The First Men In: US Paratroopers and the Fight to Save D-Day


Within hours of landing in Normandy, the men of the 82nd Airborne Division accomplished their first mission when they seized the critical crossroads town of Ste. Mere Eglise. But as the sun rose on June 6, 1944, the airborne commanders realized that most of the nearly 14,000 paratroopers dropped on the extreme right flank of the Allied invasion area had missed their targets. The scattered troopers fought in small groups, cut off from one another by the dense Norman hedgerows and cleverly dug-in German defenders. The lightly armed paratroopers stood between the vulnerable landing beaches and repeated enemy counterattacks. They fought for no-name crossroads and isolated fields along the first few miles of the long road to Berlin. Their training, courage and leadership paid off; they purchased with their blood the critical hours the Allies needed to get ashore. Often outnumbered and frequently outgunned, the men of the 82nd accomplished every mission, held every piece of ground gained, and thus helped secure the success of the greatest amphibious invasion in history.

Combat Jump: The Young Men Who Led the Assault Into Fortress Europe, July 1943


As the Allies prepared to invade Sicily in July 1943, the US Army deployed a new type of combat outfit: the paratroopers of the 505 Regimental Combat Team. Their mission was to jump behind enemy lines, seize the approaches to the invasion beaches and hold off German counterattacks until the invading troops came ashore.

By first light on D-Day, July 10, it looked as if the mission would fail. Inexperienced pilots, lost or blown off course, dropped eighty percent of the troopers from one to sixty miles from their targets. The American commander, Colonel Jim Gavin, landed so far from his objective that he was not even sure he was in Sicily. Nearly everything that could go wrong did, and yet—in their very first combat action—the paratroopers managed to accomplish their missions. The costly lessons they learned shaped the war in Europe for, without Sicily, there might have been no airborne invasion of France on June 6, 1944. Combat Jump recounts the extraordinary contributions these young men made when their country called them to war.

“Ruggero is a first-rate storyteller, abetted by the vivid memories of the soldiers who lived through it.”

The Leader's Compass Book Image

The Leader’s Compass

Academy Leadership Publishing & co-authored with Dennis Haley

It is a rare organization that does not have some sort of mission statement, organizational philosophy or values proposition to guide members and focus their work. Most leaders recognize that developing these clearly articulated statements is time well spent; they help keep the organization on track and pointed toward clear goals. A written leadership philosophy, also called a Leader’s Compass, achieves the same thing on a personal level; it lets people know what you expect, what you value, how you’ll act, and how you’ll measure performance, with the additional benefits of making the workplace less stressful and more productive. And, like a compass, it helps keep you, the leader, on course.

Duty First: West Point and the Making of American Leaders


Duty First is a penetrating account of a year inside one of America’s premier schools for premier schools for leadership: The United States Military Academy at West Point. The book follows the cadets’ tumultuous lives: the initial grueling training, the strict student hierarchy and intense academic work, the constant demands of mandatory athletics and intense physical testing—all geared to producing “leaders of character” for the Army and the nation. In addition to compelling personal stories of triumph and failure, Duty First offers lessons for leaders and for anyone engaged in developing the next generation of leaders in an organization.

“A remarkably incisive and candid portrayal . . . . Ruggero is a gifted storyteller who introduces us to some memorable individuals.” CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Other Books: Fiction

  • 38 North Yankee
  • The Common Defense
  • Firefall
  • Breaking Ranks
  • The Academy


  • Army Leadership: US Army Field Manual 22-100
  • The Corporate Compass