Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Book Review: Spare Parts by Buzz Williams

Book Review
If you've served in the United States military, especially during a time of combat, then this book doesn't really need much comment for you. The book is Spare Parts, by former United States Marine Corps Reservist Buzz Williams.

Buzz grew up with an older brother he admired. An older brother who stuck up for him on the elementary school playground and protected him from bullies. A brother who enlisted in the Marine Corps and left Buzz wondering when his brother would return. A brother who told Buzz all about the yellow footprints at Parris Island, where boys become men, then men become Marines. A brother who lost touch with Buzz after planting a seed. A brother who killed himself in a senseless car accident and left Buzz alone and confused. A brother whom Buzz might never again connect with if not for that seed -- the calling of the yellow footprints.

Buzz joined the Marine Corps Reserve to be a LAV -- Light Armored Vehicle -- crewman. He wanted to be in the Infantry, but felt the need to be more than just a rifleman. Allured by the posters in the recruiting station, Buzz answered the call to become part of a LAV crew.

In the Marines, as in the rest of the military, every recruit is trained to be one thing first and foremost: a rifleman -- an infantryman, a "grunt" -- a killer. Because in combat, when under attack, it doesn't matter if your an Engineer or Pilot, work in the mess hall or supply room, you have to be able to fight, to defend, to kill -- to survive.

So many of our brave fighting men and women are doing just that today. They have learned the same lesson that Buzz Williams learned -- the lesson that so many Guard and Reserves have learned -- that a soldier is a soldier, a sailor is a sailor, and a Marine is a Marine. No matter what you do from nine to five Monday thru Friday, when your country calls -- when the cause of Liberty and Democracy must be served -- the Guard and Reserve are just as likely to find themselves in a foxhole -- or in this era, the desert -- as the Active Duty Infantry. That's exactly what Buzz learned when his Reserve unit was deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield -- the first Gulf War -- by the first President Bush.

Buzz takes us from enlistment to training, drill to combat, and separation to the return to society. With a no holds barred, no punches pulled narrative, Buzz tells the story like it is -- like only a fighting man could. Like only a Marine could.

From being "digged" by merciless Drill Instructors in Basic Training to the shocking discovery of an Iraqi torture room in an abandoned Kuwaiti home, Buzz holds nothing back. The language. The misery. The fear of a chemical attack on New Years Eve. The heartbreak. The motivation, dedication, and obsession of a fighting man training for war. The uncertainty. The disappointment. The disillusionment with one's leaders. Buzz Williams delivers it all in a colorful narrative that -- but for the lack of deadly shells flying over your head -- will put you in the scene.

This should be required reading for anyone who doesn't understand why today, under the leadership of the second President Bush, our brave fighting men and women risk their lives every day in this second Gulf War. There is a call that must be answered. A call that is heard only by The Few. The proud. The Marines.


Having served myself for eight years on Active Duty in the U.S. Army -- though gracefully being spared the horrors of combat -- I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the rest of our fighting men and women: soldiers, sailors, and airmen (and women). For, with the Marines, they serve as a Team, defending our country, serving Liberty, and answering the call. God be with them all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome book. Tells the real story of a reservist no matter what branch. You must prove yourself to the active duty that you are worthy. An easy process but should not have to happen. Depicts a true reserve deployment process from deployment to redeployment home. This should be required reading for all military officers/NCOs.

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