Brown's books are about young, courageous men and their youthful leaders who have been transformed into professional and lethal warriors. As such, they will never be able to return to their innocent, naive selves prior to stepping onto the battlefield. They bond as tight as any set of brothers, they fight as one, the more experienced men look out for the "newbies", and they never lose their sense of humor. The political reasons for why they are at war are wholly irrelevant as they conduct their mission assignments.
Shoulders to Stand On
The interviews included in Dave Brown’s book begin at a time in our country and within our Corps when rampant segregation was simply the way it was. President Roosevelt may have ordered complete integration of Blacks into the four services in 1941, but it was met with anything but a willing spirit. Especially was the case within the Marine Corps. Since then, those dark time have brightened.
My favorite and the most rewarding decision that I made during my four years as Commandant was leading the Corps-wide initiative within Congress to award the Congressional Gold Medal to America’s Montford Point Marines. Senator Kay Hagan and Congresswoman Corrine Brown were the two superstars within Congress who garnered the full support of their colleagues, resulting in the awarding of the medal. The award ceremony, chaired by the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and attended by most of the members of Congress, was conducted--hold onto to your seats--in Emancipation Hall in the lower portion of our nation’s capital. The setting alone took my breath away. I will never forget that afternoon.
Looking back to 2011 and the Montford Point National Convention in Atlanta, the Marines and their family members with whom I spent that hot July evening have become some of my dearest friends. The memories of that evening, our follow-on gatherings across the south, the Congressional Gold Medal Award Ceremony at the Capital, and the parade at Marine Barracks Washington, DC, in honor of our Montford Point Marines bring fresh meaning to Commandant Vandergrift’s direction to his Marines. “The experiment with the Negro Marines is over. They are Marines . . . period.”
General, USMC (ret)
DEVIL'S DEN MARINE'S WAR IN LEBANON 1983
Devil’s Den: Marines War in Lebanon 1983 tells the story of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines (1/8) sent on a peacekeeping mission in Beirut that turned into a war zone during their deployment. Author Lt. Col. David Brown, USMC (Ret.) does an excellent job setting the scene for readers and relaying the story through the lens of three enlisted Marines, a Navy corpsman, and other key figures who were part of the 1/8. Brown portrays the extraordinary courage of those on the ground in the middle of a confusing, difficult, dangerous, and deadly time.
The author excelled at character development, and particularly for his portrayal of Danny Joy. Readers will turn pages wondering what this young hero will do next and when he will ever stop proving he is an extraordinary human being. Many of the images provided by the men who were there, including Joy, provide an accurate glimpse into how the men lived in Beirut. The maps, historical photos, and graphics showed an intense level of research which the reader learns from placing the story in greater context.
Devil’s Den is an important work of literature capturing a period of time which some Americans may not know about or may have forgotten. This is a story that needed to be told, and the author did that well. This book is highly recommended for those who appreciate military history and the stories of the humans who bravely sacrificed for their country under unusual circumstances.
Devil’s Den is another eye gripping narrative by the battle tested warrior, and Author, David Brown. He takes us to Lebanon in mid-1983 with a group of hotshot young sailors and Marines on a mission they don’t understand and are not trained for: Peacekeeping! Even their commander in chief is reluctant to send them.
They arrive in the Middle East after eight years of war were opposing soldiers, militias and assorted terrorists are still fighting each other. Trained to fight or kill, these cocky young “peacekeepers” are restrained by something entirely new: rules of engagement. How do young novice mediators stop lifelong enemies from killing each other? Or them? Devil’s Den introduces them and their hometowns to us, all leading to their fate in deadly explosions. Some survived. And like them, we readers will never be the same.
The Pound: Devil Dogs’ War in Nicaragua
The Pound: Devil Dogs’ War in Nicaragua picks up immediately after First Lieutenant Christian Schilt is presented the Medal of Honor by President Coolidge in Bandits Below. By this time the Bandit, Augusto César Sandino, and his motley gang of nationalists and thieves from neighboring Honduras under his command begin to conduct raids on the communities in central and northern Nicaragua.
Despite the unpopularity of the war in the United States and much of the rest of the world, the Marines experience a wide-variety of activities and learn many lessons in a small wars environment that will serve them well into the next century. Fighting insurgents, forming a host-nation’s police force and army, ensuring safe elections, providing medical assistance for the rural population, building roads, constructing airfields, and organizing earthquake disaster relief will occupy the years, 1928-1933, for the Devil Dogs.
Perhaps the readers of The Pound: Devil Dogs’ War in Nicaragua will not be a bit surprised to learn that much of the highly diverse activities during this five-year adventure is introduced, analyzed, and concluded in a light and humorous manner around a large table, occupied by a veteran Marine Master Technical Sergeant, a First Sergeant, and their friends. These two Marines are addressed as “Top” by others and their table is affectionately known as the “Tops’ Table” at the tavern called, Devil Dog Pound. There, you will meet legendary Marines in their younger days, many who will rise in the ranks to flag-officer stalwarts in the Pacific and Korean wars. Enjoy the Marine adventure. If you ever hear a Marine say, “This is a lousy war, but it’s the only one we have,” surely you’ll recall The Pound: Devil Dogs’ War in Nicaragua.
