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David Fitz-Enz

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Colonel David Fitz-Enz, USA (ret.) “commissioned at Marquette University, was a regular Army officer for thirty years, retiring in 1993. He served in Japan, Vietnam, Germany, England, Belgium, and Saudi Arabia. During his two years in Vietnam, he was a combat photographer and paratrooper in the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade and communications officer in the 10th Cavalry Squadron and 124th Signal Battalion of the 4th Infantry Division.

Among his decorations is The Soldier's Medal for "Heroism", the Army's highest award for life saving, The Bronze Star for "Valor" in combat, with four oak leaf clusters, The Air Medal for sustained aerial combat, and the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters.

In Europe Colonel David Fitz-Enz was a communications officer in the European Command Center and later flew aboard General Alexander Haig's airborne command post. In 1984 he was appointed special assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe.


Colonel David Fitz-Enz was an Inspector General, a member of the Army General Staff, served on the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and became Chief of Staff of the Defense Communications Agency. A graduate of Command & General Staff College and the Army War College, he commanded six times, culminating as Brigade Commander of the 1101st Signal Brigade which provided command and control communication to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President, and operated the Moscow "Hot Line" for five years during the Cold War.”


Colonel David Fitz-Enz is the author of Why a Solider?; Old Ironsides: Eagle of the Sea, the Story of the USS Constitution; The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812's Most Decisive Battle; Redcoats' Revenge: An Alternate History of the War of 1812; and, Hacks, Sycophants, Adventurers, and Heroes: Madison's Commanders in the War of 1812.

According to the book description of Hacks, Sycophants, Adventurers, and Heroes: Madison's Commanders in the War of 1812, “While President James Madison was a brilliant scholar, author of much of this country's early documents, organizer of the executive branch of government, and an astute politician, he was no commander-in-chief. He relied totally upon appointed commodores and generals to conduct a war for the conquest of Canada on one hand and survival on the other. Often confused by advisors of little military talent, in the end he put his trust, and that of the people, in the grasp of hacks, sycophants, adventurers, and a few good men. This is the story of the good, the bad, and the outrageous that held the future of the young nation in their hands and prevailed in spite of a twenty-one-ship navy and an amateur army, pitched at the greatest military machine of its time.”

According to the book description of Why a Soldier?, “He was one of the best, Airborne, proud to serve his country and fight its toughest the hell that was Vietnam.


Known to all as "Fitz", Signal Corps officer David Fitz-Enz served two tours in Vietnam. He was a soldier, combat photographer, and platoon leader, fighting America's cruelest war...from the VC-infested rice paddies of the Mekong Delta, to the dreaded la Drang Valley, where the enemy ruled the night.


Dispensing with traditional, sluggish chains of command, the Signal Corps developed a rapid-response system based on greater flexibility, cutting-edge communications technology, and interdependence between the branches of military during the war. Now commanders in the field were able to call in artillery, air strikes, and reinforcements at a moment's notice. Fitz-Enz himself orchestrated the first-ever hookup over tactical systems between the president in the Oval Office and a general in the Vietnam jungle. The only book of it's kind, Why A Soldier? gives us the inside view of the Corps as it launched an exciting new era in strategic and tactical communications that set the groundwork for all future military operations.”


According to one reader of Why A Soldier? “is a serious book about life in a grim war (make no mistake about that). But it's also a very funny book. If I were a Hollywood producer, I'd snap up the rights and adapt it to the screen as MASH GOES TO VIETNAM. The scenes are all there: for example, (page 14) the pompous major who strutted out to his private latrine and found himself - literally-up to his neck in s**t. Or, (page 243) the up-and-coming lieutenant who found himself-in the line of duty-locked naked in a sauna-hot incinerator room with four equally-naked enlisted females, five sweaty young soldiers working together to safeguard the security of the country! The characters made the original MASH, and there are equally oddball real characters in WHY A SOLDIER?


