The Young Draftee
Author: Monte Howell
Publisher: iUniverse (2002)
Binding: Paperback, 160 pages
Of all of the stories to come out about World War II few are written about the young 18 year old inexperienced soldiers who were thrust into a brutal part of the war. None were professional soldiers, most were draftees or civilians who were allowed to play soldier for the duration of the war. This true story identifies those everyday occurrences which a "young soldier" experiences as he goes through Army basic training, being sent overseas to an infantry replacement depot in New Guinea, never quite knowing where he was or where he was going. Finally experiencing the horrors of combat in Leyte and Luzon, Philippines and wondering if his luck was going to see him through these ordeals. The war in the South Pacific was beyond being called a brutal, savage war or some other words, which can explain what these men went through. The terrain, climate and disease those men had to fight besides the enemy was unbearable. The war in the South Pacific was a war without mercy. This is a descriptive march through history.
An 18 Year Old Soldier’s View of WWII as told by a now 77 Year Old Man
There are many stories about WWII written by generals and officers and all sorts of professional soldiers and writers. That is why it is always refreshing to read a book from one of those ‘Buck Privates' who got drafted and fought the war the hard way – without any special treatment or privileges accorded officers or those of higher rank. This book grew from what started off as just a discovery of an old box of some 100 yellowing and aging photos of his war experience. Author Monte Howell decided to label them so he could share them with his grandchildren. That small task ended up becoming a full scale effort to record his personal story from the time of the draft onward. In his humble memoir The Young Draftee he takes us along as he recalls his life journey.
There is just something very special about his story and the photos that accompany it. His fighting experiences in the Pacific and the eventual occupation of Japan are rich in history. These stories told from his personal experiences and view point makes it rich and interesting. Howell takes the reader along through the islands and the battles and we see the war as it must have looked for this 18 year old man – but being told through the wisdom and body of a now 77 year old man.
I found that the last part of the book was just as interesting as the war stories because it shows more of the personality of the author. We find out that he was and is a body builder and judging by the photos, we can see why he's so competitive. He and his wife also dance and sail boats – all competitively; and successfully! I enjoyed his book and found it educational as well being very entertaining. You can read it in one sitting (less than 150 pages) and there are many good old black and white photos of interest. Recommended reading for those seeking a more personalized look at WWII.
Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2006)