Beyond Valor: World War II’s Ranger and Airborne Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat

Reviews of Beyond Valor: World War II’s Ranger and Airborne Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat. Beyond Valor: World War II's Ranger and Airborne Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat (9780684873848): Patrick K. O'Donnell: Books. Buy online at Aviation Bookstore.

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Previous books have promised to describe the combat experience of the World War II GI, but there has never been a book like Patrick O'Donnell's "Beyond Valor." Here is the first combat history of the war in Europe in the words of the men themselves, and perhaps the most honest and brutal account of combat possible on the printed page. For more than fifty years the individual stories that make up this narrative — shockingly frank reflections of sacrifice and courage — have been bottled up, buried, or circulated privately. Now, nearing the ends of their lives, our WWII soldiers have at last unburdened themselves. "Beyond Valor" recaptures their hidden history. A pioneering oral historian, Patrick O'Donnell used his award-winning website, The Drop Zone, to solicit oral- and "e-histories" from individual soldiers. Gradually, working from within the community, O'Donnell convinced some of the war's most battle-hardened soldiers to tell their stories. The result is WWII seen through the eyes of the men who saw the most intense of its action. O'Donnell focuses on the elite units of the war — the Rangers, Airborne, and 1st Special Service Force — troops that spearheaded the most dangerous operations and often made the difference between victory and defeat. From more than 650 interviews O'Donnell has chosen oral- and e-histories that form a seamless story line, a pointillistic history of the war in Europe from the first parachute drops in North Africa through the final battles in Germany and the long trip home. It is the story of the war not discussed in polite company. O'Donnell presents the wreckage of entire battalions nearly annihilated, invisible personal scars, and hauntingrevelations of wartime atrocities. But more important are the men who recount lives risked without hesitation for comrades and cause, and those who did not return: the friends who died in their arms. Their stories remind all of us that victory came only at the highest price. Remembering the infamous cliffs at Pointe-du-Hoc, bloody Omaha Beach, the bitter fighting at the Battle of the Bulge, and Hill 400 in the Hurtgen Forest, the soldiers reveal war as seen, heard, and smelled by the GIs on the front line. Also included is the unique story of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, and the trailblazing African-American "Experimental" Test Platoon that had to fight its own battle behind the lines. "Beyond Valor" captures the truths that exist among soldiers. It is one of the most inspiring accounts of the war ever produced.

Italian Navy & Air Force Elite Units & Special Forces 1940–45

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This volume assesses the formidable special forces fielded by Italy's navy and air force in World War II, both before and after Italy's surrender in September 1943. The Italian Navy special forces were particularly active and respected in the Mediterranean, where 10th Motor-Torpedo Boat Flotilla (Xa MAS) used frogmen, 'two-man torpedoes' and explosive ram-boats; Italian midget submarines were also deployed against the Soviet Navy in the Black Sea. After September 1943 the Germans allowed the expansion of Count Borghese's Xa MAS, which continued fighting on their side at sea and on land, most notoriously in anti-partisan operations. The marines of the 'San Marco' Regiment fought hard in North Africa, earning the respect of their opponents and the German general Hans-Jürgen von Arnim, who described them as the best soldiers he had ever commanded; they also gave birth to a paratroop-frogman section.

The Italian Air Force formed a special commando unit, ADRA (Arditi Distruttori Regia Aeronautica), before the 1943 surrender; it was tasked with attacking Allied airfields and communications in North Africa alongside the 'Loretto' Battalion, which was made up of ground crew trained to operate captured enemy airfields. Men from ADRA and diehard Army paratroopers formed the new 'Folgore' Regiment, which also continued to fight alongside German forces until 1945.
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