Take the captain (page 324) who suddenly inherited not only money but a prosperous pub in Ireland. But he was only midway through his Vietnam tour, and wanted to live long enough to enjoy his inheritance. His solution? Sleeping in an metal box-until one morning he couldn't get out. I don't want to give away all the good stuff, just one more among many: young Lt. Fitz-Enz, leading a troop of 105 soldiers in battle-garb complete with helmets and (unloaded) weapons arrived at Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC, en route to Vietnam, only to find that somehow the Army and the airline had overlooked them (page166). That's for starters; then the rumors began among the civilians in the terminal: the soldiers were taking over the airport, the soldiers were about to race downtown and seize the capitol and the TV stations and end the Vietnam War.


WHY A SOLDIER? reminds me not only of MASH but also of Winston Churchill's MY EARLY YEARS, both in the sharply written battle scenes, as well as the descriptions of military life at the far end of a supply-chain. As in Churchill's classic, Col. Fitz-Enz brings to life the pressures on junior officers in a rigid hierarchy in which those further up the command chain are not necessarily the best, the brightest, nor even the most psychologically well-balanced. Yet the idealistic young lieutenant we meet early in the book, arriving for his first tour in Vietnam, stuck it out-as he planned from the start-and put a full 30 years into the military.


Why? Many reasons emerge as you read here, but one above all: because Fitz-Enz saw the military as a profession-the honorable profession that it has before the abuses of Vietnam-and can be again. So long as there are rogue leaders in the world, we'll need a solid military to protect against them. That, as Col. Fitz-Enz points out, is WHY A SOLDIER.”


According to the book description of Old Ironsides: Eagle of the Sea, the Story of the USS Constitution, “This is the story of Old Ironsides, the oldest war ship afloat in the world also known as the venerable frigate U.S.S. Constitution. This cornerstone of the nascent American Navy was created by an act of Congress in 1794. Having seen its first action against Barbary pirates in 1803-1905 the ship went on to heroics during the War of 1812, acquiring the nickname "Old Ironsides" after a British sailor observed a cannonball bouncing off the ship's side. Later 'The Eagle of the Sea' was used as a training ship and for good will tours around the globe. The ship was ultimately brought to Boston and restored, where it still remains today as a floating museum and enduring symbol of the Age of Sail. in Old Ironsides. Col. David Fitz-Enz tells the complete story of this treasure, from its "breeched" birth to the ongoing restoration efforts that keep it active today.


According to one reader of Old Ironsides: Eagle of the Sea: The Story of the USS Constitution, “The "Eagle Of The Sea" is far from a traditional history documentary. This book cleverly weaves together and establishes a relationship between history, technology, nationalism and the lives of the people of the time. The style of writing used makes history come alive. Col. Fitz-Enz has obviously done exhaustive research on this book and it goes well beyond giving the reader insight to the skill and labor involved in constructing the USS Constitution and the maintenance required to keep it afloat during its now 208 years of distinguished service. The reader also "observes" how navigation was done and the use of the wind to power the sails. Actually, the techniques and instruments used in determining latitude and longitude in the late 1700's were the same as those used until only a few years ago, the map, sextant and two chronometers. Today of course navigation is accomplished by the use of GPS or Global Positioning Satellites. This book was thoroughly enjoyable, very informative, interesting and written in a very comprehendible "visual" style with I feel broad appeal.”





According to the book description of The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812's Most Decisive Battle, “On September 1, 1814, under the command of Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost (1767-1816) nearly 15,000 veteran British troops, fresh from their victory over Napoleon, crossed the Canadian-American border...the largest foreign army ever to invade the United States. Neither Wolfe nor Amherst, neither Burgoyne nor Cornwallis, had led so formidable an army. Captain George Downie (1781-1814), who considered his flagship, the Confiance, alone a match for the paltry American fleet, led the equally impressive British naval squadron.


The plan was simple: Prevost's troops would capture Plattsburgh while Downie's ships seized control of the strategically crucial Lake Champlain. Prevost's successful land and naval offensive would strike the main blow against the United States, decimating its ability to continue to resist.


