House to House: An Epic Memoir of War

Article excerpt

House to House: An Epic Memoir of War. SSgt. David Bellavia with John R. Bruning. Free Press. 321 pages; black and white photographs and diagrams; $26.

"Welcome to the infantry" is how SSgt. David BeUavia begins his memoir House to House: An Epic Memoir of War. "This is our day, our job. It sucks, and we hate it, but we endure for two reasons. First, there is nobility and purpose in our Uves. We are America's warrior class. We protect; we avenge. second, every moment in the infantry is a test. If we measure up to the worst days, such as this one, it proves we stand a breed apart from all other men."

House to House centers on the Battle of Fallujah, which took place in Iraq in the fall of 2004, and SSgt. Bellavia gives a realistic and sometimes gutwrenching account of combat through the eyes of combat infantrymenAmerica's warrior class-whose mission it is to find the enemy and kiU or capture them.

House to House is about infantry combat in Iraq, but discounting the references to 21st-century weapons and technology, this story could be about men fighting at Yorktown, Gettysburg or Normandy. If he replaced the M4s with MIs or M16s, Bellavia could be describing infantrymen fighting in the mountains of Korea or the jungles of Vietnam.

The life (and death) of an infantryman has changed very little over the years. Infantrymen are the first ones in and the last ones out. They are carrying the biggest load on their backs and are armed to the teeth. They are wet, too cold or too hot because they have little or no protection from the weather. They are always tired, hungry and filthy. You may think you know what it's like to be tired, hungry and filthy, but if you're not a combat infantryman or a member of a special operations team, you don't have a clue. …