Valor in Vietnam 1963-1977

Valor in Vietnam 1963-1977

Author
Allen B Clark
ARRSE Rating
3.5 Mushroom Heads
The author is a former regular US Army officer who served in Vietnam from 1966-67 until he was severely wounded, losing both legs below the knee. In this book he brings tales of 17 incidents, people who he shows as courageous. Some survived some did not, that is not the criterion for inclusion. Most of the people included though are officers and the book is littered with “West Point Class of xx” or “Annapolis Class of xx” so also very much of the regular officer. Not all though and, while personally I could have done without the Class of notes, the book itself does describe the qualities of honour, courage and in many cases, sacrifice.

The stories are, more or less, in chronological order, each one leading into the next with a link, sometimes a bit tenuous, but link nonetheless. The first few chapters give a very good introduction to why US forces started off in Vietnam and how much was done to keep this in the background initially so that WW3 did not break out. It then moves on to how the war became Americanised rather than being seen as a Vietnamese affair. This leads in to the first major action between US and Viet Minh troops in the Ia Drang Valley, the story of Lt Col Hal Moore’s 7th Cavalry action in the Ia Drang Valley and surrounding areas. This will be known more to readers as “We were young once….and soldiers”. A very food and very succinct record of the battle.

The stories continue through the period that US forces were active in Vietnam up to the Evacuation of Saigon 1975 and lastly “Left behind”, what happened to the country and more importantly the people after the war had ended and the North Vietnamese took over.

There must have been a temptation to go ‘Gung Ho’ with the tales of valour but the author has stayed well away from that and brought good, clear stories showing courage without the razzmatazz that so often accompanies these type of books. The author is proud of his own service, and that of the fellow servicemen and women who fought in Vietnam, as he should be. They were just following the directions of their political leaders. In the chapter titled “Coming Home” the author deals with how the war was being depicted back home and how this affected those in country. This is not a tale of courage in that it is told by one courageous man who was surprised to see the person he took over from on TV, back in the USA, decrying Vietnam calling the Americans as war criminals. This story is from the commander of a Fast Boat on the Mekong River who took over from a man called John Kerry. Kerry was the one trying to get into the Senate on the back of anti Vietnam sympathies, and failed. He returned a couple, of decades later, but this time picturing himself as a Vietnam hero – he became Senator but did not make it to the White House! This is the one area in which real criticism of a serviceman comes up – and quite rightly so.

This is not a book to be read cover to cover but it is very interesting and shows how the war went from year to year, told by the people who were there. If you enjoy Vietnam books then this is a must for your bookshelf, bugt even so is worth it just to read the stories of men who fought in their own words.

The author has done a very good job in bringing these stories together, getting the writing into a similar tone throughout, it can be difficult reading articles written by different people in different styles. I enjoyed the book, and it gave me much to think about, especially as the war started to wind down and the US Forces began to think of pulling out.

3.5 Mr MRHs for a good read.

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Auld-Yin
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