You Are Not Forgotten

The Story of a Lost World War II Pilot and a Twenty-First-Century Soldier's Mission to Bring Him Home

Publisher: Anchor
In 1944 Major Marion “Ryan” McCown Jr., an earnest young Marine Corps pilot, came under attack by enemy fire and went down with his plane, lost to the dense jungle of Papua New Guinea. Some sixty years later, Major George Eyster V would find himself in the same sweltering and nearly impenetrable rain forest searching for evidence of MIAs. Coming from a long line of military officers dating back to the Revolutionary War, army service was Eyster’s family legacy. After a disillusioning tour of duty in Iraq and almost ending his army career, he accepts a posting to JPAC instead, an elite division whose sole mission is to bring all fallen soldiers home to the country for which they gave their lives. While Eyster’s search for McCown proves difficult, what emerges at the end of the unforgettable mission is an inspiring true tale of loss and redemption.


Chapter One

The Legacy

Almost from the day he was born, July 2, 1974, George Senseny Eyster V thought everyone's dad wore Army green to work. The first time he held him in his arms, in the maternity ward of the base hospital at Fort Carson, Colorado, George's father was wearing the uniform of a second...
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“[A] unique, uplifting war story about sacrifice, dedication, and hope strung across decades and generations. . . . The endlessly complex mechanics of each of JPAC’s missions . . . makes for transfixing reading.”
The Boston Globe
“[A] master-work of war and remembrance. . . . [A] compelling tale of inter-generational heroism. . . . Brilliantly conceived. . . . A savvy reporter, Mr. Bender showcases his research skills while making Ryan live again through diaries, flight logs and letters to his anxiously waiting mother—still poignant a half-century later.”
The Washington Times
“[A] proud story about honoring the country’s defenders. . . . Bender narrates the complex drives that drew both men to serve, the grueling demands of their time at war, and the twists of fate that ultimately bring their stories together.”
The Daily Beast
“Poignant, exhilarating. . . . Bryan Bender has written an epic drama of the journey men make back into the world, to their families, and to themselves, after great loss. . . . Storytelling reminiscent of the wrenching—and redemptive—search by James Bradley for his father in Flags Of Our Fathers, and Louis Zamperini’s own homecoming inUnbrokenYou Are Not Forgotten is gritty and emotional, bringing to life at least two major wars and speaking as much to a World War II generation as it does to all of us, men and women, today. . . . This is history and reporting at its most engrossing.”
—Doug Stanton, author of In Harm’s Way and Horse Soldiers

“[Bender’s] reporting is impressive, but the storytelling is what distinguishes this account of identifying the remains of military casualties decades after they died in war. . . . Any reader who wonders about the significance of such a mission will have no reservations by the end of this well-structured, well-written book.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

You Are Not Forgotten eloquently captures what it means to serve a purpose larger than oneself, and how that service ennobles us all. In his powerful and insightful telling of the twinned stories of George Eyster V and Ryan McCown Jr., Bryan Bender has delivered a gripping, at times wrenching, portrait of two heroes and of the nation that forged them.”
—Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Frozen in Time and Lost in Shangri-La

“Destined to be a classic. It tells an astonishing story of war, then and now, held in place by the pilot’s code. . . . Bryan Bender has written a book for all seasons.”
—Pat Conroy, author of The Great Santini and Prince of Tides

“A spellbinding, inspirational tale of two impressive military officers.”
—David Petraeus, General, U.S. Army (Ret.)

“Bryan Bender has done a masterful job of binding together the stories of two warriors. . . . A gripping tale of combat and commitment that translates a sacred military code at a critical time: when our wars are longer than ever but fewer and fewer Americans shoulder the burden.”
—Joseph L. Galloway, co-author of We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young and We Are Soldiers Still

“A great read, linking two wars, and young men two generations apart. The tragedies of war, promise unfulfilled, and lives thrown off course have seldom been so sensitively portrayed and skillfully examined. One of the best of the Iraq War vintage books.”
—General Wesley K. Clark, US Army retired and author of A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country

“Riveting. . . . Bender has vividly illuminated the commitment and sacrifice—often at heartbreaking cost—of the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and hometown sweethearts of the men and women who don the uniform. The journeys of George Eyster and Ryan McCown underscore the full measure of devotion of the warriors but also military families, who often also pay the high price of war.”
—Rita Cosby, author of Quiet Hero: Secrets From My Father’s Past

“An amazing story of faith and redemption across the generations. . . . It puts real meaning behind what ‘leave no man behind’ means in practice to those tasked with recovering the remains of U.S. service members lost in our nation’s wars.”
—Col.(Ret.) Peter Mansoor, PhD, General Raymond E. Mason, Jr. Chair of Military History, Ohio State University