Warrior to Spiritual Warrior: The Soldier's Journey
Warrior to Spiritual Warrior: The Soldier's Journey by Jess Weiss with Chuck Noell recounts a rare and remarkable personal story of spiritual healing. Jess Weiss is a decorated member of the Greatest Generation, one of the few combat soldiers from the landing at Omaha Beach, D-Day, who lived to tell the tale. This book is not about the blood and guts or the glory of a soldier's life, it is about coping with death and dying, surviving fifty years of “Why me?” survivor guilt, and the ravages of Post Traumatic Stress (an impairment that didn't have a name in World War II.) It is the tale of how one man climbed out of the dark pit of debilitating injury to forge a path of spiritual resurrection and transformation for himself. Whether you are religious, spiritual, or simply concerned about the long-term effects of war, this book will inspire hope and renew your faith in what is grand and great about the human adventure.
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Review written by Bernie Weisz, Historian, Pembroke Pines, Florida, USA Contact: BernWei1@aol.com January 10, 2012 Title of Review: "Seeking Cover Under A GI.'s Dead Body on Omaha Beach During D-Day: Am I Dead?"
What is Jess Weiss's "Warrior to Spiritual Warrior" about? World War Two and the Normandy Invasion? Spiritualism? Surviving the death of a spouse? Post traumatic stress disorder? Survivor guilt? Children that refuse to see the depths of a father's ordeal? These topics, including death of a spouse, mysticism and Christian Science are offered up in this fascinating memoir. In an articulate, easy to understand manner of conversing the author brings you through his thoughts and feelings as a child, his distant relationship he was unable to overcome with his father and his induction into the Army following the December, 1941 Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor. The reader is introduced to Weiss's travails in experiencing anti Semitism in basic training, combat in North Africa and Sicily culminating in his participation in the June 6th, 1944 Normandy Invasion of France. At age 25, and freshly married , Jess Weiss would tragically be the only survivor of his Landing Ship Tank, a small naval vessel designed to carry cargo and troops onto enemy defended shoreline. The story only gets more intense. Once onshore, Weiss renders a spine tingling description of dodging pillbox entrenched German defenders raking the shoreline with machine gun fire. Causing lifelong "survivor guilt," he accomplished this by hiding under the corpses of his deceased comrades. Perhaps this is an unconscious reason for authoring his fifth book as a nonagenarian, yet Weiss's lifelong description of tumult and self condemnation continues. Once onshore at Normandy, he would witness a German sharpshooter hidden in a tree shoot a fellow soldier.
A trained sniper himself, Weiss retaliated by shooting and killing the German defender, taking the slain sniper's unused diary to document the rest of his tour. It is from this journal that Weiss penned the rest of his tour's memories, of which the entire fascinating contents appear in this multifaceted, revealing memoir. Weiss warns the reader to be careful for what one prays for, as it just might happen. Experiencing nonstop fighting against the tenacious Germans from his unit's 1942 beachhead landing on the coast of Algeria all the way to where his unit, the "Big Read One," specifically the 26th Infantry Regiment was inside the Third Reich, Weiss knew the odds against any soldier surviving that level of continuous combat were slim. He would pray for a way out of participating in the seemingly never ending carnage. The final entry of this historically priceless journal would occur when German mortar fragments would severely wound him. Although he would experience "Victory in Europe" day from a yearlong convalescence and depressing separation from his bride, a separate book alone could be written alone solely about his involvement in World War II Weiss's war injury would take a year in a Wala Wala, Washington military hospital to convalesce resulting in a lifelong numbness he would desperately attempt to interpret. Yet from 1945 to the Vietnam War where the term PTSD evolved, he couldn't figure out why even though he came back from the war alive, only his body really came back. However you read Jess Weiss's book, and whatever conclusion you come to in regard to his observations, opinions, and statements, one inarguable assertion he makes rings true in the myriad of memoirs written about PTSD as well as the effects of war and killing. Certainly this is among the most memorable, significant memoirs of the century that will stand the test of time. A must read!