Memoir/Biography

Teen Marine by Daniel and Katharine Sullivan

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

Daniel Sullivan was just a teenager when he enlisted in the service.He never imagined he would be part of the most historic battles in USMC History. Daniel was assigned to Surgical Unit know as Charlie Med as an ambulance driver responsible for retrieving and caring for wounded Marines. A memoir from Parris Island to South Vietnam. A young Marine 's perspective as a participant in the seventy-seven day siege of the Khe Sanh Combat Base from January 21 through April 7, 1968.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN 978-1-64424-866-9 paperback ISBN 978-1-64424-868-3 Digital
Book Format(s): Soft cover, ePub/iBook
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 124 

Interview with a Terrorist by James Rosone and Miranda Watson

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

 Have you ever wondered what really goes on in those poorly lit interrogation rooms overseas? Are you prepared to travel down a dark path into a world few know of…and even fewer have ever talked about? In 2006, when the Iraq war was all but lost, a new strategy was implemented—not only would America place combat troops in nearly every village and city across Iraq, the US would systematically hunt down every terrorist and insurgent group operating in the country. However, that strategy relied upon the success of a small interrogation unit within Task Force 134 to find, locate, and eliminate these threats to peace and stability within Iraq. Interview with a Terrorist follows James Rosone’s true life story as he joined the interrogation team to try and make a difference in the conflict in Iraq. Learn what it was like to interrogate Al Qaeda prisoners and how he met the challenge of obtaining intelligence without the use of torture. Experience what it’s like to sit across the table from some of the world’s most evil terrorists—men who just hours ago killed dozens of civilians or American soldiers. Experience the thrill of a capture mission that goes well and the sinking depression and anger of a mission that goes horribly wrong. If you like insights into hidden worlds, conspiracies unraveled, and raw portrayals of American soldiers’ experiences, you’ll love Rosone’s frank and uncensored autobiography. James Rosone has spent over 2,000 hours interrogating Al Qaeda terrorists, cracking their secrets to prevent attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces. He helped uncover terrorist cells operating in Europe, East Africa, and in the U.S. Homeland. All the while, he endured challenges few civilians could image. Would you be willing to make the same sacrifice for your country? Grab your copy and find out what goes on in one of the dirtiest jobs of any war.

ISBN/ASIN: B01MFHWCCL
Book Format(s): Kindle
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 224

Too Young to Die: Memories of Tommy and the Vietnam War by LTC Mark Mayerstein

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

 Too Young to Die is a true personal story about a very close friendship that developed in the midst of the love, loyalty, sacrifice, horror, deceit, greed, and governmental excess that was the Vietnam War. It is an autobiographical sketch of one very unlikely young Jewish man, bonded to a man who was 10 years his senior by their partnership as a sniper team. In a very introspective, transparent, and often humorous way, the author recounts their harrowing experiences on dangerous missions throughout the theater of war in Vietnam and Laos. They were essentially outsiders in the 5th Special Forces unit to which they were assigned. Nonetheless they tried to honor themselves and their country by doing their duty despite the dangerous and uncomfortable wartime jungle environment with which they coped. This difficulty was eclipsed only by the military administrative incompetence that seemed to work to facilitate their demise before they even started. But more importantly, it is also the story about the author’s survivor’s grief and the guilt he bore in the aftermath of that ill-fated war that cost the lives of millions of people; his cherished partner being one of them. It was a war, like any other war, that produced yet another generation of military men and women who will forever be haunted and tormented by the very horrors they so courageously survived.

ISBN/ASIN: 9781728923833
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 295

The Ground You Stand Upon: Life of a Skytrooper in Vietnam by Joshua and Wilbur Bowe

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MWSA Review

The father/son energy of the co-authors works very well within the pages of this book. Joshua and Wilbur Bowe take the reader on a journey with visual words and muted emotions through a tour of duty during the war in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. The reader can well picture what had happened there. Shared with a well written narrative, historic background notes, and commentary aided by the addition of old letters sent home from that war. The personal letters add a very human element to the retelling of that life experience. Emotionally well done! The authors hit the target! 

As a Vietnam veteran myself during the same time frame of the war, I found the book both credible and historically factual. I enjoyed it. I think there is a more broad appeal beyond just readers of war genre—a good history book told from the point of view of those who were there and well worth having on my book shelf.

Review by Bill McDonald (April 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 Sent into the deadly Central Highlands of Vietnam, a true story of my dad and the men he served with. My father is Wilbur E. Bowe. He was living on his family’s farm when he was drafted in 1965 and assigned to Alpha Company, 5th Battalion, 7th Calvary. The 5/7th Cavalry was formed as a brand-new battalion in order to fill out the 1st Air Cavalry Division’s 3rd Brigade. The young men of the battalion were largely drafted together in 1965 as the build-up of regular Army forces in Vietnam had just begun. Together, these impossibly young men would be trained in airmobile infantry tactics and become what were known as “skytroopers”. They would then be sent deep into the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where together they would learn what “search and destroy” meant and face the reality of this new war. The story features many of the letters and photographs my dad sent home from the war zone. His dispatches were sent from some of the most remote valleys and outposts in Vietnam, written under the most austere of conditions, often scribbled in haste before another mission, or by flashlight, under a poncho in the rain. They would travel over 8,000 miles across the ocean, to be placed in a mailbox that stood across from a farmhouse, along a rural county road in Wisconsin. Many former skytroopers of Alpha Company were interviewed for this story, and their personal accounts recall much of the humor and friendship they shared, along with the sadness and tragedy that would accompany a year spent in the jungles of Vietnam. The story also draws upon the 5/7th Cavalry’s daily staff journals and situation reports for every day of the battalion’s first year in Vietnam. This is their story, told in great detail from their time spent training together at Fort Carson – through their historic journey across the ocean aboard the USNS Gaffey, where they would encounter a massive typhoon – through their many battles fought together in Vietnam – and eventually, their final patrol.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0692141397, 978-1717994370, B07DCJNN8X, B07KFQ5W25
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Soft cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 286

