Brotherhood of War

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The Brotherhood of War is a series of novels written by W. E. B. Griffin, about the United States Army from the Second World War through the Vietnam War. The story centers on the careers of four U.S. Army officers who became lieutenants in the closing stages of World War II and the late 1940s. The series is notable for the amount of attention it does not devote to combat. Rather than skipping forward, it follows the main characters though their peacetime service as the Army evolves in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, particularly in the development of Army Aviation and the Special Forces.


  1. Book I, The Lieutenants (North Africa, Germany, Greece, CONUS 1942–1950)
  2. Book II, The Captains (Korea 1950–1953)
  3. Book III, The Majors (French IndoChina, Algeria, CONUS 1954–1958)
  4. Book IV, The Colonels (Vietnam, Cuba, Germany, CONUS 1958-1961)
  5. Book V, The Berets (Vietnam, Germany, CONUS, 1961–1962)
  6. Book VI, The Generals (Vietnam, CONUS, 1962–1985)
  7. Book VII, The New Breed (Congo, CONUS, 1963–1964)
  8. Book VIII, The Aviators (Vietnam, Congo, CONUS 1963–1965)
  9. Book IX, Special Ops (Congo, Argentina, CONUS, 1965–1967)

Primary cast of characters[edit]

Colonel Sanford "Sandy" Thaddeus Felter, USA[edit]

Sandy Felter is a son of Jewish immigrants. He resigns while a cadet corporal during his third year at the United States Military Academy (or West Point), to accept a direct commission as a second lieutenant and a German and Russian linguist in the last year of World War II. While doing so, he is instrumental in locating a group of Allied POWs and assists in their repatriation. He subsequently goes to Ranger and Parachute school, and serves as a first lieutenant in Greece, under Lt. Col. Paul T Hanrahan and with 2nd Lt. Craig W Lowell, who becomes his best friend.

Despite his unimposing looks Felter is an expert in tactics and one of the most combat effective characters in the series. Felter prefers close range weapons such as the M1911 .45, The Winchester 12 gauge pump shotgun and the Thompson sub machine gun

Afterwards, Felter serves in Berlin as an intelligence officer. During the Korean War, he commands a covert, behind-the-lines operation with Captain Rudolph G. MacMillan. Felter subsequently becomes Counselor to the President for four U.S. Presidents. Though Felter wishes several times to return to the conventional army, he is kept on in his role as Counselor to the President due to his demonstrated abilities. In the books, Felter is respected, feared, and even hated because of the clout he wields with the President and his analytical and espionage abilities, as he usually has information before anyone else and is sometimes the only one to analyze that information correctly. Despite his short stature and unimposing appearance (earning him the nickname, "Mouse"), he becomes a highly capable officer. In the Epilogue of The Generals, Felter reaches the rank of lieutenant general, and head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Colonel Rudolph George "Mac" MacMillan, USA[edit]

Mac MacMillan was an 82nd Airborne Division Sergeant who received a battlefield commission while participating in Operation Market Garden, although he was taken prisoner before he learned of it. For his actions in that abortive river crossing, he was later awarded the Medal of Honor. He was the senior NCO of the prisoners of war in the same POW camp as Bob Bellmon. As a former NCO with a tenth grade education, he doesn't always think very far ahead, but he is a survivor and knows his way around paperwork in his recurring role as an aide-de-camp. MacMillan qualifies as an aviator prior to the Korean War, although his flying escapades are limited largely to The Captains. Following an altercation with another officer in an officers' club, in the pages of The Colonels, Mac is assigned as Red Hanrahan's deputy at the Special Warfare Center. Mac dies, apparently of a stroke, during a raid on a POW camp in the final pages of The Generals.

Colonel Craig W. Lowell, USA[edit]

Craig Lowell is an extremely wealthy Harvard drop-out who was drafted and sent to the US occupation forces in Germany, where his duties include being the Constabulary golf pro. Because of his polo skills, he, as a Private First Class, was assigned to manage a polo team for the commanding general "Porky" Waterford. Since he was essential to the general's team, and since a game against the French could only be played by officers, the General orders Mac MacMillan to get commissioned before the game.

