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Enemy Within by Gregory A. Helle

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MWSA Review

Review Missing

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
Why would you want to read this book? There are several reasons. First of all, it is my hope that victims of all types of traumas, whether war-related or not, can find some comfort in these pages. If you are a victim of PTSD, you need to know that there is hope for a better quality of life. That is one of the core messages in this book. There is no cure for PTSD, but through medications and counseling, it is possible to exercise more control over the illness. But you must take the first step and be your own best advocate. You will hear me say this more than once. If you do not advocate for your own needs, it is unlikely that you will achieve your goals. I hope that some of the information in these pages will guide PTSD victims to seek the help they need. I feel this book also has much to offer those who don't suffer from PTSD. It is the story of how a normal eighteen-year-old farm boy from a small town in Iowa went to war and, over thirty years later - at the age of fifty-two - became totally disabled with PTSD. It is my hope that this will help the public understand not only Vietnam vets, but also vets from all wars, as well as victims of other traumas such as I mentioned above. There are so many fears that hold PTSD victims back from seeking help or even admitting to themselves that they need help. Even though all those around them can see the changes in the victim, it is hard for the victim to admit a problem. They see themselves as having some kind of mental illness. Victims are often paranoid and worry about what others are thinking or saying about them, even those people who have no inkling that there is a problem. Sometimes, it can seem to the victim that everyone knows there is something wrong, and that everyone is talking about him or her. The public must become aware of the disease and offer compassion rather than rebuke. Vietnam vets in particular have been a source of fear in the general public. The media has exacerbated this situation by its frequent portrayal of the vet as an imbalanced, rage-filled time bomb, just waiting for the circumstances that will set him off. Perhaps this has made for some "entertaining" movies, but it has also kept many veterans from seeking the help they needed, lest they find themselves branded with this ugliest of clichés. Even if the victim knows there is a problem, it is so difficult to ask for help, especially from a government that loaths to acknowledge the existence - much less, the debilitating nature - of this disorder. It should come as no surprise, then, that many victims do not want anyone to know about their "weakness." Very simply, it is time to end the silence and the shame. I realize that parts of this book will be difficult for the public to read. Reading a true account is not at all the same as watching violence on TV or at the movies. In these situations, the dead are not really dead and the cast is not really experiencing the events being portrayed. It is much more difficult when the dead stay dead, bodies are permanently mutilated, and the effects of the war will stay forever with those who experienced them. . The violence presented in modern entertainment should be taken as it is intended (though sometimes the level of violence in our "entertainment" is disturbing). True violence should be taken very seriously because it can happen to any one of us - at war or at home. Where a particularly violent movie can leave one unsettled for a day or so, actually living through a violent situation can produce a nightmare that lasts a lifetime. I do not intend for this book to be political, nor do I want it to be an attack on the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). However, I do believe that the policies enacted by the government have played a significant part in weaving the intricate web of my life. Nor do I intend this to be a self-help book.

 

Ghost of the Nam by Charlie Fortner

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MWSA Review

Great new age style prose - you could feel the emotional and spiritual energy in those pages. There are also some wonderful art work on each page that corresponds with the prose. This book rages out and gives you an emotional ride from a Vietnam veteran's own personal experiences in Nam. A must read! I enjoyed the book and highly recomend it to others. It would make a nice gift.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
Pictures and stories from the Nam.

 

Voices of Vietnam by Charlene Edwards

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MWSA Review

Charlene Edwards has put together a wonderfully deverse and mosaic puzzle that refects the human side of the Vietnam War. She has captured the spiritual and emotional energies of those she interviewed and photographed in her book. The book not only has wonderful photos but the text bleeds with heart felt stories.

Her 10 year quest to share the feelings and images of those personal experiences was a gift to the rest of us. I found myself moved to tears at times, by the images and stories she has introduced us to in her book. I am richer for having had the experience of reading this book.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
Through powerful personal narratives and photographs, this examination of the lives touched by the Vietnam War draws from the experience of those people, both American and Vietnamese, affected by the war on the battlefront and at home. Stories recounted include those of the soldiers, nurses, refugees, American Asian survivors, and of those who fearfully awaited the return of friends and family members. Ultimately, the stories reflect moments of history in the hope and despair that define individuals' lives.

