing those. I suppose though if the right person read my book, and was willing to pay me to write another one I would.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Well I am a full-time active-duty soldier in the U.S. Army. I am stationed in Savannah, GA at Fort Stewart. May starts at 5:30 am and ends at about 5:00pm. At the moment, I have been focusing all of my time trying to get my book title out there, and putting together my book tour. I have found it takes a good deal of money and connections to get your title out there in the world!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I do write I only write in the morning. I have to get up, workout, and get some coffee to start writing. I tried doing it in the afternoon, or after having a few drinks, but that did not work out so well. I also like to listen to music that I remember listening to while whatever it is I am writing about was taking place. I think it helps the memories come back.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Well, I always wanted to be in a paratrooper in the Army. So now that I have done that, I am looking at getting into the culinary world, or maybe professional speaking. The sky is the limit!
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The book is is dedicated to my best friend, Jacob Lowell, who was killed on June 2nd, 2007 in Afghanistan. It is also dedicated to the other 41 Sky Soldiers we lost in Operation Enduring Freedom 8. Each name and rank is listed in the Foreword.
Also, what makes my book special, aside from any other military genre book you have read is that most military books are written years after a conflict by people that were not there and have tons of co-authors. This book was written by an author that lived it. This book also shows the public what really happens in the military. It isn’t all drill sergeants yelling, training in the mud, and shooting a gun; that’s only about 10% of it. Most of it is like your college campus, but the backdrop is Europe. Sex, drugs, and living like a rock star without the Spandex.
Readers, Jesse is giving away 3 signed paperpack copies of Chutes through Rafflecopter:
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