The orders to proceed were nothing more than an invitation to die, and usually in unpleasant ways.
But the soldiers proceeded nonetheless, because a higher cause was at stake.
This stunning collection of stories is a tribute to the courage, steely resolve, and discipline of men who accomplished daunting missions in the face of almost certain death. Nonetheless, they stepped into the breach and performed heroically.
That was their duty and they did not question. They had a mission and they accepted.
Here are ten powerful stories of American soldiers and sailors that span more than 200 years of action with one common theme, summed up succinctly a participant who took control of Omaha Beach on D-Day, 1944.
“We were doing the very thing that we had trained so long to do, and we were fascinated, and eagerly excited about it. We realized that any number of things might happen to us and knew too that some things we’d never dreamed of might very well be waiting for us on the beach.”’
From Marines taking Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi or defending Khe San, Navy pilots taking to the air to defend Pearl Harbor, or an outnumbered American regiment in Korea defeating the Chinese at the Battle of Chipyong-ni, courage was the common watchword, death the common consequence.
Such is the lot of soldiers everywhere.
Here is a not-so-gentle reminder of the price of freedom--paid by American men for more than 200 years of struggle, from the Revolutionary War, the Spanish-American War, Civil War, World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam.
Tom McCarthy is an award-winning editor and writer who lives in Guilford, Connecticut.