Rails of War

A Recent review from U.S. Army Command and General Staff College published in The Professional Journal of the U.S. Army, Military Review.

“Hantzis fabricates the personal dialog of real characters based on real stories and vignettes in order to create a realistic and easy-to-read account of history. He does an excellent job of researching different aspects of the war to provide the reader with a complete understanding of the situation. His detail in the many different detours of the story help complete the whole picture of what the 721st Railway Operations Battalion did to support the conclusion of World War II. I recommend this book for all military professionals and railroading enthusiasts who want an understanding of how American railroading professionals affected the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II.”

—Lt. Col. Joe M. Schotzko, U.S. Army

Hell On Wheels

ROW_hell_on_wheelsIn a theater of war long forgotten and barely even known at the time, James Harry Hantzis and his fellow soldiers labored at a thankless task under oppressive conditions. Nonetheless, as Rails of War demonstrates, without the men of the 721st Railway Operating Battalion, the Allied forces would have been defeated in the China-Burma-India conflict in World War II.

Steven James Hantzis’s father served alongside other GI railroaders in overcoming danger, disease, fire, and monsoons to move the weight of war in the China-Burma-India theater. Torn from their predictable working-class lives, the men of the 721st journeyed fifteen thousand miles to Bengal, India, to do the impossible: build, maintain, and manage seven hundred miles of track through the most inhospitable environment imaginable.

From the harrowing adventures of the Flying Tigers and Merrill’s Marauders to detailed descriptions of grueling jungle operations and the Siege of Myitkyina, this is the remarkable story of the extraordinary men of the 721st, who moved an entire army to win the war.

Steven James Hantzis is the son of James Harry Hantzis, former staff sergeant of the World War II 721st Railway Operating Battalion. A retired Grand Lodge representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Steven Hantzis worked twelve years as a brakeman-conductor for Conrail. Both his father and his great-grandfather were railroaders.

“An incredible look at the monumental task of these logistics superheroes. . . . These unsung members of our Greatest Generation worked miracles, and Steve Hantzis does a wonderful job capturing the danger, the difficulty, and the rewards in a very personal way. As a commander of our Flying Tigers in Desert Storm, I especially enjoyed the parallels between the logistics of World War II and Desert Storm.”

—Gen. Gene Renuart, USAF (Ret.)