 

America Won The War by Robert R. Owens

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MWSA Review

Never has anyone written such a scholarly and non-biased book about the Vietnam War. Dr. Robert Owens has done a ton of research and has his facts and data all lined up to prove that "America Won the Vietnam War!" 

His book goes into great detail about how the media and politicians created their own history and ignored some of the basic truths about the actual war on the battlefields of Vietnam. This book is amazing and should be part of every college and high school class that studies that period of our history. 

All Vietnam veterans need to read this book so that they understand that they really did win the war; and that they were very effective in battles. As the author says on the back of his book: 

To you, the unappreciated veterans of Vietnam, I say: "you may not have received a parade when you came home. The media may continue to malign your name. However, beginning here, it is my hope that you will see the record of your courageous achievements corrected and the history of your selfless service acknowledged. In my book I reveal the best kept secret of the twentieth century: `America Won the Vietnam War!' 

Best history book on the Vietnam War! A MUST READ BOOK! 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
This examination of the Vietnam War is not a detailed account of the battlefield struggle. Instead, it looks at the goals and objectives as stated in the rhetoric of America's leadership. The criteria used for judgement are the public records of the achievements or failures of those goals and objectives. This work is not only necessary for historical accuracy, but it is also imperative in the cause of justice for the brave men and women who fought and won the war. To you, the unappreciated veterans of Vietnam, I say: "You may not have received a parade when you came home. The media may continue to malign your name. However, beginning here, it is my hope that you will see the record of your courageous achievements corrected and the history of your selfless service acknowledged. In this book I reveal the best-kept secret of the twentieth century: 'America Won the Vietnam War!' or 'How the Left Snatched Defeat from the Jaws of Victory.'" 

 

A Saigon Party and Other Vietnam War Short Stories by Diane J. Dell

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MWSA Review

This was a whole lot different than any other book I have read about The Vietnam War experience. This is a view that most of us veterans never got to see while we were in in-country. I found it to be funny, sad, and at times making me angry. Certainly, the author knows how to pull at all the emotional strings when telling her stories. This is a great read for anyone.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
After her brother Kenny was killed in the Mekong Delta, Diana Dell went to Vietnam with USO. Her short stories are not about battles, blood, gore, or angst. They are about participants of the war other than grunts: war profiteers, disc jockeys, rock stars, landladies, pedicab drivers, movie stars, pickpockets, beggars, journalists, celebrity tourists, and other REMFs. Irreverent, outrageous, cynical, satirical, intelligent, and insightful are a few of the words used to describe A Saigon Party (And Other Vietnam War Short Stories).

 

Angels in Vietnam by Jan Hornung

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MWSA Review

Jan Hornung’s wonderfully crafted anthology weaves the experiences of women who had served in Vietnam through personal stories and poetry.  It includes stories and poetry by several noted authors both men and women.  The common thread throughout this book is that each had a unique and personalized story—no stories are the same.

When all these experiences and emotions are shared together in a volume such as this book—it gives them a special spiritual life.  Even though the experiences are all different there are some common threads that are the glue of this book; we are all one human race and we each are touched in ways both emotional and spiritual by war.  I felt the pains and the fears and joys of those who wrote their hearts out to share a part of their own experiences.

The book covers the experiences of nurses, entertainers, Red Cross Donut Dollies and other women and even some of the men who were touched by that experience.  I highly recommend this book to read to give you an a better idea of “angels” these women really were.

Angels in Vietnam is an award winning book and was on the top 200 best selling list back a couple of years ago.  It is till widely read and available through online book stores and at the author’s wonderful website.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
Cry, laugh, and share womens Vietnam war experiences in their own words in this collection of stories, poems, and pictures of the Women Who Served. Over 11,000 women from America, New Zealand, and Australia went to Vietnam as nurses, American Red Cross workers, physical therapists, entertainers, librarians, and more. Ride along in a helicopter on a Christmas Day mission of the heart with Army pilots and American Red Cross Donut Dollies, in Vietnam, 1969. Meet Garys angel, a physical therapist who a wounded soldier found over three decades later to tell her, thank you. Take a trip back to the war with a woman when she finds her true love, a soldier fighting in Nam. Experience the war through a nurses eyes. Learn where the veterans are today. Read about the Australians and New Zealanders who served in Vietnam. Find out why male Vietnam veterans think the women who nursed, comforted, entertained, or just talked with them were Angels in Vietnam.Forward by David Hackworth, author of About Face and Steel My Soldiers Hearts.Jan Hornung is the author of This Is The Truth As Far As I Know, I Could Be Wrong and KISS the Sky: Helicopter Tales. www.geocities.com/vietnamfront

