BATTLEFIRE! U.S.A. Combat Stories from WWII. By Col. Arthur L. Kelly. Bataan • Leyte • Cassino • New Guinea • Lorraine • Bastogne • Iwo • Luzon • Normandy • POWs.
Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941: High on the bridge of the USS West Virginia Sfc. Lee Ebner was looking forward to the end of his watch and a relaxed Sunday morning breakfast. But the two low-flying planes painted with rising sun insignia and bearing down on the ship had other plans for him and his fellow seamen.
Ten hours later, at Clark Field in the Philippines, Pfc. Jack Reed felt the brunt of another Japanese air attack and within weeks found himself a part of the gruesome Bataan Death March that was to claim the lives of hundred of his comrades.
On another continent, four years into the war, Capt. Benjamin Butler led his exhausted company up a steep, fog-shrouded Italian mountain toward a well entrenched German defensive position. The odds against their survival were appalling, though worse was to come in the months ahead.
Such were the experiences of many young men-plucked from their local communities all across America, trained for war, and hurled into the strange reality of combat thousands of miles form home. In this stunning collection of World War II oral histories, Arthur Kelly recreates the experiences of twelve young men from Kentucky who survived the seemingly unsurvivable, whether in combat or as prisoners of war. Their stories of endurance in the midst of chaos and violence tell of fear, rage, exhaustion, and despair, but also of courage, determination, and human kindness. These are the stores of men at their best in the worst of all possible times.
Col. Arthur L. Kelly (U.S. Army, Ret.), a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, interviewed more than a hundred veterans over the course of a decade. From that collection, amplified with historical background, come these stories of men who endured severe and sustained combat situations. For future generations, it is an opportunity to share what Oliver Wendell Holmes called "the incommunicable experience of war."
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