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July 18, 2007

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A Helmet For My Pillow

It has come to my attention that some of you read books, which makes you part of a dying breed, and that many of you are interested in military history. That being so, you should be aware that this is the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest books to come out of World War II, and the greatest book ever written by a Marine.

It’s called “Helmet for My Pillow” and was written by Robert Leckie (1920-2001) who served as a machine gunner in the First Marine Division and survived the war to become a sports writer and historian. He wrote a lot of good books, but nothing like this one. It’s been reprinted, and is available on Amazon, whatever the hell that is.

If you are interested in the Korean War, Leckie did a short but memorable volume called “March to Glory,” about the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir in 1950. If this one does not have you pounding on your local Marine recruiter’s door, you are probably dead or overage.

And if you would like to see how very, very far we have come since 1957, read “Helmet” and Anthony Swofford’s book “Jarhead” (2003) back to back. You will be amazed, and probably suicidal.

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Comments

Concerned_Soldier

Dave,
Always good to hear about a good book. Even if it is about Marines. I have about three started on my night stand, but F&S always takes priority.

For a different perspective on WWII try "Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer, about a German Infantryman on the eastern Front.

For Korea, try, "East Of Chosin" about the 31st Inf Rgt who pretty much took the brunt of the chinese while the marines retreat, by Roy Appleman. Yeah I know I will take some heat for that one. But not a lot of people know that the ARMY was at Chosin.

Vietnam, there are about a million books, but We Were Soldiers, once and young, by Hal Moore (Who I have met in Person) If you read the book, it hits a lot closer to home. Again don't just watch the movie. Dave Hackworths book covers a little about Vietnam, but by that point in the book, it gets a little too political. Colin Powell does a nice job writing about Vietnam as does Tommy Franks, and Stormin Norman. All very well written.

I have read very few on the Gulf War, and none on OIF/OEF, kind of hard to pick one of those up yet.

Thought I'd share my .02!

Thanks Dave,

V/R

C_S

john e. mcvey

Trying to get in touch with Rick Wolff who commented about concealed weapons permits in W.Va. last year. If you're out there, please give me a holler. Thanks.

suburban bushwacker

what about Dispatches by Michael Herr.
For the nerds out there he did the voice over at the begining of apocalypse now.

Dave Petzal

To C-S and SB. I have read Sajer's book, which answers the question, how much can one man endure and still live? We Were Soldiers is indeed terrific, and I think Dispatches is the best thing to come out of Vietnam. One book that should also be mentioned is "This Kind of War," by A.T. (?) Fehrenbach. It's about Korea, told from the small-unit commander's point of view. A masterpiece.

Double-D

Going After Cacciato or anything by Tim O'Brian is worth the time. (I know, it's fiction, but no less compelling.)
Looking forward to the great reads that will no doubt come from those soldiers currently engaged.

Mark

I thought Jarhead, the book and movie, is one of the best war novels/movies to come out. I get weary of fighting the Battle of the Bulge over and over, along with Gettysburg. Jarhead is a portrait of the inner timeless thoughts and emotions of military life and combat.

As portrait, myself and my comrades spent most our time fretting about loosing our girlfriends, fiancées and spouses while deployed, BORED, dealing with the gamesmanship of our commands. Those are a troopie’s main concerns, not being thrown into a fight or becoming a causality. Half-hearted scheming to get separated ahead of our enlistment dates.

Catch-22 was brilliant. Every character in that novel had a real live counter-part I knew and saw in my military career. People compared me to “Orr”.

Full-Metal Jacket is a timeless movie with the boot camp scenes

Archerwvu

Dave,

I'll be sure to follow your suggestion of these reads. I'd also suggest "To Hell and Back" .... Audie Murphy.

