Once again, the International Thriller Writers and the USO have joined forces for Operation Thriller III, a 10-day, four-country tour to the Middle East with five of the world’s most thrilling authors.
Bestselling thriller authors Kathleen Antrim, Michael Connelly, Joseph Finder, Brad Meltzer and Andy Harp toured eight U.S. bases in Turkey, Kuwait and other Middle Eastern countries, boosting troop morale, leading Q&A sessions with the soldiers, signing books and “coining” our country’s heroes with the 2012 International Thriller Writers (ITW) commemorative challenge coins of appreciation.
For the authors, the trip provided an opportunity to thank the soldiers for their service and to meet real-life heroes, beyond the heroes within the pages of their books.
“We suspense novelists write stories about fictional heroes. How great for us to have the chance to meet the real-life heroes, the men and women who help keep us all safe — America’s troops,” said Joe Finder, who penned favorites such as Buried Secrets, Vanished, Company Man and High Crimes.
“We write about characters who stand up for others even at great risk to themselves,” added Michael Connelly, author of nail-biters such as the forthcoming The Black Box, The Lincoln Lawyer, and The Drop. “Now we get to meet real people who do that for us in real life on a day in and day out basis. If nothing else, we just want to say thanks.”
As a small token of their thanks, the authors distributed the commemorative ITW challenge coins, which are traditionally given to soldiers by their unit commanders for exceptional actions.
“Throughout my entire career, our troops have been writing me, sending photos, thanking me for the entertainment,” said The Inner Circle author Brad Meltzer. “But let’s be honest: they’re the ones who deserve the thanks. This is nothing but an honor to me.”
This was an especially significant trip for Northern Thunder author Andy Harp, a retired Colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserves.
“Every minute of every day,” said Andy, “someone is standing at the gate, watching it, guarding it for the rest of us. Operation Thriller is our small way of saying thank you to those that serve.”