"Many thanks for the copy of 'From Immigrant to U.S. Marine.' I know it will be a great read!"
General P.X. Kelley USMC (Ret)
“From Immigrant to U.S. Marine is a great story of gallantry and love of country.”
Donald R. Gardener
Major General U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)
President, Marine Corps University
“It’s a fantastic story—well done!”
Major General W.H. Rice
U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)
A Survivor’s Triumph
reviewed by Maj Jeffrey W. Megargel, USMC (Ret)
With the Cold War already fading from memory, Americans are forgetting the millions of victims of communism. Even those of us who spend decades preparing for the final showdown with the Warsaw Pact have moved on to face a new threat. Fortunately, a new autobiography, entitled From Immigrant to U.S. Marine, reminds us of the highs and lows of the Cold War.
As a young boy in wartime Lithuania, Dominik Nargele witnessed harassment of his family by both Nazi and Soviet occupation forces. When it became apparent that the Soviets would “Russify” Lithuania in 1944, his family fled to Dresden, Germany. Assuming that the Allies would not attack a city well known as a cultural center, they occupied apartments dangerously close to the railhead. In a deal apparently brokered between Joseph Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt, the Allies did bomb Dresden in February 1945. Although the apartment, railhead, and most of the city were destroyed by the incendiary bombs, Nargele survived. Within a few months, the Nargele family settled in Brooklyn to begin new lives as displaced persons. The next 60 years afforded Dominik Nargele a life of service to his new country and the opportunity to fight communism.
LtCol Nargele began his service with the Army National Guard and finished with the Marine Corps. Throughout his career he never wavered from his hate of communism, and fate provided him plenty of opportunity to prove it. That lifelong battle began with the Cuban missile crisis, continued through two tours in Vietnam, a tour observing Soviet maneuvers in East Germany, and finally as a defense attaché in Santo Domingo.
From Immigrant to U.S. Marine is full of detail that may be difficult for the casual reader to grasp. When asked about the level of detail, the author pointed to the two worn notebooks on the desk before him. Commissioned as an infantry officer, Nargele deployed to Vietnam with 2d Battalion, 9th Marines as the communications platoon commander. Because he found the science of communications to be challenging, he recorded nomenclature, the events of each day, and lessons learned in those two books. At the end of his first tour, he had page upon page of detailed notes. Within those pages was a story of combat in Vietnam quite unlike that being reported in the popular media. The chronicle includes great battlefield wins and losses, gallantry and mistakes – including a good night’s sleep in a minefield, a battalion commander killed by an improvised explosive, Marine cooks defending the mess hall from Vietcong infiltrators, and man-eating tigers. There are also plenty of more familiar combat situations that are being replayed in Iraq and reported on the evening news with arguably some of the same media bias.
Nargele’s daring spy activities in East Germany are simply amazing. While performing reconnaissance in full Marine Corps uniform, he was nearly shot, run over, and often detained. Other officers were killed by the Soviets or East Germans, but Nargele escaped one close call after another. Perhaps Nargele’s resilience is due in part to his fluency in Lithuanian, German, Russian, and English. Just as his father had talked his way out of internment by the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, former Soviet Union under Stalin) secret police in World War II Lithuania,
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