What makes 2nd Lieutenant Phil Larimore’s story special is what happened in World War II’s closing days and the people—and horses—he interacted with in this Forrest Gump-like tale that is emotional, heartbreaking, and inspiring.
Growing up in the 1930s in Memphis, Tennessee, Phil Larimore is the ultimate Boy Scout—able to read maps, put a compass to good use, and traverse wild swamps and desolate canyons. His other great skill is riding horses.
Phil does poorly in school, however, leading his parents send to him to a military academy. After Pearl Harbor, Phil realizes he is destined for war. Three weeks before his eighteenth birthday, he becomes the youngest candidate to ever graduate from Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Landing on the Anzio beachhead in February 1944, Phil is put in charge of an Ammunition Pioneer Platoon in the 3rd Infantry Division. Their job: deliver ammunition to the frontline foxholes—a dangerous assignment involving regular forays into No Man’s Land.
As Phil fights his way up the Italian boot, into Southern France and across the Rhine River into Germany, he is caught up in some of the most intense combat ever. But it’s what happens in the final stages of the war and his homecoming that makes Phil’s story incredibly special and heartwarming.
An emotional tale of courage, daring, and heroism, At First Light will remind you of the indomitable human spirit that lives in all of us.
About the Author
Walt Larimore is a prolific author and has written or co-written forty books, thirty medical textbook chapters, and over 1,000 articles in various medical journals and lay magazines. His books have garnered a number of national awards, including three Gold Medallion Award nominations, a Book of the Year Award from ECPA, and most recently, At First Light received the “Highly Commended” and “Finalist” awards at the international 2020 Page Turner Awards. Dr. Larimore has also authored four novels and five memoir-style bestsellers.
Walt’s website is www.DrWalt.com and his Twitter handle is @WaltLarimore.
Mike Yorkey is a veteran author who has worked with a considerable number of high-profile speakers, authors, and sports figures over the last twenty-five years. He has authored and co-authored (as a collaborator) more than 110 books in many genres.
Mike’s website is www.mikeyorkey.com, and his Twitter handle is @MikeYorkey.
“This story is extraordinary: an almost forgotten hero, tough combat, tragic sacrifice, gripping aftermath, a marvelous horse, and an astonishing ending. Don’t miss reading remarkable book. At First Light is a way for you to join me in remembering and honoring the story of our World War II heroes, those selfless Americans who put it all on the line downrange, day after difficult day, in crushing heat and numbing cold, in the toughest conditions, against the most challenging, resilient, often barbaric enemy to liberate Europe and to help safeguard our freedom and liberty here at home.” — Gen. David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army (Ret.) four-star general, former Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and former Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan
“As a graduate of West Point, an Army officer for five years, and the head men’s basketball coach at my alma mater and at Duke for the past forty-six seasons, I’ve been blessed to be a part of great teams. I recognize the commitment and discipline required to win at the highest level. These experiences leave me in awe of Phil Larimore and his servant leadership, sensational suffering, and stoic sacrifice. What a fantastic story about a leader whose courage on the battlefield deserves a standing ovation. I highly recommend At First Light.” — Mike Krzyzewski, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Duke University and Naismith Hall of Fame member
“I have been fighting our nation’s battles for most of my life, and that’s what made At First Light such an absorbing read for me. Walt Larimore’s meticulous research brings his father back to life and personally speaks of combat fortitude, unimaginable courage, and front-line action to me. This story is one you cannot afford to miss.” — Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, U.S. Army (Ret.) and the first woman in U.S. military history to achieve a four-star officer rank and to command a battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division
“As the author of fifteen novels set in World War II, I’m always drawn to a great story from a fascinating time in history. At First Light does not disappoint. The pages turned quickly in this compelling story about a brave man, Philip Larimore.” — Tricia Goyer, author of “Dawn of a Thousand Nights” and “Songbird Under a German Moon”
“It’s said that 2nd lieutenants in World War II had one of the shortest lifespans of anyone entering combat. And no wonder: They could not cower in a foxhole waiting for someone else to lead the way, to get up and walk into enemy fire. No matter how exhausted or frightened they were, they could not shirk their duty of being an example for their men (boys, really). Usually only in their early- to mid-twenties, they shouldered responsibilities that would have overwhelmed older men. The combat experiences of Phil Larimore, as captured by his son in this terrific and inspirational book, are a testament to the grit and fortitude of a generation who really knew the meaning of duty and personal sacrifice for the greater good.” — Flint Whitlock, former U.S. Army captain, and editor of WWII Quarterly magazine
“I spent the majority of my life fighting battles on the football field—thirty years in the National Football League, nine Super Bowls, and legendary classics like the famous ‘Ice Bowl.’ I've told my ‘war stories’ from the NFL for years, but none of my tales come close to the captivating story shared by Walt Larimore in At First Light, a war story about his father who fought to protect the very freedoms you and I enjoy in this country we love.” — Dan Reeves, Super Bowl Champion and record-setting NFL player and coach
“At First Light is one of the most fascinating stories of World War II I have ever read. If you love history like I do, this book is a must-read. Near the end of the war, a courageous young US Army officer, Phil Larimore, is given an almost impossible clandestine mission—to find Hitler’s hidden Lipizzaners so they can be saved. Don’t miss this heartwarming true story of a great American hero.” — Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, U.S. Army (Ret.) three-star general, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under President George W. Bush and former commander Delta Force and U.S. Army Special Operations Command
“As the son and nephew of several World War II veterans, I never grow tired of reading about their heroics. The story of Phil Larimore is the most compelling and riveting of them all. At a time when we need real heroes more than ever, this story should inspire, bless, and encourage every American.” — Cal Thomas, nationally syndicated columnist
“At First Light is an amazing story of a remarkable young infantry officer. Phil Larimore embodies all the attributes we associate with ‘Duty, Honor, Country.’ I was extremely impressed that such a young officer commanded with bravery and courage beyond his years. Phil Larimore’s courageousness is only surpassed by his extraordinary selflessness and concern for his troops. This book is a must-read so that we never forget the sacrifices of this greatest generation.” — Gen. Gary Luck, U.S. Army (Ret.) four-star general and former Commander of CFC/UNC/USFK in South Korea (1993–1996)
“The children of America’s wounded warriors share a special bond. We know firsthand what that red stripe in Old Glory means and respect every bloodstained story of valor behind it. Whether or not you come from a patriotic home, Walt Larimore’s masterful and moving account of his father’s sacrifice in World War II will make you proud to be an American.” — Tara McClary Reeves, daughter of Vietnam War hero Clebe McClary and author of “Is Your Dad a Pirate?”