A fascinating look at six of our bravest soldiers and the highest military decoration awarded in this country
Since the Vietnam War ended in 1973, the Medal of Honor, our nation's highest award for valor, has been presented to only eight men for their actions "above and beyond the call of duty." Six of the eight were young men who had fought in the current war in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. All of these medals were awarded posthumously, as all had made the choice to give their lives so that their comrades might live.
Uncommon Valor answers the searing question of who these six young soldiers were, and dramatically details how they found themselves in life-or-death situations, and why they responded as they did. For the first time, this book also provides a comprehensive history of the Medal of Honor itself—one marred by controversies, scandals, and theft.
Using an extraordinary range of sources, including interviews with family members and friends, teammates and superiors in the military, personal letters, blogs posted within hours of events, personal and official videos and newly declassified documents, Uncommon Valor is a compelling and important work that recounts incredible acts of heroism and lays bare the ultimate sacrifice of our bravest soldiers.
The title tells it all, so readers looking for worshipful portrayals of American fighting men will not be disappointed. In two of eight chapters, military writers Zimmerman and Gresham (Tom Clancy's coauthor on his nonfiction series) deliver a fine, well-researched history of the Medal of Honor. The remaining six follow the accepted format of this genre: the official medal citation followed by a biography, a detailed account of the recipient's military service, a blow-by-blow account of his last, heroic action (three died in firefights, three fell on grenades), ending with a survey of admiring testimonials, remembrance ceremonies, and memorials. Readers should not expect these biographies to reveal any but forgivable flaws: a youthful marijuana arrest, a reputation as a stickler for discipline. But the authors show more than average sophistication by usually referring to the enemy as the enemy rather than as suicidal fanatics or terrorists. This book is less a historical record than a testimonial, sharing these six stories with an audience beyond the honorees' families and friends. B&w photos, 8 pages of color photos.