Skip to content
Hardcover Spare Parts: A Marine Reservist's Journey from Campus to Combat in 38 Days Book

ISBN: 159240054X

ISBN13: 9781592400546

Spare Parts: A Marine Reservist's Journey from Campus to Combat in 38 Days

Select Format

Select Condition ThriftBooks Help Icon


Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good

Save $21.71!
List Price $26.00
Almost Gone, Only 1 Left!

Book Overview

In 1990, Buzz Williams walked into a Marine recruiting office to follow in the footsteps of the deceased older brother he grew up idolizing. "Spare Parts" recounts Williams's harrowing deployment to the Persian Gulf after only four weeks of combat training.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A thoughtful, insightful and even-handed look at life in the Marine Corps Reserves

I'm ashamed to admit I initially wasn't interested in this book simply because it detailed the exploits of Marine Corps Reservists - the `Spare Parts' that the title of this book refers to. I saw Reservists as weekend warriors and wannabes and was far more interested in the exploits of `real' Marines. This book changed my mind and actually gave me a newfound respect for reservists. Spare Parts is the account of author Buzz Williams' time in the Marine Corps Reserves. Williams' idolized an older brother who served in the Marines and died in a car crash, and initially joins the Reserves to follow in his brother's footsteps. He soon learns, however, that it isn't so easy juggling his education and the Marine Corps, and begins to question his decision to join up. And then he is called to service in the first Gulf War. I've read many tales of Marine Corps boot camp, combat and history, and have heard accounts of similar incidents and situations that are detailed in Spare Parts. Having said that, what made Williams' approach so interesting to me (and what sets this book apart from others) was that it was told from the perspective of a teacher. This is, easily, the strongest thread in Williams' story, and I found the most interesting moments to be when the author is evaluating the Corps, his fellow Marines, and his training through the eyes of a teacher. As with any truly great teacher, Williams is balanced and fair, detailing the weaknesses of his friends and the more human aspects of his enemies. Williams' simple honesty about his doubts and fears is, at times, quite touching. Like many Reservists, he has a tough time balancing civilian and military life and his determination to succeed as well as excel in the Marine Corps while still holding on to his humanity was impressive. Williams constantly questions things around him, but never comes across as anything but methodically patient (indeed, he later discovers that he has `OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder] tendencies') in his attempts at improving the Marine Corps system he serves under. He stays focused and on task, and is genuinely concerned with helping himself and others to better themselves. Following Desert Storm, however, Williams begins to slowly unravel. It is here that his thoughtfulness catches up with him - he can't put the war out of his head and eventually, he leaves the Corps to become a full-time teacher and start the Young Marines program for children, based around training he has received in the Marines. Spare Parts is well written and a breeze to read - I finished it in two sittings. Williams' perspective as a teacher and reservist, not to mention his thoughtfulness, puts this book above others with a similar subject matter. It's obvious that Williams is a sensitive and insightful man who is working out inner demons through his writing, but like a great teacher, he never lectures the reader, instead provoking us to think on our own and draw our own conclusi

To serve in a time of need.

I first picked up the book from the shelf because of it being information on a Marine Reservist called up to war as written on the book cover. I became mor interested as I scanned and read about him being a LAV crewman. A follow on book to "Tip of the Spear" on the LAV experience in the 1st Gulf War. Buzz describes his choice to join the Marines. Then on to Boot Camp and his experience in the Reserves. Called to serve in Desert Shield, the transition after the war and presence to serve. And the reasons to write the book. The Reserves are serving the Nation again and here are the things to look out when they return to help them get back to a normal life, if there is such a thing. Buzz Williams writes with a "flow", as you begin reading it is as if you are standing there on those yellow painted footprints in Chapter One at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, NC. This is where the individuals begin thier journey to become Marines. In this first and second chapter, you get the key poinst of the recruit training experience. On the 3rd chapter you are in Buzz shoes as a real marine, "Locking and Loading"! And this happens on his first drill at his reserve unit. It realy is on the job training on this first day on the job. Unlike Active Duty "regular" Marines who attend an MOS school before reporting to thier first posting or assingment toa specific type of unit (infantry, avaition, etc.) I wonder how many reservists found themselves in a similar situation in support of OIF. The way Spare Parts is writen, you are put there in Buzz's experience as you read the book, not because "I been there, and done that." but he has the craft for writing that will imerse you into the story. I could say I shared similar experiences with the author. "Those who have deffended freedom, know the flavor that the protected will not know." to paraphrase a cliche. But for all those US citizens who register for selective service when they turn 18 years old, and those who will answer the call to deffend their new country even before becoming citizens should read "Spare Parts". You will know that "freedom has a price" like Buzz wrote in his dedication to his children "should the yellow footprints call". After the Desert Shield Buzz goes into how he prepares to make a difference for his Marines in the reserve unit to be prepared from the lessons he learned. And then about the relief and anxiety when he lets go and separates. But yet the Marines return to his life while at work and become part of his accademic world, by implementing a Young Marines program at his school. Events seem to have repeated themselves, as reservists are called up to support the War on Terror, this becomes a trigger for Buzz to write "Spare Parts".

Faithful struggles

I was intrigued by Williams' book on several levels - it appealed to me because of my general interest in things historical and military; it was timely, given that the Gulf War II is in many ways a continuation of Gulf War I; it was also written by someone who is currently a teacher; finally, it gets into an arena that I could look at and say, 'That was almost me!' I seriously contemplated the military for a time while in college as a reservist (one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, and I'd get experience and scholarship money for college) - had I followed that path, it would have been something akin to the call of the yellow footprints. Williams talks about 'the call of the yellow footprints' in his own life. In a physical sense, this refers to the painted formation figures on the street of Parris Island, South Carolina, home of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot for the eastern United States. Men (and women, at Parris Island) are scrambled off the bus upon their first arrival and receive their first true 'Marine' experience by being lined up in formation on top of the yellow footprints, and from that moment until the end of boot camp, there is nothing that they do (or is done to them) that is not heavy-laden with Marine Corps training principles. The call of the yellow footprints is a call to a way of life, a way deliberately different from civilian life, as well as different from even the other branches of the military. His own primary influence of going into the Marine Corps was most likely his much-admired older brother, who was a Marine, killed rather young in an accident. Williams takes the narrative through his early influence of deciding upon the Corps (including his brother's influence, both in person and through letters Williams saved and treasured), through his boot camp experience, reservist weekends and MOS training, activation as active-duty Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm participant, and finally reintegration into the civilian world. While most people will probably read this book for the boot camp and the deployment/combat stories, it is actually the final part of the book that is most profound. In this part, Williams has returned to being a 'weekend warrior', someone whose Marine Corps existence is only officially present two days per month; yet he is a veteran of the Gulf War, having experienced all the terrors and struggles of combat, including losing friends to injury and death, finding a blurry line between allies and enemies, and seeing first-hand the atrocities of war and occupation. How does a combat veteran revert back to the amateur hour that made up reserve duty? Perhaps more importantly, how does a combat veteran with ongoing military obligations re-enter society? Williams is painfully honest about the nightmares and post-traumatic stress he endured, as well as the problems of personality adjustment. 'Emotions like embarrassment, grief, sadness, and vulnerability are all converted into ang

great book!

This is a really good book, especially for those currently serving in the reserve component of any branch of the military. This is the first (only) book I've read which accurately describes the reservists' dilemmia. That is, the need to turn your military mind and training "on" and "off" once a month and a few weeks a year. The description of his experiences from basic training to his first drill at his unit, and then shipping out to Saudi and fighting Iraqis in Gulf War 1 are truly riveting. Described herein are numerous leadership and training lessons to be absorbed by current and future leaders. Funny at times, sad at others, informative all the time, it's a compelling read and a "must have" for anyone currently in the reserves, as the lessons he learns are not just for Marines.

Memoirs are stories of personal experience.

I highly recommend this book, it was outstanding, I could'nt put it down. Buzz Williams has painted a very detailed picture of what he saw and what he accomplished in his time in the Marines and Iraq. His memoirs. It has a flavor that took me back to my time in the Marine Corps all 8 years ('76 to '84). From boot camp to first drill weekend, all of our ATD's, MORDT's and all the additional schools we attended. You just see it as it happens. It's just a well crafted book. This is a must read for all Marines and all potential Marines not just reservists. His unit as in all units had it's share of those guys who thought they knew better and those thoughts usally lead to potential disasters. Those guys aren't villians, but the cliques they exist in can cause major issues within a command structure especially if they are in charge. The roll over incident is a perfect example. I commend Buzz on his honesty and ability to take the reader there. I have already recommended this book to many of the guys that I was in the Marine Corps with and people who just have no clue of what we go through in the military. It's just a great read. If we had Buzz Williams in our unit he would have been a very welcome addition. Even though we walked every where we went. I was a Sergeant in a rifle company and our feet were our LAV's.
Copyright © 2023 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell/Share My Personal Information | Cookie Policy | Cookie Preferences | Accessibility Statement
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured