Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book review by Thomas Leo, graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

An associate of mine reads and publishes reviews of military literature. Mr. Leo took quite a bit of time to write this review and I'm extremely thankful for his support. God Bless you Sir!


Review of “Service and Sacrifice”,
Memories of Operation Iraqi Freedom;
Along with a Veterans Mental Health and Resource Guide,
by Lt. Samuel J. Console. Published by Xlibris Corp.

Ever been in combat?

Ever been shot at?

Ever wonder if your next step on a road would be your last?

Ever go through a door wondering if someone was waiting on the other side to kill you?

Ever live ‘always on the edge’, with one ear listening for ‘incoming’?

Well, this is what faced the author’s and his men from the PA National Guard, what went through their minds as they performed their mission, - the most dangerous in the Iraq war - of clearing Iraqi buildings and roads for combat units in Iraq. They were a Line Company designated to support other troops engaged on the battlefield, a company whose mission in combat would be to clear the way for forward movement of infantry, armor, and logistics patrols.
Route clearance follows the army combat engineering tradition of “clearing the way”.
The authors’ unit was also tasked with helping to provide and plan for security for the elections in 2005, knowing that the enemy - erhabe - would attempt to sabotage the process; he and his troops were successful and he covers this series of events in the narrative.

The author tells a complex story in an eminently readable way from the time he was an enlisted “grunt”, to his transition to the ranks of officers, a true ‘mustang’ – and arguably a better officer because of the prior experience since he was familiar with the GI’s way of life, ‘spoke their language’ and had their respect.  The book, almost a two year autobiography, is filled with photographs and there is a map at the front showing the various places referred to in the text, as well as a glossary of military terms/abbreviations.

The most deadly threat the men faced was the IED – the Improvised Explosive Device – then there were the VBIEDs – the Vehicle Borne IEDs, and the SVIED or Suicide VBIEDs, and the EFP or Explosive Formed Projectile.    

According to the author, and others who have been there, “Life can never be as it was before combat’; a lot of troops from all wars have suffered from
PTS – Post Traumatic Stress – it used to be called ‘battle rattle’ – many had it and were improperly diagnosed, much to their detriment.
The author has been diagnosed with PTSD, refers to it toward the end of the book and includes some helpful advice on what to do – get a copy of your medical file -  starting when deployment orders are received and continuing on to list agencies where someone in need can get help.

The book is highly recommended, it is a very good read, an excellent tale of a leader involved with his troops.

The reviewer, Thomas W. Leo, CPP, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

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