Hope and Honor
by Major General Sid Shachnow and Jann Robbins. Forge, New York, 2004, softcover 2006, $14.95.
As a reviewer, I must confess up front that I have known and respected co-author Sid Shachnow for 30 years. In fact, I was one of his company commanders in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, in the late 1970s, and felt fortunate to have served with him. Although I was aware of Shachnow’s background, however, I had never heard all the details of his remarkable story. Having read the full account, I now understand why he was such a great commander, and one who is still respected by all who served with him.
Shachnow’s story is a sweeping tale that reads like a movie script. Born in 1933 in Lithuania, as a child he survived three years in the Nazis’ notorious Kovno concentration camp. When he and his family returned to Lithuania, they found it occupied by the Soviets and they headed west on foot to the U.S. occupation zone in Germany, arriving in fall 1945. After four years, they emigrated to the United States.
Shachnow worked his way through school and then enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1955. Volunteering for Special Forces, he rose to sergeant first class before attending Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning. He served two tours in Vietnam, earning two Silver Stars and three Bronze Star Medals. During his 32-year career, Shachnow served mostly in Special Forces units, commanded the Berlin Brigade and played a major role in the expansion of U.S. Special Operations Forces in serving as commander of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center.
Major General Shachnow’s story is one of sacrifice and determination in the face of great odds. In this memoir, he writes with a directness and humility that is characteristic of the man himself. It is the quintessential American tale of how an immigrant comes to America and takes full advantage of all that the country has to offer. A moving and inspirational story, Hope and Honor is a must-read for all Americans.
Originally published in the February 2007 issue of Vietnam Magazine. To subscribe, click here.