Memoirs of a Combat Infantryman By An Enemy Alien, By Eric Diller
(Authorhouse, 2002; 180 pp., $14.50 — ISBN 1403305439).
Eric Diller has written a fascinating personal experience of his service in the United States infantry. While most infantry books center on rifle companies the setting for this narrative is the heavy weapons company of which there was one in each battalion.
The book opens with the author’s background as a young man born in pre-Hitler Germany and his subsequent emigration to the United States. Failing to be accepted as a volunteer into the service because of his non-citizenship, the Selective Service process paid no heed to his citizenship, or lack thereof, and he was drafted into the army in June 1943.
After the usual Basic and advanced training he was loaded onboard a troop ship and in February 1944 arrived in Dutch New Guinea, which was the beginning of a stretch of service in the South Pacific that did not end until he returned to the USA on New Year’s Eve 1945. His accounts of his experiences are not a reference book but are the personal story of an infantryman in close combat.
The Table of Contents and Chapter headings themselves tell the stories all too well; Hollandia, Biak, Leyte, Luzon, Corregidor, Mindoro and Mindanao, all of which were written into the history book in blood. Anyone who ever qualified for the CIB (Combat Infantry Badge) will quickly relate to the combat incidents in the book. None are written from a “war story” or “gung ho” point of view, but rather as actions that were part of being in the infantry and what that entailed.
There are several interesting vignettes about his companions who served “above and beyond,” but the author does not include himself in any of those accounts. For someone who served over 70 days of continuous combat action, this obviously reflects a degree of modesty on the part of the author.
This book will be of interest to those who served in the infantry and in particular those who served in the heavy weapons companies that supported the rifle companies.
The author’s return to civilian life and his successes there mirror the efforts by many who “served for the duration” like himself.
The book is an easy read and enjoyable and reflects with great credit to the author for his service in a dangerous and trying time during World War II.