Robert Gerard's life story involves a fascinating journey full of twists, turns, and unexpected events. With no specific career plan in place, things just happened - mostly good things! Along the way, over time, people, events, and places seemed to re-emerge in an intriguing way.
Gerard was born in New York City in 1930. He and his mother and father lived on the west side, near Central Park. He didn't know until many years later that his father was an alien who had entered the United States illegally and changed his name. When Robert was just two years old, the FBI came knocking at the apartment off Central Park West. However, they were not looking for illegal aliens. They were looking for the Lindbergh baby!
Later, the family moved to West Orange, New Jersey, a small town where it seemed that nearly everyone was employed by Thomas A. Edison, Inc. Gerard's story captures the lean years of the 1930s, prior to World War II, some problems at home, and his escapades as a teen-ager during the war years, including two years of tough discipline at a private boarding school in North Jersey. It was during this period that his father was deported to Belgium from Ellis Island.
After graduating from high school, Gerard joined the ranks of those who worked at one of the Edison factories in West Orange. Two older workers, combat veterans from WWII, became his mentors. During the early phases of the Korean War, they shared fascinating stories about their wartime experiences. Bored by factory work, and inspired by his two local heroes, Gerard enlisted in the army in 1951.
As a result of some very poor training, Gerard and a good friend decided to apply for admission to Officer Candidate School. Ironically, Robert Gerard, the reluctant applicant, was accepted while his buddy was rejected. After his commissioning, his experience in Korea prompted him to remain in the army. While stationed with the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, he married a high school classmate in 1954. Together, they had eight children.
Gerard describes his assignment as a weapons instructor at Fort Benning, Georgia and then, his experience as a student in the Army's flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama. An opportunity to complete his undergraduate education took him and his family to Mississippi Southern College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi during the same year that James Meredith became the first black student to be admitted to the University of Mississippi.
Gerard's subsequent assignment at the army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (1963-1964) was a year filled with major events, including President Kennedy's assassination, the increasing commitment to military support for South Vietnam, and an address by former President Harry Truman. Next, a wonderful assignment in Verona, Italy, where his family lived in a small Italian village, was cut short due to critical needs for army helicopter pilots in Vietnam.
He describes his first tour in Vietnam, including the buildup of U.S. conventional forces and the application of air mobility as a part of tactical operations. Also, he had an opportunity to see his brother whose base camp was just several miles away. After returning to the States, he worked in the Pentagon and described both the serious and hilarious events related to surviving in 'The Puzzle Palace." In 1970, his second tour in Vietnam placed him much farther north, near the Demilitarized Zone, where enemy forces consist mostly of North Vietnamese regulars. His description of military operations in Vietnam reflects both the early years as well as the beginning of the drawdown of U.S. forces.
After an interesting year of study at Monmouth College, Gerard attended the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, just a few miles
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.59(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
¿The Road to Catoctin Mountain.¿ is a memoir of the life of Retired Col. Robert J. Gerard. The book tells of an intriguing journey from his childhood days in New York and New Jersey during the depression of the early 1930s throughout a successful career covering over forty-five years. He shares in detail memories of his junior high and high school experiences during World War II. Robert had a twofold purpose in writing this memoir: to leave a story of his life and experiences for his eight children and his grandchildren. He wanted them to see him as a man with both strengths and flaws. He was also encouraged by friends to write his entertaining stories which impart information and inspiration. It his hope that by putting them into print others will gain the benefit of his experience. After graduating from high school Robert took a job at one of the Edison factories in West Orange, New Jersey. He was impressed by the heroic war stories told by two co-workers, veterans of WWII, and enlisted in the army in 1951 eager to service in Korea. During his basic training he applied and was accepted for Officer Candidate School prior to being sent to active duty in the Korean War. Gerard records detailed accounts of his army career assignments and his observations into the leadership styles of many of his superiors and fellow officers. I personally enjoyed Robert¿s the subtle way he injected humor in telling of his diverse experiences, relationships and events. I found his forthright observations on business management and philosophies of classroom strategies and educational goals to be noteworthy and vital. Gerard¿s career journey includes 31 years of service in the U. S. Army, several post-retirement jobs with the state, the federal government, a civilian corporation, and as a professor at Mount Saint Mary¿s College on Catoctin Mountain. In this final career adventure Robert found fulfillment as teacher, mentor, and advisor to his students. A quiet sincere tribute to his wife and family characterize the narrative as Robert writes of the importance of his wife Mary Lee to his success. His children, his marriage, and his career all have a part in this journey. The pride he has for the individual members of his family bear evidence of their love and respect. The careers they chose and an ongoing pursuit of their parent¿s faith are testimonies that justify this family pride. I highly recommend ¿The Road to Catoctin Mountain¿ to retired and career servicemen in any branch of the United States Military and their families, to World War II, Korean and Viet Nam veterans, and to all patriotic American citizens. This was an enjoyable reading experience.