 

What Am I Doing Here? by Jim Kesey

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MWSA Review

Not every book about Vietnam deals with that war like the author Jim Kesey has. He treats us to a wonderful and amusing storyline in his first novel, "What Am I Doing Here?" Jim is truly a gifted wordsmith. He uses his words to paint for us an interesting and at times, a very humorous tale about a not so funny place in time of our history. The book may remind some readers of other novels that have successfully pulled off this type of genre like, Catch-22 and M.A.S.H. 

The book makes for a great weekend read. It is one of those, action adventure, books that do not take the subject too seriously. It delivers lots of action but it also allows you to get to know each character in the story. The reader will feel connected with each of them. I fully recommend this book even for non-veterans to read. 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis

"What Am I Doing Here?" is a story that takes an otherwise terrifying event in American History that is familiar to all Veterans and brings it into a realm of understanding for the families of those who were there. Kesey weaves a suble but perfectly orchestrated humor through an environment of chaos.

Vietnam in early 1965 was just a place on a map. On a foggy morning of March 8th our reluctant hero, Marine Lt. Dusty Kohl, was shocked to find himself standing on a sandy beach north of Danang, Vietnam with a lei around his neck.

You are given a rare look into what it was like to spend a tour in Vietnam. You will follow Lt. Kohl's comedy of errors that brought him to that beach in Danang. You will see both the humor and the grim horror of war. This novel is not just a war story but a uniquely written insight into the life of a young Marine who finds himself in a situation where he has no control. As each day passes, time tests fate. Is Kohl going to make it home to his young wife and family? Does God have a plan or is it just dumb luck who lives and who dies? Or is there something else in store for Kohl? Survival means more than just staying alive.

 

Permission To Kill by Brian Wizard

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MWSA Review

Brian Wizard is one of a kind.  He is an artist, a poet, a novelist, a song writer, singer, an award winning film maker, and most of all — a Vietnam Veteran.  If you want to discover what makes him tick and why he feels about things then a good place to start is with his first novel about his war—The Vietnam War.  He thinly clothes his novel, “Permission to Kill,” with his own experiences and memories.  The Huey that he flew on is like the one in his story.  The people he has in this tale are analogous to the many that he has known in his life and in combat.  The realism of this novel is uncanny and will resonate with those veterans who actually were on flight crews in Nam.

 

His book which is the first of his trilogy featuring his lead character Willie Maykett who goes from civilian to a helicopter door gunner; it is not only a physical journey but one of the spirit as he deals with the emotions of war and friendship and loyalties.  This book will grab you like no other Vietnam story has.  The author uses good descriptive phrasing to paint a mental image of what is going on.  You will feel as if you are flying with Willie and feel your own heart pounding a little louder as the action gets heavy.

This book will also educate you about the real world of those small aviation units that did the bulk of fighting in the war.  What the author talks about is very close to the real thing and in some cases is a retelling of actual facts covered up as a work of fiction.

Reading this book should logically lead to discovery of the other two books in his series.  The whole series of books was nominated for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize and the second book in this series was nominated for a Noble Prize.  I cannot make any stronger case for reading a classic war book than that!

The Will He Make It Saga (trilogy) (contender 1998 Pulitzer prize)

Permission to Kill, 1985

Permission to Live, 1992 (Nobel Prize for lit. nominee 2000)

Back in the World, 1995

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
Permission to Kill, 4th Edition, is a fictionalized account of the author’s combat experience in Viet Nam, and stories told to him by other aviators, all combined to depict a fast moving, high-flying, front line defining life as a aerial combat soldier.

 

River of Memories - An Appalachian Boyhood by David Lee Thompson

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MWSA Review

There once was actually a time and a place that the author David Thompson talks about; but I used to think that it was only in our collective dreams from the old movies of the 1950's. He captures a part of Americana that is forever lost and is no more. He takes us through his early life leading up to his tour in Vietnam much like a river flowing through our heart. It is a well written account of not just what it was like but how it felt to be a young boy of the "Baby Boom Generation" in West Virginia. 

This book is not about war or its aftermath but about the human spirit and the values that make us and define who we are. This is a treasure of unique experiences and feelings. It is a pleasure and a joy to read. 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
David Lee Thompson has produced a caring and introspective personal account of the vanishing Appalachian culture. This way of life existed for over twelve generations, teaching its people the importance of family, community, and religion. Thompson's old home place, 'now empty and lonely,' holds 'faint whispers of what was once alive with laughter and reminiscences.' His boyhood memories of life on Bowen Creek represent the last vestiges of a time and place now nearly extinct.-Dr. Alan B. Gould, Executive Director The John Deaver Drinko Academy Marshall University"From the first pioneers who struggled west to make a home among our hills and hollows, our families have been our culture's backbone. The portrait of Appalachian life David Thompson paints is one familiar to generations of southern West Virginians. It is a history that should be saved and valued."-U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (WV)"As readers journey along in David Thompson's River of Memories, they uncover truths about themselves and gain a better understanding about life in Appalachia. This is especially true for those of us who have strong ties with its people, helping us appreciate our heritage even more."-Shawn W. Coffman, M.D. Huntington Internal Medicine Group.

 

Love and Duty by Ben and Ann Purcell

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MWSA Review

Ben and Anne have written a very moving account of their experiece - one that left me inspired and with wet eyes. It shows how faith and love can help us to endure whatever evils we are tested with in life. I have had the honor to meet them both in person this year while working with the documentary "In The Sahdow of The Blade". I was on our huey helicopter when Ben took his first ever ride on any helicopter, since being shot down in South Vietnam and taken prisoner by the VC and NVA. He is a man of great faith and love - and of course, courage! Anne is a lady of great courage herself and the love that they both show in person and in this book for each other, is inspiring. This book is one of the best I have ever read on POWs, love or on courage. I highly recommend it to all - and not just those who wish to read about the war. This book captures so much more of the spiritual side of life that it will be a great value to anyone who reads it.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
A POW and his wife recall the desperation and courage that marked his five-year captivity in North Vietnam, revealing how both husband and wife were able to remain hopeful despite a seemingly hopeless situation.

 

Dustoff by Steve Vermillion

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MWSA Review

Author and former Dustoff helicopter pilot, Steve Vermillion, writes from his personal experience the real history of the men who crewed on those unarmed helicopters that made an art out of medical evacuations in combat. "Dustoff" which was the official radio call sign originated in Vietnam for those Army helicopters that picked up the wounded in the combat zone. Most often they came under fire and without guns - could not return any fire. There mission was clear--go in and get the wounded and be damned about everything else. When you read their stories you can see why there are several Dustoff pilots who have been awarded the Medal of Honor. If the truth be known, there could have been dozens more who certainly earned that honor and were never recognized. 

Villmillion tells his story, and that of his unit, with lots of background history on how the unit formed and a lot of insider information. This whole book is a remarkable tale of heroes, death, fellowship and courage. 

I flew in Nam as a crew-chief door-gunner on a Huey - and we had a pair of M-60 machine guns blasting away from the ship as we landed in those hot LZs. The Dustoff crews had a rotary wing and a prayer! Nothing but God and luck prevented most all of them from being killed or wounded. My hat has always been off to them--they are all my heroes! 

The author himself is a decorated pilot with a Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and a load of other awards. This book is all about those fearless men that flew in that elite company of aviators. I cannot more strongly encourage you to read this history and discover how real men in the worse of times showed so much class and courage. The book is well written and researched and is suitable for mature readers. 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
Dustoff is a compliation of stories regarding my experiences flying a US Army unarmed medical evacuation helicopter in Vietnam during 1969. This book has a touch of history on the development of helicopter aeromedical evacuation system but primarily focuses on my experiences as a pilot as well as how we interacted as a crew. One of the stories is nearly a duplicate of one of the night non-secure hoist missions that we recorded using a cassette tape recorder connected into our avionics harness.

 

A Walk In Hell by Gregory A. Helle

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MWSA Review

Greg A. Helle takes us on a journey through an emotional and spiritual hell with his frank and gripping prose from his first book, “A Walk In Hell – The Other Side of War.”  This PTSD veteran of the Vietnam War deals with an issue that he could not even talk about for over 25 years to anyone — rape.  He was the victim of a physical rape but it also ripped his soul in the process.  Being raped by another soldier is a subject that no one ever wanted to hear about — it just brings up too much emotional baggage for others to deal with.  Without any emotional release or counseling, Greg tried to return to that life he had on the farm before he went Nam but he was damaged goods.  His life became a living hell within him.  He cried out for help and there was no one listening.