When the general dies during the polo match, General Waterford's replacement, disgusted by the direct commissioning of Lowell just to play polo (which the replacement general views as a breach of military ethics) uses Lowell to fill a request to be an advisor to the Greek Army in the Greek Civil War, since Lowell had not been an officer long enough to rate an efficiency report.

Here, Lowell meets Sandy Felter and serves under Paul "Red" Hanrahan. During heavy action, in which most of the Greek officers and soldiers in the unit to which Lowell is assigned are killed, Lowell takes command, and they successfully hold the position. He is eventually awarded the medal of the (fictional) Order of St. George and St. Andrew, the highest award for bravery that Greece can bestow on a foreigner.

Upon his return to the US, Lowell stays in the Army a couple of years, until his commission expires, but later joins the Pennsylvania Army National Guard where he is given a tank company command. Lowell is accepted to, and graduates with a master's degree from, the Wharton School of Business before having attaining a baccalaureate degree.

In Korea, Lowell commands an element of the 73rd Heavy Tank Battalion, "Task Force Lowell", so well that he is promoted to major at the age of 24. An incident with a visiting movie star, his appearing as a witness for the defense of Phil Parker during Parker's murder trial, his smart mouth, and his penchant for circumventing the rules when it suits him, all hurt Lowell's career.

Upon returning to the U.S., Lowell attends the Advanced Armor Officer's course at Fort Knox, where one of his studies (in an Kafkaesque twist) includes analyzing and recommending improvements to the organization and operations of Task Force Lowell in Korea. He privately tells Parker that he felt he did it correctly the first time. He is almost thrown out of the Army several times before finally being promoted to lieutenant colonel, after rescuing Sandy Felter and an "A" Team during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

An accomplished, though reluctant, staff officer, Lowell was instrumental in the formation of the Army's first airmobile division, the First Cavalry Division. Due to the insistence of General H.H. Howard, Lowell was given a command in the First Cav. "The Generals" only lightly addresses Lowell's two full tours in Vietnam, first in command of an aviation battalion where his performance earned him a second award of the Distinguished Service Cross, several Air Medals and promotion to full colonel, and a second tour in command of an aviation group (brigade) where several of his helicopters were shot out from under him.

His last posting is as tactical commander of a mission to rescue POWs from the Hanoi Hilton POW camp. Lowell is a civil aviator, an army helicopter pilot, and a de facto Green Beret.

Though Lowell ends the series as quite the reputed ladies' man, he was a faithful and devoted husband to Ilse von Greiffenberg Lowell and their son, "P.P." (Peter-Paul), until Ilse was killed in a car accident while Lowell was serving in Korea. Lowell's escapades with women often nearly cost him career. His most notable affairs included Georgia Page, a Hollywood starlet whom he allegedly took to the front lines and had a liaison with in a tank; Jane Cassidy, his married secretary, while stationed at Fort Rucker; and Cynthia Thomas, a wealthy journalist to whom he became engaged, though Cynthia left Lowell at the altar.

His last affair, with Dorothy Sims, the wife of an Air Force POW in Vietnam, was so far beyond acceptable behavior that Lowell was immediately retired. His administrative skills, along with his planning ability and superb leadership abilities, make him an invaluable asset to almost every unit to which he is assigned. Lowell is also described as quite the "guardhouse lawyer" and knows how to manipulate the rules, his rank, and situations to his advantage.

Lowell was admired and respected by the soldiers who served with him, though some of the more traditional officers, such as Bob Bellmon and Bill Roberts, dislike Lowell because of his apparent womanizing (the women involved are universally portrayed as seducing him) and his disregard for the rules. Nonetheless, they all have a grudging respect for both his administrative skills and his demonstrated warrior abilities.

Colonel Phillip Sheridan Parker IV, USA[edit]

A 1946 graduate of Norwich University, Phil Sheridan is a 4th-generation Army officer. His grandfather was a member of the distinguished unit of African-American soldiers known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Like his father, Phil IV began his career serving as an Armor officer. He commands a tank company with distinction in Korea, though his record is marred by an incident wherein Parker shoots a cowardly fellow officer. Because Parker is black, he knows he has to be the best in every class to stay even with the others in an Army just beginning desegregation. He begins a lifelong friendship with Craig Lowell while attending the same Basic Armor Officer's course at Fort Knox (as told in Book I: The Lieutenants), where Parker is the top graduate, and Lowell is second in the class.

