ABOUT THE BOOK
In September 2005, soldiers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division deployed to Iraq in what would be the division’s second deployment to the country since the invasion. Twenty-year-old Specialist Ryan A. Conklin was one of these soldiers who wore the famed Screaming Eagle patch into combat. As an infantryman with the division’s 3rd Brigade, 187th (Rakkasan) Infantry Regiment, this became Conklin’s first deployment and a life-altering experience.
Within the Rakkasan Regiment, Conklin belonged to Angel Company from the 3rd Battalion (Iron Rakkasans). Nicknamed the “Angels From Hell,” Conklin’s company was built around camaraderie within friendships forged from rigorous and tough training leading up to their deployment. This sense of “fraternity” was the backbone of survival in keeping one’s sanity that the Angels were to experience with a yearlong tour in Iraq.
First quartered on a small base in Baghdad, Angel Company spent the first few months as the sole infantry element around the former Ba’ath Party Building which became the site of the trial of Saddam Hussein. With the monotony of guard duty and the unfolding of history before his eyes, Conklin always keeps a clear voice, regularly spiced with humor beyond his years.
The Angels From Hell’s time in Baghdad was short-lived after they received orders to relocate up north to Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. Living up to the 101st Airborne Division’s motto of having a “rendezvous with destiny,” it was here that the Angels were to run continuous combat patrols in hopes of establishing security in the unstable and war-torn city of Tikrit and surrounding villages.
Over the course of their time in Tikrit, Conklin and his company would be tested, pushed, and bloodied, yet the bonds within the ranks only grew tighter. The chapters within this book recount the specific evolutions of combat that insurgents prevailed at during 2006. Attacks from roadside bombs, foot patrols, gunning in a turret, sweating, carrying the heavy equipment, it all has never been more raw and clear until now. The lack of sleep, the tiresome patrols, and the loss of a fellow soldier molded the maturity that was force-fed upon Conklin at a time when he was not old enough to legally drink in the country he was defending.
Though there were times he thought he would never see it, Conklin finally was sent home with his company in September 2006 and was immediately Honorably Discharged from the Army. The chapters continue with his homecoming and adjustment to a town and life all too foreign after the year he had lived.
Conklin vividly writes an honest journey from his perspective as an Angel From Hell, and never veers from retelling the good, the bad, and the ugly. The relationships with his buddies, the acceptance of his circumstances, the laughs, the tears, he pens it all in an easy, relatable, and understanding memoir.
“This war memoir is different from any other. It is as real as it gets. Ryan A. Conklin has written a brutally honest, exciting, and heartfelt account of life as a turret gunner during the year of the most intense combat in Iraq. Conklin brings the reader as close as you can get to combat without walking into a recruiter’s office. An Angel from Hell is a gripping story of patriotism, camaraderie, and sacrifice.…More than anyone else in America, Conklin has become the face of the Iraq War veteran. If you care about your country, get this book.”
—Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and author of Chasing Ghosts
“Just as Generation Kill shows the unvarnished truth of the Iraq invasion, An Angel from Hell portrays the grim reality of Iraq’s condition during the 2005–2006 horror years in Tikrit. A candid, humorous, and tragic memoir from a genuine American soldier about ‘the real world’ of war.”
—David J. Danelo, author of
The Grunt’s View of the War in Iraq
- Shane Griffis,
Ponte Vedra Recorder
"Reading the book was like sitting with an old friend while they told a story. It was gritty, moving and at times heartbreaking — such is war."
Growing up in the monumental town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the stories of soldiers at war was learned early by Ryan A. Conklin. He enlisted in the army at age seventeen, spurred to take action following 9/11, and joined Angel Company. As an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) “Screaming Eagles” and as a member of the famed 187th Infantry "Rakkasans" Regiment – one of the most decorated units in the U.S. Army – he endured hellish conditions in the war-torn city of Tikrit, Iraq.
As a vocal member of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), he returned to the States and became a cast member on Real World: Brooklyn in 2009. That time came to an end when he received his notice recalling him back to duty for another tour in Iraq.
An Angel from Hell is a gritty, blunt, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny war memoir from the grunt’s perspective. Conklin reveals what the Iraq War is really like, day-to-day – the misery, the boredom, the absurdity, the horror, and even the moments of beauty and grace, as when he played soccer with Iraqi children. With stunning candor and wisdom beyond his years, Conklin has documented a complex and unavoidably life-changing experience for his generation.