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God + Military Spouse by Lori Kathleen Cline

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

It used to be said that if the military wanted you to have a spouse, they would have issued you one. Thankfully times have changed and the military spouse is now an integral part of any service member’s support team. But it’s not always easy. Author Kathleen Cline has been a married to a Navy man for 20 years and knows the stresses and difficulties of being a military wife and in this book she shares her experiences and advice with a heartfelt Christian perspective. It is Cline’s hope that military wives will form small prayer groups, develop strong Christian bonds and support each other in what she calls the roller coaster of ups and downs in marriage.

Each chapter discusses different situations a military wife might experience and offers insight on how to get through those difficult times. Cline truly understands and wants to help those who are overwhelmed by the extreme stresses of deployments and the changes that happen in marriages with the subsequent return of their spouses.

I’m not a military spouse but, I found myself drawn to Cline’s sincerity and insight in addressing issues important in any marriage, military or civilian. All marriages have their rough spots and it takes some personal fortitude and strength to keep focused on what is important. Cline, in a sense, has your back. As another helpful tool, several workbook style questions are asked at the end of each chapter to help readers confront and assess their own feelings.  On the last pages of the book, Cline shares bible verses to study that re helpful in addressing a particular issue. 

I would recommend this book to any military spouse who wants to strengthen her marriage and herself through her Christian faith.

Reviewed by: Gail Chatfield (2011)


Author's Synopsis

How many times have you gone to relax with friends only to end up in a gripe session about your marriage? You leave feeling even more exhausted and simply depressed. Learn to replace you idle coffee talk with more substantial Christian talk.

We all have problems, but military marriages endure more pressure than the average couple. Discussing marital issues is normal, but it should be done to discover the message of the Bible and what purpose God has for you, your spouse , and your children.

Insanity is when you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. "Maybe I did not yell loud enough." "Maybe I did not stay silent long enough." " Maybe I should have withheld sex more often." These old tactics don't change anything or anyone, but they certainly do destroy.

Invite God into your marriage, and see how your attitude changes. What do you have to lose? Your way is not working. How about trying God's way? 

True Blue: A Tale of the Enemy Within by Joe Sanchez & Mo Dhania

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MWSA Review

True Blue is the story of Joe Sanchez's life as a NYC cop. The book came in during a really busy time for me. I read the first page and put in in my car to read at lunch and dinner in suburban restaurants like Bob Evans and Denny's. At least, that was my intent. However, it got lost under the front seat of my Acura for several weeks and since I was focused on other things, I didn't even look for it. Big mistake.

When I finally dug True Blue out from its dark hiding place, I literally couldn't put it down. Even though I'm not a wounded Vietnam Veteran and I've never lived in NYC and I've never been a Hispanic cop, Joe Sanchez lived my life. Oh sure, our trials and tribulations are different, but one Don Quixote recognizes another windmill jouster instantly. It's not that Joe doesn't see ugliness, it's that he knows beauty is out there almost in reach. His courage isn't the chest-thumping kind. Sanchez is an everyday Joe with a gritty determination to make things better, for the community, for his family, and for himself.

For those who have given up on the world, this might seem foolish but like Quixiote and through a veil of jokes and clever observations about his fellow officers and a vast array of villains, Joe is a wise and dignified man and maybe a little bit literary. He has a knack of defining character or telling a story with a few deft
lines and he made me laugh, or at least smile and go "ah", time and again.

For example, when a friend of his is killed, he describes his sorrow this way, "I stood under the shower hoping the whole thing would wash away. But the sound of water washing down the drain didn't bring any comfort. It sounded like blood draining out of a bleeding heart." 

And he described a policeman this way, "This guy didn't look like a Hispanic. He looked like some big old guy from out of The Last of the Mohigans, and they called him Big Chief. He was a great back-up guy. Cheerful as you like, but all he had to do was stand behind you and look like the kind who could rip somebody's heart out with one whack of the tomahawk, and nobody gave you no crap." 

And my favorite story took a mere paragraph, "Sure enough, when we opened the door, there wasn't even any creepy movie music to warn us what was going to happen. Pyscho just came flying out at us with a big kitchen knife. Situation like this, you had to do something, even if the guy was a nut. I don't think I weighed it out, but I shot him in the right leg. He dropped the knife and went hopping off to a room on the left, yelling in pain. Potter and Velez went after him and cuffed him, and then, when he was restrained...bless her heart, his mom stood by him trying to comfort him. He was still her baby, even if he had been planning to stuff her and keep her in the cellar or something." 

For all his immigrant earnestness, life as a cop wasn't always easy for Sanchez. He ran into his share of operational resistance. As his story develops you begin to see that Joe's career resembled the old saying, "Sometimes you eats the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." Since not everyone who wears a police uniform or works for the government sees the world the same way, Joe faced a monumental challenge that changed his life. 

True Blue is more film noir than memoir. It's chock-full of really, really bad guys who duke it out with tough-talking cops after eyeball-shaking car chases through shadowy cityscapes. Sometimes it reminds one of a dysfunctional Walton family where a brother in blue has your back in the morning and leaves you hanging in the afternoon. It's smarmy charm rivals fiction for readability and sheer entertainment. Yet, for all its action and clever dialogue, Joe Sanchez is my new hero. He's both human and endearing...and what happens to him is...well, I won't spoil the story...but you really must read it. 

Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2011)


Author's Synopsis

Joe has been trying to tell this story for a some time. It's his story, but not his alone. It's also the story of those who lived and died alongside him, in Viet Nam and in that other battle, for justice and safety under the shield of the law, that is fought daily in the streets of every big city by every honest cop. In his case, the city was the Naked City and the cop was a Latino. And the battle was neither for the civilians alone, not just against the bad guys in the street. Sometimes the bad guys were in the Department. And sometimes the people who needed protection were the honest cops.

