The Fighting 69th
One Remarkable National Guard Unit's Journey from Ground Zero to Baghdad
By Sean Michael Flynn
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670018437, 320pp.)
Publication Date: December 27, 2007
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How a ragtag National Guard unit found itself thrust into the War on Terror and triumphed against impossible odds
On the eve of September 11, 2001, New York City's famous National Guard regiment, the Fighting 69th Infantry, was not fit for duty. Most of its soldiers were immigrant kids with no prior military experience and no intention of serving their country any longer than it took to get a paycheck or college credit. Once a respected all-Irish outfit, the 69th was now a Technicolor mix of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Colombians, African Americans, Russians, Poles, Koreans, Chinese, and a few token Irish Americans. Their uniforms were incomplete and their equipment was downright derelict. The thought of deploying such a unit was laughable. But that is exactly what happened.
With a charismatic mix of irreverent humor and eye-opening honesty, Sean Flynn, himself a member of the 69th, memorably chronicles the transformation of this motley band of amateur soldiers into a battle- hardened troop at work in one of the most lethal quarters of Baghdad: the notorious Airport Road, a blood- soaked strand that grabbed headlines and became a bellwether for progress in postinvasion Iraq. At home on the concrete and asphalt like no other unit in the U.S. Army, Gotham's Fighting 69th finally brings its own rough justice to this lawless precinct by ignoring army discipline and turning to the street-fighting tactics they grew up with and know best.
The Fighting 69th is more than a story about the impact of terrorism, the war on Iraq, or the current administration's failures. It is the story of how regular citizens come to grips with challenges far starker than what they have been prepared for. Flynn's dark humor, empathy, and candor make for a fresh look at who our soldiers are and what they do when faced with their toughest challenges.