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"Flame Dragons" author pays MCLB Albany a visit

By Lance Cpl Kevin J. Ridlon | | February 26, 2004

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Marines and civilian workers got a chance to meet and talk to Jerry Ravino, author of the book "Flame Dragons," and Robert Rusconi, Honor Guard, Detachment 708, Spring Hills, Fla., when they came to the Marine Corps Logistics Base to partake in a ceremony and book signing opportunity.The ceremony, held in the Carson Conference Room, Bldg. 3500, was held to honor George Fish, a crewmember in the Flame Tank Platoon. George Fish passed away before the book was finished, but was still a big part in the book."My husband started to talk to Jerry about information in the book up until he passed away," said Jean Fish, wife of George Fish and an Albany, Ga. resident. "I took over after he passed away and gave him all the information I knew."Accepting the honor on George's behalf was his wife Jean who also accepted the many gifts from Ravino. Among them she received a signed copy of the book, a model of her husband's tank during the war and a medallion with her husband's boot camp picture."This was such a surprise for me," Jean said. "About three days before the ceremony I was called and asked to come to a ceremony for a friend of mine. I had no idea this was going to happen."According to Rusconi, the primary mission for coming to the base was to honor George Fish and his wife.Rusconi's job was to get everything ready for the ceremony and the trip to MCLB. "I took care of everything on the Florida side of things," Rusconi said. After the ceremony, Ravino and Rusconi set up a display at the MCCS Exchange, where Ravino signed books and talked to people about his stories."Getting into writing this book was a story in itself," Ravino said. "There was a World War II colonel, Edward T. Imparato, that I met by chance when I was updating my resume. Reading my resume the colonel noticed that I was part of the "Flame Dragons" and he asked me to come to his house to talk to him about it."Imparato is the author of many published military books, including "Into Darkness," "MacArthur: Melbourne to Tokyo" and other World War II books."He was very interested in many things about the flame tanks," Ravino said. "He was interested in how they worked, how they sounded and if they were in battle. He then asked me if I could write as well as I told the stories about the tanks. I was worried about writing at first, but began to write and soon the book was born.""It was Col. Imparato who was the catalyst that started me on the journey not to let the flame tanks go unnoticed," Ravino added.Jean added that that the "Flame Dragons" need to be recognized because being a small platoon there were very few of them. It was an elite organization.According to Ravino, most of the people who were found to tell their stories of the flame tanks and donate pictures were found on the internet.The other author of the book, Jack Carty was one of those people who was found through the internet."He was a flame tank commander that was in the war a year before I was," Ravino said. "We got together and collaborated and put the story together. He was very helpful because of his journalism experience."Unclassified information from the Navy Marine Corps Historical Center was also used to back up the information. Ravino found many new skills that he has really never had to use before in his life."You got to be a good interviewer, a good digger," Ravino said. "You never know who you will run into. You could run into someone who has a real good story or a historical story."The book and an original tank from the war are going to be put in the new mutli-million dollar museum that is being built at Quantico and will be opening in 2005. "There is currently a search being conducted to find one of these tanks," Ravino said. The ceremony and book-signing event attracted many military and civilian workers and was a great success. "I want to give a big thanks to Pam Dervan and everyone on the base for all of their help in making this ceremony a very beautiful one," Rusconi said. "I am sure George was looking down at this and is very pleased."Ravino is now currently working on a new book called "The Elite" at the request of the Reconnaissance Company, Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division during the Korean War 1950-1953. You can find more information about the authors and the book at Web site, www.flamedragons.com.
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