Books and Writing
Books and Writing
- Published: 25 May 2012 25 May 2012
The book, Omar Bradley, General at War, by Hudson Valley Writer Jim DeFelice, written in 2011, is the story of a midwestern American boy's life's journey from a life of poverty to his good fortune of admission to West Point, the US ARMY and ultimately to US General. Bradley's role in World War II included North Africa, Sicily, and ultimately DDAY, the Battle of the Bulge, and the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Unassuming, nonflamboyant, compared to Patton or the British General, Bernard Montgomery, Bradley was a great tactician. It was during the early fighting that Bradley was discovered to be a general concerned with the welfare of his troops. He lived most of the war in a truck. He loved mathematics and excelled at baseball on West Points' varsity team. It was there that he would meet, amongst others, Eisenhower, in his 1915 class. General George Marshall found him especially trustworthy.
As his career developed he encountered George Patton as his neighbor when stationed in Hawaii. Patton was flamboyant, loved entertaining and showing off, while Bradlley who had married his childhood sweet heart preferred a quiet life. In Sicily, Patton got into severe trouble over an incident of his slapping a non-wounded patient suffering from battle fright. Covered by the media, word spread as the story could not be contained. Thus, in preparing for D Day, Patton's role was that his army would be aimed at Calais, rather than at Normandy. Patton would redeem himself later, especially in the Battle of the Bulge. Omar Bradley, working under Patton in North Africa after the Kasserine Pass debacle reorganized US forces in North Africa.
Omar Bradley is a fascinating, detailed and descriptive story as DeFelice describes the unassuming Bradley, comparing him with other notable generals the likes of Montgomery, Eisenhower and Patton.
Excerpt from the book Omar Bradley: General At War by Jim DeFelice, a Hudson Valley writer:
Northern Africa, February 23, 1943
The C-54 Skymaster ducked down from the clouds, its Pratt & Whitney radials pulling it toward the long, tan dagger jutting into the azure ocean ahead.
As the plane dropped lower, green blotches appeared: trees spared the fury of the working bulldozers that razed the nearby land, turning it burnt yellow even as the aircraft dropped. A short, precariously narrow gray line appeared in the sand ahead. Ants were running near it.
Not ants, but men. Not a line but a runway, unfinished. The men were laying steel planks to widen and extend it.
General Omar Bradley, stiff and tired from a flight that had begun the night before inBrazil, roused himself and gazed out the window.
“We’re landing, sir,” said Chet Hansen, one of the general’s two aides.
Bradley nodded. Taciturn, he continued to gaze out the window as the military transport bumped onto the steel grid, its wheels whining. A gust pushed the aircraft hard to the side as it landed; the Air Corps pilot mastered it, keeping the drab green airliner on the runway as he feathered the engines and went hard on the brakes. The short strip gave him little room for error.
The same might be said for the tens of thousands of Americans stretched out between the airport and the far-flung foothills ofTunisiawell to the east. Three months before, the troops had landed inNorth Africa, full of hope and vigor, sure that they would bring the war against the Axis to a quick and victorious conclusion. Now they weren’t so sure. Their offensive had stalled badly. The reality of war had proven considerably more frightening than most had thought possible. Facing experienced German veterans, they had stumbled badly. Indeed, things were worse than most realized, as they had benefited from a good portion of luck at the start of the campaign, unnoticed as it may have been.
Luck had run out in a pass far to the east in Tunisia. There the young American force had been severely whipped in a mountainous area known as Kasserine Pass. At roughly the same time the C-54 was setting down, the architect of their defeat was repositioning his Panzers, threatening a strike that would break the young force entirely.
Bradley rose from his seat and made his way to the door with a mixture of anticipation, energy, and undoubtedly some apprehension. Though he was a general, he’d never been this close to war before. Though he was regarded as a master tactician—and had instructed thousands in the art—his plans had never been put to the test of real combat. And though he was held in the highest esteem by men who had already proven themselves under fire, he himself had never heard an angry bullet crease the air nearby. At fifty, he was a virgin to combat.
