When life loses its meaning, when suddenly the world is turned upside down, when there's nothing left that resembles life as we've known it, where do we find the strength and sustenance to go on? This dramatic telling of naval aviator Jerry Coffee and others who were held as prisoners of war in North Vietnam shows that there was only one choice: To go within.
Beyond Survival is a journey into the invincible human spirit that unites heart and mind in a compelling and unforgettable experience. Drawing from his seven years as a POW, Captain Coffee provides timeless lessons that apply to the physical, emotional, and ethical challenges of everyday life. Proving that leadership and creativity are possible in difficult and uncertain circumstances, Captain Coffee uses sound effects and multiple voice actors to tell the story and offer a message we can draw on in any trying situation. His story demonstrates that conviction must come from within, and in telling that story he touches the place inside of us where growth begins. Beyond Survival is a positive statement about love and commitment in the midst of war and division. It contrasts the cold reality of war, degradation, and torture with the warmth of human connections, inner serenity, and kinship with all of life. It poignantly illustrates that to be stripped of everything that is familiar and by which we identify ourselves leaves us with only what unites us - our human identity. It conveys truths about relationships at every level - with ourselves, with others, with our country, and with our God. Without inflaming the wounds inflicted by America's involvement in Vietnam, Beyond Survival explores an issue at the heart of every free society: the willingness of ordinary individuals to maintain a passion for freedom so compelling that adversity strengthens rather than weakens personal resolve in the worst of circumstances. Through Gerald Coffee's story you will discover the universal principles of survival and triumph that empower anyone to overcome adversity.
“This book reads like a novel. Not only is it about Captain Coffee as a POW but as a son, husband, father and a friend. His courage, faith and humor leave one feeling that they too can have all of these principles, no matter who you are or where you come from; that there's nothing life throws at us that we can't overcome and prevail.” (Becky R., Concord, CA, [Amazon])
“Absolutely inspiring story of courage, loyalty, brotherhood, service and dedication. Captain Coffee and his fellow POW's story is one that needs to be shared with our young military men and women to teach them to continue fighting, never give up hope, and stick to core values to survive.” (Gary L., [Amazon])
“As a three time combat veteran struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I believe that ‘Beyond Survival’ is a MUST READ!! In my darkest hours, Captain Coffee's book has consoled me, validated my feelings, moved me to action, and made me 'count my blessings.' Captain Coffee takes you inside of the Vietnamese Prisons where he was held captive and tortured. Despite all odds, he managed to overcome the pain, loneliness, hunger, fear, and humiliation of being a POW for SEVEN YEARS! Captain Coffee describes every bit of his experience in painstaking detail and grips the reader with his honesty and sincerity. This book will touch your heart and humble you. Gerald Coffee is a Fighter, and has remained a true patriot, and my real-life Hero. He continues to INSPIRE others as a keynote speaker. Grateful living and humility have helped me through some of my toughest times. I've never been much of a 'reader,' but while I was going through Virtual Reality Gradual Exposure Therapy, my doctor recommended BEYOND SURVIVAL. When I picked it up, I could not put it down. Thank you, Captain Coffee, for having the bravery to serve our country, and to share your experience with us afterward. Beyond Survival didn't only Change my life, it Saved my life”. (Casey L., San Diego, CA, [Amazon])
“My dear friend Jerry Coffee is a man I’ve become as close to as practically anyone I’ve ever known. It would be very difficult for me to describe all Jerry’s achievements from the Cuban Missile Crisis to his bravery and courage in the Vietnam conflict. I will just say that in prison after the treatment had improved rather dramatically I had the great fun and privilege of living in the same cell with him for a couple of years. I think I found his company a lot more agreeable than he found mine, given my always even-tempered, unemotional approach to things. And although Jerry is a lousy bridge player, I have never known a more kind and generous American. I am very proud that for so many years he has traveled the country giving inspirational talks to people from all walks of life and every strata of America - not only because he has a compelling story but because of his particular fashion of describing the attributes associated with duty, honor, and our country.” (John McCain, Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.); Vietnam POW 10/26/67 - 3/14/73; United States Senator, Arizona, 1986 – present)
“Jerry and I lived in the same cell for the last 31/2 years we were in prison. We developed a pretty good kinship because Jerry was raised in Modesto, California and I was raised in Salinas just over the hill from Modesto. He was the ‘Modesto Flash’ and I was the ‘Salinas Streak.’ We actually developed these code names because someday if we had had to revert to passing messages in code again, it would be from Flash to Streak. Fortunately things never got that bad again. Jerry was a joy to live with. I never met a more even tempered individual or bigger optimist than Jerry. He was also somewhat of a visionary with a Bohemian streak. A wonderful artist, he tried to teach me how to paint in prison, which I failed at miserably. He also wrote poetry in his head and recited it. (In fact, I am a product of the Jerry Coffee international toastmasters Hanoi Chapter.) Every once in a while Jerry would sit back against the wall and come back to the same theme about the future. He’d say, “Ev, you know someday we’re going to go home and people back home aren’t going to understand what we’ve been through. It’s going to be so hard to conceive. And there’s a message here, a message we need to tell.” I didn’t grasp the full meaning of what he was saying for a long while, but it finally came. Jerry has mastered the ability to articulate the essence of the experience and those values and principles that are our legacy: honor, commitment, sacrifice, integrity, and faith. Nobody tells this story better than Jerry Coffee. I can’t tell you how many times - all over the country - I run into people who say, “Do you know this fellow Jerry Coffee?”, because they’ve just been somewhere and heard him speak. And I say, sure I know him, and they go “Wow! Boy, he blew our socks off. He’s tremendous.” (Everett Alvarez, Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret.), longest held Vietnam POW 8-5-64 – 2-12-73, Deputy Director, Peace Corps; Deputy Director, Veterans Administration; founder, Alvarez and Associates)
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