On Time, on Target: The World War II Memoir of a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne

On Time, on Target: The World War II Memoir of a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne

On Time, on Target: The World War II Memoir of a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne

On Time, on Target: The World War II Memoir of a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne

Synopsis

As a teenager, John McKenzie joined the 82nd Airborne Division shortly before the invasion of Normandy in the summer of 1944. This memoir recalls his wartime experiences and his role in the liberation of France and Holland.

Excerpt

The viewpoints expressed in this book are those of an enlisted soldier, not a commissioned officer or a general. I was a "grunt," one of those on the sharp edge of war who actually carried out orders and did the fighting. I define "grunts" as those soldiers below the rank of major whose main goal was to carry out the strategies and tactics designed by those above them to defeat the enemy. The army did its best not to enlist mental incompetents or psychopaths. By eliminating those groups, the range of intellectual ability of those who served in the army varied as widely as it could within the general U.S. population. Ours was a citizen's war and, with reasonable exceptions, most of those who were physically and mentally able to fight were called upon to serve. During World War II more than 16,300,000 men and women served in the U.S. armed forces. Of those, 1,078,162 (6.6 percent) became casualties, of which 407,316 (2.5 percent) died. Casualty rates in combat units like the 82d Airborne Division, in which I served, were much higher. When I returned to the states I set out to obtain a good education--financially aided by the GI Bill--a fine wife and family, and a good and satisfying life. I was one of many who marched into the maw of war and escaped. Many others did not.

Throughout my forty-year business career I enjoyed studying history. After my retirement at age sixty-six in 1990 1 decided to do the concentrated study and research necessary to write historical works. My first book, Uncertain Glory: Lee's Generalship Re-Examined, was published in 1996. This book, my war memoir, is quite different. It is written from two perspectives: that of one who actually experienced the violent combat described and that of a historian.

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