Cookville native portrayed in Nat’l Geographic miniseries
Cookville resident and Iraq War veteran J. Matthew Fisk released his book “Black Knights Dark Days: The True Story of Sadr City’s Black Sunday” in late 2016. The book is a firsthand account of surviving a deadly insurgent ambush on the 1st Calvary Division — and battling through the aftermath.
It was known as Black Sunday — April 4, 2004, when units of America’s 1st Calvary Division saw their routine deployment turn into a harrowing and costly fight. In that battle, a surging mob of militants ambushed one small unit of the Black Knight Battalion.
A rescue attempt proved fatal for many of the soldiers who braved the gauntlet.
Fisk, who fought through Black Sunday and survived, gives a gut-level, over-the-rifle-sights view of a short, violent period when one of the safest places in the war zone suddenly turned into a cauldron of death and destruction. It left eight United States troops dead and dozens wounded.
Fisk never imagined he would write a book — or even survive.
“Combat is a weird thing,” he said. “You have to have a sense of humor. We would make jokes about who would play us in a movie — we never thought we would live, let alone make a movie.”
Fisk was wrong. Not only did he survive, write a great book, have a baby, beat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and become a great father — there’s now a movie.
“The Long Road Home”, a mini series based on Martha Raddatz’s best-selling book of the same name, will air on Nov.
7. Raddatz’s book is also based on the events surrounding Black Sunday. Producer Mikko Alanne used dialogue from Fisk’s book in making the mini series.
In addition, Fisk is a main character in the series. Ezekiel Swinford, from the 2017 film “The Interview”, will play Fisk.
“The vast majority of “The Long Road Home” was filmed at Fort Hood,” he said. “I really never thought it would go this far. They started filming on Apr. 4. I went to a meet-and-greet and it was surreal. Everyone on set really wanted to get it right.”
The “Long Road Home” will air on both National Geographic and WX, Nov. 7. Check your local listings for times.
Fisk never thought he would overcome PTSD. Today, he has overcome his PTSD and helps other veterans who are struggling.
“I work with veterans with PTSD and it’s very important for me to let them know PTSD is not a death sentence,” said Fisk.
“I just want to do something. I feel like I owe these guys. You can put it off, but if you don’t deal with it, it’s going to come back when you definitely don’t need it to.
“Alcoholism and substance abuse are rampant among people with PTSD. I never thought I would be able to be a good father,” Fisk said as he held his daughter, Melissa.
Fisk’s own book “Black Knights Dark Days: The True Story of Sadr City’s Black Sunday” is a gripping insider’s account of the ambush, which changed the course of the Iraq War.
Fisk interweaves the chaos and adrenaline of modern combat with accounts of continuing battles with PTSD at home.
“An intense, vivid, deeply personal portrait of men at war that is up there with the very best books of the genre,” said Mikko Alanne, screenwriter and producer of “The Long Road Home” and “The 33”. Alanne assisted Fisk in publishing his book.
“I’m grateful to Mikko and for the advice,” Fisk said last week. “He helped me get my book published.
“Black Knights Dark Days: The True Story of Sadr City’s Black Sunday” is available at all major bookstores.