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Beyond Valor is one soldier’s extraordinary tale of bravery, heroism, faith, and devotion. "Amazing...A thrilling and poignant story of patriotism that all Americans can be stirred, moved, and encouraged by." -- Gary Sinise On April 12, 1945, a fleet of American B-29 bombers flew toward Japan. Their mission was simple: stop World War II by burning the cities, factories, and military bases of the Japanese empire, thereby forcing an unconditional surrender. Yet the mission did not go as planned. On board one of the B-29s, the City of Los Angeles, a phosphorus bomb detonated inside the plane. Staff Sergeant Henry E. “Red” Erwin absorbed the blast of burning phosphorus yet managed to throw overboard the still-flaming bomb, before collapsing from the third-degree burns over much of his body. Breaking protocol, the plane diverted to a military hospital at Iwo Jima. President Truman quickly ordered that Erwin be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest honor of the American military, before the young airman died of his wounds. There was just one problem: no Medals of Honor were available in the entire Pacific theater. General Curtis LeMay dispatched a squad of airmen on a 1,000-mile mission to smash their way into a display case and steal a medal to give to Erwin before time ran out. Meanwhile, Red’s courageous young bride set out on her own mission, one of against-all-odds healing. Her success would determine the fate of the twenty-three-year-old warrior--and years later make possible the birth of the book's author: their grandson, Jon Erwin. Drawn from in-depth interviews with eyewitnesses and deep archival research, Beyond Valor is an extraordinary tale of bravery, heroism, faith, and devotion.
Previous books have promised to describe the combat experience of the World War II GI, but there has never been a book like Patrick O'Donnell's Beyond Valor. Here is the first combat history of the war in Europe in the words of the men themselves, and perhaps the most honest and brutal account of combat possible on the printed page. For more than fifty years the individual stories that make up this narrative -- shockingly frank reflections of sacrifice and courage -- have been bottled up, buried, or circulated privately. Now, nearing the ends of their lives, our WWII soldiers have at last unburdened themselves. Beyond Valor recaptures their hidden history. A pioneering oral historian, Patrick O'Donnell used his award-winning website, The Drop Zone, to solicit oral- and "e-histories" from individual soldiers. Gradually, working from within the community, O'Donnell convinced some of the war's most battle-hardened soldiers to tell their stories. The result is WWII seen through the eyes of the men who saw the most intense of its action. O'Donnell focuses on the elite units of the war -- the Rangers, Airborne, and 1st Special Service Force -- troops that spearheaded the most dangerous operations and often made the difference between victory and defeat. From more than 650 interviews O'Donnell has chosen oral- and e-histories that form a seamless story line, a pointillistic history of the war in Europe from the first parachute drops in North Africa through the final battles in Germany and the long trip home. It is the story of the war not discussed in polite company. O'Donnell presents the wreckage of entire battalions nearly annihilated, invisible personal scars, and haunting revelations of wartime atrocities. But more important are the men who recount lives risked without hesitation for comrades and cause, and those who did not return: the friends who died in their arms. Their stories remind all of us that victory came only at the highest price. Remembering the infamous cliffs at Pointe-du-Hoc, bloody Omaha Beach, the bitter fighting at the Battle of the Bulge, and Hill 400 in the Hürtgen Forest, the soldiers reveal war as seen, heard, and smelled by the GIs on the front line. Also included is the unique story of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, and the trailblazing African-American "Experimental" Test Platoon that had to fight its own battle behind the lines. Beyond Valor captures the truths that exist among soldiers. It is one of the most inspiring accounts of the war ever produced.
"Luke Collier knows his duty. A marine corps combat medic, his job is to save lives--not satisfy his own desires. Megan Trayhern is his corpsman, but the beautiful redhead can't be anything more. Megan has her own mission. While she doles out medical care in the nearby village, she's also gathering intel. ... She needs to focus--and be careful--and the growing passion she feels for Luke can only put them both at risk. Honor binds them both, but the heart gives its own orders"--P.  of cover.
