Warrior – By Choice … By Chance, By Lt. Jack M. Anderson

by Lt. Jack M. Anderson
(Wine Press Publishing, 1998; 373 pp., $24.95 — ISBN 1883893976).

This book affords many opportunities of reflection upon the horrors of the war in the Pacific in WWII, similarly in Korea in the later conflict. Jack Anderson’s descriptions of the events of his life in the war years, deeply involved in “boots in the mud,” often primitive warfare, are interesting. It is far different from the experiences I had as an infantry lieutenant in Europe during WWII, yet resonant of the same set of horrors that warfare forces upon its participants on the ground within the heat of deadly confrontations.

The author has delved deeply into his memories, with truly remarkable recall, an amazing achievement to regain such detail to be used in an incident-rich fashion. And he has employed pertinent collateral material from the other side, to give one a realistic picture of the terrible nature of armed conflict on New Guinea in the early days of WWII. My cousin was seriously wounded in that conflict, and never regained a normal personality; it was an awful experience.

The fascination of the American public with accounts of hard warfare may generate interest in the book, however it is not well written by a professional, or a skilled writer, yet it is realistic. It will be enlightening to some who may have thought the early battles of the war in the Pacific were glorious victories.

One may wish to skip ahead to chapter three, thus avoiding the less interesting details of training in the States. The early portion of the book is well summed up in two lines: “As our losses mounted so did our resolve, full of memories which were hard to forget. As some died and others lived, we could not quite count our days of combat on ten fingers, yet it seemed we had been in this jungle muck, mire and slime for time with no end.”

The book will be hard to forget, especially the dramatic escape and rescue under fire, for this outstanding man has lived through the vivid hell of deadly combat in two wars, was twice wounded, and seriously so, was awarded a battlefield commission and decorated for bravery. Yet he has developed a deep faith, a sincere Christian attitude and optimism. He served a full career in the active army, retiring as a master sergeant, while holding a reserve commission as a major.