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D-Plus Forever Hardcover – Feb 1994


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Iwo Jima Paratrooper 11 Oct. 2013
By John E. Larsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Davenport was initially a Marine paratrooper and served in the Solomons with L Company, 3rd Marine Para Battalion. He wrote of these experiences in `Marine Paratrooper'. This book though only covers his time thereafter, fighting on Iwo Jima with D/2/28th of the 5th Marine Division and following his return from wounds, occupation duty in Japan.

There are a few short chapters covering Davenport's reassignment to the newly formed 5th Division after the marine paratroopers are disbanded. They are extremely disappointed by this and quite perplexed that MacArthur declined the chance to take them onto his force. In any case the experience they bring is vital to lifting the 5th to a combat force that was able to cope with the horrors of Iwo.

Davenport lands on the first day and enters a maelstrom on the beach. He describes well the confusion and specifically his own experience of losing vital equipment and the problems everyone had maintaining functioning weapons. His unit is assigned to capture Mt. Suribachi and it is a very deadly slog indeed. They receive some tank support but most of the attacks are very exposed to Japanese defensive fire. Eventually the summit is captured and Davenport is a witness to the very famous flag raisings. By then, casualties are very high and by the end of the campaign only a handful of Davenport's platoon are still standing.

Many of these men are close friends of the author's and he pointedly tries to reveal their natures and value as people and marines. A lot of this is done through dialogue and this is reasonably effective for the purpose described. It can be a bit melodramatic though and I personally preferred the chapters where Davenport focuses on his own actions. The conversations are useful for revealing the way the men supported each other but note there are also racist comments and strong language. I hasten to add these are in context and not overdone. The sentiments expressed were pretty valid given the times. It is interesting to then read of Davenport's later contact with the Japanese when on occupation duty.

As for Davenport's war, there is certainly plenty of shooting. Most of it is incoming but he does inflict loss on the enemy and describes the horrors of war. It was fascinating to read how the terrain changed and the fighting became more stalking than frontal charges. I found this to be the most interesting phase of the book. Davenport's Iwo is certainly terrible, though different to the crab like existence related by Allen R. Matthews ('The Assault') or the unrelenting nightmare of Richard E. Overton (`God Isn't Here'). It is still a very useful contribution to the first person literature available on the subject. Indeed, Davenport appears to be the only Marine Paratrooper and an extremely proud one at that, to have written about his World War Two experiences. Recommended 3 ½ stars
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