The uplifting and unforgettable true story of a US Marine, the stray dog he met on an Afghan battlefield, and how they saved each other and now travel America together, "spreading the message of stubborn positivity."
In 2010, Sergeant Craig Grossi was doing intelligence work for Marine RECON—the most elite fighters in the Corps—in a remote part of Afghanistan. While on patrol, he spotted a young dog "with a big goofy head and little legs" who didn’t seem vicious or run in a pack like most strays they’d encountered. After eating a piece of beef jerky Craig offered—against military regulations—the dog began to follow him. "Looks like you made a friend," another Marine yelled. Grossi heard, "Looks like a 'Fred.'" The name stuck, and a beautiful, life-changing friendship was forged.
Fred not only stole Craig’s heart; he won over the RECON fighters, who helped Craig smuggle the dog into heavily fortified Camp Leatherneck in a duffel bag—risking jail and Fred’s life. With the help of a crew of DHL workers, a sympathetic vet, and a military dog handler, Fred eventually made it to Craig’s family in Virginia.
Months later, when Craig returned to the U.S., it was Fred’s turn to save the wounded Marine from Post-Traumatic Stress. Today, Craig and Fred are touching lives nationwide, from a swampy campground in a Louisiana State Park to the streets of Portland, Oregon, and everywhere in between.
A poignant and inspiring tale of hope, resilience, and optimism, with a timeless message at its heart—"it is not what happens to us that matters, but how we respond to it"—Craig & Fred is a shining example of the power of love to transform our hearts and our lives.
Craig Grossi is an eight-year Marine Corps veteran and a recipient of the Purple Heart. After returning from Afghanistan, he worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency and attended Georgetown University. When not travelling with Fred, he works intensively with veteran organizations, including the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program and the Tragedy Assistance Programs for Survivors (TAPS). He and Fred live in Washington, DC. You can find them online at www.fredtheafghan.com.
11/01/2017School Library Journal
Many veterans feel isolated upon returning home, finding it difficult to readjust to civilian life. A friendly question, "What kind of dog is that?" provides an opening for Grossi, a marine veteran, to discuss his experiences in the military and at war. He met Fred, a happy mutt of a dog (puppy, it turned out) during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. Fred quickly became part of the crew, providing companionship and a sense of normality in a deadly situation. The book intersperses the stories of Grossi's military career, his relationship with Fred, and their road trip across the United States with Grossi's friend Josh, another veteran. The two already have an audience in popular and social media outlets, such as The Dodo and Instagram (fredtheafghan). A young reader's version will also be published; a tour is planned.Verdict Grossi's message of "stubborn positivity" is subtle and therein lies its appeal. He brings readers into the day-to-day experiences of being deployed during conflict, without romanticizing or demonizing the people involved. He also avoids editorializing on the politics of war, keeping the focus on his relationships with fellow soldiers and Fred.—Meagan Storey, Virginia Beach