The Author




2008 Note
Some characters mentioned in this book are morphs of several individuals. Some occurrences described were second hand accounts. Some events were exaggerated or left out, in order to emphasize a point. This narrative describes my experience in the Foreign Legion in 1999, and is not mean to characterize the Legion as a whole in subsequent years. The original text was edited for clarity and succinctness.

These dated adventures recall a time in my life when I was a young, adventurous, idealistic, but also a stubborn and ill informed man. I continue to live my life as a Catholic. My book attempts to give a brutally frank account of the life of a soldier who is highly imperfect. Two chief corporeal aspects are grittily described in my book, namely the brutality of the Legion, contrasted with the sensual comfort of women. Although my amorous asides leave little to the imagination, I wish not to give the impression that I condone such libertine behavior, as I vehemently do not, especially now, reflecting through the filter of time, maturity, and a better understanding of the Christian faith.

Known by his family as l'enfant terrible, Jaime Salazar was born and raised in Lafayette, a staunchly white middle-class central Indiana town. Salazar was the youngest of four in one of the very few immigrant families. For many years, it was difficult for Salazar to live in a town in which he didn't quite feel fulfilled. Though Salazar grew up in safe and uneventful settings, he never related to the relative monoculture.

Before his senior high school year, sacrificing a promising year in athletics, Salazar looked outward and volunteered to be a Rotary exchange student. He was again placed in a small pastoral village—in central Sweden, and quickly found himself at odds with the conservative Rotary organization for skipping classes, drinking, dating, and other youthful infractions—after which Salazar was kindly asked to disenroll from the program.

Returning to the United States, Salazar began his studies at the local prestigious Purdue University and lived with his parents for the entirety of the rigorous all-encompassing Mechanical Engineering curriculum—feeling detached from the “university experience.” Again, during his senior year of studies, Salazar opted to study abroad, in Sweden again by coincidence, but this time at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. In between a relaxed course load, Salazar spent most of histime fraternizing with a mixed bag of international hooligan friends, also exchange students.

Thinking Salazar was ready to mature into adulthood, he returned to the United States and was immediately recruited by the German engineering giant Siemens in Chicago. Because of his charisma and technical expertise, Salazar was placed in their executive technical sales program. It wasn't long before the trappings of “Corporate America” and the shallow jet-set lifestyle disenchanted him, and he longed to be free and young again. Meanwhile, Salazar began researching one of the world's last rites of passage, the ultimate adventure sure to cure his wanderlust—the modern French Foreign Legion. Once in the Legion, his identity was changed to SANCHEZ, Juan, legionnaire 191224. Though he expected to live a romantic Beau Geste life, the harsh disciplined, often cruel, reality of life in a cutthroat army of mercenaries wasn't quite to his taste. Salazar eventually made a daring escape from France's Monastery of the Damned, and after a month on the run from French authorities, he made it back to the safety of his own homeland.

Salazar now works within the oil & gas sector in Houston, Texas. Though a secure career suits him well, with travel to exotic lands, it's a humdrum life after his adventures in the legion of the lost.