His prose deals with issues of PTSD that many men and women can relate to.  He is not afraid to open his heart up and expose his feelings.  It is an act of total courage as he makes himself vulnerable to being hurt by society again.  It is his faith and hope that there is something better in the future that pushes him onward.  He has formed a non-profit organization that helps other suicidal veterans and counsels others like himself who have PTSD problems.  To me, he shows so much class as he has turned a life crushing event into a platform for helping and assisting others. Buying his book will help him continue funding his organization and helping more people.  So buying his book and getting an enlightening reading adventure will also allow you to help fuel this rescue mission for others. (All proceeds benefit The PTSD Alliance)

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
A powerful, emotion packed trip through the mind of a Vietnam Vet disabled with PTSD. As with too many other young boys, he was sent to an unpopular war and experienced many traumas. Even though more than thirty years have passed, the realities of the war remain. Even with the best counseling and medications, the war is only kept at bay. There is no cure. At best there is only coping. The war will never be far away. It invades his days and nights. His poetic journal is sometimes dark. It is the reality of his war.

 

The Last Hookers by Carle E. Dunn

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MWSA Review

LTC Carle Dunn has written the most comprehensive book on what the whole Vietnam War was really about. His book is a study in history with the causes and effects of policy and conflicts. "The Last Hookers" is very scholarly written but reads like a novel. I learned things about our history that I never knew happened--like how we almost got ourselves into a nuclear war over Vietnam when the French were losing the battle for Dien Bien Phu. His book gives inside information on the CIA operations that took place in Asia and we get an inside look at how policy and war are what shapes future wars and battles. 

If you only could get your hands on one book about the history of the Vietnam War, this would be a good book to start with. You certainly get your money worth of information in 658 pages. The author shows his skills at putting together facts and data and connecting the dots to see the results on how it all fueled the fire for the decade's long problems in Asia. 

This book is a history classic already; make sure that you get to read it. 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis

The Vietnam War catalyzed an entire generation of Americans, dividing them along pro-war and anti-war lines. Aviator turned author Lieutenant Colonel Carle E. Dunn spent three years researching recently declassified documents to provide details of how the United States became embroiled in Southeast Asia. He presents a candid look at United State’s leadership in his new book The Last Hookers (now available from 1stBooks Library)

Using fictional characters, Dunn, now retired, traces the roles of France, Great Britain, North Vietnam, and the United States in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, North and South Vietnam from 1938 to 1972. He details actual events such as Operation Vulture, President Truman’s plan to use atomic weapons against the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) at Dien Bien Phu. This plan called for the subsequent use of atomic weapons against Communist China and the USSR. President Eisenhower gave the plan serious consideration.

Colonel Dunn weaves a story of lies, deceit, espionage and romance based on historical events. Exciting, entertaining, and emotionally wrought, The Last Hookers is the most profound look into U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia since the war’s end.

From humble beginnings to honored war veteran, Colonel Dunn has spent most of his life in the military. Enlisting in the South Carolina National Guard, while working his way through college, he later served in the Army Reserve. Commissioned a second lieutenant, Dunn attended Field Artillery Officers Basic Course at Fort Still, Oklahoma. Upon graduation, the Army canceled Dunn’s orders to Korea. He stayed at Fort Still to teach gunnery, and was the first Second Lieutenant ever to teach that course. Next, he completed helicopter flight school and went on to serve during the Vietnam conflict. Highly decorated and widely published, Dunn now resides in South Carolina. The Last Hookers is his first full-length novel.

 

Never Trust A Man In Curlers by Tony Lazzarini

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MWSA Review

Review missing

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
Author Tony Lazzarini takes your emotions on a roller coaster ride with his short stories and anecdotes. Readers will laugh out loud about a crazy million-dollar idea and shudder at a chilling rescue mission from the jungles of Vietnam. Find out about Albert Einstein's favorite bar or what people from another planet are really like. Sixteen short stories of various lengths make it a great gift or carry around book. Perfect for airports, waiting rooms, bathrooms, night stands or living room tables.

