I have been reading and listening to a lot of books the last few months and was turned on to this book coincidentally, by Andy Brown himself. He commented on a post of mine regarding recording my book for audiobook purposes and he suggested a narrator that he used. Through that discussion I went ahead and bought the book and pushed it to the front of the cue on my Audible list. I am really excited about this chance encounter in which Andy and I were able to talk because this book is truly phenomenal.
Warnings Unheeded covers the events of two tragedies that happened at Fairchild Air Force Base just days apart from each other. One was an active killer that took the lives of four people and wounded 22 more, the second event was a plane crash during a practice run for an airshow that claimed the lives of the four on board.
To me, what makes this book special is that it was researched and written by the man that shot and killed the active killer. Andy Brown was part of the Security Police for Fairchild and responded on a bike (the pedal kind) and ended up shooting the gunman. He was an integral part of the events that took place on that day. I firmly believe that closeness to this event is what led Andy to take such great care and painstaking detail into researching the events that led to these tragedies. I do not believe someone from the outside could do a story like this justice, and even more impressive, is his ability to give facts, and leave his own opinion out of the matter, unless it was in direct relation to his personal thoughts leading up to, during, or after the events.
The opening of the book paints a brief picture of the fateful day that a discharged airman came back to Fairchild to kill and the moments leading to Andy’s actions. It then appropriately steps back and begins to tell the story from the beginning.
He highlights the early days of the shooter, of himself, and of the pilot responsible for the crash only four days after the shooting. As each chapter unfolds, the title of the book begins to become more and more clear. These events had not only been moderately foreshadowed through the actions of those involved, but in fact, on several occasions predicted by others. Psychologists, co-workers, and many others saw the unraveling of the eventual shooter and on more than one occasion actually vocalized (whether jokingly or not) that one day he’d show up to shoot people. In the case of the pilot, several pilots and crews attempted to ground him, he was written up numerous times for dangerous maneuvers, and was known for ignoring flight plans and protocols. Yet, they were not stopped from taking place.
It’s a painfully accurate image of the holes in society. Not just that of those involved or the Air force, but how we as a people tend to rationalize things, ignore our gut feelings, fall in line to superiors against our better judgement, and inevitably find ourselves in an event that we all but predicted.
For me, the events surrounding the shooting were of high interest and there is so much valuable information presented about these events… so many learning moments.
As the events themselves unfold, we see how people responded during the event and in the initial moments after. Not just a general look, but numerous eye witness accounts of those moments. It paints a truly three dimensional image of the scenario and the different processes that are common. It highlights how people rationalized the bang bang noises as construction, or doors slamming, or fireworks. It highlights how people in the same exact room, processed information differently. It shows moments of freeze, moments of confusion. It gives you a look at the difficulty in police response as multiple calls come in with vastly different information. It shows how some can shut down emotionally under stress, while others jump into action. It highlights the importance of immediate medical care. It shows how even in a hospital, if the supplies aren’t IMMEDIATELY on you, they are no good to you. The detail is honestly incredible from beginning to end.
The story is told through years and years of research and interviews, and is presented through actual quotes from official paperwork, eye witnesses, and reports.
To me, the most important part of the book, is when Andy begins to explain, in honest detail, the issues he dealt with longterm in the aftermath. This is an area that so many people avoid, blatantly ignore, or do not treat with honest thought. I can’t begin to do justice to the material he put at any point in this book, but I can say, that his ability to bring you to where he was, to explain his thoughts, emotions, and struggles, is eye opening and so valuable.
This is truly a great resource for anyone trying to understand more about these events, and dare I say a necessity for anyone interested in teaching these events.
Hats off to Andy for his action in saving so many lives the day of the shooting and for taking the time to continue to save lives through his experience, research, and knowledge.
Get a copy of Warnings Unheeded today and see for yourself.
Be good, train hard, stay safe.