'Pawtriot Dogs' Book Series Tells Patriotic Stories
by Stephanie Ingersoll
U.S. Army Fort Campbell Public Affairs
before he was assigned to 101st Airborne Division, former Capt.
Samuel P. Fortsch was a patriot, storyteller and dog lover.
Soon Fortsch will be a published author ... with not one but four
youth books set to be released by Penguin Random House in September
All four books of the “Pawtriot
Dogs” series draw inspiration from his love of country, the men
and women he served with in the Army and the lessons he learned
while serving the nation.
August 9, 2020 - Madeline 1, William, 3, and Samuel, 5, listen to their father, Samuel P. Fortsch, read one of his books in the “Pawtriot Dogs” series, set to be released by Penguin Random House in September and October
2020. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from courtesy photo by Samuel Fortsch)
“As a little kid loving to play with little Soldiers, GI Joes, as
cliche as it possibly could have been,” Fortsch said. “It really
started out as a kid, creating these characters with my buddies,
crawling through dirt, pretending we were in war movies or jumping
from couch to floor, pretending we were in a James Bond flick.”
Fortsch grew up in a small Massachusetts town, playing with
military helmets worn by his ancestors, watching war movies with dad
and grandfather, who was a Marine, and penning his own adventure
Becoming A Military Man
“Then, at age 12 or 13, 9/11 happened and I was inspired by all
the patriotism, the American flag, the perseverance and resilience
and strength that the country showed, and then I was inspired by
seeing countless 17, 18, and 19-year-old kids sign up for the
military and join the fight,” Fortsch said. “I started taking that
seriously my sophomore year in high school and started researching
some ROTC programs as I wanted to pursue a college degree.”
Fortsch signed a four-year Army ROTC scholarship and attended the
University of Massachusetts and was commissioned in 2010 as a second
lieutenant and was assigned to the field artillery branch.
After six months at the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leadership
program at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he was assigned to the now
deactivated 4th Brigade Combat Team at Fort Campbell in 2011.
He deployed to Afghanistan as a fire support officer in 2011
doing combat operations and with Headquarters and Headquarters
Company, 4th BCT in 2013.
“I was in the 101st from 2011 to
2014, when I got out,” Fortsch said. “I got some lifelong
friendships out of that.”
Some of those friends might find
parts of their personalities in the characters Fortsch created for
the series that follows the adventures of Sgt. “Rico” Ricochet, a
bomb-sniffing Malinois who finds himself at a rag tag animal shelter
in Washington where his leadership skills are needed to save the
sanctuary and other pets.
Fortsch said he created the
character and books because his son, Samuel, now 5, was curious
about his Army career.
Telling The Army Story
“I thought, what would be a simple way to convey to him what the
Army was like and that’s when I came up with
Rather than draw on his own exact experiences, Fortsch creates
missions that promote team work and leadership. But while the pack
might be fighting pirates in one book – something he never did – the
lessons he hopes to impart have deeper meaning.
swashbuckling took place in my Army career, but what did take place
in my Army career – climbing up a hill when you didn’t want to climb
up a hill, or running faster after you’ve already run 5 miles and
you’re tired, or putting on extra weight because one of your
teammates is struggling,” Fortsch said. “It’s more of a moral
message that I drew on from the Army because there were a lot of
times I’d be complaining or thinking this is too tough. But you’ve
got strong leaders and some of the best noncommissioned officers and
lower enlisted Soldiers who you can draw a lot of inspiration from,
because day in and day out, they exemplify what it means to be a
Soldier in the United States Army. I think the reason I enjoyed
creating the series so much is because I wanted to, through Rico’s
character, show what a true American Soldier is like.”
wants the series to promote teamwork, leaning on others, helping
others and carrying a heavier workload to benefit someone who is
struggling, Fortsch said.
While writing the series, he
honed-in on the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless
service, honor, integrity and personal courage, Fortsch said. His
stories are about facing fear and adversity, doing what’s right and
loyalty to a unit – whether it’s a fellow Soldier or animals.
There are important messages about standing up to bullies and
“In each book I introduce a new branch of
the military,” Fortsch said. “In Book One, we get the Army dog in
Rico, who will link up with Chaps, who is an old sergeant first
class and he’s inspired by a lot of the gruff, ruff and tumble
seasoned noncommissioned officers that I had the privilege of
His wife, Julia, said his love for his Family, God and country
shows in Fortsch’s life and the books he has written.
have ever had the chance to spend time with him you will quickly
learn how fun, caring and kind he is,” Julia Fortsch said. “He’s an
excellent storyteller and always knows how to make those around him
smile. Sam’s passion for writing shines in the ‘Pawtriot Dogs’ series
and I can’t wait for people to read it. We are so incredibly proud
Fortsch writes screenplays and said it was a stroke
of luck that he got a four-book deal. Writing is an outlet he needed
after leaving the military, he said.
“When I got out of the
Army there was really this big void, from a fulfillment standpoint,
and that’s when I started writing screenplays for movies,” Fortsch
Writing also provides him the opportunity to promote
patriotism, something he does not shy away from.
a country I’m so grateful to have been born into and I would do
whatever it takes to preserve this union,” Fortsch said. “It’s the
greatest country on Earth and deserves the recognition it gets. It
can take people out of poverty and give them chances they can’t get
in other places in this world.”
Fort Campbell was Fortsch’s
only duty station. The Family, which includes 1-year-old Madeline
and William, 3, live in western Massachusetts with their two dogs,
but they still visit the post when they can.
“It was the love
of my life,” Fortsch said. “We’ve gone back and visited several
times. We love the area, we love Fort Campbell, we love the 101st.
The Screaming Eagles are something that I take a lot of pride in
being part of.”
The first two “Pawtriot
Dogs” books in the series, “Save the Sanctuary” and
“Everything’s Bigger in Texas” are set to be released Sept. 1, and
“Into the Storm” and “On the Freedom Trail” will be released Oct.
20, he said. Penguin Random House labels the books as for ages 7 to
9, although Fortsch thinks they would appeal to readers from 7 to
Pawtriot Dogs by U.S. Army veteran Capt. Samuel P. Fortsch
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