Stress is Relative: Memoir of an Air Traffic Controller by Rose Marie Kern

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MWSA Review Pending

 

Author's Synopsis

 A struggling young single mother of two little girls, Rose Marie heard a report on the late night news about the strike and the government’s ongoing efforts to rebuild. With no background in aviation she took a chance and entered a whole new world. Now one of the best known aviation authors in the U.S., Rose’s experiences as she faced challenges both in the job and in the attitudes of an entrenched mostly male workforce in the 1980’s makes for a story that is inspiring and amusing. . So how did she come to work in this challenging profession? In 1981 President Ronald Reagan fired 11,359 striking Air Traffic Controllers. It took 10 years to rebuild the workforce. The strike affected all levels of aviation and offered employment opportunities to many who had never before considered this as a profession. Rose’s memoir "STRESS is Relative" follows her career in ATC from the time she first heard about this challenging and lucrative job to the day she retired. Along the way readers get insights into the mysterious world of Air Traffic Control, and how attitudes towards women evolved over time.


ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-9985725-1-2
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 250

WESSELHOEFT: Traded to the Enemy by Adolf Wesselhoeft and Shirley Anderson Wesselhoeft

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MWSA Review

Wesselhoeft: Traded to the Enemy by Shirley Anderson Wesselhoeft, as told to her by Adolf "Wes" Wesselhoeft, is a dramatic and gripping memoir of a German American’s journey from childhood to adulthood. During World War II, young Wes and his family were forced to live in an internment camp in Texas before being shipped back to his parents’ homeland in Germany. As an adult, Wes returned to America where he proved his allegiance to the United States by serving in the Air Force for more than two decades. This is the story of a boy turned man who refused to let the trials and tribulations of his childhood keep him from pursuing the American dream. It's an inspiration for dreamers and a narrative of a larger, untold story that should be included in modern-day history books.

Review by Kris Patterson (March 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 Wesselhoeft is the story of an innocent six-year-old American boy who was caught up in the events of World War II. No longer playing on the beach in Chicago, going to school and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, he and his parents were suddenly taken away to a desolate internment camp in Texas. One year later his family and many U.S. citizens like himself were traded for other Americans with our enemy Nazi Germany into an active war zone. Taken to Hamburg, he endured the heavy bombings by the Allies, followed by hunger and deprivation in post-war Germany. In spite of these events he took the first opportunity to return to America and join the Air Force. After twenty-two years of service, including two tours in Vietnam,he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. Now legally blind from Agent Orange exposure. Wes competes in tandem bicycle races and still lets very little stop him. WESSELHOEFT tells his story of faith in God, American perseverance and love of country.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN 13: 978-1725055919 ISBN- 10: 1725055910
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 170

Flying Through the Years: A Trilogy of Short Tours and Collection of Stories by Robert Lanzotti

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MWSA Review

Flying through the Years by Bob Lanzotti is an interesting and informal memoir covering the often-humorous highlights of the author’s military service as an Army aviator. The book is divided into three sections, covering three short-tours during the author’s military service—one in Korea and two in war-torn Vietnam in the late 1960s. Lanzotti’s choice of telling his story via a series of short vignettes makes this a quick, informative, and worthwhile read.

At times irreverent and even whimsical, Lanzotti’s informal writing style easily transports the reader back in time, and into the battle. However, even Lanzotti’s matter-of-fact storytelling cannot hide the fact that Army aviation can be deadly serious or just plain deadly—especially during wartime.

The author suggests that his book would “make interesting reading for [his] children.” A reader interested in a collection of short stories about the life of an Army helicopter pilot will also find the wide-ranging stories contained in this book quite entertaining. A few technical glitches represent only minor distractions from a thoroughly enjoyable memoir. 

Review by John Cathcart (April 2019)


Author's Synopsis

In Flying through the Years: A Trilogy of Short Tours and a Collection of Short Stories, Bob Lanzotti provides his memoirs as an Army helicopter pilot during three overseas tours, all conducted during the turbulent decade of the sixties. Each tour, one to Korea and two to Vietnam, contains at least a score of short stories. Lanzotti begins with his often humorous reflections as a fledgling new aviator in Korea. As the book progresses, so too does Lanzotti’s aviator experience level and job responsibilities, culminating with his command of the Crimson Tide, a Chinook unit within the 1st Cavalry Airmobile Division. His stories recurrently pay well earned homage to the achievements of the men he served and flew with during what he recalls as his greatest adventure.

ISBN-13: 9781947309456
Publisher: Deeds Publishing
Publication date: 06/25/2018
Pages: 186

The Court-Martial of Corporal Nutting: A Memoir of the Vietnam War by John Nutting

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MWSA Review

 A profoundly moving story that vividly captures a view of American history through the reflective mind of a 19-year-old Vietnam Marine who heroically fought the tragic war. The aging author once left a small town and patriotic family to almost instantly enter a gigantic and chaotic struggle for survival. He trudges through each day of unimaginable carnage. John Nutting later returns home again -- forever altered by the graphic horrors experienced. Nutting ties in personal images of fellow Marines, the sixties culture, and family in this page-turning recollection of events that will capture the reader. Pictures effectively portray the book's content.

