Here you will ride with “Buck” as he flies his plane through a field of fire so intense that one shell blows a hole in the plane big enough for a man to go through and uncountable bullet holes perforated the plane. All aircraft controls are shot out except elevator and ailerons. You will ride with him as he manages to complete his mission and bring his barely flying plane back to England. And you will ride with him through hundreds more such harrowing trips, in his C-47 with no armor plate and no guns, into other fields of fire and often impossible weather.
W. L. George Collins was a pilot in the same Troop Carrier Group as “Buck.” His writings have been published in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. He was awarded the George Washington Honor Medal by Freedom’s Foundation at Valley Forge, among other writing awards.
The eighty-four men and women who tell their stories exemplify these words. From the home front to the battlefront and from behind the lines, their words speak of loss, pain, fear, loneliness, selflessness, faith and hope. As one veteran said, “World War II caused me to understand that I served my country for a purpose greater than myself.”
Many of these soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines served in nearly every major battle in Europe and the Pacific including: Pearl Harbor, the invasion of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Their sacrifice for our country is a debt which cannot be repaid. They represent the best of “The Greatest Generation.”
"This book is a fitting tribute to those Hoosiers who gave their all for the cause of freedom during World War II. The personal stories of those who served offer a window into a time that should be remembered."
-Ray Boomhower, Indiana historian and author
“Hodgin and Hardwick have produced an interesting and informative compendium of World War II stories of veterans that should instill a sense of pride in students and adults of all ages. The book has a readable style of a period in our history that we would do well not to forget.”
John Shively, M.D., Author and WW II historian
“A must read for both historians and those desiring to learn more about one of the most decisive periods in our nation’s history. The authors have not only captured the veterans’ stories but also the sights and sounds of what many were thinking when facing death, hardships and struggling to survive.”
J. Stewart Goodwin, Brig. Gen., USAF (Ret), Executive Director, Indiana War Memorials
“This book is an absorbing collection of stories from the men and women of the “Greatest Generation.” Their stories illustrate some of the pain and incredible atrocities they witnessed, and at the same time, the friendships and joys they experienced. A must read for every person who wants to know what it was really like during WW II.”
Charles “Tom” Applegate, Director, Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs
Through Drez's gripping narrative style, we meet twelve men, all ordinary soldiers, and learn what the war was like through their eyes, experiencing their own 'twenty-five yards of war.' The men in these pages represent all branches of the military who were sent on impossible missions, where they witnessed triumphs and tragedies. As a result of Drez's ten years of research and over 1,400 interviews, Twenty-Five Yards of War is a tribute to all of the soldiers who fought in World War II--those who walked away with amazing stories to tell, and those who did not make it home.
This exciting book acknowledges that the merchant marines, all volunteers, are among the unsung heroes of the war. One of these was Jac Smith, an ordinary seamen on the Cedar Creek, a new civilian tanker lend-leased to the U.S.S.R. and in the merchantman convoy running from Scotland to Murmansk. Smith's riveting adventures at sea and in the frozen taigas and tundra are a story of valor that underlines the essential role of merchant marines in the war against the Axis powers.
This gripping narrative tells of a cruel blow that fate dealt Smith when, after volunteering to serve on the tanker headed for Murmansk, he was arrested and interned in a Soviet work camp near Arkhangelsk.
Escape from Archangel recounts how this American happened to be imprisoned in an Allied country and how he planned and managed his escape. In his arduous 900-mile trek to freedom, he encountered the remarkable Laplanders of the far north and brave Norwegian resistance fighters. While telling this astonishing story of Jac Smith and of the awesome dangers merchant seamen endured while keeping commerce alive on the seascape of war, Escape from Archangel brings long-deserved attention to the role of the merchant marine and their sacrifices during wartime.