I have been working on the finishing the Sno-Train chapter for the last two weeks. This machine has the most complex history out of all of the 6 Overland Trains. In one of the more detailed sections of my book, I am writing about a vehicle recovery journey where the Sno-Train was used as the primary vehicle. This journey took months of travel time, ingenuity, and drive to complete the mission.

During the months long recovery mission, men were exposed to continuous Arctic cold, rain, mucky conditions, and then more cold. They did not have running water or YouTube videos to help them figure out how-to. They had the knowledge, skills, and ability to fail fast and often, then keep on going to accomplish the mission.

My day job has nothing to do with writing or history. When I find my self in a conversation about history at work, it tends to spark my interest a little more. I was talking to a guy on video chat yesterday about publishing options and why I chose Amazon. He was explaining that Amazon would not publish his friend’s book because it was too gory and too long of a book. The book was titled simply and was about the lifecycle of a pig – it was something like “Pig to Table.” The book describes and shows how to go from a living animal to a meal on your plate in graphic detail. How many people living know the right way to raise, kill, butcher, and prepare a pig full cycle? I don’t. The book successfully raised money on Kickstarter and was published.

The conversation with this man led to his own interests in iron works and our inability to figure things out. How many people know how, or have the ability work with iron? How many of us could can effectively farm to feed ourselves or our family? I have interviewed over a dozen people for my book, with the majority between the ages of 75-98. Their stories demonstrate extreme adaptation abilities, humility, and character. How many of us would be willing to get paid Army wages to go out into the mud for months on end without our home comforts, finish the job, and not complain a single day?

We have forgotten how to endure. We have forgotten how to adapt creatively in less than ideal physical conditions. More importantly, we have forgotten how to be good humans. As David Goggins would say, “Go out and do something that sucks everyday.” Let’s see what happens.

Unknown man 1961. Image: Marty Martinez.