Tiger Bravo's War by Rick St John

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MWSA Review
If you have never read a book about the Vietnam War, I recommend that you read this one. For that matter, if you’ve read fifty books about Vietnam, I still suggest that you read Tiger Bravo's War by Rick St John. Engagingly written, Tiger Bravo's War draws you into the maelstrom of war, one step at a time. It provides context and understanding of a divisive time in our nation’s history. It honors the men who lived and loved; laughed and cried; sacrificed and bled or died.

Civilians like me who have never experienced military life will be led through one company’s train-up to deployment, in-country training, year-long deployment, and homecoming without feeling disenfranchised by their lack of knowledge of military terms, acronyms, and special jargon. (Veterans will likely find enjoyment in the way that St John is able to define the experiences and vocabulary without condescending or over-explaining.) 

Tiger Bravo is nonfiction military history covering a year in the lives of the soldiers of B Company, 2/506 of the 101st Airborne Division. It recounts the life and death struggles, the battles, the strategies, the humor, the horror, the victories, the defeats, the gains, and the losses during the company’s 1968 combat tour in Vietnam. St John allows us to see and feel what is going on through his superb writing, meticulously researched details, and seamlessly transitioned first-hand accounts of soldiers who were there. The numerous maps of battle plans allow us to understand how it went down from a bird’s-eye view. And the photos help us to realize that these were real people, not statistics—fellow citizens who were part of the Tiger Bravo company that year. 

This is not an easy book to read. But it’s important. There were several times I had to put the book down, just to take some time off to absorb the difficulty and the horror of what our fighting men endured. And there were a couple times I just wanted it to end; the book seemed too long. However, I felt compelled to continue reading in honor of those who actually lived through the experience. If they could persevere and endure for a full year, I reasoned that I could continue reading for a few hours. No doubt they would have liked the luxury of time off to absorb the difficulty and horror. And no doubt they just wanted it to end. But they soldiered on. I could do no less.

MWSA Reviewer: Betsy Beard (March 2018)

Author's Synopsis

Tiger Bravo’s War is an extensively researched, nonfiction account of a company of young paratroopers (B Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 506th Infantry), from the very same battalion in the 101st Airborne Division as portrayed in Stephen Ambrose’s World War II best-seller Band of Brothers, during their first year of combat in the Vietnam War - - - from a bayonet charge in a legendary VC stronghold and street fighting during the Tet Offensive of 1968, to a rescue mission to save a surrounded platoon and rock and roll in the company mess hall, and much more. Thirty of its soldiers would be killed in action, and collectively it would amass 150 Purple Hearts. 

It is also a soldier’s tale of the young men of Tiger Bravo - - - the son of a World War II Japanese fighter pilot, who wins a Silver Star fighting as an American infantryman; the tough kid from rural Texas, who leaves a job cleaning astronaut offices in Houston to volunteer to be a paratrooper; the medic, abandoned by his mother, who would find in Tiger Bravo the family he never had, and over a dozen more with their own unique stories. 

“If anyone wants to feel the fast-paced tempo and dangers of combat, read Tiger Bravo’s War. The vivid descriptions of the soldier’s daily struggle for survival and love for each other . . . is a must read for anyone who wants to understand combat at its most fundamental level.” Lieutenant General David E Grange Jr (US Army, retired).

ISBN/ASIN: ISBN 13:9780998854205, ISBN 13:9780998854229 (ASIN:B075LZ3L83), ISBN 13:9780998854236
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Nonfiction, History, Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 331