While there are many book from Vietnam veterans about their time in ‘Nam on bookstore shelves today, there are too-few good ones. “Fire Mission” is one of the few good ones.
Author Earl Gorman was a Marine officer fighting in Vietnam in 1965-1966. An artilleryman, his was a slightly different view of the war; at times he was stationed out in the field with an infantry unit as a forward observer where he lived and worked with a ‘grunt’ unit, and then later was based back on the gun line responsible for a battery of 105mm howitzers.
Gorman is an excellent writer with a grasp of detail. “Fire Mission” (an artillery term) lets the reader begin to understand the mindset of a Marine officer trying to maintain his moral balance in the midst of a brutal war. He comments on his disgust in seeing VC bodies being displayed for American civilian and military visitors from Saigon, yet keeps his humanity as he meets and builds a relationship with a Vietnamese mother and daughter. Above all, he looks after his Marines.
Commenting on the politics, Rules of Engagement, his superiors, and his times in combat, former 1st Lt Gorman blends the sarcasm and accuracy of a young Marine with the poignant observations and recollections of an older citizen soldier; one who has done his duty to his country yet hopes that others may not have to follow in his footsteps. Well done, Sir!
MWSA Reviewer: Andrew Lubin
Award Winning Memoir of a Marine's life-changing 2007 adventure back to Vietnam with a medical mission team that weaves in his 1965-66 combat experiences as an artillery officer,"who spent too much time with the grunts." Against all odds, the author searched for his two Vietnamese friends with whom he had emotionally connected during the war. The spirit of reconciliation within the humanitarian group along with the success of finding his friends provided the healing necessary to overcome the trama of his war time experiences. Closure for combat veterans is the powerful message conveyed by the story. A deadly Viet Cong Sapper team attack on his artillery battery as well as episodes from Operation Hastings, the first large scale battle along the DMZ, are featured combat stories. Tours of Hue, the Gulf of Tonkin, and the "Hanoi Hilton" prison round out the Annapolis graduate's memoir.