Tough Rugged Bastards

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

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About the book

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.

What  will you learn?

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About the author

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John A. Dailey

Hubert, NC

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Hubert, NC

John A. Dailey

John A. Dailey joined the Marines at seventeen, leading to a career of over twenty years spent working in special operations, with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from UNCW in 2018.

About John A. Dailey


I’m John A. Dailey. I grew up along the Virginia/West Virginia border, and while I had a great childhood, I couldn’t get away fast enough. I joined the Marines at seventeen and never looked back.

Early in my career, I was fortunate to be trained as a sniper, from there I moved on to Force Reconnaissance Units where I spent the bulk of my time. I served in every position from point man to platoon sergeant and loved every minute of it.

I got to throw myself out of airplanes from 30,000 feet, dive murky waters, shoot until my trigger finger was sore, blow stuff up, run thousands of miles, and carry countless tons of weight on my back.

I watched the 9/11 attacks with my platoon from a pub in Darwin, Australia. By November we were in Afghanistan to help kick off the War on Terror.

Shortly after, the Marine Corps was directed to hand-pick a group of  ‘tough rugged bastards’ to serve as the first USMC unit assigned to the US Special Operations Command. We were called Detachment One

We were sent to Iraq in 2004 to hunt insurgents, bomb makers, terrorist financiers, and other HVTs or ‘High-Value Targets’. The success of our deployment led to the creation of the modern Marine Raiders.

I retired from the Marines in 2008 and took a job that still has me training Raiders. As a kid I hated school, but I loved reading and learning. Since retiring I used the GI Bill to get a couple of master’s degrees, one of them was an MFA in creative writing from UNCW where the idea for this book came from.  

I hope you’ll buy it. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Nowadays, when I’m not writing or reading, I’m usually outside with a ruck on my back, training for an ultramarathon, or hanging out with my wife and our aging dachshund, Max in our home in coastal North Carolina.


Contact me for writing or speaking inquiries.

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