- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 24, 2005

WAR STORIES III: THE HEROES WHO DEFEATED HITLER

By Oliver North

Regnery, $29.95, 480 pages

REVIEWED BY LT. GEN. THOMAS G. MCINERNEY, USAF (RET.)

Oliver North has again hit another home run in his third book based on his highly acclaimed TV series on Fox News. This latest book focuses on the European Theater of Operations (ETO) covering the air, land and sea campaigns and the men and women who fought there. Mr. North continues to amaze me as he has reinvented himself from a hardened combat Marine to presidential national security advisor fighting the communists during the Cold War, to a radio talk show host and speaker and columnist, and finally his role as host of war stories.

There is also his courageous role as a war correspondent in Operation Iraqi Freedom. If anybody could write a book and get it right from the warrior’s viewpoint it is Oliver North. He has presented this part of World War II from the perspectives of not only the allies but also Germans and civilians on both sides. I find his way of presenting the facts and history of the war intermingled with those who fought or lived through this most horrific war in mankind’s history holds the reader’s interest intensely throughout.

As a boy, I well remember the newsreels we watched. This was the medium closest to the TV coverage of today. I am not so sure we could have sustained the will of the American people if they saw the horrific combat and causalities that our forces suffered, although Americans were made of different stuff in those days.

“War Stories III” points out the will of the American people was essential to the bravery of our men in combat. They never gave up despite heavy casualities and did not try to get out of fighting but did just the opposite. They knew it was their duty to serve which is why they are now called the greatest generation. We have much to learn from this generation as we fight the global war on terror.

“War Stories III” takes readers from the prewar days when Europe slept and Neville Chamblain appeased Hitler, lessons familiar to us today. England and Australia were our leading allies once America entered World War II after Pearl Harbor. September 11 replayed history in this century and we find America, Britain and Australia allies again. The League of Nations did nothing but expel Germany two months after the war started. Does this sound familiar?

The Battle of Britain showed the important role air power would play in this great war and as Churchill said “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed to so many by so few.” I had a flashback of my days as air attache in London when I met these brave fighter pilots in the presence of Lady Churchill at Westminster Abby. I will forever remember these annual observances and the warriors who defeated the Luftwaffe over the skies of England. Mr. North got it just right.

The ETO was designated the primary theater of operations even though Hitler did not attack us but the Combined Chiefs of Staff felt this should be the priority. The Republican Party in opposition did not oppose this decision politically or divide America. North Africa was selected to be the initial campaign to defeat Hitler despite Gen. Marshall wanting to do a cross channel invasion into France. Churchill convinced him that North Africa was the place to start. Our green America troops had no combat experience and we just were not prepared to do such a risky operation. Operation Torch as the United States’s first offensive operations into Europe was called gave the U.S. forces and leaders the requisite combat experience required for the cross channel operation that Gen. Marshall wanted.

The combat experience the U.S. forces and leaders got in North Africa, Sicily and Italy was essential to our success at Normandy. Mr. North articulates it very well. Lt. Gen. George Patton broke out as our best combat field commander and Gen. Eisenhower developed as a Supreme Commander. Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley, junior to Patton, later became his boss because of Patton’s impetuousness which was highlighted in the press. At the division and below level our commanders and troops became first-rate combat troops. The Casablanca conference promulgated air power doctrine for centralized control and decentralized execution that still is today’s doctrine, all critical lessons for the next phase.

June 6, 1944 and the Normandy Invasion will forever be part of U.S. and Allied history for bravery and courage. The fierce fighting and sheer tenacity the allied forces demonstrated hung in the balance for a few days aided by the skillful deception of Eisenhower and allied airpower dominance, which delayed Hitler’s reinforcements. The personal accounts by Mr. North’s warriors of this fighting are gripping and you cannot put the book down until you come to the chapter on the Battle of the Bulge. Again you are gripped with the intensity of the fighting and shear survival of U.S. forces and their personal accounts of this brutal battle against an enemy on his last gasp. Lessons to remember for the war on terrorism.

“War Stories III” is a great read and helpful for Americans to know why we fight against terrorism. The greatest generation should not be forgotten and Ollie North does them a great service in telling their story and its role in our freedoms today. I felt privileged to have know and flown with some of Mr. North’s heroes in my Air Force career. They have a story worth telling.

Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney USAF (Ret.) is a consultant and media analyst.

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