On a raid in the Sunni hotbed of the Al Anbar province during the most violent and chaotic phase of the war on terror, Lieutenant Ilario Pantano shot and killed two Iraqi insurgents. Months later, one of his own men disputed Pantano's self-defense claim in the Al Anbar shootings. Pantano was relieved of his command and charged with premeditated murder, a crime punishable by death. This is Pantano's gripping story in his own words -- the story of a patriot who left behind his wife and children to fight for their future; the harrowing account of a military hearing that sparked a national "Defend the Defenders" campaign; and the inspiring choices of an unconventional warrior who continues to call on his fellow Americans to stand strong in the face of our enemies.
Ilario Pantano enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17, served in Desert Storm, became a sniper, and trained with militaries around the world. Eager for new challenges, Pantano left the Marines and earned his degree from New York University in three years, studying at night while working for the premier investment bank Goldman Sachs. Hungry for creative success, Pantano began producing and consulting in groundbreaking documentary television, film, and digital media. Witnessing the attacks of 9/11, Pantano fought to return to the Marines and, as a 31-year-old lieutenant, led an infantry platoon in Iraq. Pantano was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in August 2005. He lives with his wife and children in North Carolina.