Today is Armed Forces Day. It was started in 1949. Before then, each branch of the forces had their own holiday. This is a unified day to celebrate all the branches, although YA Reading List did mark Army Day.
The Warrior's Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage by Eric Greitens. In this memoir, Greitans tells the story of his life, from when he was a normal kid to how his travels around the world and being a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford opened his eyes to his desire and need to protect people, so he became a Navy SEAL. There are several Choose-Your-Own Adventure-type interludes to help readers see the world through Greitens's eyes. Older readers may wish to read the original adult version of this book, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL.
I Am a SEAL Team Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier by Howard E. Wasdin with Stephen Templin. Wasdin's memoir details his grueling training to be become a Navy SEAL, and then to become part of the elite SEAL Team Six, a group so elite that many had not heard of it before they took out Osama Bin Laden. With the SEALs, Wasdin saw action during the first Gulf War and in Somalia as a sniper. Older readers may want to go straight to the adult version of this book, SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper.
Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis by Pete Nelson and Hunter Scott. When the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Japanese, she went down in 14 minutes. 800 men died, but several hundred survived, but no one knew where they were, or that they were in trouble. They had to survive in shark-infested open water for days before rescue. The captain was blamed for the disaster, even though the survivors knew he was innocent. 50 years later, Hunter Scott did a history day project on the disaster and started a campaign to clear the captain's name and get the truth out there.
Something Like Normal by Trish Dollar. Most soldiers have a hard time with re-entry, but when Travis returns in Afghanistan, he struggles. He has a hard time dealing with the death of his friends and suffers from PTSD. On top of that, there are problems on home, such as his brother stealing his car and his girlfriend and that fact that his parents have split up.
Battle Dress by Amy Efaw. Basic training at West Point is so brutal, it's called "The Beast." It's hard for anyone to get through it. After her difficult home life and childhood, Andi thinks she can handle anything West Point can throw at her, but as the only girl trying to survive in a man's world that's designed to grind you up and spit you out, can she find the inner strength she needs? Efar was a cadet at West Point and bases this story on her experience there.
Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac. When he was 6, Ned Begay went to boarding school, where he was schooled in English and "American" ways. At 16, he enlisted in the army. In the army, his native language, Navajo, is suddenly no longer forbidden, no longer useless. For the Navajo codes were the only ones the Japanese never broke, as Begay and his brothers-in-arms island hop across the Pacific.
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. Henry Fleming thought that when he went to war, he would be a hero and perform great deeds. When he joins the Civil War and faces fire for the first time, he's torn between his desire to be a hero and his fear of being wounded and dying.
Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley. Betty is an American living in London when WWII starts. Not content to wait around while the bombs fall, she becomes a spy and is sent to France to join the Resistance.
If I Lie by Corinne Johnson. In a small military town, cheating on someone who is serving is the worst thing that can happen. It's what Quinn's mother did to her father. And, when Quinn is caught kissing her Marine boyfriend's best friend, it's what everyone thinks of Quinn. But Quinn didn't cheat. She can't explain herself though, not without telling something about Carey, a secret she's sworn to keep.
For more lists with military books, check out our Civil War list and our Vietnam War list.
What are your must reads about the American Armed Forces?
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