Opposing the British invasion were General Alexander Macomb (1782-1841) and his army of fewer than 5,000 men-roughly half of whom were recruits, invalids, mislaid detachments, and militia-and the improvised fleet and brilliant strategy of thirty-year-old Lieutenant Thomas Macdonough (1783-1825). They were on the losing side of a devastating war. By the time the British and Americans clashed on the waters and surrounding shores of Lake Champlain on September 11, 1814, Macomb and Macdonough's government, pursued by British troops, had fled from a burning Washington, and traitorous American citizens were supplying two-thirds of the beef that Prevost's army consumed.


Till the very end the outcome of the savage naval battle was in doubt. Yet despite the odds, the Americans managed to thwart the world's strongest naval power in one of the most decisive battles in American history. The source of the documentary film of the same name, The Final Invasion, is based on primary research and original discoveries including previously unknown private diaries and Prevost's priceless and detailed secret battle orders, missing since the war. Fair-minded, astute, and passionately engaged with his subject, Colonel Fitz-Enz brings to life the immediacy and immensity of the British threat, the bloody reality of naval warfare, and the far-reaching consequences of the American victory against tremendous odds.


According to the book description of Redcoats' Revenge: An Alternate History of the War of 1812, “What if, on September 11, 1814, the United States had lost the close-run battle that Winston Churchill called the “most decisive” of the War of 1812? With a victory at Plattsburgh, would the British have eventually been able to regain control of their former colonies? Only one fleeting moment on Lake Champlain might have been needed to forever alter the young country’s history and return it to the grip of King George III.


Redcoats’ Revenge brings the most successful field commander in history, the Duke of Wellington, to North America in 1814. A coalition of eight European countries has recently defeated Napoleon. With the emperor’s threat to England eradicated, Wellington releases the most powerful military juggernaut for service in the Western Hemisphere. His audacious plan sends him and his avenging veteran redcoats plunging straight south from Lake Champlain toward New York City. In Washington, the streets crackle with tension at the news of British ships on the Chesapeake. The White House is promptly evacuated and the capital left undefended when a diversionary force approaches the city and chokes off Baltimore.


President James Madison must now decide which of his generals is capable of successfully facing off with the Iron Duke. No friend of the tyrannical Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, Madison finally agrees that he may be the only commander with any hope of matching Wellington. Redcoats’ Revenge is a vivid montage of the personalities and battles—real and quite possible—of the War of 1812. With its clever and compelling premise, this exciting alternate history will enthrall readers and reveal just how close the United States was to becoming a British colony once again.


According to one reader of Redcoats' Revenge: An Alternate History of the War of 1812, “Far too often, alternate histories devolve into heroic or technological fantasies whose plots are decided by who has the newest, shiniest toys. Even more respectable alternate histories like Britannia's Fist: From Civil War to World War: --An Alternate History devote far too much attention to the machines of the time period in question instead of the people involved. I was very glad to see that Redcoats' Revenge bucks the trend. The story is a simple one: What if Field Marshal the Duke Wellington had accepted command of the Army of Canada in the War of 1812? The chain of events that follow result in Andrew Jackson being appointed commander of an American army thrown together to stop Wellington and their climactic meeting in a battle at Saratoga, New York.


Rather than tell his story in a novel form, following the story of a handful of characters deeply involved in events, Fitz-Enz tells his story as if it were presented in a history book. And the detail and back-story of the events involved are so terrific that it can be used as a history. In many ways, the book follows the style of Macksey's Invasion : the German invasion of England, July 1940 / Kenneth Macksey, but focusing more on the characters involved. From the start, we're given excellent back stories of the two generals involved and the historical courses they're set upon. An author's note at the end of the book states that Fitz-Enz' goal was to use the story to encourage readers to delve into the actual history of events. It certainly worked for me. Although there aren't footnotes, he includes a nice bibliography at the end that gives a starting point for more reading.


I won't spoil any of the surprises in the book -- and there are some, since Fitz-Enz uses political machinations and individual characters to influence events, rather than calling upon mechanical dei ex machina to advance the plot. The ending is an interesting one, as events are brought to a conclusion while still leaving room for the reader to speculate about what happens next. There isn't a neat and definite resolution to events, as so often happens in alternate histories.  Overall, I'd strongly recommend this book to any alternate history reader who is tired of the normal course of the genre, or to any reader of history with an interest in the War of 1812.”

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