The Life of an Airborne Ranger by Michael B. Kitz-Miller
Book One, Donovan’s Skirmish
Book Two, Take Care of Your Men
Book Three, Everyone Comes Home
“The Life of an Airborne Ranger” is a trilogy, with all books now written. Book One will be published and available on Amazon, June 2018, the others soon to follow. Reviews of the first book are extremely positive. As one reader, a Marine said, “After reading Airborne Ranger I’m ready to sign up to fight with Jack’s 101st Airborne Division and go searching for a woman like Mary Clarke.” The trilogy is a continuous story, not disparate stories with the same main character. It is an exciting, fast paced story with numerous trainings, combat operations and major field training exercises, as well as the initially stormy then loving and enduring relationship of Jack Donovan and Mary Clarke. Jack will rise in rank from private to four-star general, considered by many as the General George Patton of his generation. He becomes the most decorated soldier in the military service including the Medal of Honor, earned during his second tour in Vietnam as a weapon squad leader. Later, when he meets Mary Clarke at the University of Maryland, she is on her own career path towards a Ph.D. in American Literature, which will take her to teaching positions at Bucknell, North Carolina State, Dickinson, Vanderbilt, Maryland and Columbia University. The trilogy is historically correct throughout, with the numerous combat operations and training exercises fictionalized to fit the characters. It follows Jack from his early years roaming the mountains and streams of central Pennsylvania, to college for a career path his parents pressure him to pursue. Then, against their wishes an enlistment in the Army leading eventually to his realization that it is the life of an airborne ranger he most loves. Jack will have three tours of duty in Vietnam followed by major field training exercises and combat missions to Grenada, Panama, Somalia and throughout the Middle East. At the illustrious War College in Carlisle, Jack earns a master’s degree, teaching tactics there for a year and later, time at the Pentagon. He will end his career as a special instructor, teaching admiring cadets at West Point. There is also an incompetent officer that follows Jack’s career. Orin Jensen’s promotions and career, just one grade ahead of Jack, are constantly bolstered by a general staff officer at the Pentagon, his uncle, who both bring new meaning to the “Peter Principle.” Every current and past soldier will recognize the posts, training schools and many of the war operations.
Book One, “Donovan’s Skirmish” cover Jack’s early years. Financially not able to finish college and with the draft in effect, he decides to enlist in the Army. As a private he is runner-up for Honor Graduate in Airborne School. He is a Division Soldier-of-the-Month with the 101st Airborne and then Honor Graduate in the demanding Recondo School with its incredible 65% attrition rate. He is sent to the famous Ranger School at Ft. Benning, Georgia where, after graduating as the Darby Honor Graduate, decides that it is the life as an Airborne Ranger he most loves and wants as his career. His first tour in Vietnam is as a staff sergeant and special advisor to separate Vietnamese airborne and ranger battalions, where he plans and commands two major operations against the Viet Cong that earn him numerous commendations for valor. It is during his second tour, Orin Jensen his company commander, chooses an encampment that is ripe for an ambush. Jack’s vocal concerns fall on deaf ears, with a large battle that ensues at Jensen’s poorly chosen site. Jack is seriously wounded while earning the Medal of Honor during what is later called “Donovan’s Skirmish.” After multiple surgeries and months of rehab at Walter Reed Hospital, Jack is fully recuperated. Against substantial advice, Jack turns down the President and tradition of receiving his Medal of Honor at the White House by having it instead presented at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky the home of the “Screaming Eagles” with paratroopers and comrades he fought with, also receiving commendations for their own brave actions.
With the help of Lt. General Frank Stafford, a special furlough allows Jack to finish his degree at the University of Maryland. The General has become his mentor, having lost his only son during a qualifying parachute jump during his final year at West Point. Theirs will be an enduring relationship throughout Jack’s career. Book One ends as Jack, after two years earns his degree in history with honors, and through the ROTC program his Regular Army commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. All has been done against the wishes of his parents, who will never forgive Jack for not completing a degree in music as a church organist and choir director. It is at Maryland, during a series of independent philosophical lectures, he meets and falls in love with Mary Clarke who is finishing her Master’s degree. A stormy romance, her introduction to opera by Jack, their philosophical match, his admiration and growing love of her parents, both doctors at Columbia University Medical School all give rise to a long, loving marriage and life together.