The author uses an easy-to-read style to describe scenes from the unfathomable to the humorous. His script helped me feel what it was like to laugh with a friend and a few minutes later be gathering his body parts up in a body bag while still under fire... or to fall in love in a foreign land and leave without closure to catch your flight back to the other side of earth. Nutting describes his experimentation with marijuana, after entering the Marines.

Back stateside, he gets caught with a joint and describes a breathtaking court martial. With it all in the rear view mirror, the author dedicates this story to his family or it might have been forgotten. The result is an incredibly well-written blend of thoughts remembered forever. His endless bloody fights in Vietnam, the confusion of this war, many dead and living friends, and his own two medevacs due to malaria and shrapnel injury are brought into colorful focus. I left impressed by the author's ability to perfectly depict a tormented but functioning mind, weary of war. I give this book my highest recommendation for ANY audience!

Review by Hodge Wood (February 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 John Nutting is nineteen years old in 1966. Raised in small-town Idaho, to a family that could trace its military roots back to the Revolutionary War, Nutting knows he’s going to fight the war as a Marine. On the day of his high school graduation, he swears into the US Marine Corps and boards the plane to boot camp. All too soon he’s in the jungle, a greenhorn member of “F” Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. Firing on an unseen enemy, burying friends killed by booby traps, and struggling with the notion that many people back home were totally opposed to the war, Nutting begins to wonder what are his odds of coming home? During a rescue mission gone wrong, a mortar round explodes beside his team, digging shrapnel deep into his leg. Aboard the surgical hospital ship, where he is sent to recover, he sees the indescribable injuries of Marines who had been captured and tortured by the North Vietnamese Army, and makes the decision to join the 3rd Marine Regimental Scout/Snipers at Camp Carroll. After the locals betray the scout/snipers assigned to help their village, resulting in the death of two of Nutting’s buddies, Nutting finds an escape to sanity in marijuana. This begins his continuous recourse to the drug that lasts throughout his tour, done only in the bunker or when away on R&R—never in the field and never on duty. Despite his proven record, when he is caught in possession of marijuana, his arrest and the ensuing court martial changed his life and his reputation forever.


ISBN/ASIN: IBSN-10:162914-424-X, IBSN-13:978-1-62914-424-5
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Kindle, Audiobook
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 186

Operation Crossroads, Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946 by William L. McGee with Sandra V. McGee

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MWSA Review

The atomic bombs have been dropped, and Japan has surrendered. World War II is over, but not for William “Bill” L. McGee, author of Operation Crossroads: Lest We Forget!  He puts in his request for postwar duty with the Atlantic Fleet for a chance to see Europe. However, the Navy has other plans for him—duty aboard USS Fall River, a heavy cruiser destined for Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands and Operation Crossroads. 

Operation Crossroads (1946) involved the first postwar atomic bomb tests. Politicians, engineers, the military, and scientists all wanted to learn more about the weapon they had unleashed. Their tests were focused on determining its effects on warships, humans, animals, and the environment. McGee’s eyewitness account, and in particular the quoted information he includes of the testing at Bikini, is sobering. 

The author pastes a great deal of outside and technical information from other sources in his chronicle. However, he uses a much lighter tone to relate experiences involving his shipmates, daily ship life, and adventures while on liberty. The account is full of old photographs, personal mementos, statistics, copies of routine schedules, ship’s orders, logs, newspaper articles, other eyewitness accounts, and writings from the experts in the field. 

The Navy originally planned three nuclear tests for Operation Crossroads. They postponed the third test largely due to their inability to decontaminate the target ships, and the unexpected effects of radiation from the second test. Because no one yet knew much about the adverse impact of radiation, almost no precautions were taken. Personnel who worked on the cleanup, gathered information, and retrieved the test animals on the target ships wore little in the way of protective clothing. Not long after the tests, serious safety concerns regarding the radiation generated began to surface. Sadly, many of the participants of Operation Crossroads experienced and are experiencing health issues. 

Despite some visual and editing errors, this book preserves the legacy of those who participated in this operation. It is a fitting gift to the author’s descendants of his personal experiences during the war. In the post-World War II era, this event and its lessons should be remembered, and warnings heeded. As J. Robert Oppenheimer stated after the Trinity test in New Mexico in July 1945, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Review by Sandi Cowper (March 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 On July 1, 1946, millions of people around the world waited anxiously by their radios for the results of the first postwar atomic bomb tests code-named Operation CROSSROADS.

Award-winning World War II military historian, William L. McGee, provides an eyewitness account of his participation at Crossroads, an event which many scientists considered the most significant of the twentieth century.

The author, a twenty-year old U.S. Navy Gunner’s Mate at the time, who had served in the Pacific theater, was one of the 42,000 military, scientists, and civilian personnel assembled at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands for the two tests: Test Able from the air on 1 July and Test Baker from underwater on 25 July. McGee was assigned to the heavy cruiser USS ”Fall River” (CA-131), the Flagship for the Target Fleet at Crossroads and responsible for the positioning of the 95 target vessels in the Bikini Lagoon. 

Known for his spare and straightforward writing style, McGee provides a detailed eyewitness account of Tests Able and Baker, starting with the plan, the preparations, the build-up, the two rehearsals, and then the tests themselves. To this he adds details from the ”Fall River” ship logs, interviews with ”Fall River” shipmates and other Crossroads participants, and the preliminary observations immediately following the tests.

