A Necessary Warrior

by Robert M. Miller
Trafford Publishing

"I was determined that my children and grandchildren would enjoy an opportunity to experience some historic moments in my life."

Whether searching through the attic or rummaging inside a closet of antiques, most individuals have, at one time or another, encountered the precious belongings of their grandparents. Rarely would they be able to experience the story behind the memento or treasure. Labeling Robert M. Miller's A Necessary Warrior as comprehensive is an injustice to his effort. In fact, he leaves no stones unturned, providing every recorded detail or observation from his own recollections. More than anything else, this is a memoir that utilizes a journal entry type format where each break in the book represents a new day. Readers will know the who, the where, the when, and the why of this man's life—this fact is an honor in its own right and thoroughly overshadows the lack of stylistic creativity. Make no mistake, this is a recommended read for its valiant attempt at capturing many years and myriad experiences within the covers.

Miller provides a first person account of his own life in connection to several momentous points in history, particularly World War II. Those who have taken a history course in high school probably remember the nearly thousand page textbooks filled with dense information. Undoubtedly, these facts likely came across as meaningless because there was no face, just statistics. For instance, individuals who have lived through the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 will react strongly to 9/11 discussions, while children with little to no recollection will end up learning from the history books. Miller does a splendid job of trimming the excess information and simply describes the events as they were.

While there are moments where the narrative turns into a list, the stunning pictures and maps that accompany the text are reason enough to devour this book. There are moments when the reader will ask himself, "How in the world is Robert Miller traveling to all of these places?" Miller, perhaps unknowingly, gives us a tour of the world through the eyes of a soldier.

The memoir begins with Miller wondering whether he will even graduate from college. He reveals that tuition and books came out to a whopping fifteen dollars. Anyone who was in college during the 1940s can certainly relate to Miller's description of college life; however, the audience as a whole can appreciate the college environment then and now.

He then shifts from working in the theater to working for the National Supply Company. Before long, he's passed the required physical and is stationed in Fort MacArthur. One observation to note is during that era, the psychiatrist asked questions pertaining to loving the army and whether or not he liked girls. Military aficionados will find behind-the-scenes insight of military life throughout the novel. The in-depth view of military life is further represented by the author's revelation that training consisted predominantly of calisthenics and five to six mile hikes. Miller even provides pictures of his M3 light tank military artillery, in addition to the "Grease Gun" military weapon he used. While training was a critical component of military life, the men never forgot how to have fun. From a fellow soldier, Lewis Jenkins, having Miller address his love letters—because of poor penmanship—to watching movies on a 16mm and playing craps and cards, Miller's battalion knew the difference between business and pleasure.

When it comes to locales, there are too many to list; however, the castle ruins at Tiverton and Okehampton—of prehistoric Britain—and the Paris Opera House are among the many places that Robert Miller and his Fifth Armored Division encountered.

Robert Miller has given his voice and experiences to his audience. While the inner workings of the military are largely kept secret, he provides a tantalizing peek into their lives that will help individuals realize war's impact on frontline soldiers. With United States currently set to leave Iraq in the near future, this book is important not only for Miller's legacy, but also for the audience and the world as a whole to appreciate just how necessary it is for soldiers to have that warrior mentality. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this memoir is the amount of life experiences the author has packed; it is simply remarkable. He has proceeded to earn a secondary school teaching credential and reinvented himself as a counselor, psychologist, and school administrator. A Necessary Warrior is a meaningful read, especially for passionate military fans.

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