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Bleier's story gets new life

What's old is new again for former Steelers running back Rocky Bleier.

Bleier, who was just announced as a member of the Steelers Hall of Honor Class of 2018, released a special edition of his book Fighting Back as a part of the Fighting Back for Veterans campaign.

The first edition, written by Bleier and Terry O'Neil, was released in 1975 and chronicled Bleier's story of being wounded in the Vietnam War in 1969 but beating the odds and returning to the Steelers. Proceeds from the new release, titled Fighting Back: The Inspirational Journey of American Hero Rocky Bleier, will benefit military veterans groups, including Veterans Leadership, Joint Training Facility, and Legacies Alive.

"The whole thing with the book was I wanted to re-do the book, bring it back in hard back and have another edition," said Bleier. "I wanted to update it. We went over ideas and were able to do this. The idea is it's now called Fighting Back for Veterans. The idea was to be a voice for the veterans today. There are new pictures, so it's up-to-date so other generations can enjoy. It's a story. It's one of those timeless stories of obstacles, and overcoming and perseverance that generations need to read."

The new release, which includes two new chapters written by Gene Collier, also includes a foreword written by Alejandro Villanueva, who was a captain in the U.S. Army.

"I have a lot of admiration for Rocky Bleier," said Villanueva. "I have a lot of admiration for history and for the history of the United States. If you were in Pittsburgh and saw the Vietnam War happen, and saw the Steelers win the Super Bowls, you would know Rocky is a unique player who means so much to this nation and the history of what we've done. He served in Vietnam, a war that was very unpopular, that was extremely tough and challenging for soldiers. It was a tough dilemma. Veterans who served in Vietnam deserve all the respect. There was a lot of bravery he showed, a lot of challenges he faced when he came.

"When he asked me to write the foreword, I wrote the best thing I could say about someone as honorable and respectable as Rocky Bleier."

The book brings back a lot of memories for Bleier, memories he will share with an ESPN film crew when he returns to Vietnam for the first time later this summer.

"We are going to the areas where we operated, where I had been hit and do a reflection piece, feelings of what happened during that time," said Bleier. "It's my first time. I know it's changing, I know it's not the same. I think one of the things I wanted to do was tell the story of Vietnam from my perspective and every soldier's perspective. There was a lot said about Vietnam, and I don't know if it's been told from the point of view of the average solider of trying to get through, come home and not die."

The book is now available at and will be available at Steelers Pro Shops. The first 10,000 copies will be personally signed by Bleier.

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