This would not have mattered much if he was coming to take a staff job, or even if he intended only to fulfill the role of an observer, in theory the job he had been assigned. But Omar Nelson Bradley, while modest in speech and demeanor, had ambitions that extended beyond the job of advisor or assistant. He wanted desperately to lead men into battle. He wanted to win, and he wanted to kill.
Nor had the man who sent him across the Atlantic intended that he merely observe. U.S. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, who’d known Bradley for years, believed he could help turn the faltering U.S. Army around. Originally opposed to the African campaign, Marshall had come to see it as a crucial test for the still inexperienced army. It was a test that it had to pass, or it would suffer the most dire consequences.
* * *
New York Times bestselling author Jim DeFelice is a long-time Hudson Valley resident who has lived in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. He’s written more than 30 novels and military histories that explore the moral questions of war, politics, and heroism.
A frequent collaborator with Larry Bond (Red Dragon Rising), Dale Brown (Whiplash), and Richard Marcinko (Rogue Warrior), Jim's solo books include the novels Leopards Kill, Cyclops One, and Coyote Bird, and the military history Rangers at Dieppe.
His newest book, Omar Bradley: General at War, published in September 2011, is the first in-depth biography ever written on the West Point graduate, who planned and led the Normandy Invasion on D-Day.
John F. Nitti, MD, who passed away on May 9, 2012, was a surgeon who spent most of his adult life practicing medicine at The Valley Hospital and raising a family in Ridgewood N.J. He spent two years in Japan during the Vietnam War where he operated on wounded U.S. soldiers, saving the lives of several young American military men, for which he received the grateful appreciation of many distraught parents of U.S. servicemen and women.
As president and founder of the Valley Hospital History Club, for over 20 years, Dr. Nitti organized countless lectures and programs. It was his lifelong love and passion of history that kept him involved in reading histories like DeFelice's Omar Bradley up to the very end of his life. He will be deeply missed.
- Written by Matthew S. Field Matthew S. Field
- Published: 23 February 2012 23 February 2012
On a warm August evening at a high school football game, I met Lori when we were both 14 years old. We’d learn later that we’d been born nine days apart at the same hospital, and we’d probably been in the same nursery together for a short time. The two of us lived in the same, rural Missouri town and shared many of the same friends.
I remember that moment as if it only just happened last weekend. Lori stood in a circle of her new classmates and friends. She wore the white sweater with a blue letter, “D,” super-imposed on a red, white, and blue bullhorn, a flattering, white-pleated blue skirt, the ankle socks that the other freshman cheerleaders wore, and had the biggest, warmest brown eyes and a smile brighter than the Friday night lights. She was beautiful. I know it sounds funny to say it now, but I knew at that moment that Lori would be my wife.
This is a documented case of “love at first sight.”
Mutual friends introduced me using Lori’s full name – first, middle, and last. I barely managed a bleating, “Hi,” and that may have been all I said to her the entire night. That didn’t stop me, a few days later, from getting her phone number from a friend, calling her, and asking her to the freshman fall semi-formal dance at my high school. She told me she “had to think about it,” but called back a couple of minutes later and politely declined, citing as her reason the her belief that she “wouldn’t know anyone.” I tried again as the winter semi-formal approached, but Lori’s answer was also, “No.” The second time, she didn’t need any extra time to decide.
Clearly, I am an acquired taste.
During the next several years, I lived my life and Lori lived hers. I focused on sports and did all right with academics at the St. Louis County boys’ prep school I attended. Of course, I dated and even had a sort of “serious” girlfriend. Lori kept busy, too. Our mutual friends would tell me about Lori’s nominations for homecoming and prom queen and the boy who she dated for the better part of three years. Eventually, each of us went to college; I started at a small university in Texas, while Lori stayed in Missouri. Occasionally, I’d see her at a party during winter or summer break. Over time, though, education and other interests pulled our friends to other parts of the country, so my opportunities to see her became increasingly less frequent. It wasn’t until the summer after our college sophomore year that I did have a chance to spend some time with Lori again.
