Member Books for December 2014

Nonfiction

Abandoned in Place: The Men We Left Behind, And... By Lynn M. O’Shea, with forward by Col. Don E. Gordon, USA (Ret). CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1499199260. 608 pp. $19.42. 

Abandoned in Place provides a snapshot of the Vietnam POW/MIA issue. From the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, in January 1973, ending American involvement in the war in Southeast Asia to the "dysfunctional" POW/MIA accounting effort of 2014. With the period 1980 -1981 a clear line in the sand. As the U.S. government refocused its efforts from the rescue of surviving POWs to the recovery of remains. Abandoned in Place painstakingly details the intelligence available in 1980 that led to the conclusion American POWs survived in Laos, six years after the end of the Vietnam War. Using never before seen documents, the author reconstructs events leading up to a CIA reconnaissance mission, doomed from the start, to confirm the presence of POWs held deep in the Laotian jungle. As the CIA team headed toward the camp, members of the Joint Special Operation Command trained for a strike of surgical precision. Its mission rescue the POWs held at the camp known as Nhom Marrott. A lack of political will, bureaucratic failures, and leaks forced a stand-down order, condemning any surviving POWs. The author highlights the post Nhom Marrott government accounting effort, focusing on several specific POW/MIA cases. Crippled by a “mindset to debunk” officials ignored evidence of capture and survival in captivity. They edited witness statements to support pre-conceived conclusion of death and dismissed Vietnamese admissions of capture. This despite overwhelming evidence POWs not only survived but also continued to lay down signals in hopes of eventual rescue. 

After the Parade: Adjustments Confronting Military Personnel and Their Families. By Capt. Lester L. Westling Jr., USN (Ret), Life Member, Shasta Country (Calif.) Chapter. Hillwood Publishing Co., www.hillwoodpublishing.net. ISBN 978-0-615-98507-7. 130 pp. $17.95. 

After the Parade: Adjustments Confronting Military Personnel and their Families is straight talk about the cost of war in the lives of our warriors and their family members, and teaches growth and how to manage hazards. It deals with family separations in the lives of each member, and applies concepts of family therapy. It deals with wounds both visible and invisible, and applies to the seasoned as well as those lacking military experience. 

An Easy and Permanent Weight-Loss Diet: How I Lost 85 Pounds in 36 Months. By Lt. j.g. Joseph Peter Simini, USN (Ret). Amazon Digital Services. ASIN B00H4HWUZ0. 14 pp. $2.99. 

How I Lost 85 Pounds in 36 Months is my account of losing weight but how to keep it off. You must eat to live but you must eat the right foods that let you live, be healthier and lose weight. The book was written when I had lost 85 pounds in 36 months but I went on to lose another 30 pounds. You can lose weight if you want to do so. I discovered the diet when my wife died. She was the cook in our home. When I took over that chore I started by eliminating pies and cakes with ice-cream for dessert. I would shop then stop for coffee – and the ice-cream melted. So I substituted fresh and dried fruit and nuts for dessert. Then I ate more soups and salads. I was eating my deceased mother’s diet. I lost about 40 pounds. My wife Maggy’s diet was similar. 

Enjoy Beginning Bridge: How to Enjoy Learning Beginning Bridge. By Rear Adm. Andrew Giordano, USN (Ret), Life Member. ISBN 978-1-4490-0861-1. 152 pp. $13.46. 