The extraordinary World War II story of shipwreck and survival that paved John F. Kennedy's path to power – hailed as a “breathtaking account” by James Patterson, “masterfully written” by historian Douglas Brinkley, and “the finest book” ever written on the subject by Lt. Commander William Liebenow, the man who rescued JFK and the PT 109 crew in August 1943. In the early morning darkness of August 2, 1943, during a chaotic nighttime skirmish amid the Solomon Islands, the Japanese destroyer Amagiri barreled through thick fog and struck the U.S. Navy's motor torpedo boat PT 109, splitting the craft nearly in half and killing two American sailors instantly. The sea erupted in flames as the 109's skipper, John F. Kennedy, and the ten surviving crewmen under his command desperately clung to the sinking wreckage; 1,200 feet of ink-black, shark-infested water loomed beneath. "All hands lost," came the reports back to the Americans' base: no rescue was coming for the men of PT 109. Their desperate ordeal was just beginning—so too was one of the most remarkable tales of World War II, one whose astonishing afterlife would culminate two decades later in the White House. Drawing on original interviews with the last living links to the events, previously untapped Japanese wartime archives, and a wealth of archival documents from the Kennedy Library, including a lost first-hand account by JFK himself, bestselling author William Doyle has crafted a thrilling and definitive account of the sinking of PT 109 and its shipwrecked crew's heroics. Equally fascinating is the story's second act, in which Doyle explores in new detail how this extraordinary episode shaped Kennedy's character and fate, proving instrumental to achieving his presidential ambitions: "Without PT 109, there never would have been a President John F. Kennedy," declared JFK aide David Powers. Featuring castaways on a deserted island, a spy network of Solomon Island natives, an Australian coast watcher hidden on the side of a volcano, an S.O.S. note carved into a coconut, and a daring rescue attempt led by Kennedy's fellow American PT boats, PT 109 is an unforgettable American epic of war and destiny.
"Iwo Jima was a massacre. I never expected anything like that. People were dying left and right...No names should have been used on the flag raisings because we didn't get up there by ourselves. It was the collective actions of a lot of people and there were a lot of Raiders and paratroopers up there with us." -- Charles Lindberg, Flag Raiser Patrick O'Donnell has made a career of uncovering the hidden history of World War II by tracking down and interviewing its most elite troops: the Rangers, Airborne, Marines, and First Special Service Force, forerunners to America's Special Forces. These men saw the worst of the war's action, and most of them have been reluctant to talk about it. With O'Donnell's respectful coaxing, however, they first began telling their stories through www.thedropzone.org, his award-winning Web site. In 2001, veterans of the European Theater told their stories in O'Donnell's first book, Beyond Valor. Now, in Into the Rising Sun, O'Donnell presents scores of veterans' personal accounts, based on over a thousand interviews spanning the past ten years, to tell the story of the brutal Pacific war. "They were making a lot of noise, talking, yelling to one another, and I heard someone getting beat up on the left. I can still hear the screams. He was begging for mercy. They [the Japanese] were berating him. Later on I found that it was one of my friends, Ken Ritter." -- Robert Youngdeer, Guadalcanal These veterans were often the first in and the last out of every conflict, from Guadalcanal and Burma to the Philippines and the black sands of Iwo Jima. They faced a cruel enemy willing to try anything, including kamikaze flights and human-guided torpedoes. As O'Donnell explains in the Introduction, most of the men in this book were at first reticent to talk. Over the course of the war, they had spearheaded D-Day-sized beach assaults, encountered cannibalism, suffered friendly-fire incidents, and endured torture as pris-oners of war. Heroes among heroes, they include many recipients of the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and other medals of battlefield valor, but none bragged about it. As one soldier put it, "When somebody gets decorated, it's because a lot of other men died." By at last telling their stories, these men present an unvarnished look at the war on the ground, a final gift from aging warriors who have already given so much. Only with these accounts can the true horror of the war in the Pacific be fully known. O'Donnell has carefully verified each account by comparing it with official records and interviews, and he intersperses each story with brief commentary. Together with detailed maps of each battle, the veterans' stories in Into the Rising Sun offer nothing less than a complete picture of the war in the Pacific, a ground-level view of some of history's most brutal combat.