Dan laguna

You Have To Live Hard To Be Hard by Dan Laguna – Book Review

Dan Laguna

 You Have To Live Hard To Be Hard 

Dan Laguna

With Michael S. Wren

“One Man’s Life In Special Operations”


You Have To Live Hard To Be Hard to me means you must never give up no matter how difficult your circumstances may be”.

Dan Laguna

Follow Dan on Twitter @Livehardbook

I met Dan Laguna and his wife Deonna about a year ago, they were visiting one of their sons who I have known for over four years, and who I proudly call my best friend.  That evening, I briefly spoke with Dan and Deonna over dinner and I came away with a respect and desire to learn more about the quiet and humble hero.


Through the years, I have heard a lot about Dan, his name comes up frequently during my conversations with his son  and occasionally co-workers will ask if my buddy is related to him. So, when I heard he was writing a book, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.  


Blackwater Little Bird

About Dan:

Dan has spent the better part of his life overcoming challenges and pursuing goals.  Through the years he has sacrificed a lot but in many ways he has reaped the benefits of his determination. From an early age he was faced with the challenge of being hispanic and overcoming the stereotypes that people tried to constrain him with.


After deciding to join the United States Army, he focused on his goals and earned his Green Beret.  After serving as a Special Forces soldier Dan became a pilot and subsequent Flight Lead with the 160th Special Operations Air Regiment (SOAR

It was while serving with the 160th SOAR that Dan and his good friend Carlos Guerrero crashed while on a training exercise, killing Carlos and seriously injuring Dan.  

After retiring from the army, Dan began flying for Blackwater Security in Iraq where he lost his brother and four close comrades.


Dan is a husband, father and a soldier, and his story doesn’t end at page 264 of his book, Dan still flies in support of those who are also called to serve their country.


Dan Laguna Photo


The Book:

Dan’s book, “You Have To Live Hard To Be Hard” cannot be summed up in a simple paragraph.  The book is a biography, a memorial and an inspiration to those who want to serve their country. It provokes both tears and smiles in every chapter.  It is a must read for everyone who strives “To Be Hard”.

Dan Laguna begins his book with a heart wrenching description of his brother’s funeral and the immense and overwhelming support shown by friends and family. He then begins recounting, in vivid detail, the day he lost his brother, Arthur Laguna and four of his brothers in arms. It was January 23, 2007 and Dan and his brother Art were flying for Blackwater in Iraq;

“After less than a minute flying over Raven 7, I heard my brother over the radio yelling, “I’m hit! I’m hit! I’m going back!” Cyrus wheeled the little bird around, and in seconds we were turned around looking for Art; but he was gone. We quickly scanned the sky looking for them, but didn’t see them. “3-4… this is 3-5… where are you?”

After recounting the events surrounding his brothers death, Dan describes some of the challenges that he faced and overcame during his youth and the early part of his military career.  He recounts the hardships that he and his wife Deonna faced and tells how he became a member of the Special Operations Community.  

In the book, Dan describes his time as a Green Beret and how he and his brother Art, became helicopter pilots. He goes into detail of yet another heart wrenching ordeal when he and his close friend Carlos Guerrero experienced a compressor failure (not good) while flying a live fire training mission and ended up crashing their little bird helicopter in a ball of flames.  Dan recounts the incident and gives God credit for his miraculous escape. 

Unfortunately, Carlos was not able to escape and did not survive the incident.  In the ensuing chapters, Dan recounts his miraculous recovery and how he determined not to become a victim.  

Dan also reminisces on some of the highlights of his career, such as working with the Polish special operations unit GROM  and his time flying the skies over Mogadishu, Somalia on the heels of the infamous blackhawk down incident.

Throughout the book, Dan never ceases to give credit to God for the many miracles in his life. Dan also touches briefly on all the miracles he has experienced and how he attributes them to God and his LDS faith.  He also makes it very clear just how supporting his wife Deonna has been and continues to be throughout their marriage.


“You Have To Live Hard To Be Hard” is not first and foremost a biography. It is a memorial to the men with whom Dan Laguna fought alongside, and who ultimately gave their lives for God and country.

Art Laguna

The Fallen:


Carlos Guerrero

Steve Gernet 

Art Laguna

Shane Stanfield

Ron Johnson

Casey Cassavant

And all the others who have given their lives for our freedom!

Where you can find the book:

Dan’swebsite Dan Laguna

You can show your support by sharing this review with your fellow brothers in arms.


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– Will

About The Author

3 thoughts on “You Have To Live Hard To Be Hard by Dan Laguna – Book Review”

  1. Great review.
    We need to hear more about these unsung heroes. I think this book would be great for my boys.

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