Drez, Ronald J(oseph) 1940-

views updated

DREZ, Ronald J(oseph) 1940-

PERSONAL: Born March 2, 1940, in New Orleans, LA; son of J. Roger Drez and Aline Raynaud Drez; married Judith LaCour (an interior designer), June 13, 1964; children: Ronald, Jr., Kevin, Diane Barnett, Craig. Education: Tulane University, B.B.A., 1962; University of New Orleans, M.A., 1985. Religion: Catholic.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—8516 Fordham Ct., New Orleans, LA 70127.

CAREER: Bonded Carbon and Ribbon Co., Inc., New Orleans, LA, salesperson, 1969-72; Dockside Elevators, New Orleans, operations manager, 1973-82; Delta Transload, New Orleans, general manager, 1982-86; self-employed, 1987—. University of New Orleans Metro College Eisenhower Center, assistant director, 1987—. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1962-69; served in Vietnam; became captain; received two Bronze Stars and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

AWARDS, HONORS: Outstanding Young Men of America, 1968; George Wendell Award for outstanding thesis, University of New Orleans, 1985.


Voices of D-Day: The Story of the Allied Invasion, Told by Those Who Were There, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1994.

Twenty-five Yards of War: The Extraordinary Courage of Ordinary Men in World War II, Hyperion Books (New York, NY), 2001.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Midnight in a Flaming Town, a novel about boat people, intrigue, and lost treasures; research about military action at Khe Sanh and in the Persian Gulf War.

SIDELIGHTS: Ronald J. Drez once told CA: "As the assistant director of the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans, I began research into the invasion of Normandy with the idea to preserve the oral histories and thoughts of the veterans who had fought in that climactic battle of World War II. Over the next eight years I interviewed hundreds of veterans, encouraging hundreds of others to make their own oral histories to submit to the Eisenhower Center so that by the end of 1992, we possessed some 1,400 memoirs or oral histories.

"After much editing, Voices of D-Day emerged as a work in which the men who fought at Normandy told the story of the invasion of June 6, 1944. The guiding person who influenced the creation of Voices was Dr. Stephen Ambrose, the noted historian and biographer of General Dwight Eisenhower."

Another ten years of research and over 1,400 interviews resulted in Twenty-five Yards of War: The Extraordinary Courage of Ordinary Men in World War II, released in time for the sixtieth anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. More broadly focused than Voices of D-Day, Twenty-five Yards of War presents a panoramic view of the front lines from battles across the globe, representing all branches of the military. From the Battle of Midway in the Pacific to the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, the stories of a total of ten battles are included in the book, told in the voices of those who were there. Included are the invasion of Normandy, told by Private Kenneth Russell and First Sergeant Leonard Lomell; Iwo Jima, by Private First Class Jay Rebstock of the United States Marine Corps; the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, by Seaman Second Class Harold Eck; and the battle at China's Namkwan Harbor, by Dr. Eugene B. Fluckey, United States Navy. First Lieutenant Lyle Bouck of the 99th Infantry Division recalls looking through his binoculars at the Battle of the Bulge and watching as German paratroopers approach the men under his command. Critic Douglas Brinkley wrote for Hyperion Books, "These tales of survival against incredible odds speak to the extraordinary combination of bravery and miracle that served to bring the men back alive." The stories, he wrote, are "riveting . . . timeless paeans to duty, honor, and country." The title of the book, Twenty-five Yards of War, refers to the "a soldier's 25 yards—the length and breadth of the war for him at any given moment," as noted by a Publishers Weekly critic. Praising Drez for his research and storytelling, the Publishers Weekly critic wrote, "Drez, a Vietnam veteran, is in sync with his interviewees, and his facile pen brings their stories to life." Gilbert Taylor of Booklist wrote, "In a palpable, unfeigned way, Drez extols their heroism and valor through his focus on the individual combat experience. Resonant reading."



Booklist, November 15, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Twenty-five Yards of War: The Extraordinary Courage of Ordinary Men in World War II, p. 544.

History: The Journal of the Historical Association, April 1998, Michael Partridge, review of Voices of D-Day: The Story of the Allied Invasion, Told by Those Who Were There, p. 383.

Journal of American History, June, 1995, review of Voices of D-Day, p.338.

Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, September, 1996, review of Voices of D-Day, p.32.

Virginia Quarterly Review, autumn, 1996, review of Voices of D-Day, p. 142.

World War II Magazine, March, 2002, Steven Martinovich, review of Twenty-five Yards of War.


Hyperion Books,www.hyperionbooks.com/ (fall, 2001), Douglas Brinkley, review of Twenty-five Yards of War,*