Titles are listed alphabetically through the next four pages.
A Hard Place (Revised Edition) by Jacamo Peterson
A Pink Mist by John A. Bercaw
A Year In Vietnam With The 101st Airborne: 1969-1970 by Harry G. Enoch
Abandoned in Hell: The Fight for Vietnam’s Firebase Kate by William Albracht & Marvin J. Wolf
Above It All by Dennis Brooks
Absolution: Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry by Charles J. Boyle
Acceptable Loss: An Infantry Soldier’s Perspective by P.J. Jorgenson
Across The Fence by John Stryker Meyere
Alone in the Valley by Ltc. George R. Lanigan
An IED On The Yellow Brick Road by John Cory
Apache Snow by William Casselman
Best We Forget by Bernard Clancy
Blackjack-34 by James C. Donahue
Blood on Red Dirt by Gary Cowart
Blood Trails: The Combat Diary of a Foot Soldier in Vietnam by Christopher Ronnau
Boots: An Unvarnished Memoir of Vietnam by Stephen L. Park
Brandywines War: Back in Country by Robert Vaughan
Bright Light: Untold stories of the Top Secret War in Vietnam by Stephen Perry
Bullets and Bandages: A DMZ Story – Vietnam 1967 by Raymond Hunter Pyle
Call Sign Dracula: My Tour with the Black Scarves by Joe Fair
Chapter One – The Story of Vic Charles by Bob Staranovich
Charlie Mike by Leonard B. Scott
Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel by John Podlaski
Chopper Warriors: Kicking the Hornet’s Nest by William E. Peterson
Cleared to Land by Jeffrey K. Fozard
Collapse Depth by Todd Tucker
Courage On The Mountain by George Reischling
Damaged Goods by Jeffrey Miller
Daniel by Keith Yocum
Delta Shotgun by David McGowan
A Hard Place (Revised Edition
By Jacamo Peterson
A Hard Place – It surely was, September 12, 2010
I have to admit that when reading books, I am usually lucky enough to find at least one overlooked typo someplace in the book. In John Peterson’s book, A Hard Place, I found my first one only a couple of pages into the book and then continued to find additional errors as I continued to read. They appeared randomly and seemed deliberate, as if they were intended to be in the script so I accepted that and moved on. The story, itself, was a wonderful read! On a few nights, I found myself staying up late into the to see how this group of soldiers were going to get out of the pickle they found themselves in. It was gritty, very descriptive and made me feel like I was right there with the author and his team.
Halfway through the book, I chose to visit the review section on Amazon – something I did not do before purchasing the book. The description was enough to draw me in. It was disappointing to see so many reviews criticize the author and challenge the authenticity of many things in the book, including the typos and grammar errors. I soon came to a post by the author himself who wrote to address those critics. The book was a fictional Vietnam War story and the errors within the book were there on purpose. I thought he gave a good rebuttal, it also allowed me to look at this novel in a different perspective. The story was still an adventure and could not have been told this way without the author having been in Vietnam himself. Too many things happened during the story or were said in dialogue that could not have been conjured up by a lay person. Were many of the experiences in the story realistic? Hell yes! Did they really happen? Who cares, it was a great read and that’s why the author classified it as fiction!
When I returned to A Hard Place, I often found myself chuckling when encountering the typo’s and grammar errors, it added a new flair to the story and made it more enjoyable than it already was.
A Pink Mist
by John A. Bercaw
A Great Read
As a Vietnam Infantry veteran, I have always held the chopper crews in the highest regard for always being there when needed. Without them, we would not have survived. I had jumped from choppers into hot LZ’s, finding the deepest depression or fattest tree for protection before returning fire – a real pucker moment! These pilots were relentless and continued to ferry and land reinforcements with not much protection for themselves. They flew their machines through steady streams of gunfire, and yet, they continued as if they were invincible. Dust off’s, ash and trash runs, troop deployments and evacuations and over-head support were all part of their everyday job.
Mr Bercaw does a wonderful job with this well-told story which offers the reader a glimpse of the everyday life of these flying warriors, which by the way, wasn’t a nine to five job. The book is easy to read with short chapters, each highlighting a special event in his Vietnam Tour. I did, however, find somewhat of a disconnect between his career in the Marines and his ending up at Fort Wolters as an Army Helicopter pilot in training wondering how this change took place. The author has a fantastic sense of humor that sometimes caught me off-guard and made me laugh out loud. I particularly enjoyed the way John wrote about his first few days in Marine Basic Training…he was spot on with the way DI’s confuse and break down the new recruits. Funny now…not then!
There are a couple of times in the story when Mr. Bercaw and crew were asked to go out of their way to rescue wounded soldiers on the ground. The landing zones were totally socked in and these pilots took extreme risks to both themselves and the crews by attempting to retrieve these men and get them to hospitals for treatment. Then have these dying soldiers get up and walk off the chopper on their own – leaving me with my mouth agape.
After reading “Pink Mist”, I have bumped up these crews a couple of notches on my high esteem list. I also have a much better understanding of what these sky warriors had to endure in order to survive…sadly, some did not.
A Year In Vietnam With The 101st Airborne: 1969-1970
By Harry G. Enoch
What A Year for this Grunt, July 30, 2012
“A Year In Vietnam With The 101st Airborne: 1969-1970” by Harry G. Enoch is a different kind of read and does not follow the same boilerplate template used by other Vietnam authors. Instead, Mr. Enoch’s work is comprised of his day to day activities as he posted them in a diary/journal over forty years ago. The title caught my interest right away because I had served with the 101st Airborne too, but it was a year later, 1971. I was anxious to compare my experiences with Harry’s and downloaded his story to my Kindle and began reading in earnest.
I do have to admit that I was surprised by this type of format, but quickly learned to follow the day-to-day activities as written. Harry’s humping experience were spot on and I could relate to his experiences in the bush – almost a carbon copy of my own: humping the mountains, hot days / cold nights, monsoon rains, digging foxholes, cutting through impenetrable jungle, carrying ninety pound rucksacks, and always on the lookout for the enemy. Fortunately for Mr. Enoch, he spent an equal amount of time during his tour in fire bases and rear areas.
Life in those areas are a mixed bag, some days are boring as hell while others are filled with mundane work details like bunker guard, filling sandbags, reinforcing bunkers, laying concertina wire and burning human waste – from dawn to dusk. Then, as luck would have it, they find themselves back on the bunker line for the night. Although rear areas offer many distractions during the day like the EM Club, PX, Mess Hall, and swimming to name a few, but many of those men serving there would give it all up to get back out into the bush.
When reading this story, a person will learn more about the day-to-day life of an infantry soldier in Vietnam. It doesn’t matter if he was in the bush or in the rear areas – it was a dangerous time and everyone served honorably.
One of the other reviewers mentioned that Harry spends too much time writing about what he eats on a daily basis and also itemizing the contents of his many special packages he got from home. It’s a little too much and this is why I’ve rated this story four stars instead of five. Still worth reading!
