A Book Review
of Lance Zedric's
Silent No More: The Alamo Scouts in Their Own Words
By Michael F. Dilley
Prior to 1995 not much was generally known about a small unit that fought in the Southwest Pacific Theater during World War II. This unit was the Alamo Scouts, the Special Reconnaissance Unit of the U.S. Sixth Army. All of that changed when Lance Zedric converted his Master’s thesis into a book (Silent Warriors of World War II – The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines; Pathfinder Publishing, Ventura, California). Soon after the book’s publication there were works of all sorts (magazine articles, television programs, even a movie) that featured the Alamo Scouts. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command declared that the Alamo Scouts were a predecessor unit of the modern Special Forces.
As good and ground-breaking as Silent Warriors was (and it was very good and definitely ground-breaking), it did not tell the complete story of the Alamo Scouts. It has taken 18 more years of constant digging, interviewing, research, and writing (and rewriting) for Lance Zedric to put together what is the definitive history of this incredible unit. Silent No More is the culmination of all those years of dedication and hard work.
This book is much more than an oral history based on extensive interviews with the Alamo Scouts. Lance Zedric fills in the details of that framework with excerpts from unit after action reports, orders, award citations, personal diaries kept by several Scouts, written and taped memoirs, magazine and newspaper accounts, and correspondence between many of the Scouts and their families. He calls his finished product “an oral history with visual aids.” The visual aids include photographs, both official Army Signal Corps photos and many personal photos supplied by the Scouts themselves and their families. Maps, drawings, and copies of newspaper pages and magazine covers and articles fill out the visual aids.
Much of the graphics work in the book was the result of equally hard work and dedication by Russ Blaise, Executive Director of the Alamo Scouts Historical Foundation and the son of an Alamo Scout who served on Sumner Team.
A good percentage of the interviews or written comments comes from people outside the Alamo Scouts, including soldiers, sailors, and marines who worked with and alongside the Scouts on their various missions. Some was also contributed by marines, soldiers, and civilians who were former prisoners of war and were liberated in operations by and with the Alamo Scouts.
In November 1943, Lieutenant General Walter Krueger, commanding general of Sixth Army, directed the formation of a training center, to be under the auspices of his Assistant Chief of Staff G-2 (Intelligence). The Alamo Scouts Training Center was created to train an ad hoc organization that would conduct reconnaissance missions and raids as necessary in support of Sixth Army throughout its area of operations. Officially this organization was the Sixth Army Special Reconnaissance Unit but unofficially and even formally it was known as the Alamo Scouts. (The codename for Sixth Army was Alamo Force, after General Krueger’s hometown of San Antonio, Texas.) All units within Sixth Army were directed to nominate candidates to attend the training on a temporary duty status.
The training at the ASTC was six weeks long, with the final two weeks consisting of field exercises and missions. Following the completion of training some of the students were kept to form Alamo Scouts teams while the remainder were returned to their units and expected to pass on their training to unit members. Many of those who were returned to their units served in the reconnaissance elements of their respective regiments and divisions.
The Alamo Scouts teams consisted of five or six enlisted men and were led by (and named for) lieutenants who had trained with the men. As the war progressed in the Pacific, some men served on more than one team because parent units recalled their members. Several ad hoc teams were also created for particular missions organized on a short notice basis. Additionally, as Sixth Army moved forward from New Guinea to the Philippines, the ASTC moved with it, eventually being located at five permanent locations and conducting eight full training classes and one class cut short by the end of the war. As they moved the nature of the missions for the Alamo Scouts changed to include working with and training local guerrilla organizations. Several rescue missions were conducted in addition to prison camp raids.
The Alamo Scouts conducted more than 110 missions behind Japanese lines, including at least two with other elite units – the U.S. Navy’s Amphibious Scouts of the Seventh Fleet and a reinforced company from the U.S. Army’s 6th Ranger Battalion. Means of insertion/extraction included by foot, submarine, ship, and PT boat. When not on mission, Scouts teams served as part of the personal security detail for General Krueger. During all these missions, not one Alamo Scouts was killed or taken prisoner, an incredible record. When Sixth Army went to Japan as part of the occupation force, a few teams of Alamo Scouts went along. The Alamo Scouts were unceremoniously disbanded in December 1945 in Kyoto, Japan.
Lance Zedric has done an impressive job over the years in keeping the Alamo Scouts in the forefront of elite military formations of the U.S. Army and in the eyes of the general public. His dedication to this task shines through in his latest, monumental book, Silent No More. The finished product reflects the years that he has spent researching and presenting to the public the history of the Scouts. His personal feelings for this amazing unit show through in this lengthy, comprehensive work. I highly recommend this book to students of history, military history, World War II, and special units. It is a necessary addition to the libraries of all such students and the public at large.
Order the book at http://apo442.com/snm.html
Visit Zedric’s website at http://www.lancebooks.com/
Visit Blaise’s website at http://russblaise.com/