Mark B. Arrieta was born in Delta, Colorado, in 1924 and was the oldest child of Mary and Miguel Arrieta, Basque and Mexican/Native American immigrants. His father had been a famous bullfighter in the Basque Country of northern Spain, but after being gored by a bull, his fragile health kept the family poor and often hungry. Mark lost his father at the age of ten, and he was thrust into the role of breadwinner and head of the family.
Throughout his childhood and adolescence, he worked in the beet fields of Colorado before and after school, alongside his six younger siblings and his mother. Destitute and forced to move into an inhospitable, crime-ridden boarding house, Mark learned how to fight and stand up for himself.
At the age of sixteen, after paying off the family’s old debts, he jumped a freight train and headed to the golden state of California, where he hoped to build a better life. His first job there was working for the Civilian Conservation Corps, but when World War II broke out in Europe, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and soon began the life of a military man. From the Pacific to the European Theater, Mark flew in B-17s as a tail gunner. He survived twenty-five missions but saw his entire flight crew shot down as he helplessly lay in the infirmary. The guilt of surviving his best friend, Jeremy, stayed with him his whole life. The emotional scars and physical injuries he suffered were burdens that he carried going forward.
For a short time, he worked as a prison guard at one of the country’s deadliest prisons, San Quentin, where he witnessed daily acts of violence and cruelty. Because of this experience, he was hired to serve as prison supervisor at the Army Air Corps stockade in Guam. He also served as an Air Force recruiter in Torrance, California, and Moses Lake, Washington. His favorite military post was being stationed in England for four years in the late 1950s. This posting allowed him to revisit places from his war years and also see the square in Pamplona named after his famous bullfighter father.
His last military assignment was in Vietnam, where he was in charge of security for a new airstrip being built. During his eighteen months there, he had numerous near-death encounters with stealthy tigers, deadly cobras, and armed Viet Cong villagers.
Throughout it all, he maintained his wits, integrity, and commitment by remembering that the sacrifices he was making were for the good of his family: his wife, Betty May Forbes, whom he met in England during the war, and his three children, Dorothy, Mark Jr., and Jeffrey. Together, they were his beacon home and gave him a sense of purpose.
After leaving the military, Mark quietly began the life of a civilian as the owner of a donut shop. And when the military came knocking on his door again, offering him an exorbitant sum of money to work as a spy in Cuba, he firmly turned them down.
Mark lived until the age of seventy-nine. From his hardship and poverty in early life to his wartime battles and the victories he experienced in the military, he was happiest telling the tales from the comfort of his well-worn armchair with his children and grandchildren around him.
He wrote this book as a tribute to the father he barely knew—the proud Basque bullfighter.
Deborah Driggs is the granddaughter of Mark B. Arrieta. She is a healing coach specializing in helping people overcome past trauma and transform their lives.
Her earliest dream was to become an ice-skating athlete and to compete in the Olympics. From the age of seven, she practiced several hours before and after school to master her figure eights.
Unfortunately, her dream ended when her parents divorced and she and her sister and mother were separated. Throughout high school, she worked at minimum-wage jobs to pay for her clothing, school supplies, and other necessities as her father did not provide any financial support. As these jobs took their toll on her ability to do her schoolwork, her grades fell and she almost dropped out of high school. However, she was able to negotiate a solution with her teacher and to graduate with the rest of her class. This was her first experience with learning to never take no for an answer.
Pursuing her interest in dance, Deborah won a spot on a US Football League cheerleading squad in its first year and then went on to join a professional dance company touring Japan. When she returned to Los Angeles, she began her modeling career, which led to her being asked to grace the cover of Playboy, the world's leading men's magazine at the time. This led to new opportunities as a VJ (video jockey) for the Playboy Channel's Hot Rocks show, as well as appearances in several rock videos. She then landed several roles in television and film as a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Marriage and children followed, and for a while, Deborah put aside her acting career to focus on her family. However, when her marriage ended, she returned to the working world. Over the next several years, she was the manager of a day spa and then a residential real estate agent for the second-home market—until the market crashed in 2008.
After once again reinventing herself, she had a successful stint in global print sales before transitioning into the insurance industry. By the end of her first year in the insurance business, she was a top producer, followed by ongoing years of membership in the Million Dollar Roundtable, Top of the Table, and Leadership for Advanced Life Underwriting. Deborah's clients have included movie studio moguls, celebrities, Fortune 500 leaders, and other high-net-worth individuals.
Although financially successful, Deborah did not feel fulfilled. So she started the journey to connect back to herself. When she stopped running and looked directly into her soul, she found exactly who she was meant to be. She found happiness, deep relationships, love, confidence, control, joy, and so much more.
Deborah joined the Tony Robbins Platinum Lions Partnership in 2018, and she has lent her support to a number of nonprofits that make a difference in people's lives, including Richard Branson's Virgin Unite, the Go Campaign, Operation Underground Railroad, Cut50, and Van Jones's Reform Alliance, as well as funding a school in Peru.
In January 2020, she began sharing her winning business strategies in a talk she calls "Not Taking No for an Answer" as part of Unblinded: The Business Breakthrough Game Sales Mastery Immersion Event. Since then, she has appeared on a number of podcasts, on YouTube and Facebook Live interviews, and at other virtual events as a motivational speaker. Dedicated to helping women break through negative self-talk and take on any challenge to which they set their minds, Deborah knows how much of a difference it can make to have a helping hand when one needs it the most.
In 2021, she appeared in the feature film Neon Bleed, which has won numerous awards at international film festivals.