Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 28

Thread: War Stories/Memoirs from a JO's Perspective

  1. #1
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Okinawa, Japan
    Posts
    33

    Default War Stories/Memoirs from a JO's Perspective

    As a newly minted 2nd Lieutenant awaiting TBS at Quantico, I've been trying to get in as much reading as possible before hitting "The Big Suck." Given my professional path, I'm particularly interested in personal accounts of young junior officers grappling with their training, first experiences of command, combat, etc.

    I've read a few already (a list follows), but I am hoping to tap into the SWC brain trust for further suggestions. Any additional recommendations? Comments/critiques of books on the list already? And more broadly, what books (of any sort) do you feel offer particular insight into the challenges facing a company-grade officer?

    Thanks,
    JS

    Non-Fiction
    Joker One by Donovan Campbell
    One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick
    The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney
    The Highway War by Seth Folsom
    Once A Warrior King by David Donovan

    Fiction
    Fields of Fire by James Webb
    Sharkman Six by Owen West

  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    13,187

    Default Two old books to try

    I'd recommend from my armchair:

    'With the Jocks' by Peter White, pub. in paperback 2002 (British infantry platoon commander October 1944 to VE day, in Western Europe)

    'Quartered Safe out There' by George MacDonald Fraser, pub. in paperback 1992 (The author is best known for the 'Flashman' series; a 'squadie' in WW2 Burma).

    There is a third set in Rhodesia, but lost it and will search for title.

    Try the 'What are you reading' thread for some clues.

    davidbfpo

  3. #3
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default Even though the two David recommended are about the British Army,

    I also recommend both as being universal in the care and feeding of Troops -- and how little it really takes in the way of neat high speed stuff to do the job -- if you know what you're doing. Amazon has both: Quartered Safe Out Here. Great read by a superb writer. With the Jocks. No punches pulled, he describes the bad and the good.

    I'd also recommend:

    The Right Kind of War. Marine Raider tale of WW II. Well done. Different Corps today but some things don't change...

    Not A Good Day To Die. Afghanistan 2002, a how not to do it...

  4. #4
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    1,444

    Default

    I would recommend this very well written article: http://www.esquire.com/print-this/af...r-stories-0809

  5. #5
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    21

    Default The Road Past Mandalay

    I would recommend the book "The Road Past Mandalay: A Personal Narrative" by John Masters. The author was an officer in the Ghurkas at the start of World War II, and first participated in the invasion of Iraq via Basra (nothing ever really changes) and later served with the Chindits Long Range Penetration Group in Burma.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-27-2013 at 09:08 PM. Reason: author's name corrected

  6. #6
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default Good one. "Bugles and a Tiger" the predecessor

    to "The Road Past Mandalay" by John Masters (not Majors) is also good.

  7. #7
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,177

    Default Schmedlap

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I would recommend this very well written article: http://www.esquire.com/print-this/af...r-stories-0809
    Thanks for including this one. You should consider posting it in a separate thread. I am/was never light infantry; my light time consisted of small groups operating in specific mission sets, but the article brought back a lot of memories. The story is definitely one worth reading.

    v/r

    Mike

  8. #8
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Estonia
    Posts
    3,817

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I would recommend this very well written article: http://www.esquire.com/print-this/af...r-stories-0809
    An excellent read ! Thanks for sharing it !
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

  9. #9
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    1,111

    Default I agree...

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I would recommend this very well written article: http://www.esquire.com/print-this/af...r-stories-0809
    ...and like Stan and Mike appreciate that you shared the link, it is indeed an excellent article.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Sapere Aude

  10. #10
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    1,111

    Default

    This one is from Pech River Valley...
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Sapere Aude

  11. #11
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DeRidder LA
    Posts
    3,949

    Default

    Ditto on the great piece

    That made my knee (the real one) and my back hurt....

    Tom

  12. #12
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    1,444

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Thanks for including this one.
    I suppose I should have given a hat tip for the find to Ink Spots.

  13. #13
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I also recommend both as being universal in the care and feeding of Troops -- and how little it really takes in the way of neat high speed stuff to do the job -- if you know what you're doing. Amazon has both: Quartered Safe Out Here. Great read by a superb writer. With the Jocks. No punches pulled, he describes the bad and the good.

    I'd also recommend:

    The Right Kind of War. Marine Raider tale of WW II. Well done. Different Corps today but some things don't change...

    Not A Good Day To Die. Afghanistan 2002, a how not to do it...
    Definitely second "Not a Good Day to Die." Michael Lee Lanning's Vietnam journals are also interesting when it comes to care and feeding of troops.

    For an interesting fiction twist you might try "The 13th Valley." It's a fictionalized version of 101st ABN combat operations in Vietnam in the early 1970s. Has some interesting observations about the difficulty of leading and motivating troops in an unpopular war. Just about anything by Leonard Scott is worth reading, but especially "The Hill" and "The Expendables."
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  14. #14
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Ditto on the great piece

    That made my knee (the real one) and my back hurt....

    Tom
    What's interesting to me is how similar some of the "down in the weeds" operational problems are to what we faced in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam (and some of the areas in I Corps close to the Laotian border). Not saying that there are "great, unlearned lessons from Vietnam" to be applied to Afghanistan, but more commenting on how some of the basic factors of war never really change that much. In that war B 1/26 would have been down around Saigon, slogging paddies as opposed to humping through the mountains.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  15. #15
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DeRidder LA
    Posts
    3,949

    Default

    I always recommend Winston Groom's, Better Times Than These...much overshadowed and forgotten after his success with Forrest Gump

    On the non-fiction side, Fred Downs is quite good See The Killing Zone: My Life in the Vietnam War

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 09-02-2009 at 02:32 PM.

