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Monte Howell

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Monte Howell, USA was “born and raised in Southern California happily married for the past 50 years with two grown children. The memories of WWII will always remain for Veterans of this War. The task of writing this book started when he discovered a box of approximately one hundred old yellow faded pictures he had taken and obtained during the War. So he decided to write some narrative for each picture and place them into an album for his grandchildren. He tried to recall not only what each picture was about, but also where it was taken and why he took it. It is difficult to recall events of sixty years ago. He had to admit that his memory was not only is older but is not what it used to be. Over a period of years he struggled to put these pictures in sequence and describe the story that goes with each of these events. Now retired and in his golden years it is nice to look back on an interesting period in American History.”  Monte Howell is the author of The Young Draftee.

 

Albert E. Breland, Jr. M.D. said, “The Young Draftee by Monte Howell is an unusual and fascinating book. It is written from the standpoint of an 18 year old who goes off to war after being inducted into the Army immediately following graduation from high school. Trained as a combat engineer, he was selected for this specialty on the basis of his mechanical drawing and machine shop high school courses. He served his entire combat tour with the 114th Combat Engineers attached to the 32nd Inf Div and saw action in New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon. His unit was also part of the occupation force on Kyushu after the war. The basis for the narrative was an effort to produce an explanatory record for the hundred wartime photographs that Howell took during his tour and which he later rediscovered. In the book only forty-six are utilized with the addition of four more showing post-wartime activities. The quality of the photos (in the copy of the book I had) is generally good, but the printed captions, although readable, are too light. Errors of punctuation, spelling, and grammar are found in many places, but do not really detract from an understanding of the content.

 

The description of combat engagements from a private's standpoint is absolutely classic. Using a wry humor ("...the biggest change from basic training is they are shooting back at us...That sure takes the fun out of it." p. 33) and descriptions of assorted non-combat incidents, he gives an outstanding picture, which though personal seems clearly to represent the attitudes and behaviors of men who served in that era. The book also provides an enchanting picture of the information gap in the lower ranks. "They loaded all of us on LSTs and set sail for some place" (p. 60) is the description given for his unit's move from Leyte to Luzon. Throughout the book Howell intersperses descriptions of campaigns, casualty figures, and provides absolutely fascinating details of the way some weapons were utilized such as the Japanese knee mortars, and 60 mm trigger fired mortars mounted on machine gun tripods and fired pointblank at enemy positions. His dislike of Gen. Douglas MacArthur is apparent at several points, and probably mirrors the feelings of many men who served in the South Pacific Theatre during WWII.

 

In the last chapter Howell gives a brief description of his post-war activities. While these are interesting, his comments about societal attitudes are probably more significant. The policy he adopted after the war of looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past, his concerns for the present day blatant criticism of our government and for the attitude of "let someone else do it" (p. 134) all strike a resonant cord. Overall, this is a marvelously interesting and descriptive book. It provides information from a unique standpoint of a little known and inadequately discussed segment of WWII. I would recommend it highly as a picture of the war in the South Pacific from a private's viewpoint, and as a source for information on the Leyte and Luzon campaigns.”


The Young Draftee
Monte Howell  More Info

According to the book description of The Young Draftee, “Of all the stories to come out about World War II few are written about the young 18 year old inexperienced soldiers who were thrust into a brutal part of the war. None were professional soldiers, most were draftees or civilians who were allowed to play soldier for the duration of the war. This true story identifies those everyday occurrences that a "young soldier" experiences as he goes through Army basic training, being sent overseas to an infantry replacement depot, never quite knowing where he was or where he was going. Finally experiencing the horrors of combat and wondering if his luck was going to see him through this ordeal. In the end as an adult, he looks back at all of these experiences and tries to understand what he had learned and benefited by being in the war.

 

The war in the South Pacific was beyond being called a brutal, savage war or some other words, which can explain what these men went through. The terrain, climate and disease those men had to fight besides the enemy was unbearable. The war in the South Pacific was a war without mercy.”

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