Cranking up a Fine War: A Louisiana Soldier from Boot Camp to General's Aide

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In 1936, Van Mayhall joined the National Guard. He was only seventeen years old and he was just beginning to court the girl who would become the love of his life. He had a lot to lose--but Hitler was "cranking up a fine war" in Europe, and Van Mayhall thought he needed to learn something about fighting.

He did learn. He trained in the swamps of south Louisiana, the coastal plains of the Carolinas, and the rural farm country of central Texas. He...

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Overview

In 1936, Van Mayhall joined the National Guard. He was only seventeen years old and he was just beginning to court the girl who would become the love of his life. He had a lot to lose--but Hitler was "cranking up a fine war" in Europe, and Van Mayhall thought he needed to learn something about fighting.

He did learn. He trained in the swamps of south Louisiana, the coastal plains of the Carolinas, and the rural farm country of central Texas. He had attained the rank of captain in the U.S. Army by the time he went overseas in 1942.

The only route home lay through England, France, and ultimately Germany on the path of victory. Along the way Capt. Mayhall dined at Buckingham Palace and escorted Marlene Dietrich at the front lines; he served as aide to General William Weaver during the crossings of the Moselle and Roer rivers and as a company commander in assaults against the Maginot Line as a member of the 90th Division "Tough 'Ombres." It would be three years before he returned home with a Silver Star and a lifetime's worth of experience with war, to see whether the "girl back home" had waited for him.

Cranking Up A Fine War is a highly personal account of a young soldier's journey from boot camp to general's aide. Van Mayhall has a gift for capturing people and events in a genuine and often humorous way. His stories are truly a part of history, a living history woven into the fabric of all that makes our nation special.

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What People Are Saying

Stephen Ambrose
Stephen Ambrose

I read Cranking Up a Fine War in a day, start to finish. I couldn't stop. Not from the Louisiana National Guard to the end.

The author's honesty, his common sense, his decency, his determination, his dedication are there on every page. His writing is just right. The pictures are superb. The story is enthralling.

The book is a genuinely interesting and valuable memoir.

In some ways, at some times from the Guard through the war, the author had it lucky. As he makes clear in the book. At other times, he had the most difficult and dangerous job in the world, being a rifle company commander. At all times, he makes me proud to be an American. What he did in helping to insure freedom for all of us will never be forgotten. I'm terribly grateful for what he did and for his telling of his experiences.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781892958013
  • Publisher: ByrenLee Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 243

Read an Excerpt

The 90th Infantry Division--the Texas-Oklahoma "Tough 'Ombres"--was having trouble on the beaches, and General Middleton seemed to be the officer to put it back together. He picked General McLain as Division Commander and he got to looking for a fighting general for Assistant Division Commander. He knew General Weaver was in the ETO and sent out a call for him. Well, General Weaver was as happy as he could be. He was afraid that he might have to fight this war from behind the lines.

When he got ready to leave Cheltenham, he asked me, "Mayhall, you want to go?"

I came back with an answer so fast it surprised me. "General, that's what I've been training three years for."

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