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One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer is Nathan Fick's autobiography, describing his training as a Recon Marine, his brief time in Afghanistan and his part in the invasion of Iraq.

Fick is perhaps better known for appearing in another work: Evan Wright's Generation Kill, and the HBO series based on that book.


This work contains examples of:

  • Blood Knight: Discussed via internal monologue. He's concerned he may be learning to enjoy their firefights.
  • Cultured Warrior: He studied classics at Dartmouth.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: It's why Fick joined Recon. He also makes sure the reader is aware that the only reason Recon is not special forces is semantics.
  • Heroic BSOD: When Fick thinks the command is going to refuse to treat a wounded Iraqi boy, he actually--if momentarily--contemplates shooting his Captain.
    • Invoked and Subverted on a training exercise at Quantico. He is secretly ordered to fake a Heroic BSOD during a field exercise to give the current leader training in dealing with battlefield fatigue. After a few days of getting berated for dragging ass and confronted by his friends, he eventually reveals the ruse.
  • Mexican Standoff: Discussed. Fick refers to a situation this way, and Espera pretends to take offense.
  • The Neidermeyer: 3rd Platoon's Captain (codenamed "Captain America" in Generation Kill) Though he hides it, Fick doesn't like third platoon's captain any more than the enlisted men do.
  • Not So Above It All: When their unpopular captain calls cadence at PT, the Marines sullenly mumble along. When Gunny Wynn takes over and the Marines shout the numbers back at him like they're in boot camp, Nate just grins to himself and tries to out-shout them all.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Fick is educated, erudite, takes his duties to his men seriously and does his best to make ethical decisions despite the fog of war.
  • Overt Operative: It's common knowledge that the "military contractors" one of their first bases in Iraq are special forces operators.
  • Semper Fi: The Marines unironically love the Corps, despite their many sarcastic jokes.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Not an extreme case, but Fick and his men are disappointed to realize their part of the invasion was a feint.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Mocked in training, as the pre-mission briefings for the various training missions (at Quantico) all describe the area as "Quantico-like terrain." It becomes a Running Gag for the officers.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer
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