Professor, veteran publishes ‘explosive’ book on WWII
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 00:09
For war veteran, author and West Virginia University Professor Jeffrey Leatherwood, 10 years of research have finally paid off.
Leatherwood recently published his first book, "Nine From Aberdeen," a history of U.S. bomb disposal squads that served during World War II.
"Nine from Aberdeen" recounts the stories of the brave men belonging to World War II’s U.S. Army Ordnance Bomb Disposal service branch, the predecessor of today’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal services. Both services have been responsible for the identification and disarming of dangerous explosives.
During World War II, the American bomb disposal academy was located in Aberdeen, Md. The book’s title comes from the nine U.S. ordnance soldiers who were selected from the school to travel to Great Britain and study under the British Royal Engineers.
This information isn’t just for history junkies and military officers, Leatherwood said. He believes the subject is extremely important for modern American civilians to understand because it plays a large role in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"These people are lifesavers in the field of foreign conflicts,"Leatherwood said. "They are truly the unsung heroes."
Scholars and filmmakers have often emphasized World War II soldiers who challenged barriers by serving in the war. Meanwhile, women, African Americans and others have made substantial
contributions to the United States’ military history, Leatherwood said.
"We should remember everybody, not just the minorities," he said. "If we rely too much on movies, we will rely on archetypes, which only tell some of the story."
The bomb disposal squad’s operations were top secret, and therefore little is known about them.
Leatherwood’s sources largely include oral histories and other primary sources, such as personal journals and military records. He was able to speak with several veterans personally, but for those who had already died, he spoke with many of their family members.
"The families were very supportive," Leatherwood said. "They are the ones who really encouraged me to pursue this project."
Leatherwood’s initial inspiration came from a British television show, "Danger UXB," which sparked his interest in the possibility of a similar service by the Americans. When he discovered there was almost no research about American bomb disposal, he decided to make this the subject of his thesis.
After many years of research without any grant assistance, Leatherwood’s book was finally published in June. It includes an afterword from Command Sergeant Major Jim Clifford, military consultant for the film, "The Hurt Locker."
Leatherwood has been chosen to speak at next year’s National EOD Veterans reunion held at Virginia Beach. "Nine from Aberdeen" is Cambridge
Scholars Publishing’s Book of the Month for September, and Leatherwood said a signing event may be happening on campus in the near future.
For more information, contact Leatherwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.