Submitted by: Jeffrey Leatherwood
In Tunisia with II Corps, Lt. John Randall locates a downed German plane and demolishes two live bombs still mounted on the wreckage...In Italy, Capt. Ronald Felton's team contends with dreaded "Butterfly Bombs" left behind to menace the U.S. 5th Army...Landing with the 6th U.S. Special Engineers Brigade, Capt. Jesse Donovan's squad braves deadly 88mm shells in pursuit of enemy rockets on Utah Beach...Serving with the 9th Army Air Force, Capt. Thomas Reece survives a close encounter with a German landmine in France...Capt. Joseph Pilcher joins in the 78th Infantry's final assault on a dam guarding the approaches to Germany...Sweeping the 11th Airborne Division's trail on Luzon, Lt. Carl Cirocco's team is ambushed by the Japanese...Capt. Richard Metress is dispatched by the U.S. 6th Army to tackle enemy depth charges on Mindanao...Capt. Clifford Sarauw covers the U.S. 10th Army's fateful landing on Okinawa...
These aforementioned exploits are among the notable events contained in "Nine from Aberdeen", the first academic history solely devoted to the U.S. Army's Ordnance Bomb Disposal Branch from World War II. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, nine U.S. Army officers and sergeants were sent from Aberdeen Proving Ground to war-torn England in order to learn the invaluable technical skills pioneered by the British Royal Engineers. Led by the colorful Thomas J. Kane, these nine men inaugurated the new Ordnance Bomb Disposal School. Conceived initially for homeland defense, Col. Kane's branch eventually fielded over two hundred Army and Air Force bomb squads for overseas service. These courageous officers and men were forerunners of today's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) specialists, responsible for supporting the U.S. military during combat operations and for preserving the lives of noncombatants at all other times.
Using documents and photographs - many from personal collections - as well as oral interviews, this work presents a cross-section of U.S. Army and Air Force operations spanning three major theaters; Mediterranean, European, and the Pacific. Special emphasis is given to the European Theater, where Col. Kane served as Eisenhower's chief ETO bomb disposal officer. "Nine from Aberdeen" also contains charts detailing campaign participations, ordnance statistics, and other significant data. Retired Army Command Sergeant Major James H. Clifford, military consultant for the award-winning film, "The Hurt Locker", provides an afterword on EOD continuity. The upcoming paperback edition features even more photographs and will be available in June 2013.
This book, ten years in the writing, is chiefly dedicated to Col. Thomas J. Kane, who went on to pioneer our modern EOD service branch. Over the years, I had the privilege of interviewing a cross-section of his veteran officers and enlisted men, some of whom are no longer with us. However, their personal memories, combined with many primary documents and pictures from private and institutional archives, provide the bedrock of my narrative. If you enjoy scholarly yet accessible military history, and would like to learn about some of World War II's unsung heroes, then 'Nine from Aberdeen' might be the right book for you.
Jeffrey M. Leatherwood is a U.S. Army veteran who graduated from West Virginia University with a Ph.D in Modern U.S. & World History. He currently serves as a Humanities lecturer for WVU and teaches online Military History courses through American Military University. In March 2013, he was guest of honor at the dedication ceremony for Kane Hall at Ft. Campbell, KY. Dr. Leatherwood will be the keynote speaker for 2013’s National EOD Veterans Association (NATEODA) meeting in Virginia Beach, VA.