Veterans’ Day

As we approach the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, I am reminded that my father would have just turned 86 yesterday if he were still alive. He joined the US Navy late in 1944, going straight from boot camp to radar school to radar school instructor, and luckily never saw any combat. This then made me realize that there probably are not a whole lot of veterans of World War II left to share their memories, and the pool will only continue to shrink. As such, I thought I might take a moment to recommend a few WW-II memoirs my readers might find interesting.

Always Faithful, by William Putney — a fascinating account of the creation of a US Marine War Dog unit and its eventual use in the invasion of Guam, told by the unit’s veterinary officer (and a man who obviously loved his canine troops). Perhaps my favorite part is the post-war section where he worked hard to return as many as possible of the (surviving) dogs back to civilian life.

Under the Wire: The World War II Adventures of a Legendary Escape Artist and “Cooler King”, by William Ash, co-written with Brendan Foley (not enKindled) — the personal account of the man who was the basis for Steve McQueen’s character in the movie “The Great Escape”. I found the early part of the book recounting his time surviving the end of The Great Depression as fascinating as the bulk of the remainder of the book recounting his military experiences, much of them as a prisoner of war.

Stuka Pilot, by Hans Rudel — Some readers may have a problem with this book in that it is never apologetic about Hitler nor the invasion of the Soviet Union. However, it is an often gripping account by a man who is considered to have been the most highly decorated member of the German military in WW-II. He was shot down over two dozen times, but just kept coming back for more (sometimes after escaping from behind enemy lines).

Company Commander, by Charles MacDonald (not enKindled) — Recounts the experiences of MacDonald as a US infantry company commander in western Europe, seeing action in the Huertgen Forest and then The Battle of the Bulge. It’s been quite some time since I read this, but I remember feeling I was in the mud and snow with him and his troops.

PS: I always use any excuse to post this image of the war dog memorial on Guam that the author of Always Faithful worked so hard to help establish:
War dog memorial on Guam