Book Review by Kathryn Ross: Triumph Over Terror

“Questions swirled in our minds: why did these terrorists do such an evil thing?  Where was God? . . . A firefighter who saves lives should not be dead, but he was—his annihilation caused by terrorists who cared nothing about the sanctity of human life . . . Firefighters, police officers, and recovery workers were saddened by this death; but their determination remained strong. Americans cannot forget this tragic scene, ever. These firefighters will not have died in vain if America always remembers what happened on September 11. 2001.”

Excerpt from Bob Ossler’s book,   Triumph Over Terror  w/Janice Hall Heck

Chaplain Bob Ossler served five tours of duty at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the terror attack and destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11. His peculiar training as a firefighter, paramedic, mortician, and ordained minister substantially prepared him to serve in a setting that no one is ever really prepared to experience.

What he witnessed there in recovering the remains of the thousands of souls who perished in the ash heap is seared into his mind and heart. He ministered solace and comfort to the mourning community of volunteer and neighbors toiling to restore order from the destructive chaos. Stepping into the skin of the workers and their pain, Chaplain Bob sought to be the ministry of Jesus in the lives of everyone he met there.

Fourteen years later he attended the writer’s group I co-lead with seasoned editor Janice Hall Heck. “I think I need to write a book,” he said, “but, I’m not much of a writer.”

He’s a storyteller.

In that May 2015 writer’s meeting, he shared a couple of his 9/11 tales in a soft, breathy delivery. Jan and I dropped our jaws in amazement, emotionally transported by his imagery. His powerful words drew us into the heart-rending moments of the people he met, the things he saw, and the jobs he performed, with a mix of wonder, horror, and fascination.

“You must write this book, Bob,” we encouraged him. This was an important book that should find a reading audience—especially in these turbulent times where terrorism is more prevalent than ever.

People are in great need of God’s peace and comfort. Click To Tweet

Jan committed to work closely with him to the purpose.

I had the privilege of spending the early days of this book project on the phone with Bob, encouraging him as he began the mind dump of long buried memories. Often he ran a story past me and I’d be dumbstruck at the powerful image it conjured, and the pain evoked in my heart. “Did you send that story to Janice?” I’d ask.

“No. I thought it might be too much. Too brutal to share and read.”

“You must include it.” I’d say. But, Bob was not convinced.

We attended the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference in the summer of 2015 with Jan’s book proposal of the work, including about thirty stories in a first draft to show editors and authors for review.

Bob Ossler Triumph Over Terror

Award-winning novelist Eva Marie Everson, who was in Manhattan on 9/11, advised Bob directly, “Show me the blood.” Click To Tweet

Bob was hesitant because he knew the chambers that would be opened were he to share some of the more horrifying images. There’d be an emotional toll on his own tender heart to relive those moments in exact language. Bravely, he turned the key to memory and his words poured onto the page, mingling both tears and insight.

A year later, thanks to the vision of Scoti Domeij of Blackside Publishing, and the long, tedious hours of editorial manuscript work by co-author, Janice Hall Heck, Bob’s Triumph Over Terror has released just ahead of the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

Bob Ossler, Janice Hall Heck, Triumph Over Terror

Triumph Over Terror has been a cathartic exercise for Bob. In the process of liberating his experiences at Ground Zero in detail, he created a healing work to help others purge pain and trauma in their lives. Each tale of an isolated incident closes with a glorious testimony of God’s tender mercies in the midst of tragedy.

Bob’s stories are the raw truth of the painful moments he walked through, along with the workers and volunteers who served by his side in the clean-up and recovery efforts. It is a first person documentation in memory of the souls found in the ruins—and the survivors.  The horrid sights, smells, and sounds they worked in each day on the “Pile” reminds us that sin stinks and should have no place in civil societies. It gives us a sense of what the enemy looks like and what we must never allow ourselves to become desensitized to. Never Forget.

Triumph Over Terror flags

In an early chapter, Bob likens the initial sight of the tower ruins to a Hollywood disaster movie set. Some sections are difficult to read due to the scenes described—until you get to the redemption part.

You see, every short chapter story of an encounter on the Pile, ends with the grace of God and light in the darkness. Hope in the face of evil rises to the surface, leaving the reader with a firmer grasp of reality in both the spiritual and material world.

The intersection of tragedy and triumph makes the sign of a cross. Click To Tweet

Bob’s presence on the Pile crossed over the terror element with a more powerful triumph factor. In the wake of painful encounters, God showed up every time and, in some way, turned the tide one life at a time.

Jesus arrived in this world, getting down and dirty with us in our painful suffering. The presence of God walked and talked in the waste Pile of man, powerful to redeem and heal—though scars remain. The events of 9/11 scarred a nation. They’ve left their mark on Chaplain Bob. He’s in good company there. The resurrected Jesus showed His scars and wore them as badges of honor, awarded by God the Father, proof of the pleasing work accomplished at the crossroad of terror and triumph 2000 years ago.

In the darkness His Light shines. Click To Tweet

Chaplain Bob wants to tell his story–so others can find healing in God’s Story.

Bob Ossler, Chaplain

In Summary

Chaplain Bob Ossler’s five tours of duty in the dark place of terror’s aftermath, produced scars, now turned to the light of redemption in his book, Triumph Over Terror. Janice Hall Heck provided expert and meticulous attention to editing his written narratives, arranging them into chronological and thematic chapters. The result is both a primary source account of an important historical event, as well as a manual for anyone desiring to know the different ways God can minister to hearts in crisis, struggling through loss, grief, and trauma.

I believe this is a vital read for every American. But, anyone seeking God to lift them into a place of triumph over troublesome times in their lives will find answers here, too. Grief counselors and ministers should make place on their resource bookshelf for this book, as well.

For my part, I’m making sure my loved ones receive signed copies of Triumph Over Terror. I am proud to have played a very small part in bringing it to print.


About the Author:

“I teach families how to restore their God-given authority as the primary educator in their child’s life through the experience of reading together as a family. Learn how to use literature to create teachable moments, build strong minds, and bind loving hearts.” Kathryn Ross, writer, speaker, and dramatist, ignites a love of literature and learning to equip young and old towards developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle—reading together, learning together, loving together. Her works challenge families to deepen their literacy skills and grow into the greater things God has purposed for them. She’s taught in Christian and homeschool circles, trained in the Principle Approach® through the Foundation for American Christian Education. Miss Kathy owns Pageant Wagon Publishing, producing homeschool enrichment materials, devotional works, study guides, and theatrical dramas for church, school, and community production. She podcasts at and blogs at

About Janice Hall Heck

Janice Heck, coauthor of Triumph Over Terror with Bob Ossler, is a retired educator (special education, early childhood administration). After retiring, she kept her hand in education by teaching English, writing, and computer applications (part-time)in a residential adolescent drug/alcohol rehab program. In her free time, she writes for, edits, and publishes a community newsletter; sings in the Margate Community Church choir; and collects old grammar books just for the heck of it. She loves travel, photography, cats, writing, blogging, blogging challenges, and life-long learning. She is a wife, mother, and Grannie to thirteen grandchildren. She is committed to Relay for Life (cancer), the annual City-to-Shore MS Bike-a-Thon, and the American Heart Association. Welcome to her blog. Connect with her @janiceheck on Twitter, Janice Hall Heck on Facebook, and website
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