Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War
Authored by Ray Lambert and Jim DeFelice, Narrated by Kaleo Griffith
Audiobook, 7 hours and 39 minutes
Published by Harper Audio
Ray Lambert grew up during the Great Depression in Clanton, Alabama. From a young age, he helped with the family lumber business and held a variety of odd jobs to make ends meet. Eventually the lack of job prospects drove him to enlist in the U.S. Army, which was then mobilizing as Europe moved closer to war. Lambert had some experience working as a veterinary assistant, so naturally the Army selected him for training as a combat Medic.
He was assigned to the First Division, 2nd Battalion of the 16th Infantry Regiment, “The Big Red One”. People skills and a knack for finding the right job for each of his men soon led to promotions and increasing responsibilities, and soon he was filling senior enlisted billets. He was responsible for the training and organization of the battalion’s Medics, as well as selecting sites for the forward aid stations. The need to closely follow the combat troops as they advanced meant that the aid stations were never more than a few hundred yards from the fighting, and the Medics were as exposed to enemy fire as the Infanty they supported, and often more so as they had to remove the wounded from the battlefield.
Lambert participated in all three of First Division’s combat landings – North Africa, Sicily, and Omaha Beach at Normandy. By the time the Division landed at Normandy he was a combat veteran and already had two Silver Stars for bravery and three Purple Hearts for wounds.
The book was written when Lambert was 98 years old, one of the few remaining men alive who had landed at Omaha Beach. It covers his life both before and after the war, but focused on his experiences in the army. He does a good job of including world events and “the big picture”, providing context but not wandering too far from the matters at hand. The narration is top quality and gives the impression of a man sitting on his front porch telling his life story. In spite of the title, the Normandy landing is not the only focal point in his narrative, and his experiences in North Africa and Italy are just as important and cover more pages. This is an outstanding first-person narrative, I can highly recommend it both as a combat tale and as the life story of an average American living through some of the roughest times in our history.