Marine Cpl Joe Drago, 6th Marine Division, describes warfare on the island of Okinawa. Joe tells us of the tactics used to win the battle, and how it would not be approved in today's conflicts.
Ernie , of the 87th Infantry Division, introduces the reader to its first taste of the European theater of the war. Ernie belongs to a green division with no combat experience. They are soon thrusted into intense engagements right before the Ardennes Offensive. The chapter takes you through the life of a machine gunner during WWII.
After reading about what its like to be a basic soldier in the 1940's, the reader is now brought into the life of prisoner of war. Clarence Cormier, 106th Infantry Division, is captured during the first day of what is to become the "Battle of the Bugle." Half of his division surrenders in what is one of the largest surrenders since the American Civil War.
Known as the "Forgotten Front", Carl DiCicco, 34th Division, educates the reader of Italian Campaign in WWII. Buried alive at Anzio, Carl survives to only experience even more fighting while liberating Italy. He is a recipient of four Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and Bronze Star.
Surviving the largest banzai charge of WWII, Bernie explains to us just how the Battle of Saipan took place. Bernie is a Marine's Marine. He also goes on to fight in the Korean War, receiving his second Purple Heart.
Martha's Vineyard is an island community of the coast of Massachusetts. The two last 82nd Airborne Veterans in the state just happen to live miles away from one another. Nelson Bryant jumps into Normandy, and his friend, Fred Morgan had already jumped into Italy and Sicily before that. The pair share their story of being an airborne war fighters.
A young ambulance driver, Steve Domitrovich, is accidently caught in the biggest war crime perpetuated against American soldiers in Europe. He survives the "Malmedy Massacre" only to be put back to full duty days later.
Stanley is sent to Burma during WWII, while the rest of his friends head to England. He is not happy about the U.S. Army's decision. He his forced to link up with a group of remote fighting men known as "Merrill's Marauders." Together they fight two enemies, disease and the Japanese.
Code Talkers, Tuskegee Airmen, and anti-aircraft gunners, these are just some of the segregated jobs minorities had during WWII . It was important to have a diverse rifle to ensure the sacrifice of minority veterans was not overlooked. Robert served in an all black tank battalion and was wounded in France. The chapter covers his physical injuries from the war and mental wounds of racism.
30% of the U.S. forces in WWII were Italian- Americans. The chapter visits the irony of American soldiers of Italian heritage, fighting in the country their parents migrated from. Santo DiSalvo, Distinguished Service Cross Recipient, tell us how he earned the medal.
Some of the highest casualties of Americans came from the air war during WWII. John Katsaros is a waist gunner in his B-17 "Man o War" when they are shot down over France. Escape, evade, fight, are the three words John must live by in Nazi occupied France. He eventually is able escape into Spain.
Doctor, pilot, treasure hunter, Marine, author; these are just some of the titles Roy goes by. Roy gives first hand accounts of the landings on Tarawa, Saipan, and Tinian Island with the Second Marine Division. His amazing life after the war helps him cope with the amount of carnage he witnessed.
Considered a foreign enemy, Japanese Americans were not allowed to enlist into the U.S. Military during WWII. Lawson was devastated he could not serve his country. However, Japanese-Americans would band together, sticking up for themselves to allow citizens like Lawson to prove themselves in combat. He goes on to fight in one of the most highly decorated regiments of all time, comprised of all men just like him. [Lawson served with E Company, 442nd RCT, NOT "L" Company as listed in a publishing error in the first edition of the book.]
History always remembers the paratroopers who jumped into Normandy and Operation Market Garden. Very seldom do we hear about those who jumped into Germany. Bob from the 17th Airborne Division, takes on the mission known as Operation Varsity. The jump over the Rhine to invade the fatherland was not easy.
Surprisingly the rifle brings us back to the 87th Infantry Division, this time with Rodney. Rodney describes the small village of Moircy during the Battle of the Bulge. The nineteen year-old private becomes a seasoned combat veteran,receiving wounds, leading men, and protecting civilians.
The last Marine Medal of Honor Recipient of the Second World War vividly describes the life of a flame thrower. With the shelf life of only seventy-two seconds the flame thrower is a key weapon to win the Battle of Iwo Jima. Hershel Williams will have the Congressional Medal of Honor draped over his neck by President Harry Truman for his actions on the volcanic island.
Not every soldier came home in one piece after the war. Albert from the 3rd Infantry Division, had his left leg blown off outside of Monet Casino, Italy. He returns seventy -five years later to the scene of his injuries. Al never knew the name of his squad leader who was killed that day. The rifle solves the mystery and closes a chapter in Al's life.
The journey comes full circle when the author meets men who served with his great-uncle before he was killed in action. Years of unknown questions are answered. The grueling battle for the Gothic Line is described in great detail. The reader learns that not all war stories are glorious. Stories of mutiny, retreat, and defeat are told to us by Ed Hess of the 34th Infantry Division.