Members of the Naval Academy Class of 2002 have published a book chronicling their experiences as the first class to graduate after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
"We had no idea at the time the impact that would have on what has become the last 10 years of warfare," co-editor Lt. Kate Kranz said. "We thought that perhaps our class was poised to tell our stories and represent our generation as both Naval Academy graduates and as veterans."
The book, published this week, is called In the Shadow of Greatness: Voices of Leadership, Sacrifice, and Service from America's Longest War. Kranz tells the stories of 36 members of the Class of 2002, including her own.
She said Class President Josh Welle came up with the idea three years ago while serving in Afghanistan. It dawned on him that his class was the first since Vietnam to graduate into a war.
Welle soon reached out to classmates via email asking them if they would be interested in sharing their stories, and Kranz said the idea spread through the Class of 2012 like wildfire.
Soon Welle assembled a four-person team including Kranz, John Ennis, and Graham Plaster to edit the submissions from classmates stationed across the globe.
Kranz' chapter can be found in Part V. It's called "Working Where the Land Meets the Sky."
She said her chapter is about support and teamwork in the larger sense, but her story focuses on her time in Iraq in 2006 when she flew a support plane.
"There was no real air war in 2006 when we were flying over there," Kranz said. "We tried to find ways to use the equipment that we had on our planes to help people."
That help sometimes came in the form of a calm, reassuring voice.
"I remember hearing the voice of a young solider who I couldn't see over the radio who needed help," Kranz said. "I couldn't shoot a gun for him, but I could talk to him and calm him down and assure him that we had called the right people to come help."
There is a story about how an officer prepares to tell two wives that their husbands have been killed in action, and a chapter on a Marine who died of cancer after fighting to graduate with his class.
Lt. Gary Ross shares a love story. He and his partner Dan Swezy married at the stroke of midnight on Sept. 21, 2011, which made them the first same-sex military couple to marry after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," according to The Huffington Post.
The book's authors have also decided to use the book to help veterans by donating 100 percent of the proceeds to nonprofit charities for veterans. She said she and her fellow authors won't see a penny from the books.
"I think we decided to give 100 percent because of what we dedicated our lives to in 1998 when we took the oath of office; it was to serve," Kranz said. "There are those that have made greater sacrifices than we have, there are families that have made greater sacrifices than we have and it only made sense to give 100 percent to those who have made greater sacrifices."
From now until Sept. 15, the book's authors will donate the proceeds from retail and online sales to eight specific nonprofit organizations as part of their Patriot Week promotion.
One of the charities included is the Travis Manion Foundation, which held its third annual Fallen Heroes Run in Annapolis this weekend. Manion, a 2004 Naval Academy graduate, was killed in Iraq in 2007.
Kranz said it's a surreal feeling to see the book in print after three years of work.
"It's humbling," Kranz said. "Sometimes I'll pick the book up and I'll open up to a chapter and I know I've read it, but it looks different in print."
Now that it's published, her focus has shifted from editing to promoting the book in order to help raise money for veterans.
"Sometimes it feels like the work has just begun," she said.
You can purchase In the Shadow of Greatness on Amazon by clicking here. To purchase the book through an affiliate link for of one the specific charities, click on the links below: