Dear Alamo Scout veteran and family members,
My name is Larry Alexander and I am a journalist from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I have received many state-level journalism awards and received a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 2005.
I am also the author of the national best-selling book, “Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who Led the Band of Brothers.”
For those of you who have read the book “Band of Brothers” by Stephen E. Ambrose or saw the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg miniseries, which followed the exploits of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne during World War II, my book told the life story of the company’s leader, Richard Winters. The book followed him from his birth, through his youth and the war years, and through later life up to, and including, his appearing on stage at the 2002 Emmy Awards in Hollywood.
I had befriended Major Winters in 2001 and, starting in 2003, worked closely with him to create the book. The hardcover edition was released in spring 2005 by New American Library (a division of Penguin books) and went through 8 printings, or about 60,000 copies. The paperback came out in May of 2006 and there are at least four editions, with about 50,000 copies in print. Plus there are large print editions, as well as Dutch and Polish translations available overseas.
The book made several best-sellers lists, including the New York Times and I received letters from well-satisfied readers from all across the nation, Europe and Australia.
In looking for a topic for a new book, I discovered the Alamo Scouts Web site, and read every entry on it. As an historian, I had heard of the Alamo Scouts, but quite frankly, did not know a lot about their exploits. To supplement my knowledge, I first e-mailed, then phoned and spoke with Russ Blaise of the Alamo Scouts Assoc., who agreed to act as an intermediary between myself and the Scouts and their families.
I also purchased the book “Silent Warriors” by Lance Q. Zedric, and discovered that the more I read, the more I became entranced by the exploits of this wonderful group of brave men. Mr. Zedric has produced a terrific book that tells the story well, but I was astounded to find that it is the only book available on the Scouts and their heroic exploits.
For that reason, I would very much like to write a new, updated book about the Scouts; one that tells their story rich in detail with gripping action scenes and realism. As with the Winters book, my intent is to place the reader right there in the jungle with the men, feeling the tension as they row ashore in the dark or as enemy patrols pass them by, even feeling the sweat from the tropical heat sting their eyes.
One of the most frequent compliments I got from readers of “Biggest Brother” was the “you-are-there” feel the book exuded. That will be my intent with this book, as well. It will not be a dry history filled with just deeds and dates, but a gripping narrative rich with dialogue, emotion and courage.
To accomplish this, I will require as much help as I can from all of you.
From the veterans, I would like the opportunity to contact you for interviews, either in person when possible, or by phone. What I would like from you when we speak is as much detail as possible, including some of your personal background (place of birth, family, etc) as well as your time with the Scouts. But here I would like more than just what you did. I want to know why you volunteered for the Scouts, what you thought about on those missions, how you felt about them, and so forth. I would like the reader to understand you as a man, and not just as a soldier trained to fight the enemy.
No detail is too trivial
As for you family members of Scouts who are deceased, I would ask for similar information. Tell me about your Scout veteran. What was he like? His personality? His background? And I would appreciate any stories he related to you.
Again, no detail is too small to help me round out a good picture of the person.
And of course, if there are any diaries, journals, letters or memoirs written by the veteran, either at the time or later, that I can have access to, this would be most welcome.
I know people may be reluctant to allow someone they do not know the use of these irreplaceable materials, but please rest assured. For the Winters book, I was given Dick’s journal entries, his after action reports, company papers, photos, maps and letters. All of these were handled carefully and returned promptly to him when I was through. The same will be true for any materials you allow me to use.
My plan for this book is to cover the Scouts throughout their entire existence, but to also focus on a few key missions, which I hope to write about in detail to put the reader into the action.
Russ Blaise has kindly offered to pass this letter along to all of you, since you do not know me. To get me started he has also arranged for me to interview team leader Mr. Wilbur Littlefield, which I hope to do in the very near future.
I hope all of you consider this request most sincerely. The success of the project, and how well I am able to tell the Alamo Scouts story, rests with the amount of assistance I can get from those who were there, or whose loved ones were there.
I will use as many of their stories as possible, and include the names of the veterans in the book.
I really would like to do this book and do it right, and I plan to work closely with the Alamo Scouts Assoc. to be sure I am on the right track.
It is a troubling note that when I tell people I know, even some with strong history backgrounds, about the Alamo Scouts, they invariably ask, “Who?” or “I never heard of them.”
With your help, that response is what I am out to change, before the Alamo Scouts, with their proud heritage, become just a footnote in military history.
If you wish to contact me, you can go through Russ Blaise.