Ghosts of Iwo Jima by Joe Jennings

Ghosts of Iwo Jima by Joe Jennings, self-published, ISBN: 9781522042914,  $10.50, 341 pgs. Is a unique blend of genuine search and rescue work by SAR dogs, factual history and a few ghosts added for extra drama. Although this is a self-published book, I have to rate it very high in writing quality. It flows well and is well organized. The physical aspects of the book are good as well.

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Ghosts of Iwo Jima is a story about a team of men and woman, and two special dogs, who go to Iwo Jima to find the remains of five Marines that died on the island during WWII. The book takes us to the historically factual battle and gives the reader a genuine feel for a war situation. Most of the search takes place in an area the Marines named the Amphitheater where the five Marines went missing.

The realism of the story is due to the fact that the author served in the Marines during Vietnam and made the Marines his career serving from 1964 to 1988, including being a part of the Combined Action Program, served in the infantry and reconnaissance units. He is also a SAR dog handler with the Great Basin K9 SAR unit.

The dogs are a Cadaver dog and a Military explosives detection dog. The cadaver dog must find the bodies and the explosive detection dog must clear the area of unexploded ordnance before the team can search.

What I especially liked was the conflict between the characters, one specialist did not understand and believe the capabilities of the dogs, and the Japanese commander who was in charge of the island and was misinformed as to the intent of the team’s search. The two ghosts that were involved in the mission were enemies and did their best to influence the outcome of the mission. The bad ghost tried to kill the dogs and sabotage the mission, while the other ghost communicated to the team to guide them. The way all of the elements of the story blended together is excellent.

The dialog in the book has a real-life sound to it, making the reader feel as if they are a part of the team. The pressure that the team felt is evident to the reader, since the team was allotted only ten days by the Japanese to find the missing remains.

All of the technical aspects of the book are true to life, the searching, the forensic work and the obstacles that the team faced. The ending is excellent, with an unexpected surprise. Of the many books that I have reviewed, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and wished there were more missions to come, in another book, for the team. For his first book, Joe Jennings did an outstanding job.

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