Most beginning bridge books are written by truly gifted experts who have long forgotten what it was like to be a beginner. They have understandably forgotten that learning bridge is akin to learning a second language. As a result, most beginning bridge books are written in "bridge-speak" and the beginner has the same experience as anyone watching a foreign film without sub-titles. This book is unique in that the author was a real recent beginner when writing this book and knew how to convert "bridge-speak" into language a beginner can understand. Because of the need to teach in the same language that the beginner speaks, the author employs an effective technique for introducing bridge terms for the first time. For example, the term VULNERABLE is first introduced capitalized in bold, followed by a clear definition of the term. Also, a robust 8 page Glossary is provided. With this approach, the beginner becomes "fluent" in bridge as he is being introduced required bridge skills. Enjoy Beginning Bridge is also unique in that it recognizes that a bridge player must be prepared to assume four different roles, requiring four different skill sets depending in which of the four seats he is assigned. To prepare the beginner for this challenge, each one of these four roles is assigned a separate chapter. The book's format is specifically designed for a beginner, with three separate sections within each major chapter: a narrative that explains the specific bridge skill that is introduced; a matrix that summarizes the guidelines discussed in the narrative; and, lastly, a series of quizzes which include solutions and a "lessons learned" section that transcends the specific problem. Perhaps the biggest challenge for a beginning bridge book is the narration of all the bridge skills needed to enable the beginner to participate in the END-GAME, the final event in bridge which includes the playing of the tricks. 

General Henry Lockwood of Delaware: Shipmate of Melville, Co-builder of the Naval Academy, Civil War Commander. By Col. Lloyd J. Matthews, USA (Ret), Life Member. University of Delaware. ISBN 978-1-61149-487-7. 568 pp. $106.80. 

General Henry Lockwood of Delaware: Shipmate of Melville, Co-builder of the Naval Academy, Civil War Commander depicts the fascinating and accomplished life of nineteenth-century Delaware son, Brig. Gen. Henry Lockwood. Excerpt for a leave of absence to fight as a Union general during the Civil War, Lockwood was a U.S. Navy professor of mathematics from 1841–1876, serving on the USS United States in the Pacific, at the Asylum Naval School, at the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Naval Observatory.  

Lockwood sailed aboard the U.S. Navy frigate United States, participating in Commodore Thomas Catesby Jones’s seizure of Monterey from Mexico and figuring importantly in shipmate Herman Melville’s novel White-Jacket. Later he was a co-builder of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. During the Civil War Lockwood pacified the slavery-bound Delmarva peninsula, and commanded a brigade at Gettysburg, the Maryland Heights at Harper’s Ferry, the Middle Department/8th Corps, and a division at Cold Harbor. All these accomplishments occurred in the face of Lockwood’s tendency to stutter which afflicted him throughout his life. This book also takes note of family members such as his son Lieut. James Lockwood, who died of starvation during the Greely polar expedition after having reached the furthest point north of any human; brother Navy Surgeon John Lockwood, whose essays in conjunction with Melville’s White-Jacket were major factors in outlawing punitive flogging in the Navy; and son-in-law Adam Charles Sigsbee, who was in command of the USS Maine when it blew up in Havana Harbor. Several pivotal events in Lockwood’s life have unjustly led to his historical neglect. Here Matthews finally gives Lockwood his due.

Government Abuse: Fraud, Waste, and Incompetence in Awarding Contracts in the United States. By Capt. William Sims Curry, USAF (Ret), Life Member. Transaction Publishers, www.transactionpub.com. ISBN 978-1-4128-5371-2. 249 pp. $54.95. Available from www.amazon.com and www.bn.com. 

Government contracting is plagued by nefarious, amateurish, and criminal behavior. By awarding government contracts to corporations as compensation for lavish gifts and personal favors, the United States government fails to serve the public interest effectively and honestly. William Sims Curry identifies and categorizes multiple deficiencies in how government contractors are selected, and proposes how reforms can be instituted. 

This book is based on extensive research. Curry sifted through two years worth of contractor claims maintained by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding improper behavior of federal government agencies during the contract award process. He identified additional government contracting failures through review of media stories, inspector general reports, court cases, and press releases by government investigatory agencies. 

Much of this abuse originates from the mandated but ineffective practice of color coding rating proposals and a subjective ratings system. Curry proposes replacing the current practice with a scoring system that weighs contractor selection criteria according to the government’s needs. This, along with the other procurement reforms Curry recommends, offers promise for an alternative to the fraud, waste, and incompetence currently rampant in government contracting. 