 

Red Bird Down by Bruce E. Carlson

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MWSA Review

Author Bruce Carlson has written a real action packed novel about the air cavalry and aero-scouts in Vietnam. It will take you across the skies and the mountains and the rivers of Nam as you are transported back to the Vietnam helicopter wars of late 60's. It brings you all those colorful aviation characters that feel and sound like real people. In fact, the entire book's story line is based loosely on Bruce's old outfit and his own tour of duty. So it has that realistic sense of place and time that only a pilot could have written. 

In the story, you see this idealistic young officer who has visions of changing the world and helping the South Vietnamese people get a democratic government arrive in-country. In short order, his real education begins to reshape his outlook on the war and the country he is sent to help. In time, he becomes a hardened veteran whose goal is get everyone back safely and alive if possible. 

The reader will find that this story is well told and full of action. Bruce who is now an ordained minister has crafted a masterpiece of literature for military genre books. Well worth picking up and reading. 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
Almost ten years in the writing, "RED BIRD DOWN" is a deeply moving Psychological/Emotional study of a young man's coming of age in Vietnam as an Aero-Scout helicopter pilot. These young pilots took the highest casualities of all the the helicopter pilots in Vietnam. Further, Army Warrant Officer Pilots took the highest casuality rates of all ranks in Vietnam. Yet, to the bitter end, even in LS 719 in support of Vietnames only, they lived by their credo -- "Leave no one behind."

The "hero" of "Red Bird Down" is typical of so many of these teenages and men in the early twenties. He struggles with the tumult of an unpopular war, his mission, the deaths of friends, and his growing love and respect for the young men with whom he serves. Eventually, he discovers a bond, formed in the fire and cold steel of combat. It ia a bond which cannot be broken.

This is not simply an action adventure book! The world has enough "Rambo" type works. While Kev, the hero, has plenty of action, adventure and misadventures, the reader will also laugh, cry, and learn to love the kids of Vietnam for who they were and all they accomplished.

Using incidents from my own time in Vietnam, I have woven them into a Novelized form. Through a running dialogue with a "fictional" home-town minister and a fictional relationship to my own alter-ego, I have looked at many of the political, theological, and emotional issues of Vietnam and the tumult of the late 60's.

My "hero" is a very human boy/man who occasionally soars to great heights and then quickly balances this soaring with "bone-head" mistakes. Through it all he "grows up," takes responsibility for himself, and learns to deal with life and death well beyond his years.

For those who want a serious read about the young men of the "Great Helicopter War," this is the book. In 490 pages, the reader will feel the emotional depth of one young man, who was so typical of so many. Be prepared to occasionally put the book down to ponder the depth of these young men and the heights to which they soared. In the end, you will understand their dedication, commitment to each other, and why they said, "Leave no one behind."

Grief Denied by Pauline Laurent

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MWSA Review

I was so touched by the reading of this book, that I cried like a baby for the first time since I returned back from Vietnam. I was there myself and knew many men, such as Pauline's husband. I just never realized how much grief and stress that those left behind had suffered. Pauline is an example of someone who has had to learn how to cope and deal with the death of her husband, without any road maps. She lead with her heart and let her emotions take her to places she had never visited before. She allows us to take that journey of her spirit, though the pages of this wonderfully, well written, book of her emotional expereinces. I could not put this book down once I began - not until I reached and read the final word on the last page. I highly recommend buying and reading of this book. It will move you in ways you thought possible.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
 

Grief Denied is about healing: it is about coming to terms with the intimate pain and emotional violence that was unleashed by the Vietnam War. It is also a bittersweet love story in which a young girl meets a soldier-boy, a young bride loses her soldier-husband and how, on the 30th anniversary of their marriage, the mature woman is finally able to say good-bye to the man she will always love. Laurent tells her story with clarity and candor and a great deal of caring. There are vivid descriptions of her husband, Howard, who died in combat in Vietnam on May 10, 1968, when she was 22 years old and in the last phase of her first pregnancy. There are also sharp, tender portraits of her daughter Michelle, her parents, her friends and her lovers. The author doesn't seem to have held back anything or to have denied readers a full and complete view of her personality, including her dark side. So there are emotionally wrenching accounts of her depression, her suicidal feelings, her "insanity," as she calls it, as well as her therapy and recovery and rediscovery of prayer and faith. Grief Denied offers deeply moving passages from Howard's letters to Pauline shortly before his death. Laurent describes how Vietnam got to her, though she was thousands of miles away from the heat, the dirt and the mortars. If somehow or other you never did appreciate how Vietnam got to the heart of America, then this book ought to be at the top of your list of books to read. And if you are thinking of writing a memoir to express your seemingly inexpressible pain, then this book is also for you. "In writing I finally found a container which could hold my grief," Laruent writes. "the blank page wanted to hear it all--every last detail." -- The Press Democrat, August 29, 1999 by Jonah Raskin, Chairman of the Communication Studies Department at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA.

