On February 19, 2007, SSG Shilo Harris was patrolling an infamous southern Iraqi roadway when his Humvee was struck by an IED. Moments later, three members of his crew were dead and Shilo had sustained severe injuries that would alter the course of his life. For forty-eight days he lay trapped in a medically induced coma, after which he had to come to grips with becoming a man utterly changed.
Through more than sixty surgeries, countless hard decisions, and the unwavering devotion of the family who would not leave his side, Shilo discovered that he was being reshaped–within and without–into the person he was meant to be all along. His inspiring story will move you and motivate you to live boldly in the face of fear and trust God to pull you through the toughest of times–no matter what.
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Excerpts from Steel Will
“I am a man who has lived through hell. It is hard to share this experience. The carnage. The devastation. The loss. But I will do it. Because I will always know the smell of C-4, the echo of end-of-life screams, the white-out of the blast, the grease of blood on fragments of limbs, the metallic taste of ash on a bit-through tongue. I will always know the horrors of war.
So I will tell you what an explosion does to you on the outside. And I will tell you what an explosion does to you on the inside. I will describe panic like a tsunami in your blood vessels. I will utter the painful realities of post traumatic stress. And I will demonstrate what it means to live fearlessly, with a clear understanding of the Grace that can redeem mayhem.
For a long time I struggled with how to share this story, of love, and loss, and love again. I must start at the worst part, when steel, embedded in my bones, changed me from the man I was into the man I was meant to be.”
“I was placed on a steel gurney and rolled into a shower room heated to 90 degrees while surgeons removed skin, tissue, bone, rocks, dirt, and debris from the blast. The initial debriding is vital because all of the debris left on your body may burn for hours after the initial blast, and the sooner it’s removed, the better. Fire lingers in shrapnel, in pieces of your uniform, in remnants of armor, in the fragments of equipment embedded in your skin. It has to be washed out in a warm shower. There are strains of bacteria in the dirt from Iraq that can kill you, and the debriding was designed to protect me from further contamination. But the process as I interpreted it was torture.”
“There was something that slipped into my life, into my heart, and I knew what I knew. From the corner of my eye above my swollen cheekbones, I’d see a nurse come into the room, and I’d know that those were the hands that had cared for me, day after day, doing the hard jobs that no one else wants to do. A doctor would remove my splints and reposition them, and when I’d see his eyes, I’d recognize them from another time and place. An orderly would come in to take care of cleaning me, and I’d realize he’d been doing it all along. A therapist would enter and give me breathing treatments, and on some level I knew we’d met before. The nurse would try to get me to eat, and as he reattached bags of nutrients, I’d understand that he’d fed me before, through a tube directed to my stomach. When I aspirated, he’d saved me. A voice would stir me awake, and I would know that I’d heard that accent before, as a nurse changed my IV bags or a lab technician pulled another syringe full of blood from my veins.”
In Steel Will, we see what happens to an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. We see what happens when an ordinary man rises above a bleak prognosis, when an ordinary family surrounds their hero with love and hopefulness, and when an extraordinary, miracle-working God places his hands on the one he loves.
— SFC Leroy Petry, United States Army Medal of Honor recipient
Staff Sergeant Harris has made a choice not embraced by veterans of wars past to talk and talk and talk about what he’s experienced–a soldier turned messenger. He leaves crowds standing at attention, as he honors his friends who have fallen.
— August Skamenca, reporter, CBS News
SSG Shilo Harris, in his writing, has exposed his soul like no other author. His life is open and raw, revealing his unwavering faith, his clear understanding of the risks of war and its heartbreaking impact on all those who are touched by it. Steel Will is a book that will emotionally rip you apart but will have you cheering at the end.
— Fred Gregory, Air Force Vietnam vet, astronaut, NASA Deputy Administrator
This book should be required reading for every American, especially our youth. Shilo Harris is a true patriot and an American hero. This book embodies the essential spirit of America by reminding us that being a hero isn’t always judged by your accomplishments. It is often judged by your sacrifice so others can have their accomplishments under a blanket of freedom.
— Ric Savage, former professional wrestler and television host
I thought my story was tough. But reading Steel Will put me in the fire, in the coma, and on the rocky road to recovery. When the last page was turned, I felt honored to know the man of Steel Will, Shilo Harris.
— SFC US Army (Ret) Dana Bowman, HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation
About the Writer
Robin Overby Cox is a career educator and librarian. With deep roots in military life, she collaborated with Shilo in order to call communities to action on behalf of veterans. A graduate of both Florida State University and the University of South Florida, she calls College Station, Texas her home. Boundless Spirit International Shop