- 12 Aggie War Heroes: From World War I to Vietnam by James R. Woodall
In this work, James R. Woodall, a graduate of Texas A&M University and distinguished veteran of the U.S. Army, chronicles the lives and military careers of twelve Texas Aggies in the four major conflicts the United States fought in the twentieth century. Woodall admits that his list is subjective: he includes only those heroes who fought in battle but did not receive the Medal of Honor (he discussed seven winners of that honor in a previous book). Neither does he include those who trained, equipped, or planned the military exploits of the fighting men. Both James Earl Rudder, who commanded the 2nd Ranger Battalion on the D-day invasion, and James Francis Hollingsworth, who served in both World War II and Vietnam, during the siege of An Loc, went on to military immortality. One, Olin E. “Tiger” Teague, after coming ashore at Utah Beach and receiving serious wounds in actions related to the Battle of the Bulge, later served in the U.S. House of Representatives for a third of century. Most, like Robert L. Acklen Jr., who meritoriously served three tours in Vietnam; George H. Gay Jr., the sole survivor of Torpedo Squadron 8 that initially attacked the doomed Japanese carrier force during the Battle of Midway; and John A. Hilger, the deputy commander of the Doolittle Raid in 1942, remain relatively unknown to the general public. Only one of the twelve was a general at the time, and all but one received the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, or the Navy Cross (awards second only to the Medal of Honor).
The remaining six vignettes recount the valor of less famous, yet no less courageous, Aggies. George F. Moore fought on Corregidor in the Philippines before enduring unspeakable horrors at the hands of his Japanese captives. Andrew D. Bruce, a veteran of both World Wars and later president of the University of Houston, is widely considered the “father of Fort Hood.” David L. “Tex” Hill was a noted member of the famed “Flying Tigers.” A veteran of the Korean War, David L. Murray commanded a Marine amphibious force in Vietnam. Jay T. Robbins became a noted fighter ace in the Pacific Theater, while Marion Condy “Dookie” Pugh (who led the Aggie football team to the national championship in 1939), displayed courage in the European Theater.
Although Woodall does a very good job with each man’s biography, [End Page 532] the work, at times, lacks context. Readers need background on the Pacific and European Theaters or the Vietnam War. These men did not acquit themselves in a vacuum. Despite this, Woodall’s 12 Texas Aggie War Heroes is a well-written and -researched encyclopedia of U.S. war heroes and highly recommended to entry-level students and researchers alike.