As always.......enjoying your blog

Archerwvu........past Captain, USAF

PbHead

Catch-22 is good. Bob Newhart makes the film. The first time my Marine son was deployed to Iraq, his CO caught him reading Catch 22 on the plane. His CO wanted to know why in the hell he was reading an anti-war book while he was on his way to a war. My son confused the captain by replying that it was not an anti-war book but an anti-irrational thought book.
Goodbye Darkness by William Manchester is a good survey of the Pacific War and the struggles of a man to overcome his war induced demons. Some things never change.
Slightly off topic but after great effort and personal struggle in a used book store, (pushing aside two punks who had the aisle blocked in the Gay and Lesbian section), I have obtained The 22 Rifle by Dave Petzel. The photos were worth the price.

MarvPDQ Buddy Hinton

A bunch of them damned deer has got antlers on 'em, folks. Now that ain't natcheral, as everbody knows. In fact, it's downright filthy, and any medical doctor worth a warm bucket of spit will tell you as much! Yep, it's unclean and it's un-natcheral and un-Godly, too, and the time for talkin' is past! Now let's get out there and SMASH 'EM, BOYS! THEY GOT CLOVEN HOOVES AND HORNS ON THEY HEADS JUST LIKE SATAN HISSELF HAS GOT, AND WE GOT TO GET OUT THERE AND SMASH 'EM ALL!!!!
Oh my yes!

A rich, tender, delicious Jew sandwich with roasted cow's meat on dark, heavy German rye with some of that killer Kraut mustard and a frosted mug of pilsner beer...

MarvPDQ

Rumour has it that a prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon is offering "furry" makeovers to selected Hollywood insiders.

The unnamed doctor, sources say, is able to provide his rich-n-famous clientel with full body fur, working snouts, including full dentition, along with tails, horns, and even hooves, tall ears, claws, and scales in any combination the client may desire.

It is said that certain well-known Hollywood big screen types who have "aged out" of their traditional "hunk" or sex-kitten" roles are already lining up at this mystery doctor'd doorstep to be made over into vampires, werewolves, dinosaurs, space aliens, etc. in the hope of extending their careers as dedicated "specialty role" technicians.

Olen Grimes

Semper Fi to all you Marines out there, from SP10GAUGE on www.huntersonly.com . 3rd batt Paris Island, 0811, good night Chesty Puller.

WA Mtnhunter

Some of the movies depicting the Vietnam experience are just so much entertainment and little else. I think I'll leave the heavy reading for a time when it is a little less painful. Goodbye Darkness was an excellent read. Full Metal Jacket brought back fond (?) memories of bootcamp. Maybe I'll rent Jarhead.

De Oppresso Liber

buckstopper

Another good book about the WWII Marines is SLEDGEHAMMER: OLD BREED MARINE by E.B.Sledge a PFC who later became a professor at The University of Montevallo in Alabama.

Jack Bohm

My BA is in History- My final work for it was on The First Battle of the Ia Drang.

If you want to read how it was in the Ultra-Elite SOG, find John Plaster's books on it- He was a veteran of the unit. Book #1, SOG: the Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam, Book #2 Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG. Both well written.

I've Ready Leckie- I've got a copy of Stong Men Armed- on USMC vs. Japan.

Also See Stephen Ambrose- Band of Brothers etc- and Mark Bando- Bando is to be Recomended- I've read a few of his books. And there are plenty of other good reads to had besides these.

Jack Bohm

Also check out David Hackworth's About Face: the Odyssey of an American Warrior.

Concerned_Soldier

Dave,
Your right, "This kind of War" by Fehrenbach, is a great book, but you really have to power through the political part to get down to the meat of the soldier on the ground! I was in Korea as a young leader and never read it. It wasn't until I moved up a rank, that I had the patience to get through it.

The best qoute of the book,
"Americans in 1950 rediscovered something that since Hiroshima they had forgotten: you may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life – but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.