We Came to Fight a War by Jack Flynn & Alvin E. Kotler

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MWSA Review

A wartime injustice is righted in this crisp, succinctly written memoir of a B 17 flight crew member who tells of the heroism, and tragedy of his pilot of more than 25 combat missions flown out of Italy during World War Two. Written by the brother of that pilot, the reader is given a chilling glimpse into the rigors, and horrors of those young men who flew the big bombers deep into enemy territory, on lengthy, harrowing missions.
 
1LT Bill Flynn was a professional, dependable, and much trusted pilot whose war time record was exemplary, if not magnificent. Shortly after the war ended he was wrongfully, disgracefully accused of deeds of which he was entirely innocent, and he paid a terrible professional, and personal price. As told to Flynn's brother Jack, crew member Al Kotler, recounts the story of 1LT Flynn, his war time valor, and the final betrayal by the army air corps that he so proudly served. The result is this magnificent little gem of a book that does not waste a single word in telling it like it was. The proud, and honorable way that 1LT Flynn lived the remainder of his life after his betrayal, is redeeming, but the reader is left with a smoldering anger that something like this could have, and did happen. That is what makes the book so believable, and real. 

Reviewed by: Bob Flournoy (2011)

 


Author's Synopsis

On 15 April 1945, 1st Lt Bill Flynn completed his 25th bombing mission flying a B-17 with the 346th Bomb Sqdn, 99th Bomb Group. On 25 May 1945, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for "extraordinary achievement" in combat. In July of that same year, at a General Court Martial, he was accused of "buzzing," convicted of manslaughter and the destruction of government property. People were intimidated and encouraged to lie and 20-year-old Lt Flynn was stripped of his rank and benefits, dishonorably discharged, and sentenced to hard labor at a Federal Prison in New York. This book was written by Lt Flynn's radio gunner, Al Kotler, and Bill's brother, Jack Flynn. You will meet Bill, Al, and the rest of their crew, and fly with them on missions out of Foggia, Italy. Bill is no longer here to defend himself, so Al and Jack combined forces to present the full story of what really happened and to right a terrible wrong. 33 photos.

T-41 Mescalero: The Military Cessna172 by Walt Shiel

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MWSA Review

Everything you ever wanted to know about the T-41: I went back to my log book and found all the T-41's I flew in the USAF undergraduate pilot training class. From first flight in N5209F 6 Nov 67, solo in N5189F 17 Nov 67, final check ride N5109F 19 Dec 67. Most of the airplane histories I have seen are just a pamphlet of a few pages while this book has 180+ pages. Even though I had flown the airplane, I learned a lot about the training techniques and philosophy of the training. Seeing the training from the instructor's point of view was very interesting. As a former Air Force pilot, I was very interested in this book and can highly recommend it.This is the definitive book on the T-41.

Reviewed by: Buddy Cox (2011)


Author's Synopsis

In 2006, the ubiquitous Cessna Model 172 Skyhawk turned 50, with a seldom-heralded military record almost as long. Now, for the first time, the Skyhawk's military history is revealed in all its depth and breadth, covering its use by the armed forces of 54 countries. Cessna delivered 867 T-41 Mescaleros (the military version of the 172) in four distinct models to countries around the world -- plus another 158 off-the-shelf 172s, with many still serving into the 21st century. T-41 Mescalero captures this extensive history in print, complete with stories and photographs from around the world.

Beyond Those Hills by M.H.A. Menondji

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MWSA Review

Beyond Those Hills, a well-written account and a self-discovery, amid gunfights, a power struggle against the USSR and the rise of terrorism on the world scene.” The author, M.H.A. Menondji, meticulously documents three lives intertwined by love. This is a very interesting read – not a book to race through, or you will miss some very exciting scenes and descriptions of a young woman who becomes the first female accepted by the Navy SEALS. To put it bluntly, “She tells it like it was.”

M.H.A. Menondji is a graduate of Universities of Orleans, La Sorbonne (International Law), and Whittier College (Political Science). African-born, she migrated to the U. S. from France a decade ago. She spent a year learning the intricacies of the English language then took on the challenge of writing in a language she has learned as a third.

Considered a showcase of accelerated linguistic and cultural assimilation, her writings, and her wonderful background has given her the accolades she deserves.

Reviewed by: Bob Ruehrdanz (2011)


Author's Synopsis

Entrusted with the well being of his late best friend's daughter, Laura, former C.I.A. operative Jim Marshall had kept his promise well beyond what was expected of him. Now an accomplished young woman, Lt. Laura Armitage is the unlikely candidate to an elite US Navy unit. A tragedy shadowing her days, she reports for duty to face discrimination and the cover-ups of the Iran-contras scandal. Struggling to assess her allegiance to the flag, she stands her ground through every mission aware her tenacity may not be enough to earn her respect, including that of her jaded commanding officer, Lt. T.J. Wilkins. Beyond Those Hills: an Officer and a Lady is a multifaceted self-discovery journey amidst the power struggle against then USSR and the rise of terrorism on the world scene. It depicts three lives intertwined by love, death, lust and a sense of duty that rises above politicians' corruption. It is a compelling tale of redemption woven into the private battles of a female warrior. A selection of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards MWSA 2011 Awards Nominee for Historical Fiction.