Above It All
by Dennis Brooks
Above It All
I have mixed emotions about reviewing “Above It All” by Dennis Brooks, because of the way it is written. First, I was not aware that this was going to be an autobiography of the authors’ life – the first 20% is dedicated to telling his story from a young age until joining the military – the last 20% talks about Dennis’ return to stateside duty, his battle with the demons of Vietnam, his drug usage and professional experiences to date. In between, we read about his Vietnam experiences as a crew chief / door gunner – an occupation with a perceived short life expectancy. Second, the author tells us several times in the book that he is not a writer, doesn’t claim to be one and only wants his story recorded for friends and family, but the excessive misspelled and missing words throughout made reading the story quite difficult for me. So, how does one rate / review something like this?
I was most interested in the author’s Vietnam experience and enjoyed reading about his adventures – in the air and on the ground. As a former grunt myself, we held chopper crews in the highest esteem – they were there whenever we needed them – no matter what! Some of Mr. Brooks adventures did take my breath away, thus, confirming their bravery and determination. Once losing close friends to combat, Dennis feels the hurt and pain and goes into a shell, trying desperately not to befriend others within his group to save him further remorse. He also demonstrates the willingness to support and fight for his fellow soldiers – covering their backs – whether he knew them personally or not. This is a camaraderie experienced by everyone that went to Vietnam, the bond between soldiers greater than anything they’ll ever experience in civilian life.
Many new officers came into country with huge ego’s and were unwilling to listen to the experience and knowledge of fellow crew members or those lower in rank who’ve been in-country for a while. Dennis’ story gives us a couple of examples when these ego’s contribute to death and careers of fellow soldiers. He also doesn’t see himself as a hero, but after reading about those events, I’d give him those medals for bravery too.
All in all, “Above it All” kept my interest for the most part and I enjoyed reading about this authors’ Vietnam experience. Mr. Brooks, you have achieved your goal of putting into words what you’ve kept locked up inside for almost forty years. It was brave of you to tell your story – exactly like it happened – both the good and the bad. If you are going to continue selling your story, please do me a favor and invest some of your royalties in a good editor or proofreader…it will make a huge difference in future sales and how others view your work. Good luck brother! Welcome Home!
Abandoned in Hell: The Fight for Vietnam’s Firebase Kate
by William Albracht and Marvin J. Wolf
Hell on a Hilltop
I thoroughly enjoyed “Abandoned in Hell” by co-authors William Albracht and Marvin J. Wolf. The story begins with William joining the Army after high school and following him through the many training schools he opted for – eventually completing Officer Candidate School and Special Forces training prior to going to Vietnam. His goal was to become a member of a “Green Beret Mike Force”, instead, he is sent to command a Special Forces firebase in the Central Highland only a couple of miles from the Cambodian Border. Firebase Kate comprised of a handful of American soldiers and a few hundred Montagnards to provide perimeter security. The firebase was in a disarray; defenses were almost non existent, American Special Forces members and artillery crews played volleyball, the Montagnards randomly left the firebase to hunt food and leaving their portion of the perimeter unguarded. The overall atmosphere was laid back and peaceful. Little did they know that 6,000 NVA soldiers were encircling the camp and planning to attack and over-run Kate. The first shot fired later that first day!
The battle for Kate began in earnest, NVA soldiers used mortars, rockets, recoilless rifles and artillery to soften up the camp – successfully knocking out most of the camp’s artillery guns before mounting their first infantry assault. This battle continued over the next five days, no sleep, constant shelling, friends wounded and killed, battle stress causing breakdowns – yet the camp defenders successfully repelled several human wave attacks.
The military built three firebases: Kate, Annie and Susan in a diamond configuration to support the main province of Ban Me Thout near the Cambodian border in the Central Highlands, however, they were each out of range of one another and could not provide close support, if needed. As a result, Firebase Kate had to depend upon air support. Helicopter pilots braved the onslaught, dropping supplies and pulling out the wounded until enemy anti-aircraft fire took away that option. Jets, gunships and Spooky aircraft were all the defenders had left and Albracht made the best use of them. During that time, he directed aircraft fire and repeatedly placed himself at risk by moving around the firebase to manage his forces – eventually wounded, but continuing to fight. He was awarded a Silver Star for his actions, but many others attest that he deserved “The Medal of Honor”. Reinforcements could not reach the survivors, ammo was dangerously low, and it was obvious that they couldn’t stop another ground assault. Albracht was denied permission to evacuate the firebase by the powers to be! When the dark of night settled upon the besieged firebase – only one option remained…and Albracht took it!
During the story, the author’s also writes about various sub-topics, the hate between the Vietnamese people and the Montagnard’s, how the U. S. Air Force and Warrant Officer ranks originated, details of aircraft and the pros and cons of becoming an aide to a general officer. He’d even located soldiers who had participated in this battle – providing excerpts of their versions of the battle. The author’s also provided bios of the main characters in the story and their status today. Well worth reading and highly recommended.
Absolution: Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry
by: Charles J. Boyle
An Engaging read
An engaging Vietnam War novel and one that should be read by all potential infantry officers. Through his protagonist, Lt. Dennis Riley, the author shows us how a new OCS graduate grows from an unsure platoon leader to a confident company commander. Lt. Riley learned how to lead his troops while being coached by the most senior sergeant in the company while battling the enemy near Dau Tieng in early 1968. He truly cared for his men and took it personal when they were injured or killed. This guilt stayed with him for more than 30 yrs after the war and almost ruined his life.
As a company commander, he led Charlie Company during major battles, their successes outperforming the other companies in the Battalion. I also found how difficult it was for a commander to follow the sometimes insane orders from his bosses that resulted in loss of lives, and then convincing his subordinates that it was the right thing to do. They trusted him and would follow him anywhere! I knew that this period of time was also the onset of the 68 Tet offensive and Charlie Company was continuously forced to fight without artillery or air support because the assets were needed elsewhere – although it was never explained why. It was easy for the troops to lose faith in their leaders when promises are broken, but Lt. Riley kept his people motivated and together.
The battle for Ap Co was similar to many other hill fights in Vietnam like Dak To and Hamburger Hill – the relentless uphill assaults that killed many and lasted for days. Then were eventually vacated after counting the bodies and searching for information. There is no mention in the book, but the battle at the firebase on Easter Friday was depicted in the movie “Platoon” as Oliver Stone was in that same battalion.
Lt. Dennis Riley’s speech near the end of the book where he addresses the audience during one of the first veteran reunions he attended in Washington DC is a piece of work. His heartfelt words hit home and sent chills up my spine as he tried to make amends for all the injustice suffered by Vietnam Vets over the past decades. After reading it the second time, I had the same results.
Absolution is highly recommended and offers readers a first hand look at the insanity of war and the brotherhood shared by those who fought to protect one another. Great job Mr. Boyle! Thank you for your service and Welcome Home, sir!
