I’m Bob Sholly and delighted to be invited to the Reading Ape’s blog. I met a few of your cousins some years back in the mountains of Ruanda and Uganda. We sat down together and had meaningful philosophical and religious discussions on the meanings of life. We also chatted about which part of a bamboo shoot was the tastiest and how to make the best nest. During a heavy thunderstorm on one of my visits, a particularly loud crack of thunder caused a small ape to jump up into my arms for protection! The massive silverback patriarch of the tribe glared and growled at me and started toward me, at which time I bent forward and groveled as we had been taught to avoid making aggressive moves that could be misinterpreted. That seemed to be adequate recognition of who was Boss and the small one scampered away in the rain to its mother, while I sighed with tremendous relief. It was an awesome experience.
Since that time, I retired from a thirty-five year career with the US Army and worked another fifteen years in several overseas locations for a major international corporation. After my retirement from corporate life, I retired to a small town in Texas and succumbed to the requests from some of the men with whom I served during my first tour in Vietnam in 1966-67. Our unit was an infantry battalion (about 800 men) and saw a great deal of action in our year together. The men knew I kept a daily journal, so they kept asking me when the book was coming out. Finally, when I fully realized that none of us were getting younger and our ranks were beginning to thin, I seriously started gathering information, interviewing and using my journals as the running thread to keep things in chronological order. I used the interviews and statements of the participants to bring differing perspectives to the same events. The story coalesced into a description of an infantryman’s life in the jungle, fighting bamboo, mountains, monsoons, drought, leaches, ants, hornets, spiked and toxic trees and vines, tigers, water buffalo and even running across elephants. And that was all before we ever found our opponent. There are firefights and battle scenes showing bravery on both sides. Many members of our unit were decorated with some of the highest U.S. awards for valor and bravery, including multiple Medals of Honor, three posthumous and one living. The stories of men sacrificing themselves so others might live is awe inspiring and should never be forgotten.
Not wanting to rely upon on the off-chance a traditional publisher would guarantee me literary and physical control over my creation, I published it myself, using outsourcing specialists when necessary. The writing was difficult because of the emotional issues involved and trying to describe the bonds of men who are under life-threatening pressure on a daily basis. Like most self-published books however, the publicity and marketing is even more challenging. The book is sold on Amazon in the Kindle version and as a print copy from the website: www.youngsoldiersamazingwarriors.com. The book has garnered eighteen awards to include a Grand Prize and several prestigious first places in various book festivals and competitions. Techniques and principles of small unit leadership are interspersed throughout the manuscript and some active units have purchased the book to use as reference material in their advanced leadership improvement courses for their junior officers and non-commissioned officers.
As a result of the book, I have been encouraged to speak professionally about effective Leadership for civilian groups and corporations and as an advocate for veterans issues. It is a sad thing that governments are more than willing to put young people in uniform, but are prepared to relegate them to lower-class citizens when the urgency for their service is over. I hope that my book will remind readers that men and women sacrifice some of their most productive years in the defense of their country and their fellow citizens. It is only right and just that they should be treated as the heroes they truly are. My favorite author, Rudyard Kipling, said it best many years ago in his poem, “Tommy”, “…For its Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!” But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot….”
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