The Greatest Threat: Triumphing Over Terror and Crime. By Col. Luther C. Kissick Jr., USAF (Ret), Life Member. Tate Publishing. ISBN 978-1-61346-862-3. 310 pp. $26.98. 

The worldwide spread of terror, insurgency, and corporate crime is expanding at a rapid rate. These insidious activities have impacted at least half of the world’s societies and have created major conflicts with military involvement of more than two dozen nations. However, The Greatest Treat is neither intended to be a history of terror, insurgency, and corporate crime, nor an accounting of author Col. Luther C. Kissick’s military service in the field of intelligence. Rather, this compilation of thoughts and perspectives describes the catastrophic impact of the most urgent twenty-first-century threats in the potential decline of the United States, the most powerful Christian nation of our era. In The Greatest Threat, Col. Kissick combines his experience as a thirty-year US Air Force officer serving in sensitive positions worldwide with the greatest threat that can lead to an eventual doomsday for America. 

Let’s Face It: Memoirs, Speeches and Writings of a Career Marine and Two-Time Prisoner of War. By Marine Corps CWO Felix J. McCool, Aileen Marckmann, and Lt. Col. Scott Marckmann, USAF (Ret). CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1493654796. Available at www.amazon.com ($10) and Kindle ($4.99) 

Surviving as a prisoner of war takes courage. While no longer in combat, POWs are at the mercy of their captors, who try to control prisoners through intimidation, physical harm, or simply crushing their spirits. 

Career Marine Chief Warrant Officer Felix McCool understood the challenges facing POWs better than most. First captured by the Japanese in World War II, McCool was also a POW during the Korean War. 

The Chinese captured McCool at Chosin, and took him to a Communist POW camp. His captors attempted to indoctrinate prisoners and turn them against the United States. 

McCool's letters home, poems, and speeches describe the pressures applied to prisoners, their hardships, struggles, and how the men managed to remain dedicated and loyal to their country. 

Edited by McCool's grand-nephew Scott Marckmann and Marckmann's mother, Let's Face It is an inspiring collection of thoughts on war and freedom by a true patriot. 

Fiction  

The Chaplain’s Cross: Crisis in Conscience — An Inspirational Historical Novel. By Lt. Col. Ed DeVos, USA (Ret). WestBow Press. ISBN 978-1-4908-3412-2. 226 pp. $15.59. Available at www.amazon.com and www.bn.com

In his newest work of historical fiction, The Chaplain’s Cross: Crisis in Conscience (published by WestBow Press), Ed DeVos tells a thought-provoking story of two men — an Army Air Corps chaplain and a Japanese fighter pilot — as both prepare for a critical air battle that takes place in March 1944. 

In this inspirational novel, DeVos explores the faith and actions of these two men as they prepare for the combat to come. Unexpectedly, at the climax of the battle, these two men find themselves facing each other as they are presented with new moral and spiritual dilemmas; challenges warriors in combat often encounter. 

Throughout the book, the characters demonstrate what valor, courage, integrity, and honor look like, words that DeVos says are infrequently heard in today’s society. 

Memoir    

Sky Hawk. By Col. Gerit L. Fenenga, USMC (Ret). Trafford Publishing. ISBN 978-1-1907-2823-0. Hardback: $23.96. Available in a tablet edition.

This book is a firsthand account of the Vietnam conflict as it unfolded before a midlevel career military officer. In a first-person account, it does not portend to be a microcosm of that war but, rather, what it was like for one year, at one place to participate and ultimately lead an attack squadron in combat. This is an upbeat, anecdote-filled, historically accurate but nonscholarly take on events seen or taken part in by the author. The book aims for a wide audience that likes aviation, adventure, and insight into leadership. It forcefuly brings home the lessons we as a country should learn from such turmoil. This is no “memoir” to justify the action or inaction of a midlevel manager, but a month-by-month account of controlled mayhem and high humor among professionals in the maelstrom of battle.