My good friend Brad, who was also Lori’s high school classmate, would celebrate his 21st birthday in August. Brad was the first of our group of friends to reach “legal age,” so another shared friend, John, suggested a surprise party. John and I began to plan.
John asked for a list of friends from Brad’s parents to complement the names we already had. Lori was on the list. Knowing I had been long-smitten, John asked me if I wanted to address Lori’s invitation, which I did using her full name – first, middle, and last. I didn’t really think anything of it because Lori’s full name was the way I’d always known her.
The party was a huge success. Brad was surprised, but not as surprised as I would be. At the party, Lori was especially curious about her invitation. She asked John who had written her full name on the envelope. A week later, Lori and I had our first date.
I still never had much doubt that dating Lori and, later, having a relationship with her would eventually result in a white dress, formal wear, family, friends, and a walk down the aisle. After a year or so together, I think, Lori began to come around to my way of thinking. I’d joked with tongue in cheek that, because Lori made me wait for six years for a date, I’d make her wait six years for one, too. Not surprisingly, my attempts at humor didn’t always get the desired reaction.
Early on, Lori and I had our share of obstacles. First, we were both still students. By that time, I’d also returned to Missouri to study, but our school campuses were separated by a hundred miles. Then, Lori finished her degree a semester early and I finished mine a year late, so Lori took a job while I was still in school, still separated by a two-hour car ride. Finally, when I did finally finish school, I took a job that required me to move to Connecticut. Because I was literally less-than-penniless, five figures in debt with student loans, I knew I couldn’t yet be a financially responsible husband or father. Consequently, when I drove the rental truck away from my driveway, the passenger seat was empty.
Still, we made the best of our circumstances. When we were both still in school, we took turns making the trip to see the other. After Lori started working, she’d generally make the trip, sit at the end of the bar I tended on Fridays, and sip rum and pineapple juice until my shift was finished. Later when I was a young professional manager on my own, I’d often meet Lori in “neutral” cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Toledo, and Windsor, Ontario. Some of our favorite memories included the Picasso exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art, seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates with a skinny Barry Bonds at the old Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, and Louie Linguini’s Restaurant and Pantages Theatre in Windsor. We explored and enjoyed the world, or at least a part of it, as we explored and enjoyed one another. Sure, we had our share of disagreements and misunderstandings, which were often exacerbated by the geographic distance that separated us most of the time. We worked those out together. When I asked her if she’d be my wife on a Thanksgiving Day, it would have been hard to imagine that any two mid-twenty-something’s knew one another better than Lori and I did.
On an unusually hot day in August when Lori, who wore a white dress and was even more beautiful as she walked toward me than she was when I first met her at that high school football game, was asked by the clergy if she would be my wife, she said, “I do.”
So did I. Husband, of course.
The next day, Lori and I sat at a table lit by candles at hotel restaurant in New Orleans’ French Quarter, and she asked if I would order for her. As I heard myself speak, it was almost as if it wasn’t me who was talking with the waiter. Rather, it seemed that I was looking over at a young, happy couple at the next table.
I heard myself say, “My wife will have the . . . “
After the waiter had left the table, Lori told me that she had to catch her breath when she heard me order dinner for the two of us. It hadn’t really sunk in until then that she was married. She was someone’s wife. She was my wife.
Ironically, it had in fact turned out that we’d waited six years for that date. Lori never did appreciate the humor.
Matthew S. Field
Sam Clemens, Tennessee Williams, and Matthew S. Field have in common their claim of Missouri river cities as their hometowns. Of course, the two former are (were) writers.
Matt Field’s credits include the illustrated children’s books, Father Like A Tree and The Three Pigs, Business School, and Wolfe Hash Stew, and the mainstream fiction title, The Dream Seeker. The non-fiction, The Single Father’s Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball, will be released through Arundel Publishing on September 1, 2012.
Field was voted "Best Author of 2011" by the readers of the Times Herald-Record. He lives with his two daughters and son in the charming and historic Village of Warwick in New York’s Hudson Valley.