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on August 23, 2014
This is a story written by a WWII vet who started by just trying to organize his photos from his days as a soldier in WWII. As he wrote commentary he realized it was becoming a book and wound up publishing it. As such it is written unpretentiously and yet capturing what it would have been like for any of us to suddenly find ourselves in the chaos of war right after high school in WWII. Mr. Howell is a good story teller and in his simple style made me feel like I was in his shoes as I read it. These guys were just doing their jobs but they are true American heroes. I only wish he would have included some of the stories he left out.

Richard Parrott.
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on September 13, 2003
The Young Draftee by Monte Howell is an unusual and fascinating book. It is written from the standpoint of an 18 year old who goes off to war after being inducted into the Army immediately following graduation from high school. Trained as a combat engineer, he was selected for this specialty on the basis of his mechanical drawing and machine shop high school courses. He served his entire combat tour with the 114th Combat Engineers attached to the 32nd Inf Div and saw action in New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon. His unit was also part of the occupation force on Kyushu after the war.
The basis for the narrative was an effort to produce an explanatory record for the hundred wartime photographs that Howell took during his tour and which he later rediscovered. In the book only forty-six are utilized with the addition of four more showing post-wartime activities. The quality of the photos (in the copy of the book I had) is generally good, but the printed captions, although readable, are too light. Errors of punctuation, spelling, and grammar are found in many places, but do not really detract from an understanding of the content.
The description of combat engagements from a private's standpoint is absolutely classic. Using a wry humor ("...the biggest change from basic training is they are shooting back at us...That sure takes the fun out of it." p. 33) and descriptions of assorted non-combat incidents, he gives an outstanding picture, which though personal seems clearly to represent the attitudes and behaviors of men who served in that era. The book also provides an enchanting picture of the information gap in the lower ranks. "They loaded all of us on LSTs and set sail for some place" (p. 60) is the description given for his unit's move from Leyte to Luzon.
Throughout the book Howell intersperses descriptions of campaigns, casualty figures, and provides absolutely fascinating details of the way some weapons were utilized such as the Japanese knee mortars, and 60 mm trigger fired mortars mounted on machine gun tripods and fired pointblank at enemy positions. His dislike of Gen. Douglas MacArthur is apparent at several points, and probably mirrors the feelings of many men who served in the South Pacific Theatre during WWII.
In the last chapter Howell gives a brief description of his post-war activities. While these are interesting, his comments about societal attitudes are probably more significant. The policy he adopted after the war of looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past, his concerns for the present day blatant criticism of our government and for the attitude of "let someone else do it" (p. 134) all strike a resonant cord.
Overall, this is a marvelously interesting and descriptive book. It provides information from a unique standpoint of a little known and inadequately discussed segment of WWII. I would recommend it highly as a picture of the war in the South Pacific from a private's viewpoint, and as a source for information on the Leyte and Luzon campaigns.
Albert E. Breland, Jr. M.D.
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on September 29, 2006
There are many stories about WWII written by generals and officers and all sorts of professional soldiers and writers. That is why it is always refreshing to read a book from one of those "Buck Privates" who got drafted and fought the war the hard way--without any special treatment or privileges accorded officers or those of higher rank. This book grew from what started off as just a discovery of an old box of some 100 yellowing and aging photos of his war experience. Author Monte Howell decided to label them so he could share them with his grandchildren. That small task ended up becoming a full scale effort to record his personal story from the time of the draft onward. In his humble memoir "The Young Draftee" he takes us along as he recalls his life journey.

There is just something very special about his story and the photos that accompany it. His fighting experiences in the Pacific and the eventual occupation of Japan are rich in history. These stories told from his personal experiences and view point makes it rich and interesting. Howell takes the reader along through the islands and the battles and we see the war as it must have looked for this 18 year old man--but being told through the wisdom and body of a now 77 year old man.

