In the bestselling tradition of FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, a memoir of WWII from a West Point graduate who saw it all. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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June 10, 2003
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Excerpt from Honor Untarnished by General Donald V. Bennett
Childhood and Early Years
I was born on May 9, 1915, in the small town of Lakeside, Ohio, located a dozen miles or so outside of Toledo. Lakeside was like a thousand other towns of the Midwest in those years, one foot still firmly planted in the nineteenth century, the other foot just beginning to edge into the twentieth.
When I was about a year old, we moved to Genoa, and then several years later to Oak Harbor.
Where I grew up had only one church, Methodist, which my family went to every Sunday. The local school had three hundred or so students, from kindergarten to twelfth grade all in one building. They were just starting to pave the streets, news came via the paper from Toledo or telegraph, and my father's job was supervising the stringing of electrical lines and the powering of the trolley that connected us to the rest of the world.
As I write this now, eighty-six years later, it seems that I was born into a far different world, and I am stunned by how quickly it changed and the role I played in creating some of that change.
When I was a boy, veterans of the Civil War were a common sight. That war was only fifty years past. The men in blue uniforms, who seemed so ancient to me then, were younger than I am now. Bull Run, Gettysburg, Shiloh, Appomattox were not just names in history books, they were memories still alive in the hearts of millions of Americans. On Decoration Day tears still flowed when flowers were laid upon graves of comrades who died in such distant places as Virginia and Georgia.
When I graduated from West Point and went to my first posting at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I was trained in how to lead a team of horses pulling an artillery piece, riding one of the trace horses, learning the lesson all old artillerymen knew, to keep your right foot high and out of the stirrup, otherwise it might be crushed by the guide pole.
Only four years after learning that lesson I was in command of a mechanized battalion of armored artillery at Omaha Beach. That one battalion had more firepower than all the artillery pieces fired at Gettysburg. Only five years after Omaha, I witnessed the detonation of an atomic bomb in Nevada. And but ten years after that, I personally was responsible for hundreds of such weapons deployed in Germany. That is how quickly my world, our world, changed.
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