Battles Within: My Journey of Self & Service, the new book on moral courage, adversity, and commitment by National Guard Major Adam DeMarco, a graduate of West Point and Georgetown University, comes at a pivotal time in history. Most of us, no matter our political beliefs, have grown weary of the dysfunction across the globe, including the needless wars, corruption, and power imbalances. DeMarco is likely no different, yet instead of remaining cynical, he has chosen to believe that he can, and must, effect change. He is challenging all of us, no matter where we live or how limited our resources might be, to step into today’s crises and do what we can simply because it is the right thing to do.
DeMarco has been on the frontlines of some of America’s most significant events in recent years, including the protests at Lafayette Square, the capital insurrection, and the airlift of allies out of Afghanistan when the Taliban retook the country. While Battles Within: My Journey of Self & Service captures his keen insights into the events in Washington D.C., it is arguably his descriptions of the fight to save America’s Afghan allies fleeing Kabul and his reflections that are the most moving.
With the Taliban closing in on the capital in August 2021, the largest evacuation of non-combatants began. DeMarco was a member of Allied Airlift 21, a group of military veterans who worked to evacuate Americans as well as those with family ties to Americans.
DeMarco says that he will never forget the fall of Kabul. While he had already experienced combat and had harrowing experiences, Afghanistan was its own unique situation.
“One day, the capital was free, relatively speaking, with people perhaps concerned but still confident that things would turn out all right,” DeMarco remembers. “The next, the Taliban were on the outskirts of Kabul, and Afghans were panicking as they realized that their way of life and freedom were about to be wiped out.”
Helping the Afghans who had helped the United States for so many years was an easy choice to make. DeMarco worked with Allied Airlift 21 and received constant messages from desperate Afghans seeking a way out of Afghanistan. Kabul’s airport was a sea of people, and he worked around the clock to find stranded families and help them through chaotic checkpoints, whose locations were constantly changing.
“There were, unfortunately, many that we couldn’t help despite how hard we tried,” says DeMarco. “I will never forget them. I am still thankful, however, for the ones we were able to get to safety. The lives of hundreds of people were changed in an instant. It is the single most important, impactful thing I have ever done.”
Back in the United States and away from the tumult of Afghanistan, DeMarco has had time to reflect on his experiences. He acknowledges that it is never easy to step into danger, yet because he stands firm in his values and is committed to living a life that is bigger than himself, he could have done nothing less than help Afghans find safety.
“Someday, hopefully many years from now, the dust will settle, and I will reflect on what I have done with my life,” he says. “I want to be able to stand proudly, knowing that I answered the call, helped where I could, and impacted the lives and futures of others.”
DeMarco pauses, thinking about how different life in America is compared to that in Afghanistan, yet how intricately tied together the two countries are. “It really isn’t about the wealth that you accumulate, the cars you drive, or the clothes you wear,” he believes. “It’s about how you use the one life that you have to stand up for your beliefs and for others, even if it means standing alone.”
Battles Within: My Journey of Self & Service, scheduled for release on March 7, 2023, is the debut book by National Guard Major Adam DeMarco and is currently available for preorder on Amazon. DeMarco is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and McDonough Business School. He was commissioned as a field artillery officer in the United States Army, where he served both on active duty and in the reserve component with multiple deployments overseas in support of contingency operations. He is also a successful business consultant and owner, with experience working across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Adam currently resides in Washington, DC, with his dog, George.