Oral history by Marines who fought to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's invading forces.
America's Battalion tells the experiences of one unit, the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, during Operation Desert Storm—the first Gulf War. Building from interviews with the members of the batallion, Otto Lehrack examines the nature of warfare in the Persian Gulf. The terrain of the Arabian Peninsula and the disposition of the enemy dictated conventional warfare requiring battalion and regimental assaults coordinated at the division level, so interviewees are primarily the officers and senior non-commissioned officers concerned.
The 3rd of the 3rd, also known as "America's Battalion," had just returned from deployment in the summer of 1990 when they were required to immediately re-deploy to a strange land to face a battle-hardened enemy after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Theirs was only the second Marine battalion to arrive in Saudi Arabia. They participated in the first allied ground operation of the war, played a key role in the battle for the city of Khafji, and were the first to infiltrate the Iraqi wire and minefield barrier in order to provide flank security for the beginning of the allied offensive.
Facing an enemy that had used some of the most fearsome weapons of mass destruction—chemical and biological agents—against its former opponents and against its own people, the Marines had been prepared for the worst. Lehrack has documented this unit's remarkable performance through the accounts of those who participated in the historic events in the Persian Gulf and returned home to tell of them.
Between 1951 and 1962 the Atomic Energy Commission triggered some one hundred atmospheric detonations of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Test Site. U.S. military troops who participated in these tests were exposed to high doses of radiation. Among them was a young Marine named Leonard Bird. In Folding Paper Cranes Bird juxtaposes his devastating experience of those atomic exercises with three visits over his lifetime—one in the 1950s before his Nevada assignment, one in 1981, and one in the early 1990s—to the International Park for World Peace in Hiroshima.
Among the monuments to tragedy and hope in Hiroshima’s Peace Park stands a statue of Sadako Sasaki holding a crane in her outstretched arms. Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on her city; she was diagnosed with leukemia ten years later. According to popular Japanese belief, folding a thousand paper cranes brings good fortune. Sadako spent the last months of her young life folding hundreds of paper cranes. She folded 644 before she died.
As he journeys from the Geiger counters, radioactive dust, and mushroom clouds of the Nevada desert to the bronze and ivory memorials for the dead in Japan, Bird—himself a survivor of radiation-induced cancer—seeks to make peace with his past and with a future shadowed by nuclear proliferation. His paper cranes are the poetry and prose of this haunting memoir.
For two and a half years (1937-1939), Captain John Seymour Letcher commanded a company of the U.S. Embassy Marine Guard in Peking. During that time, he wrote a series of letters to his parents in Virginia describing the life of a Westerner in the former imperial city. During that same time, China was invaded by Japan.
Captain Letcher describes the flavor of life in pre-Communist China — the food, servants, cold Peking winters and torrid summers, hunting, and excursions to the major tourist sites.
But his letters also tell of the Japanese slaughter of Chinese troops in the opening days of the Sino-Japanese War. He wrote about life in a city under Japanese occupation and the stirring story of the Chinese guerrillas rebounding from devastating defeat.
These letters and accompanying introduction, preface, and notes, draw attention to the Western experience in a place and time largely overlooked by military historians and modern China specialists.
In the summer of 1966, in the middle of the Vietnam War, eighty young volunteers arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, South Carolina, from all over the Eastern United States. For the next eight weeks, as Platoon 1005, they endured one of the most intense basic training programs ever devised. Parris Island was not a place for idle conversation or social gatherings, and these men remained from start to finish almost complete strangers. Ehrhart did get to know one Marine, his bunkmate John Harris, who quietly shared his sweetheart's letters. He was a friend who died in Vietnam only a year later.
Twenty-seven years after basic training. Ehrhart began what became a five-year search for the men of his platoon. Who were these men alongside whom he trained? Why had they joined the Marines at a time when being sent to war and of the country that sent them to fight it? What does the Corps mean to them? What Ehrhart learned offers an extraordinary window into the complexities of the Vietnam Generation and the United States of America then and now.