Listening to Ghosts by Robert (Bob) Stockton

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Bob Stockton's memoir of navy life, Listening To Ghosts, could have been written by a million men who served in that branch of service for as long as he did, but probably not told as well. Those million men are undoubtedly very thankful that Mr. Stockton took the time to tell their story. It is a story of duty, travel, adventure, friendship, and professionalism. It is all of the things that make one's time in the military memorable. It is also a tale of what it means to be an American guy next door who just does what needs doing. Get this book to taste the flavor or not only a naval career, but to relive your own life in the military if it so applies. If it doesn't, then you will be better off having read this book.

Reviewed by: Bob Flournoy (2011)


Author's Synopsis

Listening To Ghosts is an accounting of the author's experience growing up in a Northeastern working class neighborhood and subsequent career as an enlisted man in the United States Navy before the Navy became an instrument for social engineering experimentation. Written in the first person the author takes the reader through his adventures - and misadventures - in frank, candid and politically incorrect language.

The Sentinel & the Shooter by Douglas W. Bonnot

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MWSA Review

The Sentinel and the Shooter is a fascinating book about the exploits of an Army Security Agency Radio Research Company (Airborne), the 265th RRC (ABN), and the deeds of the dedicated men who made a (unrecognized by many) difference in Viet Nam. Alternate titles could be: From A Usually Reliable Source or The Company That Wasn't There. 

The Army Security Agency (ASA) was (is?) a separate activity within the Army, existing as a self-contained entity. ASA's purpose was to produce intelligence for the U.S. Army. Such intelligence was obtained by capturing (listening in on) the enemy's communications--Signals Intelligence. Directional finding equipment (on the ground and in the air) was used to located the sources of radio transmissions, providing targeting information to the shooters. Wire taps were also employed. 

Prior to the beginning of the Viet Nam War, ASA doctrine and tactical components were based upon supporting a European conflict against the Soviet model. Viet Nam presented a different kind of war, requiring different tactics, and the ASA was not prepared to support it. 

The 265th RRC (ABN) was activated in the spring of 1967 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky to provide Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) to the 101st Airborne Division, and deployed to Viet Nam that December--just in time to be part of the 1968 Tet Offensive. Squads and platoons of the 265th soon found themselves spread across the 101st's operating area. 265th RRC (ABN) teams (Sentinels) established listening posts on Fire Support Bases (FSBs) and fought alongside the men of the 101st (Shooters). In 1969 the 265th RRC (ABN) personnel were in the battles of Dong Ap Bia (Hamburger Hill) and Dong A Tray (Bloody Ridge), and helped fight off sapper attacks at FSB Berchtesgaden. Afterward they deployed to insert units into combat to support of the Tactical Emergency declared by the 23rd Infantry Division one hundred miles to the south. 

The book is filled with similar events until the 265th RRC (ABN) was disbanded in 1972. No record of the company can be found, although its inputs saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of American and South Viet Nam soldiers. 

The author, SFC Douglas W. Bonnot, tells the story through the eyes of the company's NCOs, lieutenants and captains. He chose to write the book to document the story of the 265th RRC (ABN), a unit that somehow seems to have escaped being in the official record--The Company That Wasn't There. The Sentinel and the Shooter is a tribute to the men who did so much and received so little in return. The story is filled with quotes for various men providing first hand accounts to events being described. 

An excellent book! This is a story of those who were there, for historians, and for others who seek to understand what happened. The book is filled with military terms, and provides comprehensive glossary and a unit roster. After I share the book with fellow Military Officers Association of America members, I plan to reread it and then place it in my library. 

Security and chain of command are the cause of much of the 265th RRC (ABN)'s problems. A team inserted onto a FSB sets up a listening post, but does not report the FSB commander (the King of the Hill). However, the King of the Hill must provide logistical support, food, water, etc. Very few officers and NCOs were cleared for SIGINT, thus the King of the Hill did not know what these men with no symbols on their uniforms did or why they were there. A few figured it out. Men of the 265th RRC (ABN) found that serving two masters can be troublesome. 

Intelligence produced must be passed up the ASA chain of command to the platoon, company headquarters, and then up to the 8th Radio Research Field Station (RRFS), which controlled personnel assignments, promotions, and equipment logistics. Conflict between the 8th RRFS and the 265th RRC (ABN) was continuous. Input from the 265th RRC (ABN)/8th RRFS was highly classified, and its distribution limited to those officers with the proper clearance. Input was usually reported as information obtained from "A Usually Reliable Source." In a couple of incidents, the SS2 was not cleared to receive the intelligence he needed. In another case, the S2 refused to believe the intelligence. 

It appears that the Army has failed to properly instruct its combat officers on how SIGINT intelligence is obtained and its importance. 

Most commanders appreciated the intelligence inputs, but a few resented them. Many of the field grade officers in the 8th RRFS had little or no field experience and looked down at the accomplishments of the men of the 265th RRC (ABN) as loose cannons or mavericks. The effective commanding generals did appreciate the 265th RRC (ABN)'s contributions, and could care less if they were mavericks. 

As the conflict intensified, the NCOs found methods or transmitting very perishable intelligence to the Kings of the Hills. Knowing your position is about to be attacked by a greatly superior force gets the creative juices flowing. 

The Sentinel and the Shooter was written to provide a history of the 265th RRC (ABN), and that it does. It is also one more of the many great books written about the Viet Nam conflict by men and women who were there and did that. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Lee Boyland (2011)


Author's Synopsis

Secret societies have existed for millennia; their purposes myriad. Generally, they are exclusive and require members to take an oath to keep their organization and activities secret. They possess guarded means of identification and communication. Some exist in the open, their purposes known, their activities undisclosed, and their practitioners anonymous. The US Army Security Agency was a separate organization within the Army having its own installations, training, academic, logistic, communications and scientific institutions and members took an oath to keep the organization and its activities secret, their identity and communications guarded. Until the advent of the Vietnam War, their purpose was intelligence gathering for national strategic objectives. As the US role expanded from advisory to active combat, intelligence support to combat units changed the structure and character of the Agency. Organizational secrecy, guarded communications, and member anonymity remained. The 265th Radio Research Company (Airborne) sentinels operated in the shadows, yet stood beside their warrior counterpart providing intelligence to the 101st Airborne Division. 101st Airborne units involved in the war are etched in the stone of their memorial at Arlington Cemetery. The 265th RRC (ABN), the only unit etched on the back, remains in the shadows. Nearly forty years have passed since the last Sentinel departed Vietnam. This is their story.

