by Kim Howard, CAE
It’s not every day that an author publishes a book about one of Patton’s infantry regiments in World War II. It’s not every day that this author happens to live in Prince William, nor is it common for the author to donate all of his book’s proceeds to charities that support wounded warriors.
Meet Dean Dominique: retired U.S. Army major, Airborne Ranger, combat veteran and grandson of Herman Robichaux, Sr., who served in World War II under General George S. Patton, Jr. Although Dominique never met his grandfather, he did wonder about his grandfather’s tour of duty during the war. While pursuing a master’s in military history at Louisiana State University, Dominique saw his opening to find out more about Robichaux’s military service under Gen. Patton: his thesis. He purposely focused his thesis on his grandfather’s unit since, at the time, there were no books on it.
“One Hell of a War: Patton’s 317th Infantry Regiment in WWII,” which sprang from his college thesis, chronicles what life was like for the soldiers who served and discussed how the strategic decisions made by brass impacted the foot soldier. Co-authored with an on-the-ground account by co-author Col. (ret.) James Hayes, who has since passed away, the book has many other firsthand stories from soldiers.
“I was incredibly fortunate to have a manuscript from James with a firsthand account of his experiences. He joined the 317th after graduating from West Point in 1942 and stayed with the unit until the end of the war. I put the book away for several years and finally completed it after moving to Virginia,” Dominique said.
If you enjoy reading about military history and firsthand accounts of the events, then you have something in common with Dominique. “My favorite part of the book is the firsthand accounts from the veterans. I tried to show how the strategic decisions by leaders such as Generals Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton affected the soldiers on the front lines and it is those stories that intrigue me the most. One of the more interesting stories for me was the crossing of the Moselle River in France. Patton’s Third Army had to stop short of the river because of a lack of supplies which gave the Germans time to build a strong defense.
A lot of men were killed or wounded trying to cross that river in September 1944. During that time, more than 3,000 men were killed, injured or captured, which is a staggering number considering an infantry regiment was considered full strength with 3,250 men,” Dominique said.
For the Infantry, Not Much Has Changed
Although there have been many technological innovations in deploying troops and fighting the enemy, Dominique says that for the foot soldier, it’s the same throughout history.
“Not much has changed since WWII for the infantry. In any war, it is the infantry soldier that must move forward and be close to fighting the enemy. It still takes a soldier with their individual weapons and their buddy at their side to fight the enemy. That part of war has not changed through the ages,” he said.
Donating Book Proceeds Was a Natural Fit
Despite innovations in medicine, communication, technology and machinery, many soldiers who make it home from a war still come back battered, broken and in need of healing. Wounded warriors are a cause near and dear to Dominique’s heart. Wounded Warrior Publications, who published his book, publishes books and donates proceeds to programs that support America’s wounded warriors.
“Over the years I have known and met many wounded warriors,” Dominique said. “I feel this is my way as a fellow combat veteran to give back to those who have fought for and defended this great nation of ours. I started getting involved with wounded warrior charities when I was stationed in Germany for my last assignment. The local chaplains’ office collected donations for the wounded warriors at Landstuhl every Christmas. I decided to pitch in and collect donations from my workplace and continued to lead the effort every year. During my final year in Germany, my family partnered with the National Junior Honor Society at my daughter’s school and raised more than $3,000.
“It was and is a great feeling to give back. When the book was published, I talked it over with my wife, Elizabeth. Her late father was a Navy veteran. We decided that we should donate all of the proceeds to charities that support wounded warriors. We felt it was another avenue to help give back to those who have sacrificed so much for us all.”
Military Service Offers Many Opportunities
Despite the fact that servicemen and women might come back from a war suffering, Dominique encourages everyone to think about a career in the military. “The Army has been great for my family and me. I joined the Army while I was still in high school. The GI Bill and Tuition Assistance Program helped pay for my education. Serving in the Army also allowed us to travel the world. I now have a master’s degree and have been in more than 30 countries. The experience is unmatched by anything in the civilian sector. There are so many job opportunities that will provide technical and leadership training that our civilian counterparts will never get at such a young age.”
After 21 years of Army service, Dominique retired and his family moved to Prince William in 2012, but only after extensive research on places to live in Virginia and Maryland. “We decided that Prince William County would be a great place to live and for our children to attend schools. It was a great choice and one we will never regret. We love it here,” he said. A Louisiana native, he did mention that he misses his extended family, the Cajun culture and the food. He and his family do not, however, miss the subtropical heat.
Advice for Aspiring Authors
Despite the fact that it took Dominique 14 years to write his book that started in 1999, his advice is simple: just write. “Don’t worry about anything else. There are so many ways to get a book published these days. Getting your story out is the best thing you can do,” he said.
“I tried to put in as many firsthand accounts as I could. It’s amazing how our citizen soldiers went from battle to battle and fought constantly. That is what I tried to capture,” said Dominique. Although Dominique does not have any plans to write another book, he did quip, “Never say never.”
Details about the book and other Wounded Warrior Publications are available at woundedwarriorpublications.com.
Kim Howard, CAE, ([email protected]) is the editor in chief of Prince William Living and is surrounded by military veterans in her family. “It still takes a soldier with their individual weapons and their buddy at their side to fight the enemy. That part of war has not changed through the ages…” 12 | January 2016 prince william living destinations