The Fighting 69th: One Remarkable National Guard Unit's Journey from Ground Zero to Baghdad

Overview

How a ragtag National Guard unit found itself thrust into the War on Terror and triumphed against impossible odds

On the eve of September 11, 2001, New York City's famous National Guard regiment, the Fighting 69th Infantry, was not fit for duty. Most of its soldiers were immigrant kids with no prior military experience and no intention of serving their country any longer than it took to get a paycheck or college credit. Once a respected all-Irish outfit, the 69th was now a ...

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Overview

How a ragtag National Guard unit found itself thrust into the War on Terror and triumphed against impossible odds

On the eve of September 11, 2001, New York City's famous National Guard regiment, the Fighting 69th Infantry, was not fit for duty. Most of its soldiers were immigrant kids with no prior military experience and no intention of serving their country any longer than it took to get a paycheck or college credit. Once a respected all-Irish outfit, the 69th was now a Technicolor mix of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Colombians, African Americans, Russians, Poles, Koreans, Chinese, and a few token Irish Americans. Their uniforms were incomplete and their equipment was downright derelict. The thought of deploying such a unit was laughable. But that is exactly what happened.

With a charismatic mix of irreverent humor and eye-opening honesty, Sean Flynn, himself a member of the 69th, memorably chronicles the transformation of this motley band of amateur soldiers into a battle- hardened troop at work in one of the most lethal quarters of Baghdad: the notorious Airport Road, a blood- soaked strand that grabbed headlines and became a bellwether for progress in postinvasion Iraq. At home on the concrete and asphalt like no other unit in the U.S. Army, Gotham's Fighting 69th finally brings its own rough justice to this lawless precinct by ignoring army discipline and turning to the street-fighting tactics they grew up with and know best.

The Fighting 69th is more than a story about the impact of terrorism, the war on Iraq, or the current administration's failures. It is the story of how regular citizens come to grips with challenges far starker than what they have been prepared for. Flynn's dark humor, empathy, and candor make for a fresh look at who our soldiers are and what they do when faced with their toughest challenges.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Flynn (Land of Radioactive Midnight) draws on his experience as a company commander with the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard-the "Fighting 69th" of Civil War, WWI and WWII fame-for this riveting account of the unit's service following 9/11. Considered "the worst unit in the National Guard," at the turn of the 21st century, according to Flynn, the 69th was "under-trained, under-resourced, and under-led." Activated on 9/11, its soldiers were the first to arrive at ground zero, and then guarded New York City's bridges and tunnels and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In 2004, after retraining, the unit was flagged "Task Force Wolfhound" and certified for overseas deployment, but was "barely functional in the field." In Iraq, the 69th provided route security along a six-mile stretch known as "'The Most Dangerous Road in the World,'" the main highway between the airport and downtown Baghdad. Learning on the job, the 69th "effectively neutralized" the roadside bomb threat that has caused a high percentage of the war's casualties, but paid a heavy price in its own killed and injured. Drawing on combat journals, operations orders and interviews with survivors, Flynn fashions a tale equal to the making of the new, contemporary heroes of the Fighting 69th who, against all odds, restored a previously distinguished unit to its former glory. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670018437
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/27/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Sean Michael Flynn served as a company commander during the Fighting 69th's service from Ground Zero to Iraq. Before joining the Army National Guard as an infantryman, Flynn served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force. Flynn has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2008

    A reviewer

    Great read. Hard to put down...Mr Flynn puts the reader in with the unit - trials, defeats, successes, and does it well. Must read for anyone that has any interest in combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2008

    A reviewer

    Sean Flynn, put into words, what the world needs to see. The journey of the Fighting 69th captures you and pulls you right into hell with them. It also makes you feel the heartache and loss the men faced with each death of their fellow Soliders, right to the reason why we fight. Great read.

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