Synopses & Reviews
They came from one street, but death found them in many places . . .
. . .in a distant jungle, a frozen forest, and trapped in the flaming wreckage of a bomber blown from the sky. One died going over a fence during the greatest paratrooper assault in history. Another fell in the biggest battle of World War II. Yet another, riddled with bullets in an audacious act of heroism during a decisive onslaught a world, and a war, away.
All came from a single street in a railroad town called Silvis, Illinois, a tiny stretch of dirt barely a block-and-a-half long, with an unparalleled history.
The twenty-two Mexican-American families who lived on that one street sent fifty-seven of their children to fight in World War II and Koreaand#151;more than any other place that size anywhere in the country. Eight of those children died.
Itand#8217;s a distinction recognized by the Department of Defense, and it earned that rutted, unpaved strip a distinguished name. Today itand#8217;s known as Hero Street.
This is the story of those brave men and their families, how they fought both in battle and to be accepted in an American society that remained biased against them even after they returned home as heroes. Based on interviews with relatives, friends, and soldiers who served alongside the men, as well as personal letters and photographs, The Ghosts of Hero Street is the compelling and inspiring account of a street of soldiersand#151;and menand#151;who would not be denied their dignity or their honor.
"Written with code talker scholar Schiess Avila, Nez's fascinating memoir details his experience as one of the original 29 'code talkers'-a group of Native American soldiers who kept U.S. transmissions safe from the Japanese during WWII. The code they used was developed using Navajo, an entirely spoken language. Most Marines had no idea that Nez or his fellow Navajos were involved with the highly classified code talker mission, and trusted the team despite the era's prevalent racial segregation. Though Nez grew up speaking Navajo, he was sent to government-run boarding schools, and forced to learn English. His facility with both languages allowed him to advance during his career with the Marines, and he counts the day of his enlistment (while still in high school) as the luckiest day of his life. Still, when Nez returned home to New Mexico in 1945, it would be another three years before Native Americans were allowed to vote. Though the last section of the book drifts, readers will be captivated by stories of Nez's childhood and his days as a Marine.
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"From Guadalcanal through Bougainville to Peleliu, Nez relates a riveting tale of jungle combat and his personal struggle to adapt to civilian life following the most cataclysmic war in our nation’s history. Gripping in its narrative, Code Talker
is history at its best."-- Colonel Cole C. Kingseed, U.S. Army (Ret.), co-author of Beyond Band of Brothers
"A fascinating inside look at one of WWII’s most closely guarded secrets…This is an important book, a previously untold piece of our history."-- Marcus Brotherton, author of Shifty's War
"You don’t need to be a fan of World War II literature to appreciate this memoir…a fascinating melange of combat in the Pacific theater, the history of the Navajo people and the development of a uniquely American code."-- The Associated Press
"A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation." -- Kirkus Reviews
“William Meller’s journey from inexperienced dogface to hardened combat leader is a truly fascinating story that oozes with drama and authenticity. From the Hurtgen to the Bulge to his days in captivity, Meller shares the emotion and trauma of a small unit leader’s experiences as few ever have. This is one of the finest combat memoirs I have ever read and I highly recommend it.”—John C. McManus, author of The Deadly Brotherhood
“William Meller is capable of transforming the harsh and bitter battle experience of the 1944 Huertgen Forest into a true piece of outstanding literature, gripping and convincing. This is very rarely found. A masterpiece.”—Christian Frey, TV Director, German History Channel
"A gripping and deeply felt account of one infantryman's experience in WWII. Its lessons, however, trascend time and space to teach us about all wars, and all warriors."—Nathaniel Fick, author of the New York Times bestseller One Bullet Away.
The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII-includes the actual Navajo Code and rare photos.
Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speak of their service until 1968, when the code was finally declassified. Of the original twenty- nine Navajo code talkers, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them.
In this memoir, the eighty-nine-year-old Nez chronicles both his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation-the hard life that gave him the strength, both physical and mental, to become a Marine. His story puts a living face on the legendary men who developed what is still the only unbroken code in modern warfare.
He is the only original World War II Navajo code talker still aliveand this is his story . . .
His name wasnt Chester Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten. And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didnt stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing on a New Mexico reservation gave him the strengthboth physical and mentalto excel as a marine.
During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfareand helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.
He never planned on becoming a leader—or a hero...
In November 1944—Sergeant William Meller was just twenty years old. Very soon into the fighting in Huertgen Forest, he found himself promoted to squad leader by attrition, since every single officer in the rifle companies had already been killed or wounded. Meller and his men, living in freezing foxholes and armed only with rifles and a few machine guns and grenades, fought against the Wehrmacht's battle-hardened soldiers and its juggernaut Panzer tanks, all while under withering barrages of artillery fire.
The bravery and determination of Meller and the soldiers of Meller's 28th Infantry Division allowed them to survive what would become the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought in its history. But they would get little respite from the carnage. Almost immediately, they were sent to fight the Germans in the densely forested and bitter-cold Ardennes. Again, Meller and his GI's were vastly outnumbered and out-equipped in the fight which would soon become known as the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler's final offensive. The vaunted Wehrmacht threw everything they had in their arsenal against the American dogfaces.
This is the true story of a man in combat who continuously adapted to his circumstances with grace and courage, ultimately transforming himself from an ordinary young GI to a leader who helped show his soldiers, by example, how to survive war.
About the Author
Carlos Harrison is a Pulitzer Prizeand#150;winning journalist, editor, and writer of more than a dozen books available in English and Spanish. A former reporter for Miamiand#8217;s NBC affiliate and a national and international correspondent for the Fox News Channel, Harrison has optioned multiple screenplays, written two award-winning television documentaries, and published hundreds of newspaper articles and magazine pieces in a wide variety of media, from the Huffington Post and Southern Living to a number of travel, celebrity, and business publications. As a reporter at the Miami Herald, Harrison shared the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News, covering the arrest of Yahweh Ben Yahweh, a national religious cult leader accused of ordering the murder of one of his followers.