However, Parker's friendship with Lowell often works against Parker's career. Additionally, Parker's career is very nearly ended by the shooting incident in Korea, for which he is charged with murder. He is subsequently acquitted of the charge with the help of testimony given by Lowell, but both men are branded as troublemakers. Following their graduation from the Armor School, both are given dead-end assignments, but the intervention of a Senator (at Lowell's cousin's suggestion) helps revive their careers. Parker is recruited to Army Aviation by then Colonel Bill Roberts and becomes dual-qualified to fly both fixed wing and rotary aircraft. Parker remains a captain for over 15 years, which he assumes is the result of the Korea incident. Frustrated by his lack of advancement, Parker volunteers for the Green Berets and is accepted by General Paul Hanrahan. Shortly thereafter, it is discovered that Parker's promotion has been held up by a clerical error, and he is promoted to major. Given the option to leave Special Forces once he has been promoted, Parker elects to stay and is the de facto aviation section of Special Forces in its early days.

He marries Antoinette Parker, a doctor and former associate professor of pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital, at the end of Book II: The Captains.

Parker is sent to Vietnam as an aviator and becomes a Prisoner of War through an act of sabotage on his OV-1 Mohawk (as told in Book VI: The Generals). Parker is ultimately rescued from a prisoner of war camp during a daring mission commanded by Lowell.

Supporting cast of characters[edit]

Lieutenant General Robert F. Bellmon, USA[edit]

Bob Bellmon, USMA '39, the son of one general and the son-in-law of another (Porky Waterford), is a quintessential career Army officer. As a very young Armor Lt. Col in the Army of the United States he is captured at the battle of Kasserine Pass. As a POW of the Germans in Poland, he is executive officer of the prisoner detachment and its de facto commander. Bellmon moved from Armor to Army Aviation and eventually became the Commanding General of Army Aviation at Fort Rucker. While he is a typified as a bit of a stuffed shirt, there is no doubt as to his abilities and his devotion to the US Army. In The Generals he was the Commanding General of XVIII Airborne Corps at Ft. Bragg. The General Robert F. Bellmon character probably in part resembles General John K. Waters, who was the real son-in-law of Patton and a POW in Germany after he was taken prisoner while fighting in Tunisia, in 1943.[citation needed]

Major General Paul T. "Red" Hanrahan, USA[edit]

One of the original Airborne officers before the war, Red Hanrahan served in the OSS in Greece during World War II, nominally as a Signal Corps Officer. He served as Felter's and Lowell's commanding officer when they were advisors during the Greek Civil War. He is an advocate of the concept of Special Forces to assist allies in fighting their own wars. Eventually, Hanrahan was named Commandant of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg. Hanrahan's real-life counterpart as commandant during that era was then-Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, who arranged for President Kennedy to approve the famed green berets worn by Special Forces.

Barbara Waterford Bellmon[edit]

The daughter of General Porky Waterford, Barbara is the classic officer's wife, assisting with the families of her husband's command. She is amused by some of the junior officers and often reminds her husband to relax a little with them.

She is tremendously fond of Craig Lowell and treats him as a little brother, including arranging his (aborted) marriage to Cynthia Thomas.

Colonel Phillip Sheridan Parker III, USA, Retired[edit]

A Norwich graduate, Colonel Parker commanded a colored tank destroyer regiment in North Africa and Northern Europe under General "Porky" Waterford. Without orders, he led the task force that rescued Bob Bellmon.

Generalleutnant Graf Peter Paul von Greiffenberg[edit]

A member of the German professional officer corps, he is made commandant of the POW camp where Bob Bellmon is held. Von Greiffenberg had been wounded while commanding a regiment in the Ardennes. After the war, he becomes the head of German intelligence. For nearly five years after the war he was a prisoner in a Russian Gulag, and was identified and repatriated by Sandy Felter, whereupon von Greiffenberg found his daughter had married Craig Lowell and had a son named Peter Paul. According to the books, von Greiffenberg is one of the few undiscovered German officers who had participated in a plot to kill Hitler.

