Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc--The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way Across Europe
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WW2 AUTHOR'S Q&A > 20th November 2012 - "Dog Company" by Patrick K. O'Donnell

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message 1: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Oct 24, 2012 08:47PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments description

In this thread members can ask questions and discuss Patrick K. O'Donnell's new book Dog Company with the author.

Dog Company The Boys of Pointe du Hoc--the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way across Europe by Patrick K. O'Donnell by Patrick K. O'Donnell
It is said that the right man in the right place at the right time can make the difference between victory and defeat. This is the dramatic story of sixty-eight soldiers in the US Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion, Company D - "Dog Company”— who made that difference, time and again.

From D-Day, when German guns atop Pointe du Hoc threatened the Allied landings and the men of Dog Company scaled the sheer ninety-foot cliffs to destroy them; to the slopes of Hill 400, in Germany’s Hürtgen Forest, where the Rangers launched a desperate bayonet charge across an open field; to a �quiet” section of the Ardennes, where Dog Company suddenly found itself on the tip of the spear at the Battle of the Bulge; the men of Dog Company made the difference.

America had many heroes in World War II, however, few can say that, but for them, the course of the war would have been very different. The right men, the right place, at the right time—Dog Company.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments For those interested and who want to read a few first-hand accounts and look at a few original photographs before we start the Q&A check out the link below:

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments For those people who are going to read or have read Dog Company here are a few links with reviews, stories and details about the author:


The book came out last week all book reviews have all been outstanding:


Author has been been involved in 15 documentaries and was in Marine a rifle platoon in the 2004 Battle of Fallujah.

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message 4: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Some recent reviews of Dog Company just to wet your apetite:

"Long admired for his powerful combat narratives, with Dog Company O’Donnell has produced his finest book yet. A fascinating tale of extraordinary heroism." - Alex Kershaw, New York Times best-selling author of The Liberator

"An intimate history in the Band of Brothers tradition. Only a gifted combat historian like Patrick O'Donnell could bring Dog Company’s story to life with such stunning immediacy and well researched accuracy. Chock full of pulse pounding action and keen insight, this book is a true page-turner." - John C. McManus, author of September Hope

"No World War II historian can tell the story of the U.S. Army Rangers better than Pat O’Donnell, and in his book Dog Company he has managed to relate the remarkable history of a single Ranger company in an informative and entertaining way. It is a great read, and I recommend it highly, both to history buffs and those with only a passing interest in America’s past." - Joseph Balkoski, author of Omaha Beach

"Wow! Another victory for Patrick O’Donnell, who really captures the spirit of this elite group of Rangers&mdashpossibly the toughest fighting force America has ever put together. Dog Company is every bit as good as Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, and likely even better.” - Flint Whitlock, author of If Chaos Reigns

"This is an incredible story of courage under fire, leadership at all levels and bravery beyond comprehension. The bravery and leadership of Dog Company lives on in today’s Army Rangers as they take the fight to America’s enemies in the Global War on Terror. This is the story of real American heroes and no one can tell the story better than Patrick K. O’Donnell." - General Doug Brown USA (Ret.) Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command 2003-2007

"Patrick O’Donnell has set the gold standard for war histories rich in color, drama and detail. With Dog Company, he’s hit that high mark once more. Drawing on a trove of government reports plus hundreds of in-depth interviews with the men who fought, O’Donnell takes you from the scaling of Pointe du Hoc’s murderous cliffs on the Normandy coast to the Battle of the Bulge and into the rubble of Germany. World War II comes to life through the eyes of this one company of intrepid U.S. Army Rangers." - Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage

"Remarkable and very readable...vivid." - Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer prize winning author of Day of Battle

“[An] inspiring story…O'Donnell engagingly describes how a dedicated team was built out of the specialist training it received, but he is at his best presenting the fortunes and shocks of battle as the months of planning and training were blown away in a series of mischances that also fortuitously safeguarded the unit from delayed pre-invasion bombing runs…A worthy tribute honoring each member of a small group of volunteers who responded to the call of duty.” -
Kirkus Reviews

“The story of the heroism of the men defies the imagination, but it is real and told well by a distinguished military historian.” - Bookviews blog

“A fast-paced read that’ll redefine your understanding of the U.S. Army Rangers in Europe during Word War Two.” - Politics & Patriotism blog

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments Rick, I'm looking forward to tonight's discussion.

Thank you for organizing it.

Best wishes,

Patrick K. O'Donnell

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments So am I! :)

A.L. Sowards | 477 comments I'm excited to start reading the book!