Acceptable Loss: An Infantry Soldier’s Perspective
By P.J. Jorgenson
Thank goodness for the Blues!, January 8, 2011
Acceptable Loss is an awesome story!! I especially liked reading about the secret insertions into “no man’s land” as the five-man LRRP teams operated without any support. It is edge of your seat suspense when these small groups are unknowingly trapped between large enemy forces and have to make their way to the pick-up point, precisely on time, or they will be left behind! After several of these encounters, I can see why Mr. Jorgenson transferred to the Blues. However, it wasn’t any easier there as these volunteers knew they were headed for battle when the call came for help.
I am also a Vietnam Infantry veteran and author, and can relate to those instances when the author walked point, as I did for much of my tour; much of it hit home. There is nothing glorified about war, and Kregg was able to show this all through his novel. I truly enjoyed his story. It was very easy to read, and made me feel like I was right there beside him; heart pounding and wondering if we were going to survive. Acceptable loss kept me up a little longer that I should have on some nights, but I found myself yearning for it upon my return home the next evening.
Acceptable Loss deserves five stars and a place within the top twenty of my all time best Vietnam novels. Great job Kregg!
Across The Fence
By John Stryker Meyer
Learning about the Secret Vietnam War, September 1, 2012
I found “Across the Fence” by John Stryker Meyer to be a great educational experience about SOG and its role in Vietnam. The author details several different missions within this fine work – some are first-person and others – from his friends in fellow “Strike Teams”. All are magnificent! I was especially intrigued with the inner workings and protocol of these SF units. Small goups of 6 – 8 man patrol deep within Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam on clandestine missions, and doing so without artillery support or back up from larger nearby units. Even notorious and well trained SOG teams are not guaranteed success every time; as evidenced by the disappearance of one of these teams. How can a team of six men voluntarily accept a mission into an area suspected of housing 10,000 or more enemy soldiers? It takes a special kind of man to be part of a SOG team, and after completing Mr. Meyer’s story, you will better understand what it takes to be a Green Beret. There is plenty of action, fear, impending doom, and sometimes humor throughout this great story. It is a shame that the families of those soldiers killed during this secret war may never learn the details surrounding the death of their loved ones, until maybe now.
I recommend “Across the Fence” to anyone wanting to learn more about this secret war and of the harrowing experiences of these special soldiers. They have my utmost gratitude and respect! God Bless!
Alone in the Valley
By Ltc. George R. Lanigan
The Calling of the Green Beret, October 28, 2013
“Alone in the Valley” by George Lanigan is a memoir which Chronicles his experiences from the time he drops out of college in 1968 until he returns home from the Vietnam War in 1971. George states that he’d always wanted to be a Green Beret in the U.S. Army since his early childhood days. He decides to follow his dream, enlists into the Army – intent on making the grade. George’s descriptions during basic training and infantry AIT are right on, reminding me of some things I’ve done that were long forgotten.
I looked forward to reading about the author’s training during Airborne and Green Beret school as I was unfamiliar with both. I’d heard stories from fellow veterans about jump school, but I never knew anyone who trained for Special Forces. I remember the song where it heralded that so many entered, but only a few actually received the coveted beret. Although George does not go into major detail of the specific training itself, readers get a sense of the difficulties he must overcome. Special Forces training outside of Fort Bragg included radio school and Morse code, skiing and snowshoeing in Germany and jungle warfare training in Panama.
Mr. Lanigan heads to Vietnam in July, 1970 – a month before my tour began and is stationed near Vung Tau on the South China Sea. My tour began in Cu Chi which was only an hour away. His new job is to oversee and train Cambodian teenagers in the art of war. Their country has sanctioned this training in order to help them defend against both external and internal enemies. He would take groups out to valley and bush for days at a time; sometimes encountering VC or NVA soldiers on patrol – getting hairy at times. When at the basecamp, George walks the perimeter during odd hours every night to check the wire and Cambodians in the bunkers. Seems like sleep and rest are a hard commodity to come by. After all, this is still a war zone.
During his downtime, George and the other SF soldiers, like normal teenagers, would sometime get into mischief and have to suffer the consequences. He owns a small tv set to help pass the time, and hooks up with fellow SF members at the local bar occasionally to swap stories and reminisce about past training.
Coming home, George finds the World has changed; protesters are everywhere and blame the soldier for war. It isn’t safe to be out in uniform. There are no parades, words of thanks or welcomed home by civilians who, instead, should be grateful to him for protecting their freedom. This was very puzzling for all returning veterans who were ecstatic for having survived the war and then facing hostility, ridicule and insults upon their arrival home. What a fine reward!
The story held my interest, my only complaint is the formatting and editing of the book which prevented me from giving it four or five stars. Indie authors, myself included, are continuously chided by readers and reviewers who expect perfect books. George, please take the time to hire a skilled editor to help make corrections and then reissue the updated version. It does make a difference!
An IED On The Yellow Brick Road
By John Cory
Some damage can not be seen, October 19, 2012
John Cory’s book, An IED on the Yellow Brick Road is a short story of less than 100 pages and can be read in one sitting. I am fond of war stories and look forward to reading about the experiences of others. This one, however, is the aftermath of war and talks about injuries and wounds that are invisible. A gay couple living in the countryside – one a Vietnam Veteran and 62 years old – are visited by two strangers, a man and a woman, who knock on their door on a rainy night. Turns out that neither of the two new arrivals knew one another; the female was hitchhiking a ride and the male offered her a ride.
The Vietnam vet has a feeling that both visitors, who are in their twenties, were modern day veterans. However, neither of them will admit to it.
Coop, the Vietnam vet, has a studio out back where he has built a shrine about the Vietnam War. It is here that the three veterans finally open up and begin talking about their experiences. They talk about three different war zones: Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, but it the same old war where the enemy can hide among us. Not only does PTSD rear its ugly head, but the female states that she has survived getting blown up twice in her humvee and has trouble with her thoughts. Yet the VA Hospital isn’t willing to help her. Eventually, each blames the other for their faults – blowing off steam.
This book is about compassion, anger and then later support between the three generations of veterans. Eventually, they feel like they are home again.
It is difficult for me to write a review about this book because so much takes place – most of it through dialog. I can only say that if you are a veteran, it is easy to relate to their stories. If not, this book will alert you to what veterans are carrying deep within their memories since returning from war. It is well worth the time to read. After finishing, the reader will not be able to get the words out of their heads. They stay with you…leaving you astonished and bewildered. Excellent job Mr. John Cory!
by William Casselman
A Diamond in the Rough
“Apache Snow” tells the story of young Matthew Kendal, a Pastor’s youngest son. Matt was proud of his older brother was in the Army, graduated from Airborn training and became a Green Beret. In 1968, his brother’s unit was sent to Vietnam and he ended up being killed when their small outpost near Laos was overrun by the NVA. He was a hero during this final battle and was bestowed the Silver Star for his actions (his Commanding Officer put him in for the Medal of Honor, but it was turned down).
Upon graduation from high school, Matt joined the Army with the intent of going to Vietnam and avenging his brother’s death. He followed in his brother’s footsteps, earning his jump wings and then volunteering for Vietnam – assigned to the 101st Airborne Division.