Ilse von Greiffenberg Lowell[edit]

Ilse is Graf von Greiffenberg's daughter and becomes Craig Lowell's wife. She is killed in an automobile accident in Germany caused by a drunk US Army Quartermaster Officer, while Craig is in Korea.

Major George Washington "Father" Lunsford, USA[edit]

A talented, black Special Forces Officer, his proficiency in Swahili allow him to play a key role in support of operations in the Congo. He becomes a good friend to John Oliver. Lunsford appears in The Aviators, The New Breed, and Special Ops.

Brigadier General [Select] Geoff Craig, USA[edit]

Craig Lowell's cousin (see Porter Craig; Other notable characters), Geoff Craig was drafted into the army and placed in the stockade after assaulting his NCO (in response to being hit first by the sergeant). Craig Lowell was able to get him into Special Forces school, where Geoff was given a promotion to Sergeant. While in Vietnam, Geoff received a battlefield commission after being the last American able to fight in a Special Forces base they were defending. After Vietnam, he became an aviator. As an aviator and Brigadier General [Select] in the Pentagon in Washington, he plays a critical role in Army aviation and with covert operations around the world.

1st Lieutenant Jacques Emile "Jack" Portet, USAR[edit]

The American-born son of a commercial airline pilot from the former Belgian Congo, Portet is an accomplished aviator, whose knowledge of the area proves invaluable in the operation detailed in The Aviators, Special Ops, and The New Breed. He later marries the Bellmons' daughter Marjorie.

Captain John S. Oliver Jr., USA[edit]

A Norwich University graduate, Captain Oliver served in Vietnam commanding the 170th Assault Helicopter Company. He earned the Combat Infantryman Badge during a Special Forces operation where his helicopter was shot down. As the only surviving officer, he led the Green Beret A-Team to safety through the jungle. He served as General Bellmon's aide-de-camp while stationed at Fort Rucker.

Sharon Felter[edit]

Sharon is Sandy Felter's wife; initially, she hated Sandy for wanting to be a soldier but has come to love the life they have. Later in the series, she wishes Sandy were a regular soldier but understands his importance to the President. Sandy's role as an intelligence officer leaves her yearning for a life like her friends'. She helped bury Craig Lowell's wife, Ilse, when Lowell was in Korea and Sandy was believed to have died in Korea, and later in a plane crash at Dien Bien Phu, and she helped comfort Lowell (when he should have been comforting her). She, and Barbara Bellmon regard Lowell as a mischievous younger brother. Lowell regards Sharon more fondly than any other woman in his life and often jokes that if anything were to happen to Sandy, he would quickly propose.

Dorothy Sims[edit]

A wife of a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, Dorothy becomes involved with Craig Lowell, they fell in love, and marry after she divorces her husband, Thomas Sims, USAF, after Craig rescued him from a POW Camp. His relationship with Dorothy costs Craig his career.

Other notable characters[edit]

