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The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC - A Book Review


Norman J Fulkerson has chosen to paint a legend and what a wonderful job he has done! An American Knight is about the life of the late Colonel John W Ripley who was a Marine corps legend during the Vietnam War. Fulkerson does a remarkable job of bringing this true hero to life in a story that is not only told well but with insight and background. He has gone to great depths to provide an understanding of the family life and circumstances which made John Ripley the man he was to become.
 John Ripley had a strict Christian family upbringing. In the Ripley family, the religion was not only the bastion of women but men took it equally seriously. John’s father, Bud  was a man of great character who instilled in his sons  a sens of fairness and honesty. John came from a family that had fierce love for their country. John was a just and caring father and husband. He was also a tough man who brooked no nonsense.
In the book, Fulkerson describes how John Ripley had to master the physical as well as intellectual side of being a Marine. It was during his days at the Marine Academy that John underwent an amazing transformation that was to make him the man he was. An ordinary boy with ordinary dreams was about to become an exemplary hero.  Norman Fulkerson notes that it was, ‘..during his time at the Academy ,(that) he acquired the ability to apply himself to study and a thirst for knowledge (which) he maintained for the rest of his life.”
On Easter Sunday in Vietnam, John W Ripley singlehandedly blew up the Dong Ha Bridge to halt communist advance. To do this he had to scale the bridge more than a dozen times amidst heavy artillery fire in order to effectively thwart the enemy. John Ripley noted in his later years that what he learnt at that Academy became true lessons for life. He endured incessant combat with virtually no hope of reinforcements. Mental endurance, he said was to become ‘ an attitude that your mind imposes over your physical limitations.”
Norman J Fulkerson has created a masterpiece with his first novel. He has shown very effectively that his hero was not only an excellent military man but also a caring leader. The depth of research and background work that Fulkerson did is very evident in this well written book. Parts of the book where combat is described and what the men had to undergo when captured can be quite unsettling to read. Norman Fulkerson has achieved what many aspire to do but don’t quite achieve. He has painted for us a true hero and the message in todays troubled times is just as relevant as it was in Ripley’s time.

Book Facts:

Format : Hardcover

Publication Date: October 2009

Pages : 208

Available on : Amazon and Barnes and Noble





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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 9/1/2010
Thank you for sharing this informative review, Shoma. Love and peace to you,


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