“Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory! I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!” – General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s message to troops just prior to the D-Day invasion
The Invasion of Normandy was a three-month long operation that began on D-Day. It involved over 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops making up part of the Allied Axis. It was perhaps the largest amphibious assault up to that point and remains so today. It was a combination of amphibious, airborne, and untested special forces troops.
Those untested special forces troops were known as the Rangers. They were elite, well-trained Soldiers capable of a wide variety of unconventional military operations. They were pathfinders, serving as the leading edge of probing assaults. They were scouts, warning conventional forces often from behind enemy lines. While Rangers existed during the Revolutionary War and even earlier under British command, today’s Rangers are largely based on tactics learned and designed during World War II.
To become a Ranger, a Soldier has to first past an initial assessment. Then, they are subjected to several phases of difficult training that takes them to the very brink of their ability to survive. The first phase is used to weed out the weak quickly to ensure that those surviving could even hope to meet the challenges of the next phases: the Mountain Phase in Georgia, the Florida phase, and the Desert phase, which takes place in several states in the southwest United States.
In Patrick O’Donnell’s new book, Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc–the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day’s Toughest Mission and Led the Way across Europe
, the Rangers’ story takes center stage in the successful D-Day operation.
It’s a compelling read into the rigorous and sometimes torturous lives of the Rangers during World War II. It’s a book telling a story that has been lost to most Americans outside the elite circle of the line of men that continue to adorn their uniforms with that hard-earned Ranger tab.
O’Donnell fills the book with first-person story telling that adds credibility and a sense of humanity to actions that took place 70 years ago. His uncensored narrative of the oftime inhuman nature of combat will grip readers with a wide range of emotions. They will feel the relief of survival after a protracted battle. They will weep with the loss of comrades. And they will seethe with anger at the desparate measures taken by both German and American forces to gain the upper hand. Readers will find themselves peeking over the edges of each page to confirm they aren’t, in fact, sitting in a bomb crater at the base of Hill 400 because of how well O’Donnell grabs the reader by the collar and drags him into each engagement.
Dog Company is a story you can’t forget. Of the more than (insert number) only sixty-eight soldiers of the U.S. Army’s D Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion, made it home. O’Donnell isn’t just transcribing the words of these veterans, he understands what they mean. As a combat veteran himself, O’Donnell masterfully crafts these experiences that only a Soldier who’s been in combat can understand into something the layreader can understand and relate to in the simplest terms possible. This doesn’t mean that, in any way, the book is dumbed down to achieve that goal.
If you’re a fan of military history, you can’t neglect having this book on your shelf. You can’t read about the beginning of the end for Hitler’s goal of world dominance without reading about the “Boys of Point Du Hoc.”