I have a question for Patrick. In The Longest Day, Cornelius Ryan mentions that the Rangers borrowed ladders from the London fire brigade to help them scale the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc. I've always wondered if the London fire brigade really expected to get their ladders back. Did you run into anything about the ladders in your research?

message 8: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Nov 20, 2012 01:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Hi A.L. Pat will be back online in a few hours to take questions and your question in regards to London fire brigade ladders is mentioned in the book but I am sure Pat will provide some more detail when he gets back on line.

A.L. Sowards | 477 comments Thanks, Rick. I guess I'm kind of early with my question, but I thought I'd go ahead and ask in case I get distracted later and don’t make it back to my computer for a while.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments I've got the same itchy fingers as well :)

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments Hi A.L great question. Several members of Dog Company field tested the equipment from the London fire brigade including Jack Kuhn. I interviewed several of the Rangers who trained on the ladders back in 1999 – fascinating story. I haven't ever seen anything in the documents regarding their disposition after the war. My guess is they were paid for by the government or the London fire brigade put in a claim.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Hi Pat,

Thanks for taking the time to discuss your new book; Dog Company and answer a few questions. I suppose the first question is why this book and why now?

Did you find during your research for this book any stories of men that had not been told before?

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Here are a few more questions that I have to throw over to you:

Was the US military initially against raising special forces during WW2? If so what changed their minds? Did the Rangers as a unit concept survive WW2 or was the idea dismantled and then re-activated later?

Do you think the Ranger tradition still lives on in today's soldiers?

message 14: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Nov 20, 2012 05:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments I know this is a hard question and difficult to compare, but you have spoken to the soldiers of the 'Greatest Generation' and you have also been involved with today's fighting men, do you think the men of today in our armed services are any tougher than the Rangers of WW2?

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments After the movie Saving Private Ryan and the HBO series; Band of Brothers do you think Hollywood would be interested in making your book into a movie?

What was it like listening to these men tell you their stories? Were they and/or their families receptive to the idea of a book being published about Dog Company?

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments Rick, All my books seem to find me. Three years ago, I serendipitously found myself at the Jersey shore while on a research trip and remembered that Len Lomell, the main character of Dog Company, lived in Toms River, New Jersey. I called him up and stopped by his house that day. I watched a Yankees game with him, and the 91-year-old Ranger and I each sipped a can of beer. I ended up interviewing Len once again about his experiences with the Rangers in WWII. That afternoon, the idea for the book came to both of us, and with Len’s blessing I decided to write Dog Company.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Come on folks, Pat is hungry for questions about his latest book; Dog Company, and is waiting to answer whatever you throw at him :)

message 18: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 1256 comments Howdy Patrick, now that the WW2 veterans are passing away,
what do you think about the effect on research ? I realize
there's an obvious answer to this query, but thought it would
interesting if you had any particular thoughts.

message 19: by Arcticvet (new) - added it

Arcticvet | 15 comments Hi Pat, Besides the remaining vets of the unit, what were other major sources of information that you used for your research into the events covered in the book?

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments I was sad to read about that friendly fire incident on page 113 (I won’t go into details as I don’t want to spoil the book for those yet to read it). Did Petty ever get over that and was the identity of the Paratrooper ever established?

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments The Ranger tradition is alive and well. This is the next Greatest Generation. Leroy Petry, for instance, of the new Dog, or Delta Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion won the Medal of Honor fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. I saw it first hand in the Marine rifle platoon I was with in Fallujah. During the battle men hid their wounds to stay and fight with their buddies(for those interested see: We Were One). This generation is unsung and does extraordinary things everyday.

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments Carl,

Over the past 20 years I've interviewed over 4,000 WWII veterans and made so many close friends. Sadly, only five men are left in Dog Company. My life's work has been saving these stories. In Dog Company, I spent months and months interviewing one veteran at a time – probing deeply to bring out a very cinematic narrative. The impact on the research will be a hard blow. I hope that people will interview their relatives before it is too late.

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments Dear Arctic Vet,

I found accounts in a variety of places. For instance, I found a trove of unpublished oral histories taken three months after D-Day buried in the box at the National Archives. The Eisenhower Center also had a fine collection of accounts that complimented the scores of oral histories I had conducted.

message 24: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Nov 21, 2012 12:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Hi Pat,

I took particular interest in the footnote at the bottom of page 133 in regards to the ‘unwritten’ order that no WWII Ranger would receive the Medal of Honor. I’ve never heard of this before, do you know the reason why this order was given and was it later rescinded?

It's 1.30pm over here in Australia and I've been called out to a job so I am going to have to leave the Q&A session for awhile but will try and catch up when I get back. Keep those questions coming in and thanks for your responses so far Pat, all very interesting.

