Time to update my memoir reviews here. Mustang: A Combat Marine by Gerald P. Averill Presidio Press, 1987. Hardcover, 314 pages. Averill joined the marines a few months before Pearl Harbor. Following the usual tough but reasonably fair boot training on The Island, he is selected, much to his frustration, to stay on in an admin role. He manages though to get accepted into airborne training. Following this, even tougher training, Averill is again retained. His choice then is to go into officer training. By the time he finally gets away from perfectionist trainers and gets to the Pacific he is a very highly trained man indeed. His story then is of his command experiences in the Solomons, Iwo Jima, Korea and the initial stages of Vietnam. With some pushing and some luck Averill is given a platoon in E Co of the 2nd Marine Parachute Battalion and serves with it on Vella Lavella and Choiseul in the Solomons. There is no combat on the first, though they are subject to high calibre air attack. Choiseul, Operation Blissful, is a weeklong raid meant to confuse Japanese intelligence. Averill leads a notable patrol and there are some remarkable occurrences. This is the only memoir I know of that addresses this campaign. Shortly after, the decision is made to disband the Marine paras and many are returned to the states to fill out the newly raised 5th Marine Division for Iwo Jima. As 2IC of H Co 3/26th Marines, Averill is there for a week before getting wounded. It is remarkable that in that time the only Japanese he sees are two dead machine-gunners but then to stay alive, you had to keep your head RIGHT down. There are many marine casualties. Some men fail, others are mutilated. It is very intense. At the end of the war Averill does some occupation duty before his first stint of peace-time soldiering, something he found very frustrating. His biggest issue was with superiors with no combat experience. After significant lobbying Averill gets himself sent to Korea in early 1951. He joins 2/5th Marines of the 1st Marine Division and becomes Battalion Operations Officer. There are several major operations and Averill wins the Silver Star for taking charge of a critical situation. The Korean pages make for the most compelling of Averill’s combat experiences. The conditions are harsh and the enemy very committed to its cause. Averill then has some involvement in the early stages of Vietnam (with Air America) before leaving the service to work for The Company but his account finishes with his marine service. The most interesting element of his post-Korea service is an eye-opening account of life in the Corps. There are a variety of fascinating postings, sea service with MEUs and the steps towards promotion. Sometimes Averill clashes very heatedly with his superiors. There are rivalries and prejudices and it was very interesting seeing some of the perspectives. Averill matures but his focus is always to prepare his commands for war. He’s not always popular but his methods and results are hard to argue against. At the end, he’s had a pretty good run. He loved the Corps and his admiration for it and the marines he served with is boundless. Averill’s memoir is far more than a war story. It is about life as a professional military man. Indeed, I particularly recommend it to those who are serving, or intend to. There is a lot on the personal challenges and rewards and also some poignant insights on the price that military families often pay. This is a well written book, almost lyrically so. Three stars for the combat but four overall.