Shadows of Combat, Poetry about the Vietnam Era, by Richard C. Geschke & Robert A. Toto

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MWSA Review

Richard Geschke graduated Kent State University with a degree in Comprehensive Social Studies and a ROTC commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry. Robert Toto graduated Northeastern University and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry. They reported for active duty after graduation and met at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia in November 1969. Shadows of Combat are stories from their time in the U.S. Army, first in Germany and then in Vietnam, and finally back to the “World” and release from active duty in 1972.

The book is a series of poems written by the authors, some during the time period covered, and some stories that floated out of forgotten or long buried memories as late as 2013.

The reader sees the beginning of the end of the Cold War, and Vietnam War through the eyes of the two young Infantry officers thrown into the maelstrom of the Cold War and then the winding down of the hot war in Vietnam. The reader will get a small taste of the sacrifice and hardships our young men and women faced in the 1970’s, and the effect on their morale. Facing the hostility, rejection and indifference the public demonstrated toward veterans returning from Vietnam.

Vietnam is a stain on American honor, not a stain on the brave men and women that were sent to do an undefined job. The stain is on our politicians and the public, especially the anti-war protesters that are now sending more young men and women into places like Iraq and Afghanistan with a once again undefined mission.

Reviewed by: Lee Boyland (2014)

Author's Synopsis

Authors Robert Toto and Richard Geschke have expanded their horizons of their original book In Our Duffel Bags, Surviving the Vietnam Era with a poetic interpretation of life in the army. Tracking their adventures in Germany, Panama and Vietnam the authors wax the poetic version of what they found in their duffel bags looking deeper into the fast changing times of the Vietnam era. With Shadows of Combat the reader will sense the history of what took place in this crucial time in American history.