A West Point graduate looks back on his training and experiences as a Green Beret.
What does it take to succeed as a member of the Army Special Forces? Author Wong (Yellow Green Beret Vol. II, 2012) found out when he attended West Point in the late 1990s and then set out to join the ultraelite Green Berets. After completing several years of arduous training, he achieved his goal and later earned two Bronze Stars for military service in places ranging from the Philippines to Iraq. In order to realize his aims, he had to meet challenges that included grueling physical education classes at West Point and navigating the U.S. Army bureaucracy. His book makes clear that the route to joining the Special Forces has no shortcuts and that dismissal from the program lurks around every corner, but the experience can bring unique rewards. Writing in a conversational tone, Wong describes the excitement of being an Asian-American in the military: “I stated who I was and that I was there to see Colonel King (cool name by the way—he’s a colonel, and he’s a king).” Although the breezy prose style at times works against a robust understanding of complex situations, the book offers a realistic look at a military institution romanticized by movies and other forms of popular culture. The author seems to have no agenda beyond the obvious: telling the story of a man who tried hard, failed many times but persevered even if the results didn’t always live up to expectations. The author and his comrades in arms spent years perfecting military tactics, at times only to face tedious PowerPoint presentations, indifferent authority figures and arbitrary rules instead of action. Peppered with information on the Iraq War and the U.S. involvement in the Philippines, this book leads an informative expedition into a much mythologized part of the military, headed by an author who’s never been afraid to fail.
Though the writing lacks polish, readers interested in elite military forces could hardly ask for a more honest rendering.