Reviews: The Wall Street Journal - Blackhorse Veteran’s

Blackhorse Veteran’s Review
by Lee J. Pryor
HOW 1/11 1968-69

In November 1968 B Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th ACR, after a lengthy period of field operations, was ordered to Bien Hoa to rest, repair its vehicles, and refit its equipment and weapons. After a few weeks B Troop was declared once again ready for combat. On short notice the troop was ordered to move North to support the 1st Infantry Division.

During the road march north the radio suddenly came to life with information that the Regimental Commander, COL George S. Patton, Blackhorse Six, was standing on the side of the road saluting each A-Cav as it went by him. The troopers on each vehicle, including myself, returned the salute as they went by Blackhorse Six. At that time, B Troop was commanded by CPT John Hays, an outstanding Troop Commander. Several days later CPT Hays was killed in an attack against dug in NVA troops.

COL Patton’s simple leadership act of standing by the road and saluting each vehicle as it went by had a great affect on me. That image has stuck with me to this day. Thus, it was very interesting, but somewhat painful, for me to read about this same incident through the eyes of Maj. Gen. Patton as retold by Brian M. Sobel in his book The Fighting Pattons. This and many other interesting incidents are retold in this unique and fascinating book, which retells the career of a truly great solider, Maj. Gen. George S. Patton.

Brian Sobel was able to write this book with the cooperation of both Maj. Gen. Patton and his late sister, Ruth Ellen Patton Totten. The first person quotes directly from the General and his sister is one of the things that make this such an interesting book. It gives the reader a rare look inside the famous Patton family with many insights not just on Maj. Gen. George S. Patton, but also on his famous father, Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., the Blood and Guts of WWII fame. This book is an excellent companion book to The Pattons A Personal History of an American Family, by Robert H. Patton, the son of Maj. Gen. George S. Patton.

This book will appeal to anyone who ever served with either of the Pattons. For those of us who served under Maj. Gen. Patton in Vietnam when he commanded the 11th ACR the chapters dealing with Vietnam may be painful to read. Reading these portions of the book is sure to open old wounds and bring back long forgotten memories for some readers.

It was a surprise to me to learn that Maj. Gen. Patton has spent the years since his retirement from the Army in 1980 as a farmer at the Patton family home in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Having served in the 11th ACR while he commanded it, it was hard for me to picture him in that role.

The final chapter in the book, in which Maj. Gen. Patton is quoted at length, reveals many interesting insights about him and his views on the Army and the world at large. It is truly a shame that the top leadership of the Army in the late 1970s did not choose Maj. Gen. Patton for further advancement and higher levels of command. As one who watched his career from a distance after leaving Vietnam it has always been a mystery to me why this did not happen. This book clears up some of that mystery.

For anyone interested in the saga of the Patton family The Fighting Pattons makes excellent reading.


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