American Guerrilla: The Forgotten Heroics of Russell W. Volckmann-the Man Who Escaped from Bataan, Raised a Filipino Army against the Japanese, and became the True "Father" of Army Special Forces

Overview

With his parting words “I shall return,” General Douglas MacArthur sealed the fate of the last American forces on Bataan. Yet one young Army Captain named Russell Volckmann refused to surrender. He disappeared into the jungles of north Luzon where he raised a Filipino army of over 22,000 men. For the next three years he led a guerrilla war against the Japanese, killing over 50,000 enemy soldiers. At the same time he established radio contact with MacArthur’s HQ in Australia and directed Allied forces to key enemy...
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Overview

With his parting words “I shall return,” General Douglas MacArthur sealed the fate of the last American forces on Bataan. Yet one young Army Captain named Russell Volckmann refused to surrender. He disappeared into the jungles of north Luzon where he raised a Filipino army of over 22,000 men. For the next three years he led a guerrilla war against the Japanese, killing over 50,000 enemy soldiers. At the same time he established radio contact with MacArthur’s HQ in Australia and directed Allied forces to key enemy positions. When General Yamashita finally surrendered, he made his initial overtures not to MacArthur, but to Volckmann.

This book establishes how Volckmann’s leadership was critical to the outcome of the war in the Philippines. His ability to synthesize the realities and potential of guerrilla warfare led to a campaign that rendered Yamashita’s forces incapable of repelling the Allied invasion. Had it not been for Volckmann, the Americans would have gone in “blind” during their counter-invasion, reducing their efforts to a trial-and-error campaign that would undoubtedly have cost more lives, materiel, and potentially stalled the pace of the entire Pacific War.

Second, this book establishes Volckmann as the progenitor of modern counterinsurgency doctrine and the true “Father” of Army Special Forces— a title that history has erroneously awarded to Colonel Aaron Bank of the ETO. In 1950, Volckmann wrote two Army field manuals: Operations Against Guerrilla Forces and Organization and Conduct of Guerrilla Warfare, though today few realize he was their author. Together, they became the Army’s first handbooks outlining the precepts for both special warfare and counter-guerrilla operations. Taking his argument directly to the Army Chief of Staff, Volckmann outlined the concept for Army Special Forces. At a time when U.S. military doctrine was conventional in outlook, he marketed the ideas of guerrilla warfare as a critical force multiplier for any future conflict, ultimately securing the establishment of the Army’s first special operations unit—the 10th Special Forces Group.

Volckmann himself remains a shadowy figure in modern military history, his name absent from every major biography on MacArthur, and in much of the Special Forces literature. Yet as modest, even secretive, as Volckmann was during his career, it is difficult to imagine a man whose heroic initiative had more impact on World War II. This long overdue book not only chronicles the dramatic military exploits of Russell Volckmann, but analyzes how his leadership paved the way for modern special warfare doctrine.

Mike Guardia, currently an officer in the U.S. 1st Armored Division is also author o Shadow Commander, about the career of Donald Blackburm and an upcoming biography of Hal Moore.

REVIEWS

This long overdue book not only chronicles the dramatic military exploits of Russell Volckmann, but analyzes how his leadership paved the way for modern special warfare doctrine
—Small Wars Jourrnal

"Sadly, historians of the Philippine campaign have largely ignored Volckmann, focusing instead on conventional forces under MacArthur. Fortunately for Mr. Guardia, a serving Army officer, Volckmann kept a rudimentary diary for much of the period, describing how he managed to put together his "private army," one that waged arguably the most successful guerrilla campaign of the entire war. . . . Mr. Guardia argues, convincingly, that Volckmann deserves the title of 'father' of Special Forces."
THE WASHINGTON TIMES, 08/2010

“In American Guerrilla, Mike Guardia, a young armor officer with a master’s degree in history . . . has based his work largely on Volckmann’s memoir and diary, the written and oral testimony of those who served with him, and official records in the archives. He has succeeded very largely in his mission. . . . Guardia calls him ‘the progenitor of modern counterinsurgency doctrine and the true father of Army Special forces.’ Volckmann . . . laid down the operational concepts for Army Special Forces and worked energetically to spread the doctrine. His efforts led to the establishment of the Army’s first special operations unit, the 10th Special Forces Group.”—ARMY Magazine

