Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Heart for the Fight" Sweepstakes

Brian Stann is a fighter. Pure and simple. From the collegiate football field to the battlefields of the Middle East and into the Octagon of the WEC and UFC, Brian Stann’s life has been one adrenaline-packed conflict after another. And while his sporting life has pushed him to physical and mental limits that would break even the most tough-as-nails characters, it is Stann’s experience as a Marine Corps platoon commander in Iraq that has most dramatically shaped the character, drive, and dogged determination of one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in MMA today.

Now, Zenith Press is offering visitors of “Zenith Press…The Blog” an opportunity to win one of a ten autographed copies of Stann's inspiring, new memoir Heart for the Fight: A Marine Hero's Journey from the Battlefields of Iraq to Mixed Martial Arts Champion.

You can enter the contest one of two ways (see below)

Contest entry:
1) Become a Fan of Zenith Press on Facebook AND
let us know about a veteran/current serviceman or woman in your life -- be it a family member, friend, coworker or neighbor -- who has served their country with honor (as a comment on the Zenith Press Facebook page -- under the contest post).


2) Send us an email with your name and reply email address to “zenith (dot) press (at) hotmail.com” AND
let us know about a veteran or current serviceman or woman in your life -- be it a family member, friend, coworker or neighbor -- who has served their country with honor.

Deadline for entries is 11:59 pm CST on Tuesday, October 12, 2010. We will pick the winners on October 13, 2010.

Follow Zenith Press’ Facebook page and/or Zenith Press…The Blog to learn about future book contests, learn about new releases, read exclusive book excerpts, and much more!

*Terms & Conditions – This contest is for ten (10) individually awarded, author-signed copies of Heart for the Fight to ten contest winners drawn at random. Books will be new and provided by the publisher. All entrants must complete the entry task(s), or in case of any issues an email to zenith (dot) press (at) hotmail.com. One entry per household. All information provided will be kept confidential. Entries must be received by Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 11:59pm Central Standard Time. Contest winners will be drawn at random and notified after the close of the contest. The books will be shipped directly to the winners. US &Canadian residents only.

Friday, September 24, 2010

From the Pages - The U.S. Marines at Hill 142

In a U.S. Marine Corps legacy filled with honorable men and honorable moments, Belleau Wood stands out as perhaps its most memorable. In a battle that lasted most of June 1918, the Marines made six bloody sweeps into the meadows within Belleau Wood during the German Spring Offensive. Facing massed German machine guns, the carnage was terrible. The 4th Marine Brigade persevered, however, and the Spring Offensive—which had threatened to overwhelm French and British forces before the Americans even joined the battle—would never regain its momentum.

In the following excerpt from The Devil Dogs at Belleau Wood, author Dick Camp details the Marines advance on Hill 142--one of the deadliest and most unforgiving machine gun fortifications U.S. troops would face in the entire war.
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Marine Brigade Field Order No. 1 issued 10:25 p.m., June 5: 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, supported by 8th and 23rd Machine Gun companies, will attack at 3:45 a.m. to seize Hill 142. Hill 142, a tree-covered ridge running two kilometers generally north to south, was flanked by dry streambeds, heavy with thick undergrowth. The ridge itself was a jumble of dense underbrush, boulder strewn, undulating terrain that provided a perfect defense. The northern portion of the ridge and the eastern edge were steep and covered with bush. A three-hundred-meter waist-high wheat field sloped gently upward from the Marine position to the crest of the pine-covered hill.

By three o’clock on the morning of June 6, the brigade was organized: the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 5th Regiment and the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 6th Regiment formed the front line. The 2nd Battalion of the 5th Regiment and the 1st Battalion of the 6th Regiment made up the reserves. The companies of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion were distributed among the battalions on the front.