Book Two, “Take Care of Your Men” continues with both their careers flourishing. Jack’s training continues at the Infantry School, Air Assault School and re-establishing his jump status. His mentor and Army father, Frank Stafford is now commander of XVIII Airborne Corps and invites Jack for a special assignment. It is to be a six-month tour to research small unit tactics and training in the two airborne divisions at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Jack uncovers an old boy network that has led to sub-standard military skills in both units. With one unit scheduled for deployment to Vietnam, there is great concern making their readiness a priority. With his research project complete, 1st Lieutenant Donovan leaves for his third tour of Vietnam as a company commander, where he is involved with two large operations against VC rocket launcher sites. Planning and commanding the operations, he once again receives numerous commendations for valor. He has become the most highly decorated soldier in the military service, but again clashes with Orin Jensen’s incompetence. With his third tour of duty over he returns to North Carolina where Mary Clarke surprises Jack with a planned trip to Austria. They have already discovered their love of opera and classical music, which fills their evenings in Salzburg and Vienna. Jack has also discovered his wife’s independent wealth, having inherited a substantial sum from an aunt and uncle who loved her dearly, but unable to have their own children. Her parents have also left her a substantial trust, so money will never be a problem for the Donovan’s, whose family has been enlarged with a Welsh Terrier named “Patton.” Book Two ends with Jack, now a full Colonel and brigade commander of the 75th Airborne Rangers. He plans and commands a major operation during a large field training exercise at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Using high altitude qualified parachutist, that include himself, he outsmarts a superior force to win the exercise. His career continues with numerous promotions, as Mary Clarke fills large lecture halls at North Carolina State University. She is one of few professors on campus that give failing grades to students that are not up to the mark, even while students line up for her classes, that include graduate level courses on the romantic novels and their many moral characters of Ayn Rand and Victor Hugo.
Book Three, “Everyone Comes Home” has Jack and his men in battles that take them to Panama and Somalia with a major clash with his superiors at the Pentagon over a debacle in Grenada. He loses men over what he considers the immoral Rules of Engagement based on Just War Theory still taught at West Point. As a division commander of the 101st Airborne Division, he makes an historic flight with 150 Apache and Black Hawk helicopters and hundreds of troops from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky to a flyby up the Potomac River past the Pentagon, leap frogging to re-fueling stops all the way to Saudi Arabia, when Iraq attacks Kuwait. This action is key to stopping the Iraqi’s planned attack on Saudi Arabia. Further operations in the Iraqi War, including a classic end-run to block the retreat and re-supply of Saddam results in additional commendations. Over the next few years he continues his historic rise as a brilliant battlefield commander, graduating from the War College with a Master’s Degree, eventually receiving his fourth star. Now, at the Pentagon, he is given a large research project to evaluate the basic military skills of all major Amy units, where he draws the ire of Orin Jensen’s uncle. It is during an evaluation of troops in the Middle East he and his driver are ambushed. While wounded he is still able to take out four enemy soldiers, saving his driver before he passes out. He and Mary Clarke ultimately decide to retire, but Jack is offered the opportunity of a special teaching post at West Point. Book Three ends four years later with Mary Clarke’s retirement as a full professor of American Literature at Columbia University. She is tenured, has been a Teacher-of-the-Year and published two major books on Ayn Rand and Victor Hugo’s romanticism.
On the “Plains” at West Point, the cadet corps make a special request they have a “Pass in Review” command parade for the famous general, followed by a speech to the full cadet corps on a topic of his choice. In attendance are a sizeable contingency of current and retired Generals and Command Sergeant Majors, that have all been part of Jack’s astonishing career. Over the entrance to his large lecture hall, the cadets have placed a large brass plate engraved: “The General Jack Donovan Lecture Hall.” Following his last lecture on Donovan’s Skirmish and then an emotional parade, Jack delivers his surprising speech covering topics unexpected by all. The response too, is unexpected, especially to the staff. “Airborne Ranger” is the story of the long and distinguished career of Jack Donovan, an heroic, principled American soldier, and of Mary Clarke Donovan’s astonishing career, their loving life together and many special friendships as well. For Jack, his career is embodied in the motto he has held his entire career - “Take care of your men. Everyone comes home.”
The first book of the trilogy, “Donovan’s Skirmish” will be published in late June, 2018. Each of the three books is approximately 350 to 400 printed pages. One of the author’s other self-published books is: “Paratrooper: My Life with the 101st Airborne Division,” a 300-page memoir of his service with the 101st during the 1960’s. Michael B. Kitz-Miller, 4637 Southwood Terrace, Salisbury, 6 21804, USA, 443/235-1079, firstname.lastname@example.org