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carl  theaker | 1256 comments I've interviewed a couple dozen vets for my own
fun. Guess I better get going to catch up with you... -Carl

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Arcticvet | 15 comments I know of at least one public library where they were running a project that involved interviewing veterans while videotaping their first hand accounts. Unfortunately, funding became a problem and the project was discontinued. Too bad, there are so few of that generation left to tell the truth of their service.

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments Carl, Glad you are capturing these stories. What an amazing journey when these veterans go back in time and recount their war.

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments The paratrooper has never been identified.

The book is not a unit history. Through their own words, Dog Company captures the feelings and emotions of men in war. The friendly fire incident is shocking. Petty was one of the toughest Rangers but also one of the best men to convey the hidden war so many WWII veterans bottled up inside.

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments Sad to hear about the Library project. Tragically, the WWII Generation is fading away along with their stories.

message 30: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 1256 comments How true! I usually ask if they can believe all their adventures
happened to them in that so long ago time, they usually
wonder a bit themselves and reply "Hard to imagine isn't it?"

Patrick wrote: " What an amazing journey when these veterans go back in time and recount their war."

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A.L. Sowards | 477 comments I'm enjoying all the questions about your research and interviews. Which do you enjoy more, the research part or the writing part of making a book?

If you could go back in time and give Eisenhower some advice before the troops got to the Hurtgen forest, what would you tell him?

Patrick K. (patrickkodonnell) | 11 comments I love the whole journey a book takes you on and feel like I haven't worked a day in the past fourteen years (I put in about double a normal work week for most people) but this is fun and my passion. Writing and research feed each other, I love them both. But there is something magical about interviewing people, walking a battlefield, or picking up a piece of parchment dated 1776 or an original map from D-Day. I love to experience history.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments I couldn't agree with you more Pat about experiencing history, to walk the battlefields that we read about, to sit looking over a field that once was a place of carnage and hell and to read about the experiences of the soldiers who fought there. Books like the ones you and Alex Kershaw and many other fine historians write help make those soldiers words and deeds come to life for a new generation.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments I'd also like to thank you for taking the time today/tonight to reply to the many questions posted by the group members, I am sure everyone appreciated your responses, I did!

message 35: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 1256 comments Definitely was fun AR, thanks for organizing. I plan to read some of Pat's books.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Glad you enjoyed it Carl and I hope you enjoy Pat's books.

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Arcticvet | 15 comments AR - Enjoyed the opportunity to participate in this Q&A. Thanks for your work in getting it set up and thanks to Pat for writing the book of course! This past May, we visited Pointe deHoc with a battlefield guide, and what happened there must be remembered for all time. Not sure that I will have time for the group read, but the book is on my list for the future.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Hi Arcticvet, I'm glad you could join in the discussion. It must have been pretty amazing to walk around the area of Pointe de Hoc, I hope to visit the region next year (fingers crossed). I will leave thread open for the book discussion so you can drop in anytime to chat about the book when you get time to read it.

message 39: by happy (last edited Nov 23, 2012 11:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

happy (happyone) | 1976 comments In the summer of '08, my brother and I were able to visit the Normandy beaches over a weekend - both the German and the American cemetaries were very moving.

As far as the beaches go, personally I liked Utah beach the best. I think it was because there really wasn't much or very many people there, also we were there early in the morning (about the time of day the landings occured) and at low tide.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments It does seem that Omaha grabs all the attention Happy, I hope I can get to visit both beaches. I found when I visited the numerous Commonwealth War Graves from WW1 that they can stir up unknown emotions within.

happy (happyone) | 1976 comments We stayed in St. Mare Eglise (SP) about a block from the church. I wish I had had more time. While you're there make sure you see the Bayeux Tapestry.

When I retire, I want to go back to Europe and spend a couple, three weeks seeing the WW I and WW II sites.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments That's my plan too Happy when I retire! I am heading back to Europe next year with my wife and I'm going to give her a quick tour of some of the more famous WW1 sites and then had down to Normandy as its one area I haven't seen yet. It must have been great to stay in St. Mare Eglise, the history of that place!

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Arcticvet | 15 comments There's a great B&B at LaFiere Bridge, just outside of the town (St Mere-Eglise). Also, there is a book, written by one of the participants, on the heroic events at LaFiere Bridge in June 1944. The name of the book is "No Better Place to Die" by Robert M. Murphy.

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Thanks for the details on the B&B Arcticvet and also on the book No Better Place to Die which I think I have seen around before, may need to get a copy before the trip :)

No Better Place to Die Ste. Mere-Eglise, June 1944 The Battle for La Fiere Bridge by Robert Murphy by Robert Murphy

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happy (happyone) | 1976 comments here is a link to a pic i took of Utah Beach

Enterence to the American Military Cemetary at Cambridge England

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'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 12887 comments Some excellent photo's there Happy, thanks for sharing.

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