Based on supporting materials from military records and family members as well as interviews -- some of which Ehrhart held in such active secondary roles as dairy farmhand, fishing companion, and impromptu guest at a family wedding -- this book records the more-than-30-year journey that each man took after his boot-camp graduation on August 12, 1966. Photos of the men, both then and now, accompany the profiles. Their stories are diverse, but as Ehrhart says, "It was, in short, history, and each of these men was and is a part of that history....There are, no doubt, scoundrels and liars and losers among these men, but as a group they have mostly impressed me with their decency and their loyalty and their hard work and their perseverance in the face of hardships and hurdles, the everyday obstacles that make ordinary lives extraordinary."
A masterwork of World War I short stories portraying the experiences of Marines in battle.
Points of Honor: Short Stories of the Great War by a US Combat Marine is based on author Thomas Alexander Boyd’s personal experiences as an enlisted Marine. First published in 1925 and long out of print, this edition rescues from obscurity a vivid, kaleidoscopic vision of American soldiers, US Marines mostly, serving in a global conflict a century ago. It is a true forgotten masterpiece of World War I literature.
The stories in Points of Honor deal almost entirely with Marines in the midst of battle—or faced with the consequences of military violence. The eleven stories in this collection offer a panoramic view of war experience and its aftermath, what Boyd described as “a mass of more human happenings.” The themes are often antiheroic: dehumanization, pettiness, betrayal by loved ones at home, and the cruelty of military justice. But Boyd’s vision also accommodates courage and loyalty. Like all great works of war literature, this collection underscores the central paradox of armed conflict—its ability to bring out both the best and worst in human beings.
This reissue of Points of Honor is edited, annotated, and introduced by Steven Trout. Trout provides an overview of Thomas Boyd’s war experience and writing career and situates the stories within the broader context of World War I American literature.
Points of Honor received strong reviews at the time of its initial publication and remains an overwhelming reading experience today. While each of the stories is a freestanding work of art, when read together they carry the force of a novel.
As part of an evaluation of the Marine Corps Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR) program, this report describes the methods and findings of a large survey of marines who were preparing for a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan in 2010 or 2011. The results are among the first to shed light on the pre-deployment mental health status of marines, as well as the social resources they draw on when coping with stress and their attitudes about seeking help for stress-related problems.
A Marine’s highly personal memoir reliving the hellish days of a pivotal conflict of the Vietnam War
Con Thien, located only two miles from the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Vietnam, was a United States Marine Corps firebase that was the scene of fierce combat for months on end during 1967. Staving off attacks and ambushes while suffering from ineffectual leadership from Washington as well as media onslaughts, courageous American Marines protected this crucial piece of land at all costs. They would hold Con Thien, but many paid the ultimate price. By the end of the war, more than 1,400 Marines had died and more than 9,000 sustained injuries defending the “Hill of Angels.”
For eight months, James P. Coan’s five-tank platoon was assigned to Con Thien while attached to various Marine infantry battalions. A novice second lieutenant at the time, the author kept a diary recording the thoughts, fears, and frustrations that accompanied his life on “The Hill.” Time in the Barrel: A Marine’s Account of the Battle for Con Thien offers an authentic firsthand account of the daily nightmare that was Con Thien. An enticing and fascinating read featuring authentic depictions of combat, it allows readers to fully grasp the enormity of the fierce struggle for Con Thien.
The defenders of Con Thien were bombarded with hundreds of rounds of incoming rockets, mortars, and artillery that pounded the beleaguered outpost daily. Monsoon downpours turned the red laterite clay soil into a morass of oozing mud, flooded bunkers and trenches, and made Con Thien a living hell. .Being at Con Thien came to be ruefully referred to by the Marines stationed there as "time in the barrel” because they were targets as easy as fish in a barrel.
More than a retelling of military movements, Coan’s engrossing narratives focus on the sheer sacrifice and misery of one Marine’s experience in Vietnam. Through his eyes, we experience the abysmal conditions the Marines endured, from monsoon rainstorms to the constant threat of impending attack. Climatic moments in history are captured through the rare, personal perspective of one particularly astute and observant participant.