Friday, May 15, 2009

Donald R. Jermann, Antietam: The Lost Order

Donald R. Jermann, Antietam: The Lost Order

Capt. Donald R. Jermann entered the U.S. Navy as an officer candidate in December 1943. He retired from active duty in 1975 after thirty-two years of service, at which time he began a second career as a civil servant in the Navy Department. During his tenure he was twice awarded the Secretary of the Navy’s Distinguished Civilian Medal.

In 1946, he was commissioned upon completion of the University of Michigan’s NROTC program, and he subsequently served on Patrol Craft 582 and the cruisers Rochester, St. Paul, and Helena. He was also a member of the staffs of Commander Seventh Fleet and Commander Naval Forces Japan, the Office of Chief of Naval Operations, and the Naval Security Group.

Some highlights of his active-duty years include his participation in both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts; his selection for intensive Russian language training at the outset of the Cold War; and his role as a founding member of the Armed Forces Security Agency, the predecessor of the National Security Agency.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Captain Jermann attended John Carroll University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Maryland, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in government. A longtime Civil War buff, Captain Jermann has visited all Civil War battle sites in Maryland and Pennsylvania and many in the state of Virginia.

He currently lives with his wife in Laurel, Maryland, where he works as a part-time consultant to the Department of Defense.

John Robert (“Bob”) Slaughter; Omaha Beach and Beyond: The Long March of Sergeant Bob Slaughter (Zenith Press, 2007)

John Robert (“Bob”) Slaughter

Born on February 3, 1925, Bob Slaughter enlisted in the Virginia Army National Guard at age 16 in his native Roanoke, serving in Company D, a heavy weapons company in the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. The Virginia National Guard was inducted into Federal Service the following year on the date of Slaughter’s seventeenth birthday. In 1942, he trained for eleven months with the elite 29th Rangers in the Scottish Highlands, but returned to the 116th when the Rangers were disbanded. On D-Day, Slaughter hit the infamous Dog Green Sector with Company D in the first wave of troops to come across “Bloody Omaha.” The company lost over seventy men, twenty from his hometown. Slaughter lived through the carnage to fight on in Normandy, including the tremendous Battle of Saint-Lô, for which his battalion received a Presidential Unit Citation. He was wounded twice in Normandy, once severely in a mortar attack on 7 August at Hill 203 overlooking Vire, where his battalion earned an Oak Leaf Cluster to its Presidential Unit Citation. Evacuated to England, Bob later returned to his company, participating in the Battle of the Bulge, crossing the Roer River, and fighting on into Germany.

Slaughter’s memoir, Omaha Beach and Beyond: The Long March of Sergeant Bob Slaughter (Zenith Press, 2007), offers a rare eyewitness account of what General Bradley called “the greatest show on earth.” Painting vivid scenes of some of the most ferocious and epic battles of our time, Slaughter also incorporates a wealth of data; pinpoints names, dates and places; and quotes many other 116th Infantry veterans. An appendix contains fifteen eyewitness accounts of Omaha Beach, many published for the first time, by survivors of the 29th Infantry Division.

Slaughter was only gradually moved to break the heavy silence in which he, like so many others who had faced heavy combat, enclosed himself after the war. Omaha Beach and Beyond recounts this inner battle, tracing Slaughter’s path as he came to take on an increasingly public role on behalf of other veterans. As Founder and a Chairman of the Board, he was extremely instrumental in establishing the magnificent D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, dedicated on June 6, 2001 by President George W. Bush. One of three veterans to walk Omaha Beach with President Bill Clinton on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, Slaughter returned to France for the 60th anniversary, where he was the subject of a documentary for French National Television, gave the keynote address in St-Lô, and led a parade of 29th Infantry Veterans and local children through the city. In Cherbourg that year, ceremonies included a reunion with another machine-gunner like and unlike himself—the German Franz Gockel, who manned the defenses on Omaha Beach where so many of Bob’s friends and fellow soldiers died.

Today Bob Slaughter is one of a handful of surviving World War II veterans whose images and stories have come to represent the American Veteran in both the United States and abroad. The subject of dozens of documentaries, he has appeared on major news channels in the United States and throughout Europe, and given interviews too numerous to mention, bearing witness to the deeds of his many comrades-in-arms who could not speak for themselves.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


“The Last Confederate General: John C. Vaughn and his East Tennessee Cavalry” by Larry Gordon

This was a very unique read from several angles and the ways it hits you, from first impression to the final page it is also unique. First I was drawn to the book by its simple and elegant cover, but upon opening it up for a glance the small type, a lot of pages and maps, it made me wonder what I was getting into.

I started the book and was surprised that I was engrossed enough not to have noticed three hours had elapse. I for one want and like stories that flow and while I am a historian, in my pleasure reading I do not want a ton of statistics thrown at me. It is supposed to be fun right?

Larry Gordon seemed to have nailed both recreational reading and historically accurate statistics in one read. For me the story flowed well and I found I could keep the story and go back later to get the statistics. It was written so that the main story was not broken or bogged down with the later. It was very simple to navigate and with the titles and topics clearly defined it was unbelievably easy to go back and study the material from an educational stand point.

The book drew me in because not only was it a fascinating story of courage, determination and self worth, but it spoke of dignity , sacrifice, love and hope as well. It tells the personal story of someone who we all aspire to be in terms of standing for what we believe and have the convictions to carry on even when it is not the popular choice.

From John C. Vaughn’s ideas of adventure when young, to his actual adventures in Mexico and California the story does not disappoint. You can see the transformation yourself in this story as the youth turns to adulthood and a very hard and rough time during combat and banishment in the later years.

Truly the Forest Gump of the Civil War John C. Vaughn was indeed everywhere and had a hand it seems in almost everything. “The Last Confederate General: John C. Vaughn and his East Tennessee Cavalry” is a fine read for anyone: Action, adventure, love, drama, war and perseverance. What more can you ask for in a book. Five stars for Larry Gordon for a job well done.

Craig Anderson
Our History Project

To hear an interview with Larry Gordon on “The Last Confederate General: John C. Vaughn and his East Tennessee Cavalry” please go to . The book interview is on the end of show #1 The Kenan Research Library at the Atlanta History Center. It can also be found on any popular pod-hosting sites such as iTunes, Zune Marketplace, Twitter, Podbean and more.