  • General E. Z. Black - Armor officer, division and corps commander in Korea (see I. D. White). Later served as vice chief of staff and CINCPAC. Longtime protector of Mac MacMillan (The Captains, The Colonels); also the officer who rescued Craig Lowell's career at the end of The Majors.
  • Porter Craig - Craig Lowell's cousin and father of Geoffrey Craig; Porter is the chairman of the board of the Lowell/Craig family firm of investment bankers, Craig, Powell, Kenyon, and Dawes. In the early books of the series, their relationship is somewhat adversarial and strained, as they are forced to share equal interest in the firm. By the later books their relationship has warmed, and they are quite fond of each other.
  • Lieutenant Commander Edward Eaglebury, USN - Naval intelligence officer and aviator assigned to U.S. Army Special Forces; disguised as an Army sergeant first class, he served as Tom Ellis' tormentor during the latter's Green Beret training cycle (featured in The Colonels). Commander Eaglebury was killed while looking for missile sites in Cuba during the crisis. He was decorated posthumously by President Kennedy for his actions.
  • 1st Lieutenant Tom Ellis - Airborne and later Green Beret officer (introduced in The Colonels, featured in The Berets). Tom Ellis was an OCS graduate who enlisted to be a cook and then went to Officer Candidate and Airborne Schools at Ft. Benning, Ga. to avoid the kitchen. He was picked up by Col. MacMillan while hitchhiking to Ft. Bragg because he had lost his car playing poker. Served as Aide to Paul Hanrahan after Hanrahan's promotion to brigadier general. Commanded the "A" Team picked up by Craig Lowell in Cuba. Died after stepping on a Punji stick while leading an unauthorized patrol in Vietnam, while acting as an officer courier. Went AWOL in returning to the United States rather than undergoing proper medical care of his infections in Vietnam.
  • Major William Franklin - Early army warrant officer aviator. An African-American, he met and became friends with Craig Lowell while both served as observers to the French army in the Algerian campaigns. At first Franklin was a photographer only. With a little "bootleg" flight training from Lowell he discovers a love of aviation and becomes a pilot himself. He briefly leaves the Army mid-career but quickly loses interest in life as a civilian photographer and returns. He is promoted from warrant officer to lieutenant for his role assisting Lowell in rescuing Felter from the Bay of Pigs.
  • 1st Lieutenant Ed C. Greer - Early army warrant officer aviator (featured in The Majors). Former assistant to Gen. E. Z. Black. While serving as Black's "eyes and ears" on a secret mission with MacMillan and Felter to Dien Bien Phu, their plane is shot down on approach to the base. He saves MacMillan from Viet Cong capture or death as they begin an overland odyssey to safety. Later sent by Black to Warrant Officer Candidate (WOC) school at Ft. Rucker to learn how to fly, he served in Algeria after Craig Lowell and Bill Franklin. Married Melody Dutton. Pilot of the ill-fated H-19 "Big Bad Bird".
  • Major General Paul T. Jiggs - Army armor officer and aviation convert; Served as Craig Lowell's CO with the 73rd Heavy Tank in Korea and later became the commanding general of Ft. Rucker. Jiggs is one of Lowell's biggest supporters among the general officers and serves as a mentor.
  • Major General Angus C. "Scotty" Laird - Army general and aviation convert (Introduced in The Majors) (see also Bogardus S. Cairns and Cairns Army Airfield#History)
  • Colonel William R. Roberts - West Point graduate (Class of '40), longtime army aviation visionary and promoter. Frequently at odds with Bob Bellmon. Colonel, later General Roberts, was one of the first army aviators and went through the first army aviation class before they numbered them-"The Class Before One". He is probably fashioned after General Robert Williams.[citation needed]

Inconsistencies and historical integration[edit]