The Foreword is written by Dr. F. Lincoln Grahlfs, former Vice Commander of the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV). In the last chapter, “Later Lessons Learned,” two of the nation’s leading authorities on the dangers of radiation inherent in nuclear weapons – Dr. Oscar Rosen, an advocate for “atomic veterans,” and Jonathan M. Weisgall, the legal representative of the people of the Bikini Atoll since 1975 – express their findings and conclusions about the devastating effects of radiation on man, animal, and ships… that no one saw coming. The Appendix includes a brief “Development of the Atomic Bomb”.

“I wrote this book to help preserve a part of history few know about today,” says McGee. “The subject is timely with the threat of nuclear warfare still very much in the news today. We have to learn from history… lest we forget.”

Bill McGee is one of the few surviving “atomic veterans” from Crossroads. He is a Lifetime Member of the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV). McGee is the author of twenty-two books. He and his co-author/wife Sandra live in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. They may be reached at mcgeebmc@aol.com or on their website at www.WilliamMcGeeBooks.com.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-9701678-5-9
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 132

Winged Brothers by Ernest Snowden

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MWSA Review

Winged Brothers: Naval Aviation as Lived by Ernest and Macon Snowden is American history of interest to a specialized audience. Much of this history is not new, but it is nicely packaged with the never-before-published biographies of two U.S. Naval Aviators whose careers overlapped from before World War II until the Vietnam War. Neither of the main characters rose to flag rank on active duty, but the story of why they did not get that promotion informs the readers about the inner workings of the U.S. Navy. In the case of Ernest Snowden, after an exemplary combat career, apparently he was selected but at the last minute, his name was removed from the flag list to make room for a returning Vietnam prisoner of war. However, he was permitted to voluntarily retire with the rank of rear admiral.

In Winged Brothers, we learn what traits mattered in these two brother’s careers. First, both brothers loved and were highly skilled in piloting aircraft. Second, they embraced and found their identity in the traditions and ceremonies of the naval service. Third, they had an aptitude for combat. All traits that made for a successful career that exemplifies those who rose to the rank of captain from the mid-1930s until the late 1970s.

Sea duty and combat flying were not the only traits that these brothers recognized as necessary for success. They were both leaders who had a genuine concern for the sailors, airmen, and junior officers under their supervision. They also were confident in their decision-making and were tough disciplinarians. Naval aviators at the time were known for “…an abundance of confidence, aggressiveness, and bravura…” – exemplified by an attitude of kick the tires, light the fires, brief on guard.

The book emphasizes the naval doctrine of offensive warfare from aircraft carriers, which served it well during the Pacific War. The reader is shown how the loss of American battleships at Pearl Harbor was overcome by the ingenuity of men like the Snowden brothers, who did what had to be done to win battles, operations, and the war. The author does an excellent job with the interplay of tactical level actions, the operational level, and the strategic levels of war. It was men like these that overcame Japanese naval aviators, the vast majority of which were enlisted men who followed inexperienced but senior commissioned officers to their death.

World War II was won by reservists. The regular forces could not field the army or the navy that was needed to defeat the Axis powers. Naval aviators, like the Snowden brothers, were less concerned with commissioning sources, pedigrees, and rank as they were with appreciating basic airmanship and aggressiveness as the most important factors required for success in aerial combat.

Winged Brothers is not a biography, but it is history with biography added in. These two officers’ stories are those of senior line officers who played important roles on staffs where they applied their combat lessons to briefings and presentations to more senior officer and congressional committee members. Both brothers were damaged by Washington politics where advocating concepts not unanimously endorsed within the Navy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, or in Congress did not always win the day.

These two men were not faultless – a refreshing change to the traditional military history or biography. It is only later in the story that the author admits that hard drinking, partying, and failed marriages may have also played a factor in the brothers’ plateauing careers. Many successful naval aviators partied hard, drank to excess, and had difficulty in balancing the skills needed for a successful marriage with those needed in combat. Finally, as time and society moved on but Macon did not grow out of his “Old Navy” attitudes, his senior’s notations on being “brusque and blunt” were found on a less-than-stellar fitness report. The damage was done. Mac was able to continue his service to the nation and naval aviation in capacities outside that of being a commissioned officer.

There are some rather lengthy sentences that may slow down the reader already confused by naval jargon. The average naval aviator will have no problems with these minor flaws in the beginning of the book.

Excellent workmanship by both the author and the Naval Institute Press. A well-researched book, there is ample documentation in notes, an extensive bibliography, an index, and an abbreviated author’s biography that does not do justice to the author’s own distinguished career. Highly recommended.

Review by Jim Tritten (March 2019)


Author's Synopsis

 Winged Brothers recounts the service exploits of two brothers over more than forty years of naval aviation history in both peace and war. They were deeply committed to each other and to advancing their chosen profession, but due to the vast difference in their ages and the fourteen years between their respective graduations from the U.S. Naval Academy, they experienced carrier aviation from very different perspectives. The older brother, Ernest, entered naval aviation in an era of open-cockpit biplanes when the Navy’s operations from aircraft carriers were still taking form, when Fleet Problems were still the primary means of determining aviation’s warfighting utility and proving its merits to the fleet. Macon’s story guides the reader through the Navy’s transition from piston-engine aircraft to jets. For the entirety of their time in uniform, the one constant was a close fraternal bond that saw Ernest as mentor and Macon as devoted admirer and protégé, only to see those roles recede as the younger brother’s achievements transcended those of the older brother. Through personal letters, official reports, first-hand accounts, and first-person interviews, their symbiotic relationship is revealed to the reader.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-68247-296-5
Book Format(s): Hard cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 222

Call Me No Hero: Two Ordinary Boys and a Tale of Honor and Valor by R. A. Sheats

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MWSA Review

I was beginning to think that everybody had forgotten me." Ernest Thomas, affectionately called Boots because of his love for the footwear, wrote to his beloved mother in a letter dated November 19, 1941.