The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe by Jay A. Stout

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe is a superb historical account of the US Army Air Force’s campaign against Germany and its allies in World War II, with a specific focus on its efforts at marginalizing – if not totally destroying - the German Luftwaffe.  In compiling the research for his book, Mr. Stout did a great job of mixing the personal accounts of those who were there with existing official records to tell the tale how the Luftwaffe was defeated.  He provides good detail on the airplanes flown by both the Allies and the Axis powers, to include subjective commentary by the men who flew them in combat.  As my father was a P-51 pilot in WWII, I found this book especially interesting.

This book is very well written.  I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading military or aviation historical nonfiction. 

Reviewed by: Bob Doerr (2011)


Author's Synopsis

At the outset of World War II the Army Air Corps numbered only 45,000 men and a few thousand aircraft—hardly enough to defend the United States, let alone defeat Germany's Luftwaffe, the world’s most formidable air force. Yet by the war’s end the Luftwaffe had been crushed, and the U.S. Army Air Forces, successor to the Air Corps, had delivered the decisive blows. The "Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe" tells the story of that striking transformation, one of the marvels of modern warfare, while simultaneously thrusting the reader into whirling, heart-pounding accounts of aerial combat.
 
The Allies couldn't defeat Hitler's Third Reich without destroying its industry and taking its territory. But before they could do either, they had to neutralize the Luftwaffe, whose state-of-the-art aircraft and battle-seasoned pilots stood ready to batter any attackers. Great Britain's Royal Air Force was only barely holding the line and the might of America was needed to turn the tide.  Almost from scratch, the United States built an air force of more than two million men. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Henry “Hap” Arnold, Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, Ira Eaker, James Doolittle, and others, the USAAF assembled a well-trained and superbly-equipped force unlike any ever fielded. And thanks to the brave Americans who crewed, maintained and supported the aircraft, the USAAF annihilated the Luftwaffe as it pounded targets deep inside Germany and elsewhere.
 
A stirring tribute to these men as well as an engaging history, The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe vividly describes World War II in the skies above Europe. At the same time it captures the personalities of the men who won it, whether on the ground or in the sky. Stout—a career fighter pilot—brings to this work what few other writers can: The perspective of an airman who knows firsthand the confusion of air combat and the terror of being fired upon.
 
Jay A. Stout, a retired U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot with twenty years of service, flew thirty-seven combat missions during Operation DESERT STORM and is now a senior aviation analyst for a leading defense corporation. His previous books include Hornets over Kuwait, Fortress PloestiHammer from Above and Slaughter at Goliad.

The Sandpiper's Game by Charles Boyle

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Charles Boyle has shared some of his wisdom through his children’s book The Sandpiper’s Game.  In the story, the twins, Kurt and Kate, live by the ocean and use the beach as the place where they practice running to help them in their goal of getting faster because they are part of their school’s cross-country team. Their coach tells them that running in the sand will make them stronger and faster.
 
The problem that the children encounter is that the beach doesn’t give them the same terrain that they have to run in when they go inland to the hills of cross-country events.  During their practice sessions, they meet up with an injured sandpiper, which then teaches the children about doing their “personal best.”
 
My “review audience” of third graders thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have easily grasped onto the concept of doing their personal best. It is a fun read and the bonus is that it teaches a needed concept to our children.  Mr. Boyle has done a wonderful job with this book.  Too many children are competitive to a fault, without looking at themselves and how they can improve on their own goals to do their personal best.  This is a thought-provoking book and one that children will enjoy. 

Reviewed by: Joyce Gilmour (2011)


Author's Synopsis

Sandy, and injured bird, is saved from drowning by young twins, Kate and Kurt, who live at the seashore. As Sandy heals under their care, he learns that the twins are runners on their school's cross-country team, and that they have no way to train for running on hills. Grateful for his rescue, Sandy invents a game that teaches the twins how to run faster. Better yet, he opens their minds to his vision of how to improve at whatever you do.
 
This book is designed to encourage doing your "Personal Best".

Through the Years by James Jellerson

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MWSA Review

The book is a collection of 75 poems reflecting titles from A to Z as author Jellerson takes us on his one man's journey through the years. 

In this small but fulfilling book of intimate poetry, author Jellerson bares his soul as he puts words to the universal human emotions of love, death, faith, family and friends.  

Poems are a very personal literary form. Jellerson's words are passionate and obviously come from his personal experiences which are outlined in his bio on the back cover. He's been to war, has loved and lost love, has known death and new life. He's also been a chaplain and his faith is strong. Jellerson knows of what he writes.

Jellerson's poem styles include everything from imagery poems to analogy; from free verse to blank verse; romanticism to elegy with a little carpe diem in the mix. He writes well of the human condition and there were several poems that spoke specifically to me. In "Knights of the Night" Jellerson puts in words what many of us have probably felt as he writes: "There is a Castle I keep within, the walls are high and strong; It is there that I will oft retreat, when I sense that things are wrong." In "Seven Stars" he writes of friends he lost in Vietnam and in "The Stone" he tells of being 18 and home from war on Christmas Eve. Both are touching and offer insight to the true cost of war. 

