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Everyday Heroes: JOHN NELSON

March 1, 2013

I decided to do something different this month for my Everyday Heroes
blog. Jim Harbinson, an old and dear friend, sent me an email – which I’ve
included below — a few days ago about a book he had just read. That book
is titled The Remains of Company D. Although the main character in the
book can be included in the pantheon of Everyday Heroes, it was the way
in which Jim finished his email to me that made me go a different route with
this month’s blog.

I’ve left Jim’s final comment at the end of this post, but his point there
made me focus on the fact that the Everyday Heroes I’ve written about
who served in the military did so in spite of the leadership (or lack thereof)
shown by the “leaders” who sent them into battle. He reminded me that the
men who have deployed young men and women into dangerous theatres,
and who have taken credit for the victories earned by these young men
and women, are often the least of us. And only on rare occasions do they
come close to being equal to those young men and women who sacrifice

Here is Jim’s email:

“I just finished The Remains of Company D, a really marvelous piece
of research and writing. The author’s grandfather, born Jon Nilsson in
Sweden and naturalized John Nelson after he emigrated to the US,
was in 1st Division, Co. D, in the American Expeditionary Force under Gen.
Pershing in WWI. John Nelson survived his wounds to live to 101, but
never talked much about his war experiences.

“Co. D, comprised of men and boys from America circa 1918, many of
them immigrants themselves, fought through some of the worst battles of
the war and suffered very heavy casualties.

“I now understand better why names like Cantigny, Soissons, Seicheprey,
and Meuse-Argonne have so much significance for our Army’s history. Few
of the original Company D survived the war.

“The author’s curiosity about his grandfather’s war, and his grandfather’s
reticence to talk about it, led to years of painstaking research, the result of
which is this very memorable book.

“The writing is a tribute to author James Nelson’s grandfather and all the
other Doughboys; and some history of WWI battle tactics, subjects – that
despite my own many years of reading – I had never read much about.
While portions of the book are heavy in logistical details – which men and
which units were on this hill or in that assault – the author’s research about
the fighting, the battlefield conditions, and the men’s thoughts and actions
is among the very best I’ve ever read. The description of WWI battles is
horrifying. Many thousands of men were sacrificed in tactics from earlier
wars, before the use of trench warfare, poisonous gas, machine guns,
tanks, spotter aircraft, and massive artillery. I learned a lot, and was
moved by the patriotism, stoicism, and bravery of the men of Company D.
No western nation today would accept the tactics or the losses that were
common in WWI. But those fighting the battles then and now still give their
lives for their beliefs.

“Read this book!

“Our country has been sending men like John Nelson and the men of
Company D off to fight for freedom for well over 200 years now. They go
willingly. They fight bravely. And sometimes they die for the ideal of
freedom and for the blessings liberty bestows on its defenders. Would that
our country today had leadership worthy of such men.”

I ask that the followers of this blog remember Jim’s last paragraph, and
especially his last sentence. Characterless, incompetent leaders sacrifice
young people on the altar of politics. Before you elect any leader, ask
yourself the question: “What impact will he/she have on my children and on
my grandchildren. Don’t put our children at risk ever again for the political
gain of some man or woman who only pays lip service to those children’s
future prospects.

Joseph Badal is the author of five thrillers, including Shell Game.  His next thriller, The Lone Wolf Agenda, will be released this May.

Joe worked for nearly four decades in the financial services industry, including high-level executive positions in publicly traded institutions. Prior to his finance career, he  served in the U.S. Army, with overseas tours of duty, including in Vietnam and Greece. He received numerous military decorations.

Contact Joe:

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 4, 2013 10:23 am

    As usual, Joe, you hit a home run. This is a wonderful post and makes the final point very well. Too bad voters can’t have a magic machine that would show them the future of their voting. I can’t believe many of them would still be as careless with that sacred duty.

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