The Fighting 69th: One Remarkable National Guard Unit's Journey from Ground Zero to Baghdad

Sean Michael Flynn, Author . Viking $25.95 (300p) ISBN 978-0-670-01843-7

Flynn (Land of Radioactive Midnight ) draws on his experience as a company commander with the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard—the “Fighting 69th” of Civil War, WWI and WWII fame—for this riveting account of the unit's service following 9/11. Considered “the worst unit in the National Guard,” at the turn of the 21st century, according to Flynn, the 69th was “under-trained, under-resourced, and under-led.” Activated on 9/11, its soldiers were the first to arrive at ground zero, and then guarded New York City's bridges and tunnels and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In 2004, after retraining, the unit was flagged “Task Force Wolfhound” and certified for overseas deployment, but was “barely functional in the field.” In Iraq, the 69th provided route security along a six-mile stretch known as “'The Most Dangerous Road in the World,'” the main highway between the airport and downtown Baghdad. Learning on the job, the 69th “effectively neutralized” the roadside bomb threat that has caused a high percentage of the war's casualties, but paid a heavy price in its own killed and injured. Drawing on combat journals, operations orders and interviews with survivors, Flynn fashions a tale equal to the making of the new, contemporary heroes of the Fighting 69th who, against all odds, restored a previously distinguished unit to its former glory. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/19/2007
Release date: 01/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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