If one enjoys reading poetry about conditions of the heart, this is a good collection to read.

Reviewed by: Gail Chatfield (2011)


Author's Synopsis

 

Bringing Courage to the Courageous by Don Williamson

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MWSA Review

Bringing Courage to the Courageous offers a unique opportunity to view the battlefield of modern day Afghanistan through the eyes of one who experienced it firsthand.  Chaplain (Captain) Don Williamson’s active twenty-year military career spans the spectrum from Private to Captain to Chaplain.  Bringing Courage to the Courageouschronicles his first assignment as Chaplain during a fifteen-month deployment to war torn Afghanistan in May 2007 to July 2008.  
 
Armed only with his Bible, Captain Williamson served as battalion chaplain for the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Artillery Regiment for the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.  Determined to reach as many Soldiers as possible, the dedicated Chaplain endeavored to visit every single FOB at least once during his deployment—no matter how distant, remote, or dangerous.   
 
Not only is Chaplain Williamson an inspiration to those in uniform, but his heartfelt account of encounters with Soldiers in need of support, encouragement, spiritual guidance, advice, and camaraderie will encourage and enlighten the reader as well.  Very seldom is a reader privileged to such an intimate view into the life of a soldier in combat, and the ministers who strive to keep them bolstered for battle.  
 
The prose is intense and descriptive, transporting the reader into a pair of Army boots, and into the heart of a man of God.  The writing is flowing and connected, making it a pleasure to read.  The content is factual, informative, and interesting, but contains elements of honesty and sensitivity that penetrates the heart with its warmth.  
 
The author’s telling of various Soldiers’ stories is beautifully written, exposing America’s finest in a way that few of us will ever be privy to witness, allowing us to rejoice in their triumphs, weep in their tragedies, and mourn their losses.  
 
Although scorched many times by the heat of battle, not a solitary Soldier in Chaplain Williamson’s assigned unit was lost during their fifteen-month deployment.  Not a single casualty from the 4th Battalion was suffered under his prayerful watch.  What a remarkable statistic that was—so remarkable that they were dubbed the “Miracle Battalion.”  Was their immaculate good fortune a result of divine intervention in answer to the Chaplain’s unceasing prayers, or just simply blind luck?  The reader is free to make his or her own assumption.  
 
This appropriately titled body of work offers every American the chance to watch a devoted ministering Soldier do what he does best … Bringing Courage to the Courageous.  
 
This book will inspire all readers—military and civilian alike.  Supported by Biblical truths, it will fill the reader’s heart with pride and appreciation for God, country, and those brave, selfless souls who as Chaplain Williamson phrased it … “carry a weapon so I (we) don’t have to.

Reviewed by: Claudia Pemberton (2011)


Author's Synopsis

This book was primarily a collection of emails sent to hundreds of friends and family members during the author's time in Afghanistan.  Spanning fifteen months, it tells of a battalion chaplain's journey on the battlefields of Afghanistan, providing ministry to Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team from May 2007 to July 2008. The 4-319th would go on to be nicknamed "The Miracle Battalion" being the only battalion in the brigade to not suffer the loss of a Soldier to either wounded in action or killed in action. It tells the story of how God works in and through the lives of our brave men and women in uniform and what they sacrifice on a daily basis to keep our nation free. It is a story that proves miracles still happen on the battlefield today!

Beyond All Price by Carolyn Poling Schriber

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MWSA Review

Beyond All Price is a five-by-eight inch paperback book. The cover has a pleasant design portraying a gun battery at Fort Donelson, Tennessee. As Civil War fiction, this book presents a well-researched chronicle of Nellie Chase’s career as matron and nurse to the 100th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Nellie Chase existed. The 100th Pennsylvania Regiment existed. This fictional account of Nellie’s efforts gives the reader an insight to the early years of the Civil War; as the 100th Pennsylvania goes through training and campaigns in coastal Carolina.

Following her career with the 100th Pennsylvania, Nellie becomes the organizational force that develops the model veterans hospital in Nashville as the Civil War comes to a close.

Beyond All Price is a recommended read for Civil War followers. It is an interesting story that provides insight into Nellie Chase’s life during and after the Civil War.

Reviewed by: John R. R. Faulkner (2011)


Author's Synopsis

Beyond All Price is a historical novel, based on the life story of Nellie M. Chase, a Union nurse during America's Civil War. She was strong enough to escape from an abusive relationship and resourceful enough to find a job as wardrobe mistress for a theater. The actress with whom she shared a room in a squalid tenement took an overdose of opium in an effort to escape a life of prostitution. Nellie joined the Union Army, because life in the midst of a war seemed safer than the one she had been living. She found a home with the 100th Pennsylvania Regiment, known as "The Roundheads" because of their religious beliefs. Her skill and compassion led one of her patients to write, "Even here, amid the roar and carnage, was found a woman with the soul to dare danger; the heart to sympathize with the battle-stricken; sense, skill, and experience to make her a treasure beyond all price." * She was equally at home managing a southern plantation full of abandoned slaves, a battlefield operating station, or a 600-bed military hospital. After the war, her deep-seated need to dedicate her life to a worthy cause continued to drive her efforts until she faced an enemy more lethal than war.