The German defense of Hill 142 placed three fresh companies of the 237th Infantry Division squarely in the path of the Marine attack. Additional reserves were located within easy striking distance to be used as a counterattack force. Each company had an effective strength of between ninety and one hundred men and had six light and two heavy machine guns within its table of organization. The men holding Hill 142 were not considered attack troops. Rather, they were specially trained “sector-holding” troops, whose sole job was to defend and hold critical terrain.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Military Snapshots - One tank down for the 1/1 Cav

With a legacy as one of the most battle-honored units in the U.S. Army's history, the 1/1 Cavalry squadron was at its best during 1967–1968, at the height of General Westmoreland’s war of attrition against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. Soldiers in the squadron earned a Medal of Honor, four Distinguished Service Crosses, and thousands of Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, and Purple Hearts during savage battles in places like Tam Ky, the Que Son Valley, the Pineapple Forest, Hill 34, Cigar Island, and Tien Phuoc. In this photo, platoon Sergeant Boyd’s badly damaged tank, A-15, being loaded onto a Dragon Wagon by two M-88s, March 1968. Photo courtesy of John Guzik, from Search and Destroy: The Story of an Armored Cavalry Squadron in Vietnam: 1-1 Cav, 1967–1968 by Keith Nolan.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beyond the Book - Q & A with Eric Hammel, author of "Islands of Hell"

Acclaimed military historian and author Eric Hammel has spent decades researching the U.S. Marine Corps role in the Pacific during World War II. The result are a handful of comprehensive and authoritative illustrated histories—the most complete resources ever produced on the U.S. Marine Corps’ combat during World War II.

His most recent book, Islands of Hell: The U.S. Marines in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945, follows the U.S. Marines through the latter portion of the war in the Pacific, including momentous battles at Tinian, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

In the following interview, Hammel talks about the Pacfic War, the brave men who fought it, and what researching and writing each of his books has meant to him.

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ZENITH PRESS: With dozens of books covering the history of the U.S. Marine Corps to your credit, it is clear that you hold a deep respect and admiration for the men and women who wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. What first drew you to writing about the USMC and its history? 

ERIC HAMMEL: It really was a combination of reasons. I was born right after the end of World War II. My father and most of the fathers of friends served. I have always been aware of the war. I was allowed to take adult books out of the Free Library of Philadelphia local branch when I was in third grade. For some reason, my first pick was Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis. That kind of set the pace; it drew me to the Pacific War, in which my father had served (as a U.S. Army front-line medic). Somehow, I was imprinted by all of that on the Marines.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Military Snapshots - Bravo Company Marines in Hue City

From February 3-6, 1968, U.S. Marines fighting to retake Hue City would encounter some of the fiercest combat of the battle in what has been referred to as "The Six-Block War." Bravo/1/1 was thrown into clearing operations as soon as it reached Hue on the afternoon of February 3. These, Bravo Company Marines quickly waded into a fight with an NVA .51-caliber machine gun that caught them on the wrong side of a masonry wall. Official USMC Photo by Sergeant Bruce Atwell, from Marines in Hue City: A Portrait of Urban Combat, Tet 1968 by Eric Hammel.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

They Said It . . .

"I could see out. It was only a short time before I could hear the crack of small arms fire and see puffs of antiaircraft gunfire.

"Shortly after, the plane started filling with smoke. As I looked across the plane, I noticed Lieutenant [Isidore D.] Rynkiewicz had been hit in the left knee and Hatfield, the BAR man, was hit on the back of his hand. To my right, a trooper was on the floor of the plane. I think it was [Private First Class Everett R.] Rideout.

"I remember saying, 'Let's get the hell out of here' and we started standing up. The air force sergeant dove out the door of the plane. Within seconds, the plane was so full of smoke you could not see anything. Some men near the cockpit of the plane started coughing, and we were pushing for the door.

