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American Guerrilla: The Forgotten Heroics Of Russell W. Volckmann (Hardback)

The Man Who Escaped from Bataan, Raised a Filipino Army against the Japanese, and became “Father” of Special Forces


By Mike Guardia
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 264
Illustrations: 16-pg photo section, maps
ISBN: 9781935149224
Published: 15th June 2010



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With his parting words “I shall return,” General MacArthur sealed the fate of the last American forces on Bataan. Yet one young Army Captain, Russell Volckmann, refused to surrender. He disappeared into the jungles of north Luzon and raised a Filipino army of over 22,000 men. For the next three years he led a guerrilla war killing over 50,000 Japanese enemy soldiers. At the same time he established radio contact with MacArthur’s HQ in Australia and directed Allied forces to key enemy positions. When General Yamashita finally surrendered, he made his initial overtures not to MacArthur, but to Volckmann.This book establishes how Volckmann’s leadership was critical to the outcome of the war in the Philippines. His ability to synthesise the realities and potential of guerrilla warfare led to a campaign that rendered Yamashita’s forces incapable of repelling the Allied invasion. Had it not been for Volckmann, the Americans would have gone in “blind” during their counter-invasion, resulting in much greater loss of life and potentially stalling the entire Pacific campaign. American Guerilla also establishes Volckmann as the progenitor of modern counterinsurgency and the true “Father” of Army Special Forces. In 1950, Volckmann wrote two field manuals that became the Army’s first handbooks outlining the precepts for both special warfare and counter-guerrilla operations. At a time when U.S. military doctrine was conventional in outlook, he marketed the ideas of guerrilla warfare as a critical force multiplier for any future conflict, ultimately securing the establishment of the Army’s first special operations unit. Volckmann himself remains a shadowy figure in modern military history, and in much of the Special Forces literature. This long overdue book not only chronicles his dramatic military exploits, but analyses how his leadership paved the way for modern special warfare doctrine.

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About Mike Guardia

Mike Guardia, currently an armored captain in the 4th Infantry Division, is also author of two highly acclaimed biographies, American Guerrilla, about the life of the true founder of Special Forces, Russell Volckmann, and Shadow Commander, about the career of Donald Blackburn.

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