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Tough as They Come Selected as UMO Common Read

MOUNT OLIVE – After months of meticulously screening books, Tough as They Come by Retired Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills has been designated as the University of Mount Olive Common Read for the fall of 2017. The book will be assigned to students in the ADV 100 classes, a semester-long course required for all incoming UMO freshmen.

According to Common Read Committee Chair Jackie Hill, the committees have been searching for the past five years for a book, either fiction or non-fiction, whose main theme is the effects of war.

“The United States has been embroiled in military combat for years: the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, the War in Iraq, all resulting in war-induced hardships, opportunities and aftermaths,” Hill expressed. “The committees have felt that our freshmen could learn and grow from a book that put a face on all of the effects of war: glory, desolation, humanity, horror, camaraderie, bravery, mental illness, and devastation, just to name a few. We have read and discussed several books over the years, but not until this year did we find a book that we thought would capture the imagination of our students, hopefully causing them to re-examine their thoughts on the merits and tragedies of war.”

Tough as They Come is a true story of an average young man from Texas, who ended up in North Carolina as part of the 82nd Airborne Division as a non-commissioned officer. He became a leader, a friend, and a protector of the men he served, always following his father’s lifelong philosophy of never giving up, never quitting… until one eventful day during his third deployment to Iraq. The big, overgrown kid, who always sang to his men as they filed back into their compound in the middle of the Iraqi desert, turned around to place his backpack on the ground and in that instant his world changed forever. The book tells his story before, during, and after Iraq.

Mills, who is one of five quadruple amputees from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, will come to the UMO campus this fall to speak to freshmen and community members.

The UMO common reading experience is an integral part of the freshman seminar class. The book serves as a springboard for discussions on many current and controversial topics, gives the incoming freshmen a shared reading experience, and focuses on the importance of reading as part of an academic setting.

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College. For more information, visit

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