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July 22, 2014, 1:03 pm

‘Dog Company’ recounts WWII heroism

It is said that the right man in the right place at the right time can make the difference between victory and defeat. “Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way Across Europe” (Da Capo Press, $26) is the dramatic story of 68 soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion, D Company — Dog Company — who made that difference, time and again. “Dog Company” is their unforgettable story — thoroughly researched and vividly told by acclaimed combat historian Patrick K. O’Donnell — a story of extraordinary bravery, courage and determination.

From D-Day, when German guns atop Pointe du Hoc threatened the Allied landings and the men of Dog Company scaled the 90-foot cliffs to destroy them; to the thickly forested slopes of Hill 400, in Germany’s Hürtgen Forest, where the Rangers launched a desperate bayonet charge across an open field, captured the crucial hill, and held it against all odds. In each battle, the men of Dog Company made the difference.

“‘Dog Company’ contains a cast of characters worthy of a movie,” explained O’Donnell. “For instance, the unit included a five-foot-three professional tap dancer who doubled as Dog’s dead-eye sniper; a company commander who has the looks, bravado and presence of Lee Marvin; prankster Larry Johnson, who is always playing practical jokes on his comrades; and the defiant, cocky, courageous L-Rod Petty, who waddled like a duck after breaking both legs in a parachute training exercise, but had one of the greatest hearts of all and never lost his humanity in battle. Epitomizing all these men was Herman Stein, the ultimate Ranger. At 63-years-old, the master climber and successful roofer scaled the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc with modern day Green Berets. He actually beat the young soldiers to the top, where he was greeted like a hero by Ronald Regan, just before the president delivered his famous Pointe du Hoc speech.”

America had many heroes in World War II, but few can say that, but for them, the course of the war may have been very different. “Dog Company” is an epic World War II story of valor, sacrifice and the Rangers who led the way to victory in Europe.

 

Contact Tribune staff writer Bobbi Booker at (215) 893-5749 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .