Book Review: Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day … by Ray Lambert and Jim DeFelice (Five Stars)
“Always for us the war was an immediate affair; the only strategy that counted was the one that kept you and your buddies alive.”
Extraordinary memoir of one of the last survivors of D-Day. The story summarizes growing up in Alabama in the 20s and 30s, and his decision to escape poverty by joining the US Army in 1940. He thought he knew what was coming, but had no idea what was ahead for him.
“I guess they figured if a man can take care of dogs, soldiers would be a cinch.”
Though Lambert had no medical training, he had assisted the county vet giving rabies shots to dogs.
“The 2nd Battalion medics never retreated; we just found a better location.”
Excellent voice and sense of the times. Lambert was older than many recruits and a natural leader. He survived landings in Algeria, Sicily, and Normandy. My father was a WW2 vet, and many of Lambert’s expressions and slang resonated with me. And reminded me of my father, dead over twenty years.
“Your mind plays tricks when you look back. Things that should be sharp and crisp blur. Odd events, people you barely knew and places you rarely visited, suddenly become sharp.”
DeFelice undoubtedly facilitated producing a modern text for the 90-year-old Lambert but did so without losing the sense of the original.
“No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great—Duty First” First Division motto.
We cannot imagine what it was like: Lambert’s First Division “The Big Red One” went through. It is estimated that fully 30% of everyone who landed on Omaha beach was killed or wounded during his first hour ashore … or, in many cases, not quite ashore. Lambert was wounded three times that morning, the last took him out of the fight. His team rescued him and started him back to England.
“And that’s all right. In a way, it’s better. Every medic who did his job that day was a savior; every man a hero.”
This book looks like a great read. My father talked about the war, but wouldn’t talk about battles. As an artist, he worked on camouflaging tanks and only told fun, interesting stories when I was much older.