Wing Wife by Marcia J. Sargent

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MWSA Review

The author shares soul-felt reflections that begin in the seventies when, at twenty-two, she marries big brother’s best friend. The union is not common - both husband and brother are Marine F4 Phantom jet fighter pilots – and her life blasts off in a direction any wife could hardly fathom. Using a fast paced writing style, Marcia Sargent shares a thorough account of the ongoing love and sacrifice experienced with a career Marine aviator. Blending humor and tragedy, she vividly portrays the psychosocial dynamics at the officers clubs and wives meetings, through deployment and relocation, and when babies are born and loved ones vaporize in the air. While reading, I felt it – when the switch is hit that instantly changes your life forever … you can’t go back, reach for the brake, and zoom out of control. In Wing Wife, families persevere through incredible loss and then regroup in traditional Marine Corps fashion to show the young newcomers how to live fully in the face of constant danger. Thumbs up! I highly recommend this survival - success story and consider it an educational building block for anyone who likes or NEEDS to learn about the dedication and determination required in service to family and country.              

Reviewed by: Hodge Wood (2011)


Author's Synopsis

Marcia never flew high performance aircraft, yet she learned to appreciate and maneuver through the irreverent, technical, and dangerous world of the Marine aviator--at and under her husband's wing. In WING WIFE: How to Be Married to a Fighter Pilot, a memoir of the first few years of her marriage to a Marine jet jockey, Marcia navigates the unfamiliar skies of officer's wives, military expectations, and the loss of loved ones. Over time she realizes what she risks by loving a man who flies. WING WIFE brings the reader intimately into the bawdy, comedic, and tragic world of the Marine Corps aviator and the aviator's wife. 

American Guerilla by Mike Guardia

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

American Guerrilla is the fascinating, and little known story of Russell Volckmann, a U.S. Army officer who evaded capture by the Japanese when the Philippines fell to them in December of 1941. In the ensuing 3 years, Volckmann managed to raise a resistance army in the mountains, and jungles which harassed, and killed Japanese soldiers, creating havoc, and disarray in their ranks for the remainder of the war, and the reader is allowed to relive his daring adventure by reliving an almost daily account of pertinent events in diaries, letters, and official archived documents.
 
The book is meticulously researched, with facts verified by exhaustive sleuthing on the part of the author. A chronological account of the hardships, and challenges dealt with by Volckmann, and his followers is detailed page after page. The book is not a snapshot overview of this part of the war, but a fine work of investigative history. It is a fine study of the obscure origins of the U.S. army's Special Forces. Highly recommended for military history buffs that are looking for those elusive undercurrents, that are too often passed over in favor of the more spectacular.

Reviewed by: Bob Flournoy (2011)


Author's Synopsis

A main selection of the Military Book Club and a selection of the History Book Club.
 
With his parting words "I shall return," General Douglas MacArthur sealed the fate of the last American forces on Bataan. Yet one young Army Captain named Russell Volckmann refused to surrender. He disappeared into the jungles of north Luzon where he raised a Filipino army of over 22,000 men. For the next three years he led a guerrilla war against the Japanese, killing over 50,000 enemy soldiers. At the same time he established radio contact with MacArthur's HQ in Australia and directed Allied forces to key enemy positions. When General Yamashita finally surrendered, he made his initial overtures not to MacArthur, but to Volckmann.
 
This book establishes how Volckmann's leadership was critical to the outcome of the war in the Philippines. His ability to synthesize the realities and potential of guerrilla warfare led to a campaign that rendered Yamashita's forces incapable of repelling the Allied invasion. Had it not been for Volckmann, the Americans would have gone in "blind" during their counter-invasion, reducing their efforts to a trial-and-error campaign that would undoubtedly have cost more lives, materiel, and potentially stalled the pace of the entire Pacific War. 
 
Second, this book establishes Volckmann as the progenitor of modern counterinsurgency doctrine and the true "Father" of Army Special Forces- a title that history has erroneously awarded to Colonel Aaron Bank of the ETO. In 1950, Volckmann wrote two Army field manuals: Operations Against Guerrilla Forces and Organization and Conduct of Guerrilla Warfare, though today few realize he was their author. Together, they became the Army's first handbooks outlining the precepts for both special warfare and counter-guerrilla operations. Taking his argument directly to the Army Chief of Staff, Volckmann outlined the concept for Army Special Forces. At a time when U.S. military doctrine was conventional in outlook, he marketed the ideas of guerrilla warfare as a critical force multiplier for any future conflict, ultimately securing the establishment of the Army's first special operations unit-the 10th Special Forces Group. 
 
Volckmann himself remains a shadowy figure in modern military history, his name absent from every major biography on MacArthur, and in much of the Special Forces literature. Yet as modest, even secretive, as Volckmann was during his career, it is difficult to imagine a man whose heroic initiative had more impact on World War II. This long overdue book not only chronicles the dramatic military exploits of Russell Volckmann, but analyzes how his leadership paved the way for modern special warfare doctrine.

I Know Why the Dogwoods Blush by Bill Cain

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MWSA Review

If you enjoy horror novels by classic authors then you'll not be disappointed with this supernatural crime thriller by Bill Cain. Set in a modern South Georgia town, the talented storyteller ushers the reader into a head-on encounter with pure evil. The book centers around the legend of the dog wood tree and the Dog Wood Festivals in Timmons County. This supernatural mystery is well worth the read. To say more would betray the impact of the text. You'll have to read the book. To quote the author; May the dogwoods always blush for you ... to light your path ... and show you the way. 

Bill Cain's other publications include Hitler's Last Gamble, Tank of Tomorrow Stryker and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Bill Cain is a retired US Army Colonel, Desert Storm & Iraqi Freedom War Veteran and a true American Patriot.

Reviewed by: Paul Decker (2011)


Author's Synopsis

When love turns to hate, there’s Hell to pay!

Jeremiah “Jerry” Bronson was an abandoned newborn baby discovered by Sheriff “Big Ben” Spear in Timmons County, Georgia during the annual Dogwood Festival of 1950. Raised by the entire town, Jerry grew to become the hometown hero in every area: high school football star, Vietnam war hero, and pacifist reverend. His mentor, “Father” Roman Spindola, thought of him as his own son.

