Richard E. Killblane is a native of Oklahoma who enlisted in the US Army in 1973 serving as an intelligence analyst for 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) on Okinawa and was cross-trained onto an A-Team as a demolitions man. He then graduated from the US Military Academy in 1979 and served 11 years as an officer in the Infantry and Special Forces. He is a veteran of Cold War Europe, Central American Counter-insurgency Operations and Operation Just Cause (Panama). He earned his Masters of Arts in History from the University of San Diego in 1992 has been the US Army Transportation Corps Historian since 2000. He has traveled to Southwest Asia five times recording the history of transportation operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and to Haiti during Operation Unified Response. Richard is a "dirty boots" historian who writes with an understanding of military operations gained from personal experience having worked at all levels of the military. He has published numerous articles and books on military history and is considered an authority on convoy security.
is one of the genuine crazies in the 101st Airborne's family tree. I met him at the Toccoa, GA, reunion of the 506th PIR after I came back from Iraq and he was happy to sign my copy. Yes, the writing is crude, yes, Jake loves to tell a good story, but if you want a dry day by day account of the 506th's doings, sit down with Rendezvous with Destiny instead. One, Bob Sink wasn't quite as stuck-up as Dale Dye played him, and second, why do you think Jake never got promoted and spent half his time at Toccoa in the stockade? There's a reason the pic of the old stockade there at the camp is captioned "Jake McNiece's command post" in the county historical society literature, his antics have been a running joke in Division circles since 1943.
I think it was the pics of the Mohawked, face-painted guys with the Thompsons when I was a real little kid that got me started on all this in the first place. Now I know the story behind it all, and I'm glad I met a genuine hero of an earlier time.
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Being a big fan of the movie The Dirty Dozen, and a WWII buff to boot, I could not wait to read this book. It took me just three days to finish it because once you begin, you cannot put it down. Jake McNiece, the leading member of the Filthy 13, tells the tale in a folksy, homespun way, but does not pull any punches about his antics, behavior, or just what a bad dude he was in his early 20s. This guy drank, stole, assulted, and offended his way through early life. He was just plain mean--with a kind streak that shows up from time to time. And hilarious. His sense of humor will have your belly-laughing out loud. The early chapters about training, etc. are great because you meet all the other characters in the book--and there are lots of them to meet. The end notes are great because they expound further on the men and their fate. The book really picks up when the guys cut their hair, paint their faces, and load up for the trip to Normandy. Prepare to not eat for hours at a stretch because you can't put the damn book down. The details of war are horrific, and McNiece pulls no punches. He talks about men jumping from plains and being sucked into propellers, guys getting their heads blown off, and just what it was like to kill the enemy up close and personal. I hope the statute of limitations for murder has passed, because he tells in gruesome detail how he and another guy killed wounded Germans. Sure it was war, and of course they did it to us, but all the same, it is disturbing. Jake's handling of his relationship with the men is wonderfully told. He saved many lives and lost lots of friends. What I especially enjoyed was that the other author who helped McNiece pen the book interviewed lots of 101st Airborne guys, and they confirmed and expounded on Jake's stories.Read more ›
This book is somewhat diffent from other memoires. But the great power of this book is the individual story.
I guess that for people who do not know european culture, geopraphy and history this will be a strange book. But I can follow the whereabouts off these men every step he writes them out. To (older)people in Holland these men were angels from the sky and after that heroes and normal men.
Best Parts in the book.
-Jump in Normandy. The psychological lonelyness that he discribes, the chaotic anarchy, determination, succes of failure, brillant. (unbelievable, never read it so honest, disobbeying orders and so forth)
-Holland, operation market garden Disaster. (also read the road to berlin, by Megallis)
-Best part, the enormous after-war vacüum.
-In general the human discription of man needs in the 'wild'. Shelter, good food, a drink and.....
Three drawbacks, the lightness which is used to talk about heavy dramatic scenes is 'strange'(but still natural)
Futher a lot of detail is skipped. Last thing is that you never get feeling that death is all around, sometimes it feels like a walk over.
But the graves are still here.
OVERALL INIQUE DOCUMENT,
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Jake McNiece was the most cantankerous, insubordinate, incorrigible problem child in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR); perhaps the entire 101st Airborne Division. He refused to comply with any form of military protocol or discipline. He spent more time in the stockade then running up the legendary Currahee. He would rather punch an officer in the mouth than salute him. But as the subtitle to his oral history memoir suggests, he led the "most legendary squad of combat paratroopers" during the Second World War.
Historian Richard Killblane recognized McNiece's penchant for fantastic storytelling. He conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with McNiece, and other key paratroopers that compiled the infamous "Filthy Thirteen," a squad of outcasts from the demolition saboteur platoon of Regimental Headquarters, 506th PIR. Killblane handles all the obstacles encountered by an oral historian admirably: corroborating the veteran's testimonies with official reports, arbitrating conflicting stories, and taking into account the pit falls of memory. Copious notes attest to Killblane's efforts, but off-setting a good portion of them in the text would have eliminated the need for the reader to constantly have to refer to endnotes at the back of the book. Some of the notes are obviously misplaced, making no sense at all, and for this organizational blunder gets a four-star rating.
About a third of the way through the book, I had had enough of McNiece's shenanigans. McNiece ran amuck, and did as he pleased regardless of consequences. Barracks brawls ran into drunken fights with Military Police (MPs). Stolen jeeps overlapped with a stolen train.Read more ›