USMC Camp Pendleton, 1951. Jackson Joseph MacKenzie, a seventeen-year-old with a calling, enlists in the US Army. He finds himself hip-deep in the muddy trenches, machine gun nests, human wave attacks, and artillery barrages in the Korean War. Does he have the resiliency to keep moving toward his dream after watching his friends die? Is he a leader or a follower? Will he fold under pressure? Or rise to the top? Questions he must answer before reaching for that coveted prize, an appointment to West Point.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The beginning of the 1st book in the series came in a dream and an article in Time magazine. Heroes today are few. And we need more of them. This book is a continuation of that theme. This is an early years book where the main character enlists in the Army with a dream of going to West Point. It was even fact-checked by a graduate of the actual class of the character.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters come from many places. My friends, people I admire, people I despise. Some are a mixture of traits I would like to see in others and myself. And my character took on traits of my friend who graduated from West Point.
December 8, 1951
USMC Camp Pendleton, California
Jackson entered their house with a copy of his enlistment papers. He had just left the US Army recruiter’s office in Oceanside. Since he was only seventeen, he hoped his mother would sign the permission form. But why wouldn’t she? He’d worked his butt off to graduate a year early from high school for this purpose. She knew his plans, his dreams of going to West Point. This was the first stepping stone, enlisting during a time of war.
“Mom, I’m home,” Jackson yelled in the entry hall.
“I’m in the kitchen, honey,” his mother called.
Jackson went into the kitchen and watched his mother at the stove. He sniffed the air. She was cooking one of his favorite meals, pot roast with carrots, onions, and potatoes with green beans and corn. On the table, three place settings instead of two. Him, his mother…and maybe his older brother, Jim, in his first year at the Naval Academy.
“When’s Jim getting home for winter break?”
His mother checked her watch. “Ten minutes. He called this morning to say his train would be late.”
“Yeah, heard on the radio there were snowstorms in Maryland.”
“Now…” His mother turned around. “Where have you been?”
Jackson held out the permission form. “Recruiter’s office. Will you sign this for me, please?”
“Hmmm…so you went without me.”
“Yes, ma’am. I wanted to get it done.” He didn’t want his mother going with him. No way did he want the recruiter thinking he was a mama’s boy.
Mom took the paper and looked at it. Her expression didn’t change. She wasn’t happy with him. “So you chose infantry as a primary MOS? With the option to attend Airborne School?”
“Yes, I want to jump out of planes.”
She tapped her finger on her lips. “Like your dad. James loves it too. I don’t know, JJ, you just turned seventeen yesterday. Don’t you want to wait and enjoy yourself for a few months? Be home for Christmas with your brother. You’ve done nothing but study and train at the gym.”
Jackson wasn’t sure she would sign it. “Mom…”
His mother’s expression didn’t change then she smiled. “Hand me a pen.”
“Thanks.” Jackson rummaged around in the kitchen junk drawer until he found a pen and gave it to her.
“When would you have to report for basic training?”
“The train leaves for Fort Benning on Tuesday…December 12th. I start basic on the 18th.”
Before his mother could respond, someone knocked on the door.
“Wonder who that could be?” she said.
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