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Book Review: Blue Spaders: The 26th Infantry Regiment 1917-1967 (edited by Steven Weingartner) : VN

Originally published on Published Online: August 12, 2001 
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Blue Spaders: The 26th Infantry Regiment 1917-1967, edited by Steven Weingartner, First Division Museum at Cantigny, 1 South 151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, Ill., 1996, $20.

In his interview in this issue, "Operation Attleboro: The Wolfhounds' Brave Stand," Maj. Gen. (then Major) Guy S. Meloy tells how his unit was relieved on the battlefield in November 1966 by the 1st Infantry Division. One of those "Big Red One" battalions was the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, commanded by Lt. Col. (later General) Paul F. Gorman. Among the stories in this outstanding regimental history is Gorman's personal account of the combat actions that followed Attleboro.

Of more personal interest is his account of an earlier battle, Operation Amarillo, in August 1966, during which he took command of the remnants of several battalions, my own included, which had been badly mauled while overrunning a Viet Cong trench line. The next morning our command post was hit by two tanks of napalm that came in short. The entire world was on fire, including my left hand, right shoulder and a case of grenades at my feet. The map in Gorman's hand vaporized, and all the rubber handset cords on our radios melted instantly. If ever there was panic time, that was it!

But there was no panic. By the force of his will alone, Gorman steadied the entire force. It was the most impressive act of leadership I had ever seen. Characteristically, in the book Gorman dismisses the incident lightly. "My map and radio were literally burned up," he says, "and I got singed a bit. I asked that they keep laying the napalm on, and they did."

Vietnam is not the only war brought to life in this riveting anecdotal history. Some chapters also recall the Blue Spaders' exploits in World War I, when one of its battalions was commanded by reserve Major Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., who later commanded the entire regiment. Also chronicled is the "relentless pursuit" the regiment made from its World War II landing in Normandy on D-Day through V-E Day, by which time it had advanced across Europe and into Czechoslovakia.

Blue Spaders is not intended to be a comprehensive history of the 26th Infantry Regiment, but rather a book that captures the unit's "personality." And in that endeavor it has succeeded admirably.

Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr.

5 Responses to “Book Review: Blue Spaders: The 26th Infantry Regiment 1917-1967 (edited by Steven Weingartner) : VN”

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  2. 2
    Carl W. Bradfield says:

    General Paul Gorman included exceprts from my book, The Blue Spaders, Vuetnam in this book (pages 127 – 155. I was at the Battle of Bong Trang as an E-4 in the jungle bush.

  3. 3
    Carl W. Bradfield says:

    Spell correction, Vietnam

    • 3.1
      Carl W. Bradfield says:

      For the record, I did not misspell Vietnam in this update. Beside my book, The Blue Spaders, Vietnam, which General Gorman used excerpts from. I have written a script entitled, The Blue Spaders, recommended by people in the film industry and floating around Hollywood. No one has made a movie about guys like us who sailed over as a unit and learned this new war OJT (Vietnam as we know it today hadn't happened yet).

      As a columnist for Veteran Magazine in Tampa, FL, I also write articles I call Lighter Moments in Vietnam (we did gag it up some). Something on the humorous side (verse all the doom and gloom). Thank you.
      Carl Bradfield

  4. 4
    Kathy says:

    reginald girouard …do you still have the article by the washington star on operation attleboro and the 196th used as bate in the battle ? My husband was with the 196th 4/31 co. B …..thanks for a reply

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