Heart of Gray by Richard W. Enners

 
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Richard W. Enners’ Heart of Gray: Lt. Raymond “Iggy Enners: Courage and Sacrifice of a West Point Graduate in Vietnam (Acclaim Press, 256 pp., $26.95) is a shining tribute to the author’s older brother. The book commemorates a life of honor and achievement, from junior high school to the Vietnam War, where Raymond Enners died. It is clear from the beginning that he was a team player who always left ego behind to make sure his team did well.

Richard Enners tells how early experiences built Ray’s character and led to his leadership abilities. He uses lacrosse and his brother’s expertise in the game as an example of the Ray’s natural-born talents. As a young boy in an important game, for example, Ray had a chance to score a goal but instead passed the ball to a teammate so he could reach a personal milestone. “Ray certainly had the guts, but was not interested in the glory,” his brother writes.

Such leadership carried through to the Vietnam War in which Ray served after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy. His brother—also an Academy graduate—discusses Ray’s life at West Point, from drills to dinner.

Raymond Enners went to Vietnam in 1968 where he used “influence, not authority, to lead his teammates,” Richard Enners writes. 1st Lt. Ray Enners led his unit, Alpha Co., in the Americal Division’s 1/20th Inf. Regiment of the 11th Infantry Brigade with courage and friendship. His men never suffered low morale, thanks primarily to his leadership.

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Richard Enners

Even Ray’s death on September 18, 1968, in a vicious firefight with the NVA near Ha Thanh showed his lack of selfishness, as well as his courage and humanity. He died in a rice paddy as he saved others. For this, he received the Distinguished Service Cross for dedication, bravery, and valor.

Heart of Gray is filled with extraordinary detail from Ray’s entire life. The fight in which Ray fought and died is described so well that the reader can easily envision the action. Even his R&R is chronicled in detail. There also are testimonies from former classmates, war buddies, and friends, all glowing with respect and admiration for Raymond Enners.

—Loana Hoylman

 

 

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With Schwarzkopf by Gus Lee

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The latest book from author Gus Lee, a character-based leadership authority, is With Schwarzkopf: Life Lessons of the Bear (Smithsonian Books, 312 pp., $27.95). Lee also has written two other bestsellers: China Boy and Courage: the Backbone of Leadership.

Gus Lee was in his junior year at West Point in 1966 when he learned he was in danger of failing. He then came under the personal tutelage of instructor Norman Schwarzkopf who, in addition to academics, mentored Lee on character, leadership, and the need to do the right thing, no matter how difficult. Even though Lee failed to graduate from West Point, his many hours spent in the company of then Maj. Schwarzkopf created a bond between the two men that lasted more than forty years.

Lee gives the reader a close-up account of life at West Point through his own experiences, both positive and negative. He reveals a little-known side of Schwarzkopf—as a wise, insightful intellectual with unwavering personal values of honesty, courage, and commitment. Affectionately known as “The Bear,” his mentoring of Gus Lee helped Lee deal with his struggles at West Point and, years later, as a legal officer in the post-Vietnam War Army.

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Gus Lee

Lee relates then Schwarzkopf’s experiences as an advisor to a Vietnamese Airborne unit. He earned Vietnamese Master Parachute wings, but in the process suffered a back injury that plagued him for years.

Lee writes that Schwarzkopf wondered back then if he could succeed with an Army career–if he could “keep his damn mouth shut with rear-area types who never got muddied or bloodied and never lost a man.” Schwarzkopf managed, despite his legendary temper, to rise to stardom as the celebrated general who led the way to victory in the first Persian Gulf War, aka Operation Desert Storm.

In 1991, the Bear declined the offer to become Army Chief of Staff. He retired after 39 years in uniform.

Gus Lee has written an inspiring story about one of America’s greatest post-World War II generals. We can all learn from the life lessons and personal values passed along from The Bear to Lee.

The author’s web site is www.guslee.net

—James Coan

 

 

Every Army Man Is with You by Nicolaus Mills

It is easy to misjudge a book by its cover. Every Army Man Is with You; The Cadets Who Won the 1964 Army-Navy Game, Fought in Vietnam, and Came Home Forever Changed by Nicolaus Mills (Rowman and Littlefield, 258 pp., $37) is no exception.

The football action scene depicted on the cover could lead a reader to believe that this is just a sports book. The thoroughly documented narrative, however, brings the reader so much more than the excitement of West Point football.

Nicolaus Mills moves the reader from the stadium bleachers into the minds and hearts of athletes who loved football and also loved their country.    Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, during World War II, said: “I want an officer for secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point football player.”  Every Army Man is with You provides insight into what those words meant during the Vietnam War.

The author, a Sarah Lawrence College American Studies professor, follows the careers of seven men from West Point from the mid-sixties to the present. Early on he provides a list of military academy gridiron notables beginning with Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. All are USMA graduates, except Roger Staubach, who went to the United States Naval Academy. Staubach was the nemesis of the 1964 West Point team.

The Army- Navy game that year was the first Army victory over Navy in six years. The book contains many quotes that make interesting reading because they provide insights into the Army players on and off the field.

Eisenhower, for example, said: “It would be difficult to overemphasize the importance I attach to participation in sports,” and “I so loved the fierce bodily contact of football that I suppose my enthusiasm made up somewhat for my lack of size.” This from a man of 152 pounds.

The chapter on Gen. William Westmoreland contains an excellent summary of his military career. Westmoreland also noted the importance of football at West Point. “It is my conviction that West Point should strive for excellence in every endeavor,” he said. “This applies to academics, military duties, extracurricular activities, and athletics—not to exclude football.”

Nicolaus Mills

While the football theme flows through the entire book, this reader was amazed by the amount of enlightening military and political history the author included. The interaction between MacArthur and Westmoreland when the latter served as superintendent of West Point provides insight into the character of both men. Mills also includes a short conversation between John F. Kennedy and MacArthur in 1961 about the approaching war in Southeast Asia.

In the sections that cover the history of the Vietnam War Mills does not spend a lot of time detailing battles. But he still provides a clear picture of the dedication and suffering many soldiers lived with on a daily basis. The follow-up of each man’s return from the war clearly depicts the life changes they experienced.

For sports fans, Mills concludes with a brief history of Army football.That includes a review of the infamous 1951 cheating scandal that severely damaged the team. Mills also relates how many West Point men became critical of the U.S. policy of body counts as a measurement of success in the Vietnam War.

This book is easy to follow, concise, heartfelt, and blends history with the great sport of football. The author is clear, however, that football is a game, and war is not.

—Joseph Reitz