Call Me No Hero shines a light on a very important part of American history: World War II and the unsung American heroes that are so easily forgotten, simply because they were born and raised in small-town America. The protagonists, Jim Sledge and Boots, were two young men whose friendship proved to overcome and defeat barriers and time, and who chose to be selfless and serve their country with pride and honor.

From rural Florida all the way to raising a flag on the volcanic shores of Iwo Jima, Boots's dreams came to an abrupt and irreversible halt when he was killed in action. A heartbreaking telegram revealed the news to his mother, who had lovingly sent him countless letters (and candy!) to remind her darling son just how much he meant to her.

The book, filled with photos, letters, maps, and journal excerpts, does a very good job at bringing back to life a story that, had it not been for Boots's best friend Jim Sledge, as well as the author of the book, R. A. Sheats, would have probably been lost to history amnesia.

And so, to conclude, let's take our hats off, look up at the American flag, and with a smile on our faces, reassure Ernest "Boots" Thomas: No, darling son, we haven't forgotten about you.

Review by Brunella Costagliala (March 2019)


Author's Synopsis

"Call Me No Hero" is the true story of Ernest "Boots" Thomas and his friend Jim Sledge, two young boys whose lives were dramatically changed by the arrival of the Second World War. Born and raised in rural Florida during the days of the Great Depression, Ernest and Jim's boyhood dreams and aspirations were quickly forgotten when their nation entered World War Two. Jim entered the Air Corps after graduating high school while young Ernest enlisted in the Marine Corps, pledging to do his part in protecting his family and his home. During the American drive against the Japanese in the Pacific, Ernest found himself catapulted into national fame as he and his platoon landed on the volcanic shores of Iwo Jima and raised a flag that would be seen around the world. With the use of letters, journals, and first-hand accounts, "Call Me No Hero" brings to life this captivating tale of valor, self-sacrifice, and the solemn duty of honoring those who have fallen.

ISBN/ASIN: 1938822552
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 322

Kanaga Diary: Lost in the Aleutians, 1938 by Estelle Lauer

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MWSA Review

Kanaga Diary—Lost in the Aleutians, 1938 by Estelle Gibson Lauer is a moving tribute compiled and written by a daughter in memory of her father. Lauer’s father, Navy Chief Pharmacist's Mate Royce Rainey Gibson, unexpectedly and inexplicably disappeared into the wilderness after setting out for a hunting trip on January 18, 1938, while serving on a remote outpost in Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain.  Relying primarily on her father's letters and his diary entries, she documents the details associated with her father's final days and months.

A combination of Lauer's observations, as well as her father's various writings, provide an interesting look into the pre-World War II time frame in general.  The book also provides a thorough accounting of Gibson's experiences—both during his years of Navy service and while braving the barren wilderness in the middle of the Aleutian Islands.  The author’s description of how her mother, sister, and she came to grips with the loss of a well-loved husband and father are particularly poignant.  

Although the specifics of Gibson's disappearance will likely never be unraveled, the reader will certainly get a detailed look at one man's struggle to deal with the elements, boredom, and the challenges of family separation.  Perhaps more importantly, you’ll appreciate how one family learned to cope with loss and move on with their lives.

Review by John Cathcart (August 2018)


Author's Synopsis

It’s the winter of 1937-’38. World War II is brewing. At a remote duty station on Kanaga Island, Alaska, in the middle of the Aleutian chain, eight men are engaged in a U. S. Navy mission whose aim is secret even from them. Six of the men record weather data and monitor radio communications between Japanese fishing boats. A seventh is the cook. The eighth man, the medic, Chief Pharmacist’s Mate Royse Gibson, has little to do — no one in this small contingent gets sick, no one is injured. There will be no mail in or out for months, and radiograms, the only other means of communication with home, are expensive and difficult to arrange. So Gibson keeps a diary in the form of letters to his wife and two young daughters, to be mailed if ever it’s possible. Then one day Gibson and the cook go seal hunting, and disappear without a trace. Gibson’s letters, finally delivered to his family months later, comprise half of "Kanaga Diary," detailing his daily routine and his far more interesting spare-time activities on the island. The other half of this “double memoir” is his daughter Estelle’s story of the family, struggling, eventually moving on, but keeping his memory alive. In 1995, fifty-seven years after the loss of her father, Estelle and her husband set out on a long-planned visit to Kanaga, to investigate her father’s disappearance and to finally say goodbye.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-99700-328-4
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Memoir, Nonfiction, History
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 132
 

The Gift of Significance: An Ordinary Soldier's Extraordinary Story of War by Robert DeBard

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MWSA Review

The Gift of Significance: An Ordinary Soldier’s Extraordinary Story of War is a gift of a story to readers. Told from “Smokin’ Joe” Brederson’s point of view, this honest account of a farm boy from Wisconsin’s journey through Army training, World War II, post-war France, and back home, is a significant work of military literature. Author Robert DeBard wrote this book in such a conversational manner that the reader experiences a closeness to Joe Brederson, genuinely seeing his emotions. 

Smokin’ Joe is anything but “ordinary.” He wants to fly, but he ends up training with the British commandos instead. Ironically, he ends up jumping out of the planes he was told he couldn’t fly due to his vertigo. He becomes one of the few to survive D-Day, parachuting in behind enemy lines. He continues fighting and standing up for his fellow soldiers in one hard battle after another. Besides Joe’s bravery, this book tells the story of a man who could be counted on time and again. But he’s not perfect, which helps paint the realistic picture of this man and those times.