"At that time, myself and others fell through the floor of the plane. We were hooked up, and when my chute opened, I could smell flesh and see skin hanging from my face and hand. I had released my rifle when the flames burned my hands."
Eighteen-year-old George Willoughby, a private in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, on his experience during the regiment's combat jump into the Netherlands as part of "Operation Market Garden." From More Than Courage: The Combat History of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II by Phil Nordyke.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Air Corps

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Aviation Snapshots - Airbus A380

The Airbus A380 SuperJumbo was the star of the 45th Farnborough International Air Show, held in England, between July 17 and 23, 2006. Located thirty miles southwest of London, the seven-day, biennial international trade fair for the aerospace business, ranks among the most important airs shows in the industry in terms of exhibitors and attendance. In this photo, the Airbus A380 makes a historic flyby with the Red Arrows. Photo courtesy of David Maxwell, from Airbus A380: SuperJumbo on World Tour.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

From the Pages - Search and Destroy

Recognized as the U.S. Army's most battle-honored unit, the 1/1 Cav furthered their stellar reputation in combat during their tenure in Vietnam. An integral outfit in General Westmoreland's war of attrition, the 1/1 Cav was recognized as one of the most aggressive and professional outfits in the entire American military -- earning a Medal of Honor, four Distinguished Service Crosses, and thousands of Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, and Purple Hearts.

In the following exclusive excerpt from Search and Destroy:The Story of an Armored Cavalry Squadron in Viet Nam, late-author Keith Nolan describes the 1/1 Cav's experiences during Tết from January–February 1968.
The war usually shut down during Tết, a holiday of great religious and familial significance that ushers in the Lunar New Year. In this instance, General Westmoreland canceled the holiday cease-fire in I Corps on January 29, concerned as he was about the encirclement of the marines at Khe Sanh in the northwest corner of the country: the view at MACV was that the communists, pushed to the hinterlands and on the verge of defeat, were planning in their desperation a spectacular recreation of the siege of Diện Biên Phu.

Unbeknownst to Westmoreland, the communists hoped not only to take Khe Sanh—presuming that the siege was not simply a ruse—but had been planning since the summer of ’67 to use the 1968 Tết cease-fire as cover for an unprecedented wave of attacks designed to topple the regime in Sài Gòn. The onslaught would be known to a shocked world as the Tết Offensive.

Emerging from the jungle, the enemy planned to strike for the first time the urban centers of the country and win the war in a single decisive moment: surely, the ARVN would shatter under the blow of a hundred sledgehammers striking a hundred towns and cities, the urban masses would rally to the revolution, the government would fall, and the United States would be left with no option but to negotiate a withdrawal from South Việt Nam.

Jumping the gun, certain enemy units attacked five cities in the northern part of the country shortly after midnight on January 30, the first day of Tết, and a full twenty-four hours before the offensive was scheduled to begin. Other, smaller flare-ups included a brief attack on Thăng Bình ten kilometers northwest of Hill 29 on Highway 1. Government troops drove off the VC even before a reaction force arrived from C Troop of the 1-1 Cavalry. Elsewhere, the festivities began on schedule with feasts and firecrackers. At the time, half of Sài Gòn’s army was home on leave.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Release - Naked in Da Nang

When was the last time a Vietnam memoir truly touched your heart...and made you laugh out loud? Or when did you last read a book or see a film that vividly captured the broad spectrum of human emotions? And how often has one man’s inspirational story made you want to stand up and cheer? Naked In Da Nang does all that...and much more. Few combat memoirs have ever painted a more compelling portrait of the hopes, fears and motivations of the average American GI. Naked In Da Nang successfully reaches out to all branches of the military, all living veterans, and civilian audiences, as well, male and female alike.

Like the wildly successful "We Were Soldiers Once…And Young," Naked In Da Nang is helping to redefine America's perception of her Vietnam veterans. Armed with the biting wit of MASH, the historical accuracy of We Were Soldiers, and the innocent nostalgia of TV’s The Wonder Years, Naked In Da Nang presents a main character who is likeable, sardonic and courageous, usually in spite of himself.

The bitter, brooding, traumatized soldier who finds solace in drugs, alcohol or insanity is not now - and never was - the norm, as underscored by the fundamental decency of Naked In Da Nang. The book's accurate yet warmly colorful portrayal of the Vietnam GI has struck a nerve across America and throughout all branches of the military. In fact, Naked In Da Nang inspired Operation Welcome Home, the nationwide "welcome home" celebration for America's veterans of Southeast Asia, which took place across America in 2005, culminating in a huge Las Vegas, NV event over Veterans' Day weekend last year.