Gordon L Rottman entered the US Army in 1967, volunteered for Special Forces and completed training as a weapons specialist. He served in the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam in 1969-70 and subsequently in airborne infantry, long-range patrol and intelligence assignments until retiring after 26 years. He was a special operations forces scenario writer at the Joint Readiness Training Center for 12 years and is now a freelance writer, living in Texas.
What are you doing at the moment?
I have recently finished up a
When did you get hooked on history and why?
Its difficult to say when, I guess while I was in elementary school and I read the "Wooden Horse"; and then got hooked on the Hornblower books. As to why, I wanted to know what life and combat were like in the past. As for why, it's fascinating to learn how soldiers lived in the past and how things were down, what has changed and what has not.
If you were any warrior from history who would you be?
Genghis Khan seems to have had a good thing going, but I'd rather be in an army with indoor plumbing and hot showers in the barracks, and decent mess halls.
What is your favourite war film?
There's actually only a small number of war films I really like. I guess my all time favourites are "Bridge over the River Kwai" and "The Guns of Navarone."
Why do you think Military History is important?
I realized that learning the whys and wherefores of tactics and techniques of the past gave you a depth of knowledge to make better decisions and consider the best options in current situations.
What is your favourite quote from history/historical quote?
By an ROTC instructor in 1967, Master Sergeant Robert Weaver, who said, "Not only do you need enough ammo to take the hill, you need enough to get off of it." I took that to heart and had it confirmed as a truism in 1969.
If you could fly any plane or drive any tank from history, which would it be?
If I could go back in time I'd gladly risk flying a B-17 mission over Germany, but I'd rather be a gunner than a pilot.
Best military cock-up in history?
Iraq followed closely by Vietnam. The conventional US armed forces and politicians are incapable of truly fighting an insurgency.
Who is your military hero?
Brigadier General Robert W. Frederick commanding the 1st Special Service Force. He really knew how to lead men and what it took to create a truly great unit.
If you could pit two armies from history against each other, which two would you pick, and why?
I'm not much into counterfactual history (don't get me wrong, its fun to read), but I think the 1st Marine Division against a Waffen-SS division on European terrain in about 1944 would be an interesting study. I think the SS troops would be appalled at the ferocity of the Marines compared to their experiences with the US Army.
Elephants or horses? Discuss the pros and cons…
Horses. Elephants are too conspicuous, their movement routes are limited, they're fast in short spurts, but overall too slow, they require more fodder and water, and they're more temperamental and unperdictable, plus their numbers are limited. Give me the manoeuvrability and reliability of horses.
Favourite Michael Caine quote?
There's a couple of good lines in "Zulu," but I like what he said at the 1999 Academy Awards when nominated for best actor for his role in "The Cider House Rules." When he found that Haley Joel Osment had been nominated for "The Sixth Sense", Caine said, "Well, I thought there goes my shot for a second Oscar." Caine won it, but he was gracious enough to recognize Osment and ensured they later did a movie together.
What is your favourite war comic?
I read some of the Sergeant Rock comics in the late 1950s, but then they starting having them fight dinosaurs and so forth. I liked the old Classic comics, which were comics made from classic novels.
Spartan or Roman?
Roman, they had a better chance of surviving.
What is your favourite Osprey book?
So many. I really enjoying researching the Khe Sanh Campaign book. It led me to come to some different conclusions.
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