This book is highly recommended for anyone looking for a glimpse into life during World War II. The author weaves in personal details and heartfelt feelings that make this book much more than just another war novel. At the end, the reader will be glad to have known Joe Brederson the man and his remarkable story.

Review by Valerie Ormond (Aug 2018)

MWSA's evaluation of this book found a number of technical problems--including some combination of misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization errors--which indicate that further editing would lead to a much-improved final product.


Author's Synopsis

The amazing story of "Smokin' Joe Bredeson reads like fiction, except that it's true. Kept to himself for more than 60 years, the first person account moves well beyond his medals of war to a place of authenticity few veterans have been willing to venture with a message of sacrifice and salvation as relevant today as it was when he lived it. From parachuting in behind enemy lines on D-Day as a member of the renowned "Screaming Eagles" to the Battle of the Buldge where, as an Army Ranger, he finally hit the wall of traumatic stress ending up in a self-described "Loony bin," the reader is presented testimony to the price of freedom for this member of the Greatest Generation. His account of heroism and heartbreak will alert your senses, the vents will rivet your attention, and his ultimate triumph against all odds in post-war France will warm your heart.

ISBN/ASIN: Amazon e-book ISBN: 9781983109737, ASIN: B07DLN1HMV
Book Format(s): Kindle, Paperback
Genre(s): Memoir, Biography
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 217

Jungle in Black by Steve Maguire

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Brutal, compassionate... a soldier copes with blindness.

"Jungle in Black" is a raw-boned, "tell it as it is" book that takes a young Airborne Ranger officer from being injured on patrol in Vietnam to recovery in an Army field hospital to Japan,  and finally to Walter Reed Army Hospital in our nation's capital. 
Written in a vivid style that puts us in the shoes of the soldier, we experience the agony of a grenade exploding near our head, the terrifying blackness of a hospital, the hopes of seeing with one damaged eye dashed, and the realization that a cherished Army career is over.

Steve Maguire does not mire us in self-pity nor in the Pollyanna-ish euphoria of conquering blindness. Instead, he lays out a painful path of disappointment, void of a future in the Army, to a functioning man who can hold his own in a barroom brawl. Chock full of humorous incidents, such as wheelchair races down the hospital halls to profane escapades on frequent passes to the Goal Post, a neighborhood bar, one laughs and cries with the author. 

A college co-ed befriends him, helps turn his life around, and gives him purpose in life. They marry and have six children. He continues his studies and has a career with the Department of the Army as a civilian.

"Jungle in Black" is the tale of one soldier's long journey home from Vietnam. It is a true story of overcoming adversity. It is a story that falls into the "must read" category.

Review by Joe Epley (May 2018)

MWSA's evaluation of this book found a number of technical problems—including some combination of misspellings, grammar, punctuation, or capitalization errors—which indicate that further editing would lead to a much-improved final product.


Author's Synopsis

The True Story of One Soldier's Long Journey Home from Vietnam

This is the memoir of Steve Maguire, a decorated young Airborne Ranger, infantry officer who commanded a 9th infantry Division battalion reconnaissance platoon in the Mekong Delta.  It was there in November 1969 while on am airmobile operation that an exploding Viet Cong mine blinded him for life.

He lost his sight but not his courage.

Jungle in Black is an honest first-person account that never wallows in self pity as the author reassembles his life in a country that had turned its back on the war. Set in Long An Province. Vietnam, Camp Zama. Japan, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, this powerful yet often witty human drama details one man's successful struggle against the war's desolation.


ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-49230-332-9
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 423
 

Two Stars: Reflections of a Military Wife and Mother by Victoria Ventura

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

If you want to know more about life in a military family, do not ask the soldier, the sailor, the airman. They will give you the standard government-issued picture—the “Gung-Ho” version. No, ask the parents who raised a fine, upstanding child, a scholar, a model citizen, the helper of small children and hobbling old ladies. Ask the mother who watched that son  go off to fulfill his patriotic duty by serving his country, only to return as a grown man but wounded in mind or body.

Ask the wife who marries her prince charming only to discover that his white horse is more likely to be an Army tank or a Marine helicopter. Ask her about missed birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and graduations. Ask her about the sleepless nights and the stomach-churning fear each time she sees a military staff car on her street. Ask her about the man who replaced the charming boy she married—the one who must always sit with his back to a wall, the one who dives under the nearest table if a waiter drops a tray of dishes, the one who cannot awaken from his PTSD-inspired nightmares.

The author of this book is the wife of a Vietnam veteran, dead too soon thanks to Agent Orange, and the mother of two children who followed their father’s shining example. The son is a reluctant hero, a pilot who saved 84 wounded soldiers in Afghanistan. The daughter  defied all odds (and the traditional sexual harrasssment of the military old guard) to become a top-rated Navy pilot. Victoria Ventura understands their stories all too well. Her poems portray ttheir experiences with unflinching honesty. She probes the sore places and lifts the veil that usually hides the grief from public view. Reading her words will hurt.

Approach the poems of “Two Stars: Reflections of a Military Wife and Mother” without judgment. The reader’s task is not to critique the unskilled poetic forms but to feel the pain they describe. Read these unedited words for their brutal honesty. And keep the tissues handy.

