Bastogne
Battle of the Bulge
Consultancy – Services

Glider Infantryman

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A member of the famed Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division, Donald J. Rich went ashore on D-Day at Utah Beach, was wounded in the bloody conflict at Carentan, landed in a flimsy plywood-and-canvas glider on the battlefields of Holland, and survived the grim siege with the “Battling Bastards of Bastogne” during the Battle of the Bulge. Glider Infantryman is his eyewitness account of how he, along with thousands of other young men from farms, small towns, and cities across the United States, came together to answer the call of their nation. It is also a heartfelt tribute to the many thousands who gave their lives in this struggle.

 

Coauthored by Kevin Brooks, the son of Rich’s best friend and World War II comrade, Glider Infantryman covers a span of nearly three years; his return home, five months after the war’s end, as a toughened bazooka gunner and veteran of five campaigns. Rich’s first-person narrative includes vivid coverage of the action, featuring an especially rare account of arriving on a combat landing zone by glider. Detailed, day-to-day depiction of some of the heaviest fighting in Holland follows, including the action at Opheusden, the center of the infamous “Island.” Later highlights include the Battle of the Bulge, where Rich recounts his experiences in some of the hottest defensive fighting of the European Theater, including the epic tank battles at Marvie, Champs, and Foy.

Glider Infantryman is a well researched, gripping account of military combat in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe during World War II. Brooks doesn’t sugarcoat the story: The brutality and suffering are real – so is the heroism of ordinary men. Like so many veterans from that era, Don Rich found it hard to talk about his experiences, and some haunted him into old age. With a faith Don met through his chaplain, Gordon Cosby (my pastor), he was finally able to release his anger and bitterness in a life of service to others.

As a teenager when World War II ended in 1945, I often spoke to returning veterans and listened closely. I remember their faces, especially their eyes. The sheer brutality of the killing left them mostly silent and grateful to breathe in and out, moment by moment. Those men inspired in me a sense of duty and courage that I have never forgotten. This book is a fitting tribute to them all.

–Jerry S. Parr, Assistant Director, US Secret Service (ret.)

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