“Searing . . . An inspiring story.”—Publishers Weekly
“This is the . . . powerfully told story of an exceptionally determined human being.”—Booklist
On September 21, 1962, U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Donald N. Hamblen’s life changed forever . . .
During a routine parachute jump, strong winds drove Hamblen into high tension wires at the outskirts of Camp Pendleton, California. Doctors were astounded that he had survived, but five days later his leg had to be amputated five inches below the knee.
For most people, this would be the end of the story. Hamblen could have retired on medical pension, but for him, leaving the Marines was not an option. He fought to remain in the Marines, passed all of the arduous physical tests, and within eleven months was going to the field, parachuting, and scuba diving with First Force Recon Company.
With more than two years in the super-secret Studies and Observation Group (SOG), he is one of the few Americans who can document having fought repeatedly in North Vietnam, and by his extraordinary example, he served as an inspiration to other badly wounded soldiers. This is his incredible story of courage, spirit, and self determination.
“I have been associated with countless service personnel during my lifetime and Sergeant Hamblen tops the list of selfless, dedicated, all-American tough Marines. Words are inadequate to portray his life as fully as he has lived it, but his biography will serve as an inspiration and be a worthy model to be emulated by all who would aspire to be among the few good men—the Marines. As one of the ‘Godfathers’ of the Marine Corps deep reconnaissance, it has been a privilege to have known and served with Woody Hamblen. Semper Fidelis.“—Herman Nickerson, Jr. Lt. Gen. USMC (Ret.)
Major Bruce H. “Doc” Norton, USMC (Ret.) has been a combat veteran, a career Marine Infantry Officer, a military museum director, an adjunct military history professor, and is an award-winning author of numerous books on and about the United States Marines. Doc has a son, Bruce H. Norton II, and a daughter, Elizabeth A. Norton, who reside in Charleston, South Carolina.
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"Searing . . . An inspiring story." Publishers Weekly.
On September 21, 1962, U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Donald N. Hamblen's life changed forever. During a routine parachute jump, Hamblen suffered injuries that cost him his leg. With most people, this would be the end of the story. But for this tough marine, it was only the beginning. An amazing story of courage, spirit, and self-determination . . . of a marine who fought the toughest battle of all -- and won.
Stand-up, anecdotal, typical reminiscences of one of the Corps' all-time tough guys. Putting his career in historical perspective, and writing with fellow retired Marine Norton, Hamblen--a career Marine enlisted man--relates his adventures during and after the Korean War and in Vietnam. As a Maine farm boy, the author knew rough living, so it wasn't surprising that he was more prepared for the hellish experience of boot camp than were many of his peers. As a PFC, Hamblen was sent to Korea as a replacement. The conflict had stagnated into trench warfare, but the author made his mark as a sniper and in other ways. His memoirs of Korea are detailed, and, here, he gives what's arguably the most underpublicized war in American history some varnish. Several years later, looking for new challenges, Hamblen joined the elite force recon--the Marine Corps equivalent of the SEALs and the Green Berets--but, in 1962, he parachuted on to some high-tension power lines and lost his left leg. How Hamblen responded to this accident makes his book's title crystal clear: Recovering, he not only remained in the service but was among four Marines who were accepted into SOG (the supersecret Vietnam War Studies and Observation Group). SOG teams typically operated behind enemy lines all over Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, even China), kidnapping NVA officers, conducting sabotage raids, and gathering intelligence. Unfortunately, this portion of the author's memoir cries out for far greater detail: Hamblen glosses over Vietnam in 60 pages. A mere hint of a fascinating life. But Hamblen refuses to name the names of guys who back-stabbed him, and his recounting lacks the smell of cordite, the sound of guns, the cries of the dying and wounded. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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