Review by Carolyn Schriber (July 2018)


Author's Synopsis

This book was written to give a deeper understanding about the military because words can paint pictures that come alive of past experiences. They are like movies of the mind, the scenes that portray soldiers and their families in real life experiences whether at home, protecting foreign countries to establish a democracy, flying combat missions and being in combat on the ground. The idea of the cute Vietnam young lady twirling a flag that covers her from all the elements of war, to a Firefight pinning down Army Rangers on a hill by the Taliban and then being protected by “Big Bird’(an AC-130 Specter Gunship), gives us visions of being safe while being pinned down in a dangerous crossfire. You can feel the sadness and hear the tears and the tension in Arlington’s slow and methodical parade to the last resting sight of a soldier’s
graveside. This is followed by the bursting of explosive laughter at the simplicity of the horses’ antics at such a serious event. I hope that these experiences will give a deeper understanding to the military life of soldiers and their families as they live day to day at home, overseas deployed in foreign countries or in dangerous war zone.

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN-10 0-9988249-3-3                    ISBN 13 978-0-9988249-3-2
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Collections, Memoir, Poetry Book
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 76
 

The Luckiest Guy in Vietnam by James A. Lockhart

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

James Lockhart’s combat memoir The Luckiest Guy in Vietnam, is a two-for-one surprise.  In one book we hear about both his tours as an infantry officer in Vietnam.  He first details his initial deployment, where he served as a mortar platoon and recon platoon leader in the famous “Americal” Division.  Second he delves into his second, significantly different deployment, this time as a Special Forces captain training Cambodian battalions in a little known and seldom publicized mission.

 His central theme to both deployments, as can be guessed from the title, is luck.  Lockhart is humble throughout; he doesn’t think he’s any better than any other officer; he does his homework, and works hard, just like everyone else.  He tries his best to use common sense to keep him and his men alive, but others did that as well.  Yet,  time after time, death or serious injury just misses him.  Lockhart seems to be the Vietnam embodiment of Napolean’s quote, “I know he's a good general, but is he lucky?”

 The author finds humor and teaching points in his everyday infantry life.  He recounts several anecdotes and incidents from his career, along with what he learned from them and how he used that lesson to improve the chances for success on the next go around.   The writing is clear and easy to understand; but the book would benefit from some editing work to address some technical problems.  Still, the book moves quickly, and the readers learn a lot about the author and a typical day in the life of an infantry officer.  Fans of writings about Vietnam, infantry life, or Special Forces will all find something to enjoy in this book.

Review by Rob Ballister (June 2018)


Author's Synopsis

This book describes two unique tours of duty in Vietnam by a U.S. Army officer. In the first, after two assignments in Infantry platoons, he is given command of a rifle company while still a lieutenant.  The daily life of infantrymen, with all of its quirks and surprises, is recounted as he lived it. He returns for a second tour as a Special Forces-trained captain to participate in a secret mission.  This program has received little attention and some previously unpublished events are revealed here.  Most readers should find the actions recounted herein differ from the widely held concepts based on news coverage or even personal experience in the war.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-54392-812-9
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 363
 

CIA Super Pilot Spills the Beans, Flying Helicopters in Laos for Air America by Captain Bill Collier

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review
Bill Collier’s account of his time flying for Air America is an insider’s account of the day-to-day life of a helicopter pilot flying covert missions in Laos. Danger, booze and sex punctuate an accurate historical record of a critical period and operation in world history.

Review by Mick Simonelli (June 2018)

Author's Synopsis

Death defying adventure, big money, world travel, sex, booze: this true tale has it all. In 1967, after surviving 13 months, of combat flying in H-34 helicopters in Vietnam for the United States Marine Corps, Captain Collier wanted nothing more to do with that war. Somehow, 34 months later he found himself flying for Air America, the air arm of the CIA, on (not for) the other side of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

He teamed up with his best Vietnam helicopter pilot buddy, Gary, and the two rascals shared true adventure enough to make any novel seem lame. In many ways it was a much better job than flying for the USMC, but it also had many exciting and interesting times. Flying in mountainous and weather-hostile Laos was some of the most challenging ever experienced by any pilot, any time, any war. He flew 3100 hours more of combat for a total of 3850. He came a whisker from death several times and a few times actually tweaked the devil’s nose, daring the devil to take him! 

Making fabulous money and having airline benefits allowed them to live an exotic lifestyle, to travel the world on their monthly R&Rs and to chase and catch more than a few stewardesses from several different airlines around the world.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1547225323
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 364
 

The Adventures of a Helicopter Pilot, Flying the H-34 in Vietnam for the United States Marine Corps by Captain Bill Collier

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Bill Collier’s book The Adventures of a Helicopter Pilot, Flying the H-34 in Vietnam for the United States Marine Corps is a rough-and-tumble journey through initial training to combat flying in the jungles of Vietnam.  It is at times gritty, at times funny, and always very, very real.  I found myself almost reflecting constantly on the way he described the losses of some of his friends in combat in such a down-to-earth "here one minute, gone the next," sort of fashion.
 
Through it all, the author cheats death in the air and on the ground, and yet always manages to keep his wits and sense of humor about him.  I particularly enjoyed the way he was able to switch quickly between a humorous anecdote and a terrifying flying event, giving the reader some understanding of what it must be like to be scared to death in one moment and then relatively safe thirty minutes later, beer in hand and skin fully intact.
 
I also enjoyed the way he spoke of the times he was afraid, or of how he dealt (or for a while ignored) his PTSD upon his return.  This made the author and the book seem much more real, and he does his fellow vets a service by describing how he eventually discovered that he needed some help.
 
Vietnam vets, helicopter pilots, and anyone with an interest in military aviation will enjoy this book.

