Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Unsung Valor: A GI's Story of World War II

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Unsung Valor: A GI's Story of World War II

Article excerpt

Unsung Valor: A GI's Story of World War 11. By A. Cleveland Harrison. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000. Pp. xxi, 355. Preface, introduction, illustrations, map, afterword. $28.00.)

More than 15,000,000 men and women from all over the U.S. wore their country's uniform during World War II. In keeping with the pandering hype typical of today's mass media, Tom Brokaw has called them "the greatest generation." In reality, the Americans who fought in World War II were mostly ordinary people caught up in extraordinary times. Many of them made extraordinary sacrifices, and they have been honored in a variety of ways, but history should be most grateful to the handful who produced memoirs that capture the novelty, monotony, frustration, anxiety, drama, and horror of their wartime experience. A. Cleveland Harrison belongs to that select class of veterans, and his memoir, Unsung Valor: A GI's Story of World War 11, should rank as a minor classic.

Born in 1924, Harrison grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. He became a budding pacifist at the age of ten after viewing the quintessential antiwar film, All Quiet on the Western Front. Harrison enrolled at Little Rock Junior College (now University of Arkansas at Little Rock) in the fall of 1942. When he received his draft notice in July 1943, he dutifully interrupted his studies, bade goodbye to his parents and girlfriend, and presented himself for induction into the U.S. Army.

Harrison entered the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), which was supposed to delay his exposure to combat by prolonging his training and to entitle him to a choice of assignments. Harrison's expectations were dashed when the build-up for the Allied invasion of France created an urgent need for combat troops. General George C. Marshall, the Army's chief of staff, responded to the crisis by ordering the transfer of 12,000 men from the ASTP to the infantry. …

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