Seldom does a historical fiction book read so accurate and true that one senses it is not fiction but rather in this case a true memoir of combat. Bill Norris undoubtedly has put his personal experiences into this remarkable work. Only a Vietnam vet can convey such a strong and coherent message.
Centered on a young drafted soldier named Jared, we go from a raw recruit coming in country at Cam Rahn Bay being assigned to the 23rd Division more commonly called the Americal Division. In Jared’s one year tour of duty, we find a young man more attuned to the realities of Vietnam life in which he shows compassion beyond his young age.
First of all he recognizes the need for human relations in which he sees the futility of war and all the baggage it brings. His empathy for the local population brings him to the need to protect and defend a young Vietnamese boy who is without a family due to the war.
Along with Jared’s concern with the Vietnamese boy, we see a soldier dedicated to the service of his comrades and a concern to do the best job he can in order to survive the ordeals of combat Along the way in order to survive Jared learns the ropes of what it means to be an infantryman in the jungles of Vietnam.
With this knowledge Jared not only learns how to be a good infantryman in the process he learns leadership. It is with this leadership in which Jared comes full circle with his philosophy of life. He struggles with the war but in reality has a solid basis of his basic morality. His thesis is correct and he was a good soldier. However as a veteran of that war, the rest of the country did not appreciate the sacrifices of our military. So be it, as these veterans for the next three decades would be known as the forgotten soldiers.
Mr. Norris has conveyed the key message for our long forgotten Vietnam veterans. This book in an affirmation of what the Vietnam veteran is all about. Norris has conveyed my longstanding message of what it means to be a Vietnam veteran.
MWSA Reviewer: Geschke, Richard (2014)
Jared Christopher’s transition into adulthood was defined by youthful indecision. He followed his childhood friends to college. Then, halfway through first semester, he began to acknowledge the futility of the path he had chosen.
Jared decides to withdraw from college and volunteer for the draft. A year later, the young infantry soldier is thrown boots first into an escalating Vietnam War. The glory of going off to war turns out not to be so glorious after all.
It’s 1968, the year of the Tet. Jared finds himself in a place called Quang Ngai. Just a young private fresh out of training, Jared is suddenly in the heat of combat, following orders and taking lives. Meanwhile, he develops a compassion and need to understand the plight of the ordinary Vietnamese citizen. He seeks purpose where there seems to be none and quickly develops instincts that help him to survive while sustaining his most basic human principles. Not your typical war story, it carries you along and encourages you to see, feel and share the experiences of a young soldier's journey into both war and manhood.