Mr. Patrick O'Donnell

Honorary Member of the Regiment


Patrick O'Donnell is a critically acclaimed author. He originally founded The Drop Zone website almost twenty years ago to collect oral histories of World War II Airborne, Ranger and Special Operations veterans. Over the years he personally met with and interviewed veterans to add to the oral histories and has collected more than 4,000 of these histories. Based on these interviews he has written two books chronicling the history of the various American Airborne, Ranger and Commando units of World War II entitled Beyond Valor: World War II Ranger and Airborne Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat (which won the William E. Colby Award for Outstanding Military History) and Into the Rising Sun: In Their Own Words, World War II Pacific Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat. He has also written a book entitled Dog Company: Boys of Pointe Du Hoc Rangers Who Landed at D Day and Fought Across Europe, and four books about the OSS in World War II.

In 2004 Patrick accepted an invitation to speak at the 509th PIA reunion in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The reunion occurred shortly after the 1st Battalion rifle companies received notice of their deployment to Iraq. After talking with the Color Guard and Battalion Sergeant Major at the Reunion he asked for and was given permission to join the two companies in Iraq. Before going, however, he attended a rotation at the JRTC at Fort Polk playing the role of an Al Jazeera reporter.

After he joined the 509th two rifle companies in Iraq he participated in numerous missions around Bagdad. Following the start of the Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004 he embedded with a Marine squad from Lima Company, 3/1 Marines. During this time he survived several ambushes and at one point carried a mortally wounded Marine out of a firefight with Chechen insurgents. He would later return to Iraq as a war correspondent with Mens Journal and Fox News.

Following his return from Iraq he submitted an outline to do a book on the 509th including their combat tour in Iraq. However, none of the publishers he submitted his outline to were interested and he ended up doing a book about the Marines he was with in Fallujah entitled We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder With the Marines Who Took Fallujah, which is on the Marine Corps Commandants required reading list.

But Patricks service with the 1-509th in its first deployment to active combat since World War II has earned him the recognition of being a 509er.

Books published by Patrick K. O'Donnell: Beyond Valor: World War II Rangers and Airborne Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat; Into the Rising Sun: World War II Pacific Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat; Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II OSS We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah; The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Spy Mission of World War II; They Dared Return: The True Story of Jewish Spies Behind the Lines in Nazi Germany; Give Me Tomorrow: The Epic Story of a Legendary Marine Unit in Korea; The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc: The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Days Toughest Mission and Led the Way Across Europe; First SEALs: The Untold Story of the Forging of Americas Most Elite Unit; Washingtons Immortals: The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution (to be published in March 2016).


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