Upon returning home from Vietnam in 1972, Jerry vowed to never harm another human being again and became a respected minister. He married high school sweetheart and local entertainer Angel Andrews. Life was good. Then came the Dogwood Festival of 1979 when sadistic biker Roscoe Parker and his “Broken Bones” gang rode into town on a murder and pillage spree. Jerry saved the town and was elected sheriff. His star continued to shine.

Jerry, Angel and their dog, Blueblood, were murdered by a Russian mob cartel during the Dogwood Festival of 1995. Avenged by Dick Spear, the old sheriff’s son who now stood poised to become the sheriff himself, the little town of Timmonsville has moved on beyond these tragedies. The Dogwood Festival of 2010 is about to begin.

During the week prior to the festival, the grave of Jerry Bronson is desecrated and his body taken. Strange events are occurring around town. And to the west … in Louisiana, Kansas and Washington, former Timmons County residents are meeting with violent deaths. As more and more unexplained events take place, “Father” Spindola fears the dead are about to walk the earth, bringing about the long foretold end of days. Sheriff Dick Spear wants to believe these events are just pranks carried out by misguided teens. But both men carry secrets from the past: Spindola with his supernatural visions of death and Spear with his knowledge of what really happened the night Jerry Bronson died. Waiting in the shadows, watching his decades long plan finally come into play, is the evil Vladimir Buchinsky. He’d failed twice before in his efforts to destroy the town. But this time, he had a secret weapon: a spell so powerful it could resurrect the dead and usher in a new dark age for mankind.

As the events of the Bronson murders of 1995 are revealed, things appear worse than ever. Has Jerry Bronson returned from the grave to save the town? Or has the real threat to the survival of Timmons County ... and all of mankind … been Jerry Bronson from the start? The blushing Dogwoods know the answer. Their secret will change the world!

I KNOW WHY THE DOGWOODS BLUSH is a crime drama/thriller with a supernatural flourish. It is intended to be a stand-alone tale but with threads linking it to potential follow-on stories told in the same universe and time line. If you think you know the legend of the dogwood tree, think again!

Sometimes, what you don’t know can kill you!

Once a Knight by Walt Shiel

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Trading his horse for a Camel, Everett Ross left the Texas plains for the skies above trenches in Paris. As a volunteer with the Royal Flying Corps, Ross soon finds the realities of war, which include harrowing dogfights, the loss of comrades, and the dichotomy of combating a German ace one hour and romancing a French maiden the next.  

When Walt Shiel introduces Ross in Once a Knight, the pilot is already cynical.  He is clearly on top of his game as an aviator, but he has realized the futility of war. The only thing keeping him from total disgust with life is Geniviéve, who fortunately returns his affections.

Shiel quickly has the reader enthralled with detailed, yet fast paced flying of a style unknown to most today. One comes away sensing they now understand aerial combat whether in a Nieuport or a Sopwith Camel in the days of silk scarves and leather helmets. The combat is unique balanced with a love story that feels like many other courtships in classic literature, without coming off like a cliché. By the end, it is easy to cheer for the hero and leaves the reader hoping for a sequel.

Once a Knight is a great read that will fit well alongside The Razor’s Edge and A Farewell to Arms.

Reviewed by: Stephen Phillips (2011)


World War I: Air combat is invented in the skies above the battlefield.
 
May 1917: America is gearing up to enter the brutal conflict, and the Sopwith Camel is entering combat service. Many individual Americans, however, have long since signed on to fight the war.
 
In 1916, Everett Ross quit the Texas Rangers and traveled to England to join the Royal Flying Corps, trading his horse for a Nieuport pursuit biplane. No stranger to violence and death, now-Lieutenant Ross duels with German pilots in the pristine skies above the grimy trenches where foot soldiers fight for victory foot by bloody foot.
 
Between dogfights, Ross loses his heart to a young French beauty whose domineering mother fights her own battle to protect Geneviéve from this American cowboy wearing a British uniform. Ross soon must decide between love and duty, between orders and necessity.
 
This fast-moving story combines romance and combat action in a land knocked out of kilter by a deadly war often seemingly without objectives.
 
As a pursuit pilot in the War to End All Wars, Ross struggles to maintain his own sense of honor and valor in the midst of chaos and death.
 
The combat sequences are told as only an experienced military pilot and historian can. Walt Shiel, long fascinated by the rapid evolution of aerial warfare in the First World War, has studied innumerable books and articles written by the men who flew and fought in the Great War. His understanding of aviation, combat tactics and their development brings the aerial scenes to vivid life. His knowledge of how those knights of the air lived, loved and died puts the reader in their flying boots and cockpits, complete with the emotions that drove them, the doubts that haunted them, the death that stalked them.

 

Still Standing by Jim Kosmo

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Still Standing is John Kriesel’s story – growing up in Minnesota, joining the National Guard, being deployed to Iraq. There he confronts death in Fallujah when an IED takes his legs. John’s story (as told by others) takes us through the rapid medical response to save his life. John’s story is about survival. John’s story is about recovery. John’s story is about his support systems, his community.

A Vietnam veteran told me “Life is not about legs.” This is also true in John’s story.

We’ve all heard horror stories of obtaining a US passport. Just read Katie’s (John’s wife) account of getting her US passport so she could go to Germany and be with John. Incredible! This event brings joy to your heart.

Still Standing is a recommended read for anyone interested in the stories of sacrifice by American soldiers in Iraq.

