Inspiring story of the Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion, Company D (“Dog Company”), from battle historian O'Donnell (Give Me Tomorrow: The Korean War's Greatest Untold Story—The Epic Stand of the Marines of George Company, 2010, etc.).
The 200-plus volunteers who made up the initial complement of Dog Company assembled at Fort Meade in March 1943. The author has worked with veterans of the unit—e.g., the late Len Lomell and other “great Ranger friends”—to trace survivors and organize their stories and memories into the Drop Zone Oral History Project, which provides one of the sources for this book. The soldiers were trained to assault and capture high points from the sea, and the cliffs and heavy gun emplacements at Pointe du Hoc were their target from the beginning. The assignment was considered to be “a suicide mission,” and top officials “projected casualties would top 70 percent.” O'Donnell engagingly describes how a dedicated team was built out of the specialist training it received, but he is at his best presenting the fortunes and shocks of battle as the months of planning and training were blown away in a series of mischances that also fortuitously safeguarded the unit from delayed pre-invasion bombing runs. The author also highlights the courage of Ranger Lt. Bob Edlin and his three companions, who organized “the unbelievably audacious bluff” that secured the surrender of the German garrison of the Lochrist Gun Battery at Brest in August 1944.
A worthy tribute honoring each member of a small group of volunteers who responded to the call of duty.