Ronald J. Drez
Twenty-Five Yards of War: The Extraordinary Courage of Ordinary Men in World War II

from the publisher:

"Drez is in sync with his interviewees, and his tacile pen brings their stories to life." --Publishers Weekly
From the sinking decks of a navy cruiser to the cockpit of a doomed B-25 bomber, Ronald J. Drez takes us to the front lines of World War II. Through Drez's gripping narrative style, we are introduced to twelve men, all ordinary soldiers, and learn what the war was like through their eyes, experiencing their own "twenty five yards of war."

In one chapter, we are at the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, where we follow Harold Eck as he spends four nights shivering in the freezing, shark-infested ocean. Amazingly, Eck and over 300 individuals lived to tell their story. We are also witness to the Battle of the Bulge alongside Lieutenant Lyle Bouck, who watches through his binoculars as German paratroopers make their way toward his soldiers. With little ammunition left, no communication possible, and the knowledge that his last order had been to hold until relieved, Bouck has to make tough decisions about his duty to the men that he commands.

These tales of survival against incredible odds speak to the extraordinary combination of bravery and miracle that served to bring the men back alive, and are a result of ten years of research and over 1,400 interviews.

Beginning in 1983, Drez, along with bestselling historian Stephen E. Ambrose, embarked on the Normandy Project, under which it was Drez's charge to "get the stories" of the men who had landed at Normandy on June 6, 1944. That research resulted in Ambrose's book, D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II and Drez's own book, Voices of D-Day: The Story of the Allied Invasion Told by Those Who Were There. After finishing that endeavor, Drez turned his attention to the American veterans who did not fight at Normandy but who were also instrumental in the Allied victory.

This important work of history grew out of Drez's research during those ten years. The men in these pages represent all branches of the military and were sent out on impossible missions, where they witnessed triumphs and tragedies. Twenty- Five Yards of War is a tribute to all of the soldiers who fought in World War II, those who walked away with amazing stories to tell, and those who did not make it home.

"It is a fine gift Ron has. He can comment on or describe the individual's experience and achievement in World War II from the perspective of who he is and what he has done, and he can do so eloquently, through his prose. He has a sense of the dramatic and an ability to make his readers feel that they are there. Twenty-Five Yards of War is a great book." --Stephen E. Ambrose, from the foreword to Twenty-Five Yards of War

"The riveting stories in Twenty-Five Yards of War are timeless paeans to duty, honor, and country. Historian Ron Drez does a magnificent job of retelling the dazzling heroism of America's Citizen Soldiers at the Bulge and Iwo Jima, Tarawa Atoll, and the Philippine Sea, among other far-flung locales. A gripping and inspiring book which gives new meaning to such time-honored terms as true grit, undaunted courage, and quiet valor." --Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans

Ronald J. Drez, a decorated combat marine of the Vietnam War, has made it his life's work to preserve the voices of the men who fought in World War II. He is a historian, lecturer, and research associate at the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans. He was editor of Voices of D-Day, and lives in New Orleans.