The story follows Matt and two other friends from stateside training as his squad runs patrols through the countryside. Soon, they are sent to the infamous Ashau Valley, a stronghold for the NVA and seldom visited by American patrols. Their battalion is soon assigned to recon Hill 937, surveillance exposes a large enemy force in heavy duty bunkers and trench lines – the unit is then charged with taking the hill.
This begins 11 days of fighting between the 101st Airborne and the 29th NVA Regiment – the Hill is later referred to as “Hamburger Hill”. There is a heavy toll in lives lost on both sides, the Americans suffer from lack of sleep, food, water and continuous assaults upon the hill which ends in stalemates. The story is rated as fiction, but it closely follows the actual battle to take this hill. Readers will be in awe as to how this story plays out. Most already know the outcome from history, but this author tells it like he was there. I should also point out that there is not ONE cuss word in this story, but there is also a heavy dusting of religion throughout.
The author, William Casselman, is an exceptional story teller and has a gift for writing, in this case almost 400 pages. My only complaint is that with all the time and effort it took to write this tome, the author failed to utilize an editor or proof-reader. The story is filled with typos, extra words, missing words, etc that should have been caught before publishing. These errors are distracting, and almost caused me to stop reading this story, but I stayed with it and saw it to the end. In fact, I’m sure that if the author rereads his own work, he’d be successful in correcting most if not all the errors.
Mr. Casselman, I commend you on your success of writing a great story. As a fellow author, I can relate to the many hours of typing, the many sacrifices made – both personal and family related, and the dedication required to write a long story such as “Apache Snow” – why throw it all away because of countless errors which sends the wrong message to your readers. Take the time and fix it…you’ll be happy you did!
Best We Forget
by Bernard Clancy
A fun & captivating Tome
“Best We Forget” tells the story about a group of Australian soldiers serving their one-year tour of duty during the Vietnam War. This book is not a book about battles or following soldiers through the jungles, instead, it follows Brian “Donkey” Simpson and his mates – Saigon Warriors – working in PR, journalism and Intelligence. Their antics take readers through the streets of Saigon, Cholon and Vung Tau – places where the war is distant and many people sneak through the streets after curfew. In places, the story is hilarious – kind of a mix between “Good Morning Vietnam” and “M.A.S.H.” It is uncanny how easily these soldiers create mischief – selling parts of their Australian uniforms as souvenirs to the American soldiers, knowing many of the local bar whores by name, trading four cases of Aussie beer for an American Jeep and selling Kangaroo feathers for $50/ea. to the gullible Americans and tons of other cons.
There are spies among them and Donkey is used as a pawn by the generals to locate and trap the informant. Most of the soldiers find themselves in “love” with the local girls – causing mental anguish because they all have girl friends at home waiting for them. Espionage and politics play a large part in the story, sometimes, pitting soldiers against one-another.
An Australian author penned this story and many of the euphemisms and comments were foreign to me, but makes for some interesting reading and guessing as to what it means – I’ve discovered that “first dinghum” can mean several different things, but I’ve attributed the phrase to “no s***” and “bloody” as bad as an American 4-letter word. The book was actually fun to read!
There are some serious and tense moments throughout the tome and it was interesting to see how they were played out. I recommend “Best We Forget” to anyone interested in reading a “bloody good book” about the Australian’s in the Vietnam War. Bernard Clancy – to a fine Bloke – Bravo! Thank you for your service and “Welcome Home my brother from down under”!
Blackjack-34 (previously titled No Greater Love): One Deadly Day of Courage, Carnage, and Ultimate Sacrifice for the Mobile Guerrilla Force in Vietnam
By James C. Donahue
A Deadly Day for sure, July 22, 2012
I always had a great respect for Special Forces and what they could achieve. In Blackjack – 34, code name for this particular mission, a handful of American SF Soldiers lead a company size force, comprised of Cambodians and Chinese Nung mercenaries, to locate a large enemy unit thought to be operating in the area. The “Bodes” are meticulous and excellent hunters, moving stealthy through the dense jungles without a sound. Some believed they have a special gift, because they can sense when the enemy is near. It is early morning when this group locates the enemy, and the first bullets of their day-long battle ensues. It is soon clear that this group is vastly outnumbered and soon surrounded by enemy soldiers.
One of the Americans, James Donahue, is also a medic and finds himself in a dual role during this skirmish. The Special Forces also trained the “Bodes” to be medics, their competencies saved many lives that day. Even while the battle is raging, these young Cambodian soldiers are yelling obscenities and hurling insults at the enemy; taking great joy in this and feeling like they have the upper hand. These Asians despised the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regular soldiers, and fought ferociously without a sign of fear – even at these odds.
Helicopters are not able to land to retrieve the wounded and ammunition had to be dropped from speeding Hueys as they flew overhead. Unfortunately, some crates landed outside of their perimeter and had to be retrieved in order for them to have any chance of survival. I found myself intrigued a few times while reading the story, especially when discussing the “Bodes” and their customs. Seems that each of them carried a small Buddha figurine to protect them. Then later, when it appeared they may be overrun, these you men placed the Buddha figurines in their mouths and continued the fight. This gave them some comfort in knowing that if they died, their “God” would take care of them. There was also a time during the fighting when one of the “Bodes” in his team turned to Donahue and said with a smile, “Don’t worry Donahue, if you die, I eat your heart.” This also caught the author off guard and when he responded that he didn’t want him to do this, the “bode” was hurt and dejected. The Bode explained that it was an honor to have somebody eat your heart – it will help in his travels through the afterlife. James then provided an explanation which seemed to appease and satisfy the youth.
Bac Si Donahue is eventually wounded himself, but continues to treat the injured Bodes; sewing one man’s face back together after it is ripped apart by shrapnel, and then to stop the bleeding, stuffed gauze into a bullet hole running from the roof of the man’s mouth to the top of his head. Accomplishing these feats with a steady hand even after losing much blood himself.
The battle continues to wage through the day – leaving scores of enemy soldiers littering the ground outside of the perimeter. The author has well developed characters – readers feel the sadness and loss when some of them are killed.
Will the Mike Force arrive in time to save the heroic group of survivors? How many more will die? You’ll have to buy the book to find out these answers. At the end, Mr. Donahue also provides an update and current status of many of the characters in this well-written story. This book is about only one day in the war, many of the men continued fighting for years before the war finally ends for them. Recommended read for anyone wanting to know more about the mobile Guerrilla Forces in Vietnam.
Blood on Red Dirt
By Gary Cowart
Great Read, April 6, 2013
Gary Cowart’s, Blood on Red Dirt, is a story about a young man who joins the Marines during the early part of the Vietnam War – Marines only because the Air Force and Navy had year-long waiting lists. I found myself smiling on several occasions when the author wrote about his Basic Training experiences. There is just no way to escape the wrath of Drill Instructors during these initial weeks of military indoctrination…we all experienced it whether it was warranted or not. It’s all part of the plan to create a formidable soldier to fight wars. Gary chooses artillery as his specialty and eventually gets shipped to Vietnam. I enjoyed reading about his Vietnam experiences – as I was in the Army Infantry, Blood on Red Dirt gave me the opportunity to learn more about these Marine artillery men and their role in the war.
Artillery units were a great asset to the troops out in the field. I have the greatest respect for those cannoneers and appreciate the many times they came to our support…now I have a better understanding of the science required to get the round to where it needed to be. Gary also showed me that it is sometimes much safer to be out on patrol through the jungles than to be stationed on a firebase or Landing zone.
Thank you for a great story and for your service! Welcome Home Brother!
Blood Trails: The Combat Diary of a Foot Soldier in Vietnam
By Christopher Ronnau
From one ground pounder to another, January 8, 2011
I ended up purchasing a copy of Blood Trails from Amazon.UK because I wanted to establish an account on that side of the world. But I couldn’t wait for it to arrive, so I purchased a Kindle e-book version too and began reading it immediately. Like Chris, I also kept a diary when in Vietnam and referred to it when writing my own novel.
I truly loved Blood Trails and could relate to many of the anecdotes within the story. My outfit, the 25th Division, also patrolled around Tay Ninh and Cambodia and I can recall many of those things described in the book. Some reviewers have posted that Blood Trails was just another grunt story. It is, but there are also 3.5 million Vietnam war stories out there – some of us have chosen to write about them. Although many of the books are the same in the sense of writing about the suffering of patrolling and sleeping in the bug infested jungles, every one of them is unique and personal. I have read many Vietnam novels as well, but I always find them educational and I learn from them. I think it is important for readers who may have known teenagers that went to war in Vietnam, to read books like Blood Trails to better understand why these warriors were so different upon their return. War is hell and they lived there.
Of the 3.5 million troops that eventually served in Vietnam, only 10% of them were assigned to the Infantry. These were the ground pounders that actually humped through the jungles, avoided booby traps, stumbled into fortified enemy positions, and actually did the face to face fighting. This is not meant to belittle the other 90%, because without their support, the infantry soldiers would not have survived. It should also be noted that the firebases and base camps were sometimes more dangerous than in the jungle, especially when they were mortared, rocketed and assaulted by the enemy. So each story is unique and written from a different perspective.
When reading these different stories, I find myself drawn into it as if I am right there with them in the story. I can feel their fear, anticipation, awe, suspense and find myself relieved when the patrol finally returns to safety.
Blood Trails deserves five stars and will be placed in the top twenty of my all-time best books about the war. It is highly recommended and should be read by those interested in joining the service or wanting to know what life in the jungle was really like.
Great job Chris! Welcome Home Brother!
Boots: An Unvarnished Memoir of Vietnam
by Stephen L. Park
An Officers Take on his Tour in Vietnam
I enjoyed reading “Boots: An Unvarnished Memoir of Vietnam”, a first-person narrative following a 20 year old lieutenant – fresh out of OCS – through his year long tour in Vietnam. Lt. Park spent his first six months as an infantry platoon leader in the 1st Division – Big Red One – leading his men on day patrols and night ambushes, sometimes chopping their way through seemingly impenetrable jungle to satisfy the whims of his superiors. Other missions to guard bridges and roads were less exhausting and boring, but still resulted in him adding another “X” to his calender – countdown of days remaining in Vietnam. Lt. Park made it a point to keep his men informed and usually communicated with them after each briefing about the days’ mission. He struggled with his bosses, believing his superiors didn’t know what they were doing due to their lack of experience – normally sharing his sentiments with those around him. How did this affect his men? As a former grunt myself, I would have questioned many of those same orders – some, even placing his men in harms way unnecessarily. The story has very little character development for those men in the Lt.’s platoon and is more about the main character and what he does. I did feel like I was right there with him exhausted, wet, hungry, thirsty and struggling mentally through the monsoon season, but I was right there with him to share in his misery! Unfortunately, I could not relate to any of the others surrounding him.
After spending six months in the bush, Lt. Park is reassigned to the rear as the company XO, a support entity. At first, he misses those men he left behind and continues to monitor their patrols. However, he is soon bored and spends many afternoons at the local officers club- drinking and playing poker. He is later transferred to a position as liaison between the U.S. and the District leaders / ARVN forces…his new job is more enjoyable, allowing him more latitude to do things his way. He and his driver once work with a couple Special Forces divers on a mission and soon find themselves in mischief that could land them all in jail. Some of it is hilarious!
My only critique on the writing is the amount of typos and missing words throughout the tome. I would strongly suggest an editor to give it a once over and make the necessary corrections.
Thank you for your service, sir! Congratulations on publishing your memoir and giving us all an unvarnished glimpse into the mind of an infantry officer during the Vietnam War. Welcome Home!
Brandywines War: Back in Country
by Robert Vaughan
An Entertaining Read
Brandywines War: Back in Country” follows W.W. Brandywine through his tours in Vietnam as a Huey recovery pilot. His crew is responsible for locating downed helicopters and then rigging them for either removal or destruction or flying supplies to other locations. When working, he is all business as death continues to deal the cards. Some of his friends do not survive, which also saddens readers because we liked them. However, during his downtime, he is a wheeler-dealer, con man and instigator – the results of his antics are sometimes hilarious – at times, making me laugh out loud. As other reviewers have stated, this book is similar to MASH and Catch-22, both taking place during wartime – offering snapshots of what some soldiers might do to relieve boredom.
Readers do witness officer bravery, foolhardiness and downright meanness throughout the tome. Mr. Brandywine is always looking for a seam to penetrate in order to turn the odds in his favor. One character, “Unsoldier” is an odd character whose circumstances are hilarious. Eventually, Mr. Brandywines’ antics catch up to him when a former boss takes action to get even for all the sufferings the pilot had caused him over time.
Not a war story, per se, but witnessing many of the aftereffects of war – kinda like looking in from the outside. A real page turner! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an entertaining and fast read. Great job Robert Vaughan! Thank you for the laughter!
Bright Light: Untold stories of the Top Secret War in Vietnam
by Stephen Perry
A story of the Few who wore the Green Beret in Vietnam April 24, 2014
Bright Light by Stephen Perry is an eye-opening, first person account of the secret war fought in Vietnam by men considered to be the best of the best. The public and most of the military were unaware of these special forays into Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam, small groups of six men moving stealthily through thick mountainous jungles amidst thousands of enemy soldiers. Yet, our politicians vowed that the United States was not crossing the borders of Vietnam in pursuit of the enemy and the soldiers themselves were sworn to secrecy.
These small Spike teams comprised of three American Green Berets and three indigenous SOG personnel (Nungs, Vietnamese, Montagnard and Cambodian), spied on enemy movement, caches, called in air strikes and attempted prisoner snatches when possible. Missions werre usually scheduled for five days, but usually end after only a couple because the team is compromised and requests an emergency extraction. Imagine yourself on this team, operating fifty miles from the nearest friendly forces, without artillery support or the benefit of nearby units that can back you up when trouble erupts. Once discovered and engaged by the enemy, the small group can request helicopter gunships and fighter jets to keep enemy heads down while awaiting extraction, but the odds are usually 200 – 1 against them with more enemy reinforcements en-route. Time is of essence! Surviving requires stamina, tenacity, trust and faith with a little luck sprinkled in the mix. Most team extractions are made by dropping four – 120 ft. ropes into the jungle from a chopper hovering above the triple canopy, however, their withdrawal up through the foliage leaves them most vulnerable and easy targets for the enemy soldiers; they return to Vietnam, flying the fifty miles suspended from these special harnesses. At times, teams are ambushed immediately upon rappelling into an area and it becomes necessary to escape and evade to a place where they can be extracted. The enemy is usually moving about with only weapons and ammunition while the SOG teams carry almost 100 lbs. on their backs, yet their training allows them to stay ahead of their pursuers. Their missions are frightful and keep you on the edge of your seat – you are relieved when they survive and saddened when certain team members don’t make it back.
Bright Light is a term used when a special team is inserted to rescue downed pilots or locate missing Spike teams that have disappeared or lost communications. The enemy is aware of our credo to not leave any man behind and know that others will soon arrive to seek out their lost comrades, all they have to do is wait for rescuers, who they know will soon arrive. This is the most dangerous of missions.
The entire story is not filled with gloom and doom, team members are also mischievous when they experience downtime at the FOB. Mr. Perry shares several anecdotes of their experiences which made me laugh out loud: mace, rat patrol and stealing a brand new jeep that belongs to the colonel in charge of C.I.D as well as others. The author also shares a story about camaraderie within the group when a Patton tank throws a track on the road outside of the FOB. A couple of the indigenous SOG members happened by and were immediately threatened and berated by the tank team who thought them to be enemy soldiers because of their unique uniforms. Armed fellow soldiers quickly came to their aid, the tank crew, thinking they are being attacked, turn the turret and take aim upon the small camp. You’ll have to read the story to see how this ends.
Mr. Perry and another friend had to visit the morgue to identify a former room mate who was killed during one of these missions into Laos. The enemy used anti-aircraft guns and killed the wounded soldiers as they were being evacuated by ropes during the battle. The author states that he counted over thirty two-inch round holes in the body – some providing a clear view through the body to the chrome finish of the gurney he is lying upon. This is a vision that is difficult to put aside.
Bright Light is a short book that gives us a peek at these special units and clandestine missions. These operations were classified until recently allowing for stories such as this one to be published. We learn what it takes to wear the Green Beret and why soldiers like this are needed. Once you start – it will be difficult to put away. I read it in a day and then read it a second time a couple days later. Highly recommended to all!
Bullets and Bandages: A DMZ Story – Vietnam 1967
By Raymond Hunter Pyle
Brothers in Arms, February 5, 2014
“Bullets and Bandages” by Raymond Hunter Pyle is identified as a fiction novel about the Vietnam War, however, any Nam vet reading this story will attest that it is more truth than fiction. The story is told through the eyes of both main characters: a Marine Staff Sgt. and a Navy Senior Corpsman – brothers-in-law – who find themselves fighting for survival on the DMZ.
SSG Mike Marowski is a prominent leader, skilled in the art of warfare. He doesn’t take unnecessary risks and is known to take care of his men. Because of a shortage of officers, Mike is assigned as a Platoon Leader during the siege of Con Thien. The enemy unleashes rockets, mortars and artillery daily – 1200 rounds are noted during one particular day – ground assaults by Sappers are also common. The story takes place in the fall of 1967 – just prior to the TET Offensive. Enemy soldiers and other resources must be moved into South Vietnam to support the offensive, Con Thien is in the way and must be destroyed!Sleep is hard to come by as Marines hunker down in their foxholes during these aerial assaults. Marines feel helpless, many dying without having an opportunity to shoot back at the invisible enemy. Company and battalion sized units patrol the surrounding area outside the wire, only to be ambushed by a fortified enemy who is also supported by artillery and mortars. Once the monsoon rains begin, life on the hill is downright miserable.
Units are slotted to remain at Con Thien for up to six weeks and then rotate to Dong Ha for refitting. Mike Marowski is promoted to Gunnery Sgt., and unfortunately for him, doesn’t get to return to the rear with his unit. Instead, the replacing unit is short officers and Gunny must stay behind to lead the replacements. One thing is clear for the reader: Marines follow orders and comply without argument.
Navy Senior Corpsman Terry King will do everything possible to save his fellow soldiers…more adept to saving a life instead of taking one. This belief will cause a dilemma for him later in the story. He and his fellow corpsmen have their hands full keeping up with the wounded; if they are still able to fight, they’re patched up and returned to the perimeter. It isn’t uncommon to find Marines on the perimeter who’ve been patched up more than once; dirty and blood seeping bandages visible on damaged bodies.
Together, both men find themselves as sole survivors after an accident and must find their way back to friendly lines. Will they survive this living hell and return to the waiting arms of their wives? This book will keep you up late because it’s hard to put down.
Call Sign Dracula: My Tour with the Black Scarves
By Joe Fair
One Man’s Rite of Passage
“Call Sign Dracula” by Joe Fair tells the story of a young, scared teenage ‘country bumpkin’ as he refers to himself, who becomes a soldier and then travels half way around the world to fight in Vietnam – an unpopular war. As a youngster, he had secretly hoped to one day be a part of the Big Red One, a well known and brave group, and gets what he wished for. Joe is assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment – the Black Scarves who operate in III and IV Corps between Saigon and the Cambodian border.
The author uses a unique style in this book where each chapter is a summary of events that occurs during a specific month in his tour of duty – much like a journal. Mr. Fair also pays homage to those troops he served with while in Vietnam, listing them by name as they come into and leave his life – providing a description of the person when the name is either unknown or forgotten.
Readers will follow the author during his acclimation to war and witness his transition from a scared, naïve and inexperienced eighteen year old soldier into a skilled, savvy leader within the course of a year. The author shares his memories, both good and bad. I sometimes found myself laughing out loud at some of the antics he and his fellow soldiers pulled. Joe doesn’t pull any punches and tells it like it was…when friends die, it is very hard to keep a stiff upper lip and continue to function as if nothing happened. He also shows us that the military has both good and bad leaders within its ranks, errors in judgement often resulted in the death of many innocent people.
I was in Vietnam a year after the author and assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, our area of operations was shared with the Big Red One and I remember humping through many of the same areas that are mentioned in Joe’s memoirs. The life of a grunt is difficult, indeed, “Call Sign Dracula” will educate civilians – infantry veterans will relate. Great job Mr. Fair! Thank you for your service and Welcome Home!
Chapter One – The Story of Vic Charles
By: Bob Staranovich
A Diamond in the Rough, March 21, 2014
“Chapter One – The Story of Vic Charles” in not a war novel! Instead, it’s a story about a Vietnam Veteran – twenty-two years after leaving the war zone (circa 1991). Vic Charles is a successful author, his earlier book addressed the stereotyping of Vietnam Veterans, debunking the myths, monikers and finally bringing honor to the veterans of that political war. Victor became an instant celebrity – the book was selling well above expectations, and soon the many letters of thanks and appreciation from grateful veterans and family members began to overwhelm him. He read them all and responded to those he could! Both the Vietnam War and the Veteran’s return home are common threads between them all. Iraq War Veterans were returning home to airport crowds, parades and special treatment – Vietnam Veterans are hurt and angry, their homecoming brought them to empty airports and protesters, rude confrontations, blackballed from certain jobs and the blamed for the war. It isn’t fair!
Mr. Charles sets out to write a second book to address the veteran homecomings. Unfortunately, his exposure to the many discussions about the Vietnam War over the last couple of years became a distraction to him, resulting in “writer’s block” which keeps him stuck in a wordless chapter one. When in Vietnam, Vic had to kill the enemy to save himself and also witnessed other atrocities of war. These memories had been locked away for years, but lately, a special song on the radio, a movie, witnessing an accident or just seeing a sign during a relaxing drive begin triggering flashbacks and nightmares, snippets of Vic’s time in Vietnam. These continue throughout the story – moving readers back and forth in time. Victor has been blacking out on occasion and doesn’t know how to fix this – he turns to alcohol which only makes things worse.
One thing Vic has going for him is his loving wife and children. He first met his wife Molly prior to going to Vietnam. They fell deeply in love – she was the reason to survive the war. He wanted more than anything to hug and kiss her one more time. Molly was his savior back then…she senses something is wrong…is she too late? Can she save him?
As a reader of “Chapter One”, one soon realizes that Vic Charles has severe PTSD. We have a front row seats in the balcony, watching intently to see how Vic plays out his cards in the game of life. We can see there is a problem and understand why. This disorder was not recognized in 1991 and soon veterans from modern wars began suffering and exhibiting the same behavior. Today, the VA has made great inroads in helping veterans with PTSD; veterans should not hesitate to go there for that help.
On a final note, editing and formatting issues within the book is costing the story its’ fifth star. However, with some polishing, this diamond will sparkle! Great job Bob Staranowicz!
by Leonard B. Scott
Rangers in Vietnam
I don’t know how I’ve overlooked this fantastic novel all this time! The author’s prose took me back to the jungles of Vietnam. I was so fixated by the story that when I stopped for a break, I was momentarily disoriented, surprised to find myself sitting in my favorite chair back home. It’s that realistic!
“Charlie Mike” is a riveting tome and difficult to set aside. Readers are introduced to well-rounded likable characters, making it difficult to choose a single character to care about. A second story line story follows the exploits of a group of North Vietnamese soldiers, offering readers an opportunity to get into the head of the enemy and learn something about their strategy, tactics, and secrets. Both sides will clash time and time again. Many will die on both sides, tears will fall, prayers said and reinforcements arrive before doing it all over again.
There is something for everyone in “Charlie Mike”: a love interest between two of the Rangers and a couple Donut Dollies as well as a Ranger officer and the nurse who took care of him after he was wounded and became famous for landing the aircraft, Officers more concerned about public opinion than the lives of their own men, Con artists and money-making schemes and of the brotherhood shared by men who continually place themselves at risk. Taking a line from the Big & Rich song – The 8th of November – “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his brother”.
Highly recommended! I have just downloaded another of of the author’s Vietnam War books and hope it is just as good as this one. Thank you Leonard B. Scott for an entertaining read! Also, thank you for your service and Welcome Home! Charlie Mike, sir!
Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel
by John Podlaski
One of the best war novels ever!
By Speed Racer on August 15, 2016
I have read dozens of Vietnam war novels and would rate Cherries as one of the best. I am a veteran of the 27th Infantry, “Wolfhounds” and can attest as to the accuracy of the combat details. The characters are engaging and well rounded. The plot is well paced and the action is described in such a manner as to make you feel part of it. If you are a veteran some of the details will make you uncomfortable but this, to me, is the mark of a well written book; to make you feel part of it. This is one of the best books written on Vietnam and one of the best war novels ever. I can’t say enough about it. I highly recommend this book; you will not be disappointed.
Chopper Warriors: Kicking the Hornet’s Nest
by William E. Peterson
A perfect addition to my collection
Bill Peterson’s new book, “Chopper Warriors: Kicking the Hornet’s Nest” is a compelling and easy read, comprised of twenty-three short chapters which describe personal experiences during the Vietnam War. A host of contributors have joined Bill in this story to talk about special incidents they experienced during their tours many years ago; some describe acts of gallantry and heroism…others talk about fear and death. Contributors include pilots, infantry grunts and officers, Navy Corpsmen, door gunners and a lone tunnel rat; their tours take place in different years and span across the entire country of Vietnam. Thus, seeing the war from different perspectives.
As a Vietnam Veteran myself, reading “Chopper Warriors” is like sitting around a summer campfire with a group of vets from my local VVA chapter. They come from every branch of service and occupation; most have something to say – others are comfortable just listening…all are treated with trust, dignity and respect while relating their stories around the roaring blaze. There is usually a common thread shared during these discussions and testimony seldom takes a sudden left or right turn. This is how I relate to Bill’s new tome – thankfully, he did not include the extra commentary that I might have heard: “I got one, listen to this…”
As I commented in “Missions of Fire and Mercy”, us grunts held chopper crews in the highest regard. Without your support, dedication and bravery, there would be many more names listed on the black granite wall in Washington D.C. You were always there when we needed you – I remain forever grateful for that!
After reading “Chopper Warriors”, non-veteran readers will better understand why veterans returning home after war are different and troubled. Could be a different country, war and time, the results are the same!
Bill, excellent job in following that common thread throughout the story. Thank you, too. for the education – I did pick-up on some new things I didn’t know while reading your story! Highly recommended – don’t miss out on this one! Welcome Home Brothers!
Cleared to Land
By Jeffrey K. Fozard
Did it all during three years, 2011
This book is about the author’s three years in Vietnam as an Army Air Traffic Controller. This is not about a front-line infantry “Grunt”. He was what is called a REMF. That an acronym is explained in the book. This is what happened to him and his fellow soldiers during my tours. He also flew as a door gunner on days off for those three years. He’d been around the southern tip of Vietnam and up to Dong Ha and Quang Tri near the DMZ. In his three years in Vietnam, he flew over 1000 hours of combat time on days off. He was told that he should never have seen his 21st birthday. His “Welcome to Vietnam” in March ’68 was a mortar attack as they got off the plane at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. They were hit on the first night working as a controller. He started out his three years in the Mekong Delta and worked his way north to Phu Bai which is just south of the DMZ.
By Todd Tucker
Interesting read, July 5, 2013
Unfamiliar with life on a submarine and intrigued by the book description, I downloaded a free Kindle version of “Collapse Depth” and started reading immediately – leaving my 58 other downloads to collect additional electronic dust in the “to be read” folder. I found the story both educational and suspenseful, learning technical terms, gaining an understanding of the day to day life on a nuclear Trident submarine, and then wondering whether or not the saboteur will be successful in destroying the boat. The book is difficult to put down because there is always something new introduced into the storyline – forcing readers to stay up late at night to see how these new emergencies are handled. Kept my interest throughout!
Like many of the other reviewers, I also found the typos and formatting errors distracting, at times, having to stop and decipher before continuing. Mr. Tucker, do yourself a favor and have “Collapse Depth” edited and properly formatted…it will reap huge benefits in the future.
Courage On The Mountain
By George Reischling
Courage on the Mountain, April 5, 2014
I have to admit that George’s book cover might trigger flashbacks to Vietnam Veterans who served with the 25th Division – not so much the electric strawberry patch, but Nui Ba Den, the mountain which can be seen from anywhere within their area of operations. I, too, was with the 25th Division as an infantryman with the 1/27th Wolfhounds, the closest I ever got to the Black Virgin Mountain is probably fifteen or so miles. We heard rumors about the mountain – your descriptions and history filled in the blanks for me.
I had a rough time with the beginning of this story because of the use of so many “twenty-dollar words” (as the author refers to them) in the story. I was distracted, not because I didn’t know the meaning of the word…well, a couple did stump me…but it felt like I was reading a college term paper instead of a novel. Thankfully, as I continued, their usage diminished and the telling of the story changed somewhat – appearing as if a new author had taken over.
The first two-thirds of this memoir covers the period of time between the authors’ graduation from college through part of his Vietnam tour. The author takes readers through the rigors of basic and AIT training, the flight overseas, and finally landing in Vietnam – he shares identical observations about the heat, smells and sights that all first-time soldiers make after landing in Vietnam. The author and his friend, Fred (completed training together) are both assigned to the 2/33rd Infantry Battalion, 25th Division as regular grunts, but in different companies.
Readers are right there with the author during his exhausting patrols, night ambushes, insects, firefights on and around the mountain, and a trip to Cambodia in May, 1970. He covers all the aspects of war: fear, death, guilt, sorrow, race, bravery, cowardice, savvy officers and NCO’s and those especially not suited to lead men into battle; every unit had them! As a Vietnam Veteran, I found many of George’s experiences in his memoir to mimic my tour – while reading, I could envision myself right there with him. Spot on, my brother! I do, however, want to mention that the author uses some words incorrectly. For instance, when setting up a perimeter in the field, he often describes a unit setting up in a circumference of some kind. At one point, a whole company forms up in a circumference of 75 yards. I feel the correct term should be “diameter” as circumference is the total length of the perimeter itself – a normal house would not fit into a circumference of 75 yards. There are others, but this one in particular twisted my gut every time I saw it.
When I arrived in country in August of 1970, I did hear about the murder of the Donut Dolly at Cu Chi Base camp and thought it was another one of those lifer tales like black syph, prostitutes with implanted razor blades in their vagina, et al to keep troops in line – your memoirs now confirm it really did happen and I also learned why. In my day, to get an R&R to Australia, soldiers had to extend their tours – nobody with under twelve months in country qualified. Feedback from those returning from Australia hyped it up so much over time that everybody wanted to go there during 1970/1971.
The last thirty percent of George’s memoirs address mental illness, citing examples from patients he worked with while stationed at the 935th Psychiatric Detachment. After all, the author’s college degree is in this field and qualified him to complete his Vietnam tour in this occupation after an opening is created.
The last few chapters of this memoir follow the author as he tries to acclimate himself back into civilian life. Once again, George hits the nail right on the head as his examples hit home with many of those survivors of war – even today from the middle east and Afghanistan! Mr. Reischling has researched PTSD and shows us why Vietnam Veterans, especially, are the way they are today. It’s a cause and effect description that I for one can fully relate with. Thank you for your story!
As a final note, I would have rated this memoir 5-stars, but poor formatting, typos and the improper use of punctuation throughout is worth two stars. I strongly encourage you to hire a professional editor to clean up you tome – and don’t wait too long. It will make a big difference and attract more readers / sales. Good luck!
By Jeffrey Miller
Damaged Goods is remarkable!, January 2, 2012
I found “Damaged Goods” by Jeffrey Miller overflowing with emotion – one story taking me up and the next one twisting me slightly before slamming me back down. Jeffrey does an excellent job in creating his scenes, characters and the emotion he wants to express for each short story. I agree with his statement in the introduction, the images and emotions do linger – long after the words end. “Damaged Goods” only has 66 pages and can be read easily in a single setting. After finishing this book, I had to look back at my own life for any similarities to these stories. Content that I wasn’t “Damaged Goods”, I gave a sigh of relief and turned off my Kindle. Highly recommended read!
by Keith Yocum
Daniel will not let you go!, September 12, 2010
Daniel, by Keith Yocum, is one of the most unique books that I’ve ever read about the Vietnam War. The story captivates you right from the start and keeps you guessing about this new visitor. For most of the book, I thought Daniel to be either a ghost or an Archangel with a mission to protect this outpost from being overrun by enemy soldiers. Yes, it is late in the war and many U.S. troops had already left the country, those remaining were simply in a defensive posture awaiting their turn – nobody wanted to be the last soldier killed in Vietnam.
The story is riveting and the reader can’t read fast enough to see what will happen next. I thoroughly enjoyed this story! Keith did a wonderful job at describing those last days on Firebase Martha; the boredom, dust, loneliness and fear. I especially enjoyed reading about the main character’s first encounter with the visitor in the middle of the night. The fear experienced in a situation like this can be paralyzing to the young soldier in the bunker. In the dark of night, the shadows played tricks on you; unnecessary firing at imagined enemy soldiers attacking was always frowned upon. However, Keith describes the fear and emotions perfectly – something real is out there…it is walking directly toward you…you are mystified by the appearance…afraid…this can’t be happening!
Daniel is a wonderful story…the last chapter left me breathless…rejoicing finally when it was all over. A great read and highly recommended!
by David McGowan
Fast & entertaining read
If you are looking for a Vietnam War book filled with battles and dialogue between the mates, then Delta Shotgun is not for you. If you are, instead, interested in learning about Birddog pilots and what they did…then get this book! David McGowan has written a story about his training and eventual assignment to Vietnam as an O-1 Birddog pilot – a lonely job – sitting alone in the cockpit while his plane soars through the sky while looking for enemy soldiers on the ground or suspicious boats on the many rivers and streams of the Delta. He is expected to memorize the landscape in his assigned area and know when something looks out of place or changed – someplace hiding the enemy or weapons caches..
Delta Shotgun is a story about the O-1 Birddog, how it was used, and what it was like for the pilot on a day-to-day basis. It’s told as a narrative and readers can picture the author sitting across the table from them – sharing a beer and telling his stories. These Birddog pilots were a special breed and could be counted on to direct fast movers (attack jets) and helicopter gunships and artillery fire to help ground units when in trouble; they’ve also been used to help locate/rescue downed pilots. The plane and pilot were both made famous in the movie, “Bat-21” where Danny Glover, Birddog pilot guided Gene Hackman through the jungle over the course of a few day, helping him evade enemy soldiers who are desperate in finding him and then eventually reaching safety.
I recommend this book for anyone wanting to know more about these brave pilots and what life was like for them during that political war. Great job David!