Reviewed by: John R. R. Faulkner (2011)


Author's Synopsis

When SSG John Kriesel lost his legs and two buddies in a roadside bomb explosion, no one expected him to survive. He died three times on the operating table. Miracles, a lot of miracles, starting with a few grunts who refused to let him die in Iraq, ripped the young warrior from the grip of death and sent him on to four hospitals, thirty-five surgeries, and months of recovery and rehabilitation. Medical miracles put his body back together, but it was an incredible confluence of angels at every step along the way that breathed life into his shattered body.

This is not just another war story. This is the story of an ordinary young man who overcame extraordinary challenges with a lot of help from others, including many strangers and he emerged stronger and more in love with his country, his wife, his children, and ultimately, his own life.

Safe Landings by Fran McGraw

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

In Safe Landings, Fran McGraw has woven a chronicle of her life as the wife of an aviator in the United States Army. She speaks of places her husband has been, with her and their children most of the time, and the joys and pains they experienced as they navigated the unique adventure of military life.

But this book is mostly about Ms. McGraw's life as a military spouse. Descriptions of the places they have lived are richly detailed, as are the lasting friendships they made during her husband's aviation career.

It is apparent that Ms. McGraw's family is bound by love and a deep Christian faith. She speaks of how their faith has been called upon whenever a difficult decision has to be made, or when life has brought troubling or troublesome, events. Through the years of their marriage, and the rearing of their children, their faith never wavered, and it was instrumental in helping create the successful life they have.

Safe Landings contains enough information about military life to make it a good choice for anyone who might be considering a military career. It will also be a nostalgic journey for someone who has known similar experiences.

Reviewed by: Larry Wikoff (2011)


Author's Synopsis

A heart-warming memoir of an aviator's wife and her successful fifty-year marriage that endured numerous separations and frequent locations related to military service and her husband's insatiable desire to fly. There are vivid descriptions of military quarters and family situations during assignments that included a 3-year tour in Italy, Alabama (4 times), Arizona (3), Georgia (2), New Jersey (2), North Carolina, Hawaii, and New Mexico (2) where the family lived during the Vietnam War years.

Our Daddy is Invincible by Shannon Maxwell

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Shannon Maxwell’s experience is the experience of thousands, for war by its very nature is traumatic. Injuries to the mind are inherently more difficult to deal with no matter the form they present themselves in.

This is not a story of a loved one’s injuries but rather the journey the family faced together. When Alexis and Eric were reunited with their father after his return from war they faced a new reality, their Dad was not “Invincible.” His injuries had changed him. The family literally embarked on a journey of discovery, not one of choice, but love. The excellent illustrations add to the power of the words and engage children on a level they easily identify with. I would state here that adults (parents) would gain from reading this book as well.

It is extremely difficult for a husband or wife to deal with the results of traumatic injuries, yet much has been written about it and treatments, therapy etc. have been created to bridge the gap created as a result. For too long children were left pretty much a footnote in the struggle to regain “normalcy” in their daily lives. This book is a great step toward including children on a level they can identify with. 

Reviewed by: jim greenwald (2011)


Author's Synopsis

What happens when a parent becomes traumatically injured? In Our Daddy Is Invincible! Alexis and Eric find out that their Daddy was badly hurt, something they thought impossible. They are scared for him and wonder how his injuries will change their lives. They learn that his love for them continues to be strong and that life goes on. There are people to help in their daddy’s recovery, new adventures to be found, and new ways to find enjoyment together as a family. Turn the pages of this beautifully illustrated, hope-filled book and discover the possibilities.
 
Our Daddy Is Invincible! is based on the real life experiences of author, Shannon Maxwell’s family. First hand knowledge through their journey following the penetrating traumatic brain injury of LtCol Tim Maxwell, USMC (ret), and advocacy for other wounded families are drawn upon, bringing an uncommon depth of perspective to the challenges, hopes, and possibilities families may face through traumatic injury, recovery, and return home. 

Blooming Red by C. Howard-Johnson & M. Ball

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This collection of highly individualized and unconventional Christmas poems is not for the tradition-bound. Yet, buried here in the esoteric is enough pathos, longing, joy and humor to strike a familiar chord of the human condition, of that unique flight of the heart during the Christmas season.

There are jewels to be extracted by an attentive mining of the lines of these poems. In Out of Malibu, America's Fulfillment of Prophecy, the original Christmas journey is adapted to a post-millennium bittersweet pilgrimage having as its ultimate destination the Vietnam Memorial.

On a less somber note, sardonic humor tinged with longing for the good old days is found in Christmas Reinvented, a stanza of which is below.

That was then these days we
may celebrate a couple of days
before the twenty-fifth, or
after, on bastard dates left
over from when others have
laid their claim on our
progeny.

Sly, subtle humor makes its way into Test of Faith, featuring grandma. Here it is, in part:

when I was six, I
lost the babe, no bigger
than a thumbnail. The loss,
foreshadowing
for shoplifted babes,
always first in the holy family
to go missing,

One of the most intriguing of these poems is Scientists Say in which the poet employs both criticism and irony in a reaffirmation of the meaning and sanctity of Christmas against the atheistic, existential interpretation of the Bing Bang Theory.

This is hardly your grandmother's collection of Christmas poems. The beauty and poignancy of the Holy Season  don't jump out at you; but, if you dig for them, it is worth the effort.

Reviewed by: Don Farinacci (2011)


Author's Synopsis

The reality of Christmas does not always resemble the images we see on commercial Christmas cards--or in our dreams. Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Mardalena Ball present a booklet that can easily substitute for a Christmas card. They portray the familar--those of family and warmth, giving and receiving. You'll also find the unusual from carols to the universe to end-of-year pondering with a couple of humorous poems thrown in for good measure.