  16. #16
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    The Green Mountains
    Posts
    356

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jesse9252 View Post
    As a newly minted 2nd Lieutenant awaiting TBS at Quantico, I've been trying to get in as much reading as possible before hitting "The Big Suck." Given my professional path, I'm particularly interested in personal accounts of young junior officers grappling with their training, first experiences of command, combat, etc.

    I've read a few already (a list follows), but I am hoping to tap into the SWC brain trust for further suggestions. Any additional recommendations? Comments/critiques of books on the list already? And more broadly, what books (of any sort) do you feel offer particular insight into the challenges facing a company-grade officer?

    Thanks,
    JS

    Non-Fiction
    Joker One by Donovan Campbell
    One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick
    The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney
    The Highway War by Seth Folsom
    Once A Warrior King by David Donovan

    Fiction
    Fields of Fire by James Webb
    Sharkman Six by Owen West
    I'm actually in the exact same position, after ten weeks in Quantico this summer. I'd add Junger's Storm of Steel to the mix for a very different perspective, if you have time. But really, just drop all that stuff and read Flashman.

  17. #17
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    Posts
    175

    Default Platoon Leader and Drift Books

    James R. McDonough's "Platoon Leader." Memoir of his time as PL in Vietnam. I read it several years ago, and my memory is struggling with all the details, but I do remember his initial struggle to find his place and authority in a new unit already in combat. Overall, good read and good lessons.

    Swinton's "The Defence of Duffer's Drift." Classic primer on basic small unit/company tactics, terrain, etc... Short and to the point.

    Have not read McDonough's "The Defense of Hill 781: An Allegory of Modern Mechanized Combat" but hear good things. It is a NTC remake of "Defense of Duffer's Drift."

    The "Defense of Jisr al Doreaa" is an Iraq Platoon Leader remake of Duffer's Drift (and includes the Duffer's Drift text). It is excellent.
    "What do you think this is, some kind of encounter group?"
    - Harry Callahan, The Enforcer.

  18. #18
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Okinawa, Japan
    Posts
    33

    Default Battle Company Is Out There

    It's been posted here before, but for those who missed it the first go-around, this NY Times Magazine article is written in a similar vein to the Chivers piece everyone is commenting on. I thought it was one of the best-written and most harrowing accounts of combat I had ever read.

    From the article:
    They were still taking fire. No one was there to help. Hugo Mendoza, their platoon medic, was back in another ditch, calling: “I’m bleeding out. I’m dying.” Giunta saw Brennan’s eyes go back. His breathing was bad. Giunta got Brennan to squeeze his hand. A medic showed up out of the sky. They prepared Brennan to be hoisted to the medevac in a basket. Soon he would be dead.

    As the medevacs flew out, Sergeant Sandifer had talked in air cover: Slasher, the AC-130. The pilot was a woman and, Sandifer later told me, “It was so reassuring for us to hear her voice.” She spotted guys hiding and asked if she was clear to engage. “ ‘You’re cleared hot,’ I told her. And we killed two people together.” But, at this point, the killings were no consolation to Sandifer.

    As Giunta said, “The richest, most-trained army got beat by dudes in manjammies and A.K.’s.” His voice cracked. He was not just hurting, he was in a rage. And there was nothing for him to do with it but hold back his tears, and bark — at the Afghans for betraying them, at the Army for betraying them. He didn’t run to the front because he was a hero. He ran up to get to Brennan, his friend. “But they” — he meant the military — “just keep asking for more from us.” His contract would be up in 18 days but he had been stop-lossed and couldn’t go home. Brennan himself was supposed to have gotten out in September. He’d been planning to go back to Wisconsin where his dad lived, play his guitar and become a cop.

    Sandifer was questioning why they were sticking it out in the Korengal when the people so clearly hated them. He was haunted by Mendoza’s voice calling to him: “I’m bleeding out. I’m dying.” He worried that the Korengal was going to push them off the deep end. In his imagination it had already happened. One day an Afghan visited their fire base, Sandifer told me. “I was staring at him, on the verge of picking up my weapon to shoot him,” he said. “I know right from wrong, but even if I did shoot him everyone at the fire base would have been O.K. We’re all to the point of ‘Lord of the Flies.’ ” And they still had 10 months to go in the Korengal.

  19. #19
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    The Green Mountains
    Posts
    356

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by patmc View Post

    Swinton's "The Defence of Duffer's Drift." Classic primer on basic small unit/company tactics, terrain, etc... Short and to the point.
    Great call. I read that a few months back and loved it.

  20. #20
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    The Green Mountains
    Posts
    356

    Default Best Shop in Q-Town

    A couple more:

    They have some great books at the Marine Shop in Quantico, lots of military history but also plenty of works on leadership. The Passion of Command is a big one, I bet you already read that in the rack after lights. My platoon commander recommended a slim book that I picked up but haven't gotten to yet, Battle Leadership by a German WWI veteran, Captain Adolf Von Schell. I also bought a book called From the Horse's Mouth: Selected Thoughts on Small-Unit Leadership. It's a collection of essays and short memoirs of combat, heavy on Marine experiences in Korea and Vietnam, but also including things like a Congo mercenary's tips and "Ten Commandments of the German Parachutist." Highly recommended.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •