The fourth book on your punch list is At First Light. Achieving leadership through the trials and tribulations of WWII, the pages follow the life of Phil Larimore on and off the battlefield, his love for horses, and one special horse that changed his life. 


Walt Larimore would listen to the stories his dad, Phil, would share about his time spent in WWII, fighting, liberating, and surviving. When Walt’s dad passed away, a foot locker was found in the attic that contained about 450 letters that Phil has written home to family and friends as well as several history books including the 30th Infantry Regiment and 3rd Infantry Division. Walt looked over all the material, began a journey to travel to the countries to do more research, and began typing up the content that became the book.


During the Southern Front offensive, Phil and his comrades would work at night on the battlefield, bringing food and supplies, defusing bombs, and setting mines. Wires were placed sometimes 10 to 15 feet from the enemy—so close that talking could be heard. At first light, Phil and his buddies would evacuate the battlefield. Phil believed in freedom and liberty. Walt shared in a recent interview, “True heroes are the ones who are buried; the ones that gave all of their tomorrows so that we can even have a day.”


Phil was an only child that grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He didn’t do well in school. Joined the Boy Scouts and learned how to shoot and ride horses. He was sent to military school in Mississippi. He displayed a love of servant leadership. Pearl Harbor happened when he was in his senior year of military school; he later graduated with honors. He was chosen to attend officer candidate school in Fort Benning at the age of 17. He was the youngest-ever graduate of the officer candidate school. His service in WWII was courageous and brave. He was known as a master horseman and was on the Operation Cowboy team to save the Lipizzaner horses along with German soldiers near the end of the war as the Red Army was advancing. The horses were at risk of being slaughtered, eaten, or used for hard labor. The horses were walked out about 120 miles to safety. The U.S. received eight of the Lipizzaners as a thank you. Phil lost his leg to the war. He learned to ride on a horse that bonded with him. 


At First Light is a good read to capture the essence of true leadership. Being a leader in construction, no matter what segment, is best honed from learning from those that have served before you. Learn the traits and characteristics that successful leaders have shown to be effective and true. This book brings to light leadership under adverse conditions and shares the hopes of better days ahead.


According to Walt, the common thread in the book is this: Each of us, in small ways, can do great things if we choose to put all of our heart into it.” 

For More Information:

For more, visit At First Time is available wherever books or audio books are sold.  

Modern Contractor Solutions, April 2023
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