I Served by Don C. Hall and Annette R. Hall

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MWSA Review

I felt really touched by the life story of Don Hall. It is one of those veteran memoirs that are also a great story about love, healing, faith, redemption, compassion, courage and friendship. This book has all those things that can make your heart break or warm up. It is a story of a young boy who endures many emotional and physical hardships in a lonely and cold hearted orphanage, long before he was on his way to Vietnam to face the NVA and VC. 

Knowing Don and Annette as I do, made this story even better because I can tell that what was in the book was really all about love. That romance is still alive and well today. The book explores their relationship but it also explores the world that a young Don found himself in during the Vietnam War. 

What Don faced in Nam and how he handles himself makes for a real action packed adventure sure to satisfy those readers who enjoy war genre books however, there is much more spiritual and emotional depth to the story line as you follow the unfolding of the man Don was to become. 

I highly recommend this book to all readers. I believe that women may find this a book that they can take to their hearts. This is not a combat book but a book about one man's personal journey through his life in search of meaning and love. 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
 

I SERVED was written differently from most other Vietnam memoirs. Instead of being a chronological recitation of my experiences growing up in the orphanage and then going to Vietnam and serving with Co. F, 51st Long Range Patrol (Airborne) Infantry, I made its focus be the characters in the story. That is its greatest strength and what makes it such a good read. Because I focused so closely on character, you really get to care about the person Don Hall because you know what makes him tick, what is important to him, and what drives him. You are also engaged by the other people you meet in the story because they are so clearly drawn. You don't have to be a military buff to enjoy the book.

I SERVED is a factual story backed up by official U.S. Army records. Col. William C. Maus, the man who formed F/51st LRP, told me where to find that documentation. I also have copies of handouts we received when we went to Recondo School. Before he died, he told me how much he enjoyed reading the book. He praised me for having written such a great story about a unit he was proud to have commanded. He was a visionary who knew our unit was the vanguard for future U.S. Army military strategy and tactics. I remember his telling me at the time that F/51st LRP was making history. Being just a naïve 19-year-old staff sergeant, I didn't understand the significance of that statement. I do now.

We hope readers are so intrigued that they will order a copy of I SERVED when its available. The paperback version is a reprint of the original 1994 hardbound edition, with a revised preface and afterword, a new War Stories section (with stories from other men with whom I served), and new photographs.

Outlaws in Vietnam by David L. Eastman

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Author David Eastman treats the reader to an insider view of one of the best aviation units in the Delta during the Vietnam War. This was a totally different kind of war and his historic look back at the 175th Aviation Company from 1966 through 1967 is a real snap shot of that special kind of helicopter warfare. His book, "Outlaws in Vietnam," is a masterpiece of writing. It loses nothing in the details and the historic reconstruction of memories. The author takes us along on the missions and we get to meet some of the men in the unit. 

The action is a real accounting of what it was like. This book will take you on a flight of adventure safely from your sofa but emotionally you will be with this group of men all the way from the beginning to the end. You will get your money's worth of this unit's story along with some black and white photos. 

David does a great job writing this historic memoir. The MWSA gives it highest rating to this book. 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
 

Ride a Huey with the Outlaws of the 175th Aviation Company (AML) in the Mekong Delta and experience a first-hand, first Lieutenant's account, of a tour in Vietnam from 1966-1967. Eastman's lively prose reveals an exciting untold story of camaraderie, competence and fellowship. The aviation units were the sole combat element of the U.S. Army that kept their discipline and spirit.

The Cave by Sam McGowan

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This is one of those adventure stories that you can picture yourself in as you read the book.  Sam McGowan delivers a riveting tale in his novel, “The Cave.”  This is not your normal atypical Vietnam War novel—this is a real adventure story.  It will keep you glued to the pages.  This is a great story from a master story teller.  The author crafts a wonderful weave of words and imagery to develop the story line and to keep the action moving.