  • Repeated references are made to the "Expert Combat Infantryman Badge", though no such award exists. The Army awards the Combat Infantryman Badge or the Expert Infantryman Badge.
  • In The Lieutenants, Stalag XVII-B is erroneously located some 5 miles south of Szczecin (today it is a Polish city); another erroneous reference locates the camp in a former Cavalry barracks from the Polish Army (before World War II Szczecin was part of Germany, so there was no cavalry barracks of the Polish Army near the city). The real location of Stalag XVII-B was not in Pomerania, as described in the book. Among other mistakes when using German phrases and abbreviations Griffin took the wrong denomination for the mentioned POW camp. Stalag is an abbreviation for Stammlager, referring to camps for enlisted personnel. Officers were imprisoned in an Offlag (abbreviation for Offizierslager).[citation needed]
  • The operation to free American officers from their new Soviet captors described in The Lieutenants is informally based on the failed Task Force Baum set up by U.S. Army General George S. Patton and commanded by Capt. Abraham Baum in late March 1945.[citation needed]
  • World War II commanding General Porky Waterford, who commissioned Craig W. Lowell in The Lieutenants, was modelled using character traits of George S. Patton.[citation needed]
  • In The Lieutenants, Lowell is evacuated from Greece in a British "Sutherland" "seaplane". Presumably this is meant to be a Sunderland flying boat.[citation needed]
  • In The Lieutenants, MacMillan, specifically in Chapter Four, Section Four (Mannheim, Germany 11 May 1946), is referred to by the rank of captain during his flight with Major General Porky Waterford en route to play a game of polo. However, after the polo game, during MacMillan's explanation to Waterford that Craig W. Lowell was a private and not an officer, MacMillan is referred to by the rank of lieutenant, and is done so until Chapter Four, Section Five (Bad Nauheim, Germany 12 May 1946).
  • In The Lieutenants, MacMillan in the spring of 1945 escapes via "neutral port" of Odessa, on the Black Sea, to Cairo, Egypt and subsequently to the US. However, Odessa was liberated by Soviet Army 3rd Ukrainian Front on April 10, 1944. In 1945, Odessa was under Soviet rule and thus couldn't be "neutral".
  • In The Captains, General MacArthur is mentioned as having received the Medal of Honor during the First World War. However, he did not receive it until 1942 at the direction of General George C. Marshall, for his leadership in the defense of the Philippines[citation needed]
  • In aviation communications, the number 9 is designated as "niner" to differentiate it from the number 5. There would be no cause for radio communications to use "fiver".[citation needed]
  • In The Colonels, Melody says that she's an only child. Her younger siblings, a brother and sister, were identified in an earlier book,[which?] however; we learned only their names and that Melody was her father's favorite.
  • In The Colonels, Sandy Felter attends a meeting in a conference room at CIA headquarters - in 1959. The building wasn't complete until the 1960s, so the meeting would have been at a building in Washington, D.C., instead.[citation needed]
  • In Special Ops the C-46 transport aircraft operated by "Air Simba" in the Congo is mentioned as a "Boeing C-46", actually, it was manufactured by Curtiss-Wright.[citation needed]
  • Also Special Ops makes reference to "T-18" engine test run-ups' keeping Jack awake. This should read "T-28", and in one of the mass of messages near the end of the book, Cecelia Taylor's signature block reads: "C.R. Taylor Station Chief Buenos Aires" when it should read "... Station Chief Leopoldville" then, further on, there are messages with "C.B. Taylor" as the signature slug.[citation needed]
  • Griffin's books frequently suffer from inconsistencies in character names and historical references. For example:
    • In The Lieutenants, the Bellmons' daughter is referred to as "Eleanor", however, she is called "Marjorie" in the remaining books.
    • Similarly, in The Lieutenants, the Bellmon family owns a farm in Virginia, but in later books in the series the farm is described as being owned for generations by the Waterford family (Bellmon's in-laws). This may not be an inconsistency however, as it is assumed the Bellmon inherited the estate with the passing of his father-in-law, General Waterford.
    • While "Scotty" Laird (The Majors) is mentioned as the namesake of the airfield at Ft. Rucker following his crash at the controls of his H-13, a later book[which?] makes reference to the same helicopter crash naming the real General Bogardus S. Cairns, after whom the Ft. Rucker airfield is named. Cairns died in an H-13 Sioux crash 9 December 1958.[1]
  • There are several minor anachronisms in the books. For example, in The Majors, there is a reference to Xerox copiers (not available until 1959), and an Alabama ZIP code is used (though ZIP codes were not introduced by the postal service until 1963).
  • In this series of books, Griffin incorporates many of his own experiences from his service in the U.S. Army and captures some of the critical and little-known episodes in the evolution of new branches of arms, such as Special Forces and Airmobile Operations. In the afterword of The Aviators, he pays tribute to a long-time friend (Col. Clifford Merritt Walker, Jr.) whose exploits as a Huey pilot in Vietnam served as the inspiration for the events surrounding Capt. John Oliver's award of the Combat Infantryman's Badge.[2]
  • The successful prison camp rescue mission is based on Operation Ivory Coast in which a rescue of American POWs was attempted at Sơn Tây prison camp on 21 November 1970. The mission, while a tactical success, failed due to the prisoners' having been moved to another camp several months prior to the operation.[citation needed]


  1. ^ John Pike. "Cairns Army Airfield". 
  2. ^ "Afterword". The Aviators. 

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