Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 132

making would be Davis’s ideal reader. Both men were— clearly—gifted in understanding strategy. Yet, their behavioral influences and choices also affected how they each made decisions. Davis outlines how their aptitudes developed and how they each were influenced by their ethics. Neither stopped being a student of war, and each had his own ideas of how to use, or not use, a general staff. This is invaluable information for midgrade leaders who aspire to become more beneficial to their senior leaders or to ascend to higher command. Lt. Col. John T. Miller, Fort Belvoir, Virginia LEGEND: A Harrowing Story from the Vietnam War of One Green Beret’s Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Behind Enemy Lines Eric Blehm, Crown Publishers, New York, 2015, 304 pages L egend is a concise biography of retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez. Its centerpiece is an account of a single day of combat in 1968 in Cambodia—outside the recognized battle lines of the Vietnam War. Eric Blehm grips the reader’s attention in the opening paragraphs of the prologue with the final scenes of the battle. He introduces the struggle that followed to give Benavidez full recognition for his actions that day. Blehm recounts the impoverished upbringing that forged the traits that made Benavidez a man who would defy impossible odds to help his friends in need. He then reviews Benavidez’s early military career, his dogged pursuit of an airborne assignment, and his first tour in Vietnam, which left him paralyzed in a military hospital bed. His recovery and return to duty are proof of Benavidez’s indomitable spirit. Interwoven in Benavidez’s personal story is the history of the Vietnam War. It provides a broad context for those 130 less familiar with the subject. Blehm briefly delves deeper into the history and the politics of the parallel secret war in Cambodia, providing the reader a sense of the intrigue that surrounded Cambodia’s Prince Norodom Sihanouk and of the tenacious mindset of the Viet Cong enemy. Both set the stage for the battle to come. Blehm’s straightforward, no-nonsense prose captures the pace of the action that unfolds. Once the battle begins, the reader will not want to put the book down. The actions of the small team from the Studies and Observations Group, of the aviators of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company, and of Benavidez himself, could potentially leave the reader in total disbelief—if not for Blehm’s earlier illustration of how such men develop to be so tough. This book is a worthwhile contribution to the history of the Vietnam War. Its depiction of the values and determination that led a man to risk his life and overcome extreme adversity has much wider appeal. Anyone unfamiliar with the story should ignore Internet videos on the subject and learn about it for the first time as Blehm reveals it. Consider this book required reading for anyone thinking of trying out for Special Forces because it clearly describes the mind-set and determination expected to earn the Green Beret. For those who served in Special Forces, this book is a reminder of the principles for which they fought and should continue to fight. Readers of John L. Plaster’s book SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam will find Legend an eye-opening expansion upon the shorter summary Plaster provides of the battle. While Benavidez’s autobiographical Medal of Honor provides greater detail on other aspects of his life, Legend updates the tale with accounts from additional witnesses, archives, and declassified files. The greatest service of this book is in keeping the legend alive—not merely of Benavidez but of all of those with whom he served that day—and their generation. It is a vivid reminder to adopt, as Benavidez did, the credo of “Duty, Honor, Country.” Maj. Thomas Nypaver,