The Pound, Devil Dogs' War in Nicaragua, by LtCol David Brown is a highly researched book that tells an interesting story about the Marines in Nicaragua from 1928 to 1933. Based on actual events and with real people as characters, the book takes a close look at the life and combat experiences of the Marines. Their mission—that of nation-building: trying to quell rebel activity and allow Nicaragua to effectively evolve into a functioning democracy—faced difficulties caused by the terrain, the weather, and even an earthquake.
The Pound is the Marines' main restaurant/bar where most gathered when they weren't off in the field chasing the rebels. Brown includes dozens of photographs in his book taken from official Marines' historical records. These photographs depict the Marines who were there at the time, as well as relevant Nicaraguans, pictures of the country, and even original maps used by the Marines. I recommend this book to anyone interested in military history and especially someone who likes reading about the history of the Marines.
Review by Bob Doerr (March 2020)
Lieutenant Colonel David Brown, USMC (ret.) has once again surpassed himself as an author of historically based fiction. This time Brown vividly recounts how the Marine Corps, for the very first time, integrated its air and ground forces in pursuit of the Nicaraguan revolutionary Augusto Sandino. He also in turn provides a historically accurate and action-packed account of USMC counter-guerrilla operations in the largest campaign ever conducted by the Corps in Central America. An all-around great read.
Dr. Charles P. Neimeyer
Director, Marine Corps History Division (Ret.)
2006 – 2018
The Reconnaissance pilot’s mantra, “Alone, Unarmed, and Unafraid,” is clearly brought to real life in Bandits Below by Dave Brown These pioneer and intrepid Marine aviators embodied the passion and dedication to the Corps, their mission, and their comrades-in-arms. Flying into the unknowns such as challenging terrain, inclement weather, and any idea of kinds of enemy resistance is challenging enough without having to worry whether your airplane can even handle it all. These guys did it with panache! Even more noteworthy, their selfless airevac exploits forged the motto used by Air Rescue services throughout the world today “That Others May Live”. Dave expertly captures their story with a thoughtful blend of actual military history and the expressions of the men who made it happen.
L. Peter Ache
Colonel (Ret), USAF
1927, the Marines first integrate their air and ground forces in pursuit of the bandit, Augusto Caesar Sandino. The book’s story line is filled with thrilling actors, adventures and patriotism. The human elements of humor, frustration, impatience, and affection warmly transform this often-tense environment of yesteryear, into a very pertinent modern-day, edge-of-your-seat story.
In Battlelines, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Brown and his daughter, Tiffany, have captured the reality of war. Their chronicle of comradeship forged in the crucible of combat is a must-read for anyone who cares about soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who fight our country's battles.-Oliver L. North, Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret.)
Battlelines is a tribute to the brave Marines of Fox Company, 2/5, who fought in some of the sharpest battles of the war. I fought alongside Dave Brown and his Marines, and can attest to the courage and tenacity displayed by the men of Fox Company. -Martin L. Brandtner, Lieutenant General, USMC (Ret.)
Battlelines is a superb memoir on human behavior and the raw emotions felt by those who must constantly face the dangers of either closing or defending that last 600 meters against an aggressive, determined, and often-unseen enemy. Implicit in the telling is a portrait of unsurpassed courage, steadfastness, and a sense of mutual affection for one another that can only be derived from men who find themselves together under fire. -O. K. Steele, Major General, USMC (Ret.)
Company F, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines – Their History. Retired USMC Lt. Col. David Brown and his daughter, Tiffany Brown Holmes, team up to write the definitive history of one of the best fighting units in the Vietnam War. They finally share with the rest of the world, the real history and the stories of one of America’s finest fighting units from the Vietnam War
Company F, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines: their history is told with much pride in a book called Battlelines. The book gives us the unit’s history through personal accounts of those who served from 1966 through 1971. It is all about real heroes and brotherhood and team work; but it is also about death, wounds and PTSD. It is about shared experiences in hell and funny stories as well.
The authors did a great job of piecing this unit’s history together so that it flows as one story as you read the book. There are some memories that hurt and will bring tears and some that may bring a smile. This book is about real men facing life and death and taking care of each other in the process. This is what the Marines are all about and this unit is one of the finest examples of that spirit.
There were at least two men who were awarded the Medal of Honor and the unit had a host of other men receive various and numerous medals for heroic deeds. But this unit also got more than its share of (for wounds received while in combat). even got a for the battle for. This was not some garrison troop that went out on an occasional patrol. This was a fighting force to be reckoned with as the NVA and VC forces found out.
If you were only going to read one book about the Marines in Vietnam then this would be that one book you should read. It honors not only this unit but all Marines. It is well written and well researched and was obviously a labor of love for the authors.