Knox Press

Tough Rugged Bastards: A Memoir of a Life in Marine Special Operations


Tough Rugged Bastards is the memoir of an ordinary guy who seized an extraordinary opportunity to become one of the most elite warfighters in America during the most volatile times in the Global War on Terror.

Following the 9/11 attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld directed the Marine Corps to establish a unit that would answer to US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The eighty-six-man “Detachment One” was formed with a two-year charter to train and deploy as a “proof-of-concept” to assess the viability of a larger Marine Special Operations contribution in support of the Global War on Terror.

For such a departure from the norm, a special leader was needed. The Commanding Officer—Colonel Robert J. Coates, a Marine Force Recon legend—was given his pick of personnel. One of the four team leaders he selected was Gunnery Sergeant John A. Dailey. Coates gave Dailey and the others free rein to select their men from a crew of proven Force Recon Marines with the sole stipulation that they be: “Tough, rugged bastards with strong backs and hard feet.”

These men built a unit from nothing, trained for unknown missions in an unknown location, and deployed amid controversy and skepticism. Once in Iraq, they were dubbed “Task Unit Raider” and quickly won over the naysayers who doubted the Marine’s ability to operate successfully in the fluid and unconventional special operations environment.

This book tells Dailey’s story of the creation, training, and volatile 2004 Iraq deployment of Task Unit Raider that led to the creation of the Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). Det-1 served as the bridge between the Raiders of WWII and the Marine Raiders of today.