Courage under Fire; First Fights in Fallujah

Being there . . . . for the vicious fighting of America’s two most recent wars, the post-Tet ’68
battle of the 101 st Airborne’s at Tam Ky, Vietnam, and, in Iraq during the early months of 2004,
Operation Vigilant Resolve in Iraq. Thanks to Casemate Publishing, we are privy via vivid
accounts of how our government thought and operated in post-World War II wartime
excursions. In the foreground of each, the brilliant genius and strange lapses in judgment of
exceptionally brilliant genius come to light. Fortunately, our top military men, convinced their
strategies were correct, quietly coped with the erratic thinking of civilian heads, newspaper
editors in particular. Stand side by side with our field commanders made of iron, perfectly sure
of themselves, and unusually supremely competent. These two wars revealed the strains and
stresses our chiefs endured in South Vietnam and Iraq. The final stages of each war vindicated
their strategies. Rarely are us buffs privileged to read back-to-back accounts of inferno-level
killings in such diverse geographical settings. Warrior writers, i.e., Ed Sherwood, LTC, US Army
(Ret.) and Lieutenant Colonel David E. Kelly, USMC, (Ret.), each a skillful historian, each using
his material with sensitivity and agility to write coherent, unusually insightful, often terrifying
accounts. America was at war in each, less than three decades after 1945, and meant to win.
And, so do Ed and Dave.
Reviewed and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi
“COURAGE UNDER FIRE – The 101 st Airborne’s Hidden Battle at Tam Ky”, by LTC Ed Sherwood
US Army (Ret). CASEMATE Publishers: June 2023, 314 pages, 6” x 9”; $24.95. Visit,
“FIRST FIGHTS IN FALLUJAH – – Marines During Operation Vigilant Resolve, in Iraq, April 2004”,
by Lieutenant Colonel David E. Kelly, USMC, Ret. CASEMATE Publishers: June 2023; 344 pages,
6 ¼” x 9 ¼”; $37.95. Visit,
This true combat account of Operation Lamar Plain, a major Vietnam War battle near Tam Ky
in early 1969, is destined to be one of the ten best classics of that era. Sadly, the horrific fight
was never disclosed to the American people during the war for strategic and military reasons.
After all, 1969 was a turning point in the long conflict. As US casualties and war protests
accelerated, it was the first year that most of the nation’s population turned against the war.
“This is why and how the first book to be written on Operation Lamar Plain came to be”,
concludes the first paragraph of the Preface.
Perhaps, Ed’s most poignant paragraph in the entire book is the first of the Epilogue which is
entitled, “Tragic Consequences of the Vietnam War”. In his lead-in, he asks, “Was it worth it,
the cost of 58,220 American lives, mostly young men?” And he doesn’t stop there. There was
untold suffering of families who lost loved ones, to say nothing of the excruciating pain of the
seriously wounded, whether physically or emotionally. Of course, the tragic consequences of
war extended well beyond our nation and included both our allies and enemy. The South

Vietnamese Army had 1.1 million deaths. Two million Vietnamese civilians in North and South
Vietnam were killed. But deaths were not the only lamentable result of the war. It divided our
nation. “The Pentagon Papers” revealed the Kennedy and Johnson administrations had
deliberately lied to the American people. Military considerations yielded to political agendas.
Young combat soldiers were killed because of stupid decisions. The fighting men and their
commanders knew nothing of the secret political calculations and maneuvering. The final result
of it all? A terrible, disgraceful end. Mug shots of our dead young men brought home the truth
of it all. Absolutely, a must read.
“FIRST FIGHTS in FALLUJAH – Marines During Operation Vigilant Resolve, in Iraq, April 2004”
is an anthology of raw, brutal eye-witness accounts of the Marines sent to clear the Iraqi city of
Fallujah of insurrectionists in the early months of 2004. Embedded with the 1 st Marine
Expeditionary Force, Lieutenant Colonel David E. Kelly interviewed the young men who had
been under fire and the senior officers responsible for their safe return.
It all started In March 2004, when a sudden, unmerciful ambush killing and mutilation of the
bodies of American civilian security contractors in Fallujah triggered the National Command
Authorities in Washington, DC, to demand that the newly arrived Marine Expeditionary Force
retaliate. The insurgent Iraqi dared and defied the Marines to enter Fallujah. Naturally, the
Marines did, with everything they had available to them, infantrymen, tankers, helicopters, and
firefighters. Hence, the first fights of that city in April of 2004. Marines fought in the streets,
house-to-house, cleared commercial buildings, and used tank main guns. American helicopter
crews supported operations on the ground with rockets and machine-gun fire. The enemy bled
all over the city itself, then quickly disappeared. Immediately, Marine field historians went to
work commingling the recollections of our troops and those of the captured. Those intensive
interview notes and words form this unique narrative of our USMC in combat. Once again, the
CASEMATE crew comes through adding to our insightful understanding how it all began in Iraq
20 years ago.

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