Military Book Reviews

Book Review – Survivor’s Obligation

Name of book: Survivor’s Obligation
Authors: Joel “Thor” Neeb & Chris “Elroy” Stricklin

After following the stories of both Chris “Elroy” Stricklin and Joel “Thor” Neeb for quite some time, I decided to read “Survivor’s Obligation”. For those not familiar with these two heroes, here is a bit of background on the authors. 

Chris “Elroy” Stricklin was a Thunderbirds pilot and during one of his shows, he made a decision that would save and change his life. He ejected from his F-16 mere milliseconds before it crashed and burned. Against all odds, he survived the near fatal crash. Joel “Thor” Neeb was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer almost at the same time as his young son. Both authors carry us on their journey through self-discovery and help us to really understand the true definition of a Survivor’s Obligation.

The book is divided into two sections, each allowing the author to tell their story. When I started to read the book, I couldn’t put it down! It took me a couple of hours to get through the entire book rarely letting it leave my side! I skimmed through those 128 pages as quickly as I could eagerly consuming the material before me. 

Chris gives a brilliant excerpt of his experience with the Thunderbirds where he starts off getting us introduced to the lifestyle that he lived. His writing skills made feel as though I was in the cockpit right alongside him as he belted out the commands and did the countdowns. He takes the reader through the day of the crash, the way his mind and body operated and the events after the crash. 

What struck me particularly was his ability to be completely honest and open about all of the feelings that he went through, before, during and after. He also delves into one of the most overlooked areas when any event of this nature occurs, the impact on the family. Chris goes into detail with the challenges that presented themselves afterwards and the lingering thoughts about what went wrong on the day of the crash. 

I absolutely loved the element of the Root Cause Analysis for the crash! It was immensely interesting to understand and gain some insight into the way these investigations were conducted and of course the conclusions that were reached. Chris allows us to fully comprehend the impacts of incidents like these on both the Survivor and their family. 

On the other hand, Joel leads us on his journey which started ironically with his son awaiting a diagnosis. Oddly enough, he gets diagnosed with Stage IV cancer moments before he finds out about his son’s diagnosis. He takes us through the gut wrenching, heart breaking battles of a parent who is trying to be strong while coping with his treatments at the same time. 

Joel gives the reader a first-hand experience of multiple doctor visits and really provides insight into the areas of survivor stories that are not readily told; the feelings that the survivor grapples with during these times and the aspects of family life which get affected. He skilfully recounts the days leading up to his surgery, the way he prepared for it, the way he prepared his family for the chance that he may not come back from the operating theatre. He also delves into the change in mind-set that one undergoes when being diagnosed and given a slim percentage of survival. 

Both stories are so impactful that it leaves your mind in a tailspin after reading them. This is truly a life altering book and an absolute must read for anybody who has ever experienced near death situations or had anyone close to them undergo such an experience. It really allows the reader to really appreciate the gift that we have been given in the form of life and challenge us to help make the world a better place. 

Sanya is the Founder of Strategic Reliability Solutions Ltd based in Trinidad and operates in the capacity of Managing Director and Senior Consultant. She works with global affiliates in the areas of Reliability and Asset Management to bring these specialty niches to her clients.

Sanya possesses a strong engineering background with a BSc in Electrical & Computer Engineering and MSc in Engineering Asset Management. She has recently attained her MLE (Machinery Lubrication Engineer) certification from ICML (International Council of Machinery Lubrication) and is the first in her country to secure this certification albeit the first female as well.

She has recently launched her first book entitled; “Lubrication Degradation Mechanisms; A Complete Guide” published with Taylor & Francis. This book will be available from 30th November, 2020.

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