MWSA Review by Rob Ballister (June 2018)

Author's Synopsis

This is a spell-binding, first-hand account of what it was like to pilot a Marine Corps H-34 helicopter in combat during "The Helicopter War" in Vietnam. As a brand-new United States Naval Aviator, Second Lieutenant Bill Collier had many exciting adventures - some exciting, some horrific and some terrifying. This is the true story of his experiences during his 13 months in the war. Bill watched friends die violently and stood many times eye-to-eye and toe-to-toe with Death itself. Each time, Death flinched first.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-500936-13-6
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 351
 

Heroes to the End by Jim Smith

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

In his book Heroes to the End, author Jim Smith provides us an excellent perspective of the waning days of U.S involvement in the Vietnam War. As a young man employed as a Newsday reporter, the author received a very low draft number ensuring he'd be picked up in the next draft, he took the initiative and enlisted for three years.  This kept him from going straight into the infantry and on to Vietnam. At least this was his plan and it did work, somewhat. He enlisted and became an admin clerk, but the army still sent him to Vietnam at the end of July 1971.

Smith provides some insight from his experiences as an admin clerk at Cam Ranh Bay, but the meat of the book comes after the author volunteers for and got accepted into the correspondent's pool with Stars and Stripes. In his position with the press, Smith was allowed to travel throughout Vietnam and conduct a variety of interviews. He captured the essence of these interviews, along with his own observations, in articles he wrote back then and republished in this book.

I found the first hand accounts refreshing as they provide a real time picture of events, individual's thoughts and emotions.  The vast collection of articles give us a much better picture of what was happening in Vietnam from late 1971 to mid 1972, than someone's recollections recorded some forty plus years after the war.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in military history and especially to those with an interest in the Vietnam war.  I found it an interesting read and am certain you will too.

MWSA Review by Bob Doerr (June 2018)


Author's Synopsis

"Heroes to the End" is my memoir of my 1971-72 Vietnam tour as a clerk in Cam Ranh Bay and a as a reporter for Stars and Stripes. Its most compelling chapters deal with combat heroes during the final days of U.S. involvement in an unpopular war. The premise is that Americans were doing good things, heroic things, right up until the war's final days. That included civic action projects, serving as MPs, driving in convoys, working to improve relations between races, patrolling the bush, building fire bases, and calling in air strikes under fire.

I wore civilian clothes at times, grew my hair long, blended in with civilian journalists and learned from some of the best, such as Peter Arnett and Malcolm Browne. I walked with grunts in the bush, had more than 200 hours aloft in helicopters, flew on hunter-killer missions, interviewed Rangers, advisers on hilltops, door gunners, aircraft pilots, chaplains and Vietnamese soldiers, pilots and refugees. Six men I knew were killed during my tour, including Alec Shimkin of Newsweek and III Corps senior adviser John Paul Vann.

The book was a labor of love because I donated $12,000 to United Veterans Beacon House, which runs homeless shelters for veterans, from speaking fees and book sales proceeds over the past two years. I am working with an agent to transform the book into a Netflix screenplay and have been connecting with veterans, history professors, advocates and military buffs on Facebook and LinkedIn, in order to raise my visibility and lay the groundwork for submitting a screenplay.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-4917-6812-9, B014ZX51S8
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 354

Racing Back to Vietnam, A Journey in War and Peace by John Pendergrass

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

In Racing Back to Vietnam, author John Pendergrass tells an interesting story about his experiences as a flight surgeon while stationed at Da Nang Air Base in VietNam from 1971 to 1972, and then goes on to relate that experience with his return to Vietnam to participate in a triathlon in 2016.  

As a flight surgeon, the author had the rare opportunity to fly as a GIB, or the guy in the back seat, of F-4 in actual combat operations. In reading the book, I could feel the author's emotions as he recounted these events. The experiences he had in the air are without a doubt memories that will never fade.  The author's work as a doctor in a wartime environment and descriptions of Da Nang and Vietnam are full of detail, but it's his flying that jump out at the reader.  

After leaving Vietnam in 1972 and returning to his medical practice and family, the author thought he had left Vietnam behind him; however, when an opportunity to participate in a triathlon in Vietnam in 1976 arose, he jumped at it. Now in his seventies, he participated as one of three in the relay portion of the half triathlon.  While he had participated in marathons and triathlons before, he knew his real reason to return to Vietnam wasn't for the race, but to revisit the country.  For the last third of the book author John Pendergrass, through his writing, let's the reader see the changes in the country and his impressions of the Vietnamese people.  Impressions that I believe surprised him.  This is a well written book and should appeal to anyone that is interested in the Vietnam war and in seeing today's Vietnam through the eyes of a returning airman.

MWSA Review by Bob Doerr (June 2018)


Author's Synopsis

In 1971,US Air Force flight surgeon John Pendergrass spent much of his time as a Weapon Systems Operator in the back seat of an F-4 Phantom,racing across the skies of Vietnam.

Forty -five years later he boards an altogether different type of aircraft and heads back to Vietnam for an altogether different kind of race-an Ironman triathlon.

A veteran of Ironman triathlons on six continents, RACING BACK TO VIETNAM follows John's year in combat and his return to Vietnam,revisiting a country that,for him, is bound up in history,memory,and emotion.A memoir of war as seen from the skies and a reflection on life's high adventure,John tries to reconcile the Vietnam he saw from the backseat of a fighter jet with today's modern nation.

ISBN/ASIN: 987-1-57826-699-9
Book Format(s): Hard cover
Genre(s): Nonfiction, History, Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 256