V/R

C_S

ChevJim

I am personally very disgusted with the military and political situation. Our military is just too damned small, and both political parties contributed to the meat-cleaver surgery to "build-down" the US military. We are getting sand kicked in our faces by al Qaida and Iran because they know we are already stretched so thin. The Russians are making noises again. And the Chinese are getting pumped up economically because we import everything from them! You cannot be a "superpower" with a 10-division Army. That's the reason we can't stop the IED attacks in Iraq--too few people to "lock down" insurgent areas and perform proper route security. We just cannot put enough boots on the ground to "cap" an insurgency in Iraq, much less force "regime change" in Iran. That's the bottom line, folks. We have lost the will to stand up for what's right and to make the necessary investment in our armed forces. We are getting our "bluff" called by the insurgents, and the Iranians. And look what's happening in Pakistan. I've been to that country, and it's ready to explode. They're a nuclear power, and when the Islamofascists take over that country, nuclear weapons will find their way into the hands of al Qaida. Osama bin Laden is still breathing our air and directing operations from his hideout in the Northwest Territories of Pakistan. Whether we stay in Iraq or not, we've got to increase the size of our military. Russia just pulled out of the Conventional Forces Treaty, and if you don't think that's portentous, you've got another think coming. If we don't increase the size of our military, we are going to have to fit every little s***kicker dictator out there who thinks he can be the one to finally humiliate and defeat the United States. I know what I'm talking about--I had over 21 years active duty in the Army.

Bigbenr

My teammate Darius has had just about enough of this.This is Madness.it is beginning to look as if Dubya is homosexual.

Buddy Hinton

The movie rarely goes higher in the scheme of things than a sub-porn movie.
Geese will love the final scene for reasons of the 'worm in the trouser' and will become overexcited on the verge of overheating.
There is plenty of licky love. More than enough for most licky lovers.

Buddy Hinton

The last scene is truly unbelievable.Lots of sexual jokes are included. Including a moment of Homo-madness when a man kisses him on the lips and tells him he loves him. Followed closely by a moment of hetro-madness.You may not be able to look a sausage in the eye for the next fortnight.

Jim Kiser

Along with the other great books mentioned see if you can find a copy of "365 Days". I believe the author was a guy named Glasser who was a doctor in Nam.

Steven

Concerned soldier... you should be concerned and god bless you. However, we aren't getting our bluff called in the ME because we are stretched too thin or can't do the job. Iraq isn't about al qaida, or regime change, or democracy, or terrorism, or wmd, or any of the other reasons put forth to the American public. Global oil production has peaked or is soon to peak only to relentlessly decline from now on. Unfortunately, the world economy requires infinite growth. The Bush admin.(oil men) are well aware of this. We are there to secure access to one of the last major extractable deposits of light, easily refined crude. Iraq was the easiest nut to crack. We will be in the middle east for the rest of our lives and our childrens lives.

Steven

Concerned soldier... you should be concerned and god bless you. However, we aren't getting our bluff called in the ME because we are stretched too thin or can't do the job. Iraq isn't about al qaida, or regime change, or democracy, or terrorism, or wmd, or any of the other reasons put forth to the American public. Global oil production has peaked or is soon to peak only to relentlessly decline from now on. Unfortunately, the world economy requires infinite growth. The Bush admin.(oil men) are well aware of this. We are there to secure access to one of the last major extractable deposits of light, easily refined crude. Iraq was the easiest nut to crack. We will be in the middle east for the rest of our lives and our childrens lives.

Dr. Ralph

Occupied oil fields forever...

Clay Cooper

What’s the real difference between Vietnam and Iraq?

What turned the U.S. Citizens against the war in Vietnam? My dad told me that while I was in Vietnam Watler Cronkite announced on the CBS Evening News on the evening of February 27, 1968, in an hour long special, that the Americans were loosing the war in Vietnam and that "the war could not be won honorably. (this was shortly after the 1968 Tet offensive began). The next evening good ol' Walter told America we should quit and get out of Vietnam. I was shocked when he told me this because during the same time that good ol' Walter announced this, the U.S. was kicking ass out of the V.C. in Vietnam. And I guess most of you believed good ol' Walter. It is my belief that if good ol' Walter had not made this announcement (which the VC also heard) that the moral of the VC would of dropped so low that they would of given up the war. Just my opinion, for what ever it's worth now days. The 1968 Tet Offensive was their final major push to drive the US out of Vietnam and end the war. They lost the Tet Offensive, and with the help of people like Walter they won the psychological war.

It’s the same all over again!

The loss of lives and carnage is acceptable to the Democratic Party to get and stay in power!




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