Accidental Warrior: The Forging Of An American Soldier

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9781930859425: Accidental Warrior: The Forging Of An American Soldier
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Warriors are not born—They are made. By accident of birth, time and circumstance they are forged under the hammer and tong of battle. In this furnace they grow hard or die. One who survived only to be forever changed is Andy O’Meara, Jr. A sensitive boy with dreams of studying law at Yale was thrust by a domineering father, himself an Army General, into the hard world of West Point. At the academy O’Meara’s sensitivity became liability. To survive as the lowest form of life in the academy—the plebe—he learned to hide his feelings as he had in an abusive home.

The toughness he found within prepared him for the test of combat, where he substituted rage for fear, violence for words—skills which, though they may ensure survival in combat, leave the survivor one of the walking wounded, and left O'Meara with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In a career spanning three decades in uniform, Colonel O’Meara witnessed sacrifice by American servicemen in Cold War Europe and Vietnam. In Vietnam, as a young ARVN advisor, he spoke their tongue, ate their rice, and came to love his Vietnamese comrades as brothers in arms. When later ordered to betray them, at the risk of his career, he refused. A wounded O’Meara returned home to find an America changed, an America where those fallen in battle had become the enemy, an America where a liberal media had turned the tide of public opinion against the war and served as cheerleaders for a peace movement persecuting American servicemen.

More than memoir, Accidental Warrior is the story of a war lost, not on the battlefield, but in the hearts and minds of a people. Here are the failures of the Johnson Administration leading to the expansion of America’s role in the conflict. Here is the media's distorted view and its impact on foreign policy. Here is the career-long campaign by an officer against misguided efforts at economy jeopardizing the well-being of his men. Here, too, in his own words, is the life of an accidental warrior, a man who might have been you or I, forced into the role of warrior who made war his life, and yet bears its scars.

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From the Inside Flap:

The record of both the Cold War and the Vietnam War are contested. Writers on both sides of the conflicts defined the struggle to justify political ends they served. Marxists saw the struggle in terms of the efforts of workers to overthrow capitalism and imperialism, whereas my generation of Americans serving in uniform saw our role as one of defending freedom. To use a metaphor of a distant past, the view described is that of the centurions who guarded the frontiers of Rome rather than that of Caesar.

The metaphor of the centurion is useful because the strategy of Rome was seen as a struggle of good against evil, between civilization and barbarian hordes, and in the latter years of the empire it became a struggle between Christian warriors and heathen hordes. Two millennia later a similar rationale rooted in deeply held moral values buttressed the national strategy of the American policy of containment of communism.

The commitment to containment by American presidents from Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan shaped the views of American servicemen and women guarding the frontiers of containment throughout the Cold War, giving dignity to their sacrifices and raising their campaigns to the level of a crusade. The contest for the moral high ground shaped the pronouncements and propaganda of both side in the Cold War, as well as in the cultural wars that were spawned in America by the Vietnam War.

About the Author:

Andy O’Meara, Jr. served as cavalryman, infantryman and tanker in troop units in Europe, Vietnam and the United States. His combat experience includes tours in line units as a lieutenant, captain and a major with the 1st Cavalry Regiment (ARVN) and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (US), where he was decorated five times for valor during service in Vietnam.

During a career spanning three decades of service from platoon to brigade level, O’Meara directed training development on the M-1 Abrams Tank, taught as the Senior Army Instructor at The National War College and served as President of the Army Training Board.

His publishing credits include a book on revolutionary warfare as well as articles on leadership, management and training published in a variety of professional journals. In 1988 O’Meara was diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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