I found that the last part of the book was just as interesting as the war stories because it shows more of the personality of the author. We find out that he was and is a body builder and judging by the photos, we can see why he so competitive. He and his wife also dance and sail boats all competitively; and successfully! I enjoyed his book and found it educational as well being very entertaining. You can read it in one sitting (less than 150 pages) and there are many good old black and white photos of interest. Recommended reading for those seeking a more personalized look at WWII.
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on August 23, 2002
Title: The Young Draftee
Author: Monte Howell
Publisher: iuniverse
...
Reviewed by: Norman Goldman (Rebecca Reads)
There have been many books written about World War II, however, few describe the frightful experiences of the inexperienced teenage combatants.
The Young Draftee is an intimate accounting of what it was like to be a teenage draftee just out of high school and sent to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese.
Induced by the discovery of a box of approximately one hundred old faded wartime photographs, author Monte Howell decided to put down on paper his person experiences of the horrors of war. However, as he states, the war he encountered was "beyond being called a brutal, savage war or some other words which can explain what these men went through. The terrain, climate and disease those men had to fight besides the enemy was unbearable. The war in the South Pacific was a war without mercy."
The unknown was always the frightening component of the war. From basic training to the actual deployment in the theatre of action, we are apprised of the awful fear that was always prevalent. Never knowing where you would be stationed. What to expect once you arrived at your destination? Who would die and would survive? These queries were always foremost in the minds of the soldier.
Howell does not hold back in his disdain for General Douglas McArthur whom he described as old, vain, egotistical and who had an inflated ego. In fact he even recounts an incident where McArthur and his staff delayed the evacuation of some seriously wounded men in order that the General could have his picture taken while performing an inspection at the front lines. Unfortunately with this four-hour delay, two of the wounded men had died lying in the hot sun. The author goes on to say the McArthur had made some very bad decisions that caused the death of many Americans, however, he never shared the blame for these tragedies. This is the kind of a story that is omitted from our history books and it is only when we read first persons accounts of the war can we truly appreciate the suffering of the soldiers.
For many of us who are unfamiliar with the war in Japan, this book will serve as an excellent introduction, devoid of the dry scholarly texts that perhaps we read as students in high school or college. The author's penetrating personal perceptions of the war only confirm to us that war is about people and we never seem to learn that no one wins.
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on December 7, 2002
The Young Draftee is the autobiographical story of Monte Howell, an inexperienced young adult, who at age 18 was thrust into the horrors of World War II in the South Pacific. Howell faithfully and candidly relates what life on the frontline was like in the Pacific Theatre with its ruthless and deadly battles, unbearable climate, treacherous terrain, and exotic diseases, as well as the terrible blood toll which surround his life and the lives of his fellow combatants in a vividly told, gripping narrative. Howell also covers the end of the war in terms of his army discharge and what it is like looking back down the years at those earlier times. Enhanced with his own charts, maps and photographs, Monte Howell's The Young Draftee is an invaluable, eye-witness account and a welcome, much appreciated contribution to the growing library of World War II memoirs and autobiographies from a generation swiftly passing from amongst us.
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on August 20, 2002
The unknown was always the frightening component of the war. From basic training to the actual deployment in the theater of action, the reader is apprised of the awful fear that was always prevalent. Never knowing where you were or what to expect once you arrived at your next destination. Who would die and who would survive. These questions were always in the minds of young soldiers. This is the kind of a story that is omitted from our history books, and it is only when we read first person accounts that we can truly appreciate the suffering of soldiers at war. The Young Draftee will serve as an excellent introduction, devoid of the dry scholarly texts that perhaps we read as students in High School or College.
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on September 10, 2003
The following is a review of Monte Howell's book "The Young Draftee", The review is scheduled for release in the winter 03-04 edition of "ON Point", a publication of the Armyhistory Historian.
The Young Draftee by Monte Howell is an unusual and fascinating book. It is written from the standpoint of an 18 year old who goes off to war after being inducted into the Army immediately following graduation from high school. Trained as a combat engineer, he was selected for this specialty on the basis of his mechanical drawing and machine shop high school courses. He served his entire combat tour with the 114th Combat Engineers attached to the 32nd Inf Div and saw action in New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon. His unit was also part of the occupation force on Kyushu after the war.
The basis for the narrative was an effort to produce an explanatory record for the hundred wartime photographs that Howell took during his tour and which he later rediscovered. In the book only forty-six are utilized with the addition of four more showing post-wartime activities. The quality of the photos (in the copy of the book I had) is generally good, but the printed captions, although readable, are too light. Errors of punctuation, spelling, and grammar are found in many places, but do not really detract from an understanding of the content.
The description of combat engagements from a private's standpoint is absolutely classic. Using a wry humor ("...the biggest change from basic training is they are shooting back at us...That sure takes the fun out of it." p. 33) and descriptions of assorted non-combat incidents, he gives an outstanding picture, which though personal seems clearly to represent the attitudes and behaviors of men who served in that era. The book also provides an enchanting picture of the information gap in the lower ranks. "They loaded all of us on LSTs and set sail for some place" (p. 60) is the description given for his unit's move from Leyte to Luzon.
Throughout the book Howell intersperses descriptions of campaigns, casualty figures, and provides absolutely fascinating details of the way some weapons were utilized such as the Japanese knee mortars, and 60 mm trigger fired mortars mounted on machine gun tripods and fired pointblank at enemy positions. His dislike of Gen. Douglas MacArthur is apparent at several points, and probably mirrors the feelings of many men who served in the South Pacific Theatre during WWII.
In the last chapter Howell gives a brief description of his post-war activities. While these are interesting, his comments about societal attitudes are probably more significant. The policy he adopted after the war of looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past, his concerns for the present day blatant criticism of our government and for the attitude of "let someone else do it" (p. 134) all strike a resonant cord.
Overall, this is a marvelously interesting and descriptive book. It provides information from a unique standpoint of a little known and inadequately discussed segment of WWII. I would recommend it highly as a picture of the war in the South Pacific from a private's viewpoint, and as a source for information on the Leyte and Luzon campaigns.
Albert E. Breland, Jr. M.D.
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