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. He even swims across the mighty Mississippi River.
His other great skill is riding horses. Phil does poorly in school, however, leading his parents to send him to a military academy.
After Pearl Harbor, Phil realizes he is destined for war. Three weeks before his 18th 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 troops on the front lines—a dangerous assignment involving regular forays into enemy fire.
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. He’s one of the youngest front-line officers in WWII and is awarded most of the Army’s medals for valor. Along the way he fights alongside two Medal of Honor recipients, Maurice “Footsie” Britt and Audie Murphy. Toward the end of the war, after fifteen months of front-line warfare, Phil is sent on a top-secret mission to find the world-famous Lipizzaner horses Hitler has hidden away.
But it’s what happens in the final stages of the war and his homecoming that makes Phil’s story incredibly special and heartwarming. Losing his leg saving a squad of his men, he battles the War Department’s policy that all Army officers who are amputees must be discharged and can no longer serve the Army and the country that they love. Along the way, he rubs shoulders with President Truman, General Eisenhower, and Winston Churchill.
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.