A Sailor’s experiences in the Vietnam War on a heavy Cruiser. Author Raymond Kopp shares the story of his combat experiences as a crew member of the USS Newport News during the Vietnam War. In his wonderfully written and sensitive book “Thunder in the Night – A Sailor’s Perspective on Vietnam” he tells us about the little known Naval operations in 1972 when the over-all war was supposed to be winding down.
I had to laugh at the truth of what Kopp points out in the Preface of the book about how most veterans and the public seem to discount the combat experiences of those who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Most non-Naval Vietnam veterans have assumed that sitting off the coast with clean sheets, hot showers and no VC sneaking up on you, meant that the duty was carefree and safe. It was never really thought of as being “combat duty”; how wrong most of us were about that. Reading his story about his ship’s war operations off the coast of North Vietnam, it also becomes evident that these battles took a toll on sailors both emotionally and physically as well.
Raymond writes in the third person and tells his story as if it were a novel. It makes for very entertaining reading as the author uses a full pallet of colorful expressions and wording to paint his story. His emotions are not hidden nor are his many flaws and fears; he gives the reader a full uncensored vision of what is going on within him.
This book is a very honest attempt by the author to examine his life at time of the war and why he is who he is today. Although he does not expound away at it, this story is all about redemption and reflection as a way to find self-healing within. Although Raymond was not physically injured that night when an explosion killed a couple of dozen of his shipmates and wounded many more—that night still haunts the soul of this man! He survived physically but he is still dealing with the emotional and spiritual wounds from the experience.
I have read many books from Navy veterans but most have been about SEALS and the “Brown Water Navy” operations or about fighter pilots—this is the first book out there that gives an insider view on what life was like for the sailors who were on heavy cruisers. It is an eye-opener and a real education for veterans like me. This book is about history and people and about dying for your country but it is also about fear and courage and guilt and friendship. Years from now people will realize that this book is an important link to a piece of our history.
A personal account of one sailor's experiences in the last days of America's most unpopular war