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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 to send him to a military academy. After Pearl Harbor, Phil realizes he is destined for war. Three weeks before his eighteenth birthday, he became 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 as one of the youngest officers in the U.S. Army.

Toward the end of the war, after fifteen months of front-line fighting, he’s sent on a top-secret mission to find the world-famous Lipizzaner horses that Hitler has hidden away.

But it’s what happens in the final stages of the war and his homecoming – particularly the advocacy for amputees and the role that those permanently disabled from war can play in society — that makes Phil’s story so remarkable.

Today’s guest is Walt Larimore, the son of Phil and author of the new book At First Light: A True World War II Story of a Hero, His Bravery, and an Amazing Horse. He tells a WW2 story about courage, combat, and resourcefulness that continues to resonate today.

Cite This Article
"Seeking Hitler’s Horses: How a WW2 Infantryman Rescued Equines Caught Up Germany’s “Super Horse” Breeding Program" History on the Net
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