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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

COMBAT And Other Shenanigans

“War is hell…but sometimes it’s also funny as hell.
 Combat and Other Shenanigans is Lieutenant Piers Platt’s firsthand account of his year as a cavalry platoon leader in Iraq. Wry, action-packed, and poignant, Combat and Other Shenanigans is the absurd-but-true story of the antics the world’s finest soldiers get up to when no one high-ranking is watching.”

Combat (Military History)
“And Other Shenanigans”
By Piers Platt
Price $5.99
Rating 5-Stars

In 2002, after college the author joined the Army where he trained in the Armored Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky, then went to Germany as a lieutenant. Some of the story takes place in Germany, but most of it covers his 1-year tour in Iraq in 2004, as a cavalry platoon leader. Although we don’t see a lot of combat situations, we do see the men and tanks in action. As the subtitle states, we also see a bit of the shenanigans the crew get involved in.

In Vietnam our cavalry was the Assault Helicopters, but today the Abrams and Bradley tanks are our cavalry, with support from helicopters. It’s a different war, in different terrain, and with a different cavalry. Other than that, there seems little to no change in Army life. The back office, and higher ups still make idiotic decisions, and the troops still rely on their own ingenuity to get the job done. Lt. Platt knew enough to rely on his experienced NCOs to get him through the learning process in the war zone. Piers earned his cavalry spurs in combat. That allows him to wear the Stetson hat and boot spurs of the Cavalry Scouts. It is a sharp uniform. We were recently eating at Golden Coral in Wichita Falls when a Cavalry crew came in wearing their Stetson and spurs. My wife spoke with them, and they proudly explained their Scout duties. I think they were from Fort Hood.

There are plenty of things going on outside of combat that will bring a smile of understanding to any military person. Finding a Pizza Hut in Kuwait reminded me of the pizza we bought at the AF Base Snack Bar at Bein Hoa, Vietnam; right next to the glass cage containing a huge python  - usually feeding on a chicken. Or the reporters they were expecting, only to find out they were from a German toy model magazine, there to see the MI Abrams (tanks) on an actual combat mission. I think these things must have been filed under war and politics.

I don’t think we had time for shenanigans in Vietnam (I was submerged into a barrel of water by the troops at a company party), still that was a part of the Army throughout my twenty-year career. So I don’t doubt for a minute that Lt. Platt’s crew were able to find periods to let off some steam once in a while. The book may not be for everyone, but I highly recommend it for any active or ex military service member, as well as anyone researching the history of the war in Iraq. I enjoyed the book, and got a kick out of all the shenanigans. So will you.

Tom Johnson


The American soldier is known for being resourceful and innovative, which is generally true, but is also a euphemism for being good at breaking the rules when necessary.  Every unit has individuals who are even more resourceful than most, and we were no exception.  Sergeant First Class Peterson was leading fuel convoy escorts later during our tour when one of his Humvees blew a tire.  As usual given our supply woes, he was totally out of spares.  He happened to be near a major support FOB at the time, and after a brief search at the supply depot (who wouldn’t resupply him because all of their tires were ear-marked for other units already), he found a motor pool with four or five Humvees in pristine condition, each of which carried a spare.  Given how clean they were, the Humvees were clearly not used for missions outside the FOB – they were glorified golf carts that got washed weekly and never left the wire.  Peterson and his men were in the midst of stealing two of the spares when a Sergeant from the unit that owned the tires strolled into the motor pool.
“Woah, what are you guys doing?”
Peterson had to think fast.  “Hm?  Oh, I talked to your NCO inside and he said to take them.”
“Sergeant First Class Johnson?”
Peterson smiled.  “That’s the guy.”
“Oh, okay,” the soldier said.  “Lemme give you a hand.”
Charlie Troop was similarly short on spare tires on another occasion, so they found a massive pile of them at their nearest support FOB.  Their Executive Officer, Dan Cho, argued for a while with the depot personnel, begging and pleading to get even a few of them released, to no avail – they were all reserved for other units who hadn’t shown up to get them yet.  Being a resourceful, adaptive individual, he thanked them and left.  Then he took his cargo truck to the opposite side of the depot, well out of sight of the depot offices, sent two scouts scrambling over the fence, and used his cargo truck’s crane to hoist the spare tires over the fence.