"Give Me Tomorrow: The Korean War's Greatest Untold Story - The Epic Stand of the Marines of George Company" by Patrick K. O'Donnell; 978-0-306-81801-1; pages: 261; $26; November 2010; hardcover; non-fiction history; Da Capo Press.
As Veterans Day comes upon us, we remember all those heroes who served our country in past wars for the United States. "Give Me Tomorrow" by Patrick K. O'Donnell is the story of George Company Marines who served in an unpopular Korean War and sacrificed their lives to stop the communist onslaught of North Korea and the Chinese army.
O'Donnell is the author of six previous books, including "Beyond Valor," "We Were One," "They Dared Return" and "The Brenner Assignment." He interviewed more than 100 Marines who served in George Company and has corroborated his book with primary source materials.
As the story unfolds, it is as audacious as any movie, but the remarkable part of this saga is that it is true. Reading is gruesome at times, but so is war. The smells, bullets, explosions and premonitions are forever etched in the mind of the reader. Each story is poignantly told, sometimes with humor, other times with compassion which will bring tears to your eyes.
One incident tells of a rabbi who appears on the battlefield to conduct a service for Jewish frontline troops. There is only one serviceman who was Jewish in the outfit and he asked his superior what he should do since the rabbi is there for a prayer service. Without hesitation, one fellow Marine said they will all attend the service. The service was conducted in the remnants of a Catholic church and the rabbi was greeted by a full audience. He asked if they were all Jewish, and they responded that they were. He then reminded these "Jewish" Christian Marines to cover their heads as is customary when praying in Judaism.
Fighting in Korea in the 1950s was extremely difficult due to the weather, terrain and Chinese soldiers. Temperatures were in the 30s, mountains were icy, and rivers bordered rustic roads which had to be overcome. The enemy was vastly underestimated by intelligence "experts" who pegged the numbers at around 200,000 strong; whereas, in fact, they were 600,000-plus. A joint effort by the United Nation's forces made the Herculean effort by the 200 men of George Company seem incredible as they earned Congressional Medals of Honor, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, and of course, Purple Hearts, as they sustained 300-percent casualties during the many skirmishes they endured.
An outstanding reminiscence came when a combat journalist asked a Marine who was attempting to eat a "C" ration in sub-zero temperature the question which would become the title of this book. "What would you want if you could have any wish?" The Marine "continued to stand motionless, with empty eyes. Then his lips began to open ... [and] his eyes went up into the graying sky."
"Give me tomorrow."
This book has not only brought to life those who gave theirs in the defense of freedom, it captures the essence of how the Marine Corps is a brotherhood of men who will sacrifice their safety and lives for each other. Sixty years have passed and the tales which are recanted still bring tears to the eyes of those who served.
On Nov. 10, a stone memorial will be dedicated in the memory of those 150 men of George Company who died in the Korean War, which will take place at the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Quantico, Va.
This book is highly recommended as another memorial to those who have valiantly served.
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Clark Isaacs is an accomplished book critic who is published in local newspapers and national book review lists. Visit Clark at http://clarkisaacs.ning.com.