I felt really touched by the life story of Don Hall. It is one of those veteran memoirs that are also a great story about love, healing, faith, redemption, compassion, courage and friendship. This book has all those things that can make your heart break or warm up. It is a story of a young boy who endures many emotional and physical hardships in a lonely and cold hearted orphanage, long before he was on his way to Vietnam to face the NVA and VC.
Knowing Don and Annette as I do, made this story even better because I can tell that what was in the book was really all about love. That romance is still alive and well today. The book explores their relationship but it also explores the world that a young Don found himself in during the Vietnam War.
What Don faced in Nam and how he handles himself makes for a real action packed adventure sure to satisfy those readers who enjoy war genre books however, there is much more spiritual and emotional depth to the story line as you follow the unfolding of the man Don was to become.
I highly recommend this book to all readers. I believe that women may find this a book that they can take to their hearts. This is not a combat book but a book about one man's personal journey through his life in search of meaning and love.
Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)
I SERVED was written differently from most other Vietnam memoirs. Instead of being a chronological recitation of my experiences growing up in the orphanage and then going to Vietnam and serving with Co. F, 51st Long Range Patrol (Airborne) Infantry, I made its focus be the characters in the story. That is its greatest strength and what makes it such a good read. Because I focused so closely on character, you really get to care about the person Don Hall because you know what makes him tick, what is important to him, and what drives him. You are also engaged by the other people you meet in the story because they are so clearly drawn. You don't have to be a military buff to enjoy the book.
I SERVED is a factual story backed up by official U.S. Army records. Col. William C. Maus, the man who formed F/51st LRP, told me where to find that documentation. I also have copies of handouts we received when we went to Recondo School. Before he died, he told me how much he enjoyed reading the book. He praised me for having written such a great story about a unit he was proud to have commanded. He was a visionary who knew our unit was the vanguard for future U.S. Army military strategy and tactics. I remember his telling me at the time that F/51st LRP was making history. Being just a naïve 19-year-old staff sergeant, I didn't understand the significance of that statement. I do now.
We hope readers are so intrigued that they will order a copy of I SERVED when its available. The paperback version is a reprint of the original 1994 hardbound edition, with a revised preface and afterword, a new War Stories section (with stories from other men with whom I served), and new photographs.