 

I think most of us old aviation veterans, from whatever wars, all have had this personal question as to what it would be like to be  shot down and then scramble around hiding and evading.  I was shot down several times in Vietnam but only once did I have to escape and evade for longer than 6 hours.  I can personally tell you that the old heart gets to pounding so loud that you think every NVA or VC will hear it from a mile away.  This is that same kind of feeling in this book.  I could feel the hero’s heart beating as I turned the pages in this book!

 

Synopsis:

 

It's 1966 - 20-year old Toby Carter is flying as a C-130 crewmember on hazardous Blind Bat flare missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and North Vietnam.  When the young Tennessean is shot down, he falls back on his boyhood experiences in the Tennessee woods and as a cave explorer to survive.  Knowing that Laos is a "karst" region where caves abound, he has prepared himself for the eventuality of finding a cave to hide in until he can be rescued.  But when he discovers that he is in a hotbed of enemy activity, which makes his chances of rescue unlikely, he sets out to explore the cave.  During his explorations Carter makes a surprising discovery that gives him the means to declare his own personal war against the North Vietnamese, particularly the gun crew that shot him down.

The Cave is an exciting story that puts the reader in the cockpit and in the back of a C-130 during one of the most continually dangerous missions of the Vietnam War during the first chapters.  Then it switches to the ground in Laos.  The Cave not only tells the story of the Blind Bat C-130 flareships, it also brings into it the role played by USAF photo interpreters and special operations MC-130 crews.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis

The story of an Air Force enlisted man shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War. A cave explorer and marksman, Samuel Tobin Carter discovers a cave and uses it as sanctuary from which to wage his own personal war.

Rattler One-Seven by Chuck Gross

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Sometimes I read a good book that interests me, then on a very rare occasion, I pick up a great book that captures my fullest attention; such was the candid memoir from Huey helicopter pilot Chuck Gross. He has authored an historic book for the ages. One that takes us through the firestorms of some very "hot LZs" and pulls us directly into the action, as if we were getting a pilot's eye-view of the Vietnam War. The writing is vivid and painfully accurate at times. "Rattler One-Seven" is truly the best helicopter story by a pilot coming out of the Vietnam War. 

Chuck allows us to fly along with him and his unit, the Rattlers, where we get to meet their gunners, crew-chiefs and other pilots. Take it from someone who has been there and done that -- this is very close to having the real experience yourself from the safety of your sofa. The book is a good insider look at the world of Assault Helicopter units in Nam. 

Book Cover is an award winning art piece by Vietnam Veteran artist Joe Kline

The book also was a 2004 Distinguished Medal winner from the The Military Writer's Society of America

I give this book my personal recomemendation! It is a FIVE STAR BOOK but if I were able to give it more stars I would do so!!!!!

NOTE: In 2004, a Bronze Medal was called a Distinguished Medal.

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)


Author's Synopsis
Rattler One-Seven puts you in the helicopter seat, to see the war in Vietnam through the eyes of an inexperienced pilot as he transforms himself into a seasoned combat veteran.

When Chuck Gross left for Vietnam in 1970, he was a nineteen-year-old army helicopter pilot fresh out of flight school. He spent his entire Vietnam tour with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company flying UH-1 Huey helicopters. Soon after the war he wrote down his adventures, while his memory was still fresh with the events. Rattler One-Seven (his call sign) is written as Gross experienced it, using these notes along with letters written home to accurately preserve the mindset he had while in Vietnam.

During his tour Gross flew Special Operations for the MACV-SOG, inserting secret teams into Laos. He notes that Americans were left behind alive in Laos, when official policy at home stated that U.S. forces were never there. He also participated in Lam Son 719, a misbegotten attempt by the ARVN to assault and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail with U.S. Army helicopter support. It was the largest airmobile campaign of the war and marked the first time that the helicopter was used in mid-intensity combat, with disastrous results.

Pilots in their early twenties, with young gunners and a Huey full of ARVN soldiers, took on experienced North Vietnamese antiaircraft artillery gunners, with no meaningful intelligence briefings or a rational plan on how to cut the Trail. More than one hundred helicopters were lost and more than four hundred aircraft sustained combat damage. Gross himself was shot down and left in the field during one assault.

Rattler One-Seven will appeal to those interested in the Vietnam War and to all armed forces, especially aviators, who have served for their country.