“This is a book anyone wanting to learn more about the guerrilla warfare in the Philippines during World War II Japanese occupation should find interesting. For military history buffs and students of guerilla warfare, it’s a must read.”
Gun Week, 11/2010

…”a masterful job of revealing an unknown chapter of World War II.”
Military Corrupttion.com

“…an interesting, thought provoking and well written read…”
Defenceweb, 04/01/2011

“Russell W. Volckmann is one of the extraordinary men you have probably never heard of…Using official archives and drawing on contemporary accounts and interviews with Volckmann’s family, Mike Guardia, a U.S. Army officer, uncovers the remarkable life and career of this most secretive of men…The revelations in this book is certain or at the very least should force a revision of our understanding of Douglas MacArthur and the Philippines campaign, as well as the evolution of post-war thinking.”

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Editorial Reviews

Gun Week
This is a book anyone wanting to learn more about the guerrilla warfare in the Philippines during World War II Japanese occupation should find interesting. For military history buffs and students of guerilla warfare, it’s a must read.
ARMY Magazine
“In American Guerrilla, Mike Guardia, a young armor officer with a master’s degree in history . . . has based his work largely on Volckmann’s memoir and diary, the written and oral testimony of those who served with him, and official records in the archives. He has succeeded very largely in his mission. . . . Guardia calls him ‘the progenitor of modern counterinsurgency doctrine and the true father of Army Special forces.’ Volckmann . . . laid down the operational concepts for Army Special Forces and worked energetically to spread the doctrine. His efforts led to the establishment of the Army’s first special operations unit, the 10th Special Forces Group.”
Small Wars Journal
This long overdue book not only chronicles the dramatic military exploits of Russell Volckmann, but analyzes how his leadership paved the way for modern special warfare doctrine
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
"Sadly, historians of the Philippine campaign have largely ignored Volckmann, focusing instead on conventional forces under MacArthur. Fortunately for Mr. Guardia, a serving Army officer, Volckmann kept a rudimentary diary for much of the period, describing how he managed to put together his "private army," one that waged arguably the most successful guerrilla campaign of the entire war. . . . Mr. Guardia argues, convincingly, that Volckmann deserves the title of 'father' of Special Forces."--08/2010
Military Writers Society of America
“...fascinating and little known story…meticulously researched, with facts verified by exhaustive sleuthing…a fine work of investigative history…a fine study of the obscure origins of the US Army’s Special Forces.”
Military Corruption.com
… a masterful job of revealing an unknown chapter of World War II.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781612000893
  • Publisher: Casemate Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/20/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,445,278
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 7

1 The Road to Luzon 17

2 Rising Sun 25

3 The Great Escape 35

4 Northward Bound 49

5 The New Guerrilla 73

6 The "waiting Game 91

7 Master and Commander 99

8 Lifelines 117

9 Combat Operations 129

10 After the Fire, 1946-1948 147

11 A New Kind of Fighting 159

12 Special Forces 169

Epilogue: Understanding Volckmann's Legacy 179

Appendix A Citation for the Distinguished Service Cross 191

Appendix B The Career Chronology of Russell W. Volckmann 193

Notes 195

Bibliography 215

Index 219

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    Good read on guerrilla warfare in the Philippines

    Good read on guerrilla warfare in the Philippines

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  • Posted June 20, 2010

    A fascinating read

    I really liked Mike Guardia's "American Guerrilla". Normally, I'm not a huge fan of military history, but this book was so good, that I didn't want to put it down. Here's a fascinating story of a man in the Pacific who led a guerrilla war against the Japanese during World War II. We also come to find out that, after the war, he drafted the Army's first guide to counterinsurgency and that his principles and ideas are still used today.

    Also, the author does a fine job in showing that Volckmann is the father of Special Forces as we know it today. This will certainly get a lot of attention in the Special Forces community, as the credit has traditionally been given to Aaron Bank, a well known OSS veteran.

    All in all, its a fabuluos read. Meticuluosly researched and well worth your time.

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