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. In honor of the 75th Anniversary of one of the most critical battles of World War II, the popular primetime Fox News anchor of The Story with Martha MacCallum pays tribute to the heroic men who sacrificed everything at Iwo Jima to defeat the Armed Forces of Emperor Hirohito—among them, a member of her own family, Harry Gray. Admiral Chester Nimitz spoke of the “uncommon valor” of the men who fought on Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest and most brutal battles of World War II. In thirty-six grueling days, nearly 7,000 Marines were killed and 22,000 were wounded. Martha MacCallum takes us from Pearl Harbor to Iwo Jima through the lives of these men of valor, among them Harry Gray, a member of her own family. In Unknown Valor, she weaves their stories—from Boston, Massachusetts, to Gulfport, Mississippi, as told through letters and recollections—into the larger history of what American military leaders rightly saw as an eventual showdown in the Pacific with Japan. In a relentless push through the jungles of Guadalcanal, over the coral reefs of Tarawa, past the bloody ridge of Peleliu, against the banzai charges of Guam, and to the cliffs of Saipan, these men were on a path that ultimately led to the black sands of Iwo Jima, the doorstep of the Japanese Empire. Meticulously researched, heart-wrenching, and illuminating, Unknown Valor reveals the sacrifices of ordinary Marines who saved the world from tyranny and left indelible marks on those back home who loved them.
VALOR BEYOND MEASURE tells the story about a young boy who resists doing a homework assignment about the war. Yet, in doing this project, he discovers some undisclosed truths about his elderly grandfather. What he learns from his assignment not only provides insights into the gentleman's life previously unknown to other members of his family but also affects the boy's life profoundly as well. As a result, they are treated to an exciting saga about his extensive and repeated acts of heroism during World War II which he reveals for the first time in more than sixty years. This tale goes beyond relating a story of extraordinary courage. It delves into the internal conflicts faced by a warrior who finds himself thrust into harm's way on an almost continual basis. Furthermore, it deals with the way in which he keeps his almost debilitating fear from interfering with his pursuit of duty, honor, and gallantry.
Influenced by patriotic war movies, joining the army and fighting for his country seemed to be a purposeful and honorable endeavor. Bill had been a delinquent kid and a high school dropout and later became a brokenhearted drunk whose girlfriend left him for a responsible insurance salesman. This is his true story and his perceived reality written from his paratrooper/infantryman’s perspective in explicit detail. The reader will be outraged by the immorality, the lies from the top, and the insanity of the Vietnam War. The gripping detail of jungle warfare is riveting, touching, and raw. The author describes his intense search for meaning and his long battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the war. He details his college experiences during the turbulent counterculture movement of the sixties which deeply affected the country and was instrumental in stopping the war. He recounts his efforts through the years to find himself; he explains the darkest period of his life in the war and its paradoxical connection to his epiphany: a spiritual discovery of service, compassion, and love toward others as a means of preventing his own suicide. He describes his long journey toward healing as he seeks self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others and of God for his stupidity and perverse taking of life. He looks at the sociology of class struggle, both in the military and at a college in California, as a professor and counselor and as a director of a large disabled student services program. He finds peace, purpose, and healing through his work with disabled students and later with those living in his RV park who are among the lowest socioeconomic groups in our society. This book will make the reader cry, laugh, and become angry at the arrogance of authority and how history continues to repeat itself. The author realized years ago that surviving PTSD meant facing the whole truth. If he can help combat veterans cope with their problems and find truth and meaning in their lives as a result of this book, he will be deeply gratified.